This January I was able to attend the ECO National Gathering. After 6 years, my church is finally able to leave the PCUSA in order to affiliate with ECO. For me the Gathering was an incredible breath of fresh air, a renewal of old friendships, and the making of new ones!
An Evangelical Covenant Order of Churches
ECO is passionate about being more than a denomination; they strive to be a movement: likeminded congregations gathering together to build flourishing churches that reach out for Jesus near and far.
The event was fueled by wonderful, Christ-exalting worship which was a combination of the gifts of the St Andrew’s music ministry and 1100+ attendees who love Jesus pressing into song and prayer and receiving God’s Word faithfully preached. Worship enveloped everything at the conference.
Becoming Multi-Cultural Congregations
The main speakers Mark DeYmaz, Jeff Vanderstelt, and Kara Powell challenged everyone in attendance to strive to connect with our world.
Mark’s teaching focused on becoming multi-cultural like the surrounding community, encouraging us not to settle for being a church made up of people who all look and sound alike.
Outreach and Becoming Inter-Generational
Jeff’s challenge was to get out of our buildings and bring ministry to the world rather than wait for them to come to us.
Kara’s challenge was to be inter-generational. She shared a vision of young and old building relationships and doing ministry side by side.
It was so refreshing to be challenged like this because behind it all is the call to be Jesus to our world.
Relevant, Practical Teaching
Clearly, the Gathering planners worked hard to have quality speakers who spoke to real issues we face. I cannot count how many conversations I had with old friends and new acquaintances where we said, “Wow, that last talk really spoke to me and my church.”
An Online Resource for Churches
Another thing I love is that ECO is making the various plenary talks available on their website, so if you didn’t get out there you can still benefit from them, even if you are not an ECO church. I am hoping to use segments of Jeff’s talk as ministry prompters at session meetings in the future.
A Speaker From the Muslim World
I also appreciated the Wednesday night preaching by Rev. Dr. Sasan Tavassoli, a former Iranian Muslim who is now a brother in gospel ministry. His sermon opened my eyes to ways God is working in Iran; for example, as radical fundamentalists wage jihad, other Muslims are saying, “This is not what we believe,” and are more open than ever to the gospel of Jesus.
Helping Local Churches Have a Global Perspective
For me, the global perspective was an important counterbalance to church growth at home; Jesus did send us to “all nations” and “the ends of the earth.” Clearly God the Holy Spirit is propelling ECO as they seek to build flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ.
Opportunities for Partnership with PRMI
As I sat and worshiped and prayed and listened and processed, I saw many ways PRMI could partner with the ECO movement. To those of us connected with ECO: Ask the Holy Spirit how He might direct you to take what PRMI and Dunamis have taught you into the ECO movement.