Hello ECO Community! Hope you enjoy this month's newsletter! Make sure not to miss the end! Click on the blue link at the very bottom of this email that says "View entire message"!
Do We Have to be Growing to Flourish?
By Dana Allin, ECO Synod Executive
This year we have had quite a discussion among staff and some pastors surrounding the Ministry Information Form that we ask each of our churches to fill out and submit annually. This form has some standard questions such as numbers of current covenant partners, updated contacts for various ministry areas such as students or missions, as well as financial information to help calculate denominational support. In addition, there are questions related to metrics that have traditionally been associated with flourishing, such as average worship attendance. Obviously, including worship attendance on a 2020 Ministry Information Form provides meaningless information! Either numbers would be significantly lower because physical attendance has obviously diminished or numbers would be artificially higher simply because online views are often higher than normal. Using these numbers compared to previous years would be comparing apples and oranges. Our current reality raises questions that we have been talking about for years but is now more pressing than ever before. “What is flourishing - and how do you know if you are flourishing?”

Let drill down into two deeper questions that are at the heart of these questions. First, “Do you have to be growing in order to be flourishing?” This is a challenging and understandable question because we often talk about growth or decline in comparison to worship attendance and numbers of people who come to faith. We talk about these numbers in overall statistics but also as individual churches. Even at our recent Virtual National Gathering, I did an interview with Rev. Jerry Fourroux where we talked about his church in transformation and how (pre-Covid) he had experienced his attendance grow from 140 to 180.   

On the one hand, I agree with Paul Borden (who leads our transformation cohorts) that healthy things grow and multiply. I think it is clear from Scripture that the goal of the church is to make a greater quantity AND quality of disciples. If this type of growth is not happening over time, it would be hard to say that the church is flourishing....click here to read entire blog post.

2022 ECO National Gathering
(including Synod meeting!)

JANUARY 30 - FEB 2, 2022
Highland Park Presbyterian Church, Dallas, TX
Though we could not all be together as an entire denomination, congregations and Mission Affinity Groups still found ways to connect with each other. 
Pacific Northwest Virtual MAG Gathering
Eric Jacobsen, Pastor, FPC Tacoma, WA

"A lot of wonderful things were cancelled this year because of COVID restrictions, but we were determined not to let that happen with our annual MAG meeting. Every year the elders, pastors, and staff of four churches in our region (FPC Tacoma, Marine View, Adventure of Faith, and Maple Valley Church) would gather for fellowship, sharing, and prayer together. It’s an important time for us to focus on our calling as churches and to connect together as a MAG group. The fact that the National Gathering was going to be livestreamed provided a good opportunity to try something different. We encouraged our leaders to register for the National Gathering and to participate in at least the first keynote with Peter Scazzero. After the keynote, we hosted a Zoom meeting and put participants into breakout groups to talk about the keynote and to pray together. Then we reconvened as a whole group and had one representative from each church share a few goals for the church and prayer requests. Then, we had a guided time of prayer to bring the requests before the Lord. Some parts of our meeting worked better than others, but overall I’d say the event was worth it. I was really glad that we made an effort to maintain these vital connections with fellow leaders in our MAG group. One of the things that we like best about being part of ECO is that we get to pursue our mission in partnership with such wonderful and similarly called leaders."
Neighboring Florida Churches Meet Together!
Indian River Presbyterian Church, in Fort Pierce, FL and All Villages Presbyterian Church in Port St. Lucie, FL gathered for a weekend retreat together for the Virtual National Gathering.

Tim Norton, Pastor at IRPC says, “It was a joy to see two ECO churches laughing, learning, and dreaming together! Many folks present had never heard of, much less attended, an ECO National Gathering and I was delighted to see the impact it made on our covenant partners. We’re already planning a night of prayer as a follow-up joint event between our two churches. I’m excited!”
Check out this fun video from the weekend by Dustin Sterrett, Pastor at All Villages. https://vimeo.com/513983731
Members at Calabash Covenant Presbyterian Church Connect During the National Gathering!
Sixty three elders, deacons, and covenant partners at Calabash Covenant Presbyterian Church (Sunset Beach, NC) were grateful for the opportunity to connect with ECO during the National Gathering! 

Their pastor, Karen L. Scheboth, CLP, shared their experience with us. 

"It was for many a first-time experience to be a part of a National Gathering; a chance to virtually observe from their homes or join in by coming to our church. 
We worshipped together, were encouraged to be the church/work at being the church realized what ECO is doing, that leadership is in place to help churches clarify their mission discovered how globally missional ECO is found out that ECO offers many tools (just check out the ECO website), and that task forces are developing new guidances/curricula gained insight by hearing from the keynote speakers and from the information offered discovered that we need to move from the lower room to the upper room picked up on how to match a new pastor to our church’s DNA, mission and vision observed new definitions of “mission,” a church mission/a personal mission.

For our Saturday Church Deep Dive session, we connected with our sister church in Brazil, and Pastor Robinho Gomes led us in a Bible Study and a question and answer period. We then broke into small groups (the at-home folks joined virtual small groups). We asked each group:

  • Question #1: What are two new things you have learned about ECO?
  • Question #2: As a covenant partner, what do you value most about CCPC?
  • Question #3: What are your dreams for CCPC’s impact in our local community?

The results to these questions will be used as our church leaders further discern what it means for Calabash Covenant to be a flourishing church."
We asked Virtual National Gathering participants,
"What is your Flourishing Next Step?"

Here are some of their answers!
More intentional prayer time.
Follow the Spirit's leading for reaching out to our community in the name of Christ, with a mind for racial reconciliation.
We are going to expand our Flourishing Disciple groups.
Making a sabbath a sabbath.
I hope to serve by supporting and encouraging church planting, CLPs and ministry to people who are illiterate.
Solidifying a rhythm of life and ministry that is emotionally/spiritually/relationally healthy.
As a lay person, I am praying about "listening prayer' in our community.
Pursuing training to become a Spiritual Director.
Ask a trusted friend and colleague, "How do you experience me?"
Dialogue with nominally religious and non-affiliated and non-believers.
Re-discover the joy of my first love, Jesus.
Start a free food pantry. 
To be able to discern where my God-given skills and abilities could best be used.
Continuing the Flourishing Disciples process.
Need help finding your Flourishing Next Step? We can help!
Church Planting Cohort
Has the thought of planting a church crossed your mind? If so, we have a great first step which will help you begin to discern and ask the right questions. Len Tang is one of our ECO planters and also serves planters as a professor at Fuller Seminary. He has created a 4-week cohort as a great introduction to this potential calling.
If you are interested in this cohort or want to explore and discern a call to plant a church, please email Nate Stratman, ECO Church Planting Coordinator at churchplanting@eco-pres.org.
Certified Transitional Pastor Training
New CTP Trainings Now available
ECO’s goal is to equip pastoral leaders to help churches navigate change through a pastoral transition, so that a church is healthy and ready for its Flourishing Next Step.

For more information on ECO’s CTP trainings and registration on upcoming events visit the CTP website below.
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Cohort
You and your leaders are invited to participate in this cohort for pastors & leaders!

This course can help you navigate these emotions in healthy ways and for the glory of God. The good news is that God created us in His image as integrated beings, such that our emotional health is vital to our spiritual health and maturity. We cannot be fully the leaders or followers that God desires us to be until we have healthy Biblical ways of integrating our emotions into our faith, relationships, decisions and leadership.

Based on Peter Scazzero’s book and videos, this course will outline for us the top 10 symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality and then unpack the core Biblical principles which will guide us into an experience of lasting, beneath the surface transformation of your relationship with Christ.
Missional Communities and Micro-Expressions of Church
Interested in a Missional Community?

COVID has sparked a renewed interest in micro-expressions of church (also called missional communities). The value of micro-expressions is both that they can reach people who wouldn't ordinarily be "looking" for church and that they have the flexibility to engage in ministry in a way that isn't dependent on programs. We are currently gathering names of individuals who are engaging in micro-expression ministry or wanting to start these missional communities.

We will be gathering, training and supporting these missional community environments to flourish in 2021. If you are interested in exploring this opportunity please register here or send us an email at info@flourishmovement.org
Younique Webinar
How Special Calling Fuels
Real Church Growth
The special calling God has put on the life of each one of the people in your church is both knowable and nameable. New energy is released when people are living on mission and connected to their special calling. Your shared mission as a church becomes move alive and resourced by individuals who are living confident in their calling. 

Join us as we overview Younique as a disciple-making process. And if you are interested in experiencing it for yourself, then join Doug Rumford and Chris Handley who will be leading a virtual Younique cohort for ECO pastors and leaders just like you.
Virtual Mission Trips
Join ECO churches and
partner organizations!
If you are like me, your passport is getting dusty and you feel the pinch of reverse home-sickness from the long absence of in-person visits with global mission partners. I miss the adventure and encouragement of mission travel as the global pandemic stretches on. 

I look forward to a time when mission travel can resume again (hopefully soon!). But until then, check out this AMAZING list of virtual global mission connections offered by ECO churches and partner organizations.
Church Governance Resource
Authority, Responsibility & Accountability
We have created a new resource to assist our churches as they explore the issue of church governance and how it clarifies authority, responsibility and accountability within the church.

This is a self guided resource, however if churches want assistance or additional materials they can ask us for help. These resources are free to the church. If additional coaching or consulting is required, it can be arranged on a church by church basis with appropriate cost sharing. 

This resource includes downloadable video presentations and corresponding powerpoints, book recommendations, conversations with ECO church consultants, as well as sample documents and guiding principles to help churches consider adopting and implementing this model of church governance in a way that fits your needs. 

Wherever you are in the process, we pray that this new offering will be helpful to you.

Please reach out to us at info@flourishmovement.org for more assistance if needed along the way. 
Pastoral Search and Transition Guide
Assisting Congregations in Seasons of Transition
In seasons of transition, many churches simply ask who the next pastor will be and seek to pass the baton from one leader to another. However, in order for a transition to be successful, a church must consider the overall health of the congregation, its leadership, and its effects on the upcoming season of transition.

In an effort to prepare for these changes, ECO is working to help equip our churches— whether small, medium, or large—to prepare for these inevitable transitions.

Whatever your situation, we commend this guide to you as a template for thinking through how you might search for and call your next pastor.
David and Elizabeth Champ
The Narrative (Church Plant)
Mars, PA
Nova Church (Church Plant)
About to launch!
Denver, CO
ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians | eco-pres.org