Pastor's Note | Saturday, October 18th

When will all the changes take place?

This is a question that was conveyed to me that has been being asked by some within our congregation concerning our new affiliation with ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. It is a very good question!

We are now within a new denominational context. When will things begin to change? There are two parts to an answer to this.

First, much will remain the same. Our foundation within the Reformed tradition is a theological understanding that is solid and not changing. In fact, ECO’s Essential Tenets help us articulate what we mean when we say we hold to the Reformed Faith. You can find these at eco-pres.org/theology/essential-tenets. Joining ECO actually strengthens our theological footing in the Presbyterian and Reformed Tradition.

Another thing that will not change much is our governance. We remain a Presbyterian church with a polity (how we operate) that is built upon the New Testament pattern of Elders who are responsible for the spiritual oversight of the church. ECO’s polity is much the same as our previous denomination’s - with one major exception. ECO’s polity is designed to enable churches to minimize busy work and maximize time and resources for ministry. ECO’s polity empowers local congregations to be creative in how we conduct ministries. ECO’s polity encourages innovation and flexibility to respond to community needs. It is a “high trust and low control” approach to governance. You can check out ECO’s Polity here: eco-pres.org/structure/eco-polity

In addition, our Presbyterian “Ethos” will not change. By this I mean the long-standing Presbyterian emphasis on education, equipping all people for ministry and leadership, concern about social injustices, and seeking to communicate the gospel remain the same.

Second, some things will change. Our Session will connect with leaders from a few other ECO churches in our area in what is known as a Mission Affinity Group (MAG). Together we will help one another be more effective in ministry and be held accountable to being faithful to our call to make disciples. MAGs will help to evaluate our ministries and prayerfully seek ways to be more fruitful. You can learn about MAGs at: eco-pres.org/missionaffinitygroups

Another change will be taking seriously the challenge of planting new churches and/or communities of faith. The best way to see more people become followers of Jesus is through this kind of effort. This will be a big change in the way we think, plan, and act. And, it will take a strong commitment on our part to follow-through on this ministry focus.

I am enthused about our future as part of ECO and believe affiliating with it is one of the most important steps Good Shepherd has taken. Our new denominational home will enable us to be a disciple-making church, a multiplying church, and a faithful church. By this, our Lord Jesus will be greatly honored.

Pastor Jim

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