Dispatches from the ECO National Gathering, Part 1
This morning we begin a series of posts where members of our leadership team report back from the ECO National Gathering, which took place at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach, from January 26th-28th. This week, Associate Pastor Paul White and Director of Classic Worship Dee Abell, share their thoughts:
Paul White, Associate Pastor
Much of the staff of Good Shepherd was able to attend the ECO National Gathering January 26-28 at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach. This was a time for ECO congregations from across the country to gather for worship, business, inspiration and education.
One of the points of interest for me was attending a Breakout Session led by Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship staff. Pastors Richard Haney and Dan McNerney shared stories on how God is at work in the Muslim world, specifically in the Middle East.
They related that the events of September 11, 2001 were just as much of a shock to much of the Muslim world as they were to the western, Christian world. Many followers of Islam were forced to reevaluate their faith in light of the atrocities committed in the name of Allah.
Rev. McNerney shared that some of them rejected religion altogether, becoming atheists. Some also, however, became much more open to learning about alternative ways of knowing God, especially, in such a war-torn region, through this one who is called the Prince of Peace.
According to their estimates, more Muslims have become followers of Jesus in the last 14 years than in the previous 14 centuries combined! God, they shared, is at work in the Muslim world.
This is not a time for the Church to abandon the Middle East, they encouraged, but a time to pray and continue developing relationships.
We hope to bring a speaker to Good Shepherd sometime in 2016 to share more with the congregation.
Grace and peace,
The ECO conference was a very uplifting time. The energy and the excitement were evident as soon as you entered the campus. There was much to process through the three days.
The primary speakers were varied, outstanding and humble with topics ranging from the movement of ECO, the ministry to Muslims, the outreach to build underground churches throughout the Middle East, and the growth of Christianity among the Muslim people. One of the speakers presented plans for ways to plant new churches, the beginning steps of being Jesus to our neighborhoods, and finally “Sticky Faith” within our own church community.
The times of worship were wonderful starting with guitar led worship music to my favorite: the traditional worship with organ, piano, orchestra and choir. Then we experienced some southern gospel worship, and a great evening with “Teen Challenge”, which was a real rocking evening! All of the worship times were outstanding.
Probably the most challenging break out session I attended was about evangelism in your neighborhood and the best ways to reach out to un-churched people groups who surround us close to home. The concepts presented regarding the safest places for people who do not go to church is in large group events.
These need to be well planned and well executed using the ways that Jesus used different group sizes in his ministry. In large groups, new people feel safe and in small groups he could share the most intimate and important information. This concept really challenged my thinking.