ECO: Our Denomination
What does ECO mean?
The name ECO is not an acronym. It symbolizes a passion for strengthening the ecosystems of local churches. ECO believes that the Church is a living organism that needs life-giving resources to help it grow, thrive, and multiply. ECO is committed to cultivating a healthy, diverse, resource-rich ecosystem where pastors and congregations can flourish. ECO's full name (ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians) speaks to our core commitments:
- Covenant: To connect leaders in accountable relationships and encourage collaboration.
- Order: To commit to a shared way of life as we unite around a shared theological core.
- Evangelical: To advance the gospel of Jesus Christ and plant new missional communities.
- Presbyterian: To stand within our Reformed heritage and celebrate the life of the mind.
What makes ECO unique?
ECO has nine Core Values that direct its ministry. For a complete understanding of ECO's theological beliefs, be sure to read ECO's Essential Tenets and Confessions.
- Jesus-shaped Identity: We believe Jesus Christ must be at the center of our lives and making disciples of Jesus at the core of our ministry.
- Biblical Integrity: We believe the Bible is the unique and authoritative Word of God, which teaches all that is necessary for faith and life. The prominence of God’s Word over our lives shapes our priorities, and the unrivaled authority of the Bible directs our actions to be in concert with Christ’s very best for our lives.
- Thoughtful Theology: We believe in theological education, constant learning, and the life of the mind, and celebrate this as one of the treasures of our Reformed heritage.
- Accountable Community: We believe guidance is a corporate spiritual experience. We want to connect leaders to one another in healthy relationships of accountability, synergy, and care.
- Egalitarian Ministry: We believe in unleashing the ministry gifts of women, men, and every ethnic group.
- Missional Centrality: We believe in living out the whole of the Great Commission – including evangelism, spiritual formation, compassion, and redemptive justice – in our communities and around the world.
- Center-focused Spirituality: We believe in calling people to the core of what it means to be followers of Jesus – what “mere Christianity” is and does – and not fixate on the boundaries.
- Leadership Velocity: We believe identifying and developing gospel-centered leaders is critical for the church, and a great leadership culture is risk-taking, innovative, and organic.
- Kingdom Vitality: We believe congregations should vigorously reproduce new missional communities to expand the Kingdom of God.
Commonly Asked Questions About ECO
Q: What is ECO's Structure?
A: There are three layers to the ECO polity structure; session, presbytery, and synod. Synod is the widest council in ECO. Each council is designed to have a small staff. There will also be a small number of congregations (maximum of 20) comprising a presbytery. The primary role of ECO staff will be mission and ministry in local congregations, facilitating the multiplication of worshiping communities and expansion of the Gospel.
Q: Does ECO endorse any seminaries?
A: ECO requires ordination candidates to earn a master’s degree in theology or biblical studies from an accredited seminary and encourages them to choose a seminary, which will equip them to teach God’s Word in a way consistent with the ECO Essential Tenets. ECO does not explicitly endorse particular seminaries, instead examining the suitability of the candidate, rather than their seminary. In addition to seminary education, ECO expects its candidates to pursue extensive hands-on ministry training and mentoring.
Q: How does ECO view accountability?
A: Accountability is a positive, biblical opportunity and gift. ECO emphasizes theological accountability, because it helps enable connectionalism that is at the heart of what it means to be Presbyterian. ECO’s accountability re-empowers elders to encourage pastors to remain theologically faithful.
In ECO, pastors should share with one another how God is at work in the life of their church and impacting their mission. ECO pastors are expected to covenant to be accountable to one another, ensuring they are living balanced lives and being good stewards of the multiple responsibilities God has given them. Accountable relationships, called “peer reviews,” can take place within the presbytery or within the Missional Affinity Groups. Missional Affinity Groups are small groups of congregations in similar ministry settings and facing similar challenges and opportunities. These small groups may be outside the presbyteries. They could be comprised of congregations near universities or colleges, congregations in urban settings, multiethnic congregations, those who are actively planting worshiping communities, congregations of various sizes, etc. These Missional Affinity Groups have no judicial authority but can be beneficial in a variety of important ways by sharing of best practices, prayer, accountability, and encouragement in ministry.
Accountability does not mean:
- Financial obligation to any other churches
- Overbearing and controlling influence by peers or a higher governing body