December 13, 2016 — by Michael Clark

Southern California Presbytery is now 2 Presbyteries: SoCal and Mission Presbyteries

ECO is growing in Southern California. Growing so much that the Southern California Presbytery has become 2 presbyteries at the start of 2017. With about 40 churches spread out over so much of the lower portion of Southern California, this will help the churches in the 2 presbyteries to better work together and help each other in personal and accountable ways. The new MIssion Presbytery includes about 15 churches in what was the northern part of the SoCal Presbytery. They have been busy preparing a new set of leaders and teams. The remaining about 25 churches in the Southern California Presbytery will be reorganizing also with the division in leadership and churches.

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January 31, 2016 — by MikeConan

ECO - a Movement or a Moment

The one thing that will make ECO a movement rather than a moment.

My elders and I had a rejuvenating time at the ECO gathering this past week in Newport Beach.  We were extolled to leave Egypt and become a movement.  The 'become a movement' language has been used at every ECO conference I have attended.  I am thankful for this desire, but simultaneously think there is one key thing that we cannot miss during this time if we are going to be more than a moment.

I was inspired by each of the speakers but my most powerful time came during the worship on Thursday morning.  I took a quick break and ran into an old friend in the narthex area.  He described how he and his family were driving between towns working multiple jobs so that he could plant a church in an area where there was no reformed presence.  I spoke with three other church planters over the week and was moved by the commitment of these servants.

As I looked around the room and listened to the speakers, I realized that a movement is not just going to happen.  I have a horrible feeling that most of us in the room will wait for a time of abundance before we start getting serious about creating a movement. The truth is that movements never start from abundance, never.  Abundance creates complacency, the opposite of movement.  

The one thing that will determine whether ECO becomes a movement is whether we, as God's dearly loved people, decide to live SACRIFICIALLY.  If we wait to give of our time, talents and treasure out of the overflow we will never be a movement.  We must step out in faith and take bold risks, NOW.  We must call every covenant partner to lay down his or her life and die, to be willing to give up everything and wholeheartedly serve the Lord.  Whether the risk is sharing the gospel daily, giving financially to church planting and those other churches in need, casting vision that will require making changes needed in our churches or boldly keeping our local Presbytery's moving forward with the gospel, bold risk must happen!  A movement must cost each of us something.  We need to create a culture of joyful generosity, where people are outdoing each other in kindness and bold acts for the Lord.

I believe the greatest part of 'Egypt' we are still carrying with us is complacency.  In the PCUSA we had lots of resources, multiple millions of dollars to keep us safe.  Many of us still want to feel safe.  We become survivors rather than thrivers.  I have seen it in myself and in so many others.  We think our people are tired, our resources are drained and we are afraid to call them to the bold changes we heard about this week.  If we wait for the abundance, we will never become a movement.  

In two years if we hear story after story of bold change and joyful generosity, then we are on our way to be a movement.  Otherwise we will be a safe place to park that only costs a church 1% of the budget.  The only thing that will change will be our denominational logo.  Lord have mercy.

Let us go home and preach sacrifice and create a culture of Joyful generosity.  If we do, I believe God will bless us and make this a movement.

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November 9, 2015 — by Michael Clark

8 Keys to Successful Session Meetings

Over my many years of moderating Session (Board of Elders) meetings and after many discussion with other pastor moderators, several keys to holding a better Session meeting have emerged. Here are 8 of them to help you either moderate or participate in these meetings to make them more fruitful:

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September 22, 2015 — by Michael Clark

What is the Church?

With all we have been through in creating ECO together and transferring our individual churches into it, we do well to ask - What is the Church? What is it that we are trying to become? Is the Church another social civic organization like the Elks, Kiwanis, or Rotary clubs? Is the Church a country club for the elite? Are we another advocacy group with our causes like the Sierra Club or the Tea Party? Is the Church a business to be run on business policies and organization structures? What makes Church unique from any other group, institution or organization? 

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