In-Network News from the Network- December 2014

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From the Director


I am one that has always found really formal greetings to be a bit "over the top",

but as I sat this morning to write this brief note during Advent to everyone in Ecclesia, what I most want to say is "Greetings in the goodness of the coming King this Advent". In the settled places of my heart, my hope for each of you in this season is that in the settled places of your heart, that you sense Christ's presence and his overwhelming love and desire for good in your life and ministry.
It's been quite a significant year for Ecclesia and there is incredible momentum going into 2015. At our recent staff and board retreat we all sensed that this is an incredibly significant season for our network family and that we are now poised to more fully live into our mission of being "a relational network that seeks to partner with, equip and multiply missional churches." Given the realities of starting from scratch and not being initiated by a particularly large church or denomination, we have only been able to focus on one aspect of that mission at any one time in Ecclesia. However, we are moving into a season due to the stage of many of our churches, a steady stream of new churches joining, and the capacity to increase staff time to focus on the network's development, where we are able to have a more robust focus on the entirety of our mission.
In 2014, thanks to the additions of J.R. Briggs and Bob Hyatt to the Ecclesia staff team, we have been able to be far more connected and in touch with the churches of Ecclesia as well as the 15-20 that are exploring partnership or in the process of joining. Going into our annual staff and board retreat we had a far greater sense of the needs of our churches and the workings of God within them as we discerned how Ecclesia could be most focused in 2015. We will be excited to share some of those specifics in the coming year! However, one key area is that we will be keeping everyone much more informed and updated on all the great things happening network wide by adding a steady diet of simple "videocasts" to your inbox. You will see the first few of those this month as we introduce that, make a few key announcements, and welcome new churches. Please take a look at the other quick updates in this "internal network update" and we wish you a Merry Christmas and a fruitful end to 2014.

-Dr. Chris Backert
National Director, 
Ecclesia Network

Watch Chris' Video update for December here!

Update from J.R. Briggs-

“Praying for you, Renew and the Lansdale area right now…”


This was one of the texts I received earlier this week when news broke about the horrific shooting rampage that took place in Lansdale and our surrounding area. An estranged husband and former military personnel struggling with PTSD after his a tour in Iraq went on a shooting spree, killing his ex-wife and 5 of her family members - two of them within a mile of my house. Within hours of the news, four Ecclesia pastors texted and called saying they were praying for me, for Renew and for our area and checking in to see if we needed anything. It was a very clear reminder that Ecclesia is a family that cares for one another, even in times of terrible crisis.

This week’s tragedy aside, it’s been a tremendously encouraging first year being on part-time staff with Ecclesia. While I've been serving on the board for the past few years, it was a step of faith for me to come on staff. What a joy to serve the network which has served me and our church so significantly over the past seven years. It has been much more rewarding than I imagined, as I’ve connected more regularly with our existing churches across the country, as well as heard the stories of the many churches who are currently thinking about joining the network. I’m looking forward to another encouraging year of helping churches on mission journey with other churches on mission in healthy and fruitful ways.


Ecclesia Senior Leaders Gathering @ Missio Alliance

Our annual Senior Leaders Gathering will take place from 4.00 on Wednesday, May 6th to 12.30 on Thursday, May 7th at Downtown Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA. This is the day prior and morning of the Missio Alliance gathering at nearby Alfred Street Baptist Church. We will have a few special guests joining us, but most importantly this will be a time to see each other, meet the many new leaders in the network, and talk further about this season of fruitfulness within Ecclesia. Registration will open for this gathering in January!

Ecclesia Network Discount for Missio Alliance

As member churches of the network, you receive a discount when registering for the Missio Alliance conference.  Since Ecclesia played such a significant role in the launch of Missio Alliance, this is a simple way of saying "thanks".  The focus of the gathering this year is so essential and I am personally excited about how critical the theme of "Re-Imagining the Resurrectional Life" really is for our individual lives and the mission of God in our time.  The Ecclesia discount is simply MAEcclesia2015.




Church Updates

Kairos Hollywood::
Join the Abolition

At Kairos Hollywood, we have the privilege of existing in a community that's a juxtaposition of highs and lows both socioeconomically, and spiritually.  There is a huge problem with sex-trafficking in Los Angeles, so this year we've partnered with many local agencies working to combat this issue and "bring freedom to the captives," as we read in Isaiah!  Under the umbrella of "Abolition Hollywood," which you can find & support on social media, Kairos Hollywood hosted our first community workshop where over 100 people came to learn more about sex trafficking in our community, and what we can do to help survivors in their recovery.  We hope our partners in the Ecclesia Network will join us in prayer to see this initiative and local partnership grow, and for women in Los Angeles stuck in trafficking to see the Lord's power move. You can also find us on Twitter @abolitionhwd and

All Souls Church:

All Souls in Charlottesville, VA has recently released their first album. You can find a great article on that here. You can also download a copy of the album here at CDBaby

The District Church:

This year, we’ve seen our foster care initiative DC127 take off, including:

§  4 families in the foster care and adoption process

§  1 family who hosted a teen mother and her daughter, and helped keep them from entering foster care

§  6 official church sponsors, and a dozen more in process

§  At least 8 mentors serving kids in foster care

We’ve also been able to support current foster and adoptive homes who didn’t
previously have strong support. And last November, we held our first Foster the
City gathering, which had 400 attendees and 28 churches represented



The Evergreen Community:

Evergreen and its men have been instrumental in helping to start the Epik Project (, which works to actively disrupt sex trafficking and prostitution in the City of Portland, OR by interfering with the demand side of the equation. Our community has seen a DRAMATIC decrease in the the demand for paid sex, due in part to the efforts of Epik and other organizations in town. In fact, Epik has been so effective, other cities are actively pursuing the organization to see if there's a way to roll it out in their cities/communities. If you'd like more information on what Epik does or how you or your church can get involved, contact Justin Euteneier.


Bridge Community Church:

Recently, Bridge Community Church had the privilege and honor of walking with a young couple (early 20’s) as they considered aborting the baby God had blessed them with.

In a culture where young people would most often not invite anyone into that decision, they rejoiced that the couple called the man and woman who were discipling them, as well as Pastor Mike Hollenbach and asked them to help them make the decision. BCC is PRAISING GOD the couple has chosen to have the baby and that they as a community get to surround them with LOVE and SUPPORT!



Update from Bob Hyatt-

Serving Ecclesia has been a highlight of my year...

As the Director of Equipping and Spiritual Formation it's been my pleasure this year to visit with numerous Ecclesia Churches including Life on the Vine in Chicagoland and Rhythm Church in Miami. In addition to spending time with Ecclesia Churches on the ground, I've been able to help resource our leaders through the Online Hangouts as well as developing a good menu of resources and equipping we'll be rolling out in the new year to bring to individual churches and regions. Watch for more info on that soon. 

In the meantime, I would love to come visit you and your leaders and talk through spiritual formation on an individual and corporate basis. I've developed for Ecclesia a good day long time focused on the forming life, stages of spiritual growth and hearing from God in the midst of the challenges we face as leaders and as a community. I'm offering this free to all Ecclesia churches as a way of serving you, our network. 

Contact me if you are at all interested or have questions.

Upcoming trips include:

January: Denver- New Denver Community

February: Los Angeles- Kairos Communities 



Network News

Reminder - Northeast & Mid-Atlantic Churches

Our first ever gathering focused on leaders within congregations of the network is coming up in just a few weeks on January 10th at Eastpoint Church in Newark, Delaware.  You can register your leaders here.

This is a simple and really economical way to get the year started well for those you lead with locally.  In addition to the focus on leading yourself and others upward toward God, in life with each other, and outward in mission, there will be several "best-practice" conversations around leading small groups/house churches, cultivating missional communities, facilitating worship, handling challenging circumstances and people, loving your neighborhood, and a few more.

New Churches


We are excited to announce two new churches joining Ecclesia - River Valley Church in Mishawaka, IN (just outside of South Bend) and Veritas Community in Lancaster, PA. Likely, many of you have met Rick Callahan and Adam Gustine at River Valley and Ryan Braught at Veritas as they have both been around Ecclesia for the last few years.

River Valley is a large congregation on the outskirts of South Bend and they are excited to be part of the our family as well as playing a role in the development of Ecclesia in the Mid-West and in our efforts toward church multiplication.
Veritas is a relatively new community in the arts district of Lancaster. Ryan went through the church planters training in 2012 and has been cultivating a thriving community of young adults in a re-vitalizing city center.

Chris Backert was able to visit Veritas and welcome them into the network two weeks ago. See this greeting from Ryan Braught here as well as this simple video from Chris here. J.R. Briggs will be visiting River Valley in mid-January to welcome them into the network as well as lead a training for all of their small group/house church shepherds.


Welcome Veritas!


Ecclesia Leaders Would Love To Visit Your Community!!

It is one of the great hopes of our staff team that we could make meaningful visits to each congregation in the network over the next two years.  If you would like to discuss having a member of the Ecclesia staff or board come to connect with your community, please email Jane Linton at



Keas and Sarah Keasler were married in mid-November with a party that included a celebration through the streets of Miami. Not only are we excited for them, but we are also grateful to welcome Sarah into the Ecclesia family!

Congratulation to Sahr and Lisa Mbriwa! Sahr serves on staff at Bridge Community in Easton, PA and he and Lisa were married in late October. Let's give a congratulations to Sahr and Lisa and welcome Lisa into the Ecclesia family too!

Winn Collier, Lead Pastor at All Souls in Charlottesville was recently awarded the Lilly Sabbatical Grant. Winn will be entering this much needed season of rest this coming summer. In addition to planting All Souls in recent years, he is also near the end of his Ph.D. at the University of Virginia. Congratulations Winn!

Aaron Graham, Lead Pastor of District Church in Washington D.C. was recently invited to a discussion with President Obama on Ferguson, Race, and Moving Forward in America. You can read Aaron's thoughts on the meeting here.

Sharing Resources

Our mission as a network is to partner with, equip and multiply missional churches. 

And as a a relational network we all have a role to play in equipping one another. One of the best ways we can do that is through the sharing of resources we develop in and for our communities with others. 

One of the ways we're doing that sharing is online, on The Table. In our General Resources group, you'll find a place to share resources you've developed or used and find what others are sharing. 

Will you take a moment to log in, join the General Resources group and share what you have?
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