News from the Network- February 2015

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Ecclesia Comes Full Circle 


A few weeks ago there were two important moments in my mind.  

The first was actually the moment I was in.  We held our first substantial gathering of “congregational” leaders for many Ecclesia churches in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions.  In fact, the “vocational” ministers, only made up 10% of all who attended.  Our newest Ecclesia Network member, Eastpoint Church, was a gracious host for a day filled with encouragement, best-practice sharing, and relationship development between leaders who share roles at various churches across 5 states. 
The irony of the day was that it brought my mind to a second moment that took place a little over 7 years ago – at Eastpoint Church.  In late 2007, Ecclesia convened the first gathering of primarily pastors who were interested in a “missional church network”.  They had driven from all over the east coast to spend a day with Scot McKnight and to get a sense of what might be possible together.  We had shared on that day our hope of becoming a network that went beyond the pastors and staff of the churches that were part of the movement to really connecting, supporting, and equipping the leaders of the congregations themselves.  It was an aspiring hope when there were only 4 official churches involved at the time!
In those seven years, we have seen great gains, and some losses.  Periods of steady growth and periods of just plain steady.  There have been many new churches started, several existing churches that have found a “tribe”, and some important and long-lasting friendships formed.  It feels as though we are moving now into a new phase, not simply because of all the new churches being added, but because we are in a season of being able to embrace part of the vision that we stared with – to be a relational network that equips, partners, and multiples churches – not strictly their pastors.   What took place on a Saturday at Eastpoint Church a few weeks ago is just one example of what we hope to see more of.  In addition, our staff continue to find creative ways of being present, teaching, facilitating, preaching, or whatever else is needed “on site” for many Ecclesia congregations.  There are also other leaders in Ecclesia finding ways of visiting, supporting, and equipping other congregations beyond their own.  I love to hear those stories in particular.  All in all, this feels like it is adding up to more of what we had always hoped for - on a Friday at Eastpoint Church in September 2007 – an extended family of churches on mission together!  

-Dr. Chris Backert
National Director, 
Ecclesia Network

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 is now open!

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

Be praying for Engage!

River Valley Church starts the Pie Whole!

The Pie Whole is a redemptive small business. We’re in the beginning stages of planning how the Pie Whole will serve as a self-sustaining business that provides amazing pies while serving the community and helping people get job training and advancing their skills. We want to invite people in the community to be part of our family, a family daring to imagine a future more whole than the present. And there’s always a seat at the table.
We love pie and we know that its more than mere dessert. Pie brings people together. In a world full of single serve sweets, pie invites friends to your table….Pie says, lets share this together, not just dessert, but life…together. We bake pies for a purpose. We are working to create ways for friends and neighbors to gain vision and develop skills for a fuller and richer life. We want to see our neighborhood become a better place to live.
Find out more here.

Update from Redemption Church

Other Updates...

Renew in Lansdale, PA is starting the Kingdom Experiment 4:4:40 - during Lent they are reading the 4 gospels in 40 days making 4 questions each time… then getting together to discuss it.
  • What did Jesus say about Himself?
  • What did Jesus teach about the nature of reality?
  • What did Jesus tell His listeners to do?
  • How did Jesus model what He taught in the way that He lived?
Doug Moister started the DMin program at George Fox

Shanna Cummings has just started seminary at Biblical Seminary 

Aaron Graham is currently on a trip to the Holy Land. 


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

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?

Sermon Resource

SermonSmith is a bi-monthly conversation dedicated to the craft of sermon preparation.
 It is a celebration of the rhythms, workflows, tools, and prayers used by those who engage in this sacred art on a regular basis.

These podcast interviews are hosted by John Chandler, Ecclesia Network church planter and part-time web developer, in Austin, TX. John guides these interviews out of his own curiosity about the topic alongside his experiences as the primary teacher in a church start-up, and prior to that as a youth pastor and member of the teaching team in a large church. As he's juggled part-time work alongside the routines required for weekly teaching prep and other writing projects, he's become passionate, okay really really nerdy, about what healthy creative workflows look like. This podcast was born out of those passions, to see how the popular topic of creative work applies to those preparing to preach.

Staff Update-

Visiting Denver...

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.
Recently, I was able to spend some time with New Denver Church in Denver, Colorado. In a day long time with their leaders we were able to work through various aspects of spiritual formation ending with a time of working through their current challenges and discerning together what God was up to and how best they should respond. I was also privileged to bring greetings from the Ecclesia Network to their community on Sunday morning. 
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. We are also in the midst of 
developing a good menu of resources and equipping we'll be rolling out soon to bring to individual churches and regions. Watch for more info on that.

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

Upcoming trips include:

February: Los Angeles- Kairos Communities 

November: Austin- Austin Mustard Seed


Network News

February Online Learning Hangout

Join other Ecclesia ministry leaders and pastors as we join together online to hear from some of the best missional and theological thinkers around! We're inviting some men and women with fantastic content to present it to our Ecclesia community leaving some good time for Q&A. Events will be held every other month with video and sound from our speaker and with chat from the participants. We will email the online address to everyone registered before the event.

February 26th, 10am PACIFIC/1pm EASTERN TIME-

About February's Speaker:

Brian Zahnd

Brian Zahnd is the founder and lead pastor of Word of Life Church, a Christian congregation located in the heartland of America in Saint Joseph, Missouri. For 31 years, Brian and his wife Peri’s vision for the church has been to be an authentic expression of the Kingdom of Jesus in a modern world. Brian is known for his focus on embracing the deep and long history of the Church and wholeheartedly participating in God’s mission to redeem and restore His world.

Brian and Peri founded Word of Life Church in the autumn of 1981 with a handful of other young people in an old Methodist church building. For years, the church struggled to draw members. But as Brian began to be formed in a spirit of faith and prayer, the church proceeded to grow dramatically. After years of moving and expansion, the church moved to its present ministry campus on the east side of the city in 1996.

Today, Word of Life Church is a thriving congregation seeking to heal and help the people of Saint Joseph, Missouri. Through times of worship, instructional teaching, social justice programs, and many other avenues of outreach, the church helps its members to connect, grow, and serve others and Christ.

Brian is the author of three books: Beauty Will Save The World, Unconditional: The Call of Jesus To Radical Forgiveness, and What To Do On The Worst Day Of Your Life.

Ecclesia NorthEast Regional MeetUp,
Wed, March 18th 
(9:30am-noon, Church on the Mall, Plymouth Meeting, PA– Since Ecclesia is committed to journeying together with mission-oriented churches, we seek to express that commitment by equipping and training kingdom leaders, as well as providing support and spaces of connection for church planters, pastors and lay leaders.  

  • The time at this MeetUp will be a mixture of facilitated discussion, hearing each other’s stories, providing feedback and sharing practices with others. We hope you can join us as we seek to provide even stronger forms of support, connection and training for kingdom leaders on mission.  
  • As always, feel free to bring other church planters, pastors, kingdom leaders and/or elders/leaders from your church.  


New Churches


In the last two months we were excited to welcome three new churches into our Ecclesia family. Eastpoint is a decade old church plant in Newark, DE. In fact, Ecclesia was actually birthed at Eastpoint (though nobody knew that would be the case at that time). We have been journeying together for a while and have come together to further strengthen and support each other's ministry and mission. Eastpoint is a mid-size congregation that is comprised of retirees, families, singles, and students from nearby University of Delaware. Tom Ward and Joe Knapp share the pastoral load of the congregation along with a number of other staff. Here is Tom with a little bit about Eastpoint and their excitement in joining Ecclesia. You can also check out Chris Backert's welcome and subsequent sermon here.


River Valley is a large congregation on the outskirts of South Bend. They are excited to be part of the our family and look forward to playing a role in the development of Ecclesia in the Mid-West and in our efforts toward church multiplication. Rick Callahan, Lead Pastor of River Valley shares his excitement about this important step. You can also find out more about River Valley here. Recently, J.R. Briggs visited River Valley to help equip their small group leaders and also welcome them into the network. Here is J.R. giving a shout to River Valley. You can also find his welcome and subsequent sermon here.
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 at the end of December. See this greeting from Ryan Braught here as well as this simple video from Chris here.

We will be excited to share the news of a few others churches who are in the process of joining in the next few months!

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