The Flourishing of Human Life

June 23, 2016
This week we have asked leaders from Reformed denominations five questions. Earlier this week Christian Reformed Church in North America, the Reformed Church in America and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church were featured. Today we end our series with ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.
  1. What do you see as the largest challenge for the Reformed community in the coming decade?

The largest challenge I see for the Reformed community is balance of theological depth with ability to keep living relationship with Christ comprehensible. While ECO places itself within the mainstream of classic Reformed thought, it’s mission to an increasingly post-Christian society will call it to present itself publicly within the larger framework of Lewis “Mere Christianity.” ECO spun off from the PCUSA because of significant theological differences in our adherence to an orthodox position, but we are determined to be something different from ‘an orthodox version of a dying denomination.’

  1. How do you see ecumenism balancing with denominationalism in the coming decade? Do both have a place in an ideal world?

Both movements have significant roles for engagement, but the continued viability of the denominational movement calls ECO to seek a posture within the larger orthodox Christian community rather than further subdivision. As a result, ECO seeks partnerships for ministry both within Reformed bodies like the RCA, EPC and PCA, and eagerly seeks out common cause with agencies like the Willow Creek Association, Acts 29 and Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship. Larger ecumenical expressions will be experienced on a local basis as they prove productive.

  1. If you could set one goal for your denomination to attain in the next decade, what would it be?

ECO’s short form is ‘to baptize more than we bury’, to make central a focus on new disciples, and outreach more than institutional survival. In the midst of stagnant or declining Reformed and mainline bodies, ECO realizes there will have to be significantly, perhaps radical methodological flexibility, accompanying an ongoing commitment to historical orthodoxy. Our primary strategy is the vitalization of local congregations where Christ brings flourishing of human life. Tactically, ECO is committed to aggressively planting new worshipping communities in all different segments of American culture.

  1. What does it mean to be Reformed? Is this different than being “Reformational?” What is more important?

We affirmed the ‘solas’ of classic Reformed theology, and many of us look to the Kuyperian view of Reformational-ism, believing ‘there is not one square foot of creation that King Jesus does not say, ‘This is Mine!’

  1. How should the church balance the tension of living in the already and the not yet?

C.S. Lewis once observed, “Aim at heaven get earth thrown in. Aim for earth and you get neither.” When the “colony of heaven” (Moffatt) on earth is experiencing fullness of ministry there is the confidence that the risen Christ of eternity call us to participate in the redemption of all of human activity. The Good News of the gospel rejects the ‘lifeboat mentality’ of isolation, while not confusing social improvement alone with the salvation from sin for which our Savior died and rose again. A core task of ECO churches is to flesh out the Abrahamic covenantal blessings, “to be a blessing to all the nations.”

About the Author
  • John Crosby has been the senior pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina, Minnesota since 1989, seeing it grow to more than 5000 members of all ages and backgrounds. Under his leadership, Christ Presbyterian has been deeply involved in ministries of justice and compassion locally and throughout the world. He is excited to be part of God's work in creating a culture that develops young leaders, fosters entrepreneurship and encourages kingdom impact. He has previously served on multiple boards including Opportunity International and Lawndale Community Church and is currently serving on the domestic and international World Vision Boards. John has degrees from Wheaton College, Gordon Conwell Seminary and a doctorate from Fuller Theological seminary. Avid golfers, John and his wife Laura are the proud parents of two exceptional daughters, and love to travel with them around the world.

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