ECO Church Transformation Cohort

ECO Church Transformation Cohort

We belong to a great tribe (denomination) ECO. Not only do we enjoy these people and share a strong biblical theology, gospel-centered approach to life, and missional approach to ministry, our tribe also offers fantastic resources designed to help congregations flourish. One of these is the Church Transformation Cohort program, of which Crestwood is now a participating church.

The Cohorts are made up of churches which believe they have more potential for Kingdom Impact than they are currently experiencing. The group of

Dr. Paul D. Borden

churches (usually 6-12) are in the program for 2 years. During this time, Dr. Paul Borden leads the pastors and congregations through a season of evaluating current ministry while learning about new ways to build up the Body of Christ. Dr. Borden brings a wealth of experience having worked with well over 700 churches, in addition to teaching at the seminary level. Senior pastors of participating churches meet together three times annually during the two-year period. Our group will be meeting in beautiful Newark, NJ.

Additionally, Dr. Borden will be visiting Crestwood in June for one week. During this time, he will meet with congregational leaders, staff, and focus groups from throughout the congregation. At the end of his time with us, Dr. Borden will present the congregation with his analysis of our strengths and weaknesses and best steps forward. In preparation for his visit, Dr. Borden has requested many documents about our ministries, attendance and giving trends, structures, etc. As part of our “previsit work,” the Session and Deacons recently met to consider 5 questions:

  1. What are Crestwood’s 3 greatest strengths?

  2. What are Crestwood’s 3 most significant weaknesses?

  3. What 3 changes would we like to see?

  4. Do the leaders desire for the congregation to grow significantly?

  5. Are the leaders willing to make difficult decisions required for change and growth?

As we wrestled with the answers, there was a clear sense of the Holy Spirit moving us along, together. It was a special time that I will not quickly forget. Following are highlights from our conclusions.

One of Crestwood’s clearest strengths is that are we are a Bible-centered church with a deep respect for the authority of the scriptures and desire to grow in our knowledge of them. We also see significant potential for us to bring hope and salvation to the people who live around us, and have a posture of willingness to pursue Kingdom growth. It’s also clear that God has given us a focus on missions that is supported by a culture of generosity.

There are also many areas for improvement. Communications, both within the congregation and with the outside world, leave a lot to be desired. We should and will address this area in 2019. We also lack a clear strategy for making disciples. While we have several discipleship programs, we don’t have a plan which engages people at the beginning of their journey and guides them to maturity in Christ. There is also evidence that we lack effective structures for developing and deploying servants and leaders.

The leaders of Crestwood long for us to once again have a unified vision of what it will look like to follow God into the next season of our ministry of loving and leading people to the life-changing Jesus. We also desire to create a culture of discipleship that leads people to full engagement in God’s mission and we would love to see a growing number of adult baptisms and recommitments to walking with Jesus.

If God will bring these things about, we know it will call for some hard work and difficult decisions. Some of these will call for more courage and faith than we have – which we believe God will supply. And we say “yes, we’d like for Crestwood to grow significantly” – not because we want a “big church” or a “successful ministry,” but because we know it is God’s will to grow His Kingdom.

I believe the Church Transformation Cohort will be both challenging and rewarding for us as Christians and as a church, His church. It will likely stretch us and grow us in ways that take us out of our comfort zone. And Jesus will be with us every step.

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