In our day, many are predicting the decline of Christian Denominations. People cite the numerical decline of denominational participation, and point out the movement toward localism, and bemoan the irrelevance of institutions that seem out of touch with the aspirations of people at a grass-roots level. And while I understand those concerns, I have another viewpoint based on my experience.
As you may know, I am a pastor within the Evangelical Covenant Church. What you may not know, is what that group stands for, who we are, and where we’re going.
Gary Walter, president of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), recently articulated our commitment to “seeing more disciples among more populations in a more caring and just world.” To this end, he spoke five themes that capture the mission of the ECC.
Develop and Deepen Disciples
The Evangelical Covenant Church is committed to reach people with the hope of Christ, and then to help them grow deep in Christ in a lifelong journey of personal transformation in Christ.
Start and Strengthen New Churches
The ECC is committed to start and strengthen healthy, missional churches. We believe the local church is God’s basic unit to carry out God’s mission in the world.
Develop Servant Leaders
The ECC is committed to develop leaders—lay and paid—to grow in their call to serve the church and to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus.
Love Mercy, Do Justice
The ECC is committed to the call of Micah 6:8 and to the call of Jesus in Matthew 25:37-40 to love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly with our God.
The ECC is committed to a global gospel for the whole world. We work in global partnerships to accomplish God’s mission at home, around the corner and around the globe.
One of the reasons why I am a Covenant Pastor is because I resonate with the values that inform the mission of the ECC. Having served in a variety of local settings and having served on national boards, I have see this mission played out. I love being a Covenant Pastor because of the ways we live out a gospel life together.
Today I attended a gathering of Covenant Pastors who serve in the Pacific Southwest. Efrim Smith, our Superintendent, underscored the above core values, and also talked about three priorities for our Conference: To develop healthy missional churches, and to increase our capacity for reconciliation across ethic lines, and to assist in the development of innovative pastors. As I listened, I felt grateful for the Evangelical Covenant Church, and the privilege I feel to serve in this tribe.
In an age where some question the legitimacy of denominations, the Evangelical Covenant continues to find ways to buck the trends toward decline and irrelevance by extending the mission of Christ in biblically informed and relevant ways. If you’ve never heard about the ECC, it may be because it’s one of the best kept secretes in Christianity today.