Ecclesia is a relational network of missionally-focused, theologically-centrist, Gospel-centered churches and church planters. By relational they mean that relationship comes first and foremost. The focus is on churches and planters being in relationship with one another- that means the way into the network is to be in relationship with someone already in the network and the way to participate is to continue building relationships with others in the network. By missionally-focused they mean that this a network of churches concerned with orienting themselves around the mission of the church- being a sign and foretaste of the Kingdom and what God is doing in the world. Theologically centrist, it's a group that takes Scripture seriously, yet focusing on the majors and leaving the rest up to individuals and their communities and open to women in leadership. And they are all about the Gospel.
All that to say, it's Evergreen's tribe, and always a kick to get together with the men and women of Ecclesia.
The national gathering is also an expression of the more organic, main-thing-is-the-main-thing values of the network. Intentionally small (capped at 175 or so), extremely low-cost (less than $300 for the conference, all the meals, lodging...), and lo-fi (zero lasers and smokemachines, thankfully), there's plenty of time to connect conversationally over meals (and cigars), and the emphasis is on interaction with the presenters who are there for the whole time, not fly-in and then gone. Want to have lunch with Dallas Willard and talk about what he just presented? Yeah, you can do that. (In fact, Todd Hiestand totally dissed me to do just that!).
But perhaps one of the big highlights for me these last two years, aside from some of the paradigm-shifting wisdom that's been crammed into my head by the likes of Dallas Willard, Mike Breen, and Jon Tyson has been the space that Ecclesia gives ordinary planters to address the whole group. This year, some of the best stuff of the conference came at the end as one pastor, one pastor's wife and some other church planters addressed the group with some things they've been learning. Hearing from Dallas Willard was great. Hearing from these folks? Even better.
Love this gathering. Love this network. Hope you can be a part of both.