At first, this dream started out as the hope of relationship with others who were on the “frontlines” of church planting in the Mid-Atlantic states. However, it was not long before other planters began to gather together with them from across the country and from countries throughout North America and the Western Hemisphere. All were interested in starting new communities of faith that effectively engaged the post-Christian west and the new global south. Furthermore, many church leaders were tiring of the distractions from mission that occurred along with being involved in stagnant denominations. Through these and other various factors, the idea of starting a “post-denominational” church network began to emerge. This idea had deep resonance with many leaders in their community of friends and as they began to discuss the concept with their other circles of influence, a greater affinity for this form of collaboration began to reveal itself.
In the Fall of 2006, a small group of six pastors met to discuss the possibility of a network like Ecclesia being formed. The outcome of the meeting was the formation of a board of directors to oversee the development of this new network. In January of 2007, the board of directors met to discuss the mission, vision, values, and functions of the network. The following April, this circle of six pastors and the board of directors expanded to approximately 20 pastors and leaders for further discussion. The outcome of this meeting was an initial group of six churches joining together to become the first churches participating in Ecclesia.
In the summer of 2007, the Ecclesia Network was incorporated and began regular activity in September. Our desire has always been to grow as a networked community according to our ethos of relationship and mission. As new relationships have been formed and new mission has begun, Ecclesia has grown to include a few dozen churches scattered across the United States that have joined the network or have been birthed from another congregation within the network. Various national and regional gatherings have developed to support the work of the network and The Ecclesia Network has been instrumental in helping to form both Fresh Expressions and Missio Alliance. It is with great anticipation that we look toward the future of our shared journey together, knowing that its far from over, that our efforts are far from perfect, and that others like you will help us along the way.