Our Partnership with the Evangelical Free Church of America (The EFCA).
What is the Evangelical Free Church of America? There are about 1,500 Evangelical Free Churches in the US. But our roots are in Scandinavia where there was a State-sponsored national church. Christians in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark saw that when there was little separation of state and church and where everyone was a member of the church whether they believed Christian things or not made for an unhealthy, bad church. They believed that Christ was the head of the church, not the state, and that every church should be free to rule themselves. So when those Norwegians, Danes, and Swedes moved to America one of their core beliefs was that every church was to be accountable to itself and not some other human institution. That's what the word “Free” means in our name. We are free from outside governing forces – whether the government or church leaders in some place outside the local church.
But even through our predecessors valued their individual freedoms, they saw there were things they could do better together that were hard to do individually – like build schools to educate their pastors and missionaries, to send missionaries overseas, and to start other churches in the US. About 65 years ago 275 free churches banded together for these causes. That's where the word “Evangelical” comes in. The word evangelical is about spreading the good news of Jesus and what he's done for us in his life, death, resurrection, and his current authority over us from heaven. We know all about Jesus and his activity through the Bible. And so for us, “evangelical” also means that we believe in the authority of the Bible over our lives and that it can be trusted in everything it tells us. Every Evangelical Free Church shares the same basic beliefs, which we have written in our Statement of Faith.
And so the reason we are part of the EFCA is because of their commitment to the Gospel, their belief in the authority and truth of the Scripture, and their support in starting new churches. We are benefiting from their commitment to multiplying healthy churches among all people, and we ourselves want to be part of helping people follow Jesus and helping to start other churches all around us.
Two of our Core Values inform our desire to partner with the Evangelical Free Church of America: Togetherness and Reproducing.
We have a conviction that following Jesus is not a solo journey. It’s not solo for an individual Christian – that’s why a Christian joins a good local church. And it’s not solo for a local church – it’s beneficial to join with other churches to advance the gospel.
We joined with the EFCA because we agree with its Statement of Faith (the "Our Statement of Faith" tab on the left). In fact, this is the thing that bonds EFCA churches together: we are autonomous churches (meaning we alone are responsible to govern ourselves), but we are united around the theological convictions outlined in our Statement of Faith. The most important thing for you to understand about the EFCA is the Statement of Faith.
We joined with the EFCA because as a new church, we need support, accountability, leadership, and guidance. This is provided for us through the Midwestern District of the EFCA (which covers Nebraska and Kansas).
We have a conviction that when we follow Jesus, gospel communities will be reproduced. We are starting a church in Louisville because we believe good churches are needed. Lord willing, we want to be part of helping other churches start in other communities. Being part of the EFCA gives us a place to partner with starting other churches.
There are undoubtedly many denominational and networking organizations that we would happily join with to plant this church. We chose the EFCA because Pastor Tom has had a very positive history within the EFCA. As a youth in 1988, Tom and his family began attending Faith Evangelical Free Church (now Brookside Church) in Omaha. When he left there to attend the EFCA seminary in Deerfield, Illinois in 2000, he and his wife were involved at Lakeland Evangelical Free Church in Gurnee, Illinois. After that, from 2003-2014, he planted a church within the EFCA in Winsted, Minnesota. In 2009, Tom was formally ordained within the EFCA. He has greatly benefited from the support and encouragement he has received within the EFCA, and is in whole-hearted agreement with the EFCA Statement of Faith and distinctives.
You can also go online to www.efca.org. On the home page there are three overviews of the EFCA: Who we are, what we believe, and why it matters.