The Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) is an association of autonomous churches united around the same theological convictions. The EFCA West district is made up of more than 200 churches and church plants serving Arizona, central and southern California, central and southern Idaho, southern Nevada, New Mexico, El Paso, Texas, and Utah.
Relationships in a healthy family can be compared to entering a cozy dining room, with comfortable chairs and a fire burning—an intimate location where we can share a good meal, the warmth of friendship, the joys and sorrows of life. The same is true of our family known as the Evangelical Free Church of America. True, we are part of a larger gathering of the worldwide Christian family. We have been adopted into that larger family by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and so we share certain characteristics. If you were to join us, we trust that you would see that general family resemblance: Christlikeness. Yet you would also see some specific distinctives that are unique to our intimate relationships. For the EFCA family, our distinctives focus on God and His Word, on the Lord Jesus Christ, and on living by and with grace and truth.
An EFC accepts and adopts without reservation, revision, deletion, or addition the Statement of Faith of the EFCA as its Statement of Faith.
EFC Pastors and elected leaders accept and communicate without reservation the Statement of Faith, and the membership accepts and lives in harmony with the Statement of Faith.
An EFC acknowledges differences in areas of evangelical theology not specifically addressed by the Statement of Faith and embraces with grace those within their fellowship and the denomination who may hold differing views.
SENSE OF MISSION
The mission of the EFCA is to glorify God by multiplying healthy churches among all people. An EFC evidences a partnership in this mission by:
- Annually evaluating and giving attention to increasing its Great Commission health.
- Multiplying healthy churches among all cultural groups, both at home and abroad, in obedience to Christ’s call to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
The EFCA, in addition to a common theology, also has a commitment to a common attitude. This common attitude is characterized by:
- A unity based on the essentials coupled with freedom and charity in non-essentials.
- Being evangelical in theology and practice.
- Cooperating with others who are advancing the cause of Christ.
- Teaching liberty in Christ with responsibility and accountability.
- A balanced teaching ministry that engages both the mind and the heart.
- Interdependence through working with the larger body of the EFCA.
- Respect, appreciation, and acceptance of people from different cultural backgrounds.
- Sensitivity to those in our congregations who suffer from social destitution, and compassionately addressing their particular needs to the best of our abilities.
An EFC has the freedom under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to govern its own affairs in accordance with both the mind of Christ and the Word of God.
An EFC develops a local church polity that fits within the following parameters of congregationalism:
- The membership includes only those who have a personal faith in Christ (a believers’ church).
- The collective membership in a duly-called meeting is the highest authority, under Christ, in the local church, exhibiting both a willingness to be scripturally accountable to the elected leadership and encouraging elected leadership to be mutually accountable to them as the ultimate authority in the local context. Moreover, members and leaders unitedly subscribe to a relationship covenant based on Matthew 18, giving priority to biblical patterns of conflict resolution and exercising biblical discipline within the context of Christian love and cultural sensitivity.
- Congregationalism is that form of government wherein the highest authority under Christ in a local church resides in the corporate understanding of the mind of Christ and in which a realistic process and reasonable opportunity exists by which that understanding is determined and carried out, especially as it affects such matters as:
a. Determination of membership.
b. Selection or appointment of the principal governing board (elder, deacon, etc.).
c. Selection of the senior pastor.
d. Approval or alteration of constitution/bylaws.
e. Approval of an annual church budget.
f. Approval of any major purchase or dissolution.
An EFC has as its local polity a form of congregationalism that fits the size and demographics of the congregation.
An EFC teaches that congregationalism includes the involvement of the entire body in ministry.
An EFC entrusts much of the decision-making to godly leaders who are trained, trusted, and allowed to lead.
EFCA West’s model of ministry is founded on four core principles.
- Ministry is relational, not programmatic or institutional. This applies to local, district, national, and international realities.
- Ministry is best when gift-based. God has uniquely gifted various members of the Body of Christ with differing strengths, gifts, temperaments, and passion. A team of complimentary members is more effective than solo generalists.
- Ministry multiplies when strategically focused on key leaders who multiply themselves. No one can serve everyone.
- Ministry is most effective when committed to excellence in a few services rather than seeking to serve in every area. This excellence is enhanced by close alignment with, not reproduction of, national and international EFCA personnel, resources, and services.