Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
Most EFC churches have adopted the 2008 Statement of Faith (SOF). Some are still working through it with the goal of adopting the SOF in the near future.
One of those local churches is Salem Evangelical Free Church, Fargo, ND, with Glen Stevens serving as the Senior Pastor. I joined them early in this process to present the revised SOF at a congregational forum, teach a Sunday school class and dialogue with individuals who had questions about the SOF and the process the EFCA went through to adopt the revision as a denomination.
I asked Pastor Glen if he would be willing to explain the process they followed. You will find my question/request posed to him followed by Glen’s response. I trust you will find it helpful. I was greatly encouraged!
Regarding the EFCA Statement of Faith (SOF) discussion leading to adoption at Salem, would you please explain what you did, i.e. the process you followed and why, how you used Evangelical Convictions: A Theological Exposition of the Statement of Faith of the Evangelical Free Church of America (EC) as part of that process, and what this meant for the local church.
I believe it would be fruitful for others to read of what was done with the goal that it might help them, either with the SOF, how to use EC, or what could be learned for a future congregational decision.
Because of the timing of two significant transitions at Salem: the change of Senior Pastors and a decision to become a multi-site church, we were not in a position to carefully prepare the body for the adoption of the revised Statement of Faith until this winter. The elders saw this preparation period as an excellent opportunity to encourage the congregation to mature theologically. Our plan was three-fold. First, a sermon series based on the SOF. Second, an encouragement for each family/person to buy a copy of Evangelical Convictions: A Theological Exposition of the Statement of Faith of the Evangelical Free Church of America (EC) to be reading along with the sermons and to discuss in one of the several Sunday School classes and small groups going through the book in conjunction with the sermons--this was the third element of our emphasis. We sold over 125 copies of EC.
We decided to launch a 10-week sermon series called "Theologically Stronger" with the goal that we would grow deeper in our theological understanding of the Gospel and how it applies to our lives. We also made EC available a full month before the series began and throughout it's duration. Each week I would preach from a passage of Scripture that strongly correlated with an article of the revised SOF, starting with Article One and working through week by week to Ten. These sermons are all available in video and audio in the months of Jan-March of 2013 if anyone would like to see how I approached this preaching challenge.
In each sermon, often at the beginning of the sermon, I would always read the article as it is found in the Statement of Faith. Many times I asked the congregation to read it with me as a declaration of our shared faith. We also often had a musical response to the message after the sermon and a couple of times we had the article read again by one of the worship leaders during the song to use the article as a means of worship. I also tried to read one quote from EC in each sermon to illustrate or strengthen the meaning of the text from which I was preaching.
Several people joined a Sunday school class or small group that would discuss the chapter in the book that coincided with the sermon for that week. This was very useful as those who participated were encouraged to read, think, pray and discuss the contents of the chapter and sermon at a more intimate level.
We are extremely pleased with how well every aspect of this initiative succeeded, for which we thank God. This has allowed us to go deeper theologically on the essential doctrines of our faith and apply the Gospel to our daily lives. The church knows to a much greater extent what we believe as a part of the Evangelical Free Church movement and why we major on the majors. We are also in a great position to recommend at our next congregational meeting that Salem adopt the revised SOF. We are confident this recommendation will be met with joy and an eagerness to join the many in the EFCA who have already taken this step.