Why conduct a doctrinal survey?
The EFCA Conference adopted our present Statement of Faith in 2008. In conjunction with this discussion the EFCA Board of Directors affirmed a “process for safeguarding our spiritual heritage.” One aspect of this process was to conduct a theological survey every five years. It was a way the board sought intentionally to value and safeguard the vital role of the Bible, theology and doctrine in the EFCA.
Who received the survey?
All senior pastors of EFC churches (not all are credentialed in the EFCA), and everyone credentialed by the EFCA (not all are in EFCA ministries). The survey was conducted from November 7, 2013 to December 7, 2013.
How was the survey structured?
The survey assumed that respondents affirmed the EFCA SOF. (Since not all senior pastors were credentialed with the EFCA, this assumption may not have been accurate.) The questions and structure of the survey were based on our SOF with a focus on major doctrinal issues, matters of the “significance of silence” (matters we will debate but not divide over), and contemporary theological issues. The survey was conducted anonymously and each question provided opportunities for comments.
What did we desire to learn from the survey?
The survey was conducted for informational purposes, to discern a doctrinal “pulse” from some in the EFCA. We also sought to determine what some of the areas of doctrinal disagreement are among Evangelicals broadly which could become areas of concern, controversy and conflict among us in the EFCA. We anticipated this would provide some insight into what some of the possible theological trajectories might be, so that we could ascertain where we are headed.
In response, we were hopeful to determine some of the issues upon which further or additional instruction might be needed, and how we could provide resources for pastors and leaders to understand and work through these important matters with the intent of retaining our doctrinal and theological fidelity.
Reminder: surveys have both strengths and weaknesses
Surveys must be read and interpreted carefully. They are easily misused. It is important to remember that survey bias can occur due to the survey questions, respondents of the survey, definitions either assumed or imported, misunderstanding or confusing questions, over-interpreting or under-interpreting either a part or the whole, universalizing rather than recognizing it is a limited group that records a “pulse” at a point in time. Bearing all of these limitations in mind, surveys are still helpful tools and provide much helpful information, including this doctrinal survey.
What material is included?
The board released a combined document: (1) EFCA Doctrinal Survey: Board of Directors’ Summary/Analysis, and (2) EFCA Doctrinal Survey: Questionnaire and Statistical Results (please note that questions 5-7 and 46 are blank since responses were only comments).
If you have questions about the survey, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.