Wednesday, July 03, 2013

New EFCA Mission and Vision

Over the last few days the Evangelical Free Church of America unveiled a new mission and vision statement. The mission statement was minimally tweaked (transformational for healthy) and the vision is something new.

The EFCA exists to glorify God by multiplying transformational churches among all people. 
We are praying that God would grant us one million disciplemakers impacting one hundred million people with the gospel along with one hundred million people with the gospel along with one hundred Acts 19 locations globally where the gospel is transforming whole cities and regions rather than simply a neighborhood. 
What little I've heard about the Acts 19 strategy involves an effort of ReachGlobal (the global missions arm) to saturate key global cities with a focused infusion of people and resources for the sake of generating city-wide movements that trigger kingdom expansion in entire regions. It will be interesting to see where this all leads in the days and years to come.


Jim said...

Scott- I am an EFCA pastor in Ocala, FL and I just attended one of the national conversations begun by the EFCA leadership team regarding their new vision. A couple of things stood out:

1. This is a vision too big not to be accomplished by prayer and the movement of the Holy Spirit.
2. Disciplemaking is a focus that goes beyond our movement as EFree churches. We will need to hold "Bride over brand" in order to accomplish this.
3. Even though the numbers are big, it does not let the individual off the hook--who are the 100 people you will impact with the gospel in your lifetime?
4. The biggest disconnect seemed to be the specification of 100 Acts 19 cities. Are these global or US cities? Some felt that the emphasis on cities leaves the rural/small city churches out of it. The vision statement itself is actually two parts: 1. 1 million Disciplemakers; 2.100 Acts 19 cities. Some concern was expressed over the fact that the vision statement may get divided into two separate visions over time.

Thanks for reposting this. I was excited about the sense of urgency, unity & direction that was present at the meeting.

Jim Folk, Christ Community Church- Ocala, FL

Scott Sterner said...

Thanks for the comments Jim. I think the biggest challenge with the bride over brand issue is what's the standard for a "partner" and how do you accurately measure when you've reached success... especially when the wider you throw your nets the harder it will be to accurately measure?

That's a good point over the cities issue. I think the strategy is if you reach urban centers, you will ultimately change the region. (i.e. what happened in Ephesus spread to the entire region).

Glad to hear about the enthusiasm that was generated over the discussion. Urgency, unity, and direction is a valuable fruit to see emerge from this discussion.

Tim said...

Do you know what sermon this word change come out of - "healthy" to "transformational".

Is there a "transformational" city anywhere in the world right now? Is it a result of people starting off with the intention to purposefully make it that way?

I think I read Acts 19 as description much more than prescription... I think Paul went into every city with much the same goals and vision... and in some cities they responded well and in others they wanted to kill him (and tried).

It seems to me, then, that the focus shouldn't be on the outcome of how we affect cities, but the vision should be to see every EFCA church full of real disciple-makers.

And if focusing on cities is great for Reach Global, I am all for it. And I think we can focus on cities as Districts as well.

My pastor and I have been invited to join a conversation locally in a month so I am just trying to understand what is happening, exactly.

Thanks for any information you can give.

Tim said...

I'm glad I found this blog and info as my Pastor and I have been invited to a national conversation locally.

Do you know what prompted the change in our mission statement - healthy to tranformational? I wonder if a certain sermon led the charge.

Do you know of any transformational city in the world right now? Did it become tranformational by people setting out to make it that way? Or how did it happen?

As I read Acts 19, I don't think Paul's vision or mission or goals or methods were different from the other cities he went to. I just think God blessed because He wanted to. Sometimes Paul's methods led to him being arrested and more... sometimes it affected the whole city.

It seems that our focus should not be on changing cities, but on having disciplemakers. Maybe something like - we want to see every EFCA church (or even every evangelical church if we want to choose Bride over Brand) be full of real disciplemaking believers.

I don't know if that makes sense, but I'd love to hear any comments and suggestions you have.

Thanks for putting your thoughts down on the internet.

Unknown said...

I just witnessed the revised vision statement at the National Mission Summit. They seem to have listened and responded well to the critiques of the statement. It is compelling.

However, the question that no one is asking is: Does the EFCA need a vision statement? Of even should the EFCA have a vision statement?

In organizational theory, a vision is a compelling picture of tangible results. In other words, it should have measureable metrics in it. In the revised EFCA vision, it is intuitive that disciple makers and gospel impact be the metric counted. But it is not.

Instead, the metrics used to examine "alignment" to the vision include things like how many full time staff have been added, do you have plans to plant a church in the next 2 years? Most of the things contained in the metrics alienate rural churches from participating in the vision as the metrics require.

In North Dakota, we have felt the discouragement from the National Office for some 2 decades leaving many in our district to distrust and remove themselves from participation. This will be seen as more of the same. From growing churches to healthy churches, the National Office has "suggested" success. Now they have more weight by counting "alignment" to a vision with big church metrics.

I've emailed and called. They haven't understood the problem, and they continue business as usual. It is becoming very discouraging.

Sorry to dump on your blog, but it is the only one out there.

Scott Sterner said...

I hear you on your concerns. While knowing the raw data (how many on staff, etc...) is important and helpful for a denomination to know from an organizational perspective, the suggestion that the volume of staff or number of churches you plant is the direct measure of you success is an unhelpful.

While we should, as Jesus did, motivate people to go and make disciples of all nations, we also need to somehow find a way to not communicate ones value based upon the actual numerics of disciple making. It's a tough thing to do, but I'd be interested in hearing how you suggest we walk that line carefully and sensitively. As one who works to motivate churches to cooperate in the planting of churches, I also work with a lot of small church plants that have none of the trappings of a large church. It's important for those in those settings to be comforted by the fact that faithfulness, not numbers, is the measure of success in God's eyes.

Bill Crosby said...

First, Scott, let me say, "Thank you" for putting my comment up even though the name did not show. I really appreciate you allowing that. Hopefully, it will show from now on, but I will close my comments with my name as well.

The issue, for me, with the vision is the standard of success being elevated. While church planting is important and necessary, it should not be the only pursuit of the church. In the 80s and 90s, church growth was the standard of success in evangelicalism and in the EFCA. So in response to the cultural standard of success, the EFCA begins a campaign of Affinity groups like the K club or the C club, where pastors of similar sized churches meet to encourage problem solving and growth struggles. Unintentionally, the EFCA stratifies the church and discourages pastors in slow growing church plants and pastors of rural churches in declining populations centers. Noticeably, church plants are not as frequently pursued.

Enter "Healthy" churches. No longer the cultural standard of success the growing church movement shifts to healthy community practices. So the EFCA, in an effort to help churches become healthy, hand out "healthy church assessments". Unintentionally, these healthy church assessments create confusion and conflict in churches as the pastors are left to deal with the "sins" of their congregations that are exposed.

The problem is not motivating local churches in church planting, but motivating local churches to get back to the heart of why local churches exist. Do they want to be distracted by cultural definitions of success or do they want to discover what God has called them to become?

As a rural church carries the message of the Gospel with them into their neighborhoods and businesses, they must contextualize that message appropriately. They must use a lifestyle evangelism approach that is not phony or canned but a general lifestyle of evangelism. To rush a person to the Gospel and leave them to figure out what that means is impossible if not inappropriate. In a larger church within an urban or suburban context, the Gospel can be contextualized with planned or spontaneous presentations of the Gospel and a call to repent on the spot. While one would hope the messenger is genuine and feels responsible to disciple that person, the need is not as great as a rural context. These are just comparisons of two culturally contextualized Gospel messages.

To the nitty gritty, I believe the National Office's responsibility is to celebrate and support all the culturally contextualized Gospel expressions from all 1250 or so local churches. Yet, what I have found, especially with the Vision and it's metrics, is an ever shrinking celebration of those Gospel expressions. I, in a rural context, have felt it the most. The National Office simply does not even conceive of the church as a family, like you can find my church to operate. It celebrates church as a program or as a mission sending organization, never a family.

Long story short: motivate through a reminder of the Gospel and the evangelical foundations of the priesthood of all believers and the belief that the Gospel is for the whole world, not a select few.

Thank you again for moderating and posting this blog,

Pastor Bill Crosby
Cavalier, ND

Scott Sterner said...

I appreciate your thoughts Bill and, though I'm a small cog in the machine, will do my best to keep in mind the concerns you've raised when I have opportunity to give input. Though I think the overall intentions of our national leaders is for the building of the kingdom in every context, I know there has been an ongoing focus on the value of numerics and growth, which can marginalize those in difficult missional contexts.