Friday, April 28, 2006

Whence Matt? - EFCA

Today, we're off to the Allegheny District of the EFCA for our annual conference of churches.

I've been around the EFCA now for about 15 years. When I went off to Moody Bible Institute in 1991, I began attending First Evangelical Free Church of Chicago and loved it! The expressive but God-centered worship, biblical preaching, and emphasis on relationships was wonderful. Even though I was a student and couldn't be too involved in church during the week, First Free was the first church I felt was "home" for me as an adult.

Four years later, when it was time to pick a seminary, Heather and I looked high and low and decided upon Trinity Evangelical Divinity School which is owned and operated by the EFCA. One of these days, I'll blog on my experience there.

During my seminary experience, I was a youth pastor at an independent Bible church in Zion, Illinois, half and hour north of Trinity. Beach Bible Church was then pastored by an EFCA ordained man, Randy Christie. Randy has since moved to New Mexico, but Beach Bible has been adopted into the EFCA. Someday, I'll blog on some of my experiences there, too.

When graduation from TEDS came around, Heather and I met with the district superintendents of the EFCA at a week long conference on campus. We were introduced to LeRoy Glover, the DS for the Allegheny District. He mentioned that he had 7 churches looking for pastors (out of 30!) in my old stomping grounds--Eastern Ohio and Western Pennyslvania (even my beloved Cook Forest is in the Awesome Allegheny District!). Heather and I said, "Sign us up!" And (another blog story sometime), we were called to Lanse EFC in 1998.

I really enjoy the EFCA. We have a real committment to sound doctrine, especially the inerrancy of the Bible and the centrality of the Gospel, but there is also a freedom to disagree on secondary things. And there is a lot of life and passion for Christ!

In the last year, the EFCA has begun a process of potentially revising our 12 point Statement of Faith. It's an attempt to continue to be faithful to the Scriptures, improving some perceived weaknesses in the document, strengthening our stands on evangelical doctrine, and possibly broadening our stances on a few secondary doctrines. It's been interesting to see it play out as the changes have been proposed and now discussed.

I'm generally in favor of the changes and think that they will be healthy for our movement. I'm sure that all involved would appreciate your prayers for this process. It's pretty important that we do it well. Today, during the conference, we're going to hear a presentation from our EFCA president, Bill Hamel, and our director of biblical theology, Greg Strand. I'm very interested to hear what they have to say.

Our district is now led by Superintendent Jeff Powell. He's my pastor and my kids call him, "Super Jeff!" I'm looking forward to being with him and all of our district friends today.

Part of an ongoing series about major influences on my life, thought, and ministry. "Whence" is an old English word that means, "From Where?"