Evangelical Free Church in Sheboygan, WI

Edgewood Community Church in Sheboygan is part of the Evangelical Free Church of America.  Here are some of the distinctives of our denomination.

The Evangelical Free Church of America is a believers’ church—membership consists of those who have a personal faith in Jesus Christ.

The great heritage of EFCA people around the world includes the fact that fellowship and ministry opportunities in the local church are based solely on one’s personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and trusting in Him alone for salvation. Membership requires commitment to sound doctrine as expressed in the EFCA statement of faith. However, a person is not excluded from membership because he or she does not agree on every fine point of doctrine. Within the EFCA, there is allowance for legitimate differences of understanding in some areas of doctrine.

The Evangelical Free Church of America is evangelical—we are committed to the inerrancy and authority of the Bible and the essentials of the gospel.

The EFCA was born out of a heritage of commitment to the authority and inerrancy of Scripture. We have deep convictions based on the authority of God’s Word, but we do not draw battle lines over minor points. Nor do we make minor issues of doctrine a test of fellowship in the local church. We are evangelical. We believe in separated living and personal holiness, but we are not separatists.

The Evangelical Free Church of America embraces a humble orthodoxy in partnership with others of like faith.

The EFCA believes in the spiritual unity of the Church though not necessarily in structural union and joins with other Christians and other denominations of like, precious faith in common goals and ministries to accomplish the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. But the EFCA believes that there is strength in diversity and that it is important to preserve their distinctives. The denomination recognizes that union in structure does not guarantee unity of spirit. The EFCA’s foremost concern is unity of spirit with our Lord, with each other and with other Christians.

The Evangelical Free Church of America believes in Christian freedom with responsibility and accountability.

The EFCA believes in Christian liberty, but freedom always has its limitations. Responsible Christians do not abuse freedom. The apostle Paul wrote forcefully about Christian liberty in the Book of Galatians. He shattered the legalists with the doctrine of grace. But in First and Second Corinthians and Romans, the apostle also rebuked believers when liberty was abused. He declared boldly the principles of Christian liberty, but spoke with equal forcefulness about Christian accountability. The EFCA desires to preserve our freedom in Christ. We encourage our people to be responsible, godly men, women and young people who desire to live under the control of the Holy Spirit in obedience to the principles and precepts of God’s Word, and in harmony with God’s will for life as revealed in the Scriptures.

The Evangelical Free Church of America believes in both the rational and relational (the head and the heart, dimensions of Christianity).

The EFCA believes the Scriptures must be applied to our individual lives with warmth of heart, warmth of message and warmth of concern. We believe it is essential to have solid, biblical content in our doctrinal understanding of faith, but it is equally important to have a dynamic, vital relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son and to live by the power of the Holy Spirit. Sound Christian doctrine must be coupled with dynamic Christian experience. The EFCA is a ministry of love and spiritual reconciliation.

The Evangelical Free Church of America affirms the right of each local church to govern its own affairs with a spirit of interdependency with other churches.

The EFCA is committed to a congregational form of government as stated in our Articles of Incorporation: “The Evangelical Free Church of America shall be an association and fellowship of autonomous but interdependent congregations of like faith and congregational government…” Strong pastoral leadership coupled with discerning and well-equipped Christian lay people can produce spiritual growth as well as significant church growth. While the EFCA affirms the right of each local church to govern its own affairs, we also believe in the biblical values of interdependence and cooperation.

The EFCA is a movement of churches committed to working with one another in order to fulfill the Great Commission in the United States and abroad. This is only possible when there are strong ties with other EFCA churches, with local district organizations and with the national EFCA ministries.

Frequently asked questions about the EFCA. 

What does the “free” mean in Evangelical Free Church?

The term “Free” has two meanings. First, in reference to history, it refers to the fact that in Europe, the Free Church was free from the state church control. Second, in reference to theology, it refers to our local church structure in that each local church is autonomous, i.e. free from ecclesiastical and hierarchical control.

Does the EFCA believe in “once saved, always saved” or that one can “lose their salvation?”

The EFCA as a denomination attempts to focus on the essentials of the gospel which means we have a parameter on some doctrinal issues. One of these issues is whether or not one affirms eternal security (perseverance of the saints) or apostasy (one can fall away and lose one’s salvation). The former view is generally held by those who would be more Reformed in their leanings, while the latter would be held by those more Arminian and Lutheran.

Because the EFCA is a place for both Arminians (including Lutherans) and Calvinists, there is no official position mandating or prohibiting either position. Our official position is that we are a place where both can serve and minister together. It is not to be a doctrine that causes division in the EFCA.

Local EFCA churches lean in one theological direction more than another on this doctrine. But the church ought to be welcoming to the person who leans in the other theological direction. This means this issue is local church specific and a local church distinctive.

In the EFCA it falls into the category of the “significance of silence,” or that area in which we affirm “unity in the essentials, dialogue in the differences,” and without division.

What is the view of the EFCA regarding the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper?

The EFCA believes (cf. Article 7, The Church) that one is saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone (key Pauline and Reformation truths). When participated in by faith, there is a strengthening of one’s faith, although there is no salvific efficacy in the ordinances in and of themselves.

Evangelical Convictions: A Theological Exposition of the Statement of Faith of the Evangelical Free Church of America (181-182) summarizes our understanding of the ordinances and affirms:

  1. Christ has given His church two ordinances, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and the practice of these ordinances is an essential distinguishing mark of a church
  2. These ordinances are signs, that is, visible and tangible expressions, of the gospel, and as such they serve to strengthen our faith—“confirming and nourishing the believer”
  3. The signs (water in baptism, the bread and grape juice or wine in the Lord’s Supper) must be distinguished from what they signify (God’s saving work in the gospel and Christ’s presence with us) [n. 79. Thus we deny baptismal regeneration and the doctrine of transubstantiation]
  4. The practice of these ordinances does not save us, and we receive spiritual benefit from them only when they are celebrated in “genuine faith” in Christ
  5. The ordinances serve to separate the believer from the world and to give a visible designation of those who belong to the body of Christ

The EFCA Statement denies that:

  1. Either baptism in water or participating in the Lord’s Supper is the instrumental cause of regeneration
  2. The grace of God is automatically and effectually conveyed through the administration of the ordinances themselves

In addition, our Statement does not prescribe the “time” or “mode” of baptism (allowing for both credo- and paedobaptist practices) nor does it define the precise manner in which Christ is present in the Lord’s Supper (allowing for a variety of historic Evangelical views).

Is the EFCA ecumenical?

The EFCA’s primary commitment in the EFCA is to the gospel of Jesus Christ (Mk. 1:15; Rom. 1:16) and the oneness that this gospel creates (Jn. 17; Eph. 2:11-22; 4:1-6). Based on this commitment, we are also desirous to partner with others who share this commitment.

The EFCA is not ecumenical based on the way the term is understood by many. That carries the connotation of a federation model that downplays doctrine and evangelism and emphasizes social and political engagement/action.  The EFCA is ecumenical based on the cooperative model that emphasizes doctrinal unity and gives priority to evangelism in the church’s mission.

More specifically, it would be accurate to say that the EFCA is ecumenical in spirit, viz. that we will join with others of similar faith, but not in structure, viz. we will not formally support any other denomination or organization. The EFCA will partner with others who are committed to the Word of God and faithful gospel ministry calling people to the Lord Jesus Christ.