A Look at EFCA One in Chicago at Compass Church. Its Schedule, Who’s Speaking and More

This is an overview of the EFCA One conference which took place at Compass Church in Chicago. This looks at the speakers, the item of business dealing with the EFCA’s Statement of Faith and also a item of concern to point out to the EFCA. 

“I feed on conferences.”

Marilyn Ferguson 

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121:7-8 NIV

This post was to go up during the EFCA One conference. But something happened which diverted me from the blog for a couple of days. So this post is late in being published. EFCA One began Tuesday morning  June 18, 2019. The biennial event lasted three days and brings together the EFCA denomination. This year the event is being in in the Chicago area. Specifically it will be at Compass Church in Naperville, Illinois.  The notebook schedule can be accessed in EFCA_One_2019_Notebook_schedule


Who are the EFCA One Speakers? 

There are a number of speakers at EFCA One that deserve to be mentioned. Some I won’t spend as much time on. Its not due to me trying to be disrespectful. Instead its due to trying to keep the conference in perspective. For example the EFCA President Kevin Kompelien is speaking. This blog will not do a biography of Kevin on this post due to time constraints. Its on my agenda and I would like to do a detailed post looking at the EFCA President one day. So that point is just to be emphasized in a respectful way. Below are the speakers at EFCA One. 

  1. EFCA President Kevin Kompelien. You can read his bio off the EFCA website here
  2. Colin Smith who is the Senior Pastor of the Orchard. The Orchard is in the EFCA’s Great Lakes District. The Orchard has five campuses in the Chicago area and Northern Illinois. Colin Smith was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland. His theological training took place at the London School of Theology. He pastored Enfield Evangelical Free in London for 16 years. He then came to the United States in 1996 and also to the Orchard. The Orchard network is known according to my research for training pastors and then sending them out to other locations. Colin is known for his radio ministry called Unlocking the Bible. Colin has also published the following books, “Momentum: Pursuing God’s Blessings Through the Beatitudes” , “Heaven, So Near – So Far: The Story of Judas Iscariot” , “The One Year Unlocking the Bible Devotional” , “Heaven, How I Got Here: The Story of the Thief on the Cross” , “Jonah: Navigating a God Centred Life” , “The 10 Greatest Struggles of Your Life: Finding Freedom in God’s Commands” , “Ten Keys to Unlock the Christian Life” and “The 10 Greatest Struggles of Your Life.”
  3. Ed Stetzer is the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church Mission, and Evangelism and the Executive Director. This blog has written about Ed Stezter in the context of the James MacDonald’s Harvest Bible Chapel scandal. I have a more complete biography of Stetzer in a post that was written that will be posted below. This blog believes that Stetzer is over-rated and that he should not be teaching, and that he is ethically challenged. 
  4. Mary Willson is Sandy Willson’s daughter. Sandy Willson is an Emeritus Council member of The Gospel Coalition and former Senior Pastor of Memphis Second Presbyterian. Sandy Willson is best remembered for his neglect in the Rick Trotter situation at Richard Rieves Downtown Church. Sandy Willson was informed and notified that a sexual predator began working at Memphis Second’s Presbyterian’s Church Plant. Willson’s neglect led to the estimated creation of at least 900 victims when Trotter resumed his voyeurism. What a pastor. You can read about this in, “Sandy Willson of Second Presbyterian Memphis is Allegedly Notified in November 2011 that a Sexual Predator was on Staff at Downtown Presbyterian Church.”
  5. Chris Dolson is the Senior Pastor of Blackhawk Church in Middleton, Wisconsin. Chris comes from Indiana and graduated from Indiana State University. After finding God in college he went on to Dallas Theological Seminary and earned a Masters of Theology degree. His doctorate comes from Gordon-Conwell Seminary. Chris pastored a church in Shreaveport, Louisana for ten years. He then came to Wisconsin and started Blackhawk in July of 1994. When this blog was studying the growth of Neo-Calvinsim in the Forest Lakes District I noticed that one of the campuses of Blackhawk was listed on the 9 Marks website. I wrote about that in, “Is Daniel Owen’s Blackhawk Fitchburg Neo-Calvinist and 9 Marks? Are they confused? Or is Mark Noll’s Theory on the Scandal of the Evangelical Mind Further Validated?” Blackhawk contacted 9 Marks and removed themselves from their association.
  6. Eric Rivera is the Lead Pastor at The Brook. The Brook was planted in 2013 and is based in Chicago. It is known for being multi ethnic. Eric has a B.A. in Bible Theology from Moody Bible Institute, a Masters of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a Ph.D,  from Trinity as well. He has published, “Christ Is Yours: The Assurance of Salvation in the Puritan Theology of William Gouge.” 
  7. Lawrence Scott is the Lead Pastor of Harvest Point Fellowship Church in Pearland, Texas. Lawrence earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Houston and his Masters of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. 
  8. Dr. Michael Sleasman is another speaker at EFCA One. Dr, Sleasman is the Managing Director of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity at the campus of Trinity International University. Dr. Sleasman is the editor of “Everyday Theology.” 
  9. Larry Osborne has served as the Senior Pastor of North Coast Church in the San Diego, California area. North Coast has six campuses and the largest is Vista.  Larry Osborne has published a number of books. Some of those titles include, “Lead Like a Shepherd: The Secret to Leading Well” , “Sticky Teams: Keeping Your Leadership Team and Staff on the Same Page” , “Sticky Church (Leadership Network Innovation Series)” , “Lead Like a Shepherd: The Secret to Leading Well” , “Accidental Pharisees: Avoiding Pride, Exclusivity, and the Other Dangers of Overzealous Faith” , “Thriving in Babylon: Why Hope, Humility, and Wisdom Matter in a Godless Culture ” , “Sticky Leaders: The Secret to Lasting Change and Innovation (Leadership Network Innovation Series)” , “Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe: Are Urban Legends & Sunday School Myths Ruining Your Faith?” , “A Contrarian’s Guide to Knowing God: Spirituality for the Rest of Us” , “The Unity Factor: Developing a Healthy Church Leadership Team” , “Mission Creep: The Five Subtle Shifts That Sabotage Evangelism & Discipleship ” , “Spirituality for the Rest of Us: A Down-to-Earth Guide to Knowing God” , “Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret: Why Serial Innovators Succeed Where Others Fail”  and “The Honest Guide to Church Planting: What No One Ever Tells You about Planting and Leading a New Church.”  Larry Osborne also helped re-launch Mark Driscoll in Scottsdale, Arizona after the implosion of Mars Hill in Seattle. I wrote about Larry Osborne in, “Why is the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) Silent on Larry Osborne’s Strong Support for Mark Driscoll and The Trinity Church? Does the EFCA Also Believe Women are Penis Homes?” 
  10. Kevin Vanhoozer is one of the most well known on the staff at Trinity. One of the privileges in writing about the EFCA is that I get to hear differing perspectives on the key personalities in the EFCA. A few months back one pastor told me that many EFCA pastors view Kevin Vanhoozer as a rock star. I got a good laugh out of that comment. Kevin earned his BA from Westmont College and his Masters of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary. After hard work he was awarded with a PhD from Cambridge University in England. He has taught at multiple universities to include Wheaton College and Graduate School, the Senior Lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies at New College in the University of Edinburgh. He sits on the editorial board of the International Journal of Systematic Theology and the Journal of Theological Interpretation. He has published 10 books I believe. His most recent is “Biblical Authority after Babel: Retrieving the Solas in the Spirit of Mere Protestant Christianity.” You can read Bobby Jamieson of 9 Marks’ review of this book here.
  11. Paige Comstock Cunningham is the Executive Director of the Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity. In addition she is also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Taylor University in Indiana. Plus she is is a member of the Advisory Board of Wheaton Center of Faith, Politic and Economics. Cuinningham is an affiliate professor at Trinity Law School and Trinity Graduate School. 
  12. Rick Richardson is the Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center Research Institute and the Church Evangelism Institute. He has also worked in the past for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship in a campus ministry for 25 years. Rick is also an ordained Anglican Priest. Rick studied at Northern Baptist Seminary and obtained his doctorate from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Currently he is an affiliate professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. 


EFCA One Business Item Regarding Proposed Change to the Statement of Faith

The one item of business that I would like to mention is the proposal to amend Article 9 of the EFCA statement of faith. The proposed change dealt with going from millennial to glorious. Its the opinion of this blog that this change is being proposed to accommodate the theology of those with Calvinistic theology who are growing in the denomination.  At the business meeting this change did pass. Below is the description I lifted off the EFCA website.

The EFCA Board of Directors has introduced a motion to amend Paragraph 9, Article III of the Articles of Incorporation of the EFCA, the Statement of Faith, as follows:

We believe in the personal, bodily and premillennial glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time known only to God, demands constant expectancy and, as our blessed hope, motivates the believer to godly living, sacrificial service and energetic mission.

This motion was unanimously and enthusiastically adopted by the Board of Directors in February, 2017. Because the motion involves a proposed amendment to the Articles of Incorporation, the motion was presented to the 2017 Conference but cannot be acted upon until the 2019 Conference and must receive the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the membership of the 2019 Conference present and voting. The board strongly believes that this motion allows time for necessary and important conversations as a movement.

The proposed amendment of Article 9 of the Statement of Faith came to the Board of Directors as a recommendation of the Spiritual Heritage Committee, and was based on multiple interactions the Spiritual Heritage Committee had with EFCA pastors and leaders across the country, and ReachGlobal staff around the world. The board endeavored to listen, pray, seek the input of our district superintendents, and discern God’s direction for the EFCA movement. Having given careful and prayerful consideration to the recommendation of the Spiritual Heritage Committee, the Board of Directors is in full agreement that this is the right time for these conversations.

The EFCA Statement of Faith is composed of theological convictions central to our faith. The affirmations are theological essentials because they relate to our salvation; they are all vitally connected to the gospel. We believe this, and nothing else, should be our primary point of identity in the EFCA. The proposed amendment to remove the word premillennial, and replace it with glorious, seeks to embody a principle that has been at the core of who we are in the EFCA, a principle considered by many to be our greatest strength, and one of the most cherished features of our spiritual heritage: we are a believers’ church with a strong commitment to biblical unity in Jesus Christ. The EFCA is a gospel-centered movement, united in common commitment to the essentials of the gospel – and further united in mission.

The motion to amend Article 9 of the Statement of Faith was introduced at the business session of the 2017 EFCA Conference but cannot be acted upon until the 2019 Conference. The EFCA Board of Directors is available to answer any questions you might have regarding the proposed amendment and to receive any input that you may wish to share. The conversation this motion initiates is vital to the EFCA movement. If you would like to communicate with the board, you are welcome you to do so at boardofdirectors@efca.org.


Item of Concern The Wondering Eagle Has About the EFCA

This blog is concerned with the inability of the EFCA to be able to reconcile the themes and efforts at ministry inside the EFCA against the issues in the modern evangelical movement. For example, they have speakers that will focus on ethics, reconciliation, justice and more. The EFCA will talk about the importance of those topics. Then the EFCA will take someone like Ed Stetzer who is ensnared in the Harvest Bible Chapel scandal and put him center stage and allow him to teach. Why have the talks about ethics or reconciliation and then have that nullified by letting Ed Stetzer speak. From my perspective that is a zero sum gain. It cancels each other out. It raises deep issues about discernment, critical thinking skills and if the EFCA actually cares about the gospel? This is an area that the EFCA needs to focus on in the course of time. You can read more about this in, “When the EFCA is Tone Deaf to Evangelical Scandals. Why is Ed Stetzer Speaking at EFCA One in Chicago?” 

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