EFCA’s Village Church of Barrington in Illinois Distances Itself from the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability

David W Jones leads the Village Church of Barrington. Situated outside of Chicago this is a church in the Great Lakes District of the EFCA. As the Harvest Bible Chapel scandal unfolded David Jones church made a decision to distance itself from the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability. This is a post that I have been wanting to do for a while as it touches on many topics that The Wondering Eagle has written about. 

“I absolutely value autonomy. I value freedom and having the ability to implement change right away.”

Elizabeth Chambers 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

1 Peter 1:3 

Downtown Chicago

This is a post that I have been meaning to sit down and do for a while. It ties two interests that this blog has been writing about. Those interests are the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) and Harvest Bible Chapel. 

 

Village Church of Barrington

The history of the Village Church of Barrington goes back to 1961 when a group of people met with a representative from the Evangelical Free Church of America. They wanted to establish a church in the community of Barrington. Barrington Evangelical Free Church was established in August of 1961. A conservative estimate is that about 44 people attended week;y on Sunday mornings. In 1965 the church purchased five acres on Main Street and then commenced a building project . In 1967 the name was changed to Village Church of Barrington. A gym and high school meeting rooms were added in 1969 to accommodate youth. In 1975 a new sanctuary was built for 500. Today about 660 people attend the Village Church of Barrington. 

David W Jones is the Senior Pastor of the Village Church of Barrington. He attended Midwest Baptist College ad then went on to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for his Masters of Divinity. He then obtained his Doctor of Ministry from Phoenix Seminary. The first church he pastored was a small Presbyterian outside Detroit called First Cumberland Presbyterian Church. From 1997 until 1998 David taught at Moffat College of the Bible in Kijabe, Kenya. When he returned to the United States he was the Associate Editor for Crossway Books from January of 1998 until 2001. David then worked for Harvest Bible Chapel as the Pastor of Adult Education from January 2001 until January of 2005. He also worked as the Research Assistant for James MacDonald where he helped develop preaching schedules and more. In January of 2006 he became the Director of Training for Harvest Bible Fellowship. In 2010 he then became a part of the Evangelical Free Church of America. 

 

Brief Reminder of the Financial Problems at Harvest Bible Chapel

Harvest Bible Chapel is in part a story of financial scandal. For example you have the story of $20 million dollars of wasted steel which you can read about in, “Harvest Bible Chapel Elgin, “General Contractor James MacDonald”, and $20 Million Dollars of Wasted Money in Steel.” Then there was the story of the black budget which this blog wrote about. It had to deal with a budget off the books that was most likely used for illegal expenses. In all likelihood that is what the black budget was used for at Harvest Bible Chapel. What needs to happen is that the black budget needs to be opened so that a full accounting can take place. You can read about the black budget and more in, “Walk in the Word, a Black Budget at Harvest Bible Chapel and Finances that Resemble a Criminal Syndicate More Than a Ministry.” Despite the warnings and the financial concerns coming from Harvest Bible Chapel, Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) continued to certify them in good standing. Julie Roys also broke a number of stories about financial excess at Harvest Bible Chapel as well as James MacDonald. That ECFA rating changed when Julie revealed extravagant living by James MacDonald to include African safaris, expensive cigars, vacations and more, all on the church’s dime. That led to ECFA suspending Harvest Bible Chapel in March of 2019. In April that status was changed to being terminated. You can read more about this in, “Harvest Bible Chapel Goes From Being Suspended in March of 2019 by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability to Being Terminated in April of 2019.” 

 

Village Church of Barrington Distances Itself from ECFA

This blog has heard from sources in Chicago that some people from Harvest Bible Chapel have ended up at the Village Church of Barrington. As the issues with ECFA grew (note I plan to do an overall history of the organization, its on my to do list.) there was more concern about being associated with ECFA. According to my research Barrington became a part of ECFA in 2014.  In April of 2019 David Jones communicated on Twitter took Village Church of Barrington took down the ECFA seal. Later on it was reported that Barrington was not going to renew and the decison was featured in a World magazine article as well which you can access here. Below you will see the Tweets about Barrington and ECFA. This move I would present as significant as its the first time I have heard of a church acting like this. In addition, I think this is the first time this has happened inside the EFCA also. That will be good for the EFCA’s health. 

 

The EFCA is a Denomination that has a Lot of Possibilities but Contains Many Challenges

As a denomination the EFCA has a lot of opportunities and many challenges and issues staring it down. The EFCA as this blog has learned is quite complex and filled with pockets of good people and churches and its also struggling with issues. An overview of the EFCA can be read at, “How Should the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) be Viewed? Well it’s Complicated.”  There is one area that the EFCA can play an exceptional role that can help both Christiandom and the national culture. The EFCA due to its culture of being from its roots in Swedish, and Norwegian-Danish immigrants. The EFCA can play a role in racial healing that the Southern Baptists will not be able to do as much. The theology conference in Garden Ridge, Texas was a nice compliment to this issue. You can read more in, “The Strategic Role the EFCA can Play in Racial Healing; Plus Did the EFCA Allegedly Remove a Church from the Denomination that Had Ties to the White Supremacist Organization the League of the South?” and “EFCA’s Upcoming Theological Conference: The Gospel, Compassion and Justice. A Review of the Speakers and Some Personal Thoughts.

Also this blog has to acknowledge for all the problematic churches and issues in evangelicalism that have been written about there are some solid churches inside the EFCA. One of them is led by Tom Nelson in the Kansas City Metropolitan area and its called Christ Community Church. I have actually been approached and its been shared how the community and culture is pretty solid. You can read more about Christ Community in, “Tyler Chernesky of Christ Community Church in Kansas City on Friendship and Proverbs. Seeing What was Taught in a Sermon Play Out in Kansas and Missouri” and “Tom Nelson’s Christ Community Church in the Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas Area Turns 30 in 2019.” Then out in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania you have the story of Community Evangelical Free Church in Harrisburg as led by Benjamin Vrbicek. Benjamin who is blogging about preparing for pastoral ordination wrote a very tender blog post that deals with friendship that was moving. You can read about that in “Benjamin Vrbicek of Community Evangelical Free Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Writes a Tender Blog Post on Friendship.” And even in some when scandal or problems develop some EFCA churches respond with transparency. Salem Church in Staten Island, New York recently had a sexual abuse situation and the church moved swiftly and with transparency. They did such a good job in this writers opinion that I suggested that Minneapolis study the situation and craft a white paper for how to handle sexual abuse inside the greater EFCA. You can read about that in, “How the EFCA’s Salem Church in Staten Island, New York Handled an Alleged Sexual Abuse Situation.” 

On the other side of the coin the EFCA faces a lot of challenges and issues. Let’s look at a couple. The growth of Calvinism inside the EFCA is a problem and its leading to the violation of the EFCA’s signature doctrine the “Significance of Silence.” This blog told the story of an EFCA church outside Minneapolis, Minnesota that was theologically flipped and how some people lost their home of 25 years. The author of the post Amanda Farmer published the experience in a book which this blog reviewed and published, Other violations are occurring in other parts of the EFCA. This blog has been writing about an EFCA 9 Marks church in Wichita, Kansas which is part the Midwest District and called First Free Wichita. This blog has heard that a well known pastor was fired for not being Calvinist. You can read about all this in the following posts. 

  1. A Neo-Calvinist Hijacking at an EFCA Church in Minnesota That Took Place in the Shadow of John Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist.”
  2. Inside the EFCA are Neo-Calvinists Violating the “Significance of Silence” to Hijack Churches?
  3. The Wondering Eagle Book Review: Amanda Farmer’s “Once An Insider, Now Without a Church Home
  4. Will First Evangelical Free Church of Wichita Hear the Lion’s Roar? What About the Injustice That has Occurred in Josh Black’s Church?

Another problem that needs to be discussed is how the autonomous nature of the EFCA can also create problems. Its problematic especially due to the lack of a hierarchy. In other words congregationalism has its limits. In Elverson, Pennsylvania this blog broke a story that dealt with limits of congregationalism, domestic abuse, rape, and Calvinist theology. You can read the initial story of Community Evangelical Free Church of Elverson in, “Steve Estes and Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania: A Painful Story of Domestic Abuse, Inappropriate Church Discipline, and Failed EFCA Polity.”  Also this blog is concerned about sexual abuse inside the EFCA. Its raised its head a few times in differing parts of the United States as I have written about it. 

Its a complicated problem and its a challenge that exists for the EFCA. Barrington seems to be on the positive side which is encouraging. This blog has not made it to the Great Lakes District but will do so in the course of time. I look forward to writing more about Barrington and other EFCA churches in Chicago. Until then I wish David Jones and Barrington well.