OCC Joining The Evangelical Free Church of America

Frequently Asked Questions


During our Annual Business Meeting on May 6th, the Elders raised the topic of joining with “The Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA).”  A motion was made and seconded for Orchard Community Church (OCC) to join the EFCA.  A time for discussion was allowed and a vote was taken.  The Congregation voted to table the vote to allow OCC to send out additional information about EFCA to the congregation in preparation for the next quarterly business meeting on July 29.

At the next quarterly business meeting OCC will be voting whether to join the EFCA.  The Elders believe joining EFCA will provide several vital benefits that OCC, as an independent church, would not be able to obtain on its own.  The Board of Elders has spent time praying over the decision to join EFCA and has completed a thorough investigation on the benefits of joining EFCA.  It is our hope that you share our vision and will partner with OCC in this exciting endeavor.  Please review the Frequently Asked Questions and prayfully consider the benefits of joining the EFCA.


Q: Who is the Evangelical Free Church of America?

A: EFCA is an association of 1,500 autonomous churches united by mutual commitment to serve the Lord Jesus Christ with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and obedience to the Word of God.  EFCA is a believers’ church – membership consists of those who have a personal faith in Jesus Christ.  EFCA is committed to the inerrancy and authority of the Bible and the essentials of the gospel. The growing ministry of the EFCA currently extends to some 80 nations of the world.


Q: What is a denomination?

A: It is religious organizations whose congregations are united in their adherence to its beliefs and practices joining forces. By definition, it is a distinct legally recognized religious body identified by common traits of structure, polity, leadership, doctrine, and internal accountability. Denominations are typically government recognized 501(c)(3) entities which adhere to prescribed policies of governance.


Q: Why be part of a denomination?

A: It can provide opportunities to work together, for training, obtain financial support, church plants, encouragement, and other help that otherwise would not be available as an independent church. One important and often overlooked benefit is accountability.  If there is a moral crisis or other conflict situation which cannot be easily dealt with locally, godly and experienced assistance is a phone call away.


Q: Denomination vs Non-Denomination?

A: The difference of standing alone and figuring everything out by ourselves or standing with other groups with like beliefs who can lend suggestions, provide support and help when asked. In a nutshell, a denomination multiplies effectiveness in achieving the Great Commission while providing a larger net of godly accountability.


Q: What do you have to say to someone who has never been involved in a denominational church?

A: Our membership with EFCA is not going to change what we believe in or the way we are currently operating.  This statement assumes that OCC will adopt and be faithful to (1) the EFCA Statement of Faith and (2) a commitment to a congregational polity. The two non-negotiable requirements of an EFCA church is (1) to have a defensible form of congregational government, and to prescribe, verbatim, to the EFCA Statement of Faith. The operating definition of congregational government (as compared to either Episcopalian or Presbyterian governance) is: “That form of governance wherein the highest authority in the local church under Christ resides in the corporate understanding of the Mind of Christ.” The presumes prescribed processes whereby the congregation has the ultimate voice in such major decisions as 1) calling a senior pastor, 2) determining voting membership, 3) electing leadership (typically elders), (4) approving/changing the constitution, (5) approving an annual budget, and (6) approving major purchases or dissolutions.


Q: What is the doctrinal statement and vision for the Evangelical Free Church?

A: Below are 2 excellent presentations with this information.
     •    https://www.efca.org/resources/document/what-we-believe-presentation
     •    https://www.efca.org/resources/document/why-it-matters-presentation


Q: Why EFCA over another denomination ...say Southern Baptist?

A: EFCA is made up of autonomous churches united by a mutual commitment to serve our Lord Jesus Christ with guidance of the Holy Spirit and obedience to the Word of God.  EFCA Statement of Faith is aligned with OCCs Statement of Faith.  The EFCA also requires adherence to a particular Statement of Faith.  One thing that distinguishes the EFCA from groups like the Southern Baptists is that in the EFCA we allow beliefs within certain acceptable theological parameters on a number of doctrinal issues.   Please see https://www.efca.org/resources/document/theological-definitions-positions particularly the section entitled “What does the significance of silence mean”? There is no perfect denomination. Sports teams would make no sense in an independent existence. They must associate with someone or something to function effectively, and no sports strategy is perfect (man to man, zone, offensive emphasis vs defensive emphasis, etc.). But the key is to make informed decisions of who to associate with, and then to be a team player. We are simply healthier and more effective that way.


Q: What Evangelical Free churches exist in our area already?

A: The following...
•    Cornerstone Church of Escondido, 2081 Bear Valley Pkwy Escondido, California 92027
•    Riverview EFC 4980 Sweetgrass Ln Bonsall, California 92003-2902
•    North Coast Church 2405 N Santa Fe Ave Vista, California 92084-1651
     (with campuses in San Marcos/Escondido, Fallbrook, Carlsbad, Ramona, Los Barillos, Kailua Kona, etc.)
•    Green Valley EFC, 11501 Rancho Bernardo Rd., San Diego, CA 92127


Q: With an EFCA church just a block away why would we choose to be yet another church of that denomination so close?

A: Evangelical Free Churches are more diverse than you might imagine.  The EFCA needs all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people.  They believe and we agree that not only will belonging to the EFCA benefit OCC, the EFCA will also benefit from the energy and strengths of OCC.  We look forward to learning from them, them learning from and working with us to advance Christ’s Kingdom.


Q: Why would the denomination want another church so close?

A: See above.  Also, it’s our understanding that Cornerstone Church is ready to welcome OCC into the EFCA family. The emphasis is on cooperation, not competition.


Q: How does this affect our standing with Emmanuel Faith Community Church?

A: Joining EFCA does not affect our standing with EFCC. Pastor Dennis Keating of EFCC and EFCA West Regional Director Steve Highfill are longtime friends and former Talbot Theological Seminary classmates (1976-1980). Dennis and Steve are in frequent contact, and are committed to advancing the Kingdom of Jesus in any way possible. A little-known fact is that in the years leading up to the untimely death of EFCC Pastor Coy Maret (1944-1971), he was in discussions with the EFCA to affiliate Emmanuel Faith with the EFCA. Upon his death on a camping trip and the subsequent call of Dr. Strauss, those discussions never progressed.


Q: Why don’t we just join forces with EFCC and other EFCC startups to have our own independent non-denomination denomination?

A: We can! This does not hinder whether or not we can join forces with EFCC.  In fact, this question points to what the EFCA once was – a group of like-minded churches that were independent and came together to accomplish a common purpose. There is, however, an economy of scale question here. EFCA has a 100-year history, multiple universities, a law school, a global family of missionaries, and a regional team on the ready for support and encouragement.


Q: What kind of expense is involved?

A: As a member of the EFCA, OCC is expected to demonstrate partnership with other EFCA churches in the work of ministry by participation in local, regional and/or national gatherings and a financial commitment of support. Typically, a beginning point recommendation is 3% of the church’s budget or income to the EFCA via the EFCA Partnership fund (a single contribution which is in turn divided 2/3 to district and 1/3 to national support services).


Q: How does the EFCA denominational leadership get paid?

A: Online it states each EFCA church contributes—just 1%—to help fund national and international ministries, plus the percentage the local district requests to fund its ministry budget.


Q: So wondering what that is? What does the local district do with its ministry budget funds?

A: The primary purpose of the EFCA is to serve the local church.  They exist to serve the local church because local churches, whatever they look like, are still God’s chosen strategy for fulfilling the Great Commission, expanding the Kingdom, and preparing the world for His return.  The budget of EFCA West supports a team of part and fulltime staff who are readily available to serve the local church in a variety of ways: planting new churches, strengthening the leadership community, and including all people in our mission.  The EFCA doesn’t maintain a permanent building or high overhead.  Typically, $250,000 to $350,000 annually is paid out as subsidy to new church plant leaders and startups.


Q: What would EFCA expect from us as a church?

A: As a member of the EFCA, the expectation on OCC will be to demonstrate partnership with other EFCA churches in the work of ministry by participation in local, regional and/or national gatherings and a financial commitment of 3% of the church’s budget or income to the EFCA via the EFCA Partnership fund.


Q: We have been doing well on our own...List the advantages of being an EV Free Church?

A: Advantages...
1.    Insurance for staff.
2.    Nationally recognized theological credentials
3.    Financial Support.
4.    Help Plant New Churches
5.    Coaching pastors, elders and leaders to build healthy teams
6.    Supplies ministry resources to pastors, churches and individuals


Q: Does the denomination have the ability to help us financially when we get ready to build?

A: Yes, their ministry subsidiary, Christian Investors Financial, exists for that very purpose. They have over $100 million in assets on deposit with nearly double that amount out on loan to approved facility projects. As an added bonus, God’s people can deposit their savings at competitive interest rates to further strengthen this ministry arm of the EFCA https://christianinvestors.org/


Q: How mission minded is the EFCA Church?  What do they do to encourage and support missions/missionaries?

A: The history of the EFCA includes a legacy of more than 130 years of reaching the world with the Gospel.  See https://www.efca.org/resources/media/reachglobal-invite-missions for additional insights.


Q: Are these denominationally supported or individually church supported?

A: EFCA missionaries are supported by individuals and local churches, while the denomination provides administrative and other support.


Q: How would that affect the Missionaries/Organizations we are currently supporting?

A: It won’t affect what we are currently doing. Each church, being autonomous can choose which missionaries, groups and organizations they want to support.