Is the EFCA ecumenical?
Our 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 to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
On the one hand, we are 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. On the other hand, we are 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 like precious faith, but not in structure, viz. we will not formally support or hierarchically align with any other denomination or organization. The key is that we will partner with others who are committed to the Word of God and faithful gospel ministry calling people to the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what is meant by “like precious faith.”
Here is how this is stated in the third of our Distinctives:
3. The Evangelical Free Church of America embraces a humble orthodoxy in partnership with others of like faith.
We believe in the spiritual unity of the Church though not necessarily in structural union. We join 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 we believe that there is strength in diversity and that it is important to preserve our distinctives. We recognize that union in structure does not guarantee unity of spirit. Our foremost concern is unity of spirit with our Lord, with each other and with other Christians.