Archives For EFCA One

Our spiritual lives originate in the gospel. Our EFCA movement exists because of and for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our Statement of Faith is framed around God’s gospel.

The gospel is being talked about today. That is always a good thing. It is the central message of Jesus: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel” (Mk. 1:15).

But, challenges also arise with the numerous references to the gospel in our speech and writing: there is an understanding of a small gospel – it equals being born again; there is an understanding of a large gospel – it equals everything in the Christian life.

The call is to affirm and reaffirm the doctrinal and functional centrality of the biblical gospel – doctrinal centrality in belief and proclamation, and functional centrality in life and ministry, implications of the gospel.

This was the theme of a couple of our plenary sessions at our EFCA One Conference last summer which were moderated by Ed Stetzer. During the course of the past couple of months Stetzer has made these messages a series on The Exchange. Here is Ed’s brief statement about this series.

Last summer, I was at the Evangelical Free Church national meeting, doing some speaking and leading a couple of panel discussions. One of those panels involved multicultural ministry. After the panel, I asked the participants if they’d join me on a blog series, one per person, following up on their topics. Ruth Arnold, Ryan Kwon, Greg Strand, Philip Abode, Arloa Sutter, Bill Taylor, David Park, Noel Castellanos all spoke at the EFCA national meeting will feature guest blogs here over the next few weeks.

Below is the complete series in the order in which Stetzer posted them. I encourage you to read them all, as each affirms the doctrinal centrality of the gospel and works out the functional centrality of the gospel in each of the respective ministries.

As you read them, here is my assignment: think, ponder and then discuss these questions among other leaders:

  • How do you affirm the doctrinal centrality of the gospel? Do your leaders and God’s people in the local church know that and can they affirm it?
  • In each of these various ministries, do you live out the functional centrality of the gospel and how would or should you?

Ruth Arnold: “Gospel Diversity

David Park: “Why We Need to Do Our Own Math

Arloa Sutter: “What Your Church Can Do to Care for the Poor

Bill Taylor: “Mission and Ministry after Losing the Culture Wars

Greg Strand: “The Centrality of the Gospel in Ministry

Ryan Kwon: “How the Gospel Abolishes the Fear of Church Planting

Philip Abode: “The Gospel and Pastoral Ministry

Noel Castellanos: “The Passion of Christ and the Plight of our Undocumented Neighbors

Scott Manetsch serves Professor of Church History at TEDS. Manetsch recently published an excellent book that addresses much more thoroughly the topic of his lecture series: Calvin’s Company of Pastors: Pastoral Care and the Emerging Reformed Church, 1536-1609 (New York: Oxford, 2013).

We have the privilege of receiving the fruit of his extensive research and insightful reflections in this workshop, “The Reformation of the Pastoral Office.” In these three lectures given as part of our EFCA One Conference, Manetsch considers ways in which the Protestant Reformers departed from medieval Catholic understandings of priesthood, and fashioned a vision of ministry focused on preaching, pastoral care/discipline, and visitation/education. You will note that what happened here was foundational to how we understand and carry out pastoral ministry today.

We have included recordings and notes of the three sessions. Not only was the content excellent, but Manetsch also interacted extensively with participants, which added immensely to the sessions. You will be encouraged and challenged as you (re)consider pastoral ministry and the ministry of the Word as you serve God’s people in the context of the local church.

Lecture One: “Pastors and their Vocation

Lecture Two: “Pastors and the Ministry of the Word

Lecture Three: “Pastors and the Ministry of the Pastoral Care


The Reformation of the Pastoral Office – Scott Manetsch EFCA One 2013 handout

Drs. Dennis Magary and Greg Scharf co-taught the Forum on Expository Preaching at our EFCA One Conference, “Preaching Laments and Imprecatory Psalms.” Magary serves as Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages and Chair of the Old Testament and Semitic Languages Department; Scharf serves as Professor of Pastoral Theology and Chair of the Pastoral Theology Department. With these two TEDS professors we have a teacher who preaches and a preacher who teaches, modeling for us what we aspire to be, pastor-theologians.

The new format for the Forum consists of teaching and preaching. Magary taught about biblical laments and how to understand them with references to numerous texts of Scripture, while Scharf addressed issues of the sermon and how to frame, structure and organize the text to preach biblical laments faithfully to God’s people. This was then applied as Magary actually preached a sermon on Psalm 22. The session ended with a time for questions and answers.

The Forum was excellent! I like the new format we have established, consisting of teaching, preaching and a time for Q & A. It was evident that the questions came from those on the front-lines of ministry, those who are studying the Word faithfully, preaching regularly and providing pastoral care to God’s people.

I am excited to share with you these excellent sessions through recordings and notes. Thank you to Magary and Scharf for making them available! Though the recordings were not professionally done, their quality is quite good. The recording of the final Q & A is not as clear, in that one person had the microphone, while questions were asked from those in attendance and two individuals responded to the questions.

Session 1: Dennis Magary, “Going Negative: Preaching Biblical Laments

Session 2: Greg Scharf, “Preaching Laments: What To Look For and What To Echo

Session 3: Sermon: Dennis Magary, “A Psalm of Lament: Psalm 22

Session 4: Question and Answer

“The goal of the Forum on Expository Preaching is to encourage and equip expository preachers in the EFCA who are God-centered, Christ-focused and Spirit-empowered, who are biblically faithful, theologically informed and pastorally sensitive, and who have a passion to proclaim God’s Word to God’s people with the goal of glorifying God, nurturing God’s people and building up the church of Jesus Christ.”


Going Negative_ppt [Compatibility Mode]

Preaching Laments 7_1_13_ppt [Compatibility Mode]

In one of the plenary Hot Topic sessions we focused on the doctrinal and functional centrality of the gospel.  I presented a short introduction explaining the rationale and format of the session. Ed Stetzer emphasized the biblical gospel, and focused on some of the implications/entailments of the gospel. This gospel truth was then applied in a functional way specifically in four areas of ministry: pastoral ministry by Philip Abode; biblical diversity by Ruth Arnold; compassion and justice by Noel Castellanos; church planting by Ryan Kwon.

Since one of the immediate goals of TED Talks is to generate thoughtful interaction and reflection, speakers provided questions to enable participants to engage at a deeper and in a more profound manner with the messages. Being gospel people in the Free Church, the ultimate goal was to increase our commitment to the doctrinal centrality of the gospel in belief and proclamation, and the functional centrality, i.e. its implications or entailments, of the gospel in life and ministry.

Introduction: Greg Strand, “The Doctrinal and Functional Centrality of the Biblical Gospel”

In this evening’s hot topic session we address the doctrinal and functional centrality of the biblical gospel – doctrinal centrality in belief and proclamation, and functional centrality in life and ministry.

We will follow a “TED talk” format, which is described as giving “the talk of your life.” And we have asked our speakers to do that in 12 minutes! All the speakers tonight believe so deeply in this foundational message that they would be willing to die for it, and even more so, to live for it! And since an end-goal of a TED talk is to generate discussion, promote deeper, and at times different, thought, questions of implication, application and engagement will accompany their presentations.

The call is to affirm and reaffirm the doctrinal and functional centrality of the biblical gospel – doctrinal centrality in belief and proclamation, and functional centrality in life and ministry, implications of the gospel. This is what our five speakers will do this evening.

TED Talk Questions


Ed Stetzer, President of Lifeway Research: “The Biblical Gospel”

  • Why are so many dissatisfied with our current understanding of the gospel (not big enough, too diluted, has a “hole” in it, needs to be recovered, etc.)
  • Why does our view of gospel– and what it contains– really matter?
  • What does the gospel-centered movement offer and what are the concerns it might cause us?
  • How can we lead our churches to know, and have great confidence in, the gospel?
  • How do the gospel and the mission intersect?

Philip Abode, Lead Pastor, Crossover Bible Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma: “The Centrality of the Gospel and Pastoral Ministry”

  • In an article on the centrality of the gospel, Dr. Timothy Keller said, “The main problem in the Christian life is that we have not thought out the deep implications of the gospel, we have not ‘used’ the gospel in and on all parts of our life.” What are your thoughts about this statement? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
  • What role do you think the gospel plays in a believer’s sanctification (the progressive growth toward Christlikeness)?
  • How does your preaching/teaching currently reflect the role that the gospel plays in the believer’s life beyond salvation (justification)?
  • How does the functional centrality of the gospel play itself out in your ministry (i.e. decision making, counseling, preaching, children’s ministry, youth ministry, outreach)?

Ruth Arnold, Executive Director, 2nd Mile Ministries: “The Centrality of the Gospel and Biblical Diversity”

  • What fears or apprehensions do you have related towards pursuing and leading others towards embracing diversity?
  • What are several easy examples of ways God has created diverse things to be gifts? (teams, body, flavors, etc…?)
  • How have you seen people who are already in your life who are different from you enrich your life, character, and witness? (Spouse, family members, co-workers, friends)
  • What sinful blind spots do you have that are accepted normal behaviors of the social and cultural groups you identify with?
  • In what ways have you been able to see God in richer ways as a result of a relationship with someone who is different than you?
  • As you live in the Christian community you are part of – in what ways are you less effective in the world around you because of a lack of diversity? Or how has being part of a diverse community strengthened your effectiveness in the world around you?

Noel Castellanos, Chief Executive Officer of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA): “The Centrality of the Gospel and Compassion and Justice”

  • How does the incarnation of Jesus of Nazareth as a Galilean Jew inform our understanding of God’s concern for the poor?
  • Why does the church in the west seem to miss the centrality of God’s concern for the poor?
  • If God identifies so closely with the vulnerable and the marginalized in the world, how do we prioritize ministry to the rich in society?
  • How does Noel’s message impact your perspective on the current immigration debate?

Ryan Kwon, Lead Pastor, Resonate Church, Freemont, California: “The Centrality of the Gospel and Church Planting”

  • Tim Keller says, “The only way to significantly increase the number of Christians in a city is by significantly increasing the number of new churches.” Do you agree or disagree?
  • If someone is feeling territorial, what facets of the gospel are they not believing? How does the gospel address turf wars?
  • Why is it important to seek faithfulness over success? What role has a fear of failure played in your life and ministry? How can the gospel address those fears?
  • The primary barriers to church planting are:

o lack of resources
o need for control
o fear of loss.

  • Which of these three areas presents your current ministry with the greatest barrier to supporting or planting churches?
  • What would it look like if your current ministry took the next steps toward supporting the work of church planting in your city?
  • How can established churches find renewal through new church plants in the area?

EFCA One, our bi-annual national conference, was held the first week of July in New Orleans. It was a great conference with excellent plenary speakers/sessions and teaching/training tracks.

There were two types of plenary sessions this year: three expository messages from the Word, preached by Kevin DeYoung and Gordon MacDonald, and two hot topic sessions, given oversight by Ed Stetzer.

Expository Preaching

  • Kevin DeYoung (Monday PM):“The Pleasure of God and the Possibility of Holiness” (Romans 12:1-2) Application: Where will you focus your imperfect yet possible obedience this week?
  • Kevin DeYoung (Tuesday AM): “What is the Mission of the Church?” (Matthew 28:18-20). Application: What value do you place on preaching the “unpopular, impractical message” of the gospel?
  • Gordon MacDonald (Wednesday AM):  “Jesus’ Call: hear it again….for the first time!” (Matthew 5:13-16). Application: Who are the 10-12 people you’re intentionally discipling?

Hot Topic Panels

  • Hot Topic (Monday night): “The Doctrinal and Functional Centrality of the Biblical Gospel”: Application: How are you bringing the gospel to bear on various areas of ministry in your local church?
  • Hot Topic (Tuesday night): “Ministry As the Scattered Church”: Application: How does your church or ministry respond to a post-modern culture?

Tomorrow I will include a separate post on the Hot Topic plenary session focused on “The Doctrinal and Functional Centrality of the Biblical Gospel.” Later in the week I will also be posting recordings and notes from the Forum on Expository Preaching (“Preaching Laments and Imprecatory Psalms”) and the Teaching Track (“The Reformation of the Pastoral Office”).