In July 2019, I watched some video training by a guy on Facebook that was shared by one of my pastors. I quickly saw some things that really were not inline with scripture. As I began to look a bit closer into him and those who he is connected with in ministry, as well as those who endorse his books, I found a line leading right into the Emerging Missional Church Movement. As I continued looking into these people, I eventually stumbled onto a connection of this in the EFCA (Evangelical Free Church of America).
In my looking into these people and others connected with them, I came across a couple of articles about the EFCA and contemplative spirituality on the Lighthouse Trails website from 2013 and 2014, but nothing more current, so in February of this year I sent a Letter to the Editor sharing with them what I was finding and asked them what they were seeing more currently, so below is my letter, their response and a comment that was left by an E-Free pastor. I have prayed about what to do with this information for weeks, and as I continue to have conversations with people and their concerns about false teaching and just things that are not biblically sound happening in their churches or churches of people known to them, I believe it is time to share this.
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I know you have posted some things regarding the EFCA back in 2013-2014 and contemplative spirituality, but I haven’t seen anything more current so I thought I would share some things with you that I see. As a member (Technically) of an EFCA church, I accidentally stumbled across some things that, if correct, should be concerning to anyone who is attached to the EFCA.
So, as you probably know, in June 2019, the EFCA removed “premillennial” [belief in a thousand year reign of Christ after the tribulation] from their SOF and replaced it with “glorious return.” I wondered why, and this past Fall, I found the answer. There is a Vimeo video online of the President of the EFCA sharing why he wanted people to vote yes to the language change from premillennial to glorious return. What was his reason? A group of young pastors who wanted to credential under the EFCA but they couldn’t say they agreed with the premillennial view. I could be wrong, but that sounds like compromise. On June 19, 2019, the amendment was approved.
Then, in a search about the “Emerging Missional” movement, a blog post showed up on the EFCA website titled “Understanding the Missional Church” dated May 2012. The EFCA is going in the direction of the Missional Church movement or at least part of it is. Inside the EFCA is a grass roots group of pastors and leaders who desire to live and be “missional”*— that group is known as Creo Collective. Now, might this be the group of pastors who weren’t sure they could agree with the “premillennial” view? You have to Google Creo Collective (www.creocollective.org) to find them as they don’t just show up on the EFCA website.
I should mention that it is my understanding that not all EFCA pastors agree with the direction the EFCA is headed (however, that is not the case in our local church). From what I can tell, this movement is actually a part of the Emerging Church or at least it would appear that way. Why? Well, in 2018 Creo Collective trained EFCA pastors and leaders on the APEST model as taught by Alan Hirsch and his book Forgotten Ways. Alan Hirsch, as I believe you know, is an emerging church leader, and he is endorsed by many other EMC leaders. When you look at people Hirsch quotes, they are not people most Christians would be quoting. He tends to quote contemplative spiritualists, social-justice teachers, progressives, Catholic priests, etc. When I looked on the Creo Collective FB page for 2020, the first thing that comes up for training (coaching) is spiritual formation and later in the schedule is more training (coaching) on the APEST.
What’s my concern? Is the EFCA in fact lining up with the Emerging Church movement? What do you at Lighthouse Trails see happening?
The following is the response from those at Lighthouse Trails. Their comments are used with permission and may not be used without their verbal or written consent.
“We agree that there are some EFCA leaders and pastors who are not promoting or embracing emergent church teachings or heading in that direction. However, we also share your concerns about EFCA as a whole and about their present leadership and direction. What we were observing in 2013 and 2014 regarding the EFCA has now borne its emergent “fruit.” As you can see in this 2011 recommend resources list, EFCA had made the decision to go down the contemplative mystical path. And now today, as you have pointed out, partly through EFCA groups like Creo Collective, they have followed the “natural” course that contemplative leads to—emergent, “progressive,” social justice; and based on what has happened to so many other denominations, we predict it will only get worse for the EFCA. Once a group starts down the contemplative path, only a determined and committed effort and desire to stop will keep that group from going full-blown emergent, socialist, and ultimately anti-Gospel.
While EFCA doctrines of belief statements still adhere to biblical principles, there are definite indications they are compromsing in order to keep everyone happy. We must remember that doctrines of belief statements are not enough to show an accurate gauge to how biblically healthy a denomination is. What must also be looked at are the various movements, recommendations, groups, pastors, churches, and offshoots of a denomination because those are what give a far more accurate glimpse into the future of that denomination. Creo Collective, plus the EFCA connections to emergent leaders such as Alan Hirsch are two examples of where EFCA is going.
One of several examples we saw of EFCA’s apparent compromising in order to keep everyone happy is a statement made about Replacement Theology** where they make allowance within their denominational structure to accept it or reject it. And coupled with their recent vote to remove the word “premillennial” (a word that would generally include Israel’s role in the last days scenario), our concerns that EFCA is indeed becoming emergent are only heightened.
*Missional: Replacing the term missions; it strives to improve society through social justice. De-emphasizes evangelism to the lost. Emphasizes being relevant and connected to the culture.”
The following is a comment left by an E-Free pastor after my letter was posted on Lighthouse Trails website, again I was given permission to use his comment. This is not a pastor I personally know nor is he from my state or district.
“As a Pastor of a EV Free Church I can tell you that you are correct that there has been a massive turn towards Emergent Spirituality within the EFCA. I have labored to warn leadership at our District and National levels concerning the dangers of Spiritual Formation, Contemplative Spirituality and their Social Gospel leanings. All of those efforts fell on deaf ears. Our District leadership has invited Emergent Speakers for district leadership meetings and they have endorsed such heretical mystics as St John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. Our little church will not be embracing any of that. We are going to stick with the Bible and the simple gospel message of the cross. We are not interested in the latest church buzzwords and business models. We are definitely in a time of Apostasy and I am thankful for Lighthouse Trails, the Berean Call, and men and women such as Dave Hunt, Warren Smith, Ray Yungen, Caryl Matrisciana, Trevor Baker and others who have had the courage to stand for the Lord in these last hours. My prayer is that the church would wake up and cast off the works of darkness! Our prayers are with you! Endure dear saints, the Lord is coming soon!”
Over the past few months I have talked with two other E-Free pastors who confirm the concerns expressed in this post.
So, why do I post this? Because people need to know. We are in serious times in society and in the Church. As I have prayed as to whether the Lord would even want me to put this out there, He kept bringing to mind the process of tempering eggs. I love to make Creme Brulee, and when you do that, you have to temper the eggs with the hot cream little at a time. What I got from the Lord in His bringing this to mind, is this, deception comes into the Church a little at a time just like adding a little hot cream mixture to the eggs a little at a time so the eggs adjust to the change that is taking place and eventually you can just mix the rest of the cream in without worrying about messing up the eggs. That is the same thing with deception coming into the church, it comes a little at a time, tempering you so that you are conditioned to the change that is taking place, by the time people realize what is happening they will already actively be supporting and living in a Christianity that is no longer about a biblical gospel, a biblical Jesus, or even a true biblical Christianity. This post isn’t just for those connected to the EFCA it is for any Believer in Jesus Christ who is seeing some things that appear to be out of line of Biblical Christianity – it is time for the Church to wake up! That’s it. StraightUp!