ECFA Announces New Standard for Accreditation


New Leadership Standard Prioritizes Holistic Health
and Integrity of Pastors and Ministry Leaders


WINCHESTER, Va., March 6, 2024—The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) is raising the standard of care for ministry leaders in announcing the Leadership Standard—a new accreditation standard for its 2,700 member organizations.

ECFA’s mission is to enhance trust in churches and ministries serving Christ, and the ECFA seal has become the gold standard for donors looking for accountable organizations that share their Christian values. Through this new standard—the most revolutionary update to ECFA’s standards in 45 years—ECFA-accredited church and ministry boards will purposefully come alongside their organizations’ senior leaders to establish biblical character expectations and to be proactive in offering them holistic care.

“The new Leadership Standard is inspired by ECFA members and comes after several years of prayer, research and constructive deliberations,” said Michael Martin, ECFA President and CEO. “Now is the time for a simple and clear standard, deliberately neither prescriptive nor legalistic, to support leaders and ultimately strengthen the entire organization.”

ECFA research showed 94 percent of its members reporting concern that leader integrity failures in ministry contexts were having a negative impact on community and giver trust. Meanwhile, research just released by Barna shows that 4 out of 5 Christian donors agree that their trust would be strengthened by churches and ministries following the principles of the new ECFA Leadership Standard to support healthy leadership.

The Leadership Standard will require ECFA-accredited organizations to take proactive steps to care for and support the health and integrity of their senior leaders. The standard gives member organizations significant latitude to implement a process that’s best suited for their contexts while including a requirement that their boards engage their leaders at least annually to discuss holistic care and the leader’s commitment to upholding mutually agreed on biblical principles.

“It is vital that Christian ministries care for their leaders and shepherd the influence of their organizations well,” said Paul Anderson, ECFA Board Chair. “The new standard brings shared accountability for boards to proactively engage in the holistic wellness of the organization’s senior leader.”

ECFA is inviting feedback on the draft standard through May 31, 2024 at The ECFA Board anticipates finalizing the Leadership Standard in the fall of 2024 based on this feedback, and then a two-year member education and early adoption period would commence. ECFA members would be expected to demonstrate compliance with the standard during the 2027 accreditation renewal cycle.

The new Leadership Standard already has strong support from a diverse group of ECFA leaders and ministries, including local churches, international ministries, pregnancy centers, rescue missions, media ministries and educational institutions.

“As a pastor, I’ve seen firsthand the weight leaders carry, often alone,” said Craig Groeschel, Senior Pastor of Life.Church. “ECFA’s new Leadership Standard will spur organizations to bring clarity to a leader’s responsibility for staying anchored in Christ. This is about more than organizational integrity. It’s about intentionally building a Christ-centered culture where leaders are held both in love and accountability by the people they serve.”

“As the leader goes, so goes the organization. Therefore, a leader who is firm in their faith because of habits of faith will lead an organization with wisdom. Staying firm in one’s faith is not an individual endeavor but a team sport: people who pray for the leader, who encourage the leader, who stride side by side with the leader, who picks the leader up, who asks the leader hard but loving questions,” said Dr. Shirley V. Hoogstra, President of Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. “That’s what ECFA’s leadership standards encapsulate – governance practices that ensure that a leader will be fit in faith and life.”

“Trust is absolutely essential for ministry. ECFA’s new Leadership Standard is vital to building trust because it will help more leaders feel cared for and prioritize their formation as Christ-followers,” said Dr. Walter Kim, President of National Association of Evangelicals. “Leaders who are healthier and maintain integrity bring glory to God and strengthen the Church’s spiritual vitality. The NAE is thrilled with our friends at ECFA for developing this new standard and initiative to serve ministry leaders.”

For more information on the Leadership Standard or ECFA, or to speak with an ECFA spokesperson, contact Anna Hutsell at

About ECFA

ECFA helps Christian nonprofits and churches maintain a healthy and trusted reputation to effectively reach the world for Christ. For decades, ECFA has been the gold standard for donors to find and evaluate accountable organizations that share their Christian values. ECFA uniquely partners with its members to help them build and maintain the financial accountability, responsible governance, and leadership integrity that results in donor trust. For more information about ECFA, including information about accreditation and a listing of ECFA-accredited members, visit or call 800.323.9473.


This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.