Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An Open Letter to Francis Chan

Dear Bro. Chan,

I don’t know ya, I’d like to call you Francis but I’ll wait till you tell me it’s OK. I don’t think you’ll mind, still…
I just am very frustrated with your criticisms of the church. I think you should be a little nicer to the body and bride of Christ.
This is not to say that there isn’t room for corrective messages. Certainly, we all know that we are to restore our fallen brothers and sisters. We all are to pull the plank out of our own eyes before taking the speck out of our neighbor's eye. But those things are very specific. Do you have a brother getting drunk? Correct him biblically. Do you have a sister engaging in gossip? Correct her biblically. But complaining about worship services? Where’s your chapter and verse? Sounds like a lot of personal opinion and preference from here.

To quote from the Christian Post online[1]:
“Church today has become predictable, says bestselling author and influential preacher Francis Chan. "You go to a building, someone gives you a bulletin, you sit in a chair, you sing a few songs, a guy delivers maybe a polished message, maybe not, someone sings a solo, you go home," Chan says in his latest "BASIC" video.” “The Crazy Love author is concerned about the big disconnect between what the church looks like today and what it looked like 2,000 years ago.”

Brother Chan, 2000 years ago they were dirt poor and met in the woods to keep from being persecuted. If that day comes again we’ll be in the same boat. We have brothers and sisters around the world facing these things and many of us pray for them. And about the modern worship service, your point is? Can’t we try to do things excellently for the Glory of God? Excuse me. (And I never said to anyone, “we’ll get you out in an hour.”)
Besides, this service is one small part of the week for the believer. Many fellowship with other believers on a daily basis. Many pray for their friends who are lost and look for opportunities to share Christ. Not all, of course not. Do you think this was not true 2000 years ago? Why did the scriptures have to remind them to give an answer to every man, or, owe no man anything but love. They needed reminders, too.

Chan: "When you read the New Testament, you see the Holy Spirit was supposed to change everything so that this gathering of people who call themselves Christians had this supernatural element about them," Chan explains in the video series, produced by Flannel. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, people began speaking in different languages, people were being healed, and believers had a supernatural love for one another. The fire that came down from heaven, that rush of wind, however, seems to have disappeared”, Chan points out.

Change everything? Did he change you? I’m sure he did. The Holy Spirit has changed me in a radical way! (Oooh, good idea for a book title.) I was lost, blind, crippled and dead, spiritually speaking, but now I am alive in Christ. I am putting to death my flesh, I am trying to take up my cross. And I’m not alone! Millions of Christians are doing that. And millions are giving their tithes and offerings to support Christian workers and hundreds of thousands of Missionaries around the world. [2]

Chan: "Do you really see this supernatural power at work when the believers gather together for what we call church?" he asks. "Isn't it the same Holy Spirit that's supposed to be available to us today? Why is it so different?"

No, I don’t see the Holy Spirit falling on us like the day of Pentecost or like on Gentile believers that Peter preached to. What can we do about it? This is where I think you have some good things to say. But give us hard, specific, concrete details about how to be the kind of yielded, cross-bearing disciples, and unified people that God can trust with the power of the Spirit. That would be good to hear, but I promise you, you cannot guarantee that the Holy Spirit will fall in America as he has in the past.
I hear from missionaries and Christians in unevangelized countries that God still does the miraculous. I am inclined to believe that. But they will agree that the greatest miracle is still the change of a hardened fallen heart, into a repentant heart of saving faith. This miracle still happens here in the USA.

The article continues, “Chan's frustrations with the church today are what inspired the "BASIC" series. He was successfully leading a mega-church in Simi Valley, Calif., when he began to question and rethink "how we do church." He began feeling uncomfortable with people driving long distances just to hear him speak every weekend and with church having become a once-a-week routine. After 16 years at Cornerstone Church, he let go of the reins in 2010 and traveled to Asia where he and his family spent time with persecuted Christians and orphans.”

Bro. Chan, your passion is admirable. Why is it though, I hear the snapping and cracking of passion Freezing into legalism. “Are you Radical for Christ? You have to prove it or you’re not. You have to walk away from your job. You have to go to a third world country. On and on and on.” Seriously?
Before I get excoriated, YES, I know, we do forsake all for Christ. And I have and will continue to by God's grace. But if obeying the Lord is to stay in the USA and stay at my job, don’t tell me to do otherwise. As much as I love Keith Green and the songs that helped shape my Christian childhood, Keith was wrong about one thing at least, Jesus did not "command us to go", as one of his songs said. Jesus commanded us to make disciples; here, there and everywhere.

Chan: "I heard one person say the church nowadays is neither super nor natural," he says. "Everything is predictable and everything is expected." "There's a truth to that," he admits. "I feel bad about it. Being around a church culture, even leading a gathering of believers, I've gotten pretty good at predicting what's going to happen in a church service. Was that the way it was supposed to happen?"

So, unpredictability is the sign of the Holy Spirit? I thought it was boldness to preach the gospel. Predictability isn’t necessarily a sign of God’s work but maybe its cultural.

Chan: "When Jesus said this power (of the Holy Spirit) would come upon you, it really did come upon them and they were powerful beings (Jesus' disciples)," Chan points out. "Why is it that in the church so many people are weak or defeated or we get so insecure because we look at ourselves rather than God? It doesn't make sense."

Ah, yes, here’s the voice of a pastor. Yes many are weak and defeated. That shouldn’t be so. But it was so long ago as well. Why was the book of Hebrews written? Because there were many believers about to lose heart and return to Judaism.

Chan: Though Christians believe in an almighty and all powerful God who places His spirit in believers, the response among His people today is: "Hi, welcome to church. Here's your bulletin. We'll get you out in an hour. Come back next week." "I mean, really? Is that all God intended for us?" Chan challenges.

No, that’s not all God has in store for us. You are right that is a tragic attitude. But once again, I contend that there are millions for whom that is not their experience.

Chan: While pondering whether Christians really believe the Holy Spirit exists today and can work powerfully, he asks one poignant question: "What would the church look like today if we really stopped taking control of it and let the Holy Spirit lead?""I believe this is exactly what the world needs to see."

Well Bro. Chan I think this statement belies your lack of faith. Really. Hard for me to say, because your faith is probably stronger than mine, but I think our Sovereign Lord is capable and is in fact in charge of His church. He moves his church where He will. He moves ministers to walk away from mega-churches, He moves college students to go to other countries, He moves young couples with children to leave jobs and go to Ethiopia. He leads US churches to worship in many different languages and in many different venues from ornate cathedrals to barely functional warehouses to living rooms to outdoor arenas. He leads African churches to worship in different ways, and Asians and eastern Europeans. God is in control and in charge. And yes, we all need to check our dedication level frequently. Are we forsaking all? Are we taking up our crosses? Are we denying ourselves? Some yes, most no. And please keep calling us to true discipleship. But don’t be slapping around Christ’s  Bride, He doesn’t like that I don't believe.

[1] http://www.christianpost.com/news/francis-chan-church-today-not-what-god-intended-50000/
[2] http:/christianityzperiodzaboutzperiodzcom/od/denominations/p/christiantodayzperiodzhtm and its link to Frontier Harvest Ministries. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_Christian_missionaries_are_in_the_world#ixzz1KgVGHGlQ


  1. As a retired pastor's daughter, I can tell you that the "church" is totally out of touch with reaching the lost and if she is the Bride of Christ, she has totally lost het way to the wedding , her veil has flown out the window, and her dress is ruined. We had better redirect our efforts, repent, and step out of the 19th century if we are going to make It. Being nice, at this point, would be a joke, sir, and I know you mean well, but "religion" ain't cutting it. Now, if you just wanna dress up on sunday morning, shake hands with the same guy that's been sitting on the pew in front of you for 20 plus years, head home to Sunday dinner, then hit the recliner... if that's what Christianity is to you, then keep on with it, because thats what 90% of American Christians are doing. BUT its not gonna reach anybody new for Christ really and certainly not the multitudes living in such a debaucherous society, such as we have never seen in this country. If you love your fellow man as Jesus commanded, tact is certainly needed in the approach to the lost, but sweetness went out the door when heroin, crack, deviant sexual practices, child sex rings, human slavery, and more horrible sin than I can even think of. I am preaching to the choir here, because I am just as guilty, but I don't think the "church" needs coddling. We need a swift kick in the pants.

  2. I see you like to slap around the Bride of Christ too. Dangerous business. I don't think she needs coddling but teaching, challenging, loving would be a good place to start. I think Chans beef here is with God actually, because He isn't moving like he did 2000 years ago. I guess what I really want to say to Chan is grow up and take responsibility for the maturity level of the church you pastored.

  3. What I have been thinking, thanks for saying so profoundly. Chan seems to preach guilt not love.

  4. I can see how you might get that message. I don't think that is his intent. I think his motives are admirable, but I'm no sure about his methods.

  5. I could not disagree with you more. Putting down your brother publicly over the internet is exactly what your first argument was against in the first place. Furthermore God moves when we let Him. The Church in the US has been struggling even keep members much less bringing people to Christ. The best way for you to help is to make desiples and serve God instead of airing your beef with my brither Francis Chan. Also my words may sound harsh but i hope you see the love that is behind them. You are my brother as well and i would appreciate if you took this post down.

  6. I think you'll notice that I wrote openly to a brother who had spoken openly. So thats not a violation of anything. Plus, I hope you see that I really admire and respect a LOT about brother Chan. But just grow weary of the "how miserable the church is" refrain. Especially with all the touchy-feely-gobbledy gook he said we need to be.
    I'm not taking it down and my first argument with him in the first place was not about putting down a brother openly. It was about dissing the bride of Christ.

  7. (The article said)
    "...Why was the book of Hebrews written? Because there were many believers about to lose heart and return to Judaism."


    1. Not wure why this comment is following this (quite old) post, but let me just say that calling people liars and claiming to know their motives are not helpful for dialogue and even correction, if that is what I need.
      But as to his claim that there is not a single verse about returning to Judaism I would first look at the text of the book. (But first let me say, the primary teaching of the book is the greatness and excellencies of Jesus Christ.) The writer of Hebrews discusses Abraham, angels, Moses and the law and shows that Jesus is better every step of the way. What question do you think he is addressing? It seems to me He is showing Hebrew Christians that should not return to the Law but keep their focus on Christ. None of those things are evil, ie. Abraham, moses, priesthood, the law etc.But they all point to Jesus who is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant!
      I also take the warnings in the book of Hebrews as quite potent and severe and do not believe we should avoid or dismiss them. But we need to see them in the context of the power of Jesus to save eternally, those who come to Him in faith.
      If that might clear anything up, at least where I stand on these things, then good.

    2. I apologise for the typos, I was in a hurry! sorry!

    3. I forgot to add, their are many references to warning the Hebrew believers to not return to the law and the prophets incluyding this:
      Heb 12:24  and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. 
      Heb 12:25  See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 

      There are others, but I am just responding to this 'on the fly' as I am quite busy with other matters.


Feel free to tell me and others what you think. You can use the tools of rhetoric but please, be clean and nice.