A Word from Francis Chan and I’m Sorry

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Disclaimer:  You probably should listen to at least the first 20 minutes of this message to fully understand what I am getting at.

Years ago, when I heard that Francis Chan left the church that he had started and pastored for 16 years, it didn’t make sense to me and I sinfully judged him for it.

Today, when I listen to  messages like this one, I completely resonate with him and am thankful for the courage God has given him to speak out.  It’s not an easy road to stand up and question ‘the way things have always been done’.  You’ve likely noticed that if you’ve ever had the courage to try.

I know my husband and I tried a few times.  It didn’t ever seem to go so well, either because we weren’t so good at communicating or the person we were talking to wasn’t so good at receiving-more than likely a combination of the two.  The most common response?  A charge of idealism.  “Oh, the church will never be like that–you’re too idealistic!”

You know what?  I am ok with idealism when it comes to the church.  Do we Christians make that statement in a pejorative way in any other area of life?  Do we say things like-
“Well, I know the Bible says I should be faithful to my spouse, but that’s too idealistic.  That would be really hard, so let’s not aim for that”?  NO!  We don’t say those things.  The only area that I can think of the accusation of idealism being tossed out (at least in my hearing) is when it concerns what the church should look like in practice.  I read the book of Acts and other places in the New Testament and see a church that, for the most part, doesn’t look like the church in the US.  We make all sorts of excuses for why that’s the case.  Even in extremely Biblical and conservative churches.  Why is that?  Why have we given up and given over?  “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.  Would that you were either cold or hot!  So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”  Revelation 3:15-16  Do these verses scare you?  They put the fear of God in me!

I love the Church! Yet,  I yearn for a modern church that throws off the worldliness that has crept inside.  One that returns to its first love.  May it be so, Lord.  Send your Spirit to renew and revive.

And to Francis Chan, if you should so happen to read this the next time you Google your name and read all the way through to page 300,011-please forgive me for sinfully judging you.  I was wrong.  I didn’t know the whole story of what God’s been doing in your heart.  I understand now.  May God bless your ministry.

It’s Gonna Feel Like You’re Settling

No Ladies Bible Study.  No Youth Group.  No Sunday School.  Maybe even no nursery?  You may have just set foot inside a brand new church plant.

If you’ve been used to a larger church with all of the typical American church programs, you will probably feel like you are settling.  It might not feel like a ‘real’ church.  You might feel disturbingly ‘un-busy’ when you’re not at the church building 3-4 times a week.

I’m here to say that it’s ok.  I’ve been there and felt those things.  I’ve had to fight those feelings and I continue to fight them on occasion.  I’m here to tell you that you don’t need those programs to grow as a Christian.  Can God use them?  Yes.  But do you NEED them?  No.

I’m not anti-program.  I’ve participated in many and benefitted from them to varying degrees.  It’s just that I’ve found that I don’t need them like I thought I did and my kids don’t either.  At first, I thought I was harming my children by being part of a church that did not have a youth group or age appropriate Sunday school classes.  We’d had those things for 10 years and they were built into my psyche as a brand new Christian teenager way back when.  Then, as we spent time at a relatively new church plant with very few programs, I heard things from my kids.  Things like “Mom, I realized that I was really more excited to go to church to see my friends in Youth Group than to worship God.”  I saw adults praying with my children–purposely seeking them out to do so and befriending them.  My kids and I saw that programs can be really nice–but not having them is ok too-actually even better than ok.  When people show sacrificial love and kindness without a program to prompt them, even to a person they don’t share a natural affinity with–the Gospel is put on display in a big way.  People notice.  Jesus notices.  The Gospel is made attractive.  It’s completely different from the world.  The world loves to be around people just like them–have you ever noticed that?  The church should be different than the world.  It should be the one place on earth where we love to hang out with people that aren’t like us-just because we have Jesus in common.

So, most days, I don’t feel like I’m settling anymore.  There are still some nagging doubts that Satan jabs me with here and there but I’m pretty much over it.  I’m over believing that I NEED to have church programs that match mine and my families affinities.  I believe I’m the better for it.  Jesus is more than enough.  He doesn’t need programs to accomplish His work.