Francis Chan on the Church

I am reading Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love. I am more than halfway finished with it and I will be posting more about it once I have finished it. I can already see that it is going to have to be on my read every year list.

This morning I ran across an article he wrote for Catalyst on the church. This is how it begins:

Is there any logic in believing that God started His Church as a Spirit-filled, loving body with the intention that it would evolve into entertaining, hour-long services? Was he hoping that one day people would be attracted to the Church not because they care for one another, not because they are devoted to Him, not because the supernatural occurs in their midst, but because of good music and entertainment?

Try to imagine what conclusions you would come to if you had no prior church experience. The things in church services might make sense to the American church-attendee, but they don’t make sense biblically.

Picture yourself on an island with only a Bible. You’ve never been to a church-you’ve never even heard of one. The only ideas you have about church are what you’ve read in your Bible. Then you enter a building labeled “church” for the first time. What would you expect to experience as you entered that building? Now compare that to what you actually experience when you attend church.

Go read the rest. Interesting stuff.

I really like the way that Francis approaches these kinds of questions in his book and in this article. “Let’s just see what the Bible says for itself.”

Not a half bad approach.


4 Responses

  1. “Crazy Love” is not simply an inspirational read, but brings even the ‘meat-eating’ christian back to the ‘milk’, reminding us of the AWESOME grace of God’s love.
    It really helped me to see my own “lukewarm and loving it” attitude towards my faith, inspiring real change in my relationship with God.
    It’s simple, it’s pure and it’s scriptural.
    Please do yourself the favor of reading this book. It just may change your life!

  2. I have not read Mr. Chan’s book, Crazy Love, so I cannot comment on it. However, I find it severely limited, even Biblically naive in an important sense, to speak of what a person on an island who has never attended church and studied the Scriptures in an unguided fashion might actually return to the mainland and conceive of as a proper vision of the “Church” experience.

    First of all, this person would be confused by this use of “Church” at all and would probably initially gravitate toward Charismaticism. I doubt that he would have studied so methodically and skillfully as to properly appreciate why the life of the Church in the first century cannot be what we should expect to experience now. The alleged perpetuation of the experiences of Acts would probably, to him, seem fairly familiar and attractive. He would have an affectionate regard for this language of miracle and prophecy and healing and the impartation of the blessed Spirit.

    Of course, in time some of the doctrinal distinctions would disturb him, but upon his first entry into even a normal, small church, I do imagine this simple brother would probably be disappointed at the lack of spiritual power and a constant, close-knit community, the lack of dispersing shared goods to the poor and breaking bread together every day, the lack of songs in the midst of dreadful persecution and Damascus road conversions and, most importantly, the lack of prophetic words directly from the Yea and the Amen.

    Have we forgotten that the Church herself provides an important context for vital instruction and guidance, especially in an opportunity for service? Do we really imagine that “churches” today should regress back to a first century image and character? I certainly hope not.

  3. really? are you serious? or are you trying to fire me up?

    Who said anything about unguided? Do you not believe that the role of the Holy Spirit is to guide believers into “all truth”?

    You think that more is needed than the Holy Spirit and the word that God breathed out for us that Paul tells us is sufficient to thoroughly equip us for every good work? Seriously?

    Do you disagree with Luke’s statement that the Bereans were more noble than the Thessalonicans because they examined the scripture “for themselves” to see if what Paul said was true?


    Remember that after the infusion of the Holy Spirit the first century church “turned the world upside down” with that image and character. Within 300 years, the message of the gospel had had a profound impact on the culture and politics of the entire western world (and perhaps some inroads in the East).

    Frankly we could use an injection of some of that into our churches today. But then, if we really took Jesus seriously as well as the examples in Acts and started acting in accordance with those words and examples, then we might be called crazy by world as well as by our fellow “christians.” We might be told to settle down. We might be told to think about our future and quick acting so contrary to our own self interest. We might be told that we are in a phase that will pass. etc etc.

    Getting rid of the filters and digging into the Word of God on my own with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit has changed my life and it will change the lives of anybody that tries it.

    I dare any of you. Give it a go.

    Isn’t a return to the image and character of the first century church what the five solas of the Reformation were all about?

    Sola Fide
    Sola Scriptura
    Solus Christus
    Sola Gratia
    Soli Deo Gloria

    Which one of these should be pitched in favor of human church tradition?

  4. Keith, who are you wrestling with? It doesn’t seem to be me. I never said that we should be guided by “human church tradition”? When did that ever escape my keyboard? I am as weary of modern pop-theology as you are and men who claim to be teaching out of the purity of their devotion to GOD but making mega-bucks and receiving endless accolades for their “ministries.” I don’t know where Mr. Chan stands in all of this, but I won’t simply side in his favor because you or anyone else finds him “inspiring.” And I hope you would feel the same with me…

    Don’t you see the irony of repeating Reformational rallying cries and then pretending that you have come to your theological position in a closet with only the Holy Spirit as your guide? Do you not see the irony of advocating “Sola Scriptura” and then describing a position completely at odds with that doctrine as it has been historically defined? If you don’t believe me, go read James White or others on the subject.

    Do you really not know that the fathers of the Reformation (and virtually every godly theologian up to our own day) would argue on my side that the Church (meaning the elect of GOD throughout history) is essential for a proper understanding of the Truth? Isn’t it through the Church that you came to be saved and discipled, or do you no longer agree with Paul that we “hear” because of how “blessed are the feet” that carry the Gospel to the far ends of the earth?

    Do you really imagine that when Luke describes the Bereans pouring through the Scriptures to see for themselves whether these things be so that this means each individual Berean went home and examined their private collection of Scripture scrolls in isolation from each other?

    I suppose then that we have no need for pastors and their authority when we have the Spirit to guide us sufficiently into all wisdom in private? And how do you determine that the Spirit of GOD, rather than the spirit within, is moving your interpretation along? I’ve known plenty of people who embraced the most erroneous doctrines on the back of such impressions.

    Of course, I agree that the Spirit gives sufficient aid to the people of GOD in understanding the Word! Yet, it is equally true that the Spirit does not work in complete isolation from the Church in terms of feelings and impressions which the “wise” will follow off of every theological cliff. Even the Spirit of GOD works through means, Keith, as I think you know well enough, and He has chosen to work through the efforts of the people of GOD.

    Or have you forgotten that even the Scriptures represent this cooperation of GOD with the work of men?

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