What do you look for in a church? As a military spouse who’s moved a lot and now as a retired spouse that still lives in an active military area, this question isn’t unfamiliar to me. And, I’ve heard a lot of different answers over the years.
Perhaps the better question for us to consider, though, is this: What does God look for in His church? And are we fulfilling the mission He assigned to us? These are the questions Francis Chan dives into in his book Letters to the Church.
Obedience often grates against our natural desires, but if we obey only when it feels natural, then Jesus is not truly Lord of our lives. ~Francis Chan, Letters to the Church
Letters to the Church Description from Amazon
In his most powerful book yet, Pastor Francis Chan digs deep into biblical truths, reflections on his own failures and dreams, and stories of ordinary people God is using to change the world.
As Chan says, “We’ve strayed so far from what God calls Church. We all know it. We know that what we’re experiencing is radically different from the Church in Scripture. For decades, church leaders like myself have lost sight of the inherent mystery of the Church. We have trained people sitting in the pews to become addicted to lesser things. It’s time for that to change.”
When Jesus returns, will He find us caring for His Bride—even more than for our own lives? Letters to the Church reminds us of how powerful, how glorious the Church once was … and calls us to once again be the Church God intended us to be.
What I Thought
We have to stop viewing church leaders as people who minister to us. ~Francis Chan, Letters to the Church
This is a powerful, thought-provoking read. More than once I found myself nodding in agreement even as I wondered how the American church got to the point we find ourselves today. For example, he says, “No team puts up with players who refuse to contribute. No army puts up with soldiers who won’t carry their own weight. Why do churches put up with Christians who refuse to serve?” Oh, I’ve heard the excuses from church leaders and laypeople, probably like you have. But do they carry any weight? Can you hear the apostles tolerating it? Or a church on the other side of the world that lives under the real threat of persecution?
On the other side of the coin, do we expect too much of our leaders, setting them up for failure? Are our expectations skewed, wanting a team of full-time professionals who live much of their lives surrounded by Christians while we also insist on life-giving services that prepare us to live in the world? And, speaking of that, why do we see the problem with older children who have never left their parent’s home but fail to see the same kinds of issues with Christians who show up to church for years but never leave the proverbial nest?
More Questions to Consider
We are supposed to be known for our love, yet the author challenges his readers to name churches that are. Sure, some might come to mind with great music or a good pastor or a tremendous outreach. But what about deep and genuine love for each other. Not just the casual, “How are you?” on Sunday morning or even a deeper, “How was your week?” found in a small group, but a love that so permeates a congregation, that gets so involved in the life of its members, that the community sits up and takes notice.
These kinds of questions are the ones Francis Chan asks in his book. I appreciate that he provides enough insight for me to understand his concern and enough suggestion to get my own mind whirling, but not so much that I walk away with some step-by-step formula to push onto the church leaders around me. Instead, although he shares what he is doing, he encouraged me to stop and consider what the Holy Spirit was telling me, where I was contributing to the problem or had become lackadaisical, and where I was moving in the right direction toward the power displayed in the Early Church. In other words, to follow God, not Francis Chan.
The Bottom Line – 5 stars
Don’t you see the weirdness in calling people ‘Christian’ when they aren’t servants? ~Francis Chan, Letters to the Church
More than once, I grimaced with the brutal honesty written in the pages of this book, cheering the author for saying it while recognizing God was speaking directly to me through him. This is an excellent read, one that I have already recommended to others and will put on my list of top recommendations for anyone concerned about the state of the American church.
About the Author
Francis Chan is the best-selling author of Crazy Love, Forgotten God, Erasing Hell, You and Me Forever and the host of the BASIC.series (Who Is God & We Are Church). Currently, Francis is planting churches in the San Francisco area and recently launched a countrywide discipleship movement called Multiply with David Platt. Together, Francis and his wife Lisa raise their five children in Northern California.
DISCLOSURE: I purchased this book myself and was not asked by the author or publisher for a review. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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