Over the last couple of years I’ve found myself repeatedly coming back to a single question: “Shouldn’t church be more?” In his recently released Letters to the Church, Francis Chan answers definitively – yes, yes it should.
In Letters, Chan asks challenging questions of churches that are worthy of serious reflection and consideration. At the heart of it all is a plea to put God back in His proper place in the church, where our only concern is pleasing Him rather than pleasing people or getting our own way. Because of this high view of God and the driving belief that church can be so much more if we submit to the Lord’s guidance, I’m of the opinion that every church leader (or member, for that matter) can benefit from reading Letters. Grab a copy and dig in for a thoughtful, challenging, heartening read.
Here are 10 of the quotes from the book that have weighed heavily on my mind since reading it.
- “The older I get, the more aware I am that the end is near. There is no time to care about what I want in the Church. There’s no time to worry about what others are looking for in a church. I will be facing Him soon, so I have to stay focused on His desires.” (p.28)
- “For decades church leaders like myself have lost sight of the powerful mystery inherent in the Church and have instead run to other methods to keep people interested. In all honesty, we have trained you to become addicted to lesser things. We have cheapened something sacred, and we must repent.” (p.44)
- “We’re not doing people any favors by pretending they are the center of the universe. Either people will be awed by the sacred or they will not. If the sacred is not enough, then it is clear that the Spirit has not done a work in their lives. If the sheep don’t hear His voice, let them walk away. Don’t call out with your own voice.” (p.53)
- “We have come up with countless strategies to reach the lost when God promises that unity is the method that will work.” (p.80)
- “Do our actions show that we expect supernatural contributions from every member of the body?” (p.90) and “If we give up on the goal of having all members exercise their spiritual gifts, we are destined for perpetual immaturity.” (p.92)
- “No team puts up with players who refuse to contribute. No army puts up with soldiers who don’t carry their own weight. Why do churches continue to put up with Christians who refuse to serve? Why don’t we treat selfishness as a sin that needs to be confronted?” (p.97)
- “Prayer is not merely a task of ministry; it is a gauge that exposes our hearts’ condition. It unveils our pride, showing us whether or not we believe we are powerless apart from God.” (p.113)
- “We need to return to a God-centered theology rather than a human-centered theology, and we need to be willing to flip some tables and suffer for it along the way.” (p.140)
- “Should we consider that placing people in comfortable classrooms and auditoriums for years may not be the best way to train fearless leaders?” (p.165)
- “It should not feel out of the ordinary, harsh, or inappropriate to call the Church to change. Nor should we imagine that our unique expression of Church is the only one God sanctions. Instead, we should be constantly seeking renewal, being ready at any moment to discard the elements of Church that lead us away from God’s heart rather than toward it.” (p.190)
For my book review of “Letters to the Church,” check out episode 1 of the “Too Many Books” podcast, a book review show I co-host on Strong Church.
Francis Chan, Letters to the Church, Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2018.