Francis Chan on Re-thinking Church

TEXT: If someone asked you to describe church just using the Bible like you’re not allowed to use any of your experiences just use the Bible and explain Church to them what would you say okay we’ve got to start with that we have to start with God’s Word otherwise we’re going to start creating these things that we like or we want and go well I want this in a church I want this in a church and we could spend our whole life getting good at that even but it would be almost like making a great bowl of spaghetti and then coming out of your life and God going I ordered steak I ordered something completely different so what does the Word of God say about the church I’ve been asking people this question describe church just using the Bible and four things keep coming up the number one thing is love they would say it’s a group of people they’re like a family they’re so in love with one another care for one another they meet one another’s needs it’s like what’s mine is yours if I hurt you hurt is just this body of people second thing that people say from the scriptures is it seems like it was a group of people that just had to get this message out like they were on a mission there are people who do not know about Jesus so this group assembled to figure out how are we going to get this message out to them the third thing that they brought up was it seems like they gathered and when they gathered they were focused on the body and blood of Jesus Christ like communion was a big deal and they were devoted to praying for one another fellowshipping with one another and learning this book and then the fourth thing that they would bring up is it seems like there was an equipping or a training that took place like there were leaders in the church that actually instructed the other people on how to do ministry equip them for working equip them for serving the Lord and everyone has this gift and so the leaders equip them to do those things so that’s what they’re saying is church and I would agree when I look at the I don’t know what you see but I go: my that’s a beautiful picture that’s what I see about the church and so then we have to ask ourselves are we experiencing that am I experiencing that in my church and I don’t know what you go through or where you attend church but in my experiences and the churches I’ve observed and been a part of it’s rare when I see family it’s rare when I see that love that we were talking about where you walk in to a gather and go I cannot believe how much these people love each other I mean if an unbeliever walked in they’d be shocked going I’ve never seen this kind of love and then we can just say man that was the Holy Spirit that’s something that God’s done in us but when have you seen that and then and then as far as urgency in mission I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a group of people that just go kay we’ve got to get the word out we’re on this mission we got to get to all of these people I mean is that what you’re experiencing in church thirdly with that with the gatherings are we really seeing this type of coming together where we’re all using our gifts to bless one another whether it’s just this is fellowship with one another and there’s this prayer for one another and we’re studying the Bible together and we’re putting the body and blood of Jesus Christ you know on the forefront and really celebrating that with one another as a family it’s gone gosh it doesn’t seem like there’s that type of participation in the church it feels more like going to the movies rather than going to the gym you know it’s sit back and let them do it versus no I’m going to I’m going to give to this and I’m going to leave feeling great because I put effort into this and then as far as training most of the churches I’ve been a part of it feels like we’re trying to recruit leaders rather than develop them and send them out and it just seems like man how can we get this person how can we gather all these people here rather than having that family mentality where we go I’m going to raise my kids for 18 years and then when they turn 18 I wanted to be able to go out there start their own jobs eventually start their own families take care of themselves instead in the church it’s more like hey you know I want my kids to live in my house for the rest of my life it’s like no we got to put that pressure on them we got to train up these leaders all these sheep that God’s given you the goal is let me raise them to stand on their own two feet and even start their own ministries and so when we looked at the shortcomings of church experiences that we had we said you know something has to change it’s not optional and it’s not like we have all these answers now it’s just saying we’ve got to experiment we’ve got to just try something different maybe there’s something in the way that we structure that that would enable us to prioritize the things we see in Scripture this has to be done it has to change so we said okay let’s start a church let’s start a new church but let’s put aside all those assumptions that we started with last time like when we start a church we usually assume that means we need a preacher a good preacher right now how do you start church without that we need a building we need a guy that leads a few songs we need a youth pastor when the children’s pastor you know we go down this this road and go okay no I don’t see that in here what do we need to start with we need to start with people who are followers of Jesus who say you know what we will love one another like a family and we will focus on this mission of getting the message of Jesus Christ and spreading his love to those who don’t know it and you know what we are going to gather to train one another up to build one another up so that we can go out and really obey this word and so by doing that ways that okay let’s be careful not to get distracted by these other things and what do we want to do what is the form that this church is going to take and one of the first things we decided was let’s meet in homes let’s meet in homes because this will enable us to actually know each other care for each other and live like a family let’s meet in house this will also keep us from get distracted by salaries because you can shepherd 10 to 20 people without a salary you can work a full time job and all we’re saying is build into three or four people who will in turn build into three or four people and so we’re not distracted by that we’re not distracted by a building you know we have home so let’s use those and let’s just focus on loving each other success is how much did we practically love each other throughout the week second thing we decided was let’s only be together for a year maximum okay so six months from a year from now we’ll split into two churches and you’re going to hate it you’re going to hate when we multiply because we’re gonna be so in love with each other with each other but for the sake of the mission if we don’t just determine we’re going to divide and multiply we’re going to want to stay together forever and we’ll become this ingrown Church and we’ll just be about each other and not about the mission that God called us to and so it puts this great pressure of you know what I’ve got to be prepared we’re going to be dividing and multiplying and reaching the rest of the people third thing we decided was let’s read through the Bible together let’s read through the Bible in a year we’ll read the same passages every day and what this causes is now the focus is on the word itself rather than a messenger now when Sunday comes we’ve already talked throughout the week about the passages that we studied and so Sunday you don’t have this dire need for 45 minutes of instruction feed me everything I can from the Bible I’ve already studied it for myself I’ve learned to study and I’ve fellowshipped over it so now we can share what we’ve learned and so we can just give a short little teaching and spend the majority of our time on Sundays praying for each other really expecting results and celebrating the Lord’s Supper together this is prioritizing God wanted us to get together just to remember his son and we can fellowship and share a meal together it’s that type of gathering and then the fourth thing that we decided is okay let’s start training leaders we have to because six months a year from now we got to have two of these and so let’s start raising up leaders as teach theology to the key guys who are going to spread out and lead their own church let’s prepare them as men of God as elders and get them out there and so with that type of mindset where we’re producing leaders and we’re gathering together in this way and we’re learning theology as we’re doing ministry and it’s been a great process not that we have everything figured out but it’s been an amazing process and a lot of this sprung up because I was a pastor for 17 years at one church it was something we started in the home and man I tell you it’s one of the greatest experiences of my life what an amazing season we saw God do great things and I was in love with that group of people and we would a lot was done so much fruit but we also saw that there were limitations and the larger we got there was concern about why was this the most effective way to use God’s resources I mean when there were 20 people and we multiplied it by two 200 I go man that was great to see that type of growth come from those 20 people to two hundred or two hundred a two thousand but when we had 4,000 people and we reached maybe you know 100 or 200 now we’re going okay is this the most efficient way is there a way to do church that would resemble more like the church in China where without buildings without salaries they were able to multiply in these homes and grow to an estimated over a hundred million people it’s like it could that same type of format happen here and what could we even do it in a way that it’s more biblical and more love more mission more fellowship in the right attraction to the gathering you know and a multiplication of leaders we believe it can happen and again I am NOT saying hey this is the way to do it I’m just saying this is something we’ve been pursuing we’ve been loving it and I believe we’re going to spend the rest of our lives pursuing this dream.

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