We Are Church | Francis Chan

An house church network or church planting network, founded by Francis Chan in 2011, which focuses on practicing Christianity with simplicity of faith, a focus on love, community, and discipleship. 

We Are Church practices:

  1. Devotion to Scripture
  2. Meeting in Homes
  3. Everyone’s a Disciple
  4. Everyone uses their Gifts
  5. Regular Multiplication of Churches
  6. Simple Gatherings

We Are Church values:

  1. Devoted worshippers of God
  2. One loving family in Christ
  3. Everyone makes disciples
  4. Spirit-filled believers who share the Gospel
  5. We share in Christ’s suffering

We Are the Church: Documentary

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.

I Cor 14:26

ESV

And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.

Acts 2:2

ESV

Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.

Col 4:15

ESV

For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.

Matt 18:20

NASB

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Acts 2:42

ESV

And every day, in the [Jewish] temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Acts 5:42

ESV

And Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house

Phil 1:2

ESV

The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord.

I Cor 16:19

ESV

How I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house

Acts 20:20

ESV

Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house.

Rom 16:3-5

ESV

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them...

Rom 12:4-6

ESV

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them...

Rom 12:4-8

ESV

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DESCRIPTION: Have you ever wondered if there was more to church than what you’re currently experiencing? Have you ever asked yourself what it really looks like to be the Church as God intended? Pastor Francis Chan wrestled with the same questions. Those questions drove him to begin a journey to examine church in the light of Scripture while rejecting the rising consumerism in church culture. Along the journey, he encountered others with the same yearning for biblical Church—these are their stories. In this documentary, hear from members of We Are Church who are so in love with Jesus that they can’t help but talk about Him. “Church success is measured when people really love God. We don’t come to be served. We serve and give our lives as a ransom for many.” Be inspired to do more than sit in a chair on Sunday. Be inspired to become the Church.
TRANSCRIPT: Most people know that in America, Christianity has become this consumer thing. You know, you sit down, you find people that you know, and you go and sit there… In rows, and it’s dark, and when you worship, it’s just you and God. I was used to going to church on Sunday, sit in the back, and not really be a part of the body. And you walk out, and then that’s it. That’s your Sunday. We’ve just kind of assumed if somebody’s folding bulletins, and somebody’s a greeter, and somebody’s stacking chairs that everybody is using their gifts. Just even the concept of the church that we have… I’ve always wanted more than that and felt like it should be more than that. We’re struggling in different ways. Marriage… Feeling a little bit isolated. Wasn’t flourishing, I would say. We weren’t flourishing. If they’re not finding that in the church, we have to go back to the Scriptures and go, “Why not? What are we doing wrong?” So many people are going in and out of churches and nobody in their church knows what’s happening. One of our elders calls it “pastoral malpractice.” Like you’re actually ruining people by making them consumers because you’re supposed to be turning them into servants. We don’t come to be served. We serve and give our lives as a ransom for many. It’s at the core of what we understand it means to follow Jesus Christ. And we’ve twisted it, and it’s evil. It’s really all these things that cause me to just start with a blank piece of paper and just start writing on that paper with Scripture and saying, “What’s most repeated? What’s most emphasized? What does God love most? What does he hate most? What does he command, demand of the church?” And let’s pursue those things. It’s not about having a killer sermon with a great worship set. It’s about us loving each other well, loving Jesus well, praying together well, studying the Scriptures together well, and then it’s almost like our gatherings are excellent, not because there was a ton of prep work done into it. But because people are spending time with Jesus, people are being led by the Spirit, people are loving each other deeply. That’s what’s gonna make our gatherings great. And so that’s kind of how we arrived at the new start, I guess. There are mornings where I just wanna snooze one more time, but you’ll like hear the text, and you’re like, “Alright. Gotta get up.” Start texting each other when we wake up, and just encouraging each other with you know, whatever the Lord’s put on our hearts or what we read and I just am so thankful for the Lord giving me this, “Hello, Liz. If you wanna be close to me, you got to spend time with me.” And since I’ve been starting to do that, it has changed my walk with the Lord. My walk with God is so personal, and I love my time with him. Like this is success to us: When our people love–really love– Jesus. They don’t need all of the bells and whistles in order to sing or in order to pray or in order to get in the Word. We want them to be devoted worshippers of God. So this is where we meet for our house church. Just here in our living room. So we have a few couches, but we have to set up plastic chairs. Everybody’s bringing something. Everybody’s spending time with Jesus throughout the week. Everybody’s exercising their gifts. And I encourage people as God highlights a Scripture, or if a song comes to mind to sing it out, or if God’s prompting them with a word on their heart to share it. And so it’s just beautiful to see everybody in this room would be feeling the weight of, “I have something to contribute.” We wanted these loving families. Like are we looking around and seeing these groups of people that really adore one another? I mean “love” to the point that Jesus wanted where the world would look on and go, “I’ve never seen love like this.” I remember getting to Francis and Lisa’s house in the evening, and I was just thinking in my head, “What in the world am I doing? I don’t even know these people.” I was thinking honestly at the time, “Oh great. I’m moving in with this pastor guy and his family. I have like this completely different background. I’m coming out of a life of crime and drug addiction.” And I’m thinking, “Are they gonna be too straight edge for me? Are we gonna have to do this Bible study thing everyday? Like am I not gonna be able to be myself?” And it wasn’t even like that at all. And it was crazy just to see a godly family. You get to see the good, the bad, and the ugly when you’re living with somebody. They didn’t have to change anything. They didn’t hide anything. It was just living with them. They just accepted me in like a family member, and just actually seeing Lisa be a godly wife and to be a godly mother… I don’t even think she understands how much she poured into my life just by demonstration. You’re not meant to walk out your Christianity alone. God never designed it for you to do it by yourself. Like you’re supposed to have a body of believers around you, you know? And I didn’t know that until I was actually able to experience it. The church in my mind, and the best I can understand Scripture, was supposed to be a group of people that love Jesus. They loved each other deeply because that was His command. This is our true family now–more than a family. We are a body. Like one. You are my arm, and so I will protect you. And any hurt to you is a hurt to me. And further to be this godly leadership that matures this body and strengthens them, disciples them, and sends them out on mission so that we get serious about getting to the rest of the world and making disciples of them. This restaurant kind of holds a special place in my heart. I worked here, this place kind of helped me get my life on track… But it was also the place where I came to know Jesus. I was baptized outside… I was always trying to find joy and putting my hope in like things of the world and drugs… Trying to find pleasure in stuff like that you know… Coming here, it was like instant, like a brotherhood, like this hole I was trying to fill could only be filled by God. I remember thinking, “All I did to get here was mess up, and here these guys are pouring into me. This is amazing.” I remember, like being right here and then just knowing I’m in my mess, thinking I’m like this dirty person, and then here I am in this prayer meeting around all these like clean people… Yeah, I remember being really uncomfortable and then feeling like… Looking at these people being like, “Man, I want more of this.” So I kept coming back. Let’s say someone comes to my gathering, and they’re just understanding Jesus. Then I find someone that’s further along and encourage them to help that newer believer. And so there’s just this natural flow of these people who show up that become disciple makers, then become pastors, and then become elders. And then once we’ve got a few elders, it’s like, okay let’s even branch that off. “And you three elders take those churches, you three elders take those churches, and let’s just keep it going.” So it was nine months in… They talked to me about, “We continue to see the Holy Spirit in your life. Do you wanna start mentoring?” And it’s like, man… I don’t even have my own life together. How do you expect me to start leading these dudes? And so that idea, you know, like your own sanctification starts to happen when you start pouring into other people. Like that became very real to me. Like you know in the book of Acts. It talks about how the disciples were like uneducated, common men, but the people seen that they had the Holy Spirit. Like they walked with Jesus, right? And so I read it for myself, and I was like, “This is me!” Like this is me: an uneducated, common dude, and I still sit on that verse til this day. A lot of times you think it’s like, “Oh, it’s teaching, it’s hermeneutics, it’s theology… It’s this and that…” But where you’re really gonna get a chance to model Christ is in the way you serve your brothers. To live in community together to really demonstrate for people what it looks like to follow Jesus and how that looks in my everyday… That’s where you get sanctified. That’s where you’re gonna grow in humility. That’s where you’re gonna grow in patience. It’s like a two-way relationship in that it’s not just the mentors that are like these holy, spiritual people, but that it can be mutual and that we’re growing just as much as they are maybe in different ways and in different things, but we’re still growing. We’re still needing more of Jesus everyday. I think what’s helped me is to reflect on the way that I was led, what my sin was like when I first came to know the Lord, and how people kind of were patient with me, and then try to demonstrate that to others. It’s funny, like how God and the universe will use people like us and add value to our lives. It’s like here we are just broken, sinful drug addicts… You know, I’ve been to jail, done this or that, outcasts, rejects, people society doesn’t accept anymore… And then Jesus says, “No, you have a place in my Kingdom. And not only that, but I can use you now.” When we’re thinking about mission and we’re thinking about bringing Jesus’ love to people, it’s not this sort of theoretical thing like, “I wanna love the world.” But there are 20 houses here. Like that will be our mission field. We’re going to try to love this block as well as we can. The mandate was just really clear: This house is for the Lord. It’s for community. It’s for neighbors. It’s for welcoming people in. We’re not just a community just to be a community, but we are gathering in the name of Jesus for the name of Jesus to live this thing called “church” out daily. This is where we do have to do the house church. So people will be sitting around here. So this building and the people that are in it are pretty much high-tech professionals. So that’s what we’re trying to do is try to reach specifically to the building here. We committed to having a monthly neighborhood barbecue. Invite everyone from from these 20 houses out to have lunch with us, and then start building relationships where we can go back and check in with folks and knock on their doors and see if there was something that we could help with and we could pray for or other ways that we could support and love them. And so, yeah, this is not my thing. I’m not a natural hostess. I would much rather–in my flesh–just have dinners, just our immediate nuclear family… In my flesh, I would not like to clean up after people. And over the years, I think, as we’ve been part of We Are Church, experiencing it and seeing it in so many of the commandments… It’s not “you” singular it’s… To rejoice always, to be generous, to not have greed, to love your neighbor as yourself… All those things you can only really practice in community. And so when I came to embrace that, it became this more meaningful communal walk together. So just simply in unity walking out of our safe house, safe place, going into our neighborhood and the intersections in the cities, in the coffee shops, and talking to the people that live amongst us and work in our neighborhood. You know, pray for them and get to know them. So all of the growth in our church since we arrived here has come from people who are in our neighborhood on this block. It’s been a real joy for us to come and encounter that and find people who are not just willing to join us for a service but actually be a part of our family–who are a part of the body of the church that we have here and increasingly, we see it’s indispensable. It’s just this fellowship is going on, and I’m not pushing it. And I felt like with the old model, people aren’t gonna reach out unless you create a program for them to do it. People aren’t gonna fellowship with each other unless you create some program for that, people aren’t gonna get together and pray unless you schedule it for them, people won’t take communion unless you, you know, get it, all the elements and everything figured out, and now it’s just this thing where people are sharing their faith everyday. It’s just happening. It’s natural. They can’t help it. And they don’t need my permission. The Lord really just confirmed like, “Yes, I’m asking you to quit your job from corporate America. Good money. And just be obedient.” Lisa once asked me, “Do you see yourself doing inner city ministry?” And I’m like, “Heck no!” And here I am living in the inner city of San Francisco. We’ve been married for 6 years, have been fostering and adopting for 3 and a half of those years, and like it has been so hard and then so good and then so hard and then so good. And over and over, God would check my heart. It was two weeks before our wedding, and we still didn’t have a place to live. We were offered free housing, and it was outside of the community that we were doing ministry. And I didn’t want to be someone that was coming into the community and then leaving back to a different part of the city. Yeah, so we said, “No” to the free housing in one of the most expensive cities in the country. And it was only because we knew we had to be obedient to what the Lord was calling us to. And so over and over again, God would like push me and Sean to the brink, and then He’d teach us and He’d mold us into His likeness. And it hurt. It hurt so bad sometimes. But even looking back now, every trial we went through, God has rooted me in the faith that He is good. I mean, people thought it was crazy that we were moving across the street from public housing. But for us it was like way better than we could have imagined. Yeah, the Lord really like completely changed what I thought my life was gonna be. It’s like one of those things where you can’t even pray for your life to turn out this way, and God just does the writing Himself. He took a beating and was put on the cross for us, even when we were sinners. So that is what we are called to do. It’s like, our life… We’re gonna get a beating. We’re gonna take a beating. And just recently, God has been like, “I love these kids more than You could ever love these kids. So you need to be the hands and feet. You need to show them who I am.” It’s like, look around our group. Are they people who sacrifice and suffer because they so believe in the hope of heaven? Do they see themselves as just travelers on this earth, or are they building a home for themselves? Are they these suffering sojourners that just can’t wait for the return of Christ? You know, if I say I get up at 5 in the morning and spend time with the Lord, they go, “Oh, that’s great you know… But you’re Francis Chan.” You know? When Marcus is doing it at 3:30 in the morning before he goes to work, you know, picking up needles off the street and cleaning off the grossest part of the city and speaking to homeless and caring for them… Or Rob, when you– an ex-con–tell people like, “I can’t stop worshipping Jesus. I can’t get enough.” That’s huge! And so it’s these ordinary people that are so deeply in love with Jesus that they can’t help but go and talk about Him when they’re going door-to-door in their neighborhoods, not prompted by anyone else–just prompted by a love for their neighbors and a love of Jesus and belief in the Gospel. Those have been the most powerful stories to me because it gets rid of all the excuses. You know? It’s like, “Well, if that guy’s doing it, and he’s a doctor… And that guy’s doing it, and he’s a thug… What’s my excuse why I’m not?”

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