I want to be used by God, but I think we have this desire to make heroes out of people rather than following God and the Holy Spirit. Francis Chan
Sunset Over the Sahara
Courtesy of NASA
Can you imagine a young pastor who (1) builds a mega-church with over 4,000 members, (2) becomes a speaking sensation at Christian conferences far and wide, and (3) hits the New York Times bestseller list moving far away to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit?
As incredible as it may sound, it really happened…
Erie Marrapodi of CNN wrote an article entitled “’Christian famous’ pastor quits his church, moves to Asia”, which describes exactly what happened.
Why has Chan escaped to Asia to follow Christ? The CNN article provides some insight into Chan’s decision. Marrapodi writes:
“Before selling his house and packing up his wife and three children, Chan was becoming “Christian famous” in Evangelical circles. “Even in my own church I heard the words ‘Francis Chan’ more than I heard the words, ‘Holy Spirit,’ he said. That was a big part of the reason he walked away at the peak of his professional career. I think there has been too much emphasis on me. I want to be used by God, but I think we have the desire to make heroes out of people rather than following God and the Holy Spirit.”
According to the article, Chan’s rise in popularity began when he founded Cornerstone Community Church in 1994. It is a non-denominational church that began with around 30 people. Prior to entering the pastorate, Chan earned a B.A. from The Master’s College and M. Div. from The Master’s Seminary.
For background information on Francis Chan, here’s the link to an interview that was conducted about four years ago.
The introductory comments include this heartbreaking revelation about Chan:
“After being raised by his Buddhist grandmother in Hong Kong, Francis came to America at the age of five. His mother died at his birth, his stepmother died in a car accident when he was nine, and his father died of cancer when he was twelve years old. Francis came to know the Lord in high school in Stockton, CA.”
The CNN article reveals that “Chan was not drawing a salary at Cornerstone before he left, and never made more than $36,000 a year. “I wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing things just because I was paid to,” he said.”
Dee has previously written a thought-provoking article on David Platt and Francis Chan, which I highly recommend.
In the post, Dee writes: “Now, one might think that their fellow pastors and authors would commend them for being willing to live a radically different lifestyle. Mark Driscoll, who wrote a book entitled Radical Reformission, seems to be rather perturbed about Chan’s sudden departure from the lifestyle of the rich, reformed, and famous. In other words, it appears that Driscoll is threatened by real radicalism, as lived out by Chan. In an interview with Chan and Joshua Harris, Driscoll appears disapproving. Click on the link for the actual interview”.
Some commenters disagreed with Dee’s conclusion that Mark Driscoll was disapproving of Chan’s decision to leave his church, as demonstrated through his words and body language. Now several months after that interview, Chan writes on his own website. Note the following update.
“Living the Dream!!!
I woke up this morning realizing that I am living the dream! In other words, I do not know how my life could be any better. I am leaving for Asia with my family of six. We love God, love each other, and are excited to minister to people in need. We are free to go anywhere His Spirit leads and for as long as His Spirit leads. What more can a guy ask for? I know it doesn’t sound like the American Dream. It’s far better.
It has been an emotional week for the Chans as we said good-bye to our close friends and family. Though we are excited, it’s hard to leave those we love.
This will probably be my last update for the year…. I have decided to disconnect from the public for a couple of months. I have even ditched my cell phone and email. Most of you are probably too young to remember the pre-internet days. Believe it or not, we survived just fine without being accessible to thousands of people 24 hours a day. So I’m off the grid for a while, but feel free to continue dialoging amongst yourselves about whether or not I am doing the right thing. Many of you are pretty confident that you know God’s will for my life, pray that he would tell me also. (Like my sarcasm?)
Seriously though, I really would love your prayers. I want to believe that I have surrendered my life to the will of God, allowing Him to lead my family and me to any place on the earth. I pray He shows me any areas in my life that I have not truly surrendered. I pray that I would know Him more deeply, experience His power more fully, and minister more effectively than ever.”
The CNN article concludes with an explanation that Chan will be returning to the states in January 2011. According the article: “He is already scheduled to appear at the Passion Conference in Atlanta, which has drawn a crowd of more than 20,000 in the past, and do a stint in the chapel of the NBA All-Star game in February.” Chan is also scheduled to speak at the Desiring God 2011 Pastors Conference.
It appears that Francis Chan is attempting to fulfill some previous commitments with these speaking engagements; however, there can be no question that 2011 will be a new and exciting chapter in his life. It appears that Chan’s “radical” move to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit has been extremely threatening to just about everyone who professes Christ here in the states. Dee and I will be keeping the Chans in our prayers as they inspire a watching world through their faith. May we all strive to get out of our comfort zones this year and touch the lives of those who do not have a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Lydia's Corner: Leviticus 1:1-3:17 Mark 1:29-2:12 Psalm 35:17-28 Proverbs 9:13-18