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Letters to the Church
by Francis Chan
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I haven't read a lot of Francis Chan's stuff, so I'm glad my wife started reading this book and suggested that I'd like it. I remember becoming disenfranchised with church many years ago. Having been raised in church and being married to a pastor, it seemed almost unpardonable that I might not like church. Since then, I've resolved my approach and received God's grace in my attitude and approach.
Chan presents a model, from a testimonial perspective, which could transform our approach to church in the West. His model could move three church from declining in members to growing and making the world a better place.
If you're someone who is or has been part of a Christian Church, take a few hours, assume a humble posture, and reflectively and prayerfully read this book.
I'll probably read it again.
Francis Chan is a writer and speaker at Christian conferences who recently left the church that he'd started and grown into a megachurch to move his family to Asia and start working with churches there. In his latest book (2018), he writes directly to the church, addressing issues he sees as ways in with the American churches have fallen away from the commands of God in the New Testament - treating the Church as the sacred Bride of Christ or having a servant attitude or how we treat children in our services. Each chapter is a "letter" addressing a different aspect, written with humility and the hope of self-examination in anyone who reads it.
What if what we think of as "church" has it all wrong? What should church really look like, and what have we missed by adding all the trappings of tradition to our services? I have a lot to ponder and to address in my own life about my attitude towards my church and my fellow believers. Am I a person who complains about what's not right? Do I treat the Church as sacred, and my leaders with proper humility? I'm also a teacher - how do I approach what I do and say, and how am I training up people to be leaders as well? I don't have definite answers, but I appreciate the chance to reexamine some things in the church I've taken for granted and wonder what I need to change.
The Short of It:
If you’ve ever questioned the concept of “church” and whether American churches succeed in carrying out their mission, then this is an excellent book to get you thinking.
The Rest of It:
Many of you might be familiar with Francis Chan but if not, I’ll give you a little bit of background. He founded Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, Ca. Cornerstone had humble beginnings but quickly grew into the megachurch that it is today. As this was happening, Chan realized that although his numbers were impressive and people were pouring in, only a small percentage of the congregation was actually serving or using their God-given gifts.
This weighed heavily on him.
Chan knew this was not the purpose of the church and that he had failed its members by not building up his few. They relied on him to be fed and if that didn’t happen, they grew to be unsatisfied. They didn’t seem to know how to seek God out on their own. After discussing this with his wife, Chan made a difficult decision to leave the church. He packed up his family and left the country to pursue what he felt was missing at Cornerstone.
Letters to the Church is a collection of his findings and let me tell you, it’s a fascinating read. He talks about the value of in-home ministry. Much of the book talks about church “planting” and what he’s discovered through the years. As I was reading, I felt inspired to do more as a leader. I felt hopeful and encouraged.
But I felt that the book had a few issues as well.
For one, if you attend church, you will for sure see similarities between your own and Cornerstone. I feel as if the book was written in such a way that it would be impossible for you not to relate to it. Perhaps, it’s focus was too broad? A lot of churches today target the non-follower by adding cup holders, coffee houses, contemporary music and the like. Is this necessarily a bad thing?
The other thing that stood out is that Chan didn’t really seek the view points of others at Cornerstone before writing this book. If he did, he didn’t include them in it. So this is solely Chan’s view of the megachurch model. I think it would have been helpful to hear some other opinions of those from the U.S.
My life group is on a break between series so we decided to read and discuss this book during the break. I think it’s a very important read but I also think that while reading it, you could find yourself picking apart your own church which Chan admitted, was not his intention. For such a heavy topic, it’s very readable and will get you thinking about how you view the church as a whole.
For more reviews, visit my blog: Book Chatter.
Reminds us how powerful the Church can be and calls this generation to passionately pursue God's vision for His beloved Bride.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)248.4 — Religions Christian Devotional Literature and Practical Theology Christian Life; experience and practice Christian Living
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If you have ever felt that you want something more from your church experience and from your own life as a Christ-follower, I recommend this book. Read it. ( )