January 23, 2012
By Doug Carroll
Photos by Ruth Nsubuga
n a message that was about as subtle as an oncoming freight train, pastor and author Francis Chan called on Christians to leave their comfort zone and take the business of making disciples seriously.
Chan, speaking at a packed GCU Arena on Friday night, didn't sugarcoat what he described as "the failure of the church" to adequately equip believers to advance the Gospel message.
||"We haven't been training people to stand on their own two feet," said Chan, who for the past year has been planting churches in an especially tough part of inner-city San Francisco.
"Your gifts are to equip you for the work of service. The goal is for you to be able to make disciples."
Chan, 44, who formerly was the pastor of a megachurch in southern California and wrote the best-selling book "Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God," didn't spare himself from critical examination. His current ministry is unlike anything he has done before, and he said he finds the work exhilarating.
"It's been a crazy time," he acknowledged, "but I love the uncertainty. In the past, I've had the safety of preaching to people who like me, and now I don't know what's going to happen next.
"I want to feel like a continuation of this book," he said, holding high his Bible. "Like I'm right out of the Bible. Not out of the Bible Belt, but out of the Bible."
Chan said boldness was a given for the early church described in Acts. He said today's Christians have become much too comfortable keeping the company of others who are like them.
|In such a cocoon, outreach constitutes a Christmas pageant, he said, instead of building relationships with unbelievers.
"We don't know how to make friends with unbelievers," Chan said, "but we're willing to dress up like a reindeer (at Christmas)."
Another pitfall for Christians, he said, is always seeking mountaintop experiences with God when He needs them to do His work in the trenches.
"We want something to happen (with God) in a safe little room," he said, "but He shows up when we're in dangerous situations. Those in the most uncomfortable places experience the presence of God."
The Irish band Rend Collective Experiment and Chan's 16-year-old daughter, Rachel, opened the program with music, with the band returning to the stage for a rousing finish after Chan's 45-minute address.
For more about Chan and his ministry, go to www.francischan.org.