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Letters to the Church

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  5,075 ratings  ·  688 reviews
If God had it His way, what would your church look like?
The New York Times bestselling author of Crazy Love challenges readers to be the Church as God intends.
Do you want more from your church experience?
Does the pure gospel put you in a place of awe?
Are you ready to rethink church as you know it?
Sit with Pastor Francis Chan and be reminded that you are a part of so
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 1st 2018 by David C Cook
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Average rating 4.38  · 
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 ·  5,075 ratings  ·  688 reviews

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Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is a hard book to criticize. For starters, it literally opens with a chapter telling the reader that if they criticize the Church or its leaders they are in danger of being killed by God.

Let me be clear: I love Francis Chan. His conviction and passion for Jesus are absolutely infectious. The BASIC video series and book Crazy Love were extremely formative in my faith journey. I believe his We Are Church network of house churches may be the most Biblical and compelling portrait of Church in A
Dave  Johnson
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
As someone who likes Francis Chan, I think this is easily his worst book.

When someone who is passionate about what they do gets a platform to speak to people, one scenario that could unfold is that that person talks about their conviction as if it should be everyone's conviction, passion, and calling. Within the Church, I've seen this happen numerous times, often (sadly) with the person using Scripture as a way to manipulate the audience on some level. These leaders often have no ill motives, b
Bill Pence
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I haven’t been challenged so much by a book since I first read Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love several years ago. This book has a lot of similarities to Crazy Love, as the author looks at what a church should be according to scripture and shows where the American church is lacking. I read the book in two days, and I’m sure I will read it many more times, just as I have Crazy Love. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.
The author begins the book by discussing why he left Cornerstone Chur
Jan 31, 2019 rated it did not like it
I had issues with this book. My main problem was that it seemed as if a Biblical model (the house church of the New Testament) was confused for a Biblical command. That, combined with sweeping generalizations that can too easily be refuted, hindered me from being able to buy into what most of Francis Chan was saying. Of course there are problems in the American church, but is the problem that churches are big and the solution that churches should be small? No, that is entirely too simplified. Ye ...more
Christina DeVane
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I don’t agree with the majority of Francis Chan’s philosophies, but I found this book so interesting! He’s a former mega church pastor who has swung the pendulum completely the other way, now planting home churches with no more than 20 people per church.

However, I enjoyed the first part of this book immensely!! I was convicted on how my attitude can so easily become self-centered in church functions, decisions, and services themselves. As a “church leader” myself I can have the wrong perspective
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Francis Chan gives it to you straight. He's not worried about your feelings, your pragmatism, your problems. It's all about God! He brings nothing but meat to the table. All church members need to read this book.
Nov 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I was a big fan of Francis Chan right before he fell off the radar. I took my students (I was a youth pastor at the time) through his BASIC series and loved it. I read all his books in print at the time. Crazy Love was one of the first books I read after my decision that Christian books were a good thing.

Letters to the Church is a little off though. He does make some excellent and challenging points, and I'm approaching pastoring in a different way now. But I took a few issues with the book that
Kendall Davis
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
I think Chan seems like a really honest and genuine man. I could be wrong, but he seems to be an earnest, straight-forward Christian pastor. And he has several good things to say that are worth our reflection. One of Chan's strengths is certainly his conviction that we should actually be living the way the scriptures instruct us to. He can't be criticized on that front.

That being said, what Chan possesses in earnestness, he lacks in nuance and analysis. Chan assumes that the goal of the church i
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So much wisdom here! This book is packed with helpful insight for the church, both its members and its leaders. As a member who was feeling frustrated and discouraged, I was reminded what the purpose of the church is and how I can be a healthy part of it. I may not be in the position to make the changes that are recommended, but I am encouraged that others are seeing the way America has lost sight of what's important.
Mark Gott
Nov 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Letters to the Church, Book Review

Mark Gott

Francis Chan sets up the issues beautifully:

He begins with a discussion on the importance of unity. He recognizes, correctly, that we live in a day and age where some church leaders are willing to pounce on you for any missteps. He then pivots to a discussion of the sacredness of the church. He quotes Ecclesiastes 5 which warns us to “guard your steps when you go to the house of God.” Chan then correctly notes that in our pragmatic church culture, we ha
Porter Sprigg
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Incredible convicting insight into American church issues. It just didn’t provide enough hopeful practical steps towards change for me. It felt like a diagnosis without a clear prescription. But maybe that’s Chan’s point. God is the doctor not him, so return to Scripture and be nourished.
Jess Entwistle
Oct 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Francis is a prophetic voice I believe. This is convicting and thought provoking. He ought to be admired for his desire to pursue the gospel and it being spread at any cost.
Leah Good
What would the church look like if we erased the modern, western church experience from our memory and built a church based on what we read in the New Testament.

I read this book from a different perspective than most. While the church I grew up in and currently attend does not meet in a home, it is a small church that feels like family and is led by multiple elders who maintain regular jobs (or are retired) and are not paid by the church. Many of the radical, back-to-the Bible concepts Chan brin
Beck Nordstrom
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a challenging book for me, I have so much to learn. Chan let’s the Scripture speak for itself and it just flips what I believed about church on its head. It’s a surprising lesson in humility and love, and overall is just paradigm shifting.

However, I wish he provided more of an answer for pastors and church members that are part of churches modeled after the traditional American church (which happens to be almost every church in America). There are hints but he gives no real solution ot
Cara Putman
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A challenging look at what the American church is today and what it should be based on scripture. This is one everyone can read, but I found Andy Stanley's Deep and Wide more helpful overall with it's very practical tips.
Carol Blakeman
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was so challenging and convicting. "The way things have always been done" is never a reason to continue in them. Francis Chan challenges the reader to search the scriptures and to fervently pray when considering practices of the church. That is never wrong to do.

There were points in the book that led me to real soul searching and repentance, especially when he talked about worship.

No one will agree with any book of this nature 100%, but in every point he made, there was something to
Timothy James
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
Not being American, Chinese or North Korean it is not possible for me to comment on the the accuracy of the state of Christian churches in these countries. The author, having wide experience, allows himself to both celebrate the characteristics he admires, and criticise the structures and people within them (both leaders and ordinary members), of those he doesn't like, in the churches of these countries. Some of these criticisms seem justified scripturally, others could be viewed as personal pre ...more
Lucas Humble
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: christian
At the end of the book, Chan says “obviously, I’m not talking about some kind of works salvation.” But after having read the book, I am not sure that is obvious given that this is the most works-based focused book I have read in a very long time.

On the one hand, I applaud him for identifying concerns in the church. We are complacent. Good for him in calling that out.

But: Chan extols the virtue of the Chinese church growth while ignoring the contributions, monetary and otherwise, from the Western
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've read a lot of good stuff this year. This absolutely takes the cake for read of the year. 6 stars. Convicting, written in pure love for the church. This isn't a book you read, but one you deeply experience. Thank you, Francis, for laying this out.
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
There’s lots of good content in here and I’ve always enjoyed Chan’s writing style. He knows how to bring and stir up biblical conviction. I love that he’s a standard bearer for how things should be. I underlined a lot in here.

However, my complaint is this- there’s no perfect church. Not even in the New Testament. Corinth was a mess. The Revelation churches needed help bigtime. Even in Acts there was much division and conflict especially over how to be both Jewish and Christian. What about the g
Matt Walker
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: christianity
I generally enjoy Francis Chan and his writings/sermons/work, and he really makes some poignant and relevant points about the modern day church, but fundamentally misses much of why the Church exists in the first place: the Gospel. The Chan model of church is the type that places more emphasis on making sure little, secret club-esque churches "are being fed," while disregarding the countless outside of the stained-glass walls who are hungry for the Gospel. While he raises some interesting and un ...more
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Simply put, this is Francis Chan at his best. So much inspiration here about finding out what kind of church God wants us to lead. It is filled with convicting questions I’ll be reviewing for awhile.

I like this one more than his other books because it seems more personal. Francis has always been a gifted communicator but this book shows how he’s been building up others to lead faithfully and fruitfully.

He calls the Church to be more simple and less programmatic and that encourages me. Let’s ge
Gideon Yutzy
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow, this guy really seems like the real deal. Written conversationally but it has depth nonetheless. I rated it 4 stars because I wish he would have made a little more room for nuances, but I understand, on the other hand, that he was limited in time and space. I am not sure what all I mean by more nuance, but in some ways his view of God is a little reductionist. Almost too remote maybe? What we need is a person with NT Wright's theology and Francis Chan's passion.

But a very good read nonethel
Andrew McNeely
Mar 09, 2020 rated it did not like it
Chan misses the mark here. There are too many historical, hermeneutical, and logical errors, including a lack of ecclesiological contextualization and a proper concept of the development of doctrine, to be recounted in a review. Chan does raise some perfectly legitimate issues but it becomes clear throughout the text that he is not equipped to answer them. I wish Chan would do his homework before publishing books every two years thinking that he has discovered something novel for the church. He ...more
Tyler Williams
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really thought provoking and makes you consider if the way we do things is because it’s in line with what the Bible says or what our values are... or if it’s just the way we’ve always done it.
Stephen Hoogerhyde
May 20, 2019 rated it liked it
This book obviously was written with passion, and sometimes passion can get a bit overwrought. That being said, I think that anyone who is serious about the church (and the church is the bride of Christ, so every Christian should be passionate about the church) can benefit from this book.

Basically, Chan identifies the weaknesses of the mega church model that caused him to leave that (lack of close fellowship and accountability, much too easy for individuals to hide, too much focus on one man, no
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Francis Chan offers a double-barreled critique, if not manifesto, concerning the consumerist church of North America. Written in post-mega-church frames, Letters to the Church is a call to the communal, participatory and simple expression of church as missional life together. It doesn't take a prophet to foresee the demise of the current American church model, collapsing under the weight of its own syncretism with consumerist, entertainment and celebrity culture, but it does take courage and a p ...more
Anna Tan
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Letters to the Church is thought-provoking, especially since it addresses some of the issues I am currently having around church.

Chan draws examples from his personal experiences, both in the old megachurch and in the new house-church style, but qualifies them with the statement that what he has done and what he is doing isn't representational of what Church is meant to be worldwide. He seems to ask instead, who are you following? Jesus or the church leadership team? What does faith, love, and
Wes Smith
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Letters to the Church is a great book that is classic Chan...very biblical and very convicting. The overall goal of the book is to show that often times the way we do church does not align with the way the early church operated. Chan goes through his story of stepping down as the pastor of a megachurch and the journey God has taken him on to learn more about what God calls the local church to look like. I think it is a helpful critique in two specific ways. The first about how we have created a ...more
Grace Fig
Apr 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
I first decided to read this book when I read the question on the back: "If God had his way, what would our churches look like?" I figured it would be a book that validated all my feelings toward the current church. Francis Chan affirmed my thoughts, but also convicted me along the way.

Chan digs deep to reveal how the American Church is no different than the culture it lives in. It is made from the foundation of consumerism and comfort, which goes against so many biblical truths that are preach
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Francis Chan is an American pastor and teacher, who lives in California with his wife, Lisa, and their four children. He is the former pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, CA, which he and his wife started in 1994.

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19 likes · 5 comments
“While we can’t force people to be devoted, it may be that we have made it too easy for them not to be. By trying to keep everyone interested and excited, we’ve created a cheap substitute for devotion. Rather than busying themselves with countless endeavors, the early followers devoted themselves to a few. And it changed the world. It seems like the Church of America is constantly looking for the next new thing.” 3 likes
“Many of us make decisions based on what brings us the most pleasure....We pursue what we want; then we make sure there are no biblical commands we are violating. In essence, we want to know what God will tolerate rather than what He desires. Maybe we are afraid to ask what will bring Him the most pleasure. Ignorance feels better than disobedience.” 3 likes
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