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Preview — Letters to the Church by Francis Chan
If you can’t find a single person who looks to you as a mentor, something is wrong with you. And social media doesn’t count. I’m talking about flesh-and-blood humans who mimic your actions. This requires living a life that’s worth duplicating, which is quite a bit harder than posting pictures and quotes.
I have been joining with my elders to pray Ephesians 3:14–19 over our people, begging God that they would long for Jesus as we do.
Many pastors expect their members to sit under their teachings till they die rather than training them to leave and shepherd others.
Hugh Halter sees this as a trap we build for ourselves: “Many vocational ministers are stuck doing the work of ministry because they take a paycheck from consumer Christians who fail to see the full scope of their calling.”
We all have been given a spirit of courage and the power to do beyond what we can imagine. We must train our people to be independently dependent on the Holy Spirit.
While many pastors boast of how many children sit under their care, doesn’t it make more sense to boast of how many have graduated from their care? Isn’t it more a sign of failure when children are unable to leave the house? Raising thousands of consumers is not success.
I am telling the Lord I don’t want to just be kind. I want the kindness only the Holy Spirit can produce. How else can we attract the world? I want the peace that surpasses comprehension. A peace that leaves people confused. If pastors don’t exemplify these qualities to supernatural proportions, what hope do our churches have?
It’s no secret that church buildings are currently full of self-centered people coming to consume. The answer is not just telling them to stop being so selfish. Pastors need to engage them in helping the lost and desperate around the world.
We are too quick to get discouraged and quit because we have not learned to rejoice in suffering. Show me a pastor who rejoices in suffering, and I will show you a pastor who will be in ministry a long time. When pastors who rejoice in suffering make disciples, you end up with an unstoppable church.
God hates it when we underestimate the potential He created us with. He has always valued faith; people take His words literally. Ephesians 3:20 must be a verse we shape our lives around, not just a catchy quote we paint on our walls. The Church is in dire need of a fresh wave of godly leadership. I pray all existing leaders would be renewed or replaced. May God continue to raise up an army of good shepherds who love Him above all else and live to make the Church become everything God designed it to be.
Until we embrace the suffering that so many Christians embrace around the world, we’re not going to have an unstoppable Church. The Enemy is fighting so hard to keep us from reaching that place, because once we get there, he has no foothold.
Instead of embracing the persecution that comes with standing out from and against the world, we have begun to embrace the world to try to convince it to tolerate us. That’s not the way it was supposed to be.
There’s a level of love we can reach where we actually grow to want that. To want that type of intimacy, where you feel as if you are nailed right there next to Him. You could lose everything—your reputation, comforts, possessions—and count that all a bunch of trash, because it’s all worthless compared with knowing Christ. Suffering is so important because through it we come to know Jesus more. To know the power of His resurrection. To know the fellowship of His sufferings.
When we love others, we are being the hands and feet of Jesus. Jesus loved the marginalized, rejected, and forgotten. And at the end of His life, His hands and feet were nailed to a cross. Real love demands something of us, and it will lead us into suffering.
Let’s arm ourselves with this mind-set. Let’s remember heaven and live in light of what’s coming. Let’s spur on one another to greater levels of surrender and radical expressions of boldness. Let’s encourage one another to rejoice in suffering. We want to become Spirit-filled,
filled, gospel-centered Christians devoted to prayer; but let’s not forget, we also want to be suffering Christians. That’s who Jesus was, a suffering servant. Let’s endure until the end.
Don’t you find it even a bit discouraging that these kids are transforming villages while our kids are watching puppet shows on Jonah and learning songs with hand motions? Are you sure this is what we have to settle for because of our geographic location? It could be that we have been wasting our most precious resource. It could be that we have been treating our greatest assets as obligations.
I am not saying everyone should throw their kids into public school. I am also not saying we should foolishly endanger them. I am just wondering whether our habit of underestimating God’s power in them may be a mind-set we develop in them that continues through middle school, high school, and into adulthood. Maybe our lack of courage took a while to develop.
As I’ve been writing about children, I’m really not just talking about children. Our kids are simply a case in point for the way we function in the Church. We underestimate them, and we’re afraid of what will happen if we let them loose, so we keep them entertained, educated, and insulated. Is this really any different from the way we treat the average member of our churches? Of course, when we structure our churches like this, it’s not just the children or the average folks we are underestimating—it’s the Holy Spirit! We’ve built our modern churches on the
assumption that God works through a few talented, impressive, and wealthy people. And we give all the other people a comfortable seats from which they can be blessed by what God does through these leaders and influencers.
Who wouldn’t be fascinated by a group that shared possessions, rejoiced nonstop, had peace beyond comprehension and immeasurable power, never complained, always gave thanks …? Some people joined them, others hated them, but few could ignore them. They wouldn’t allow people to ignore them as they went out fearlessly sharing the gospel. This is our heritage. This is in our DNA. We must stop creating safe places for people to hide and start developing fearless warriors to send out.
We must stop creating safe places for people to hide and start developing fearless warriors to send out.