Francis Chan is making waves. Cornerstone Church, which he launched in 1994 in Simi Valley, California, has grown to reach thousands. Chan's popular podcast has carried his prophetic preaching to thousands more. And in 2008 his first book, Crazy Love, made a significant impact.
Recently he announced that he was leaving Cornerstone to take "a leap of faith" to a new kind of ministry. This interview was conducted before he announced his departure, but it points to the kind of spirit that many pastors long for in their churches, and also gives clues to what motivates Francis Chan.
He is calling Christians, leaders, and churches to complete surrender to Christ. The ramifications in Chan's church have been significant. Cornerstone is actively pursuing a new paradigm for ministry—a shift away from orchestrating large gatherings toward smaller geographic home groups with indigenous elders as leaders. This is part of what Cornerstone sees as the radical commitment Christ expects.
Chan is quick to note that the shifts at Cornerstone are not the result of his leadership alone. The changes have rippled out from the community of elders at the center of the church as they have together rediscovered the importance of prayer and the Holy Spirit.
"We're not making waves," says Chan, an avid surfer, "we're just catching them."
Leadership managing editor Skye Jethani spoke with Chan about how Cornerstone pursues spiritual formation, and what surrendering to the Holy Spirit means for the work of ministry.
Most people know you as a preacher. How do you hope your sermons form the people at your church?
I want them to hear what God is teaching me through his Word. I want them to understand what a passage means, but I also want to be open to what ...