Francis Chan Gives Up
"I cannot make someone fall in love with Jesus."

In your new book you write, "I cannot convince people to be obsessed with Jesus, and that's why you need the Holy Spirit." When did you come to that realization?

Once you pastor for a while, it dawns on you that nailing a sermon doesn't mean lives will change. Or you'll meet a person who's surrendered everything to Christ, and you'll realize that your sermon wasn't even good and nothing you did caused him to become a believer.

There was a guy who had been in our church for 15 years. One day he told me my preaching hadn't changed him. He said I spoke too much about the "narrow road" and how everyone needs to be radical for Christ. But he said there's also a "middle road" where people like him can do a lot of good things. I was floored by that. He's sat under my teaching for 15 years and he still believes there isn't only a wide easy road and a narrow difficult road, but also a middle road? I've been told many times that my teaching is really helpful, that I make things simple for people to understand. And then you hear something like that.

That's when I remember, I cannot make someone fall in love with Jesus.

So what's the point of all the work, sermon prep, and programs if the outcome is out of our hands?

Some of our toil is wasted, because we're toiling believing that these things change people.

I believe a lot more of our work needs to be put into prayer, study of the Word, and trusting God. I could spend an extra ten hours on every sermon, trying to get every word just right, but my time would be much better spent out sharing the gospel with people and praying.

Now, I do study hard, because the Scripture tells me to and because I want to be accurate in my teaching. We should work hard "as unto the Lord," but we have to let our theology guide what we work hard at. And you have to be led by the Spirit on how much time to spend crafting a sermon and how much time to spend praying for a movement of the Spirit.

How can we know if our ministry is being empowered by the Spirit?

Churches that are built through our effort rather than the Spirit's will quickly collapse when we stop pushing and prodding people along.

Now we should push, prod, and persuade men, but I've learned to spend a lot more time praying and asking the Spirit to move and begging God to send forth laborers.

The more you look at Scripture, the more you realize that nothing happens unless God is behind it. Jesus is building his church. I just want to be a part of that. I'll keep doing my work, but the fruit is up to him. We can only pray, "Please, please, please let us see your Spirit at work. May it be like a mighty wind that moves us."

May 28, 2010

Displaying 1–10 of 37 comments

Lamar Carnes

November 24, 2010  3:46pm

After discovering Francis Chan's ministry and reading his books I find at last a man who "gets" it and actually is and/or has been in the pastoral ministry. I am now in my seventies and have pastored churches, preached messages over my lifetime to congregations and had a weekly radio ministry. All of which were influenced by my mentor's of the past and current ministers and associations. Most of that produced nothing in my life which was lasting or biblical, I am sorry to say. The organized church did much to curtail my growth spiritually and it took God's sovereign grace to get me out of a lot of improper settings and approaches to the ministry. Expostional preaching turned things around for me greatly as God spoke to me in "context" of His word. Yet, I still found much "unbelief" existing in my fellow associations with local pastors, churches and organizations. Reformed we were and are but alas, not in terms of the supernatural live God who moves and directs and controls all things. Academically we believe that of course. But we still seek to "make it happen" in our own strength and power rather than depending 100% upon the Holy Spirit for power and direction. Forcing things to happen because we "WANT" it just won't produce spiritual results in God's kingdom. It may bring about "filled pews and seats" but people will walk out saying how great the music was or how great the sermon was but never HOW GREAT GOD and CHRIST are! That is tragic in America but it happens every Sunday. Until we come back to the word and believe it and submit to it and obey it and trust in the Holy Spirit daily in our lives and in our churches, we shall see shallow results from man's energy which will not last. May God help all of us to pursue the same approach Francis is taking. May God bless him.

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Linda Lanouette

September 17, 2010  9:34am

Francis, I recently read a wonderful book by J.I. Packer, Knowing God. It will give you the incouragement you need. It is one of the most inspiring books I have read. I plan on reading more of this dear man's writings. Go and google his name.The youtube has several clips of his ideas. I cried as i listened to his dedication to The One we love. The sweetness of this mans character realy comes thru. Linda

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August 18, 2010  10:42am

Preaching as described in New Teastament scripture, was to spread the word that was yet to be written down. The people listened to Jesus and the apostles preaching and teaching because it was new and they did not have the written scripture to refer to. That would lead me to believe unless someone is reading from the scriptures today(the words preached in N.T.) the rest would be the other side of a two way conversation: God & Ours.

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June 30, 2010  2:18pm

You guy's are all way to analytical about this sound byte of Chans from an article. Seriously, calm down, enjoy God's goodness and quite expexcting humans to get it completely right. God's written word is souly sustainable for the human soul. everything else is commentary and questionable. Love the Bible and love Mankind, but always be weary of mankind teaching the Bible! "But now we see but a poor reflection..."

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June 15, 2010  6:02pm

When Jesus preached to large crowds, he was apparently preaching. There is no mention of give-and-take with his audiences. He also held small-group meetings with his disciples which did include discussions. So preaching is clearly a legitimate form of teaching. But the success or failure doesn't lie exclusively with the preacher. What about you, the listener? Are you listening to the message, looking for any bit of truth that will strengthen your life? Or are you sitting there, bored because he isn't talking about your main interest? Or are you mulling over the football game, or the dinner you're planning to serve? Let the church have a well-rounded program of good preaching, good music, good bible studies, and other sctivities, and then make sure you participate in them.

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June 11, 2010  12:41pm

Tim/Melody, given the various Scriptures you have each quoted/transliterated and the variety of ways that the Faith has been lived, preached, and communicated (in formal Liturgy and in the highways and byways of life) throughout the centuries, I suspect this is a "both/and," proposition and that you are both (perhaps inadvertently) presenting a false dichotomy here. I do think certain traditions within Western Christianity put too much emphasis on rational disputation and discourse (in their understanding of the proclamation of the Scriptures), and I should point out that this can be one-way OR two-way (as in debate). According to the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2, effective preaching of Christ depends upon the demonstration of the Holy Spirit's power and a genuinely spiritual life, not on human cleverness of logic and persuasive words of wisdom. In my own tradition (Eastern Orthodoxy), the Faith is very much a whole life thing whereby the whole of Creation proclaims God's glory (for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear) and we "preach" Christ (or something else, "self" perhaps) with the whole of our lives. Preaching as explanation and proclamation of the meaning of Scripture (Scripture itself contains numerous examples of this kind of preaching, as has been pointed out) has its place, but it is a small part of a much greater whole.

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June 09, 2010  9:24pm

Melody Your Phil. 1 passage does not specify dialogue nor lecture. It's simply expression of truth. The Acts 20, Col. 3, and Heb. 10 are all specific two-way communication. It seems you have difficulty paying specific attention to what is in the Word and adding to what is not there because your mind is fixed on tradition. I used to do the same thing. God helped me to grow out of it 15 years ago. It was hard. My degree is in pulpit talking, but I saw it was not God's design. You can to with a humble heart and a Berean mind that will test what you are told with the Word to see if it's true. Acts 17:11. This is a more noble faith.

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June 09, 2010  10:08am

I agree completely with Scott's analysis of this article. Additionally, we only get the tip of the iceberg with people's responses to writings & teachings. God knows the heart and the ripple effect of sermons and books. I've just discovered the work God is doing through Francis Chan (recommended to me by a seeker) and I've really appreciated what the Spirit is doing in my life as I pursue the concepts being taught.

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June 09, 2010  5:24am

Classic misdirection in the headline. Whether it's for the first time (I doubt it) or not, Chan merely states his place, which is NOT the place of the Holy Spirit in bringing people to saving faith. I'm thankful for Chan - his faithful and creative teaching, preaching, and writing plant Gospel seed in young soil that may not be reached otherwise.

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June 08, 2010  8:19pm

Forgive me, but I find the man more full of himself than full of the spirit. He should be planting his seeds, and letting others water it if that is the reality of the situation. His passion, to me, seems over his own ministry successes rather than for humbleness, brokenness, and serving. I'm sure he assumes that he is right where God wants him, and he doesn't need to change a thing, just acknowledge he can't make a difference without the spirit doing the work.

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