Today, we’ve taken a brief excerpt from Francis Chan’s recent book, Forgotten God. If you’re interested, the book is available for a free download this month from Christianaudio.com. The following section (pp. 141-143) brings up several issues that are relevant for church leaders. See what he has to say, and find out if it squares up with what the Bible says:
I bet you’d agree that a group of talented, charismatic leaders can draw a crowd. Find the right creative team, musicians, and speakers, and you can grow any church. It doesn’t even have to be a Christian church. The fact is that without making a conscious choice to depend on the Holy Spirit, we can do a lot. (Although without the Spirit, we wouldn’t actually be drawing our next breath–but I’m talking about cognizant and intentional dependence on our part.) My point is that a growing and energetic gathering is not necessarily evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work.
We all have our natural talents and bents, things that we are “gifted at” (of course, the reality is that those gifts too are ultimately from God). I have friends who are gifted artists, and I love watching them paint and draw. Those of us who are artistically challenged are stunned by the beautiful works of art they create. Others are good with people and can easily work in a variety of jobs that require people skills. Still others know how to sell things, no matter what the product is. And some have the skill set required to pull off a decent church.
I don’t want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit. I want people to look at my life and know that I couldn’t be doing this by my own power. I want to live in such a way that I am desperate enough for Him to come through…
There was a time when I got excited over a crowd showing up to hear me preach, but those days are long gone. Now I deeply desire that the Spirit of God would do things that I know are not of me and that cannot be faked or accounted for by human reason.
I don’t believe God wants me (or any of His children) to live in a way that makes sense from the world’s perspective, a way I know I can “manage.” I believe He is calling me–and all of us–to depend on Him for living in a way that cannot be mimicked or forged. He wants us to walk in step with His Spirit rather than depend solely on the raw talent and knowledge He’s given us.
But instead of living this way, we’ve created a whole brand of churches that do not depend on the Spirit, a whole culture of Christians who are not disciples, a new group of “followers who do not follow. If all God asked for were faceless numbers to fill the churches, then we would all be doing all right. Most of us would feel pretty confident. But simply having a good speaker, a service that is short and engaging, a good venue, and whatever else we add to the mix does not make a “good” or “successful” church. God intended for His bride, those who claim His name, to be much more than this.
God is not interested in numbers. He cares most about the faithfulness, not the size, of His bride. He cares about whether people are lovers of Him. And while I might be able to get people in the doors of a church or auditorium if I tell enough jokes or use enough visuals, the fact remains that I cannot convince people to be obsessed with Jesus. Perhaps I can talk people into praying a prayer, but I cannot talk anyone into falling in love with Christ. I cannot make someone understand and accept the gift of grace. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. So by every measure that actually counts, I need the Holy Spirit. Desperately.
Quotations from Forgotten God do not imply complete endorsement by Sharefaith.com.