Megachurch Pastor: You're Not Francis Chan

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By Lillian Kwon, Christian Post Reporter
January 20, 2011|11:51 am

The bold decision by Francis Chan to leave the church he founded and venture out to something new that God was calling him to has apparently left some pastors a bit disheartened.

Charlotte Pastor Steven Furtick recalled a conversation he had months ago with a fellow senior pastor who felt almost like a "C-List Christian" because he didn't have the faith to do what Chan did.

"I was listening to a pastor talk about Francis Chan and how [he] had the faith to walk away from the church and kind of launch out into the unknown," Furtick recounted. "The pastor ... was very discouraged and almost disappointed in himself because he said to me 'I don't have the faith like Francis to do something like that.'"

Furtick, who leads Elevation Church, one of the fastest growing churches in the country, expressed his concerns in a video post on his blog Wednesday.

The young pastor made it clear that his intention in posting the video was not to criticize, though it may seem so "on the surface." He also noted that he admired Chan, who resigned from Cornerstone Church in Southern California early last year, and has been impacted by several of his messages.

Chan, author of Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God, is well-known in the Christian circle. But that "celebrity" status bothered Chan. He felt his life and how famous he got no longer fit the Bible and he wanted to take time off to realign it with Scripture. He expressed a desire to surrender himself fully to God.

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His story has spread across churches and left some pastors questioning his move and others lauding his decision.

When the unnamed pastor told Furtick about his discouragement several months ago, the Charlotte pastor found it "weird" because he knew the man to be a faithful man of God.

"I thought it was weird that he's standing there telling me 'I don't have the faith like that to leave everything that's comfortable to me and to embrace something new,' because this guy, I thought he was a great man of faith," Furtick said.

If he could go back, Furtick said he would tell the pastor, "You're not Francis Chan."

While respectful of Chan's obedience to God and his decision to leave everything he's familiar with and follow the Lord wherever he leads, Furtick reminded Christians that sometimes God calls people to stay. And that requires great faith.

"I felt like the Spirit of the Lord told me something in the last couple of months just thinking through this whole idea of faith ... that I think needs to be an encouragement for many of you today who are down on yourself because you're in one certain position and you think 'man, I'm not really making a difference here' and you hear about somebody like Francis Chan ... who gets up, leaves everything and goes like the disciples," the megachurch pastor stressed.

"Sometimes, God gives you the faith to get up and go but other times God gives you the faith to stay put," he said simply. "And it's not always faith to get up and go if what God is really calling you to do is stay put."

He admitted that it might be "more enamoring or illustrious" to get up and leave everything for the Lord.

"But," he continued, "[God] might be calling you to stay in a place to do something very normal and that will be your greatest demonstration of faith – faithfulness."

He quickly added that he wasn't saying all of this to discount people who get up and go like Chan, but his talk was instead meant to encourage and value those who simply stay and demonstrate faithfulness in that sense.

"You're not Francis Chan and I'm not Francis Chan; you're not Abraham (of the Old Testament)," he asserted.

"If God is calling you to stay put ... or to take off ... don't you ever feel like your caliber as a Christian is less because of it, or your worth to the Kingdom of God is less because of it," Furtick underscored.

"Be obedient; take off or stay put but either way it's all about being faithful to the voice of God in your life."

 

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