Popular preacher and sought-after speaker Francis Chan announced on Sunday that he will be leaving his church in Simi Valley, Calif., to go on a new adventure God is calling him to.
Chan made clear that his decision to depart wasn't prompted by immorality, discipline or disputes within the church. Rather, he has long felt a restlessness and stirring to let go of the church he founded 16 years ago to "do something different."
"I'm excited about it," Chan told members and visitors at Cornerstone Church. "I'm sad about it. At moments, I'm afraid of it."
Though a difficult decision, the teaching pastor said he trusts God and is willing to forsake everything for Him.
The elders at Cornerstone and Chan's family have affirmed his decision.
Chan, author of Crazy Love, has been wrestling with the calling for a couple of years and moreso in the last couple of months, he said in an interview with Catalyst.
"I started to just feel too much like this earth was my home in some ways – you know you just get your roots in and get comfortable. And then I started feeling this call and there's all sorts of fears," he said.
"It's just a really crazy time in my life right now."
Just five years ago, Chan was struggling with whether he was willing to completely surrender himself to God. He realized he was and was willing to go anywhere for God.
At that time, his calling was with Cornerstone Church. Today, he's feeling a tug somewhere else.
The well-known preacher is still unsure of what his next adventure will be or where God is calling him to though he's feeling drawn toward Los Angeles. Part of him wants to go somewhere where he is unknown, he said. He also has a sense that he's being called to do church differently, not necessarily with formal Sunday services.
"I've really tried to search my heart on this because when you feel led by the Lord you have to first look at the Scriptures and make sure you're going because of the Scriptures," he stressed.
Checking his motives, Chan said money wasn't drawing him, nor was fame or comfort. In fact, he believes he's being led to greater obscurity and to lift other people into the limelight, and he expects there to be more difficulty and pain wherever he's going.
His wife, Lisa, has come alongside Chan. She, too, has been sensing a calling and has been rocked by Scriptures that exhort her to deny herself and take up the cross.
"God is asking ... 'are you willing to lay down your own life ... for me?'" she said Sunday.
Even though she wants to remain in the safety and comfort of Cornerstone Church and Simi Valley, she said she can't deny that God is calling her and her husband out.
"What kind of leaders would we be if we heard the voice of the Lord leading us and didn't obey?" she raised.
Francis Chan also believes he would be hypocritical if he didn't go.
Chan will preach at Cornerstone through the end of May and participate in speaking engagements over the summer. He then plans to take his family to a third world country – possibly Thailand – where they will care for victims of the slave trade and orphans while spending time seeking the Lord.
After a few months overseas, Chan plans to launch something new at the beginning of next year. While fearful, he expressed full trust in God.
"There's no fear in going out ... off with the Lord," he said. "He's proven to me that He's with me; He loves me; I love Him."
Chan challenged his congregation to also take a giant step of faith.
"My hope is that maybe even as I jump and make this transition, I really believe there are many of you in this room that have felt an uneasiness about your life ... this tension like there's something more the Lord's leading you to," he said. "It's scary to let go ... [but] we're talking about God who's giving us every breath, who loved us so much that he willingly gave His one and only son and now I'm not going to trust Him?"
"We're looking at Jesus and we're going 'he's worth it.'"