The coronavirus pandemic has revealed weaknesses in western Church culture that can be addressed by using restrictions as an opportunity to go deeper with God, says Francis Chan, the founder of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California, who now lives in Hong Kong.
Speaking at a Q Session where several high profile evangelical leaders such as John MacArthur, Samuel Rodriguez and Tim Keller shared their thoughts on the pandemic and how the Church should respond to issues such as restrictions and the ongoing debate on religious liberty, Chan said he believes God is using the crisis to wake up Christians.
“I love this season we are in and I think every true believer does because we look at kind of the status quo and we’re just hoping for a time when we were forced into action. It’s almost like you’re training, training, training, for something and here it is. Are we prepared or not? And it’s a time where I look at it like the time when the Israelites were in the desert,” Chan told Gabe Lyons, moderator and founder of Q Ideas, a learning community that mobilizes Christians to advance the common good in society.
“There are those who are like, ‘Ah let me just get back to Egypt, you know? Back to the way it was when I knew what was gonna happen tomorrow.’ I’m going, ‘Oh man, you’re missing out. You’re being led by a ball of fire. Never in history has that happened. Never will it happen again. Don’t miss this,” he said.
Chan explained that while he believes the ongoing debate about religious freedom and whether churches should be allowed to gather as they have traditionally done before the pandemic, he questioned how effective the Church has been with religious freedom when compared to places like China where the Church is persecuted.
“When you look at the places where there is religious freedom and you compare those places to where there is not religious freedom, what have we done with the freedom? It’s just weakened the Church,” he said.
“I’m not saying don’t fight for it, especially if that’s something God has called you to. I’m grateful for the people who fight for religious freedom. I’m grateful to have it. At the same time, I’m not really afraid of losing it because I look at how the church is flourishing and how it actually looks like the Church of Scripture where there is persecution. And again, I’m not saying I’m wanting that or desiring that. But what I am wanting is to see a pure Church where people are devoted, they’re serious and they understand what it means to really follow Jesus. Then we can really be a light to the world,” Chan explained.
The Cornerstone Church founder said he believes God has given the Church an opportunity in the pandemic to grow and become “deeply intimate” with Him.
“God does not put us in a situation where we can’t be deeply, deeply, intimate with him and growing with one another. Man don’t miss this,” he said, noting that it's a great opportunity for parents to become more hands one with the spiritual development of their children.
“I think about parents. I hear in a lot of churches they’ve got to meet together again because of our kids. And I’m going, 'Man, God should wake you up right there. Parents are supposed to be teaching their kids.' It’s a great opportunity for you, dads, to step up and believe the Spirit of the living God is inside of your body and you can lead that family. And if they’re not equipped, then figure it out and man up. Parents, you’re supposed to lead your kids,” he said.
“We’ve weakened all these gifted godly people because we do everything for them. We’ll teach your kids and so now it’s just kind of chaotic. What do we do? No one is teaching my kid,” he said, pointing to the complaints he has been hearing.
“I say, ‘No. Take advantage of this time.’ I really believe this is of God. This is a time where we realized we were not ready for this. So if we get another little break, let’s do everything we can to equip and prepare people for times like this because I really don’t believe this is the end of it,” he added.