Last Sunday, Francis Chan, founding pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California, announced to his congregation that he and his family are being called by God out of the church. They are being called into some other form of ministry. Maybe LA. Maybe Haiti. Maybe Thailand. Maybe Timbuktu. They don’t really know at the moment.
All they know is that they need to do this. They are called to do this.
I have immense respect for Francis Chan. I got the opportunity to speak to him briefly at InnovateChurch 2009 at Thomas Road Baptist Church, and was struck by how humble he really is. He has a great handle on Christian unity, loving others, and what it means to serve.
From a ministry perspective, he has it all. Widely known. Preaches around the world. Author of two books. Watched by untold multitudes online. A growing church. Doesn’t even take a salary from the church anymore. Yet during the message he gave last Sunday (entitled “Surrender”), he said, “I really believe what God is leading me to is greater obscurity, and to lift other people up into the limelight.”
Some may continue to ask, why? Why would he do this to his church? I believe that question is dangerous. If he isn’t meant to be there according to the will of God, then he doesn’t belong there. Our pride makes us feel indispensable when none of us are.
I’ve also read some comments online doubting his motives. Again, a dangerous thing. The only one who truly knows his motives is God, and if it truly is He who is calling Francis, then He IS the motive. Though I don’t know Francis personally, I can’t believe that this change has been brought about due to boredom with church “as is,” as some have intimated. Francis is an innovator, and it seems that he is being called to be innovative elsewhere.
Selfishly, I’m not looking forward to him leaving his church! I have listened to dozens of his messages, and have come to look forward to each new podcast. But I affirm his decision, praising God for what He is doing in the lives of the Chan family and what he will continue to do at Cornerstone Simi.
Join me in supporting this family through prayer as they seek direction and guidance from the God who gives all things and makes all things new.