Here’s a video clip from Youtube. It features 3 guys that are all a little younger than me who have been in full-time pastoral work for a while. All 3 are in big cities and have large churches that they pastor. Really large.

Recently one of them, Francis Chan, announced he was leaving to pursue something new. In this video, Mark Driscoll (flannel) asks him some hard questions about that decision. Good questions. I think this is the way that brothers should talk to brothers. At the same time I think that Driscoll, if he’s speaking from his heart, perfectly illustrates the crossroads we find ourselves at as the Church in North America. That’s why I’m posting this video.

Chan clearly doesn’t have a plan or an agenda even if he has reasons for what he’s done. He sounds like someone who has suddenly found themselves in a place where it’s time to try following Jesus to the best of their understanding, systems of the past notwithstanding. I get where Chan is coming from and I’m saddened by where Driscoll is coming from.

Here’s the vid:

I’m interested in what you think. Are you feeling Driscoll or Chan more? Is it impossible to “tweak” the system enough or does it require us to go back to zero and start again? What are we holding on to that’s part of a dysfunctional system and what part is the stuff of life and love?

You can follow discussion on this over at Out of Ur.


About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Church, faith, Francis Chan, God, Leadership, Meaning, ministry, missional church, pastor, Reflective, religion, theology, truth. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Crossroads

  1. Michelle says:

    I agree that Driscoll asks good questions but for some reason I can’t listen to him without feeling my blood pressure rise -even if he says all the right things! I think it’s because I don’t trust him. I get the feeling he already has his mind made up and isn’t really engaged in a discussion at all. I could be very wrong but it’s what I sense.

  2. sherry says:

    Im feeling more towards chan,I think he is right on ,I find the other guy a bit arragant and cocky,good and honest questions but i dont think he really gets it But way to go chan! I so want my heart to be like chans cause he seems alot more like Jesus to me .God set me free from myself!

  3. Phil says:

    I’m confused to how someone who started a church only 15 years ago can’t speak enough in to it to change something’s that he feels are not Christ like. I think Chan has courage, but Driscoll’s questions are understandable. Some one should tell him to come pastor in PEI we’ll keep him in proverty….

    • brianmpei says:

      I think some of Driscoll’s questions are good. I also think asking if Chan’s executive pastor is “good” betrays an underlying and dysfunctional idea about the cult of personality that has been embraced by the Church. (among other things his questions reveal) I think Chan’s point is that he started something 15 years ago that was a tweaked out version of what he already knew. It wasn’t then and isn’t now what he understands the New Testament describes.

      I’ve heard someone else describe this as trying to turn an aircraft carrier quickly. It just cannot be done.

      I’d love to have Chan OR Driscoll come pastor on PEI! Good times would ensue.

  4. Judy says:

    I’ve felt like Chan all my adult Christian life – like something was missing from how we “do church” – and yes, I’ve been tempted to scrap the whole political game out of disgust and a desire to just follow Jesus and Him alone, without all the trappings. If there were a viable, God-centered alternative to our comfortable pews and cushy programs – perhaps I’d take it. But to blaze a trail – there has to be a definite call from God; even if it’s just one day at a time there must be a goal to which to aspire.

    God looks at the heart. The things that matter to Him in the final analysis will emerge like jewels through the fire of His purity, His omniscience. For now, while I feel much like Chan and I “get” where he’s coming from, and I too am saddened by the reaction of his colleagues, I wonder if they might have a point, whether there might indeed be an element of guilt, a need for self-expiation in his motives. That’s between him and God. We each have our own pathway to follow and God can and does use every facet, every person’s uniqueness, to accomplish what He wants done in the world. It can still happen through the traditional local church because God is God and those who are in the local church whose hearts are following Him can sense His presence and become more and more conformed to His image. That’s “attraction rather than promotion.”

    There is much to be said (in the traditional church or not) for a good degree of “holy dissatisfaction” in the sense that it is dangerous to rest on one’s laurels and there is always more of God to experience, deeper pathways in Him. (Just ask Moses who, after meeting with God up on the mountain so much that his face shone, couldn’t enter the tabernacle because the presence of God in there was so intense.)

    Chan was right when he said that it’s all about love, whether rich or poor, suffering or not, etc. At the risk of sounding cliché, “the main thing is to make the Main Thing the main thing.” If this is where God is leading him, then – more power to him!

    • brianmpei says:

      Here’s my problem. I’d never tell someone in a dysfunctional family system that they should get out if they feel led or called. At some point someone has to speak up and start being real about the unhealthy system we’ve developed here in North America.

      But then that’s just me…

  5. duffy says:

    I don’t know enough about Chan to really comment, but I loved the questions Driscoll put out there.
    I don’t really favor a ‘permanent’ stepping down of Chan, but a temporary one might be good for someone in his state. I think for him to start something else would be unhealthy, instead of reforming what he’s already built?
    Even though the Church may be in need of some serious work, I don’t think It’ll ever get it unless we start loving it as much as Jesus does. I know too many Christians who do way too much bashing on Jesus’s wife.

    • brianmpei says:

      I think Driscoll asked good questions though I suspect they betray his conclusions rather than represent honest inquiry. I enjoyed Harris calling him out on playing his “role” as “King”.

      Chan isn’t stepping down he’s resigned. He wants, apparently, to give himself away in an entirely different venue and approach to ministry.

      I’m curious why it would be unhealthy for him to start something new in a different location? And his experience has proven, as he says in the clip, that he cannot reform the church he has been in without people being hurt who like things just as they are – which isn’t bad, just not what he believes is what God has described.

      I think love demands we deal with dysfunction and speak the truth. Paul, Peter and John all spoke rather critically of the bride out of love. The letters to the 7 churches were out of love yet no less critical. The loving thing is not pretending that your wife’s abusive, addictive and narcissistic behavior is o.k.

      We (the bride) have kept our silence for far too long about the things we can see in the mirror.

      Or so it seems to me.

      • duffy says:

        I just think it would be more difficult to gather a following the second time around.
        I think he should reform what he already started. People are gonna be upset regardless.

  6. Francis is hearing the voice of God…. He is decreasing self, so that Christ can be Christ in each one…. The other two are on a collision course for seeking to increase self and image as they broadcast themselves to every church and are not discipling leaders to lead and surpass them.. They are not servant leaders. Secondly, I know Mark Driscoll, and he is an ego maniac, downgrades the role of women, needs to grow up in a huge way. He is scary… This does not take away from the good he is doing, but many can do good and be headed for disqualification from God’s best… Francis is getting it and the other two are not seeing the Kingdom of God going forward…. Driscoll is a Rock star who will not leave, but continue to promote himself as the man, lest he fall… Lord help them see what you see….. Francis is on a great collision course with the King’s initiatives and love…

  7. Donna Wigmore says:

    I am with Chan. I feel the way Michelle does about Driscoll. And it bugs me cause too often I might see someone, arrogant like that, talking at the head of the church. I just feel sick and don’t say anything. As for me, though, I have been trying to surrender for the past 2 years and I do feel like we are all missing something big by carrying on with life as normal, if you get my drift. No wonder I don’t feel so close to Jesus, I am resisting His urgings to change and go with His flow.
    Like your friend Brett Dennen says, “When is the revolution?”

  8. Don Rousu says:

    I applaud Frances Chan for stepping out to follow his convictions, and I cherish the kind of love he continues to hold in his heart for the leaders to whom he has entrusted the church which he raised up. That speaks volumes! I think everyone’s heart is exposed in this interview, and the contrasts are wonderful. I’ll let you figure out which one I think comes off looking most like Jesus!

    As for me personally, I’m still trying to re-direct the church which we helped plant. But aren’t we always trying to do that? I know I have — for the last 42 years. Some of it has to do with my own growth in revelation, and some of it has to do with countering the effect of sin on the Body of Christ. It takes a long time to turn around an aircraft carrier, and the bigger it is, the longer it takes — but it can be done. Another option is simply to abandon ship, and all jump in row boats.

    I’m not ready to pull the pin and start over, but some of my friends are doing that, and I’m excited to meet with them and hear about their journey, and support them where I can. The ultimate thing, I believe, is a sincere desire to hear His voice and follow Jesus. This is a confusing, perplexing age, and there is so much to learn from one another as we seek His will and pleasure.

    • brianmpei says:

      I think you’re right Don. I don’t think it’s either/or. The question is, “are we listening and following – living pilgrimage – or have we built our castles and determined we shall not be moved?” A person can stay a long, long time in one place and still be listening and on the move with God.

  9. TJ says:

    I’ve never seen any of the three men, nor know about the topic they’re speaking about…a brief ‘first impression” of the men.
    Driscoll’s first words “I don’t care”..I’m not fond of people that have that in their vocabulary; body language, precise movements, pointing, gestures..shows someone who perhaps has packaged his life in tidy little boxes, and is uncomfortable with the thought that they may have to be unpacked, either by himself or by others, against his wishes.
    Francis: His hands are moving, speaking, either open, wide open, palms extended, nothing to hide…or curled, flexed, trying to hold on, grasp something, find something…comfortable with “I don’t know” as an answer, even if the other person isn’t.
    Joshua: observes, questions, not participating, indifferent, almost like he’s taking it all in before he makes a decision, takes a side, expresses an opinion.

  10. I don’t think Chan is making a bad decision or is unhealthy in any way for leaving the church to pursue something he feels a conviction about…however, I do wonder if he is somewhat idealistic in it all. As long as you involve people, you cannot have things entirely how you personally envision them to be at their best. I think visionaries are constantly in a state of frustration for this reason. By nature, people want to apply structure and build boxes around ideas. I genuinely hope it’s not the case, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not long before Chan is disappointed and disillusioned with his new adventure.

    That makes me sound like a cynic, i know.

    • brianmpei says:

      I hear what you’re saying but I don’t think it’s inevitable. I think few of us are brave enough to start where we actually feel called to because we’d like a crowd – at least enough to cover our salaries. He’s not worried about money so he’s feeling a little more daring to just see what happens and if it’s 15 people it doesn’t much matter.

  11. Chan is more free than the others… Yes we all face disappointment in this world, but He is more free to maneuver to God’s desires. The others are locked into their systems, and will remain with the Mother Ship, and her ideals, whether she sinks or swims.. .Many are sinking right now…

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