Letters to the Church (Chapter 1)

A few weeks ago, I wrote post titled “Thoughts on Church”, in which I reflected on the modern Christian church culture. I had been in the middle of re-reading Letters to the Church by Francis Chan at the time, and was experiencing a really big personal reevaluate of my church life. I have since finished the book, and I am pushing it into the faces of all of my dear Christian friends. If you are a Christian who attends a church, are apart of a body of Christians, or even just reads your Bible, you need to read this book.

If you are a Christian, the well-being of God’s Church should be important to you. Plain and simple.

Much like how I shared the beauty of Victor Hugo, I want to share the power of this book. I will be separating the book by chapter, as I think that keeps the quotes I want to share organized and more powerful. However. Please don’t use these posts as an excuse to not read the book. Don’t even view my posts as the SparkNotes version of the book. I’m simply sharing the quotes that struck me the most. I beg you, please read this book.  It will change your faith.

Chapter 1: The Departure

It didn’t make sense to teach the Scriptures without expecting change. (pg. 12)

As elders, we came to the painful conclusion that when unbelievers came to our services, they weren’t experiencing anything supernatural about the way that we loved one another. (pg. 14)

Not just because of the waste of money, but because no church should be that dependent on one person. We wanted people to come to Cornerstone to experience almighty God and the moving of the Holy Spirit – not to hear Francis Chan. (pg. 14)

When I looked at what went on in Cornerstone, a few other people and me using our gifts, while thousands just came and sat in the sanctuary for an hour and a half and then went home. The way we had structured the church was stunting people’s growth, and the whole body was weaker for it. (pg. 15)

One young person in the church articulated it so well. He said it felt as if the rules were suddenly changed on him. He explained that for years he was taught salvation was a free gift and the gospel meant he could have a personal relationship with Jesus. It would be like someone gifting him a pair of ice skates. In excitement, he went to the skating rink and learned to do all sorts of tricks. He enjoyed this and did it for years. Now suddenly he was being told that the skates were actually given to him because he was supposed to be a part of our hockey teamworking together to pursue a championship. He wasn’t supposed to just twirl around by himself. That’s a huge difference! While he did not disagree biblically, it would take time to realign his thinking and lifestyle. (pg. 16)

It didn’t seem like it would require much faith to just keep doing what I was doing, and I wanted to live by faith. (pg. 17)

We ended up selling our house in Simi Valley and taking our family of six a the time overseas to India, Thailand, and China. It was an amazing adventure that knit our family so close together and helped us refocus on the mission. I saw such fearless dedication and boldness from the pastors in India, who had renounced everything for the Lord. We witnessed the simplicity of the lifestyles in rural Thailand and the joy of the men and women who faithfully served widows and orphans day in and day out. In China I saw the gospel spreading like wildfire as people endured and even rejoiced in persecution. (pg. 18)

While there were feelings of fear when we left the United States, now there was greater fear in returning. We didn’t want to lose our focus. (pg. 19)

It was scary at times, but I loved the fact that I was living by faith in America. (pg. 20)

Lately I have become obsessed with knowing and experiencing Him. The strangest part about this season of my life is that my intimacy with God has been directly tied to my connection with the Church. (pg. 21)

For the first time in my life, I actually feel closer to God while praying alongside my church family! It’s as if I can sense His actual presence in the room with us. It makes me want to stay in a room with them all because I want to get as close to Jesus as possible. Just the other day, a one-hour teaching session spontaneously turned into thirteen hours of prayer! We were enjoying His presence together so much that no one wanted to leave! (pg. 21-22)

I’m often sad when I speak to Christians across the United States because I don’t hear many people speaking this way. Instead, I hear people complaining about their churches. (pg 22)

The church has real issues, but Jesus still refers to the Church as His body, His bride! We must love His bride, not gripe about her or leave her. (pg. 22)

Many want to change the Church, but it is often motivated by personal preference rather than biblical conviction. (pg. 24)

As I examine the state if the Christian Church today, I can’t help but think that God is displeased with many of the churches in America. (pg. 24)

I’d like to think that we are on the same team, all seeking to pursue the kind of church that pleases Him most. (pg. 24)

Imagine how difficult it would be to coach a team where each player refuses to follow because he or she has a better plan than the coach. Welcome to the American Church in the twenty-first century. Let’s exercise some humility. (pg. 25)

[Speaking about 1 Samuel 24:6] Saul was a terrible leader who actively turned against God, but David somehow had a holy fear of harming those God had placed in authority. Nowadays, if a leader makes a mistake, no matter how small or innocent, we are quick to criticize and move on. (pg. 26)

God designed the Church to be much more than what the majority of us experience in America. There are many of us who believe and want this change. The good news is that God wants this change even more than we do. And He doesn’t just want these changes; He commands them! We can move forward in confidence, knowing God wouldn’t command us to do something unless He also empowered us for the task. (pg. 27)

Before you get overwhelmed about all that is wrong with the Church, remember that He is not placing an insurmountable burden on your shoulders. He is asking you to fellowship with Him and join Him in what He is doing. (pg. 27)

There is no time to care about what I want in the Church. There’s no time to worry about what others are looking for in a church. I will be facing Him soon, so I have to stay focused on His desires. (pg. 28)

If I really was going to die, I would care very little about people’s complaints. I would be obsessed with seeing the face of God and wanting His approval. (pg. 28)

What are your thoughts?

Ciao for now,

Julia

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