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Francis Chan on Celebrity Status in the Church

Francis, for the end of 2010 you and your family sort of unplugged and spent a couple of months serving in Asia. Could you tell us about what that time was like? What is God teaching you through that experience?

“It was a wonderful time of ministry and learning for my family and me. I learned so much from the believers overseas. There is a focus and a seriousness that comes with persecution. I was deeply influenced and encouraged by our brothers and sisters in difficult situations. I believe the Lord is teaching me that we can and must have that kind of devotion to him even in a place where there is little persecution.”

Jesus has always blessed his Church with gifted teachers. Unique to our day is the increased accessibility of these teachers. How should we make the most out of these resources while at the same time being committed to the local church? Could you give practical advice on the way forward?

“These are things that I am trying to figure out right now, so I want to be careful not to speak too soon. What I will say is this . . .I have benefitted greatly by hearing biblical preachers via podcast. I’m glad that there is so much solid teaching available. However, I am struggling with the celebrity status that comes from this kind of exposure. It’s not healthy for the preacher, nor is it healthy for those who talk about their ministry heroes so often (I am guilty of this).

In many ways, we are conforming to the pattern of the world. While it is good that people are talking about what they have learned from “Piper, Driscoll, Keller, Chan, etc,” I am concerned about how much we speak those names rather than the name of Jesus. It has gotten to the point where I believe we have taken glory away from Jesus. Personally, I am intentionally trying to mention human names less and speak often the matchless name of Jesus. All believers have received the Holy Spirit. We must go forth in his power with confidence. God has placed people in your path. You are called to disciple them.

We too quickly direct converts toward podcast preachers and neglect our God-given mandate to disciple. We must believe in the power of the Scriptures themselves, and we must trust in the power of the Holy Spirit within us. Let’s use the resources God has given to the church at large, but let’s not shirk our responsibility to the local church. Let’s not boast too much of others, and let’s not underestimate what the Spirit desires to do through us.” 

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Francis Chan is a California-based pastor and author of many bestselling books including his newest, Letters to the Church (David C Cook, September 2018).