Francis Chan: ‘what kind of church would people like?’ Is the Wrong Question

Chapter 1 of Revelation is a severe warning for the church in America.

That’s the message Francis Chan delivers to Azusa Pacific University students at a chapel service.

In the first chapter of the Bible’s final book, John sees Jesus in all his glory, and he was terrified to the point of passing out.

In that meeting, Jesus tells John to take a message to the seven churches in Asia. His message to five of those seven was repent, or else.

Chan told the students in this video, the sins of the churches in Asia and the consequences of failing to repent should strike fear in the hearts of American Christians. Jesus tells the churches if they don’t repent, he’ll spit them out, remove them, and wage war against them.

Chan likened the tone Jesus takes in the chapter to a parent warning a rambunctious son of the consequences of running into the street without looking for traffic– if you don’t pay attention to what I’m saying the consequences could be severe and fatal.

Then he asked, “What about the church in America? Do we really think we’re one of the good ones?”

The Problems in the American Church

In America, we go to a building we call a church, if we don’t like the music or the speaker or any minor thing about the service, we just move down the street to another church.

Chan was recently in China and described the American church that way to the people who attend the underground church–and he said they laughed hysterically.  And then they asked, “what happened to you?”

In America, Chan lamented, people won’t show up at church unless Hillsong is singing or Tim Keller is preaching.  On the other side of the world, Christians worship to be in the presence of God.

“What must God think of that?” Chan asks.

The church in America is self-centered and consumer driven and sadly, Chan says we don’t even see it.

The strong warning Chan received from reading Revelation, a read that he points out only takes 26 minutes, caused him to question how we do church in America.

He said Americans treat church like they do all of their other decisions, based primarily what pleases them and hoping God will tolerate their decisions.

He admitted he was part of the problem.

The American Church Asks What Kind of Church Would People Like?

In 1994, he started a church in California by asking “what kind of church would I go to?” He says the question should have been, “what kind of church would please God?”

He then challenged the APU students to be the generation that refuses to be consumers, loves fellow believers like family, trembles at his word, and are devoted to prayer.

He invited them to get a group of ten Christians together in a house with a piece of bread and a Bible and just hang out with each other, talking about the word and enjoying fellowship with God.

He predicted they would find that all the things we do to make church more exciting are actually killing it.

He says making that break will open our eyes to how weird the church in America has become and how to avoid the dire consequences that Jesus warns us about in Revelation.

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Bob Ditmer
Bob Ditmer has worked in Christian media for more than 20 years including positions with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Focus on the Family.