I’ll never forget the first time I heard Francis Chan speak.
I was at a big music conference in California feeling really discouraged. The music was man-centered, the teaching was problematic, to say the least; it just really seemed like no one was there to exalt the Savior. It seemed to all be about money and fame. And then something happened. In between bands, a preacher came forward. He passionately, accurately, and stunningly preached the Gospel in such a way that it brought me to tears. I was overwhelmed and as I looked around I felt as though I may have been the only one. I asked some people around me who this preacher was, and no one knew. So sadly, I wasn’t able to learn his name.
Fast forward a few months and I’m at the Master’s University chapel. To my joy, this same man stepped into the pulpit. I was so excited. He brought the house down. I finally learned his name: it was Francis Chan. For a few months thereafter I devoured everything he preached. I couldn’t get enough of his preaching. It’s clear that, rhetorically speaking, he is able to stir up the heart in a powerful way. But as time went on I started to notice a drift. He made some interesting decisions at his church that culminated with his departure. (Recently I attended an event where I heard him preach in person for the first time in 10 years. He compared the people of the church he pastored in southern California to a boyfriend and girlfriend whom you see hanging out in public and you can tell they are not interested in each other. That was, he said, his church’s attitude toward Jesus. They seemed to be really into the L.A. Lakers and the stock market, but not really into Jesus. Sadly, his takeaway was to blame the “way he did church” rather than himself as the preacher and church planter.)
He went off on a journey searching for the best way to do church that took him to the other side of the world. The journey culminated, for now, with him moving back to America to start a house church movement he learned overseas. His dissatisfaction with two thousand years of church history has led him on a path of searching that sadly has caused him to partner with increasingly questionable folks. Now, in March 2019, he is sharing the stage with false teachers who will spend eternity in Hell (Gal. 1:6-9). And, while part of me is thankful that the thousands who attended this evil event got to hear Francis preach, it wasn’t his preaching that was of greatest concern. Some may argue that in the same vein of 13 years ago (when he came to the conference I attended and stood out like a sore thumb) he heroically brought the Gospel to a dark place. And while that may be true, there was a big difference between these two conferences. There were no false teachers at the other conference, there were only false teachers at this one. But that isn’t even my greatest concern. My greatest concern was the fact that Francis not only joined these men on stage, but he openly embraced them as brothers in Christ and commended them on their godliness (2 Cor. 6:14-17, 2 Tim. 4:3-4).
However, this should not come as a shock. Not long ago he praised Mike Bickle and ended up at a prosperity gospel conference where he clearly embraced prosperity preachers. Interestingly, however, three years ago he spoke out against the Prosperity church for the marvelous movie, “American Gospel” (the director wisely removed him from the video after it was made clear that he was not excited about being included in the final cut).
Francis, in the off chance that you may be reading this post, I want to thank you for your faith in Christ and for your love for truth. I will always be thankful for how God used you in my life, even if for a short time. I love you and I truly pray that you will recommit your love for the local church, for expositional preaching, and your stand against false religion. But sadly, it seems like you are drifting towards a more ecumenical mindset that never ends well. Please, for the sake of our Savior, His Bride, and the scores of young people who like me were captured by your passion, come back to your first love!
Over the last few years, Francis has come up a lot in conversations. Many are asking, “What do you think about Francis Chan?” Many young people in our church have wondered whether they should be listening to him. Some have told me that they recently discovered his books or his sermons. So, I have had to ask myself what the best way is to speak about him. Should I come down strongly? What should I do? Over the last ten years, because of the drift I noticed and out of concern for where he might end up, I simply pointed young people towards other faithful preachers while withholding stronger warnings. But, I feel like that ship has sailed. I think that all our suspicions and all our “hoping for the best” has been put to death with the public embracing of demonic teachers like Todd White, Todd Bentley, and Benny Hinn, among others.
I think it is time to say that Francis has shifted so far that he has embraced false teachers and has disqualified himself from the benefit of the doubt. That does not mean that he is a false teacher, nor that he is beyond repentance. But it does mean that, as for me and my house, we will not only not recommend Francis Chan as a trusted resource, but I also encourage you to stay away from him. I have never written a post like this (unless you count my posts against the pope), but I felt it necessary since Francis holds a lot of sway among young people in the church. I feel great sadness writing a post like this; I may never write one like this again, but feel like it had to be said. Benny Hinn and Todd White are some of the most despicable people on earth (2 Peter 2:1-3) as they prey upon the poor, hate upon the sick, and take your eyes off of the Creator and tell you to place it upon the creation, fully embracing the pagan mentality Paul damns in Romans 1. They hate the true Gospel and we must not only never embrace them, but fight against their lies with all our might (Jude 3-4).
None of us are immune to this temptation (Gal. 6:1). Every pastor can become dissatisfied with where God has them. We must fight our feelings and align them with scriptural truth.
Let us always be satisfied with Christ! (John 6:35) The Bible is enough! (2 Peter 1:19) The church is enough! (Matt. 16:18) Let us never seek to find our joy in other things (1 Peter 1:8)–it will only lead us towards disaster and, ultimately, death.