Book Review: Letters to the Church

If God had it His way, what would our churches look like?

In his most powerful book yet, Pastor Francis Chan digs deep into biblical truths, reflections on his own failures and dreams, and stories of ordinary people God is using to change the world.

As Chan says, “We’ve strayed so far from what God calls Church. We all know it. We know that what we’re experiencing is radically different from the Church in Scripture. For decades, church leaders like myself have lost sight of the inherent mystery of the Church. We have trained people sitting in the pews to become addicted to lesser things. It’s time for that to change.”

When Jesus returns, will He find us caring for His Bride—even more than for our own lives? Letters to the Church reminds us of how powerful, how glorious the Church once was … and calls us to once again be the Church God intended us to be.

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Is your church giving you everything you need to be a “good” Christian? This is the question that Francis Chan attempts to answer in his new book Letters to the Church. His answer may surprise you.

He’s not telling you to keep moving until you find the church with the “best” programs for you and your family. Nor is he telling you to approach your leaders with your ideas on how they can improve the church. No, he’s trying to get us passionate abut becoming the church that God wanted.

As we read the book of Acts – an account of the early church – we quickly notice that the dominance of the Holy Spirit. There were miracles and acts of wonder, but there was also a lot of persecution as well.

The majority of our beloved New Testament was written in response to some criticism or trial. Yet the early Christians were not deterred. Why is that? It’s because they had an expectation of persecution and so they drew close to the Holy Spirit.

Today’s Christian, on the other hand, seem to be of the impression that our faith in Jesus entitles us to a cushy life. Francis believes that the way we “do church” may the reason. Western Christians go to church. Francis encourages us to be the church.

Letters to the Church is written by a man passionate about the current condition of the church. It’s a wake-up call, a call to arms; a challenge for our congregations to shake off its lethargy because Jesus is coming soon.

Know God – The best way to be the church is to study the Bible daily. As we spend time in God’s word, we come in contact with the Power that is able to save and change us.

Know yourself – Letters to the Church encourages the reader to examine the reasons behind our church attendance. We are exhorted to use our gifts for the work of God. To use our gifts, we have to know what they are.

Run your race – Every person in the body of Christ has at least one gift. What’s yours? Find it and use it to the glory of God.

Favorite Quotes from Letters to the Church

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.

Okay, I do this. I complain about all the things that are not going as I think they should in my local church. This sentence was an admonition that shot straight to the heart. Because this is something I’ve been struggling with recently, it feels like its coming directly from God’s heart to mine.

Being in the church is an honor

Read: I Don’t Want to Go to Church

And so in the Church, rather than marveling at the incredible mystery that we are a part of God’s body, we critique the leadership, the music, the programs, and anything else we can think of. We point out the flaws in our pastor’s sermon with the same conviction we critique a movie star’s acting or our favorite team’s recent loss. Could it be that we are taking a sledgehammer to the temple in so doing?

Are our criticisms tearing down the church? We need to be more reverent when it comes to the things of God. We need to always remember that the church is not the building, it’s the people. When we criticize we affect someone else’s walk. Our words may be the reason why someone chooses not to participate in the services of the church.

God hates it when we underestimate the potential He created us with. He has always valued faith.

Our roles in the church is to have faith. With faith we will go where God sends us and do what He tells us to do.

When was the last time you sacrificed for someone else’s sake? Unless I’m mistaken, isn’t that the whole point of the gospel? If this isn’t commonplace in your life and you can’t think of anyone outside your family who you’d sacrifice for, you need to seriously examine your life.

We have forgotten that sacrificing our desires or “esteeming others better than ourselves” was one of the tenets of the early church. We’ve gotten complacent. As one of my friends put it, “we’ve come into the church, sat down and gotten fat”.

“Know God. Don’t just serve Him. You tend to spend your time accomplishing tasks. God wants you to sit with Him. It’s not a waste of time.”

It’s the Mary-Martha conundrum all over again we feel that we should be busy doing things when God wants us busy learning from Him. He knows that as we spend time sitting quietly with Him, absorbing His teachings, we become more effective in accomplishing the tasks set before us. We think if we spend too much time being still – even during Bible study – we’re wasting time.

Explore our Bible studies

You need to care about His Church enough to fast and pray. You must believe you play a necessary role in the Church. Seek wisdom and direction from God. He has given you His Spirit so you can know and follow His will.

Each of us has a role to play in the church. We should not be content to sit around and be served each week. We need to become active, serving members in God’s house. As we pray and fast for the church, it will become more like the body of Christ and less like a building filled with people.

Related: Read the Bible

Don’t blindly follow the things I have written either. Study the Scriptures. Get alone with the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Seek Him with all your heart and surrender everything to Him. There cannot be anything you hold with a clenched fist, not even family. He is worth it.

I love this statement! This is a pastor who is encouraging us to be like the Bereans. We have to investigate things for ourselves. We have to dig into God’s word and seek the truth on our own.

Get your copy of Letters to the Church on Amazon. I received an ARC from Netgalley, a positive review was not required.

About Francis Chan

Francis Chan is the best-selling author of Crazy Love, Forgotten God, Erasing Hell, You and Me Forever and the host of the BASIC Series (Who Is God & We Are Church). Currently, Francis is planting churches in the San Francisco area and recently launched a countrywide discipleship movement called Multiply with David Platt. Together, Francis and his wife Lisa raise their five children in Northern California.

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