RICHMOND, Va. – Notable preacher and author Francis Chan implored churches to be willing to proclaim the Gospel without sugarcoating it, declaring that “Jesus had no problem losing the crowds.”
In a speech given as part of the Q Commons event on Thursday, which was broadcast to several locations in the United States and internationally, Chan preached on 2nd Corinthians 4:2-4.
“We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God,” reads the passage.
Chan admitted to struggling with the passage, noting that the Bible calls on churches, lamenting that “in this day in age, You want me to just say it directly, rather than nuance it carefully?”
“Paul had no problem with just saying ‘I’m just going to lay it all out, because if you don’t get it, it’s because the god of this world is blinding your minds,’” said Chan.
Chan believed that churches in the United States need to do a better job of teaching “the fear of God” and that “there is a judgment that’s coming,” noting that the Bible is “so much about the judgment of God.”
“Wouldn’t it be better to not talk about a fear of God, not to talk about His holiness, and just kind of slowly talk to them about their needs, their hurts, their feelings?” he commented, believing that some seek “to leave that stuff” about judgment and fearing God “for later.”
“Jesus had no problem losing the crowds. We’re infatuated with numbers. Jesus wasn’t.”
Chan was critical of the claim that it was better to water down preaching the Gospel in order to reach a broader audience, responding “why didn’t Jesus do that?”
“God wants His church to be pure,” added Chan.
Chan recalled how when he left a large church to start his own smaller congregation, noting that by membership standards it was a failure, yet in his opinion it succeeded on another level.
“It doesn’t work, not in America,” he explained. “Your definition of work is that you have the same number of people that you used to have when you did it the other way. No, I don’t.
“It was thousands and now its hundreds, barely. But is it closer to what I see in [the Bible], is the love for one another closer to what I see described in [the Bible]? Are people using their gifts? Is it a hundred times closer to what I believe Jesus asked for? Absolutely.”
Chan’s comments were part of the Q Commons event, a national event hosted by the Christian group Q and focused on creating a better future and better community.
Q Commons was mixture of nationally broadcast speeches and local presentations at the various sites that hosted the special event.
In addition to Chan, other national speakers included Rebekah Lyons, author and wife of Q founder Gabe Lyons, and Malcom Gladwell, best-selling author and journalist.
Venues in several cities in the United States, as well as cities in Australia, Canada, and South Africa, hosted the local Q Commons gatherings.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, local gatherings were hosted in Fairfax, Leesburg, and Richmond, the last of which was held in the Byrd Theatre and had around 160 attendees.
Rachel Burgess, a principal of the research institute SIR and one of the local speakers in Richmond, discussed the changing demographics of Virginia.
During her remarks, she argued that for too long churches acted as Japanese Bento Boxes, being in the same area yet with firm boundaries between each other.
“Christians have long been Bento Box residents,” said Burgess, who suggested that one solution would be “to stop identifying ourselves by our denominations, even our church names.”
“To define ourselves simply as children of God made in His Image.”