Chan’s Challenge to the Church

The following passages are excerpts from the introduction of Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit (Francis Chan, 2009).

“There is a big gap between what we read in Scripture about the Holy Spirit and how most believers and churches operate today. In many modern churches, [New Testament believers] would be stunned by the apparent absence of the Spirit in any manifest way. And this, I believe, is the crux of the problem.”

“Without Him, people operate in their own strength and only accomplish human-size results. The world is not moved by love or actions that are of human creation. And the church is not empowered to live differently from any other gathering of people without the Holy Spirit. But when believers live in the power of the Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural. The church cannot help but be different, and the world cannot help but notice.”

“I also believe that the Spirit is more obviously active in places where people are desperate for Him, humbled before Him, and not distracted by their pursuit of wealth or comforts (like we are).”

“The light of the [North] American church is flickering and nearly extinguished, having largely sold out to the kingdoms and values of this world. While most people see that there is a problem, few do anything about it, and most of those who do, run toward the wrong solutions. Instead of speaking meaningfully and insightfully into the culture, we have capitulated and in many cases look no different than the world.”

“The Holy Spirit is absolutely vital to our situation today. Of course, He is always vital; but especially now. After all, if the Holy Spirit moves, nothing can stop Him. If He doesn’t move, we will not produce genuine fruit — no matter how much effort or money we expend. The church becomes irrelevant when it becomes purely a human creation. We are not all we were made to be when everything in our lives and churches can be explained apart from the work and presence of the Spirit of God.”

Thanks for this challenge, Francis, this reminder to move away from what is safe, sane, and civilized and run to the Spirit.

Much of my present suburban existence is about building security, stability, and comfortable living — for myself and for my family. Since the Holy Spirit cannot be calculated, predicted, fully understood or contained, my fleshly spirit is not easily drawn to Him. He promises delivery on not one of my goals. In fact, He promises opposite outcomes.

And yet I know that in Him is Life. In Him is purpose. In Him is meaning. In Him is redemption.

If I am to be everything God calls me to be, He is indispensable.

Come, Holy Spirit.


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