Chan urges Christians to take risks

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Fresno Pacific University Media Release

Francis Chan believes in just trying things—in life, in ministry and in front of 1,300 pastors, lay church leaders and nonprofit agency staff members.

“I look back at my life and all the great things that happened were things that just happened. I was just trying things,” the author of Crazy Love, founding pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, Calif., and co-founder of Eternity Bible College said at the 2012 Central Valley Ministry Forum, organized by Fresno Pacific University. The event took place February 16 on the main campus in Fresno. The Pacific District Conference was among the sponsors of the event. 

To accommodate by far the largest audience to attend the annual Ministry Forum since it began in 2004, Chan spoke from the middle of the Special Events Center gymnasium. The square stage set with only a café table and two chairs was perfect for Chan’s enthusiastic, conversational style. Screens above the stage captured his animated facial expressions and often expansive gestures as Chan’s voice rose with laughter or fell to a hush.

Despite notes, Chan was clearly open to the inspiration of the moment, even to admitting discomfort. “You’re sitting at tables and going to taking notes,” he said with a laugh. “That means I have to have something to say.”

What Chan said in “Living by Faith,” the first of the day-long event’s three sessions, was that to follow Christ is to trust him, and him alone, even in the middle of every action. “My whole point right now—and which wasn’t the point of my sermon—is that I don’t know what I’m doing,” he said.

Instead, Chan figures God looks down and says, “Francis, you have no idea what I have planned for you.”
Among the things God has so far planned for Chan have been quitting work three weeks after his marriage to start a church, starting a Bible college over a burrito lunch, selling his home and traveling the world with his family while wife Lisa was pregnant with their fifth child, hosting a steak-and-lobster feast for the poor in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District and starting a seven-week “Taste of God” series where 50 Christians meet with 50 nonbelievers. In its fifth week as he spoke, Chan reported “Taste of God” had six baptisms in one week; due to space problems, those baptisms took place in a wading pool atop a building.

What stops other from doing what Chan does? Forgetting to trust God and be courageous. “If you’re going to try things, you’re going to fail,” he said. The risk of failure is that criticism comes fast and hurtful, especially in the digital age. “Every time I make a mistake somebody tweets it,” he said.

But there’s also a risk in not failing. “Once something is successful, people try to protect it,” he said.

Either one, “can take away the courage the Holy Spirit gives you,” Chan said. The answer is to ask yourself: “Am I letting expectations get to me? My reputation get to me? Or am I being real before God?”

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