Rev. Francis Chan stated that the coronavirus pandemic exposed how weak the church had become and urged it to move on.
“I don’t know what is going on in your life, but it’s been sad to watch believers and the church struggle so much during this time. Churches are questioning their survival; believers are the same way, just trying to hold on and everyone just seems to be surviving rather than really thriving during this time,” the bestselling author and former California megachurch pastor said at the closing ceremony of the Chinese Mission Convention on December 31, 2020.
Organized by Ambassadors for Christ, an American Chinese Christian Ministry, the event aims to equip and disciple Chinese believers and churches and is sponsored by the Chinese Bible Church of San Diego and other Chinese American churches.
The founder of Crazylove Ministries and the author of the bestselling book stated in a sermon entitled “Trust and Obey” that God was not putting us in a situation where we could not grow closer to him. Instead, he “felt closer to God than I ever have in my life.”
Chan said, “The Bible says, Jesus says, ‘I’m going to build my church, and the gate of Hell won’t stand against it.’ So it doesn’t matter what is going on in this world, he says ‘my church is this force that should be unstoppable.’ No one can stop it because ‘it is filled with my spirit.’ So we go forward and we are fearless.”
Having moved to Hong Kong from the United States, the pastor claimed, “I’ve noticed being in Hong Kong, obviously surrounded by Chinese people. Unlike what I was in the US, there’s a lot of fear, even with those who call themselves Christians. They’re really afraid to die. And you need to understand there is seriously something wrong in your life if you don’t want to die.”
According to Chan, Paul desired to depart and be with Christ in Philippians 1:21-24. He said, “I rarely hear that kind of speech now. People are holding on to their lives, so afraid of death. It’s like we don’t really believe in his promises of something better. That’s why Paul says, ‘Of course I‘d rather depart and be with him, but there are things I have to do on the earth.’ That’s the only reason why he would still want to be on the earth…
“Because he’s so in love with Jesus. ‘I just wanna be with him’,” he said. “Do you think this way? Do you speak this way?”
“We should have such a relationship with him. I just want to be in your presence right now. I just want to be there right now. I miss you so much, I want to see your face, but I know I have to be here. I’m happy to serve you here, but I just want to come home. I just want to be with you. Please be honest and don’t play games,” Chan urged.
“Look at your heart right now. Because my concern is that some of you listening right now, you don’t really love the person of God… he is not like a real person to you. You don’t have a real relationship with him,” the pastor warned.
“I really believe this pandemic has been such a great time of exposing us. I hear people that say “I just don’t feel close to God during this time” because they missed the Bible studies and the church services. That’s not a bad thing, but it is also not a bad thing to be alone with Jesus and have a little more space than usual and have a little more time with him.”
Chan added, “It’s also been really exposing of the church when people are just watching a sermon online and calling that ‘church.’ That was never the command of Christ to his people. He called us not just to go and listen to sermons, the church was so much than that.”
“And the whole pandemic exposed how weak the church has become because Ephesians 4 says the job of the leadership was to train people, to equip the believers for the work of service. Our job was to prepare our people for times like this so that they can thrive in any situation. We are not always guaranteed that there will always be a church building, you can always go there every Sunday for an hour, there is always a midweek Bible study.”
“Look at what the way things are right now. Rumors of war…there is so much division, especially in the US, even unbelievers are knowing it will never be the same again. So how are we responding as the church? ” he asked.
“I know that many of you are going back and like hoping we get the church back to where it was. I don’t at all believe that is what God wants for us. And this is a blessing, the church, the way it was, was not preparing us for times like this. So the whole point now is okay. God is moving. The whole world sees that our world is changing.”
Citing the lesson of the people of Israel taken out of Egypt into the promised land, Chan imagined they would say: “I wish we could go back to Egypt… because at least I knew I had a job, at least I knew food was coming. “They so missed it that God was bringing them somewhere better, yet their mentality is that ‘I just wants things back where I can get control of them.’”
“Don’t you understand that God is shaking up the church and he’s bringing us to a better place? This is his blessing in our lives. And my prayer is that you will move with him.”
“The Bible says that the church is supposed to have peace that surpasses comprehension. You and I as believers, people should marvel at us: ‘I don’t understand how you can be at such peace.’ The Bible also says that he fills us with joy that is inexpressible... We boast in our hope, bragging in a sense that we are so sure of our future. It’s like, “Kill me, I don’t care, I don’t even care”. Don’t you have a clue for what I have waited for me?”
The pastor, “We are supposed to be a group of people that were perfectly one. Jesus said just ‘the Father and I are in one’, that’s the oneness that he wants of his church. And the Bible says that if we can attain to that type of oneness, the world's gonna believe that Jesus is the son of God.”
Citing Philippians 1:27-28, Chan added, “He says when we strive side by side for the gospel that means we are perfectly united, he says that we are not afraid of anything. He says then the world will believe in their destruction and in our salvation.”