Bestselling author Francis Chan recently exposed his heart to Facebook employees, detailing why he left the helm of his thriving megachurch in California seven years ago.
Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California, was drawing around 5,000 people and growing in 2010. But Chan felt the megachurch he founded was not as God intended it to be.
"I got frustrated at a point, just biblically," Chan said during a talk at the Facebook headquarters in California last Thursday. "I'm going wait a second. According to the Bible, every single one of these people has a supernatural gift that's meant to be used for the body. And I'm like 5,000 people show up every week to hear my gift, see my gift. That's a lot of waste. Then I started thinking how much does it cost to run this thing? Millions of dollars!"
"So I'm wasting the human resource of these people that according to Scripture have a miraculous gift that they could contribute to the body but they're just sitting there quietly. … [T]hey just sit there and listen to me..."
His decision in 2010 to leave Cornerstone — which he started in his living room — came as a shock to many, including fellow evangelical pastors. In his announcement to the congregation at that time, he said he had been feeling a restlessness and stirring to let go of the megachurch and take on a new adventure.
He also indicated that he was wary of being "comfortable…”
Today, Chan leads a house church movement in San Francisco called We Are Church. There are currently 14 to 15 house churches, he said, and 30 pastors (two pastors per church) — all of whom do it for free. Each church is designed to be small so it's more like family where members can actually get to know one another, love one another and make use of their gifts.
"We've got a few hundred people now and it costs nothing," Chan explained. "And everyone's growing and everyone's having to read this book (Bible) for themselves and people actually caring for one another. I don't even preach. They just meet in their homes, they study, they pray, they care for one another. They're becoming the church and I'm just loving it and realizing that these 30 guys [are] leading this and the women as well."
The people who join include "guys coming off the streets, out of prison to doctors and people that work here (Facebook) or Google," he said.
He's hoping to double the number of house churches every year so that in 10 years, there would be 1.2 million people in We Are Church. And, he reiterated, it's all free.