‘I want to be found furious’
“No,” came scattered shouts from among the nearly 5,000 souls assembled for the annual Tulsa Workshop.
A few moments later, Chan asked the crowd what they call themselves.
“Church!” they yelled back.
“OK, yeah!” Chan said, enthusiastically. “That’s a good word!”
Chan, a California minister, sought-after speaker and bestselling author of books including “Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God,” was a keynoter at the workshop, sponsored by the Memorial Drive Church of Christ in Tulsa. Terry Rush, senior minister for the church and the workshop’s director, told the crowd that credit for booking Chan went to Wes Woodell, who met Chan while working with the Lake Merced Church of Christ in San Francisco.
As Chan took the stage to deliver the first of his two keynotes, some audience members stood and applauded.
The attention made him uncomfortable. He cited 1 Corinthians, a letter the apostle Paul begins by urging church members to stop claiming loyalty to individual preachers and focus on unity in Christ.
Too often, churches aren’t known for unity — or for being courageous, Chan said. Instead, they are “divided and terrified” by the challenges they face.
When Christ returns, “I want to be found furious,” he said, and urged the believers to “walk fearlessly and united.”
One of those believers, Bill Detherage, said that he and his wife found Chan’s talks “challenging, yet inspirational, scriptural, and delivered with an obvious awe of God and love for the Lord.” Detherage, a member of the Broken Arrow Church of Christ in Oklahoma, said his work schedule makes it difficult to attend the lectures, but “I am glad I made the time to go.”
Though Chan doesn’t attend a Church of Christ, “he has come out very strongly on baptism,” said James Nored, a minister for the Grapevine Church of Christ in Texas, who also spoke at the workshop.
Though Churches of Christ in the U.S. are declining in membership, an increasing number of influential authors — including Chan — are discussing the importance of baptism, the Lord’s Supper and other Bible-based practices that Churches of Christ observe, Nored told attendees.
“It makes you think that maybe God is up to something,” Nored said.
Another attendee, Heather Thornton, said that the workshop challenged her to stop holding on “to the familiar at the cost of what God might be directing us to that is greater.”
“How often do we look at the supposed ‘ridiculous’ moves of faith that others make and tell them to be careful or to not be so crazy with their faith?” asked Thorton, a member of the Memorial Drive church. “In view of heaven, those ‘crazy’ lives are the ones that really make sense.”
Woodell also spoke at the workshop, alongside Lynn Stringfellow. Both work with Campus Ministry United, a nationwide effort to plant campus ministries. The Park Plaza Church of Christ in Tulsa supports the work.
“A new day has risen in the church,” Stringfellow said after the workshop. “Chan woke up a sleeping lion. He spoke to the heart of what we call the Church of Christ — and things will never be the same.”
FeedbackFrancis Chan is not Jesus Christ, but a follower of Christ to the best of his ability. Members of churches of Christ need to do the same. Francis Chan is not inviting us to follow himself, but the Lord. May we do the same!Greg NanceSignal Mountain Church of ChristSignal Mountain, TN
USAApril, 16 2013I admire the extreme enthusiasm fo Francis Chan as it seems that he possesses and exudes. I was taken aback when I read that he is not a member of the Lord’s church, though. I understand thinking ourside the box and trying to gain great momentum and enthusiasm, but when we bring those in from the outside to teach us what and how to do, we envite apostacy. If he does not worship with a church of Christ, he obviously disagrees with, at least, some of Gods’s Word. Anytime someone is so charasmatic to be able to win over the emotional response of others, he has gained ground in getting them to think as he does. It is dangerous ground.Glenn LandrumWoodland church of ChristSumter, SC
USAApril, 16 2013