Francis Chan takes on the persona of a New Testament writer in his new book “Letters to the Church.” Through a series of letters, Chan argues that there are several contradictions from the modern church to the Biblical church, including a loss of sacredness, doubt in God-given abilities and a movement away from God’s vision for the church.
Chan derives his perspective from years of serving in church leadership; he and his wife founded Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California. They subsequently resigned from leadership to pursue missionary work in 2010. Chan continued to publish best-selling books, his most famous being “Crazy Love.” Throughout this new book, Chan explores Scripture, varying from explicit church doctrine to Old Testament teachings, strengthening his stance.
He structures his book in a series of letters addressed to the modern church. In the second chapter, a letter called “Sacred,” Chan argues that the church no longer upholds sacredness in the same way as the early church. While the modern church often struggles to please its congregations, they fail to teach much needed mercy and grace.
Churchgoers as a whole do not respect the sacredness of the church, Chan argues, writing, “We point out the flaws in our pastor’s sermon with the same conviction we critique a movie star’s acting or our favorite team’s recent loss.”
Chapter seven, the “Crucified” letter, confronts the issue that many people claim they are Christians yet do not answer the call. Many people act Christ-like when it is convenient rather than daily uplifting the Kingdom of God. Chan argues that we are to remain in Christ through every stage of life. Because suffering is acknowledged throughout the entire Bible as part of the Christian life, Chan challenges the modern notion that suffering has no place in a life of faith.
While Chan offers good points, the overall flow of the book feels unbalanced. Some of the letters do not offer concrete solutions for the problems stated. His bias toward church administration arises throughout the letters, casting much of the blame onto the congregation. The book could be shortened into more concise sections.
Perhaps, the content would be more effective when addressed to specific church leaders rather than in a best-selling book. “Letters to the Church” holds wisdom in regards to today’s church and how to properly steer it.