My first thought wouldn’t be, “Let’s have a gathering.”

Francis Chan must be reading a different Bible.

The other day I watched a video clip from a message he gave at the 2012 Verve Conference in which he asserted that genuine Christian fellowship is missional fellowship.

I think Francis Chan is partly right there, but the way he said it was striking and revelatory of the way many evangelicals today read and interpret Scripture.

I have included a transcript of what Chan said below. If you want to watch and hear him say it, click HERE.

If I just read the Scriptures, I wouldn’t even think so much about the gathering. You know–Like, my first thought wouldn’t be, “Let’s have a gathering.” Out of the Scriptures, I would think, “I’m on a mission. Like, I love this God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and now I’ve got to go out and make disciples.” That’s what I would think. I need to go out there and just reach as many people as I can! I’m supposed to teach them to obey everything that’s God commanded–that’s what I would get out of Scripture. And then what would happen as I did that–what I believe would naturally happen–is suddenly I would find those other people who are on that same mission because we’d be the weirdest people on earth. Right?

We would stick out, we’d be so different, and that pressure to always stay on that mission, everyone else would be beating me down, so I would actually need these brothers and sisters in my life and tell them hey don’t let me slow down, and I won’t let you slow down, we’ve got to stay on this mission together. See this is why I wasn’t into fellowship before–because I didn’t need any more friends. Okay, it wasn’t like “Oh yeah, let’s get another gathering together so I can have someone to talk to.” Like, I didn’t need accountability groups so I wouldn’t sleep around or whatever it was–I could do that, I can do that on my own. Like–not sleep around, you know what I mean? You know I don’t need that to do American church, I don’t need fellowship. But to stay on mission everyday? I need people because I’m going to get distracted–there are so many things I would rather do than make disciples. And so I need people in my life to tell me this. That’s what I would get out of Scripture, is I got to go out and start making disciples. And as I did that I really believe that I would start gathering with other people doing the same thing.

I believe in missional Christianity. And I think Francis Chan has a point about the nature of fellowship.

The Greek word “koinonia” (fellowship) is used as a commercial term in ancient literature to describe a joint venture or mutual project in which people become “partners” in the business at hand.

This is why Paul tells the Philippians he is thankful for their partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (NIV). The church had “participated” (NASB translation) in Paul’s work through financial support and sending a church member to be with the apostle and help him in prison (Epaphroditus, see Phil. 2:25-30).

Part of fellowship involves working together, partnering together in the mission of the Gospel. And too many churches neglect this in favor of what I’ve called a “temple mentality.”

The problem with much contemporary American evangelicalism is that it has created an alternate “kingdom,” one which is OF the world but not IN the world (the opposite of what Jesus intended). The freedom and prosperity we enjoy in this country has allowed us to withdraw from meaningful interaction with our neighbors in the context of real life situations so that we might spend time in “Christian” pursuits.

Churches are organized to satisfy this centripetal impulse. Life for many American Christians revolves around the “temple” and its program of activities for all ages and interests. It seems that the purpose of the church is to provide what Luther called a “roses and lilies” experience for people that protects them from the harsh realities of the world and the challenges of learning to relate authentically with those who don’t share our faith.

My Issues with Evangelicalism (Mission)

Francis Chan rightly objects to temple-oriented “churchianity” and the kind of “fellowship” that primarily serves the personal comforts and needs of the church members. Too many churches, of course, are inwardly focused. Our fellowship is greatly enhanced when we break up the “holy huddle” and serve together for the sake of others.

But to say — “If I just read the Scriptures, I wouldn’t even think so much about the gathering. You know–Like, my first thought wouldn’t be, ‘Let’s have a gathering.’ Out of the Scriptures, I would think, ‘I’m on a mission…'” — that is the kind of reading and application that gets evangelicals in trouble regularly.

This view ignores the Story of the Bible and its consistent testimony to the ecclesial nature of salvation. The Story of the Bible is not only not about “me and Jesus” it is also not about “me on a mission.” It is about God forming a people, a family, a holy nation, a kingdom, a community for the new creation. It is a missional community, yes, but that’s not all it is.

It seems that the same “soterian” gospel that turns the Story into a “plan of salvation” also turns “fellowship” into a joint partnership focused on getting out that message.

It’s as if the Great Commission were the only tool in our toolbox.

The Scriptures are so much richer and more complex. The life of the Christian is a great adventure in learning to be truly human in all of its aspects, including the great adventure of living in community with others.

For example, note Luke’s description of the first Christians following the Day of Pentecost:

That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.

Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.

They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.

Acts 2:42-47, MSG

How can someone read this fundamental text on the nature and practices of the church and say, “If I just read the Scriptures, I wouldn’t even think so much about the gathering”? The first Christians were devoted to it! Every day! And if this passage is any indication, their “mission” grew out of their “fellowship,” not vice versa.

Every epistle in the New Testament verifies this. Where is this constant drumbeat of mission, evangelism, “going out and reaching as many people as I can” and then joining up with others doing the same thing as my “fellowship”?

Chan has a point, but in the end, I think he must be reading a different Bible than I am.

41 thoughts on “My first thought wouldn’t be, “Let’s have a gathering.”

  1. We need both – Spiritual Formation within community, and Missional activity without. The Great Commandment AND the Great Commission.


  2. When I read what Chan says and how he says it I just want to flee to a monastary as a bulwark against the bovine muck that American Evangelicals produce from their imaginations…..


  3. Miguel at a Desiring God conference if I remember a couple years ago, Francis Chan stated that he believed pastors should be transperant about what they make. That shouldn’t be hidden from people. Mark Driscoll who was there took offense to letting people know what a pastor makes and clashed with Francis Chan. If I remember correctly there is a Youtube video shwoing all this…


  4. Sounds more like “Sheep Rustling” than “moving from one bucket to another”.


  5. I guess I’ll disagree a bit with your take on Chan. When I read and listen to Chan, I know he’s someone who has experience pastoring people who call themselves Christians but don’t live out their faith. My take is that much of his teaching is in response to Christians who sit in churches “fat, dumb and happy.” The reason I think his teaching seems to be a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” approach is because of our discomfort with living out our faith as Jesus lived his faith, a faith that isn’t content with “fat, dumb and happy.” “Crazy Love” is Chan essentially trying to help a reader recognize how much God and Jesus loves us, and to respond to that amazing love by truly lilving out Jesus’ command to love God and love our neighbor. I see his call for “missional living” as a call for us “followers of Jesus” to get off our church pews and begin showing Jesus’ love to the world. This is something I think most of us would agree is seriously lacking in many of today’s Protestand churches.


  6. James, worship is a higher calling than evangelism. We evangelize so that more people will worship. Far too many “churches” today have that backwards.


  7. What I see in this is an idea I have all to frequently encountered of modern American individualistic Christianity, which is all about making my convert and my disciples independent of anyone else.

    Which is why where my writing partner lives you’re never out of sight of at least one church steeple, yet there are more Church Plantings going on every day.

    The ultimate theoretical end state of Protestantism is millions of One True Churches, each with only one member. (“Us Four, No More, Amen.”) And that goes for market share and personal empire as well as perfectly-parsed theology.


  8. ‘Well, if all of that’s true, what are you on mission for? Door-to-door salesmen want to sell products and increase brand awareness. But if all the world becomes door-to-door salesmen, what then? What happens when you’ve got no one left to sign up and your mission is accomplished? Did the mission have a goal beyond itself?’

    It’s the same “Soul Winning Uber Alles” that the original IMonk wrote about, just with a new coat of paint.

    Max Out the Numbers at the Altar Calls!


  9. It’s the same “Soul Winning Uber Alles” that the original IMonk wrote about, just with a new coat of paint.


  10. I think this has more to do with calling. I see your point Chaplain Mike and it sounds like Francis Chan has overreacted to “temple mentality.” However, it seems to me that he is also (maybe without realizing it) filtering the Bible though his God given talents and calling to be a preacher of the Gospel and thus reacts like Paul. He goes and where he goes he finds fellowship. Here at the imonastery, there is more sense of calling to follow the example of Martin Luther; let’s reform the church community and focus on that. They are two different perspectives not different Bibles.


  11. My husband spent a year away from church attendance at the end of his Christian college experience. He needed to be with God. It was his need. If my husband were to have written a book during that time, I think it would have sounded a good bit like what Mike excerpted. I wonder if Francis Chan is writing from his own personal place and walk.


  12. HARSH?!? 😀 How can one be harsh on Chan when you have the “Tornado dude” in Minneapolis and his sidekick in Seattle? They are front and center of this crowd!! 😀


  13. That was my take as well. I listened to him for nearly a year, and saw him speak a few times, and never knew he was reformed. It just doesn’t show.

    BTW Eagle, what was he butting heads with Driscoll over?


  14. Sometimes I fear that the church planting movement has become more about spreading a particular brand of Christianity than the actual faith itself. And there are some brands I would really like to see a bit more of. But I really, really do not thing that America is suffering from a lack of churches. The problem is more like the churches that we do have, not the churches we don’t. And you bet, too many church plants are just trying to get a share of the market, rather than bring the gospel to a place it’s lacking. I’ve seen them open up shop right across the street from well established congregations. Um, hello, your market strategy is a tad obvious…

    You bet an Methodist church could really work with A29. You’d be surprise how many UMC ministers I’ve met who are very Calvinistic. I heard there’s even an Assembly of God church in the network. But most Methodists are very strongly Arminian, and with that level of doctrinal conflict it’s no longer an issue of pride anymore, but efficiency. You can’t have unity with two drastically different teachings like that, unless you want to appeal to the lowest common denominator and avoid anything deeper than the surface. Evangelicals have learned to agree to disagree on many issues, but to avoid pointlessly rehashing the same arguments repeatedly, you work most closely with those whom you most closely align in theology/practice.

    Corporate vision and success are the poison in the evangelical water these days. Branding has become infinitely more important than discipling, and the outside world can see it as clear as day. It says, “WE HATE JESUS! …and we’d rather entertain ourselves to death” …and it is by no means limited to the reformed churches. In fact, on average, the revivalistic fundagelicals are quite often worse. Most of the push-back against this I hear is coming from the reformed world… Just not the reformed Baptist world.


  15. I really like Francis Chan. I think he is, as was Michael Spencer, focused on “Jesus-shaped spirituality.” I take his comments as cautions against gatherings that end up being country clubs, about Christian fellowship that becomes religious dogma. His cries for missional living and walking with Jesus are attempts to get Christians out of the comfort of their pews and engaged with the lost of the world. And let’s face it, the church described in Acts 2 was rather utopian and didn’t last long, so using that as a counter to Chan’s view doesn’t fly very far (not with me, anyway).

    I could be wrong, but I bet Michael Spencer would’ve gotten along very well with Chan. Chan is very much about trying to get Christians to think differently about the way they follow Jesus, much as Michael did, and this site continues to do. Let’s not be too harsh with Chan, please.


  16. i am not too familiar with Chan. however, he does have the ear of those that appreciate his approach…

    not sure what to really do with those that are in the upper 1% of Christians having a pulpit & book deals & conference speaking engagements, etc.

    does Chan believe he is God’s spokesperson? duly anointed? his ‘take’ on anything pertaining to life & godliness to be given more weight because???

    once a particular believer recognized as being in the spotlight of celebrity status (neutral application) whether personally sought after or simply given by an appreciative audience, is there anything in their demeanor that should reflect the attitude of Jesus?

    why is there regular reference to say N.T. Wright, C.S. Lewis, Karl Barth vs. the Calvinista contingent of Piper, MacArthur, Driscoll, Mahaney???

    i do know a few acquaintances that appreciate Francis Chan & have read his books. i am not in the least bit interested, but he does seem to have an effective way of communicating theolgical concepts to those that agree with his perspectives…

    for those that are familiar with him, has he recently talked about theological considerations that have been encouraging?


  17. I find some of Chan’s stuff to be light on gospel and heavy on pulling yourself up by the bootstraps. Prime example of this is Crazy Love which seems to put all the onus for our relationship with God on us just trying harder to love him more. Meh.


  18. What I see in this is an idea I have all to frequently encountered of modern American individualistic Christianity, which is all about making my convert and my disciples independent of anyone else. The assumption implied in this is I can give another person everything they need to grow in Christ. But the picture I see in Scripture is one of a body with different parts and different functions used to build each other up the input of all the members being important to the process. I do not want to minimize the need for this body not to become in-grown, but to be continually reaching out to those outside. But the idea of each person going in it alone with occasional encouragement from others to keep them on track does not fit the Biblical picture.


  19. …Church plant – moving christians from one bucket to another… christian capitalism at its best….


  20. Mike, yes I get where you are coming from, and I am in agreement with you take. I think you articulate your concerns very well in the post. I should have taken more time to flesh out my comment, which really dealt with what I thought were some short-sighted statements in the comments. On another note, I can’t and wouldn’t want to argue against “gathering” or “community”, as you have stated I think that is of crystal clear importance on multiple levels, but I think we too often wrongly equate those two things with Americanized, Sunday morning worship services. Blessings on your work, which I always enjoy!


  21. Good thoughts. I think it is worth noting also that the NT idea of a disciple (mathetes) was understood in the context of rabbis and their followers. But it is used only in the gospels, disappears entirely by around Acts 12, and is never used by any of the epistolary writers. Paul never uses the term. As the church moved into the “uttermost parts of the earth” (the non-Jewish world), it apparently abandoned the language of discipleship. I think an argument might be made that partnership (koinonia) and body became the operative words to replace “make disciples”. The local body gathered became the presence of Christ that would form followers and send them into the world. The body is how we live out Christ’s words that “all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” There is no discipleship (an American term) without fellowship. That’s what I think, anyway.


  22. Friendship in the time of the New Testament was almost exclusively a quid pro quo relationship. This does not exclude the type of friendship we know of today, but it was much more structured back then and it is important that we read it that way. Most often the transaction was an equal exchange. Even in Philippians Paul uses a tone of “what have you done for me lately” even though, as he notes, they took care of him in the past.


  23. Chaplin Mike…what is your assessment of Francis Chan aside from this speciffic issue? I mean I know he butted heads with Driscoll, and he’s the darling of many young Calvinists. (Though David Platt and Matt Chandler might compete for a close second…) But what is your take? Is he going to became another John Piper in 10 years? Or another Mark Driscoll? Do you have any other concenrs about his theology? Do you think when he withdrew and left his chruch….do you think that was genuine? Or a publicity stunt? Can you give us your take on Chan?



  24. I think many Hyper’s have confused following Jesus with planting chruches. Planting churches really has nothing to do with worship. It’s a legalistic, feel good requirement. Ask yourself…for whom do Acts 29, Sovereign Grace, and Sojourn plant chruches for? Is it for God or themself? I would suggest that it is often for themself. For their own glory and to worship themself and pat each other on the back. I find it intriguing how many church plants are already being done in heavy church satutaed areas.

    If they really want to convey love…how about a co-plant or a merger between an Acts 29 and a Methodist church? That won’t happen due to pride. But ti would show unity and humility….which is sorely lack in today’s narcesstic fundagelical culture. But many fundys need to be in the world not of it. Even the chruch plants reek of corporate vision and success. It’s another franchise…but instead of McDonald’s, Burger King or Subway…it’s some reformed doctrine with a little but of kool-aide. Thanks…I’ll pass…


  25. Brad, which is exactly what I’m reacting to. Point is, the early church DID start with a gathering and their mission grew out of that. Chan over-corrects by saying quite pointedly that mission is first and gathering comes naturally to those engaged in it. I get it — he has a heart for the mission. But he’s missing the bigger picture.


  26. Sorry but I find some of the comments thus far ridiculous. Chan didn’t say there wouldn’t be a gathering, or we shouldn’t have gatherings . . . but that he wouldn’t START with a gathering, which is a VERY needed corrective from four decades of church growth movement influenced church planting when all we did was start with a gathering . . . and unfortunately in many cases stay with the gathering.


  27. It seems Chan needs a refresher on ecclesiology. He is going the pietistic zealot route, and I was afraid it would devolve into that once he left his pastorate. I knew he felt “doing church” every Sunday just wasn’t enough. Might I humbly suggest this is not because he wasn’t enough of a Mother Theresa so much as it may have been related to the lack of Christ’s presence in worship? Stop sinning, do more for God. Got it. All law, no gospel. I admire his zeal for obeying God’s commands. But I get exhausted just listening to his exuberant enthusiasm. Without the real presence of Jesus in our life now, assuring us of his grace and showering his gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation upon his gathered children, this super pietism will only lead to failure, frustration, and despair. And lets face it, how many of us have gotten that T-shirt without doing a fraction as much good as Chan? Making disciples is a great focus for church, but it seems like the Chan methodology is “try harder.” I’m convinced that true discipleship flows from worship that is centered on Christ. The meta-narrative that orients our lives does more to shape our character than our best efforts to become better followers of Jesus. “Make disciples” is a vastly superior drumbeat to the “make converts” mantra of the revivalist, seeker sensitive, church growth crowd. But let’s not underestimate the powerful potential of Christ-focused community ritual to shape one’s faith over time. Lex orandi, lex credendi. What better way to “make disciples” than to teach men to pray? If your worship isn’t doing that, then perhaps that is the problem.


  28. I think when Robert said “worship”, you heard “church service.” We all know that eternal praise-bots in heaven is much more closer to some versions of hell. But I don’t think we’ll be capable of doing anything in heaven that is not worship, in some form or another.


  29. Too many of us get stuck on “either/or” decisions and it never occurs to us sometimes that we not only can, but shoud, include more than one option. If we decide that missions is our strength, does that preclude us from gathering?

    1 Corinthians 12:14 and following:

    For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.


  30. “If I just read the Scriptures, I wouldn’t even think so much about the gathering.” My first reaction was, ‘Well there’s your problem right there. If I just read the Scriptures, I might think all sorts of things too, but that wouldn’t mean my thoughts had any relation to reality, as though the Bible was a document without roots or context, a Rosetta Stone of religion bearing witness to a lost language and culture.’

    My second reaction was, ‘Hey, wait a minute. Even if I did just read the Scriptures, I STILL wouldn’t come up with what you just said.’ If we wanted a demonstration of how we all too often latch onto the biblical data that confirms our accustomed ways of doing and thinking while ignoring or placing less emphasis on other parts, here is Exhibit A. Or perhaps its slightly more complex than that. Perhaps our instinct is to take as prescriptive the parts of Scripture which line up with our own proclivities and to take as descriptive everything else. Is that how Chan thinks about the Acts passage above? – ‘that passage just tells us what the early Church was like; it’s not telling me anything that I should do’.

    My third reaction was, ‘Well, if all of that’s true, what are you on mission for? Door-to-door salesmen want to sell products and increase brand awareness. But if all the world becomes door-to-door salesmen, what then? What happens when you’ve got no one left to sign up and your mission is accomplished? Did the mission have a goal beyond itself?’ It’s been pointed out already that, despite Chan’s failure to distinguish them, making converts and making disciples are not synonymous, and it’s worth remembering that ‘disciple’ comes from the Latin for student. I’ve yet to encounter a school whose sole goal is to convince parents to send their children to it, and that considers lessons and classes as some sort of arbitrary side effect of this. It would be a strange school that sent all its teachers out into the marketplace every day to sign up students to attend and then arranged some courses as an afterthought. But this seems to be how Francis Chan understands the Church.


  31. My point being, James, that we will certainly not be making converts or disciples in the Eschaton, but we certainly will be enjoying direct relationship with God and with the communion of saints. Mission will pass away, celebration will endure forever, and the place to practice celebration is in our worship and fellowship, which makes it primary. And it’s not as if we don’t need a lot of practice in loving the fellowship and loving God.


  32. I have been a Christian for a very long time. I have been active sharing and investing in others. For the longest time I would study scripture and really love what I was getting out of it. However, it has only been in the past year that this idea of community has really hit me.

    Yes we can read the Bible over and over and over again and not pick up things. Even today I read somethings about Jesus I never picked up on before.

    To take this a step further, none of the congregations that I have been apart of have every really mentioned these ideas.

    So I think I understand where Chan is coming from. You and I may read the same Bible but since is is living and powerful and active, it reveals to us in very different ways at very different times.

    Good post!


  33. Ya know, I heard that same line way back in Bible school, more years ago than I care to admit. Didn’t completely buy into it then, really don’t buy into it now.

    Without getting into too much detail and starting an extensive theological discussion, I will simply state that I find the hints we have of heaven and/or paradise earth (and they really are just hints) are a lot more complex and nuanced than just sitting around in an eternal feast singing God’s praises.

    Will worship be part of it? Absolutely. Will that be all we’re doing, or even the primary thing? No, and not necessarily.


  34. In heaven we will not be planting churches, but we will spend an eternity worshiping the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The primary purpose of our gathering is to participate in a foretaste of the eternal feast to come, which participation in turn prepares us both to be witnesses for Christ in this world, and forms us for eternal worship in the heavenly kingdom.


  35. First, I didn’t know “koinonia” also meant Partnership as in Business Partnership. The Christianese definition of “Fellowship” (which can also be a verb) was the only one I’d heard until now. That and the name of the aberrant Christian group that kind of messed me up in the Seventies: “Koinonia House Christian Fellowship”. (I do not think it was related to any other “Koinonia House”; it appeared to have been a strictly-local splinter church.)

    Every epistle in the New Testament verifies this. Where is this constant drumbeat of mission, evangelism, “going out and reaching as many people as I can” and then joining up with others doing the same thing as my “fellowship”?

    Right here!


  36. I agree with Mike and I agree with Francis. In the recent span of Christian history, so much of what we consider constitutes “outreach” is actually “in-drag.” In “calling out” people, we need to not only go out into the streets to find people at the place we are calling them out from, but we need to have something that we are calling them to.

    In the U.S., you have the luxury of a situation where church planting is almost too easy. You place a sandwich board sign at the front of a community center on Monday morning that says, “Church Service Here Sunday 10 AM,” and on Sunday you watch people arrive. I believe Francis is trying to fight that mindset; encouraging us to enter into our local community situation and get to know people and determine their needs before announcing our schedule. It may be that the “gathering” that needs to happen should take place Thursday night at 8 PM.

    The “ecclesial nature” shouldn’t be ignored though; the “I wouldn’t even think so much” line should also apply to just doing mission without a view to corporate worship and discipleship. Generally though, I’m prepared to allow Francis the hyperbole of the statement.


  37. I would ask why we interpret scripture as conferring on us all this “great commission”. My reading tells me that Jesus was commissioning his disciples (and only his disciples) after 3½ years of intensive preparation, not to mention their post-resurrection grad school experience. They were ready, willing and able to face lives of danger, hardship and persecution for the Master they knew first-hand and because they knew what was at stake. Jesus’ instruction which we have translated as “make disciples” should properly be read “as you go you will, consequently, be making disciples”. They were to take the good news of the Kingdom of God to all the world and the disciples would accrue naturally as a matter of course.

    We confuse and combine evangelism with discipling in error. They are two different things. Churches concerned with body counts evangelize, sadly often to the exclusion of discipling which is much more difficult and time consuming. Paul tells us that only some are gifted for evangelism, others for teaching. I submit that what Jesus calls us to do is to tell the world what we know of the Kingdom and attempt to make ourselves over to be more like Him as best we come to understand Him. We do that both as individuals and in community, seeking in the community those teachers that can add to our understanding (hence the time I spend on iMonk) and by contributing our own talents and abilities.

    It’s tough enough making a good disciple of ourselves, and much more so making disciples of others. To think that very many of us are qualified to make disciples of others is assuming too much. The best we can do is to emulate Jesus and let it show. The disciples will come.


  38. A lot of Francis’ most provocative comments start with, “if I just had only the Bible to read…”, meaning that he’s trying to reach some more pure, uncompromised prophetic understanding of what God wants – -something untainted by our conventional evangelical paradigms.
    In this instance, that method may lead to flawed conclusions. Most of the New Testament was written to churches, to gatherings of Christians. “By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” If you take away the gathering, you undermine the very foundations of your epistemology in sola scriptura.


  39. The church is not supposed to be primarily missional, but commissional. We are a community of mission. We gather in order to scatter. Both are critical. The purpose of the community gathered is to worship God and edify the body of Christ. It is to teach godly believers who will teach others. What Chan describes would result in passionate Jesus followers who are simply scattered but with no communal agreement on message. Where is the visible “body” in that vision of missional going? James rightly cautioned the new church to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. But the point is, you have to be a hearer of the Word first in order to be a doer of the Word. We build one another up in the Word in order to send one another out to the world. To turn James around a bit, we are to commissional, not missional only.


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