Fans of Francis Chan won't find him on Facebook, Instagram or even Twitter @FrancisChan. In fact, for the sake of his spiritual walk, he's intentionally avoiding it. He says it "would kill his soul" to read all the feedback.
He told Charisma why during an exclusive interview for the cover story of Charisma's April 2018 issue, which releases this week. While discussing what the church needs to know during this cultural moment, Chan brought up the dangers of social media.
"We live in a time when people are very quick to speak," Chan says. "The Bible commands us opposite of that. With social media, there's just a lot more words. It almost seems like the goal on social media is to say something as loudly as you can for the shock value so that you catch people's attention. Yet that's not what Scripture tells us.
"Scripture tells us with the abundance of words sin is not absent. Scripture tells us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry."
He says this attitude makes it harder than ever for pastors: "We live in a time when people are quick to criticize church and leadership, with this assumption that they know better. It's just a very, very difficult time for Christian leaders to lead."
Chan believes that Christians ought to be held to a higher standard. Though you may be tempted to jump into every debate or to demonstrate how wrong your opponent is, resist that urge. Instead, model a spirit of humility like David, who submitted to Saul because he knew God would handle the situation as He saw fit.
"There are times to speak strongly," Chan says. "But let's remember the story of David with Saul. Where's that spirit in the church today? I just want to be careful with the Lord's anointed. We're surrounded by a culture that tries to reserve the strongest words to bash leadership. That's really a way to be heard and make our own names known. Let's seek to be different in the church and show more grace. Like Ephesians 4 says, be 'eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit,' while everyone else is so quick to fight."
Breaking away from the worldly discourse also means discarding worldly measures of success. Chan doesn't buy into someone's influences being determined by the size of their network or "influence."
"We've become enamored with these [social media] numbers that aren't really followers," he says. "If we really did make disciples, it would be healthier for the church. I think we're so enamored with huge numbers, and it's keeping the true and deep lifestyle of discipleship from happening, because there's really nothing to tweet about."
Instead, he says, let's follow the great model Jesus set forth: "living life with each other."
Chan explains how he's trying to live that out in the April 2018 issue of Charisma. Magazine subscribers will get access to the full interview this week, in which Chan discusses how he made the decision to leave his megachurch, starting over with only the Bible as a guide, and the exciting ways love is impacting his community. Subscribe here.
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