Francis Chan: I Don't Need Fellowship to Do "American Church"

In this short two-minute video Francis Chan shares his thoughts about the purpose and the priority of fellowship in the church. Is it really just about accountability and making friends or something much more missional?

Practical Idea: Share this video with your outreach and mission leaders to create a discussion about the purpose of the church and your ministry goals for the future. 

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  • Cathcart Boy

    The question must always be – What does Scripture teach? Can we merely express an opinion by referring to generic “scripture” or should we apply ourselves to sound doctrine as set out in the written Word of God, our Scripture? I understand why Chan is disenchanted by “American Church”. I guess Andrew’s decision to leave the discipleship of John the Baptist to follow Jesus, and Andrew’s subsequent witnessing to Peter, gives credence to Chan’s misson first, fellowship follows approach. However the calling of a disciple group and the selection of the apostle group, coupled with the programmme of instruction via post-resurrection appearances, seems to me to counter that argument somewhat. Maybe a link to his entire message rather than a two-minute clip is needed!

  • clive_uk

    Pastor Chan makes a powerful point and worthy of following through.  But don’t forget Acts 2:42-47 as well.

  • tpy2012

    Pastor Chan is right on when he says that fellowship in the American version of the consumer driven, seeker sensitive church, with it’s starbucks coffee and performance driven music is not necessary, and perhaps harmful, to the desire and call to following the Mandate of Jesus in Matt 28:19-20.  He is also saying that while we are out there making disciples and disciple makers we will need the fellowship of authentic Christian worship and support/encouragement as seen in Heb 3 and Heb 10….the constant support and encouragement that we all need living in Babylon.  It would be good to listen to his whole message in context.

  • Dubshack

    Call me weird but what I heard pastor Chan actually saying was the exact opposite of the title of this post… anyone else get that?

  • http://suzier.blogspot.com/ Suzie

    I agree that the American church has fellowship messed up. Most in America see fellowship as hanging out and having fun.. pot lucks, parties, etc. Fellowship is much more than having fun together (although thats part of it) I believe that the local church is important and needed. God designed it after all. Many churches have become social clubs. I think you can have the cafe’s and the things that will bring “seekers” into your church along with sound doctrine, good discipleship, worship, evangelism, etc. Being a youth pastor I see this all the time. People thinking that youth ministry should be all about fun, games, “fellowship” stuff. All about what the students want to do. Which obviously is not the case. Or it could go the other way and be so dry that the life of a Christian isn’t appealing to their peers. Thanks Chan for helping us to think on these things. 

  • Caveats

    Perhaps Chan does not need fellowship to avoid sleeping around. I don’t think the same thing can be said of all Christians. Or for all Christians regarding other temptations and trials we face. Given the number of leaders who have fallen while pursuing a mission to the hinderance of meaningful relationships, perhaps even Chan needs fellowship, although perhaps not in a programmatic, pot-luck-type fashion. Fellowship should enable mission, granted, but is that it’s sole function?
    Thanks for the scriptural perspective, Cathcart Boy. Agreed: we probably need more than a two minute clip to really get a balanced view of Chan’s point.

  • Leejokoka

    i love chan’s passion and conviction. and i support and agree in many of his exhortations.  but sometimes his message can mislead people to hone in on one side of the truth and not embrace the other side as important. authentic fellowship can both be fun and deep to discipleship making, without compromising what fellowship is all about. unfortunately, he is tired of the abused and waterdown type of “church”, “fellowship”, “religion”, etc.  just like that other guy’s (jeff) viral poem: Why I hate “religion” but I love Jesus. 

  • Larry Arrowood

    This small clip sends a mixed message…I don’t need fellowship cause I’m doing what Jesus said…but in doing what Jesus said I’d create fellowship??? I’m continuing to see mixed messages in his short clips because I believe some important points are being left out that are significant to interpret his entire message. Example: I believe he is somewhat responsible for a couple in our church completely going it on their own…into who knows what now by picking and choosing from short clips like this one. Maybe this organization sponsoring this site should give some series consideration to the damage they may be inflicting to God’s Kingdom. If 20 years from now it is determined that these new ideas of interpreting the meaning of doing church were wrong we will have done a lot of irreparable damage to lives, families, the church… I’m really not liking what I’m seeing from Chan….

  • Britton Wesson

     You people are missing the point.  I doubt Chan is dismissing Acts 2:42 or any practice of believers coming together.Chan destroys the latest buzzword in Christendom – “community”. Bonhoeffer did the same thing with his book, “Life Together”. “Community” or “fellowship” happens when believers go out (Matt. 28:19) and make disciples. Yes, we need the brotherhood of Acts 2:42-47, but, the failure is when we leave ourselves in that bubble and ignore the world around us. Jesus lived among His enemies and we are called to do the same. Imagine if Jesus came only to live among His followers.   Where would I be today?

    • Bob Wise

      I agree with one exception. This being a SHORT CLIP leaves too much to speculation. Like taking a single verse of Scripture without it’s context. You say you doubt Chan is dismissing Acts 2:42 but from this small clip we have no way of knowing for sure what he is or is not dismissing. These short clips can be too deceiving and misleading to many who are not good Bereans.

  • Jabberjaws

    The context of his message is based on how he defines “fellowship.” It seems as though he is making a case for authentic community, not just another gathering. I can agree with that.

  • Jfacada

    You are all right!  Not one bad apple in the bunch.  We exist for the glory of God.  Even if we had reached out to the whole world around us, we’d still have that purpose on earth. I love fellowship. Socializing and all.  It’s part and parcel of what it means to break bread.  But perhaps we can be constructive in our get togethers: help out the discouraged, devote outselves to helping one another (barn raising, dinners, food pantry, Patriots football, everything – together! That’s the point.  FAMILY! Jesus’s family! Don’t be knit pickey. “Give of yourselves to each other.” Remember the 2 Commandments that if you fulfill, you’ve done it all. You can’t evangelize or fellowship without doing both.

    • Leejokoka

      you got me at “Patriots…” 

  • WB

    I think what most troubles me about this clip is exactly what a 2 minute clip can’t give you, which is bigger picture to give a precise point context. Without context I’m left with a point that is skewed at best. Are there problems with the way many of our “american” churches do fellowship? Sure I can go with that argument, but to say the basis of our fellowship is only mission is to ignore a bigger picture view of the scriptures. One anothering (referring to commands to love, care, etc. For one another), confession and prayer for the sick (ala James), or caring for the widow, orphan who are a part of our fellowship (not just in outreach) are a few ways of living out fellowship. And of course there is more. The point being these two minutes take a very narrow view to make a point which on its own cannot do justice to this great topic. Oh, and I would have to say that while he thinks he doesn’t need anyone to keep Jim from moral failure, that he can do it himself…. I can’t and I would venture to say neither could he, and this point it attitude us very dangerous in my small little opinion.

  • ePHraimAg

    each to there Own…paul & peter had a face-off on it TOO. Fellowship has The Charisma Of Brotherhood. Yes, I seem to perceive That Big Brother looks Down on fellowships, but The Christ was also centres ABuse Of THem.

  • walkinhim

    American Church with a messed up fellowship cannot be left behind. If you still call the American Church, redeemed Church then, she must be hear the issues addressed. Anyone who loves the Church will not just turn around and say, “I have no time for you because I am on the go.” It is so much easier to be idealistic than to labor in prayer.

  • Sbrown02

    I beleive that what Fransis said was that if I am passionatly in Love with Christ that I would first want to go share that with the world around me and out of that i would find myself seeking fellowship with other beleivers.  I beleive that it is not a matter of which is more important but it is the perverbial chicken aand the egg which comes first.  As for me if fellowship is first I  make mission a work and if sharing the love that I have experienced with others is first then it is less abiout a task

  • Dave

    I think he’s trying to say that we don’t need fellowship to “do” church, but we desperately need it to “be” the church.

  • Dale Pederson

    I think his point is that “American Church” is not typically mission driven and therefore the “fellowship” we do is shallow and often not Jesus centered.

  • Alcministries

    Acts 2:42. Scripturally speaking, every believer needs fellowship with other believers. This is the scriptural pattern and an eternal principal in God’s word irrespective of your geographical location. Any Christian that does not fellowship with other believers is like taking a coal out of a burning fire. It will soon die off and turn to ashes. We need the strength derived from fellowship with Christ and with other believers in order to become effective in mission work. 

  • Lito

    The Great Commission was given to the Local Church and not to the individual apostles. Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:19-20. Those who got saved NEEDED fellowship. “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine andfellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” – Acts 2:42″But if we walk in thelight, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another,and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” – John 1:7Fellowship is only to those who walk in the light.

  • Blb8159

    What I get from this is that we are doing too much church and not enough outreach.  Fellowship is good, but if the unchurched is not in our fellowships then we are missing the point of the Great Commission. 

  • Pastor Brad

    What’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander.   God gives pastors messages for THEIR congregation at THAT moment in time.  Pastors today are not preaching messages that will one day appear as Holy Writ in the “New”, NEW Testament.  I have NO idea what state that church is in for the pastor (Chan) to preach such a message, but clearly it is not for the entire body of Christ in America.  As pastors, we must be very careful about having our specific messages be the message for everyone else, unless the Lord does so.  The problem I see in America is the abundance of so many preaching messages that the local flock ends up trying to figure out exactly what God is saying to them.  Is He speaking via their own pastor, or is He speaking via all the other pastors on TV and video clips? 

  • DrMike

    I think the headline is misleading even though it’s a quote stripped from the video. Francis was saying that he once felt fellowship wasn’t really necessary especially for himself. Now he sees the need for like minded passionate people to band together in unity.

  • Henryhalawig

    I agree with JFCADA’s comment. We cannot evangelize or fellowship and vice versa without doing both. 

  • no.bs

    It’s a good message.  The church today doesn’t understand that the culture today teaches “individualism.”  But the church, from it’s inception, was about “gathering.”  We do, indeed, need people for fellowship, accountability, to keep up on task…  Read the scriptures–God is about community.  The 10 Cs aren’t so you can live with yourself.  Jesus’ teachings are about community–with God and each other.

  • http://dbartosik.com/ David Bartosik

    I love it!  I don’t want accountability groups—I want groups talking about Jesus and pushing me forward on the mission! 

    • Bob Wise

      Everyone MUST have a accountability group or it is easy to get caught u with oneself. I truly believe that is why Jesus told the Disciples to out in groups of 2 and also why Paul said to appoint elders for each group. Ego gets in the way of our human self.

  • pezz

    I think it’s actually an unbiblical idea he’s talking about.  Assuming the whole world revolves around me and what I need, he’s right, many of us don’t need fellowship to do American church.  But what about people who do need fellowship so they have accountability, and encouragement from more mature believers?  Maybe it’s not all about me and what I need.  Maybe it’s about reaching maturity so that you don’t need it, but being available because others still do.  I don’t need my small group, but many, including the guy who just got out of prison that spent 40 minutes picking my brain after the official meeting time, need to talk to a mature christian.  When it says in Hebrews don’t stop meeting  together.  He doesn’t add the caveat, “unless you don’t really need it yourself.” Rather he says the times are going to be hard so we need either to be encouraged , and perhaps provoking words, or we need to be the ones doing the encouraging and provoking.

    • Lori F

      Pezz: Thank you. Well said. Amen

    • MaryjaneFischer

      Pezz – great explanation of real maturity!!!

  • Peter Timothy Cooper

    This is a serious mis-reading of Scripture from Francis Chan.  It is clear from Scripture that the church was to be a gathering of people who were called to be on a mission – reading from Jesus’s calling of the disciples to be together with him, to the sending out of the 70(2) and on.   But Francis Chan here is really building a “straw man” of missionless fellowship so that  he can knock down with his missionaries who need fellowship argument.  Poor indeed.  However, all preachers have their weak moments, getting caught up in their own rhetoric: I’ve done it myself.  The question is why has a 2 minute clip of some weak, off-base, self-contradictory preaching been posted here.  Surely there are some clips of Francis Chan preaching well?

  • Warrior4God

    Wow. Glad I heard this! I’m attending a church of zealous people, going out and teaching the word of God. At my church I’m encouraged to live as a disciple of Jesus, to love God and look for his lost sheep and feed his lambs. Everyone goes out throughout the week, apart from their busy schedule, to teach the bible. It’s difficult at times, with rejection after rejection, but when one person comes to know Christ personally through bible study, it’s incredible! Life in the mission field is challenging. Yet with my brothers and sisters I feel encouraged. They share their joy as well as their sorrows in their mission life and I too am empowered when I hear their testimonies weekly. They sacrifice so much so that others can come to know Christ and at times it’s difficult. I understand what Chan is saying because I’m living it!

  • Ragamuffin Ministries & Music

    Doing church & “being” the church are two fundamentally different things. I grew up doing church 8 days a week, 365.25 days a year & never realized that I am the church – how come? We’re so denomination driven nowadays, to the level that Christianity is no more than just “another” religion today. it never was nor intended to be – another religion. It’s supposed to be about our relationship with our Creator, a relationship that was destroyed in Eden – but – a relationship that can now be restored. And it’s all made possible only by the grace of God, becoming Jesus, living with us & dying for us – the we can be restored to that relationship & then – be part & parcel of the “body of believers – His Church”. Not our church or one of the uncountable number of churches that have mushroomed & now obscure the horizon with all their doctrines, rituals, interpretations, dogma, theology, etc. if we want to see Jesus high & lifted up, we need restoration – not ritual, we need forgiveness not theology, we need His love – not our love, we need His blood, not our sense of goodness – to be the CHURCH He died for. Jesus died for my SIN & your SIN – the original sin that existed since Adam’s day & that each person has inherited. Sins & sinning is the consequence of us living without redemption, living with the inborn sin if you,like. Someone said, it’s not about “wrong or right doing” – it’s very simply about “WRONG BEING” – think on that awhile! Until such time you & I & every living soul realises that – we will simply carry on accumulating sin, sins & sinning. That’s what Jesus died for – my SIN & your SIN – not your congregation, your Gathering, your Assembly, your denomination – He died for us individually – in that while were still or yet SINNERS (individually & collectively) & if you choose to believe that He did that – then we can ALL enjoy a redeemed life, in fellowship within his body of believers, awaiting His return. Come Lord Jesus come soon!

  • JacequlinChurrubbs

    What I got from this message is that he is technically speaking that our mission as Christian is to help save the lost souls. (not to just come to Church n fellowship with each other w/o trying to reach the lost ones. and when you r out there the way we r suppose to be we will be fellow shipping with each other Christians because of the magnitude of disciplines. There r so many who say they r Christians who go to Church…..But during the week they have not say one thing about seeking God to the lost or to their neighbors and family members…..We must be about our Father’s business…..Peace to all!

  • http://MaximizingMarriage.com/ Sebs | MaximizingMarriage.com

    Amen! Amen! And amen!