If you hadn’t heard yet, Francis Chan is stepping down as pastor of Cornerstone Church. This was a pretty shocking development for most people who have followed Chan’s ministry over the last few years since he burst onto the national scene with his wildly popular book, Crazy Love.
John Piper has taken an extended leave of absence from his pastoral ministry to focus on his family and tend to some rough edges in his own life.
Matt Chandler is struggling with an aggressive brain tumor that threatens to take his life. Almost unbelievably, Matt has persisted in his preaching ministry despite his chemotherapy and radiation therapy. But the threat to his life is still very real.
These guys are three of the most well-known, most followed, most beloved pastors in America at the moment, and it feels as though the evangelical world is back on its heels a little bit trying to figure out what to make of all this. And before I say anything else I should say that I thank God for these men. I love the work and lives of these men. I have learned so much from them and have benefited so much in my own pastoral ministry from their pastoral ministries. And I pray that God gives them many, many more years of impact for the Kingdom through their ministries.
But as I contemplate the possibility of these three men being out of pastoral ministry sooner rather than later, I am reminded of something Crawford Loritts said at the 2008 Desiring God National Conference (which he said with John Piper, D.A. Carson, Joshua Harris, and other great pastors sitting in the front row):
“Don’t ever think that the cause of Christ is gonna go belly-up if some of his great leaders die or fall into sin. God’s not up in heaven going, ‘What are we going to do?! You know… John Piper went to heaven! D.A. Carson, he’s not here! What’s gonna happen to the Cause?! Billy Graham is dead! What’s gonna happen?!‘ God ain’t up there doing that. He’s just saying, ‘Next!‘”