CNLP 218: Francis Chan On Battling Pride and Fame, Why He Left His Megachurch, And His Airbnb Church Experiment

In a moving and passionate conversation, Francis Chan talks about why he left his megachurch in Simi Valley, how he’s battled both pride and fame and why both can be so dangerous, what he learned while living in Asia, and how he (accidentally) planted a radically different church in San Francisco that feels like the Airbnb of church.

Welcome to Episode 218 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

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Letters to the Church – available now!

Links from this Episode


I want to know what is resonating most with you as you’re reading (or listening to) my new book Didn’t See It Coming. Make sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter, and share a picture of your favourite quote from the book. Include #didntseeitcomingbook in your post for a chance at a $25 Starbucks gift card! Contest runs September 25 through October 1, 2018.

Are your church volunteers ready for the fall? Visit TrainedUp and take advantage of the 90-day, money back guarantee PLUS get free coaching and support AND receive 10% off your services for life with the promo code CAREY !

3 Insights from this Episode

1. Pride surfaces when people forget what’s most important

Most pastors don’t start out wanting to become prideful leaders. But pride can surface overtime as a ministry grows. Being a well-received speaker often unintentionally draws the spotlight away from God and onto the pastor. It doesn’t start out that way, but sometimes the congregation, staff and even the pastor can forget what’s most important – the message, not the messenger. It’s hard to live in the tension of success and standing in the spotlight for God.

I’ve written a couple blog posts about pride. You can read about how to spot a prideful leader here and about my own personal struggles with pride here.

I don’t believe there’s anything God hates more than pride. If our aim is to become more like Jesus, we must keep seeking out humility. We have to remember He is the King and we are not.

2. Be fully prepared for the mission at hand

Sometimes in our culture, we assume the greatest need for missionary work is overseas. While there’s no doubt an enormous need in so many parts of the world for people to share the news of Jesus, the best way to meet those needs isn’t simply to pack your bags and hop on a plane.

That’s what Francis discovered while spending time in countries where he had sensed an urgency to minister. What began as what he thought may be a response to a call for mission work outside the US, quickly turned into the realization that he could do more back in the states. Language barriers proved to be a major stumbling block and he new he wasn’t fully prepared for the task.

Are you called to minister outside of your homeland? Perhaps God wants to use you right where you are, perhaps not. Either way, wherever you feel He is telling you to be, prepare yourself for the calling.

3. You can’t run from your calling

Francis compares a season of his ministry to when Jonah attempted to run from Nineveh – a time when he struggled with how best to serve God with the abilities given to him.  On the journey, the lessons learned moved Francis to start again with a new approach to church and, once again, it’s taking off.

God has placed something unique in each of us. We all struggle with seasons of wonder and doubt in our abilities, but as long as we continue to stay faithful in our relationship with Him, he can use even our seasons of running to show us the plan.

Quotes from This Episode

What Leaders Are Saying About Didn’t See It Coming

Find yourself struggling with pride, too?

If you want practical help overcoming some of the biggest challenges leaders face, my new book Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That Nobody Expects and Everyone Experiences tackles the seven core issues that take people out: cynicism, compromise, disconnectedness, irrelevance, pride, burnout, and the emptiness of success and provides strategies on how to combat each.

I wrote the book because no 18 year old sets out to be cynical, jaded and disconnected by age 35. Yet it happens all the time.

The good news is that if you’ve grown prideful you don’t have to stay that way. There’s hope, and there’s help.

Here’s what top leaders are saying about Didn’t See It Coming:

“Seriously, this may be the most important book you read this year.” Jud Wilhite, Lead Pastor, Central Church

“Powerful, personal, and highly readable. ” Brian Houston, Global Senior Pastor, Hillsong

“Whatever challenge you’re facing, whatever obstacle you’re hoping to overcome, whatever future you dream or imagine, there is something powerful for you here.” Andy Stanley, Founder, North Point Ministries

“Uncommonly perceptive and generous…You have to read this book.” Ann Voskamp, NYT bestselling author

“Masterful.” Reggie Joiner, CEO Orange

“Deep biblical insight, straightforward truth, and practical wisdom to help you grow.” Craig Groeschel, Pastor and NYT bestselling author

“This book is sure to help you.” Daniel H. Pink, NYT bestselling author

Over the years, one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about being a public speaker is having opportunities to hang out with Carey…It’s not a matter of if you’ll run into these challenges; it’s a matter of when. Be prepared by spending a little time with a leader who has already been there.” Jon Acuff, NYT best-selling author

“Nieuwhof’s book provides expert guidance…with an accuracy that pierces the heart.” Nancy Duarte, CEO Duarte Inc.

“A refreshingly transparent guide for all leaders in a wide variety of industries.” Bryan Miles, Co-Founder and CEO, BELAY

You can learn more and get your copy of Didn’t See It Coming here.


Take a picture of you with your favorite quote from the book (underlined or highlighted or otherwise visible [audiobook listeners get to be creative]) and post it to social using the hashtag #didntseeitcomingbook.

Post on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook (or all three)!

We’ll draw 10 winners randomly and award you a $25 Starbucks gift card.

Contest runs from Tuesday, September 25th, 2018 to Monday, October 1st, 2018.

Subscribing is Free

Subscribe for free and never miss out on wisdom from world-class leaders like Brian Houston, Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, Nancy Duarte, Henry Cloud, Patrick Lencioni, Francis Chan, Ann Voskamp, Erwin McManus and many others..

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Appreciate This? Rate the Podcast.

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Thank you for being so awesome.

Next Episode: Scott Harrison

Scott Harrison founded Charity Water over a decade ago, after declaring himself morally and spiritually bankrupt while living his twenties as a NYC night club promoter. In this interview, filmed before a live audience at the Pushpay Summit One Day in Charlotte, NC, Scott talks about the meteoric rise (and near demise) of Charity Water, courting high capacity and high net worth donors, and why excellence is the new standard for not-for-profits.

Subscribe for free now and you won’t miss Episode 219.

CNLP 218: Francis Chan On Battling Pride and Fame, Why He Left His Megachurch, And His Airbnb Church Experiment

1 Comment

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