On Sunday, April 18, 2010, best-selling author and conference speaker Francis Chan announced to his congregation that he felt called to resign at Cornerstone in Simi Valley to pursue what God had laid on his heart. Chan and his wife, Lisa, founded Cornerstone in 1994 with only 30 people. Within two months, the church had grown to 100 people, and by 2000, Chan was leading a $1 million project to provide for the 1,600 member congregation. Cornerstone is now one of the largest churches in Ventura County, California.
Seven years after his resignation, Chan exposed his heart to Facebook employees, detailing why he left the mega church he founded.
"I got frustrated at a point, just biblically," Chan said during a talk at the Facebook headquarters in California. "I'm going wait a second. According to the Bible, every single one of these people has a supernatural gift that's meant to be used for the body. And I'm like 5,000 people show up every week to hear my gift, see my gift. That's a lot of waste. Then I started thinking how much does it cost to run this thing? Millions of dollars!"
"So I'm wasting the human resource of these people that according to Scripture have a miraculous gift that they could contribute to the body but they're just sitting there quietly. ... [T]hey just sit there and listen to me."
However, Chan felt that attendees would simply greet each other for 30 seconds and mainly hang out in cliques once a week. He also indicated that he was wary of being "comfortable."
After leaving the church, Chan and his family moved to Northern California, and as of 2013, Chan's website said he was "working to start a church planting movement in the inner city of San Francisco and also working to launch a countrywide discipleship movement."
Today, Chan leads a house church movement in San Francisco called We Are Church. There are currently 14 to 15 house churches, he said, and 30 pastors (two pastors per church) - all of whom do it for free. Each church is designed to be small so it's more like family where members can actually get to know one another, love one another and make use of their gifts.
"We've got a few hundred people now and it costs nothing. And everyone's growing and everyone's having to read this book (Bible) for themselves and people actually caring for one another. I don't even preach. They just meet in their homes, they study, they pray, they care for one another. They're becoming the church and I'm just loving it and realizing that these 30 guys [are] leading this and the women as well."
He's hoping to double the number of house churches every year so that in 10 years, there would be 1.2 million people in We Are Church. And, he reiterated, it's all free.