Chasing Francis follows Chase Falson on a journey of spiritual struggle. Although he had himself founded an evangelical mega-church, and was serving as its pastor, the tale begins with Chase's all too public loss of faith - in front of his entire congregation. Chase feels like he no longer "knows" God; all his doctrine and theology no longer provide any comfort. Forced to take a sabbatical, and struggling with his future, he is invited to join his uncle, a Franciscan priest, who persuades him to investigate the life of St. Francis of Assisi.
The reader joins Chase as he learns about St. Francis, and begins to see how Francis revolutionized the church of his day. The more Chase studies the way Francis lived, the more he begins to see that a mega-church catering to "tourists" of faith is vastly different from one which encourages pilgrims to make a difference. He develops a whole new basis for how a church should operate - the question is whether his current congregation will see things the same way.
I not only enjoyed the tale of this pilgrimage, I was challenged myself to take a hard look at how I view my life as a Christian, to re-think what God expects of me in my interactions with others. How does the God of the Bible expect His people to serve and follow Him? Am I complacent with my faith as is, or am I willing to examine how it can become more active, more effective where God has placed me?
The bonus in this book is the "Further Reflections" section, which would enable the book to be used as a small group study, encouraging others to begin their own journey of faith growth.
I loved this book!!! I saw Ian Morgan Cron at a conference I went to and really enjoyed his message. I decided to pick up his book and was blown away. This book helps to bring you back to the basics of what God intended for a relationship with him. Wonderful insight in this. I especially love how it's a novel that has tons of biblical truths. Definite must read.
Chase Falson has lost everything he has ever believed in; his faith, the Bible, his church, and his God. Being the pastor to a mega church in the heart of New England that he started is just not doing it for him, and he has lost all the hope he had in his beliefs as an evangelical Christian. When he falls apart during a sermon, the elders immediately ask him to take an extended leave of absence, while they decide what to do. Disillusioned, Chase leaves the States behind to visit his uncle, a Franciscan friar in Italy. Expecting the trip to simply be some time away and a chance to clear his head of whatever is bothering him, Chase embarks on a journey that will forever change his life.
His uncle introduces him to Francis of Assisi, a man dead for over eight hundred years. Francis's revolutionary way of following Jesus changed the history of the church forever, and pulled Christianity out of the Dark Ages. After spending weeks in Italy learning about Francis and the things he did to revolutionize the church, Chase begins to pose the question, "what if"? What if we all followed Jesus exactly the way He wants us to - not the way we have commercialized it today? Will Chase find the answers he is looking for? Is there really more to the Christian life than going to church every Sunday?
While I am not of the Catholic persuasion, this book made me realize anew something I have wondered for many years. As a Baptist, I have always been of the mindset that "I've got it right." Everyone else, in my mind, is just short of the mark, and simply doesn't have it together. But Cron's novel made me realize that no matter the denomination of church, if you believe in saving grace and follow Jesus then that's all you need. The details just don't matter. What matters is a heart for God, for others, and following His commands. A splendid novel that will make you realize what is truly important.
This book was provided by Zondervan for free in exchange for an honest review.
Chasing Francis by Ian Morgan Cron begins with Pastor Chase Falson melting down in front of his congregation, after having revealed to the reader he had undertaken a period of Christian counseling to try to get a handle on his questioning his faith.
The church board asked him to take a leave of absence until he worked through his problems and he responded by taking a trip to see his Uncle Kenny, who happened to have become a Franciscan monk in Italy and had been a spiritual influence to Chase in the past. Kenny welcomed him with open arms and then took him on a pilgrimage that would change his life forever--and his church. They took a tour of Italian food, art, and architecture, with God-inspired meetings along the way to enhance the story. Chase learns spiritual truths that challenge the downward spiral into complacency his home church has taken, and gives him a new direction.
Finally, there is a workbook section in the back, through which you can take a literary pilgrimage of your own, and ask yourself questions such as Pastor Falson did during his time away from his church.
To me this book had a scary beginning, but immediately hooked me to read to the end to find out how it turned out. I enjoyed reading "Chasing Francis" and it was thought provoking on many levels. It made me think about my own church and whether perhaps they could do with a little Francis. It made me think about my own life and whether I was living as Jesus would expect. Moderate doses of Biblical references were included but not overwhelming. Be prepared to be challenged and even a bit humbled as you enjoy this book by Ian Morgan Cron.
Reviewed by Mary DeKok Blowers. The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book through BookSneezeÂ®.