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Why I’m optimistic for the future of Calvary Chapel

Calvary Chapel, a ministry and movement I’ve had the privilege of both growing up in and serving with for more than 20 years, is now facing the most significant transitional changes that it has in all the time I’ve been associated with it. With the passing of Pastor Chuck Smith a week ago, the changes will [now] be far more apparent, but they have actually been going on for the better part of the last two years.

Just over a year ago, the internal leadership structure of the Calvary Chapel changed with the creation of the Calvary Chapel Association, and as of yesterday, Pastor Brian Brodersen was chosen to be Pastor Chuck’s successor as the Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. While it remains to be seen what this change at Costa Mesa will mean for the larger Association, I find myself very optimistic about the future of Calvary Chapel. Why?

First, Pastor Brian is (in my humble opinion) the right man, at the right time. He has faithfully served as an associate/assistant to Pastor Chuck for the last thirteen years. In addition to his faithfulness to Pastor Chuck and CCCM, Brian has a genuine passion for foreign missions and a clear commitment to the younger generation of leaders coming up in CC. In my experience—primarily at conferences domestically and abroad, and on occasion at Costa Mesa—Brian has proven to be one of the most approachable senior leaders I’ve encountered in Calvary. He takes the time to be available to those seeking counsel and prayer, and has thus proven himself a pastor, not only to the members of CCCM, but [also] to the missionaries and pastors of the greater Calvary Movement.

The second reason that I am optimistic grows out of an observation I had from outside of Calvary this week.

This week Exponential held its first West Coast Conference in Orange County. I had the privilege of meeting with some of the Exponential and Leadership Network leaders to discuss church planting and the Calvary Church Planting Network prior to the conference; and then I’ve tuned in (online) to several of the sessions throughout the week.

The theme for Exponential West has been DiscipleShift, and while the sessions from pastors such as Miles McPherson, Larry Osborne, Rick Warren, Robert Coleman, and many others have, been substantive, I have found it interesting that much of what is being presented as the new discipleship paradigm in American Christianity, has been standard Calvary Chapel practice for 40+ years. No, it has never been branded, packaged and promoted by Calvary, but for more than 40 years, it has been our practice. Thus, Calvary Chapel is, in a number of ways, still ahead of the curve and continuing to reshape American Protestantism. And, if Calvary can maintain the consistency of simply teaching the Word of God simply, loving God, loving others and making disciples, it will do so for many years to come.

7 replies
  1. Duff Joy
    Duff Joy says:

    Dear Pastor MIles
    I believe Calvary Chapel will continue to have an impact for the cause of Christ as long as the Word is elevated above all things. Pastor Chucks willingness to simple teach and live out God’s Word and then be directed by the Holy Spirit is key. This is true of any one who implements this practice.
    I know that our church will be fine as you and others continue to be directed by these principles, my family is blessed to be able to live and grow in such an environment. May God continue to bless you and the staff at Cross-Connection, as we impact our world with the message of the Gospel.
    Duff & Zorica

  2. Glen
    Glen says:

    I was saved at Calvary San Diego in 1988. In all these years the formula for success that pastor Chuck laid has not changed. In our awesome church, and at CCSD, tech the word, worship and love the Lord. As long as we stay on that course we will be blessed. Thank you Miles for your steady leadership and teaching. ~Glen

  3. Bruce Muller
    Bruce Muller says:

    I believe that Pastor Brian is a great choice for several reasons.
    1. His life is in order
    2. His wife is behind him
    3. He loves the word of God and teaches it faithfully
    4. He loves the Holy Spirit and is not afraid of inviting Him into His rightful place in the Church.

    I am praying for Brian now as the pressure begins…

  4. Gunnar Hanson
    Gunnar Hanson says:

    I find this post very interesting. If Calvary Chapel is not a denomination, why is the selection of the new pastor at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa so critical for the whole of Calvary Chapel? I certainly understand that the selection of the new pastor being important for Costa Mesa, but if Calvary Chapel is not a denomination, why would the next leader be so critical for all other Calvary Chapels?

    I came to Christ through the influence of CC. Through my experiences with CC, after being raised Catholic, I was taught that denominations are bad…but then about 10 years ago I affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. As I look from the outside in on CC, I feel like CC is far more denominational than the SBC…which seems really funny to me. But this post seems to reflect that there is a hierarchy within CC that is similar (just smaller) to that of the Catholic church.

    I’m curious if CC will embrace the reality of being a denomination in this new chapter? “Denomination” as defined by Merriam-Webster, “A religious organization whose congregations are united in their adherence to its beliefs and practices.”

  5. Tim Brown
    Tim Brown says:

    Gunnar – influence transcend institutionalism. A denominational structure doesn’t need to be in place in order for influence to be felt. And I would argue that the next pastor of CCCM (in this case Brian, whom I greatly respect), is not critical for all the other Calvary Chapels. In a very real way, it doesn’t matter what Brian does or doesn’t do – the vast majority of us CC pastors know who we are and what we’re to be about. If someone (Brian included) stands up and says, “Follow me – we were doing x, but now we’ll be doing y…” he will be politely (or impolitely) ignored. DNA is a hard thing to change.

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