I want to address some general questions about Calvary Chapel since the split, that has been asked by some in our church fellowship and others who are familiar with CrossHope Chapel‘s journey and intersection with the Calvary Chapel movement.
While what I’m being asked in regard to Calvary Chapel since the split is in the context of CrossHope Chapel, here I am going to share some general observations, but first I need to point out three things…
- I realize that this may be read by those who are afar and unfamiliar with CrossHope Chapel‘s journey. If you read something unclear, please contact me and I will be happy to answer any questions or further explain something.
- I am going to address this issue from my perspective, how I see it, how these issues are being discussed in my circle, and behind that expression is my own analysis. You may have a different view, and that’s fine, but I am not interested in simply criticizing but helping my parishioners know my thoughts.
- I wrote a blog post on April 15, 2017 titled Calvary Chapel Split which receives multiple reads from search engines, and it has become a source of questions on the two Calvary Chapel organizations since the split.
It’s now 3-years later and I still have an affinity for Calvary Chapel life and ministry. I still cherish the fellowship I experienced in it and every time I attended a CCA gathering I truly felt one with them and a genuine colleagueship that I hadn’t felt in my previous ministerial meetings.
Anyways, here are some of my general observations…
Pastors & Leaders Conferences
I want to begin with addressing something I stated in my 2017 article, Calvary Chapel Split, in regard to my intention “to lay-low when it comes to conferences as long as we remain unaffiliated with Calvary Chapel Association and while I watch it formulate its post-split direction.”
I have not attended any Calvary Chapel conferences or events since December 2016, except for viewing the online Live Stream videos of both the CCA and CGN conferences.
I have watched some of the CGN Pastors and Leaders Conference by Live Stream, but admittedly — generally speaking as in the perception of my memory — I have found the CCA conferences more focused than the CGN Pastors and Leaders Conferences, and really more enriching because of that.
Although, I did get a blessing from one CGN Live Streamed conferences from the Castle that I remember being very good and rewarding, probably because there they are smaller and more focused and not as disjointed as a conference with a variety of presenters from diverse traditions.
Last year I had made plans in advance to fly out to California in June to attend the 2019 CGN Pastors and Leaders Conference. The CGN has accepted our church into its network so I felt like I needed to attend and make an effort to connect with others. However, when the speakers line-up was announced I was a bit disappointed and cancelled my attendance.
The speakers line-up for the 2019 CGN Pastors and Leaders Conference seemed stacked with presenters whom I had little in common and left me wondering if they were all chosen to make a statement to the CCA rather than genuinely equip Calvary Chapel pastors and leaders. I ended up still heading to California in June 2019 but only to make it a vacation with my family.
If I knew others pastors there, I would have attended despite the speakers line-up, but honestly my ministry in deep South Alabama seemed figuratively miles away from the value it offered.
Despite past perceptions, I will likely view some of the 2020 Pastors and Leaders Conference, from both the CGN and CCA.
What I Like About CCA, Don’t Like About CGN
Generally speaking, I have sensed a stronger theological bond to the CCA than the CGN. I am conservative in my beliefs and have always felt more at home in the camps that uphold a supremacy in Scripture and a passion for eschatology.
I am not saying that CGN doesn’t uphold a supremacy in Scripture and a passion for eschatology. However, there seems to be an alignment between CGN with liberal leaning theology of Southern Baptist leaders and circles. I realize this statement is meaningless or even offensive to some but it is an obvious issue if you have a SBC background.
The SBC leadership is in a spiritual warfare right now and seeing Calvary Chapel pastors re-tweet and align with anti-trump social justice side of the SBC make me think they are signaling opposition to conservatives. Let me say this another way, CGN appears to be chumming up with the faction of the SBC and other ministry leaders and organizations that are not friends of conservative minded pastors.
When I last attended a CCA pastors gathering in December of 2016, the speaker made a very insightful statement to the pastors assembled there and it was something to this affect “Look around the room and this is the CCA to you. CCA is the fellowship we have together.” That was a powerful insight, and I agree that the strongest suite of the CCA — fellowship of pastors and leaders.
The CGN recently instituted what they call “Connectors” which I think they mean to serve as contact people for CGN pastors and churches in a given area, but it’s not clear yet if these will facilitate pastor fellowship gatherings as does the CCA.
What I Like About CGN, Don’t Like About CCA
Generally speaking, the CGN seems to be actively recruiting pastors and churches into its network or at least it’s communicating that message. This is important to me because I am a convert pastor from another church background to Calvary Chapel life but I am not really certain that CCA wants to grow its association with like-minded ministers.
Part of my perception about the CCA is based on the fact that there is no communication or very limited communication from CCA by email, social media, podcasts, videos, that would make a convert pastor, like me, from another church background feel welcomed to join.
It may be that the CCA is only focused on moving assistant pastors from other Calvary Chapel‘s up to senior pastors in their association. It may just be that CCA does an excellent job at communicating with the pastors and leaders already within their association.
The one thing that I do like about CGN is its intentional plethora of communications with pastors by email subscription lists, social media, website articles, and podcasts. I sometimes think it’s a shotgun approach that often misses my target but I certainly feel some connection with CGN because of all the communication. I would rather deal with a shotgun approach of information and sort through what I don’t need than to need information that isn’t there to sort through.
Earlier in this article I made mention of the spiritual warfare among the Southern Baptist leaders, and it is primarily between those that are vocal about conservative theological doctrines and those that are vocal about opposing liberal social justice positions. It’s a battle being waged in other denominations as well.
In my mind I see this same battle being set up in Calvary Chapel life but unlike the SBC churches, there is no organizational hierarchy for a “conservative resurgence” to regain leadership as the SBC has done and is actively trying to do now.
The challenge for Calvary Chapel’s future is that there is no vote to cast to change the direction, except as a “Moses” steps up to the plate to offset an “Aaron.” I suspect that until that happens the future of Calvary Chapel may belong to whichever organization communicates it most effectively.