Friday, November 11, 2016

UPDATED: Clarity for the Calvary Chapel Congregations




Proverbs 18:17 The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him.



Dear Friends, 

At this point many of you have read a recent letter published on social media by Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa entitled “An Update from Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa.” This is a letter written by Brian Broderson sharing about his resignation from the CCA Leadership Council and his vision for the church and his ministry. Because this was released on a public platform many have weighed in with varying opinions and comments. Others have written blogs and magazines have posted articles. Some comments are encouraging while others are very disparaging. I believe clarification is needed where there has been confusion. What most people are unaware of is 1,700 Calvary Chapel pastors received a private letter from the Calvary Chapel Association on Monday, October 31. 

The Calvary Chapel Association is a group of men Pastor Chuck Smith,  selected to help assist the growing number of Calvary Chapels around the world. Included in those responsibilities is to oversee the affiliation of new churches and help with conferences. I am personally thankful for the leadership of these men who seek to be servants to the churches and their pastors. The letter we received from CCA was extremely encouraging. 

A CLEAR PERSPECTIVE
The CCA letter informed us how the leadership council had recently gathered together for three days seeking the Lord for direction and wisdom while we continue to move forward as a family of churches. We were also told that there is a tremendous amount of unity, peace and excitement over the ongoing ministry of the Calvary Chapels. 

The letter reminded us of our core values as a movement and the distinct characteristics we share with churches, such as expository teaching, the role of biblical leadership, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit and more. Also, the letter helped to put all of us on the same page as so many of us are separated by different states with some in different continents. 

The Council told us some exciting news concerning an upcoming International Senior Pastors and Wives conference to be held in Florida in November. The benefit of such a conference is to gather all the churches in one place undivided and united to pray and go forward together in the work of the ministry. The conference is a place where we can seek the Lord in unity for a fresh outpouring of His Spirit.  

The letter also cleared up some recent confusion that many of us were unaware of concerning the difference between calvarychapel.com and calvarychapelassociation.com. Many of the pastors were unaware that these were completely different websites. CalvaryChapel.com is a website operated by Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. In other words, CalvaryChapel.com is a church website similar to any other Calvary Chapel but with more available resources . On the other hand, the Calvary Chapel Association website is for the churches and the movement as a whole, and is there to continue to help with the affiliation process of new churches. Many pastors found this helpful to have the distinction between the two. Now we know where to go if other churches are being planted, or for future conferences.

The most encouraging part of the letter is the list of signatures of men who were helping lead us forward together, united as one. Joe Focht, Jeff Johnson, Lloyd Pulley, David Guzik, Sandy Adams, Bill Stonebraker, David Rosales, Don McClure, Mike MacIntosh, Raul Ries, Malcolm Wild, Damian Kyle, Jack Hibbs and Wayne Taylor. Collectively, these men have a wealth of wisdom they have gleaned throughout the years, which has proven valuable for the second, third and fourth generations of Calvary Chapels. I for one am thankful for their leadership and continued assistance. 

A CONFUSING LETTER
The confusion ensued when a separate letter arrived a day later to all Calvary Chapel churches. This letter didn’t come from the Calvary Chapel Association, but from Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. The letter specified that the Calvary Churches didn’t need to send their information to the Calvary Chapel Association but could send any information to CalvaryChapel.com. You can only imagine the confusion this created throughout the churches because it contradicted what we had received a day earlier. 

GOING PUBLIC
While all the pastors around the country were waiting for further clarification from the Calvary Chapel Association,  Brian Broderson made a public announcement, which was released on social media describing that Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa had decided to go in a different direction

PROBLEMS WITH THE LETTER 
The problem with the Brian's public letter is first and foremost that it went public and none of the pastors around the country were notified that this was going to take place, which is unfortunate. At least in our fellowship confusion brought up questions from the congregation and leadership, who had seen positive and negative comments on Facebook. Many were grieved by what they read. In addition, the public letter had only one signature and sighted a disunity and impasse among churches, and when read side by side the letters became a confusing report. Note the difference in the letters.

CCA LETTER: 10/31/16 “Recently, a group of the Calvary Chapel Association Council members gathered together in the Pocono mountains in Pennsylvania for a few days to seek the Lord, worship and ask Him for direction as to the Calvary Family. Our time was truly blessed with great unity, a rich sense of the Lord's presence, a fresh sense of direction, and a peace together like we have not experienced in years."

Brian Broderson’s Public Letter: 11/6/16 “After three years of attempting to do that, we find ourselves at least from my point of view, at an impasse. We are not agreed on the direction that the ministry is to go. Some want, in my opinion dwell in the past. Some want to move ahead into the future, being thankful for our past but not bound to it or feeling a need to continually revisit it.” 

It’s difficult to understand Brian’s letter when 1,700 churches received a signed letter by the members of the CCA leadership council that told us of the great unity and excitement they shared. Furthermore, of all the names listed, I don’t know any of those men who are living in the past. Our model for ministry goes much further back than Calvary Chapel; we go back to the book of Acts. Within his public letter Brian pointed out the reasons for the separation, "Our areas of disagreement are NOT theological or doctrinal; they are more methodological and practical, yet they are real disagreements. These disagreements have not only hindered us from moving forward in the work of the kingdom of Christ, but they have created confusion, contention, and some division within the body of Christ."  

WHAT METHODOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES? 
The word methodological means, 1.) A set or system of methods, principles, and rules for regulating a given discipline, as in the arts and sciences and, 2.) The philosophy or underlying principles and rules of organization of a philosophical system or inquiry procedure. 
 What made this letter even more difficult to understand was its ambiguity. Whatever methodological differences exist, they are not stated. Therefore, it leaves one with more questions than answers. What are the different principles or philosophies of ministry that would cause separation? We have been united as Calvary Chapel churches for decades. What is now so different in our approach to ministry that it would "hinder the work of Christ and create confusion, contention, and division?" The irony of that statement is that "confusion, contention, and division" are the very words used by Calvary pastors around the world to describe what these public announcements on social media have created within our family of churches. 
Is it the differing opinion we have of female leadership and not having women teaching the Bible studies to mixed audiences within the congregations? Is it the disagreement of the pastors choosing total abstinence from alcohol over casual drinking? Is it the commitment to teaching through the whole Bible both Old and New Testament chapter by chapter verse by verse with an emphasis on prophecy? Or is it the high regard we have for our founder and the heritage of Calvary Chapel? Is it the way we seek to be careful and discerning in regards to the ministries we endorse or those we partner  with? Or is it the fact that we don't feel peace about attending a gay marriage lest we give the impression that we approve? If these are the methods implied and the philosophies of ministry referred to, then I would absolutely agree that those are "real disagreements". 


UPDATE

Brian has recently released another video interview and written statement on social media announcing a new network of churches called Calvary Chapel Global Network (CCGN). Calvary pastors were not given an option to join. Instead, without our consent, we were automatically included: "if you are a church and your information is already in our database at calvary chapel.com, then you have been grandfathered in.” We were also informed: “If you don’t want to be a part of CCGN, then just inform us, and we will remove your church information from our database"(CCGN article). The CCGN will be "a way of being connected with likeminded men and women in ministry. (How are we to know if we are in connection with likeminded people?) Our hub will be calvary chapel.com. Enjoying connection without the more restrictive thing that comes along sometimes with an association. It's not an association, it's not an affiliation, it's more organic. There won't be a leadership structure. There's no council, no directors, no regional structure. We're just counting on the more organic thing." (Brian Broderson-CCGN video).  

GLOBAL MOTIVATION
It has become increasingly obvious that the statements being made about the CCA leadership are not only about a group of godly leaders seeking to help the churches, but they are also directed at the other Calvary Chapel pastors that are in agreement with CCA. "Too often, well-intended, but misguided leaders, will disapprove of a method because it’s new or different or uncomfortable or distasteful to them. One of the lessons church history teaches is that God often has to go outside of the existing religious structures to get His work accomplished because men, through their traditions, quench the Spirit. Seeking to protect the past, they forfeit the future. Tradition tends easily to drift into legalism and control. For that reason, CCGN will always exist simply as a fellowship of like-minded pastors and churches." (CCGN article)

Due to another public announcement that created more confusion CCA was forced to write yet another letter to all Calvary Chapel pastors to bring definitive clarification. Within the letter they provided an obvious contrast between CCA and CCGN:

"To avoid confusion moving forward, we think it is best to separate the CCA from the CCGN, now. Calvary Chapel is not just one church in Costa Mesa, it is 1,700 churches that are affiliated through the Calvary Chapel Association. In spite of this, Brian has taken it on himself to “grandfather” the entire Calvary Chapel database into a network where he alone is the authority.
"As Council members we will not be part of Brian’s network, and we encourage other pastors who are affiliated with CCA to do the same."
"Yet, each CCA pastor is entitled to make his own decision. For many pastors these issues are new and need to be given thorough consideration. This splintering of our movement has been painful in many ways, but the CCA Council is relieved that we can now walk in unity and work to strengthen the foundations that have made Calvary Chapel a mighty move of God.
The Calvary Chapel Association Council
Sandy Adams, Malcolm Wild, Joe Focht, Don McClure, Lloyd Pulley, Bill Stonebreaker, Damian Kyle, Jack Hibbs, David Rosales, Mike MacIntosh, Raul Ries, Jeff Johnson, David Guzik

MOVING FORWARD:
As Brian begins his global network we will keep him in our prayers.  I believe the fruit will speak for itself. There is no denying that it has brought a division among some of the Calvary Chapel churches. I believe you will see a different approach and philosophy of ministry emerge. I am reminded that this isn't the first time something like this has happened in Calvary Chapel's history. In the past there have been those who decided to embrace reformed theology. There have been others who have chosen a more seeker sensitive model. At one time the Vineyard churches began desiring to see more signs and wonders and so they began a group of churches. The one difference with those groups is that they changed their name so that there would be no confusion.   Although all of this troubles me I am reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:18 "What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice." 
I personally am going to continue with the direction that the CCA is leading. I am still excited about what the Lord is doing within the Calvary Movement. I want to continue to walk in the heritage I have received and pass that on to the next generation of church leaders. I believe that many other Calvary Pastors feel the same way. I was grieved when I had to email a letter to the church  that I was raised in since I was two years old, and ask them to take me off their church list.  But how can two walk together unless they be in agreement. (Amos 3:3). 
Nevertheless I want to fulfill the Lord's calling on my life and stay the course. While I am thankful for the past I refuse to live in the past.  I am not following a man, a movement, or even an association, I am following Jesus.  I will not seek  to complete in the flesh what was begun in the Spirit. (Gal.3:3) 

In closing, it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, and throughout all eternity, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a love that goes deeper than our differences. And let us not forget that there is a devil who would love to ultimately divide us. I pray that God will instead use this ultimately for His glory. 



Pastor Chuck's Letter to the Calvary Pastors July 19, 2013

Dear Calvary Pastors,


It seems there are voices being raised and concerns being put forth about the future or direction of our fellowship as Calvary Chapels. I thought it necessary to once more be as clear and deliberate as possible to state my heart in this matter.

The Calvary Chapel Association is not simply an organization or a group of men that are self appointed. To the contrary, these men are my spiritual sons; my Timothy's if you will. Men that I love and trust and have prayerfully asked to exercise the leadership and influence I believe God has called them to.
I am confident that they will stay the course, honor my vision for ministry, maintain the Calvary Distinctive's, and oversee the affiliation process with the Lord's leading and blessing.
This is my heart and theirs. We, together, would ask for unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace in these things.

In Christ,

Pastor Chuck

John 17:20-22 says, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one”



Pastor John Randall

Calvary Chapel San Juan Capistrano