The Current State of Calvary Chapel: Part 2
I confess that I find it difficult to fairly assess this side of the Calvary Chapel split.
In my mind, the leaders of this side represent everything I fought against in the early years of this blog.
(I purposefully delineate between the leaders and the rank and file pastors, many of whom are unwillingly caught up in this mess.)
They waged war on Brian Brodersen with factual distortions and outright lies, and even their origin is questionable as I’ve documented in numerous articles.
They continue to act as mercenaries on the mission field with reports of a demand for fealty if financial support is to continue.
This is the old guard of CC, where numerical success equals the blessing of God and elevates “successful” pastors as leaders over others.
Don’t bother to ask how one gets on the “council”…
They see themselves as the exclusive keepers of the Calvary Chapel tradition and the legacy of Chuck Smith and demand adherence to the Calvary “distinctives”.
They are accountable to no one, including each other.
Having said that, they have won more of the battle for pastoral numbers and mind share than Brodersen’s Calvary Global Network has.
The reasons for this are pretty simple, but important to understand.
One of the reasons we join a group of any kind is to establish an identity.
The CCA has a clear identity…they know who they are, what they believe, and consciously trace their history back to the founder.
That is a very comfortable place for pastors who have been affiliated with CC for any length of time.
Equally as important, they also know what they are against…the enemies list is easy to compile from their sermons and writing.
The second powerful reason they are succeeding is that they continue the style of leadership that CC pastors are familiar with.
In that model, you do whatever the leaders say and you give them the benefit of the doubt over heathen critics with blogs.
Whether they like it or not, an inability to deal with conflict constructively is also a CC distinctive…but one that this group is used to.
The issues this group has are these.
First, the self appointed leadership is aging and will soon pass from the scene.
Because there is no clear protocol for who gets placed on the “council” or the regional leadership, there is no succession protocol either.
Expect some bloody political battles as the current members pass on.
Second, they have already lost credibility and gravitas with a significant number of “affiliated” pastors.
Third, it appears that the younger generation of pastors are less interested in eschatological dogmatism and holiness codes than the old guard is.
Finally, (and this applies to most churches) there is so much Christian information and instruction online from every different corner of Christendom, it will be increasingly difficult to pit one group against another without defending why you do so.
Making enemies out of most of the rest of Body of Christ is not an unusual tactic in this group (though not unique to them).
In the long run I expect this group will remain viable and maintain their dominance for at least the near future among those who identify with the Calvary Chapel brand.