The Calvary Chapel Chronicles

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78 Responses

  1. Em says:

    Did one come away from interacting with or from submitting to his discipleship thinking of Christ or Papa Chuck? Some people seem to be born to sell… “Tell me what to think” … Should we blame them? Or us? …. Dunno…. 😯

  2. Michael says:

    I think when God uses someone to do great works, it’s easy to confuse the potter with the clay…throw in the paternal dynamic and you have something very powerful.

  3. Jeff Sheckstein says:

    Michael.

    Unfortunately time does not permit me to post the length of comment in response to the dynamic you address today. However, firstly I have to fully agree with your description and identification of “re-parenting” as between Chuck and the first one or two generations of CC pastors.

    My own observations dictate that I address something further here. There was at work a tremendous irony in this dynamic in operation. That is, it is clear to me that after working fairly closely with the man for eleven years, it astounded me how little they knew about his ways and tendencies. I think that is most evident in the “children” declaring that the knew Chuck’s intentions as to the succession of CCA, particularly since Chuck rarely wrote letters of that sort and also in view of Chuck’s habit of “resolving” matters of conflict by telling the co tending parties exactly what they wanted him to say and what they wanted to hear from him.

    My point being that although they experienced a “father transference,” they hardly knew him. Instead they were content to build a mythology about him. For those who were around him on almost a daily basis, not working at CCCM or “claiming to “be under him,” to me I think it may be that Romaine really was their supervisor and that One of Roamine’s role in serving Chuck was to keep the children away from a one on one relationship with him and to keep the children away from the Smith Family dynamic and dysfunction.

    Hopefully, the delta between what Chuck really like and how he operated versus what the “children”wanted to think he was like will be addressed in your forthcoming scripts.

    Gotta go. Blessings.

  4. Michael says:

    Jeff,

    Many, many, thanks for filling all that in.
    I’m trying to keep these at “blog span” length, but I will be addressing all that…

  5. Steve says:

    Interesting and good post. Re-parenting sounds really cultish to me. I guess growing up in good home may give me this perspective.

  6. Erunner says:

    In my years in CC without fail my pastors spoke highly of Chuck Smith. At times he seemed infallible. I even referred to him as my pastor based on being saved at CCCM and attending for a few years.

    I wonder if this adoration came to make him uneasy at some point? We all have faults. At the same time we have this internal desire to follow someone or a specific movement/denomination to assure ourselves we’re right. Sadly in my years being right meant that many innocent “bystanders” were portrayed as less than and the little sayings came out mocking tham and their education. And like little soldiers we bought into it.

    Personally when I showed up here so many years ago I was knocked off my rocker to read that things weren’t perfect within CC. I had made it an idol. Thankfully I found some balance that has served me well since then but I imagine still puts off friends and family I personally sent to CC after sharing the faith with them.

  7. Jeff Sheckstein says:

    Steve

    Bingo. Having spent 3 1/2 years in one of the great all time US cults named Synanon, where the “father transference”dynamic was at work with a father figure and charismatic named also named Chuck, I have many times wondered how much that paradigm was at work in CC

  8. JM says:

    I agree with you, Michael. Having come to faith during that time period, something was going on. I think it was a mixed bag–but God honored the heart of the sincere, the broken and the spiritually starving and He filled them. God is good even when we do not deserve it. It is His nature. When it was time–I think He also led the sincere and broken out of the corrupted entity CC quickly became. Without repentance–they were doomed to impotence and spiritual dryness over time. No side of the present split has dealt with foundational issues, attitudes and sin in the camp. I can’t see God blessing a perpetuation of the polluted status quo.

    When I became more aware of the “originals” testimonies–the dynamic that you describe stood out in neon. No matter what “Papa” did–even if it was wrong–terribly wrong–they followed him. That loyalty to Chuck and Chuck’s misguided belief in “do not touch God’s anointed” (and its corollary “Moses Model”) allowed many who became pastors to get away with plenty. I know that many do not agree with my characterization, but I believe Chuck displaced even loyalty to God for some because of their extreme emotional attachment. He became an idol of sorts. Based upon the irrational blindness and even defense of so much sin in the camp I find my read on the situation quite reasonable. Too bad there wasn’t a maturation of pastors and followers that went beyond all things “Chuck”. We all need to have our own mind when it comes to our relationship with God. Without it, we’re all destined to be pabulum-eating followers taking others with us right into the ditch of mediocrity or error.

  9. Michael says:

    Steve,
    I think “clannish” is a better description than cultic…even though some places do end up looking like the latter.

  10. Michael says:

    Erunner,
    I can’t speak to Smith’s interior thoughts, but I suspect he was very uncomfortable with much of the situation he was in, right to the end. I don’t think this was the revival he prayed for…

  11. Michael says:

    JM,
    Thank you and well said.

  12. Duane Arnold says:

    I think something else was also at work. Smith was somewhat rebellious in regard to his own denomination and background. Yet, no one in CC was allowed to be rebellious in regard to him. This is a paradox that I suspect was rooted in his personality.

  13. JM says:

    Duane-

    So many times I have thought exactly the same thing when I read Chuck’s own words of disdain about the practices of FourSquare. ( Some of the FourSquare background was touched upon in Michael’s first installment.)

    I wonder if others are feeling similarly validated through these postings.

    🙂

  14. ( |o )====::: says:

    “Papa” Chuck…
    “Pope” Chuck…

    I watched and listened and saw the gradual “Papafication” of ChuckSr, and was dumbfounded that NO ONE said, “Hey, stop that!”, especially ChuckSr himself, who could have nipped it in the bud.

    It’s another instance of the inability to see blatant irony.

  15. JM says:

    Amen, (|o)====:::

    Although, considering how things were handled under the “Moses’ Model”, maybe someone did object to what was happening and it was contained. I would suspect that if someone did speak up– after a proper shunning and a healthy dose of slander — they were likely shown the door.

  16. Anne says:

    Interesting reference to marketing considering that during the lean years during Foursquare pastoring, between churches and before CCCM, CS spent much time in the grocery business which he remarked often, if I recall correctly, that he enjoyed. Just a bit of trivia that popped into these old brain cells, nothing more.

  17. Bob says:

    Anne, I believe it was the old Alpha Beta chain where he worked as a store manager for a number of years…

  18. Surfer51 says:

    The way they kept things the way that they were is if anyone questioned about what they observed and it was contrary to the narrative of CCCM, that person would be told, ” If you do not like the way things are here, then perhaps you should leave and start your own church.” Many a person has heard that line. When John Wimber heard it from Chuck when he asked Chuck, ” When do we do the stuff I read about in the book of Acts” John did exactly that, he left Calvary Chapel and started his own church…the rest is history.

  19. Mom from FL says:

    (|o)====:::, you read my mind with your Pope comment! I was just thinking that the Spanish word for Pope is Papa.

    The Preacher makes such an interesting analysis of Chuck’s re-parenting and picking recent converts as early leaders. I was reminded of 1st Timothy where Paul warns not to ordain recent concerts.

  20. John Donne says:

    Great observations Michael, but too short, I was just beginning to enjoy your insights and analysis when you suddenly stopped, and also you make some assertions which were interesting i.e, Chucks volatile temper and not a great dad to his biological children, but you didn’t give some examples of those assertions which I guess may come later, but great job, I hope you elaborate more on the next installment, I really can see you writing a book on this! Thanks again for your great work.

  21. JM says:

    Mom from FL

    You make a VERY good point and a great observation.

    In every CC that I attended, there was an ill-advised tendency to put new converts into teaching and other positions. This leaven was absolutely passed down from the top. I cannot think of a time (specific to my experience only) where that ended well. Lots of these men fell into either sexual sin or went on to promulgate some teaching that was off the wall.

    I know of one case where a man that had stroked the pastor with great skill (he said their particular church was the Philadelphia church in Revelation) and was given the go ahead to plant another church a few hours away. This man did so and his true nature came out. Many people that went with that man to help plant the church returned bankrupt. The worst part of it was that the pastor was warned and told that this man was speaking falsely. Because of the way CC governance was set up–by Chuck–there was no way to curb the pastor’s ego and there was no accountability for any of it. All of it was hushed up.

    So many stories. So little time.

  22. Corby says:

    I think, going forward looking at Chuck, two other elements are important to keep in mind.
    1) He never wanted to lead a movement. He didn’t set out to build this thing. It’s one of the reasons he constants said things along the lines of “The Lord will sort it out.” I’m not saying that that’s good leadership. I’m saying he didn’t want to lead it at all. But there it was, in need of leading.

    2) Having a strong sense of responsibility can be a great hindrance. With regard to his parenting at home and parenting of a movement, I can share a much smaller parallel in my own line that also didn’t go well. An incident occurred with my wife and two women in the church. In shirt, they attacked her because they felt hurt by her from something years before that they let fester and didn’t deal with. On the one hand, I had the women in need of pastoring. On the other I had my wife. In the moment I felt responsible for both because I was responsible for both, but not equally. I didn’t handle either well. In hind sight I should have had one of my elders step into that situation and take point. My point is that in a way it comes down to you can’t serve two masters, in a way.

    Leading a family while leading a Spirit-fueled revival where God has you working in your strengths couldn’t have been easy. No one can prepare for that. But then, this is why it is the “body” of Christ. It should never be all on one person’s shoulders, and we put it on one person’s shoulders.

    All that to say, Chuck had a movement put on him that he didn’t want and he didn’t handle it well. Chuck had two families that he was responsible for and it sounds like he didn’t handle it well. It’s easy to armchair quarterback especially in hindsight. It’s easy for this kind of criticism to turn into only seeing someone in that position as negligent at best and malevolent at worst. For me, the point is to learn lessons from someone else’s success and failure instead of having to learn them for myself.

  23. Michael says:

    Corby,

    These pieces are difficult to balance…especially because Smith’s public persona was markedly different from his private actions at times.
    What I’m doing is taking almost two decades of interviews and conversations with people close to Smith and trying to paint a fuller picture of him than we’ve had in the past.
    Your points are well taken…and I’ll try to keep repeating them.

  24. Corby says:

    Yup. I totally get it. And I know you do to. Like you, just trying to address the mythology particularly about the not wanting to lead a movement element. I harp on it because I think it’s a key piece that most people miss, and it explains so much. “Why did Chuck handle X this way?” Because he had to do (or not do) something and in reality didn’t want to be involved at all.

    Anyway, thanks.

  25. JM says:

    This is just my take, so keep that in mind. I find it difficult to reconcile that Chuck “never wanted to lead a movement” with the fact that he had a chance to step down after his disqualification and actually chose to defy Scripture and rationalize staying for almost 40 years more? Based upon this as well as many other of his actions–even if he had a small moment of not wanting to “lead”–that is not the path he followed. Nor does the evidence show that this is the path he, infact chose.

  26. Michael says:

    JM,

    I think Smith was intellectually and emotionally between a rock and a hard place.
    He was (without question in my mind) chosen by God for this time and place even though he may have (allegedly) had another disqualifying event before the revival even started.
    Throw in all the people who couldn’t let him go…and you have a hell of a mess for one man to handle.
    How he did handle things set up how everyone else handled things…so the mess grew deeper as time went on.

  27. Steven says:

    Michael,

    I really like the balance of Grace and Truth in this article. Thank you for continuing to write these.

  28. Steven says:

    Jeff Sheckstein,

    Thank you for sharing your insightful analyses as well. Very thought-provoking.

  29. Michael says:

    Thank you, Steven.

  30. Dave Rolph says:

    Interesting discussion and like Sheckstein, I am resisting going on and on about many of these things. It is certainly true that Chuck never set out to be “Papa Chuck”, nor did he ever refer to himself as such. He also never aspired to starting a huge church or a great movement. But it happened, and I believe it was a work of the Spirit. As people get older however, in many areas of life, their age seems to produce an insecurity that causes them to cling to something they never intended to create in the first place. Chuck used to say, “What you strive to gain you’ll strive to maintain.” I would add a correlary that, “If you hang onto something long enough, you will strive to maintain even what you didn’t strive to gain.”

    Also, if you didn’t know Chuck personally in the seventies and eighties, and if you never worked with him, and if he was never really mad at you, and if you never saw his contradictions, then you really didn’t know Chuck. And if you called him “Papa Chuck” you really didn’t know him at all, no matter how much he made you feel like you did.

    I loved Chuck and would’ve given my life for his until the end but one night we were alone and he said, “Dave, I consider you to be my son” and my response was, “Forget it!” He looked hurt and confused and I said, “When you start thinking of me as one of your daughters, then tell me” to which he responded, “I guess I was kind of hard on the boys.”

    Chuck said a million times, “I show grace because I’ve needed a lot of grace.” He really believed that, and tried to practice it, even when he sometimes failed to show grace, thus needing grace for his ungraciousness.

    The difference between a cult and a movement is that a cult is the kooky group that I’m NOT a member of. 😉

  31. Outside T. Fold says:

    Papa Chuck. Hm. There are more people than the converted young men who became CC pastors themselves and projected onto Chuck their own desire/need for a substitute father figure.

    I reflect on my own teenage self. The circle I was in at CCCM and at school, with the “Christian group” from lunchtime. Had a glimpse of Smith as both father to one in the HS group as well as Father Figure For Us All. A parent addicted to alcohol has a ridiculous number of drawbacks and sources of pain. Longing for *a different father* —ie, Chuck—was all too easy.

    I hardly know what more to offer, here. I prefer my anonymity, and will say less rather than more in order to preserve it.

    Maybe I’ll close with this: I’ve had two conversations with two offspring of two notorious figures in evangelical christendom (one being Chuck, another is someone else not of CC). Enough to know that being a PK of a famous person isn’t easy (life in a bubble: ‘people at church will go talk to my mom about any and every little thing I do’) and there are definitely insider/outsider perspectives. Insider: scrutiny as well as privilege, and definitely an exclusive sense of “us.” Outsider: It’s obvious that there’s no way I can fully know what it’s like for them, and there’s no way that they can fully empathize with me, here, outside that very close circle encloses them.

    For all the the desire I had for the privilege and advantage and the appearances of love and cherishing, in retrospect I am so glad I didn’t go all-in toward psychological transference of all my earthly father desires and wants and needs on “papa” Chuck.

  32. Outside T. Fold says:

    Dave Rolph, you posted yours while I was composing mine.

    [quote] “When you start thinking of me as one of your daughters, then tell me” [/quote]

    Fascinating how gendered the “papa” Chuck phenomenon is. Was not really aware of how hard things were for the boys.

  33. Bob says:

    Dave’s comment and re-quoted above from OTF speaks volumes to the real CS! Excuse my bluntness but both sons have deep scars of rejection from papa that remain until this day, while favorite daughter rules the house at cccm…

  34. Jeff Sheckstein says:

    Can’t sit quiet on this one Bob.

    My father was as abusive as they come, including placing work well above parenting and his marriage, and frankly as has been attributed to Chuck by many who knew him well…perhaps including yourself. My father was the most verbally abusive person I ever knew, and that’s saying something for someone who survived one of the great brainwashing cults as I reference above.

    BUT at some point one who went through this family dynamic such as myself, has to take responsibility and be accountable for their ways and not justify their utter lack of character, deceitfulness, and, on whole, delusional ways, by relying on the “I am scarred” by my father card.

    Time to grow up, take responsibility for who you are, and fall on your knees in utter brokenness and pain, cry out to God to heal you, change you through the awesome power of His Holy Spirit, and move on to the life God promises to give in scripture.

    As for me, we all have to reject our fathers to embrace our true Father, and leave our scars and victims mentality behind and counted as dead.

    The “real CS” as I saw and estimated him was likely no better or worse than mine. Time to grow up.

  35. Bob says:

    Amen Sheck! Time to grow up for all of us!

    also, Synanon must have been a wild ride?!?

    Shalom!

  36. Em says:

    Tough, good words from Jeff S at 3:13….

  37. pstrmike says:

    In my experience the “reparenting” set a pattern of what was thought to be normative. I’ve met too many pastors that have tried to use the same pattern of heavy-handedness that was modeled for them at Costa Mesa, and for the most part, it has worked. Yet people like myself who were not looking for another parental figure didn’t thrive under such a system that often morphed into tyranny. We were like a square peg being forced into a hole, and after getting beat up one time too many, fled for the sake of our sanity.

  38. Bob says:

    Bingo Mike… I called it the cc fraternity but in reality, it was the Godfather syndrome…

  39. Jeff Sheckstein says:

    Michael

    I think Bob is onto something. Like one might find at a quality play, say on Broadway…a person comes out centerstage front before the show starts and announces, “The part of Fredo will be played by Hiss the Snake tonight.”

  40. Bob says:

    Come on JD, please don’t revert to sarcasm again…

  41. Jeff Sheckstein says:

    Bob, you are right. Thanks for the “pull-up.” Blessings

  42. JM says:

    Michael–I see you addressed my comment from this morning. Just now seeing it. Thank you for the input. I always wish I had more time. However, I really am enjoying all the comments I am seeing. The many perspectives and shared thoughts are very helpful. I hope, all in all, the series will be a cathartic to many (including, yours truly).

  43. Quikstart says:

    Chuck was a unique man having been the beneficiary of both a personal spiritual communion with the supernatural and an earthly struggle with the same temptations we all face. The man I met with in his office weekly for many years was just simply a man, like so many of us. Never did I elevate him to some senior position in the kingdom of heaven nor did he ever impress on me that he was anything other than a sinner saved by grace. I stand grateful for those moments and discussions as they are fond memories of what now seems like a bygone era. No man can ever know what is in the heart of another and so the only truth I know is that he was just like you and I !

  44. JD says:

    @ Bob
    I wasn’t aware that I made any comment.

  45. JD says:

    Well since I’m here, it seems strange that all these so-called wise leaders would end up following a deceiving rich bully surrounded by yes men and then blame it on the Holy Spirit.

  46. Michael says:

    JD,

    Human beings are paradoxical creatures.
    Simultaneously saint and sinner.
    People who do great things are usually amplified in both natures…

  47. SmallChurchPastor says:

    Michael,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a long time, I’ve never posted before. Your articles over the years and many of the comments by long time pastors like Dave Rolph are fascinating and illuminating. I was saved in SoCal in the mid 90’s, not at a CC, but I lived in HB and spent a lot of time at services and special events over at Big Calvary and other CC’s in the area. A couple of decades, now living in the SouthEast, I pastor a small plant out of a CC (although we remain unaffiliated with CSA or CGN).

    I believe much of what you have done over the years is very important, shining light into some very dark places and exposing many men who ought to have been exposed. I know a lot of people commenting on your site have suffered hardship and I don’t mean to diminish any of their own experiences. But at times when reading the comments section of you blog, as diverse as it can be, there can be a bit of a GroupThink when it comes to CC. I understand where it comes form, there is a collection of people here who have been hurt by CC and feel especially animus towards the leadership over the years. But when there is an allegation about CC I think there is often a blank assumption that where there is smoke there is fire, they’re most likely guilty, or that the systematic culture of CC breeds these problems therefore this particular one must be true.

    I know it’s not your purpose to report the good things that are happening at CC’s across the country and I’m not asking for “a balance”. I’m just stating that the culture in these threads is often one of assumed guilt and corruption. I understand where this comes from and I do think there have been some systematic problems through Calvary’s history (although I believe they were far outweighed by the positive impact of the gospel and transformed lives that the Holy Spirit has brought through this movement).

    I’m taking a long way around to my point. I’ve been very frustrated over the years by these allegations of Chuck’s infidelity. Sometimes it’s stated as his alleged “disqualifying” event. In this last thread your alleging there may possibly have been another before he assumed the ministry. I am not defending everything that Chuck Smith did. I loved this man who I met maybe 4 or 5 times in my life and who wouldn’t have known me if asked, but I know he was just a fallible sinner like me. However he is an elder of the church, a shepherd and there is a clear biblical principle about bringing forth allegations like this.

    It is not beyond belief that these things may be true. However, I think it does both Chuck and you a disservice to spend years spreading these rumors. If it is alleged then alleged by who? And corroborated by which witnesses? If there is some evidence of this then bring it forth, expose it to the light. Bring forth the 2 or 3 witnesses scripture requires (1Ti5:19) and allow him to be rebuked so other will know and fear.

    It’s troubling enough that these rumors persisted for years and there has never been anyone able to come forward and bear witness to it. However, now that Chuck is gone they seem to be growing in frequency and it’s a shame they weren’t confronted when the man had the opportunity to defend himself.

    If it’s there then by all means I will hear it and if supported by corroboration, sadly, I will believe it. However, if it is just rumor and hearsay then I think it’s unworthy of Christ to whisper it in the comments every couple of months and make allusions to something sinister that may or may not have happened.

    I’ve read you for years and never posted. This has always bugged me and I just had to get it off my chest. This isn’t an indictment of all you do or a wholesale defense of CC or Chuck. I’ve just personally seen the after affects of a disingenuous and completely fabricated adultery allegation. Even after the truth was admitted it was devastating to the people involved. Adultery is a very serious charge and these issues are addressed directly in scripture and I think we should handle allegations like this according to those principles at it honors our Lord.

  48. The Least of These says:

    There is no doubt in my mind Chuck fully understood the hero worship surrounding him. There was a papal like veneration of CS, especially towards the last years of his life that the machine of CCCM quietly fostered. Those who were the best at it kept their jobs and got the perks. Those, like myself, who never could quite break into the spot of “most favored” suffered the repercussions and the tribal shunning. CS had the power to stop all the adoration, and he occasionally would say it’s not about him and point to Jesus. That drove the crowds wild and the cheering would only increase. But he was keenly aware that he was the object of much affection based off a mythology that grew after the Jesus movement. He was shrewd and kept that going because that’s from where the power and money flowed.

    I also don’t think CS was evil. I think he was limited and struggled to connect emotionally with his family and others. He loved the Lord, and often would be moved at the thought of Him. He loved his family even though he struggled interpersonally with the difficult relationships the blended church/family/work dynamic created for them. He paid a severe price for his absentee fathering, as did many of his lieutenants who modeled their own parenting style after him. He had his favorites, and his not so favorites, both on staff and in his family. And since they all worked for the machine that made multi-millions of dollars a year this made for some turbid waters. Brodersen now sails in those seas.

    This concept of “re-parenting” is a very important. People who are emotionally healthy with a solid core tend to steer clear of cultures like the one CS ruled over. It’s the broken ones, from abusive families, struggling with their own self worth who tend to be most influenced, both positively and negatively. I count myself among one of those. The severity of my own childhood abuse, which has been well documented, led me to accept the emotional leftovers CCCM offered. I felt grateful for the scraps. And this to me upon reflection is the most hideous of things. I gave away so much to find some morsel of love and acceptance, only to realize what I got was never real and never bolstered by the love I so desperately sought. Rather, the machine was good at extracting from me all it could without ever really giving back until it depleted me. And I am to blame for it. My severe need and broken state led me to allow them to take advantage of me. I needed a re-parent to sooth the ache deep in me and they wanted free labor and undying devotion and a weekly tithe.

    My last Easter at CCCM was at the Amphitheater in Irvine maybe 10 years ago. I had spent weeks pulling together something for the service that involved almost 100 people. There were jealousies and infighting with existing staff members all around that stage. Sound check was an abysmal experience. I had a 4 am call time. We got everyone in place and waited 2 hours for our 1st cue. It seemed I was always in someone’s way no matter where I stood. No one spoke to me unless it was to show displeasure. It was the Easter “Superbowl” and the game was on. Off stage I watched as the “ladies” pulled together a massive table, beautifully decorated, and filled with food and coffee and roped it off. I noticed that the Smith family, special guests, and staff considered on the “inside” were given a lanyard with a color coded card. As the hours wore on I wondered when the ropes would be removed so I and the other 100 could get some coffee and a bite to eat because most of use were starving. Then I noticed the lanyards were being used as the chosen people went up to the table and filled their plates. I started to go in when an angry woman yelled “you can’t go in there, only those with lanyards.” I stared at this angry woman and I said “We have been here about 6 hours, we are about to perform for the second service and we are hungry. Could I just get some coffee?” “No. This is for Chuck and those who work here.” “Well, I work here.” “YOU don’t have a lanyard. You have to wait until Chuck blesses the food.” I was chastised, and felt embarrassed and ushered away from the table. Once that happened I stood behind the curtains from a ways off watching it unfold. those with lanyards ate, and those without went hungry. If a tray was emptied another immediately replenished it. I stood there hungry, waiting to be called on stage to play, and in that moment I hated that place. I hated this system that could not live up to James 2 even though they preached about it, even though it dripped off their lips. Twenty minutes later I finished what I was there to do, walked a mile to my car, vowing I’d never do another Easter service for them again. And I didn’t. I can still see the angry woman in my mind’s eye guarding the table filled with more food than anyone could ever eat, and the rest of us hungry, wishing we had lanyards.

    That story is a metaphor for what became the operating status of CCCM. Chuck is the one ultimately responsible for it. That culture was created from the backs of the needy, manipulating them for the sake of the machine, allowing a grocery store manager to rise to a Pontiff. It is the sad ending tale of CCCM. It didn’t start off that way, but it is how it ended.

    Thanks for allowing this discussion, Michael.

  49. Michael says:

    Small Church Pastor,

    We’ll get into more about the infidelity accusations next week.
    I’ve known of it since late 2003 and the first source was someone very close to Smith…and it’s been corroborated many times since.
    It has to be written about because the reactions to the reality shaped CC then and now.
    I’ll also get into why no one spoke of it…even me.

  50. Michael says:

    The Least of These,

    Thank you…your comments have been better than the articles and we appreciate your involvement greatly.

  51. Ms. ODM says:

    The mystic was the leaven that got in — thank God he left with the leavened portion of the batch with him to pollute the Vineyard instead..

  52. Michael says:

    Ms. ODM,

    That’s ridiculous.
    Revival is the most mystical of all the acts of God…

  53. Xenia says:

    Mysticism is direct contact with God through prayer and contemplation. Christian contemplation. It is to be cherished, something to strive for, not something to be discarded.

    -Xenia, wannabee mystic in training.

  54. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    Amen…

  55. Xenia says:

    There is a type of Christianity that I have left behind which talks endlessly about

    1. Proving the Bible is inerrant and using means of argumentation to prove the Gospel story.
    2. Producing proof texts to prove the group’s distinctives, whatever they are.
    3. Spends more time talking about “our position in Christ” than encouraging personal holiness.
    4. Values the words of St. Paul over the words of Jesus, to the extent that Paul corrects Christ.
    5. Mocks mysticism without the slightest understanding of what it is.

  56. Michael says:

    Xenia,

    I have left it behind as well…and have no desire to return…

  57. Bob Sweat says:

    Infidelity in pastoral ministry has taken place since the beginning of time. The question is, should failure with this sin cause the pastor to step down? Sadly, in many cases, it does not. Many pastors, even with the assistance of their boards, continue on using the excuse “we are all sinners”. I for one am tired of hearing that excuse!

    In my opinion, this is not acceptable.

    And in regards to mysticism, read the Psalms. Xenia, I’m a wannabee too!

  58. pstrmike says:

    TLofT,
    The tiered system of privilege between those who reap and those who sow without reaping is all to common in churches. I saw it manifested in many ways.

    “This concept of “re-parenting” is a very important. People who are emotionally healthy with a solid core tend to steer clear of cultures like the one CS ruled over. It’s the broken ones, from abusive families, struggling with their own self worth who tend to be most influenced, both positively and negatively.”

    I’ve seen so much evidence of this, and as I stated above, the problem is when dysfunction becomes normative. In these environments, it is difficult to grow both spiritually or emotionally. There is the settling into patterns that feed a carnal brokenness that is mistaken for spirituality.

    Xenia, Michael, Bob….. Amen

  59. Michael says:

    Well said, pstrmike…

  60. victorious says:

    When dysfunction becomes normative and extends over a duration of time, such as decades; And is never addressed through the Christ directed and supplied interventional grace of repentance.

    It becomes defiance.

    Jesus expects His body to be cared for and has supplied the grace to do so.

  61. ( |o )====::: says:

    Xenia,
    Your comments…
    “There is a type of Christianity that I have left behind which talks endlessly about

    1. Proving the Bible is inerrant and using means of argumentation to prove the Gospel story.
    2. Producing proof texts to prove the group’s distinctives, whatever they are.
    3. Spends more time talking about “our position in Christ” than encouraging personal holiness.
    4. Values the words of St. Paul over the words of Jesus, to the extent that Paul corrects Christ.
    5. Mocks mysticism without the slightest understanding of what it is.”

    Most excellent, I am a sojourner on the same journey. Thank you for saying it with such clarity and eloquence.

    Much love & respect,
    ( |o )====:::

  62. JM says:

    In regards to another of your comments, Michael, I heard there is a possibility of another earlier, disqualifying event, but could never confirm it. Maybe it remains so. Because of how the Hocking Debacle went down–we were aware of what must have happened to Chuck during the CC heyday as early as ’92. Even before I heard of the possible earlier incident, I always maintained that discernment means that, if a pastor/leader lied and covered up one thing so easily–how could you ever trust that they had not done likewise before or that they would not do it again later. (Coy is one extreme example.) Once they impune their own veracity, you could never again know with certainty whether they were lying or telling the truth. Because of it’s destructiveness–no fellowship body within Christ’s church should ever be put through that by a professing Christian leader. I’ve seen so very much harm by those that follow and enable mere men even after multiple failures because they value that man (or what status he gives them) more than following their God or their duty before God to be honest before the flock. They put the temporal over the eternal. Never good qualities in those who propose to lead. Their excuses are pathetic on a good day. These woosies should be grateful that Jesus didn’t do something so selfish and stupid as they and abdicate. Jesus was to be the example for all Shepherds if they were paying attention. I have never expected perfection in a leader or anyone else. Just repentance, an “I’m sorry”, and real change. Never saw it.

    In math you have methods for solving equations. The simplest equations allow you to solve for the missing value when the other two values are known. Logic works much the same way. In Christianity, you can solve for the fruit or the action that produces the fruit. If all you have is the “fruit”, then you solve for what always produces that fruit. When you model disregard for the Book you purport to teach and set yourself and your sin above others in the body, and you lead the way for others to do likewise–you are no longer serving The Master. You are serving yourself. It’s really that simple.

    Some can spin until the cows come home, but plenty was not right from very far back. Did some good things happen? Yes. I’m a product of the evangelization that occurred back in the “day”. Did God save me or was it the instrument whom God used that saved me? Obviously it was God that saved me. Did the fact that I was saved through a CC satellite mean that all things CC were to be viewed as sanctioned by God? One guess.

    I still ask, “Where were those who were being obedient to the Scripture that says, “Test the Spirits”. I submit, though I and my family suffered under CC’s policies, there remains much blame and needed accountability to the cowards who also stood by and allowed infidelities and abuses to proliferate and go forward unchallenged. They know who they are. If they think they will be untouched by eventual exposure– then they are not only stupid–they are delusional. This is the time for them to come forward and repent–leaders and abetters. If not–it is my deep conviction that, somehow, God will see that they are exposed. I would say the process has already started. (Cardelli, Coy, Caldwell, etc.)

    I wish to make honorable mention of Jeff S. What he said about moving on from blame and taking responsibility was golden.

    Bob Sweat: AMEN!

    The comments by “Least” and pstrmike are poignant, needed and well-said.

  63. ( |o )====::: says:

    The Least of These,

    I am saddened that you experienced the absolute antithesis of Jesus’ miracle of fishes and loaves, which was ultimately His multiplying the crowd’s response to His example of compassion and willingness to share.

    Too bad that miracle is still lost on the “haves” who disdain the “have-nots”

  64. Michael says:

    The comments here have been staggeringly good and helpful.
    Thank you Lord for preserving this community through so much…

  65. ( |o )====::: says:

    The Least of These,

    Reminds me of Paul Simon’s Wristband

  66. Xenia says:

    ( |o )====::: ,

    Thanks, brother.

    Love and respect to you as well,
    Xenia

  67. The Least of These says:

    @pstrmike
    Thank you.

    Something to add to this: the tiered system is a wounding mechanism to those seeking the level playing field of Christian community. The ideal set forth that all are sinners, all are saved by grace, all are the same regardless of color, background, et al allows the marginalized and broken the CHANCE to feel as though they belong. When that does not occur, when the normative dysfunction (brilliant, by the way) stunts growth, it re-injures those who desperately need to feel that there is a safe place that practices fairness. Justice is a big deal to those with whom it was withheld for so long.

    “There is the settling into patterns that feed a carnal brokenness that is mistaken for spirituality”. I wish I had said this because it is so true. My issue is I am a heart a storyteller so my experiences are bound to my deep feelings relayed through events. You were able to frame my story into a concise sentence.

    As for mysticism: I just have no idea how it really functions outside of someone turning down the lights… and I am deeply wary of it having witnessed such profound misuses. On the other hand, I miss the ability to experience the wonder…

  68. Xenia says:

    The Least of These,

    It’s been my observation that genuine, personal encounters with God (a mystical experience) generally happen when one is alone in one’s prayer closet, not in a corporate setting with artificially dimmed lights and mood music. But God can do anything, so who knows.

  69. Maroonie says:

    Dear The Least of These,

    I want you to know that I too have seen such things occur at CCCM.

    Your post was frustrating in some ways because I am convinced that it may only be understood by those experiencing such a flagrant double standard, and may fall flat or seem melodramatic to those that have never experienced such things.

    However, your recollection immediately caused me to have a flash of unpleasant nostalgia of my own experiences — my own disillusionment after witnessing: (1) the strange ministry culture that felt like a caste system, (2) brazen nepotism, (3) unqualified leaders being shown arbitrary favor, (4) various 2nd and 3rd tier lackeys acting like pigeons fighting over a french fry, and (worst of all, 5) the work of God being turned into a family business.

    God bless you, and may the Spirit use this memory to cause you to love outsiders and show that all are equal in Christ Jesus.

  70. bob says:

    Thanks for sharing your heart M… There are so many scared, wounded and shunned from cccm that there should be a separate blog to share and heal… calvary chapel abuse (dot) com was one place of refuge till the owner (Alex) was threatened with a huge lawsuit from his cc pastor / step-papa and killed the site… Don’t mess with the mafia! They showed vids of “reconciliation “but that was just a dog and pony show imho… So what is it Alex, did PASTOR bob abuse you and your brother or not and it was all a big lie that you told???

  71. Michael says:

    bob,

    The last thing I want…and the last thing I’ll allow…is another go round with the Grenier mess.
    I’ve paid my dues.

  72. Bob says:

    Michael, in a sense we all have… Was Alex silenced or did he lie? That all I want to know… Is that wrong?

  73. Michael says:

    Bob,

    It’s not wrong,but I’m not going to host another round of the Grenier chronicles.
    I would tell you to email Alex…his explanation was that it was all a misunderstanding.
    I simply will not bring the chaos here…we did that already.

  74. Bob says:

    Ok… i respect that! But a misunderstanding? it’s either one or the other! but anyway…

  75. Michael says:

    Bob…take it up with Alex.
    Somewhere else…

  76. Em says:

    I think the best answer for Bob might be, “it’s complicated”
    Agreeing with Michael, please no more on that…. thank you

  77. Anne says:

    The Least of These – Memories & tears flooding. Some sadness thinking about how Kay’s prodding Chuck to extend grace to the dirty hippy kids who he admitted repulsed him were the whitest fields his prosperous harvest. No wonder that at the turn of the new century, CCCM was again trying to light fires under the pews and encourage evangelism of the latest crop of lost youth. The trend appeared to be reaching hip singles or established families with steady paychecks rather than connecting with the latest wave of unwashed troubled youth.

  1. August 31, 2018

    […] Calvary Chapel Chronicles: Papa Chuck […]

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