I was recently asked by a fellow-staffer, “What’s going on in the Calvary Chapel Movement?” I wanted to take the time to provide a meaningful summary of relatively recent events. As many of you are aware, Calvary Nexus is part of the association of Calvary Chapel [CC] churches. There are estimated to be over 1,600 CC churches. We are not a denomination, but independent churches that share a common theology and philosophy of ministry [I’ve tried to articulate them in my book “What We Believe and Why”.
As Pastor Chuck Smith, the charismatic founder of the CC movement, was nearing the end of his race he established the Calvary Chapel Association [CCA]. The leadership of the CC movement was established in a counsel of approximately 20 men in varying regions to oversee the movement in their region. Each of the men had served with Chuck for about 30 years.
The CCA was divided almost evenly between two distinct philosophical opinions. For lack of other appropriate labels, I will describe them as “traditional” and “progressive” and make clear from the outset that both groups are full of good and godly men. The “traditional” group tends to filter initiatives through the lens of, “Did Pastor Chuck do that?” In essence, is that something that we have traditionally done? The “progressive” group tends to filter initiatives through the lens of, “Is this consistent with our philosophy of ministry and theology? If so, we can do it even though we haven’t done it before.”
The two groups had differing ideas in regard to moving forward and advancing God’s kingdom through the CC movement. Neither group is wrong. The most effective way to move forward, in light of this dynamic was to create an alternative network for those of the progressive group to move forward and those of the traditional group to continue to stay the course.
Pastor Brian Broderson is the Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa [CCCM] the flagship CC founded by Pastor Chuck. Brian is Chuck’s son-in-law and has truly sought to honor the CC movement as he has initiated the Calvary Global Network [CGN]. I have known Pastor Brian for years, consider him a friend, and greatly respect his earnest efforts to avoid creating any conflict or disunity among the CC movement. Brian was one of the “progressives” and it became apparent, after approximately three years that he would not be able to move forward in regard to initiatives that he felt called to in the context of the CCA.
CGN and CCA both exist to serve CC pastors and the CC movement. They are not in competition with one another. Calvary Nexus is in association with both CCA and CGN. Our tribe shares a common philosophy and theology. And our movement is based on relationships. I enjoy relationships with hundreds of pastors. Some lean more towards the CCA (traditional) and others the CGN (progressive). Through the Calvary Church Planting Network [CCPN] and Velo Church Leaders initiatives, our local church has created resources and training that are utilized by both CCA + CGN.
I anticipate that many CC leaders will find themselves drawn to attend conferences and gatherings offered by CGN and CCA. We can experience both and cultivate great relationships where we can learn from and encourage one another.
Calvary Nexus will continue to be associated with both groups, and seek to bless both groups. Nevertheless, in regard to me as an individual pastor and leader I lean toward a more progressive perspective. I want to honor our traditions, and our past. As a church we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. Yet, I believe a leader can pursue an initiative as long as it is consistent with our philosophy and theology. And I also respect, appreciate and learn from my brothers and sisters in the more traditional camp.