In part one I mused about how people inside CC perceive Chuck Smith and the CC movement. It seems for many this perception is an unhealthy one. Those critical of CC are often critical of those with this unhealthy perception. In some cases they are right. Those of us in CC don’t have a problem with our methodology. We have the same basic methodology because we are all CC. But our mentality concerning some things have begun to diverge. It is this that I believe will most influence the future of the CC movement.
The morning the CT the article came out I had some plumbing problems in the house that needed attention. I saw that the article was out but I didn’t have time to read it. I put it off till later. I didn’t have the stuff I needed to do the work so I had to go to town. To go to town and back is about an hour in the car. I thought it would be a good time to listen to the video “A Venture of Faith” which I have on my iPod. I try to watch it once a year or so. Turns out I had to go twice. What’s that about measure twice drive to the store once? That means I got to listen to the whole movie in the car and while working.
What got my attention this time was the last half hour or so, a segment of the video called “The Future of Calvary Chapel.” Since that is one of the things we have been discussing on simplemindedpreacher I tuned in to it. After I read the CT article I knew I had to go back and watch through that segment again. Some of the points of the segment were very relevant to what’s going on now, some 15 years after Venture was produced. Here are some highlights from the video and why I think they are relevant to this discussion. These are not direct quotes but they do communicate the gist of the speaker.
Dr. Earl Grant: “The danger CC faces is institutionalization, 2nd and 3rd generation become institutions. CCs need to be in a renewal mode so they don’t slip into institutionalization.” Those critical of CC are demanding that those within CC respond to various situations in a manner consistent within an institution. Those like myself, who think that corporate apologies for the actions of some in the movement, and individual responsibility to do something about the problems of others, are irrelevant steps to take, think that way because we aren’t a part of an institution or interconnected denomination. If some nasty business were transpiring in the Souther Baptist Church, I would not hold the local Southern Baptist pastor accountable or responsible for the actions or abuses of leadership of the Southern Baptist (or whichever denom you want) denomination. I wouldn’t tell people to stay away from his church. It makes no sense. In the same way, I don’t understand why some are calling for local CC pastors to make calls and write letters demanding apologies from Chuck Smith and others, or why I need to apologize to people hurt by other CCs. But I digress. Dr. Grant has a valid point. CC does face institutionalization. That’s why, in my view, individual CCs need to be completely sold out to the Lord and not to a man or movement. If we do this, the movement will be stronger.
Don McClure: “Pastors need to keep on the cutting edge, can’t get dull or tired. The burden of the kingdom of heaven needs to be on our hearts at all times. Retirement is Heaven. Can’t relax, can’t sit back and enjoy what’s going on now, can’t believe the press clippings, can’t get stuck in the past. If we do get stuck, we will just be a blip in church history.” This mindset is one that will indeed prevent institutionalization. Don’s example of this is Chuck Smith. He is a good example. We need our own examples we can personally learn from (of possible). We also need to pass this on to those we have influence over.
Mike Macintosh: “Spiritual success doesn’t come easy, isn’t measured by money in the bank or how many people you have. Measured by how faithful you are to do what God has given you to do. CC is the fruit of people and pastors who have been faithful to do what God has given them to do.” I would agree with that. I would add that it needs to continue on an individual level for each pastor. Faithfulness with people, money, time, resources.
Dr. Billy Ingram: “Being willing to pay the price, through prayer and preparation (study of God’s word), and being prepared to weather the storms and controversies and fiery darts the enemy will shoot at ones life in order to ruin their credibility or shoot them down, which can happen a lot to young guys who are being used by the Lord because they think its them and not the Lord.” While that thought is nothing new, it seems very relevant. No ship would be considered seaworthy if it weren’t built strong enough to handle some bad weather. I can’t abandon ship when the wind starts to blow and the waves, wave or do whatever they do.
Dr. Guy Dufflied: “Every young pastor should spend more time in prayer. That would be what I would change in my 60+ years of ministry. To be inspired by the Spirit personally through prayer.” Wow. There aren’t many things that are more true than that. The future of any ministry, church, or movement, depends on the individual’s dependance on the Lord through prayer. When we look to other things to keep us going, when we stop praying and things appear to keep going, we are toast. We can’t ride the coat tails of anyone or anything else.
Dr. Bruce Baloian: “One of the weaknesses is that the spiritual stability seems to come from Chuck Smith. Eventually he will be gone from the picture. It remains to be seen where the stability will rest when Chuck is gone.” Those are the words of an outsider to CC that Don McClure and Mike Macintosh decided to leave in the video. Does the spiritual stability really rest with Chuck Smith? Do some believe that it does? I hope it doesn’t, and I hope no one really believes that. The obvious answer to where our spiritual stability should rest is in the Lord, in the Holy Spirit. Our spiritual stability rests at the individual pastor’s and fellowship’s dependance upon the Holy Spirit. The weirdest illustration just popped into my head. Imagine every CC or pastor is a BB. Ever try to stack BB’s? It doesn’t work. If Chuck Smith is that bottom BB and we are all to be stacked on him, it just won’t work. We all need to be on the ground level where the stability is.
These last two quotes, I think, are very intriguing.
Oden Fong: “We don’t want individual fellowships to be clones of Costa Mesa. We seek to fellowship with those who are already being taken in the same direction as Costa Mesa by the Holy Spirit. Not trying to franchise out our style of ministry, we are open to welcoming those who are like minded and like hearted.” Man. As a non-SoCal CC person from the beginning, this really resonates with me. This is what we all ought to be about. Not trying to be like CC but just following the leading of the Lord where we are. If that
path is the same as CC then great. Our path ought not be defined by CC. We ought to be individual churches that happen to have the same vision and philosophy, that come along side of each other to encourage and support one another.
Greg Laurie: “No one person can or will take over for Chuck Smith. There are people all over the country carrying on the vision God gave Chuck. Those are the ones who will be his successor.” The future of CC lies with you and me. Not Chuck Smith, not Costa Mesa, not in any one person or place. The vision that Chuck had based on Acts 2:42+ is a good one. The fact that it is based on God’s word is what keeps me going. I want to be what Chuck Smith was to so many people, but I don’t want to be Chuck Smith. I want to be someone God used to positively effect just one life. If the Lord uses me to bring one person to Himself, I’m happy. I’m good.
The future of Calvary Chapel rests in the Holy Spirit. Jesus said He will build His church. We can’t look to Chuck as our only source of vision and guidance. We need to first look up before we look over. I need to be the pastor the Lord has equipped me to be. Our fellowship needs to be the body God has designed it to be. It needs a healthy, well-balanced diet of Living Bread and Water to stay strong. Its head needs to be the Lord. If these things happen, the church and the movement will have a future. As Chuck would say, “glorious” future.