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Calvary Chapel Rumor Control

by Carl Westerlund

Calvary Chapel Rumor Control

Having just finished 29 years on the pastoral staff at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and having 19 years of senior pastoral experience before coming here, I think I have some perspective about what is going on. My observations are based on what I actually see and hear, and not on rumor and gossip. This does not mean I am right.

I am hearing rumors about Brian Brodersen. Though they may be rumors, people are forming their opinions of Brian based on them. I hear these accusations.

Accusation:

Brian is depreciating Bible exposition.

What is happening:

Brian is now doing 50-60 minutes of Bible exposition on Sunday mornings (currently Galatians). I like that he sticks to teaching the text. He restructured the times of the morning services to allow for more time, so he could do this. Chuck spoke about 30 minutes in more of a textual message. Brian has moved the Thru-the-Bible to Wednesday nights, where he has started over in Genesis. He has changed the Sunday evening to a prayer and worship format. This is to make way for our new home fellowships, which will be discussing the Scriptures that Brian has been teaching. I don’t think lecture is the only form of communicating Bible truth.

Accusation:

Brian is depreciating eschatology.

What is happening:

Brian just concluded an extensive series (Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings Chuck-style) on the book of Revelation. When he was gone to Europe for several weeks, he had Don Stewart do a series on prophecy.

Accusation:

Brian is promoting women preachers.

What is happening:

I have heard that there was a church in England who had ordained one of our women missionaries, and that Brian was to be held accountable for that. This is a false rumor. She is not ordained or pastoring. Rather she has been given opportunities to share in churches and places that need the gospel and the love of Jesus. Brian is not promoting women ministers, but definitely is encouraging missionary work.

I remember when I had a woman who wanted to teach on missionary geography in our Tuesday school. Pastor Chuck’s response was “Sure. She can teach on anything.” I went back to him repeatedly on this subject, because I wanted to be sure we were on the same page. The courses were only six weeks, and he said that would be O.K. because the women were not functioning as pastor-teachers. So I had women teaching Bible and on the Christian life, because that is what I felt he wanted me to do. He always carefully scrutinized each teacher and what that teacher was teaching.

There may be others. I am just not aware of them.

From my viewpoint on site at CCCM, I see no substance to these charges. So my conclusion is that it must be an issue of power and control.

I have been saying for years that the demographic of the Calvary Chapel movement has been the Baby Boomer culture. The Baby Boomers are now past 50. The Calvary Chapels are greying. If we don’t adapt our style to minister to the new generation, while holding strongly to our values, we will die; and our values will not be perpetuated. Brian is to be commended because he has a vision for this. We have had controversy here at CCCM, because some of the older generation felt we should stick with their preferences. My feeling is that my generation should be mature enough to recognize that our responsibility is to pass our values on to the next generation.

We should be pursuing love and unity, and not the works of the flesh.

Carl Westerlund

Carl Westerlund has been on the pastoral staff at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa since 1987, following 19 years of pastoral ministry in three other churches.