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Editor’s note: This month is doing a series of articles reflecting on the amazing work that Jesus accomplished through the life and ministry of Pastor Chuck Smith.

The Joy Of Nonconformity – Dave Rolph

I have a million stories racing through my head right now about Chuck, but the one that stands out at this moment is one that, I think, gets to a part of his core.

One Sunday morning, I was with him in the office as we were picking which hymns to sing that week. I saw his mind kind of drift off for a second and he chuckled. I said, “What’s so funny?” He explained that his granddaughter Kristyn had spent the night. At one point she was frustrated with him for some reason, and she put her hands on her hips and with a scowl said, “You are noncapormous!”

He asked her what noncapormous meant and she said, “It means you don’t want to do what people want you to do.” As Chuck was telling me the story his face just beamed.

I said, “It made your day that your little granddaughter could see that you are a nonconformist right?” He said, “To me there is no higher compliment!” After that day, every time Chuck would take a minority opinion on something, or do something radical, I would say, “Chuck, you are noncapormous!” and he would flash that huge smile and say, “and don’t you ever forget it!” In a day where conformity rules the day, I really miss that spirit.

Love, Leadership, And Legacy – Sarah Yardley

Pastor Chuck made an indelible mark on my life.

In my younger years, he was iconic, almost like a character rather than a person. I still remember sitting on the steps outside the front office with two of his grandchildren. They both called out, “Hi, Grandpa!” and I shyly whispered, “Hi, Pastor Chuck.” He was unfailingly kind, always had a treat for the lost teeth, stood at the door to greet every person who wanted a handshake, taught us in that booming, rich voice that made you sit up and pay attention.

In my teenage years, he became my boss. I started working for Calvary Chapel at age sixteen. I worked at a secondary campus, and he was universally respected. I would now, less shyly, greet him with, “Hello, Pastor Chuck.” I worked for Calvary Chapel for ten years, ended up managing the department I started working for, and began to meet with him for monthly financial updates. He always knew my reports better than I knew them myself.

In my twenties, I left to travel and find new ways of being with Jesus. I sat in his office, and it was one of the few times I saw him cry, just for a moment, as I said, “Goodbye, Pastor Chuck.”

He told me I was always welcome to return, and I remembered that through thirty-four countries. We corresponded occasionally as I visited Calvary Chapels scattered throughout the world, living stones of his teaching legacy.

At the end, I had the honour of helping Chuck and Kay personally. I won’t say much about those moments; they are too sacred to share publicly. Even as his memory began to fail, he always spoke of his love for Kay, for his family, for the church. He was in pain, but never complained. I helped coordinate his memorial service—the Honda Center filled with the roar of his spiritual children and grandchildren saying, “We love you, Pastor Chuck.”

In my Bible, he wrote these words: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in truth.” (3 John 4).

So much of my life of living truth today springs from the way he taught, sang, and lived Scripture to us. Pastor Chuck was a vibrant, astounding, faithful, imperfect, and genuine leader.

So for now, until eternity, “See you later, Pastor Chuck.”


God Stories And Gum Wrappers – Kathy Gilbert

I kept offering Pastor Chuck gum while I worked on the church switchboard. It was always mellow on Saturdays in 1974. I finally got the clue not to bother; Pastor Chuck didn’t chew gum. Actually, he would grumble about those who left their gum behind for him to clean up!

Pastor Chuck was given a custom-made picker to use as he zoomed around the CCCM campus on a golf cart picking up cigarette butts.

In 1975, I was hired by Maranatha Evangelical Association to duplicate Chuck messages and mail the cassettes all over the world. Everybody loved Pastor Chuck’s teaching, and so did I—and I still do. I love hearing his excellent teaching on his Word for Today radio program.

One big benefit of being on staff at CCCM was learning to depend on Jesus for His calling and commendation, not on Pastor Chuck. Without words, he pointed us to Jesus, to do our work to please Him.

Nothing would bring a big smile on Pastor Chuck’s face faster than hearing God stories. He loved Jesus and would always stop to enjoy hearing what He was doing or had done.

It took 40+ years, but I finally passed the Jesus and Pastor Chuck servanthood test (“If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, you must be the servant of all.”) It happened while ushering during a recent CCCM Sunday service. It meant the mopping up of a really disgusting bathroom stall that would do Jesus, Pastor Chuck, and janitor/CC pastor Rich Chaffin proud!

Calvary Global Network (CGN) is a family of churches working together to proclaim the Gospel, make disciples, and plant churches.

Dave Rolph is the Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Pacific Hills in Aliso Viejo, CA. Editor of The Word for Today Bible. Follow Dave on Twitter, @PastorDaveRolph.​

Sarah Yardley is a Californian living in Cornwall who loves Jesus, family, friendships, coffee, travel, and guacamole.

Kathy Gilbert is a wife, mother, and grandmother who has served in the ministry at Calvary Chapel for over 50 years.