I grew up as a Calvary kid. My first memories are losing my first tooth in the Tape Lending Library, rolling under the pews in the Costa Mesa sanctuary, going to church on Sunday morning, Sunday night, Thursday night and one or two days in-between.
I am one of thousands who grew up in Calvary Chapel churches and schools. I learned many things, but this is my list of the top ten things every Calvary kid knows. If they don’t, they should.
1. Where God guides, God provides.
Pastor Chuck almost never discussed money. If he did, it was to tell the story about the church where they charted finances on a thermometer. In my head, finance thermometers indicated instant ungodliness. I love that our pastor, who managed hundreds of millions of dollars, never focused on the cash flow. He knew that if God called us to something, He would give us all that was necessary. I pray for more of that unshaken confidence in the provision of God.
2. Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be broken.
I can say this one in my sleep. Plans change. Leaders change. People change. The best-laid strategies are worthless if they aren’t flexible to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Growing up, I was fairly positive this could actually be found in Matthew 5. It’s not, but it’s engraved in our hearts.
3. Read your Bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow.
It turns out almost every cliche exists for a reason. If you’re a Calvary kid, you know this isn’t just a saying. It’s a song, complete with hand and body motions. If I see you, I’ll sing it for you. The older I grow, the more I realize: The cliche is true. Our growth will never come without a true, vibrant, biblical relationship with Christ.
4. The Bible is one story.
I don’t always read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. I skip from Old Testament to New. I study words, ideas, timelines. But I know the 66 books, the way we cross-reference, that Halley’s Bible Handbook shaped our movement, that the story of Scripture is one story. Every Calvary kid can find Habbakuk and Jude, and we know about the story they tell.
5. The gospel is according to grace.
This isn’t just a book title for a Pastor Chuck commentary on Romans. It’s a great book title, but an even greater reality. We didn’t earn it. We don’t deserve it. God loves us. I could hear it from now ‘til eternity, and it will always be new.
6. The Bible says what it means, and means what it says.
I grew up, and for the first time I visited churches that explained away the Bible (or didn’t use it at all). If you grew up a Calvary kid, you knew that we take the Bible seriously. It is easy to understand, but worth studying our whole lives long. If God wrote it, we should obey it.
7. We aren’t a denomination, but we do have distinctives.
In fifty years, I’m curious to see what will happen to these distinctives. Most of us stand now in worship. Occasionally in England, I wish I could sit! I hope that we continue to be known for what we are for….we are for the Word of God. We are for the gospel of grace. We are for the work of the Spirit. We are not a denominational church, nor are we opposed to denominations as such, only the over-emphasis of the doctrinal differences that have led to the division of the Body of Christ. Amen.
8. You don’t have to be hip to see God at work.
Our best-known pastor was a bald man with a belly. He wore Hawaiian shirts. He wasn’t flashy. He drove a golf cart around campus. He didn’t go to the movies. He stood outside the church to shake 3000 hands every Sunday. He pulled out kids’ teeth and gave us a dollar. He planted churches, led a movement, shepherded a revival. He wasn’t hip. He saw God at work radically. So did we.
9. Doves are the best.
We found them on our pulpits, our bulletins, our shirts, our caps, our Bible covers. We tattooed them on our ankles, stickered our cars, learned how to draw them. Calvary kids love Calvary doves.
10. The Lord bless thee and keep thee is the best benediction.
“The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (Numbers 6:24-26 KJV).
There’s not much I can add to that. Amen.