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The Current State of the Calvary Chapel Movement

by Ed Taylor

The Current State of the Calvary Chapel Movement

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on edtaylor.org


Much has been written, said, and posted about the Calvary Chapel Movement since the passing of Pastor Chuck Smith in 2013. He pastored Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa for almost 50 years. He is very missed, deeply. You might be wondering if it’s OK to visit or attend any local Calvary Chapel church. It IS OK! You should. God is still moving among many Calvary Chapel churches in wonderful, dynamic ways.

As you’re reading, you may be asking, “Who are you that you would comment on the status of a movement?” It’s a good question to ask. I’ve not been invited or appointed to hold a position of leadership within Calvary Chapel, nationally or in my region. I’m not a key or a core leader. I’m not even a first generation Calvary Chapel pastor.

I’m just a guy who walked into a Calvary Chapel in Downey, California, some 27 years ago. I was a punk and a wreck. My life was just about over, literally. But those are points to elaborate on in other articles. Yet, while the pastor, Jeff Johnson, taught the Bible that evening, I was changed. I walked out born again! Since that Wednesday night in 1991, my life has been forever changed.

For the past 18 years, I’ve had the privilege to serve as pastor of a wonderful church in Aurora, Colorado. The people love our community and are committed to sacrificially serving in the name of Jesus. We’ve been affiliated with the Calvary Chapel family of churches since 2000. That’s a truly an honor.

I’m a Calvary Chapel pastor. I count it a dear privilege to serve alongside so many for the cause of Christ. I’m grateful to be part of this large growing family of churches. I don’t use that word “family” lightly. Like any family, we don’t have everything perfectly in place, but it’s love that binds us together. That’s what Chuck Smith, our pastor, taught us, and we will do well to walk in God’s agape love toward one another and toward a lost and dying world.

So What About the Calvary Chapel Movement?

Jesus is still on the move, drawing men and women to Himself. Men are still in fellowship. Churches still share core distinctives and principles. Yes, we know things changed when Pastor Chuck Smith went to heaven. That’s to be expected. But many things didn’t change. Whatever is of God will continue on. Whatever is not of God will cease. Calvary Chapel has always been a family of diverse churches, sharing core principles and distinctives, loosely bound together with cords of love. This family of churches is not a monolithic movement. There is no one example to follow. Instead, the beauty of this family of churches is found in stark diversity and differences being molded together in love! This amazing freedom of ministry has allowed me, as well as so many other men, to pastor. Imagine that!

So What About the Calvary Chapel Movement?

As long as Jesus is the main focus, He will continue to move within Calvary Chapel churches. When, in all of recorded history, has Jesus stopped moving among the lost? Never! When has Jesus ever abandoned His church? Never! So as men and women follow Him, they will be in the middle of His mission and movement. How exciting! If Jesus is replaced with anything or anyone, enjoying His ministry will be replaced with human activity. The lampstand will be removed. The anointing of God will cease, and before it’s even realized, the Spirit will depart. God will not bless us if we are biting and devouring one another. Ever. He doesn’t bless those who sow seeds of discord. He doesn’t bless gossip. He doesn’t bless pride. We’ve seen this happen with other movements of God, unfortunately. May God protect Calvary Chapel from this sin.

So What About the Calvary Chapel Movement?

As long as we serve remembering the ministry belongs to God, His move among us will continue.

Zechariah 4:6 So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.

As long as we serve in love, loving one another, helping one another, serving one another, His move among us will continue.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

As long as we serve inspired by the Spirit and not in our own strength, His move among us will continue.

2 Timothy 2:24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel (strive – KJV) but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,

As long as we serve remaining flexible and open to His Spirit, His move among us will continue.

Proverbs 3.5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

As long as we serve trusting Him for every need, His move among us will continue.

Philippians 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

As long as we serve in the example of the selflessness of Jesus, His move among us will continue.

John 13:14-15 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.

As long as we feed the flock of God systematically, teaching through the entire Bible, His move among us will continue.

Isaiah 28:13 But the word of the LORD was to them, “Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.”

As long as prayer is the backbone of His church, His move among us will continue.

Luke 18:1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.

As long as we take good care of His flock, His move among us will continue.

1 Peter 5:2-4 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

As long as we worship Jesus passionately in Spirit and in truth, His move among us will continue.

John 4:24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

As long as we remain unconditionally submissive and tenaciously loyal to Jesus, His move among us will continue.

John 21:22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

As long as we keep the main things the main things, His move among us will continue.

Luke 10:42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.

As long as we walk in the Spirit and not in our flesh, His move among us will continue.

Galatians 5:16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

As long as we talk about Jesus more than we talk about men, His move among us will continue.

Mark 6:12-13 So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.

As long as we walk in humility, repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation, His move among us will continue.

Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

So What About the Calvary Chapel Movement?

Jesus is still on the move all over the earth right now. He’s still using Calvary Chapels around the world to serve the poor, feed the hungry, house the homeless, preach the gospel, love the unlovely, disciple the saved, and teach the Bible verse by verse. If you’re looking for a church, visiting a local Calvary Chapel is a good idea.

If you’re a leader in God’s church, refuse to destroy another brother. Refuse to talk bad about another brother. Refuse to hurt the cause of Jesus Christ. Refuse to get caught up in the drama of any perceived difficulties.

I love pastors. I love pastors on all sides within the whole body of Christ. I love the church. I love to serve Him. I love to be used of God. As we keep our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, only more awaits us as He builds His kingdom by saving one person at a time!