The Current State of Calvary Chapel: Part 3
Whatever one thinks about Brian Brodersen, you have to admit that he’s very resilient.
He’s been battered from within and without for almost two decades, but he takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’…
Resilience, though, might not be enough to carry him through his current situations.
Before Chuck Smith died, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa was already in decline.
The changing demographics of the surrounding area combined with a tired “liturgy” that catered to the age of the crowd had led to a downturn in both attendance and giving.
When Brodersen took over and changed both sound and players it declined even farther.
The constant attacks from family, the CCA, and online critics have taken a toll as well.
Today, his critics like to send me pictures of empty parking spaces and sparsely filled pews.
He not only has this to worry about, but also the far flung properties all over the world that CCCM gathered during Smith’s tenure, but didn’t bother investing in their upkeep.
The reports I have are that the church is hemorrhaging money and has been for years.
I noted yesterday that one of the strengths of the Calvary Chapel Association is that it has established a strong identity for it’s members to embrace.
The main weakness of the CGN is the lack of the same.
What does it mean to be part of the CGN?
“We’re the Calvary guys who split from the other Calvary guys but we’re still kind of Calvary” is not a compelling message.
Without a real organization or recognized leaders (other than Brodersen) there’s little here to identify with.
Even more damaging is the fact that instead of joining up with either side, Greg Laurie acted like a kid ashamed of his parents and dual affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
If you take out a high reverence for Chuck Smith and the Calvary Chapel Distinctives from CC, what you have left is… a Baptist church.
Some pastors are realizing that they may as well follow Greg into the SBC where the same local church autonomy is treasured.
Add to this a general apathy among those pastors who are discontent with the old guard and you have a new car without an engine.
The positives are few , but significant.
Brodersen’s emphasis is on the Gospel, not on holiness codes or matters of Christian liberty and that is attractive to younger men coming up through the ranks.
He is much more open to the greater Body of Christ and hearing from and working with it.
The works overseas have a real vitality that is missing here.
Brian Brodersen has a tough road ahead…the mothership is floundering and this side of the split isn’t generating the buzz of days past.
However, he’s always depended on God to fight his battles and lead him…and it’s a minor miracle he’s made it this far.
I wouldn’t count him or the CGN out.