Don’t Expect Accountability From the Calvary Chapel Association

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22 Responses

  1. EricL says:

    I believe the Southern Baptist Convention works much the same way, which is likely why Greg Laurie felt comfortable bringing his megachurch Harvest over to the SBC. The SBC replaces the Distinctives with the Baptist Faith and Message, but the local church autonomy is the same.

    I notice that CCA finally delisted Harvest, but I doubt Laurie mourned that loss much and his church probably isn’t even aware of the change.

  2. Michael says:

    Calvary Chapel as a movement or brand is nearing irrelevance…

  3. Kevin H says:

    Yes, but we know what happens if a prominent CC pastor does something as egregious as saying that maybe they should scale back on talking about the Rapture all the time….. then there is hell to pay.

  4. Michael says:

    Kevin,

    The CCA does have strong boundary markers…but the worst they can do is take your name out of a database…

  5. Officerhoppy says:

    Michael
    “ Calvary Chapel as a movement or brand is nearing irrelevance…”

    I think it passed that mark a few years back. CGN is attempting to move into the future but I doubt it has much success. The CC method and message was relevant in the 70’s, 80’s and some of the 90’s but fell out of step with millennials and even more so with Igen.

  6. pstrmike says:

    EricL

    For most part, you are correct. Local autonomy is supreme in both groups.

    As to the SBC:

    I haven’t read of anyone going after Saddleback for ordaining women (its contrary to the BFM), although I have heard a few murmurings going on.

    Sometimes, it depends on how strong the local leadership is. I’ve seen area presidents (an elected, one year term normally), step into the affairs of a different church and strongly suggest that they disband. They did.

    There are the “unofficial networks” among pastors whereby a wayward pastor is dealt with. You could say their version of when a government imposes economic sanctions. I’ve seen a few “run outta town” and forced to resign their churches.

    I have seen a state convention debate whether a church should be allowed to remain in fellowship with them and then actually be removed from being a cooperative church. I’ve seen a group of churches leave their local association, form their own, and be accepted by the state. There are mechanisms in place if one choses to use them. Of course, knowing the right people is always helpful in these struggles.

    And also, in short, don’t piss off a Baptist! Most are quite capable and willing to regulate their tribe.

    Harvest becoming SBC is so interesting to me. Greg may have had a change in theology, as he was Pentecostal back the 70’s at his Sunday Night Service at Raincross Square. I saw a lot of healings take place back then, although they were not what they regularly practiced.

  7. pstrmike says:

    EricL,

    Another line of distinction between CC and the SBC. Calvary Distinctives were essentially taken from some of Chuck Smith’s sermons. Some held to them fast, some took liberties with them. The BFM was hammered out by a committee and approved by the Convention . Big difference. Forging doctrinal statements for denominations should, in my opinion, be done collectively. Some Baptists hold fast to them, while others, take liberties with them.

  8. Kevin H says:

    Michael,

    Yes, officially the worst they can do is take your name out of a database. Unofficially, they can still make one’s life pretty miserable.

    But we all know they pick and choose when they’re going to follow the unofficial path, and seemingly whenever there is abuse or corruption within a church, that is never one of those times. Heck, rather than opposing, they may even choose to join in on the corruption, which very well may be the case in this latest reported case from Julie Roys’ site.

  9. EricL says:

    pstrmike,

    I find it interesting that SBC hasn’t done anything with Saddleback yet, but maybe they’re waiting for Rick Warren’s upcoming retirement. How influential is Warren to today’s SBC? I really don’t follow all the SBC insider stuff, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of his name come up during all the SBC wars that make it to the headlines.

  10. pstrmike says:

    EricL,

    Rick Warren does not get the press he once did. But Saddleback definitely does have a seat at the table. They are too big to simply dismiss.

    And we are talking about ordaining women, that some SBC, within California, don’t appear to have too much concern over. This is not the first time this issue has come up in CalSBC.

    Rick has been above board with his finances, from what I have heard, he is not a difficult man to work for—more than one of my friends growing up have done so. While I don’t always agree with his views or methods, in many ways, he has been a good example. No reason to tar and feather him now.

    A characteristic I have seen among some SBC is that they will fight like hell about issues, then kiss and make up and respect the other’s POV. And the majority rules…..

  11. Muff Potter says:

    pstrmike,
    If one of the CCs ever installed a woman in the pulpit?, CCA would converge on them like the Empire to the Hoth system.

  12. pstrmike says:

    Yes, they would. I seem to recall it was one of their critiques of Brian post-split.

    I asked a member (who has since left) of the CCA council if they had any guiding document or by-laws that governed how they as a council operated. He told me no, they just pray and seek the Lord and get their direction that way. We could hope that is truly the case, but I see it as more of a consensus of men who were all cast from the same mold and think, for the most part, much the same. Or it is at times, the most powerful voice in the room who gets the mantle and they all agree. Sometimes, I’m sure, the Spirit does actually break through. But councils need outside, objective framework such as bylaws to help them operate without being overridden by subjectivity, whether good or bad.

    In fairness, I asked this question several years ago and things may have actually changed and they may have by laws today. I don’t know, I’ve moved on, so I rarely concern myself about CC.

  13. Steve says:

    Michael, with the leadership counsel of CCA I saw 11 pastors listed. If I recall there has been quite a lot of attrition when Don McClure first laid this out. I know some were removed like Bob Coy, and Bob Caldwell among others, etc. I suppose their own churches removed them. Are these 11 original and is there a mechanism to replace anyone when attrition gets too low? It will be interesting to see who the last one standing with these touch not Gods annointed super apostles. That person would be Chuck successor and Pope of CCA in my opinion. Although they do nothing they are regarded as the super duber spiritual charismatic leader of leaders and a Moses of Moses that can teach through the Bible verse by verse mimicking almost every detail of Chuck Smith. Although their power seems insignificant, they do have the power to remove a name from a database. Does that power rest solely with Don McClure? To me this is enough that could spark a legal action. If he can remove a pastor from a database that is authority they can exercise.

  14. Michael says:

    Steve,

    I don’t understand why so many have a hard time understanding this situation.

    The CCA is a shell corp with no assets and set up to completely avoid legal liability.

    The power today rests with McClure and Focht and their successors will be someone like Sandy Adams or John Randall.

    Their power is solely that of removing a name and talking trash.

  15. Corby says:

    A story from the inside. Legal/practical accountability to step in from the outside to address something inside of a church is zero from CCA. Any and all accountability is informal and based on relationship. CCA is a more formalized version of what existed pre-CCA and post CCOF anyway.

    I was an associate pastor at a CC in the NW region. When a certain pastor had a moral failing at his church it became very public and he cooperated in stepping down from his position (thankfully). The church was not equipped to find a replacement so they reached out to the regional overseer (which everyone called these guys Bishops anyway) for help. The overseer initially helped find pulpit supply for a bit, of which I was one. The overseer asked if I’d be willing to leave my associate position at the one church and become the pastor of this other church. The church took his recommendation and hired me as the pastor.

    The overseer didn’t force me on them, nor did he have anything to do with any process of the previous pastor. This was all done on relationship and trust. At this point in time CC stopped affiliating a church as a CC and instead affiliated individual Pastors as CC. Even though I was an associate at a CC I had to go through the application and review process which I eventually passed. I was on-board and on-brand.

    So when Michael says that the CCA has no authority in a local church he is absolutely correct. From a functional/practical perspective they are a brand-management group with a spiritual mantle they can give and take away. Are you “one of us” or not? There is a lot of street cred within the movement for that. It’s not that shallow on the inside. Outside the movement your mileage may vary.

    Having said all of that, another facet to consider is that they will delete you from the list if it doesn’t cost them anything. If you are no one of consequence to the movement and do something off-brand, they will take you off. If you aren’t a brand unto yourself and your name is connected to their name, they might keep you on the list because it would make them look worse to take you off. See Potter’s Field for an example. It took a while for CCA to figure out that PFM made them look bad before they were taken off of the endorsed list.

    PS, As of October I’m a confirmed Anglican (ACNA) on the past to being ordained a Deacon and perhaps a priest someday. Issues similar to those around accountability and the culture it reveals are a part of why, there is much more to why. But that’s for another time.

  16. Michael says:

    Well said Corby…and congratulations.

  17. Steve says:

    Thanks Corby and Michael. I’m beginning to understand. They flip flopped a few times and changed to protect themselves legally but in the process hurt so many individuals. Many cases of abuse that they completely ignored that got swept completely under the rug. I was told by an affiliated pastor over a decade ago that Focht was the replacement for Oden Fong who I believe was in the CCOF. But I realize now the emperor has no clothes. It truly is an entrepreneurualy friends and family business plan based on nepotism and brand protection. It certainly is the quintessential American religion. If only the congregants that support this could understand this dynamic. I doubt the typical giving unit and attendee has any clue. Focht had me fooled for a long time because of his supernaturally natural demeanor and his verse by verse teaching. Trust me, ccphilly is not the last watering hole in town. Doubt there is much water there at all anymore.

  18. LInn says:

    The two evangelical denominations I’ve belonged to over the years-Conservative Baptist and the Evangelical Free Church (currently) are similar. As long as you adhere to the doctrinal statement and pay your dues you’re in. If you become too outrageous (morally or doctrinally), they will attempt to help, but don’t get too involved because each church is autonomous. Outrageous churches tend to get “uninvited” or unlisted if they really do shed the denominational distinctives. Years ago I was in a CB church that turned out to have a pastor that was a serial adulterer. I went to another CB pastor at a different church (one of my supporting churches as I was a missionary) and he a)accused me of gossiping, and b) said there was nothing he could do, anyway. Since every single CB church that supported me (half of dozen of them) knew about the situation in my church, I was a bit nonplussed, to say the least. The EFCA seems to handle difficult situations better, but it all still comes down to congregational polity and the church constitution. That being said, there always seems to be something serious happening in Calvary Chapel, and I would never consider one as my usual place of worship. When you make the papers that often (like my local CC), it’s not a good sign.

  19. Officerhoppy says:

    As the OP suggests, as a CC Pastor, I learned long to expect nothing from them. It was an association of like minded pastors who got together once a year at a pastor’s conference to hear from some superstars in the movement, schmooze and posture for position. After my 3rd conference, I decided my church didn’t need to pay for it and stopped attending.

    CCA was never intended to be a governing body of CC pastors but nothing more than a fellowship of like minded men.

  20. Nathan Priddis says:

    The concept of affiliation being described here is a religious version of medieval feudalism, and the related notion of chivalry.

    It was an evil system regulating interaction of upper social classes. A professional courtesy and difference to maintain class exploitation. The same intended benefit to fellow nobility, was balanced with intended harm to lower classes.

  21. Officerhoppy says:

    Nathan
    In other words, it’s more like a dysfunctional family.

  22. Ver says:

    I’ve been to Calvary chapels for many years and they never discipline anybody.
    That has always concerned me. It’s definitely not biblical.

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