Killing The Brand
A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about the division occurring at the top of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.
The head of the CCCM mens ministry (and an ally of Brian Broderson) had written a blog article separating his views from those of George Bryson concerning the future of the movement.
That article (since removed) was met head on by a Facebook comment from one of Chuck Smith’s daughters that Bryson did indeed speak for the founder…along with a threat to expose unspoken nefarious doings by unnamed enemies.
Chuck Smith recently decided to address the chaos in an email blast to CC pastors.
I have that email in my possession, but for legal reasons will refer to it rather than printing it.
He begins the email with a statement of remorse over the “division that’s crept into Calvary Chapel”.
Here’s the problem with this.
Smith is the one responsible for the division.
He has indeed signed off on all of George Bryson’s emails in opposition to changes in the structure or theology of Calvary Chapel.
He invites those who want to “reform” the theology of CC to leave the association again in this email.
He is squarely in agreement with keeping the status quo…because he is the status quo.
Now…follow me out here…he also approved the blog article that caused the conflict before it was posted.
Long time observers of Smith’s management style allege that this is typical…let both sides believe they have the popes imprimatur and let them fight it out while he does whatever suits him.
The reality of the situation at the top of Calvary Chapel is this.
The battle isn’t over Calvinism or the “Calvary distinctives” or any other doctrinal or ecclesiastical issue.
It’s a family feud over control of the empire after Smith is gone.
One one side is #1 daughter Cheryl Broderson and the new “Calvary Chapel Association” and her husband Brian who is currently co-pastoring CCCM.
On the other side is Jeff Smith and Janette Smith Manderson, supposedly on the side of the traditionalists.
Multiple sources tell us that Chuck Smith wants Brian Broderson gone so much that brother Paul actually wrote up a dismissal letter for him that included a substantial financial settlement to leave.
That letter was never delivered because losing Brian means losing Cheryl…and Chuck isn’t able to do that.
It’s not just familial love at play here…Cheryl is a gifted teacher with a large womens ministry and a church that’s allegedly leaking thousands of dollars a week can’t afford to lose a star.
Chuck ends his email with a shot at a certain blog that he calls “an enemy of Calvary Chapel”.
No, I’m not.
I’m an enemy of abuse and corruption where I find it and though I’ve found it frequently in some CC’s I do not broad brush the entire movement.
These articles are only possible with the help of multiple sources inside CC…sources who love the movement and what it once stood for.
I write them because I count many of the pastors and laypeople of CC to be my friends…and they deserve to be informed, not used as pawns or treated as people of inadequate ability to think clearly about important things that concern them.
As these conflicts trickle down to the local church level they create confusion there…as one pastor put it, Smith is “killing the brand”.
To sum up…this battle isn’t over holy things.
It’s a corporate battle between family members over assets and power and the unwillingness of a man to provide for an orderly succession of responsibility over a massive denomination.
Those who believe otherwise are just pawns in a battle they don’t know they’re fighting…and the one they think they’re fighting doesn’t really matter to the ones in the real battle.