Calvary Chapel

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  • Calvary Chapel

    Calvary Chapel is not a Christian denomination but a faith movement of like-minded independent churches. Since its founding in the 1960s, it has exploded into over 1,500 churches throughout the world.

    Calvary Chapel churches are unique in the amount of authority given to the pastor. The churches are also distinct for their verse-by-verse expository teaching of the Bible.

    Number of Worldwide Members:

    Because Calvary Chapel is not a denomination, the total number of people enrolled as members of all individual churches is not reported.

    Founding of Calvary Chapel:

    The first Calvary Chapel was founded in 1965, from a Bible study for 25 shut-ins at a trailer park in Costa Mesa, California. Pastor Chuck Smith, formerly a pastor in the Foursquare Gospel Church denomination, took the unprecedented step of ministering to hippies, surfers, and drug addicts and the church grew rapidly. Men trained at Costa Mesa spread across the United States, starting other independent Calvary Chapel churches based on Smith's model.
    Prominent Founder: Chuck Smith.

    Geography:

    There are approximately 1,500 independent Calvary Chapel churches in the United States and the rest of the world. Not all incorporate the title "Calvary Chapel" into their name, but are still connected by association with Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship. A worldwide listing of Calvary Chapels can be found on the official Calvary Chapel website.

    Calvary Chapel Governing Body:

    Independent Calvary Chapel churches operate on the so-called "Moses Model" which gives the pastor great authority over how the church is run. There is a local church board of elders to deal with church property and business decisions, but they do not give the pastor orders. In addition, Calvary Chapel fellowships often appoint a spiritual board of elders, separate from the business and financial board, to help the pastors tend to the physical, spiritual, and counseling needs of the body. Large churches have assistant pastors and deacons, but the senior pastor is in charge.
    Sacred or Distinguishing Text: The Bible.

    Notable Calvary Chapel Ministers and Members:

    Chuck Smith, Greg Laurie, Jon Courson, Bob Coy, Jeremy Camp.

    Calvary Chapel Beliefs and Practices:

    Calvary Chapel places itself between fundamentalism and Pentecostalism. Gifts of the Spirit, such as speaking in tongues, are not encouraged during corporate services. The individual churches do not profess a creed but believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, sent by God the Father as the perfect sacrifice for sin. Those who repent of sin and receive Christ as personal Savior will spend eternity with God in heaven; those who reject Christ will be eternally separated from God in hell. Pastors teach the Bible verse-by-verse in an expository style.

    Calvary Chapel churches believe Christ instituted two ordinances: baptism of believers by full immersion, and the Lord's Supper. They believe Christ also validated the ordinance of marriage.

    Calvary Chapel history is not long, but this faith movement forever changed the way church is conducted.

    A "come as you are" dress code and contemporary music are taken for granted in most American churches today. When Calvary Chapel made those changes in 1965, it was a revolutionary idea.

    Even more revolutionary were the people Calvary Chapel cast its net toward in those early years: hippies, drug addicts, and young adults who were looking for God but didn't even know it.
    Calvary Chapel History - Dropping The Barriers

    California is often on the cutting edge of change. In the 1960s, the state was home to hundreds of thousands of long-haired hippies. Pastor Chuck Smith looked past their unkempt appearance and saw souls hungering for Jesus Christ. But these rebels rejected traditional churches as being too stodgy and restrictive.

    Smith started with 25 people in Costa Mesa, California. Within two years they outgrew their first building. Then they outgrew a rented church and built a new one. Within a couple years that was too small, so Calvary Chapel bought a parcel of land and held services in a huge circus tent until the new church could be built.

    When Calvary Chapel's 2,200 seat sanctuary was dedicated in 1973, three services had to be held to accommodate all the worshipers. Soon more than 4,000 were attending each service, forcing many to sit on the carpeted floor.

    What people saw was different. No one judged visitors by appearances. Smith preached in an open-collared shirt, pacing back and forth across a platform instead of standing glued in a pulpit. The music was contemporary, the forerunner of Christian folk and rock.

    What people heard, however, was the uncompromised message of the gospel. Smith had 17 years' experience as a pastor in the Foursquare Gospel Church. He preached sermons somewhere between fundamentalism and Pentecostalism. His style was simple and straightforward, laying out the timeless principles of Christianity.

    Calvary Chapel History - A Network of Churches, Not a Denomination

    It wasn't long before Calvary Chapels were established in other cities. While Smith approved them and set the basic theology, he was not interested in starting a new denomination. He had left Foursquare because of politics and bureaucracy.

    Instead, Calvary Chapel became an association or network of churches, loosely affiliated but each one independent. Local churches are modeled on Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa while retaining their own identities. A common thread among Calvary Chapel pastors is a focus toward book-by-book, verse-by-verse, expository teaching of the Bible.

    Calvary Chapel follows traditional evangelical Protestant doctrine as far as salvation theology is concerned, yet its church government is unique. Boards of elders and deacons exist to deal with the business needs of the church property. In addition, Calvary Chapels often appoint a spiritual board of elders to help tend to the spiritual and counseling needs of the body. But the senior pastor is the top authority at Calvary Chapel.

    This so-called "Moses Model," with the senior pastor as leader, varies from church to church, with some pastors delegating more authority to boards and committees. Defenders say it prevents church politics; critics say there is a danger of the senior pastor being unaccountable to anyone.
    Calvary Chapel History - Across the U.S. and the World

    Over the years, Calvary Chapel expanded into book publishing, music publishing, and radio stations. Smith's "Word for Today" radio program became popular throughout the United States.

    Smith's followers, like Greg Laurie, Raul Ries, Mike Macintosh, and Skip Heitzig, planted many other large churches, started international Bible colleges, retreat centers, Christian camps, and the Calvary Satellite Network, made up of 400 stations.

    Today there are more than 1,500 Calvary Chapels throughout the United States and the rest of the world.

    In late 2009, Chuck Smith suffered minor strokes but made a full recovery. At 83 years old in 2011, he still pastors Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. Despite maintaining local churches' independence, the Calvary Chapel fellowship has not been able to escape the power struggles, political squabbles and lawsuits that denominations suffer.

    Individual Calvary Chapels do not report their membership to Costa Mesa; therefore, the total number of people attending Calvary Chapel churches is not known, but it's fair to say the association influences millions.

    And, every person who enjoys going to church in t-shirt and jeans also owes a small debt of gratitude to Calvary Chapel.

  • #2
    I attended a local Calvary Chapel while searching for a place to worship. It had much to commend it, although I could never quite enjoy music whose lyrics I could not distinguish from the music (I chalk it up to my being too old). ;)
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    • #3
      Originally posted by atpollard View Post
      I attended a local Calvary Chapel while searching for a place to worship. It had much to commend it, although I could never quite enjoy music whose lyrics I could not distinguish from the music (I chalk it up to my being too old). ;)
      I attended Calvary Chapel for years. Lets just say they pride themselves on drinking coffee in the sanctuary as wells as wearing shorts and flip flops here in California on any given Sunday. :rolleyes: Seriously though, I sat through many "worship songs" never feeling compelled to sing along with "Jesus is my girlfriend" type lyrics. I prefer the classical hymns.

      God bless,
      William
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      • #4
        "I believe that the generation of 1948 is the last generation. Since a generation of judgment is forty years and the Tribulation period lasts seven years, I believe the Lord could come back for His Church any time before the Tribulation starts, which would mean any time before 1981" - Chuck Smith, founder of the CT denomination.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by William View Post
          Calvary Chapel is not a Christian denomination but a faith movement of like-minded independent churches. Since its founding in the 1960s, it has exploded into over 1,500 churches throughout the world.

          Calvary Chapel churches are unique in the amount of authority given to the pastor. The churches are also distinct for their verse-by-verse expository teaching of the Bible.
          We had a pastor from a Methodist visit our house and he wanted our parents to attend and the pastor admitted he didn't believe. I was content on saying that I didn't want to go to that church.
          I think all you need to do is read the Barna report to know that a number of pastors don't believe.

          The reason Calvary Chapel flourished is because a lot of Christians left dead Churches and that it is possible that Calvary Chapel helped kill churches that were already dead or dying because when the pastor is head of the church, doesn't believe and is impossible to remove then what do the members do? They leave.
          I can show you large churches that don't have anybody showing up. I can show you churches that have been converted into skating parks, MRI centers, dialysis centers, and daycare centers.
          Dr. John Vernon McGee didn't want to start his own church because he didn't want to destroy what God made but Chuck Smith did and there are 1,500 or more churches.
          I think it is safe to say that few churches can compete with them unless they are mega churches.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by Chuckt View Post
            Dr. John Vernon McGee didn't want to start his own church because he didn't want to destroy what God made but Chuck Smith did and there are 1,500 or more churches.
            I think it is safe to say that few churches can compete with them unless they are mega churches.

            Dispy McGee left a Christian Presbyterian church to lead a non-denominational church, so I don't see how he's so different from Chuck Smith.

            The reason Calvary Chapel and Dispinsationalism flourishes is because Christians have become less Christian, just as society has become less Christian. Instead of serving God, more Christians want to be entertained consumers.
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            • #7
              J. Vernon McGee wasn't Charismatic. but on the west coast Calvary Chapel is considered Charismatic.
              I don't see your point though. While I haven't seen all Calvary Chapel Churches and while they have rejected the Emergent Church as far as I can tell, they do a lot of studying the Bible and I'm talking hours and hours so I'm impressed...
              The Presbyterian Church where I grew up focused on two verses on Sunday which is pale in comparison and you would have to give examples of entertainment. Allowing Christians to have concerts once in a while on their facilities isn't a real big example. Most of the people I've ever seen dress up and wear dress slacks.
              As far as entertained consumers go, I have been to one of their Christian bookstores inside their church where they sell Bibles or commentaries at cost or discounted which is hardly "consumerish".



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              • #8
                Originally posted by Chuckt View Post
                they do a lot of studying the Bible and I'm talking hours and hours so I'm impressed...
                The Presbyterian Church where I grew up focused on two verses on Sunday which is pale in comparison and you would have to give examples of entertainment.
                Hi Chuckt,

                You think plumbing the depths of two verses for an hour is less than covering an entire chapter in one hour? Our OPC bible study has now been studying John, six months later we are now just finishing up chapter 3. I attended Calvary Chapel for nearly six years, both in Washington State and here in California. While I have nothing bad to say about Calvary Chapel as long as they stick to expository type preaching.... check the doctrine at the door, because Calvary's belief is that one should not place emphasis on doctrine so as not to cause a division in the body of Christ. At least that was the statement given by Calvary Seminary's website. It was only after I was confused about a sermon that I approached my pastor - which was Arminian. I later found out that Calvary Chapel is anti-reformed. There are no Calvinist in Calvary's eldership, the late Chuck Smith had countless times spoken out against Reformed Theology. It is no wonder that the Calvary Chapel I attended was unwittingly regressing back to Roman Catholicism.

                From Calvary Chapel's main site: Doctrine

                When a person repents of sin and accepts Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord, trusting Him to save, that person is immediately born again and sealed by the Holy Spirit, all his/her sins are forgiven, and that person becomes a child of God.
                :confused:

                God bless,
                William
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by William View Post

                  Hi Chuckt,

                  You think plumbing the depths of two verses for an hour is less than covering an entire chapter in one hour? Our OPC bible study has now been studying John, six months later we are now just finishing up chapter 3. I attended Calvary Chapel for nearly six years, both in Washington State and here in California. While I have
                  According to Wikipedia there are 31,102 verses in the Bible.

                  If we study the Bible two verses at a time that is 15,551 sundays.

                  It would take you 299.0576923076923 years to spiritually grow up at that rate (based on a 52 week year as I take two weeks in account for vacation).

                  Not good enough for me.
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                  • #10
                    Do you attend church only once a week? Do you read the bible throughout the week on your own?
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                    • #11
                      No. I was just giving an average.
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                      • #12
                        I grew up going to a Calvary Chapel and remember have a great time there. It was really great about focusing on the Bible and going through the whole book instead of just focusing on the New Testament. I haven't been to one as an adult, I'll have to check it out.
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