simply teaching the Bible simply. this is the mission statement for the calvary chapel church movement, and for that, i am thankful.
raised a calvary chapelian, it was all i understood as church. everything i learned about religion (relationship! <—see!), about God, about Jesus, about the cross, about salvation, about church, about worship, about the gospel… i learned from calvary chapel. and everything else i thought… was wrong.
week after week, whether it be at costa mesa with superstar chuck smith, or in a home church pastored by a family friend, one thing was emphasized with passion over and over and over again: read your Bibles. and for that, i am forever grateful.
and for doing exactly what they told me to, i have left the calvary chapels.
before the hairs on your neck stand up and defenses rise and fingers get ready to attack the keyboard in a rage thinking this is some sort of bashing on a church or a system or a denomination (or a non-denomination?), let me be as clear as i can: i am grateful for a group of people who strive to make Jesus and the Bible known, and who preach Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). in fact, if it wasn’t for a calvary chapel, my mom wouldn’t have known Jesus, and wouldn’t have dragged me as a kid to hear about Jesus, and i wouldn’t be in pastoral ministry, for the intent of planting a church here in rancho. i dare say that perhaps many who read this would agree and also testify to a calvary chapel being the place they first heard about Jesus, and were given new hearts by Jesus, to live for and follow Jesus, for the purpose of finding joy and satisfaction in Jesus. so calm down.
something has been happening though, that the calvary chapels never really anticipated. people actually did start reading their Bibles.
visiting with numerous families and friends from church yesterday, i realized just how true this is. the majority of the church that God has been growing significantly by His power in the past year, is being filled with people who have left the calvary chapels. sitting and hearing their stories, they shared how by reading their Bibles (on their own, outside of a Sunday service or a mid-week study), they began to discover the beauty of the gospel in ways they had never seen or heard before in church, the sovereignty of God in ways they had always feared, and the amazing realization that grace is never Jesus + me, but Jesus alone. this is not just happening in my church, it is happening all over the country. (http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1884779_1884782_1884760,00.html)
i pray that the calvary chapel churches continue to simply teach the Bible simply, for the saints in the church, the souls in the world, and the glory of God. it is never about us vs. them, or right vs. wrong, which i pray is not how any of this comes across. it is about we are all wrong, and only Jesus is right. we are all bad, and only He is good. our idea of what “the gospel” is bears no power. only His gospel regenerates hearts and brings new life. and the more members of calvary chapel who search the scriptures seeking Him (John 5:39-40), not their leaders, their ideologies, their systems or their traditions, the more amazing grace will become.
and i look forward to seeing them soon.