Sales and Beauty of Humanity

There is a gravitational pull in sales to dehumanize people. From my first cold call I encountered this problem.

As some of you know, I've been working as an insurance broker since late February. This isn't necessarily the job I wanted, but it is what I could do while I look for something better. It has been an amazing learning experience... probably because it is so difficult. 

One of the cherished lessons I've learned since taking this role has been the value of people. It is incredibly easy to dehumanize people as I'm making cold calls or canvasing businesses. The temptation is to esteem people based on their response to my sales pitch or esteem them based on the leads they provide me. But that is so wrong. 

The problem starts with the gatekeeper. That person fills a role of impeding you from getting to the person you need to talk to. They are sniffing out the sales people and conveniently dumping them into voicemail. This can be incredibly frustrating. But that person is still an amazing human being.

If you do get through to a decision maker, most the time they will tell you they are not interested in what you are selling. Those are just the numbers. But did the value of that human being change once they gave me their "no"? 

People are amazing. And as a Christian I believe they are created by God in His image. That doesn't just apply to the ones who give me business. It is the case with every person we work with.

The more I've embraced this idea -- that people reflect God's nature -- the more I've enjoyed the sales process. Doing 200 cold calls means I get the opportunity to interact with 200 people that God made. That is an amazing privilege.

Providing Some Context

If you are not a Calvary Chapel leader this blog post is not for you. I have written an article specifically for you here.

Ministry can be very lonely. If most pastors were honest with themselves loneliness is one of the reasons why they participate in denominations or networks. Relationships… Camaraderie… Calvary Chapel is no different. We’ve got some pastors leading fellowships far far from home. And they are just as hungry as the next guy for communication from their “team”. When I was starting a Bible College in Hawaii I remember being isolated, far far away from Costa Mesa and the movement. I would scour the internet for any kind of news I could find about Calvary Chapel. And that experience was one of the primary factors that made me passionate for CalvaryChapel.com. 

For way too long Calvary Chapel did very little communicating. There was the annual pastors conference and maybe a local pastors gathering. But there was very little information about the state of the movement, missionary endeavors, church planting and leadership developments. When I was asked to participate in the redesign of CalvaryChapel.com in 2011 and again in 2014 I had this concern at the forefront of my mind. 

And it is in that vein that I’ve begun to share more of the inside details from my ministry experience at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. When Dave Rolph shared an insiders perspective back in December it was helpful. This article is no different. I am hoping to provide a bit more context and backstory to what has transpired over the past six months. There is a great deal of information that is private and confidential. The only thing I feel comfortable sharing is my first hand account and the conversations I participated in with Calvary Chapel Association. 

Let’s start here...

There has been a lot of public back and forth regarding Calvary Chapel Association and Calvary Global Network since October 31st, 2016. It was on that day that CCA sent out their first letter to Calvary Chapel pastors regarding their national conference and “clarifications” regarding web sites. Since then Brian Brodersen along with six other CCA leaders resigned from the council. (Bob Caldwell also dropped off the list, but that was because of moral failure.) A new network has emerged and most pastors have decided if they want their name removed from the CGN database. This has been a painful season for isolated pastors and missionaries. It has also caused a great deal of confusion for non-leaders… normal people attending a Calvary Chapel.

Up until December, 2016 I was working at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa leading the communications department in conjunction with Kellen Criswell. It was our responsibility to facilitate the communication that took place between 1700+ Calvary Chapels around the world and communication for the local church in Costa Mesa. Our team managed calvarychapel.com  and all of its various embassies on social media, iOS Apps and the email newsletters. The church invested a significant amount of money in staffing our department and making sure we had the resources to cary out the mission. We prayed weekly for Calvary Chapel pastors and their churches. 

One of the more boring administrative responsibilities that we inherited was the management of the Calvary Chapel church database. This was a cloud based system listing the private contact information  for all affiliated Calvary Chapels. That database was rebuilt by our team in 2014 based on an older database that was becoming obsolete. These databases had served as the source for the public info found on the calvarychapel.com church finder. Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa had maintained this list for decades. For a season the database was managed by Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship. When CCOF was replaced by Calvary Chapel Association the database in its current form was duplicated and handed over to CCA. Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa had a database and CCA had a database. 

In early 2015 we knew that Calvary Chapel Association was using the old database. We knew that it was outdated and hosted on an illegal server. We were aware of this because programers employed by CCCM had been the ones to build it a decade earlier. We had been using the same technology until we rebuilt ours in 2014. We knew that CCA needed a new solution. Also, we were aware of the fact that the church updates we were making were not necessarily being replicated on the CCA database. It was confusing people that there were two different church databases. 

So in early 2015 my predecessor spearheaded an agreement with Don McClure proposing that CCA use our database for 12 months. We outlined a contract and charged CCA $12,000 for use of our technology. That money covered their requests for customization and ongoing maintenance. From May, 2015 until October, 2016 I was responsible for managing the relationship with Calvary Chapel Association and their use of that database. I was the one that Don McClure called when he was concerned about anything related to that database. In the Spring of 2016 my team reevaluate the arrangement and decided to continue letting CCA use our database without charge. There had been a number of conflicts that Mr. McClure and I had hashed out and for the sake of peace I figured we could continue cooperating without charging CCA more money.  

Then in September, 2016 I received a one sentence email from Don McClure requesting a complete export of the data found in the database. This had been an option included in our original contract. It stated: "In the event that CalvaryChapelAssociation.com no longer wants to use the church management system, a database export of the information will occur and the data given to Calvary Chapel Association.” 

At the time it was difficult to discern if Mr. McClure was exercising that option or if they just wanted to have a backup copy of the data in case of an issue. We responded immediately and inquired about the status of our cooperation.  I believe we sent multiple emails over a month and a half checking on the CCA team to see if they were still using the database. 

Then on October 31st CCA sent out an email stating "We also need to clear up any confusion regarding calvarychapelassociation.com and calvarychapel.com. These are completely different websites and are on different servers. Any matters that relate to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa should be referred to calvarychapel.com.  Any matters having to do with the movement as a whole, or church information changes and affiliation matters need to contact The Calvary Chapel Association…”

Our team was wounded by this communication and we were concerned about the inevitable confusion that it would cause. This letter insinuated that CalvaryChapel.com is a puppet site for Brian Brodersen and Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, but Calvary Chapel Association’s web site is an unbiased representation of the movement. I had been privy to private communication from CCA communicating this fact more explicitly. I was disappointed that this would be suggested publicly. 

The fact that Calvary Chapel Philadelphia was partially underwriting the operations of CCA was incidentally left out. To give the impression that CCA is functioning autonomously without the help of a single church is a misrepresentation of the facts.  

I found it absurd to read a sentence suggesting CalvaryChapel.com only reflects Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa’s values or agenda. It would be more accurate to accuse CalvaryChapel.com of accommodating — across political lines — views that some CCA council members feel uncomfortable with. Maybe we have given voice to Calvary Chapel guys that are not appreciated by particular CCA council members. But the fact that those guys are affiliated (and sometimes on the council) is not our fault. The Calvary Chapel movement is a big tent that some wish were smaller.

It has been our objective to create a web site that serves the Calvary Chapel movement globally. As a part of our role we have bent over backwards to make the site reflect the movement and not just a single church (Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa).

We invited every CCA council member to write and contribute content. We have sent out over a dozen emails inviting council members to contribute. We have also spoken over the phone or face to face with every CCA council member about contributing content. We have even invited a handful of churches to take the site over for a week including Calvary Boise, Calvary Fellowship, Calvary Chapel Ensenada, and Calvary Chapel Philadelphia.

We have promoted conferences, relief efforts and missions trips from across the movement. We have published articles from a variety of views; even allowing opposing views.

Under our leadership CalvaryChapel.com has expanded beyond the web site. We are now live-streaming 5 major ministry conferences on an annual basis. We have launched four new podcasts with more in the works. In late 2015 we launched a Spanish version of the site. We have created a version 1.0 of an Apple TV app and recently released the 2.0 version. We have received almost 900 church plant requests through the site. The online newsletter list has exploded with daily subscribers. As the reach of CalvaryChapel.com expands it gives our writers and speakers a broader audience to communicate vision, values, opportunities and exhortations.

So needless to say, we did not appreciate what Calvary Chapel Association communicated at the end of October. 

My next move was to work with the team on writing a basic letter explaining to Calvary Chapel pastors how they could update their info in our database moving forward. As we thought through this letter and it’s ramifications we realized that we would probably become the recipients of new church affiliation info… making us a quasi Calvary Chapel affiliating entity. That was supposed to be CCA’s role. But when they split the database effort and stopped communicating with our team we were put in that difficult position. 

So before I sent out the letter I called Don McClure and tried to explain these different elements. I told him I wanted to touch base with him before we send out the letter. His words to me were “I don’t care what you send out. You send out your letter and then I’ll just send out a letter.” I circled back around and explained to him that we were trying to avoid being the affiliation office for Calvary Chapel, but without more clarification we would become just that. At that point he said he couldn’t trust me and that I was threatening him. I again tried reasoning with him but he told me he didn’t take threats well and hug up on me. I’m still not sure where the threat was in the conversation or why he didn’t want to problem solve the issue but once he hung up I felt like I had at least made an attempt to reason with him. 

Our email went out that day. 

On the next day I started getting text messages from Calvary Chapel guys in Florida where Don McClure was speaking. Evidently Mr. McClure had complained about Brian Brodersen and my team’s work with the database. These reports continued to come in over the next couple of months as Mr. McClure traveled around the US speaking at Calvary Chapel gatherings. 

In December I got another report from a pastor who attended a gathering where Don McClure brought my name up and suggested that we had done something wrong with the web site or database. And again my phone was flooded with text messages. 

It was at this point that I decided to send an email to the CCA council asking for their intervention. My email was addressed to: Don McClure, Joe Focht, Sandy Adams, Mike McIntosh, Lloyd Pulley, David Guzik, Wayne Taylor, Malcom Wild, Bill Stonebraker, Skip Heitzig, Ricky Ryan, David Rosales, Raul Reis, and Jack Hibbs. 

My email outlind much of the history listed above. I expressed my concerns with how Mr. McClure was publically representing our past dealings, and I request that the CCA hold Mr. McClure accountable for his misrepresentation of the facts.

In response to this email I received a phone call from a CCA council member and an email reply from Don McClure. In summary, Mr. McClure's email started with a denial that he had ever used my name in a public setting, but he went on to apologize if he had. The remainder of the email was a mix between explaining why he believed the database belonged to CCA and past issues he had with Brian Brodersen. He strongly believed that CalvaryChapel.com was using a church database that exclusively belonged to CCA. 

No other CCA board member responded and from what I’ve been told it was not discussed during the CCA meeting this past January. 

I sent a reply email a week later. The redacted version of my email can be found here. 

My hope was that this issue would be dealt with privately. After waiting four months with little course correction from CCA I decided the broader Calvary Chapel family deserved to have more context. Even if you have pulled your name off of the CGN list and are happily in fellowship with CCA you should have expectations that your leadership is leading well and accurately communicating how we got where we are at. I believe I was given a role and a view into some significant events. Calvary Chapel pastors deserve to know more of the machinations that took place behind the scenes. 

There are a lot of people who have taken shots at Brian Brodersen since he resigned from CCA. But with everything I described above he had very little involvement. He didn't know I was planning on sending either email to CCA. He was loosely aware of the fact that we shared the database with CCA. He was not privy to all my conversations with Don McClure. To frame the last six months of Calvary Chapel’s history as a Brian Brodersen vs. CCA is faulty. If CCA was unified in their opposition to Brian's positions, six council members would not have resigned in four months. Whether CCA addresses it publicly or not, it isn't a good sign when a large chunk or your members resign. 

Personally, I wish every CCA council member had the missionary zeal that Brian has. I wish all of the past and present CCA council members had the boldness to start their own network and make an aggressive push into missions and church planting. If you are a real leader, you lead. You don't just put your name on a web site and abrogate your leadership to a single individual. Besids Brian we have seen this bold leadership exemplified through Greg Laurie and to a lesser degree Wayne Taylor. Sandy Adams deserves credit for writing on CalvaryChapel.com and putting his thoughts out in public. David Guzik is like a machine traveling the globe encouraging missionaries and faithfully preaching the Word in Santa Barbara. 

Needless to say I'm not impressed by a council that is silent throughout most of the year and has allowed Mr. McClure to spearhead an agenda that seeds division across the globe. Our missionaries deserve better leadership. Our Bible College students deserve better leadership. Our church planters deserve better leadership.

As I mentioned above, 900 people around the world have requested Calvary Chapel church plants in their home towns. When I look at that number and then hear that Mr. McClure is traveling around the US meeting with pastors to sway their opinion against Brian Brodersen... how petty and shameful. 

There are great guys on the CCA council. I want them to succeed in ministry and leadership. I think I can empathize with their desire for brand purity... Or an emphasis on stay-the-course... In  my opinion stay-the-course is a failing effort because the course is somewhat difficult to peg down as I've written about here. But the attempt is a valid gathering point for those who share that passion. 

And when it comes to Mr. McClure I wish him nothing but the best. I find it ironic that his past work with starting the Bible Colleg in Twin Peaks and later pioneering internships at his church are two of my passions. I have told him on multiple occasions that he has my respect for these two efforts. From what I have witnessed he has not served the CCA council well. His leadership gifts would be better utilized elsewhere. But that is a desicion CCA will have to wrestle with. 

I've written enough in this article. I hope that my first-hand account is helpful. And I pray that 2017 is an incredibly fruitful year in your ministry. 

To the Average Parishioner (non-leader) in Calvary Chapel

You may have recently seen some back and forth online about Calvary Chapel’s leadership conflict. And you may have noticed that two different groups were expressing opinions regarding the future of Calvary Chapel. And this may have been confusing or upsetting. To see leaders disagree and communicate their disagreements publicly can cause a person to become disillusioned. Unfortunately, it is a part of living in the digital age where information is widely available. 

You may have felt the pressure to pick a side or dig deeper into this situation. That is how we are wired in a democratic society with access to the internet. We often feel like we deserve to know all the facts and come to our own conclusions. 

But I don’t think that is the best decision. 

Rather than trying to make heads or tails out of this conflict I would strongly encourage you to trust the pastor in the church you are participating in. If he faithfully teaches you God’s Word and is a servant leader then you are safe to trust his decision in all of this. Pray for him. Ask him your questions and trust his leadership in the matter. 

This conflict is incidental and unimportant compared to your spiritual growth and calling. You have unsaved coworkers, family and neighbors who need to know Jesus. Getting to the bottom of this conflict will not lead to their salvation. Hopefully you are committed to a local church and you are serving with your gifts. 

Remember what Hebrews 13:17 says "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you."

My Review of S-Town (Spoiler Alert)

It was one of the dumbest podcasts I've listened to...

Sorry, but the glory of Serial Season One did not cary over to this project. I was a big fan of the work Sarah Koenig did on Serial and had high hopes for this project, but it falls flat on its face. The production quality is good, but I don't have much else positive to say.

  • There is no plot line.
  • It is an excursion into moral debauchery the further you go.
  • It reminds me of a slow - very slow - moving train wreck

Other then the last ten minutes of chapter two there is very little surprise, intrigue or twist. You'll be disappointed if you are holding out for one. 

If you are board enough to listen to the seven hours of this audio experience you would be better served listening to an average person's story on the street. 

You can find the S-Town podcast here 

The Cherry Blossom's of Washington D. C.

This past Saturday we decided to check out the Cherry Blossoms in Washington D. C. If you have not had this experience it is definitely something that should go on your bucket list. Here is a short history on the Washington D. C. Cherry Blossoms.  

It is tough to walk more then 10 feet without wanting to take another set of pictures. There is a new perspective every few feet. Here are a few of pictures that I captured. 

Can Calvary Chapel's Tradition Be Defined

I have an exercise for you...

But first, let me give a little background. In 1998 A man named James Sullivan wrote a book called Baptist Polity: As I See It. This book was to the Southern Baptist what Calvary Distinctives is for the Calvary Chapel pastor. It summarizes the history and traditions of the Southern Baptist. Or in Mr. Sullivan's words; "The book shows how the denomination functions and why." It is full of opinions and thus the subtitle "As I See It."

The copy on my shelf is well worn. I've underlined and starred paragraphs on most pages. Why? Because the Southern Baptist wrestled with their own organizational structure a century before Calvary Chapel did their own wrestling. Many of the internal battles Calvary Chapel is facing were already fought and won for the Southern Baptist.

If you are not familiar with the Southern Baptist you might be surprised by the numerous points of similarity between them and us. In fact the Southern Baptist have ripped off many of Calvary Chapel's hallmark attributes and made them their own. But I digress...

I want to draw your attention to one specific quote from chapter four:

“There are three basic elements in the development of polity for a secular organization, but there are four when polity is being determined for a religious body. The three elements that go into the building of polity in a secular organization are tradition, law, and sound organizational principles. All have been proven valid and necessary. The additional element that goes into the development of polity for a religious body is theology”

Tradition, law, organization and theology.

He defines tradition thus: "We do certain things in certain ways because our forefathers did them that way. We seldom pause to ask why."

When he refers to law he is talking about the laws of the land which govern the organization. In the US this would include laws dictating non-profit organizations, employment law, building and fire codes. These laws play a subtle role in defining polity.

The word organization refers to the practical organization of church life: who is responsible for what, schedules, procedures for new volunteers, the dissemination of information. This is another distinct aspect of church polity.

And finally, theology. Theology is the shared belief of the church about God, the Bible, people, creation and eternity. The theology of a church isn't just the primary doctrines that must be believed for salvation. It also includes secondary issues such as eschatological timelines, and the literal or figurative days of creation.

These four arenas - tradition, law, organization, and theology - are what make a church unique.

For Calvary Chapel the first one, tradition, is the x factor. What are our determined traditions? Now there are some bozos who have made tradition and theology synonymous but I'm not here to rescue them from their stupidity. Of course tradition should be rooted in a biblical framework, but to elevate tradition to the level of inerrant scripture would be much to Roman Catholic for me.

So here is the exercise.

Write out three lists. On the first list write out what you understand to be the defined traditions of Calvary Chapel. This is a list of what you believe to be Calvary Chapel's dogmatic traditions... they are unalterable.

On the second list write out what you understand to be the traditions with limited options. In other words, what has been defined as a tradition with multiple options. One of my items on this list was the church facility. Calvary Chapels typically have a gathering space for corporate worship but there is a huge variety in the types of buildings used for worship.

On the third list write out other church aspects of ecclesiology that Calvary Chapel has not defined. For example on my list was leadership transitions. There is no set tradition on how Calvary Chapel's make leadership changes. We do it, but don't have a tradition.

Once this is done, do the same exercise for theology. Three lists with the first being dogmatic theological points of Calvary Chapel, the second is theological points with options and a third list is undefined theological points.

Remember the value of the exercise hinges on you writing down what you perceive to be Calvary Chapel's teaching and not your own personal opinion. It is as if you are writing your own "Calvary Chapel: As I See It."

Here is a google doc templates of what you might start with.

I found this exercise very insightful and I came away with a few observations.

First, the number of clearly defined traditions -- traditions that are believed and practiced by 100% of Calvary Chapels -- is pretty small. And it is very possible that my list is different from yours, which would make both of our lists smaller...  

Second, the things I've written down in my first list (Defined Traditions) are not exclusive to Calvary Chapel. There are thousands of churches that have identical sets of traditions. It is my opinion that Calvary Chapel has set a good example in a number of these areas and others have followed suit.

But sometimes Calvary Chapel acts as an exclusive organization that cannot fellowship with other groups. The underlying premise behind that snobbery is that Calvary Chapel does church right... unlike everyone else.  

Third, my longest list was the third one: undefined traditions. On that list I have things like the church's relationship with culture, the role of small groups in the life of the church, church discipline, discipleship and so on. If there are so many aspect of our ecclesiology undefined by tradition what does that mean for education and replication in the future?

Fourth, how are we going to handle the second list of items: traditions with options? What happens when a senior leader in Calvary Chapel tries to move an item off of that list and onto the first list; stating that there really are no options but one?

When leaders talk about "stay the course", "core values" "roots" "foundation" or "DNA" one has to wonder if their list is like yours. An actual definition of these things has been conspicuously absent. It is conveniently assumed that Calvary Chapel's defined traditions are numerous and defined. Neither are the case.

Oh, but you say "We have Calvary Distinctives." Sure, but does that book define our tradition. If it does, why is there an outcry for defining our tradition better and identifying our core values. The dirty little secret is that half of Calvary Chapel pastor's do not feel like the book defines boundaries where they wish there were boundaries. The other half of Calvary Chapel pastors wish it said less.

My challenge to the leaders who are championing a stay-the-course theme is this: write out clearly what you mean. Those definitions should not be an evolution of Calvary Chapel's historic practices and they must accurately represent a majority view. There is a difference between the decisions you make for your own church and the definition you want to give to a couple thousand churches.

That is not an easy task and it probably doesn't produce the desired result of exclusivity and eclesialogical uniqueness that the stay-the-course crowd so desperately wishes were true. 

The Dumbest Thing I Ever Said... Publicly

Below is a video clip of my most embarrassing public speaking moment… ever. I loath what these three minutes portray. Actually, I have only watched it a couple of times because of how much pain it causes me to sit through it.

So why would I post it here? 

There are some important points that need to be made that are actually more important than the punches I will take for making these awful statements more visible. 

I have recently become aware of the fact that this video clip was being referenced and shared privately among people who were critical of Brian Brodersen and the Calvary Global Network. It was being used as a tool to slander Brian and prop up a false narrative about Brian having a secret agenda. I have not talked to Brian about it. I don't even know if he is aware of these comments. And my addressing it publicly was solely my decision.

For a little context… This was a message I gave at Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murrieta, California in the Fall of 2014. The rest of the message can be viewed here. As soon as I stepped off the stage I knew I had screwed up. I asked the Bible College to edit those comments out of the video before it was published online. And they did. But someone found the original archive and started sharing it around the internet. As Jesus so wisely said "there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.” 

I was wrong...

First off let me apologize to everyone who watched this video and felt offended. You were right to feel offended. My words were tremendously disrespectful to the spiritual foundation that Chuck Smith laid in your life. I was not honoring the spiritual legacy that you (and I) are so appreciative of. I am truly embarrassed that I was this sloppy in communicating my sentiment about Chuck Smith and the last decade of his life. 

This is a perfect example of what Damian Kyle calls thoughtless unkindness. It was thoughtless unkindness towards the audience I was addressing. I should not have said what I said publicly because it was tremendously disrespectful. It also was a poor articulation of what I really meant.

To say that I spent 14 years waiting for a CCCM leadership change would be accurate and honest. Shortly after I started Bible College and a year before I came on staff at CCBC Pastor Chuck brought Brain Brodersen back from England to start a two year leadership transition. This was an exciting possibility. It was a transition that Chuck seemed excited about. This imminent transition gave birth to anticipation of what would change.

That describes the state of mind I had while working at CCBC from 2002 - 2007 and my early time working at CCCM from 2011- 2013. I had many conversation with coworkers about the future. Most of the conversations would go along the lines of “Wouldn’t it be great if we could do ‘X’? Well maybe we can once Pastor Chuck has retired or has passed.” We were not plotting to derail Calvary Chapel from its heritage. No, we were talking about making web sites better and updating the furniture. 

I’m not sure how many of you participated in the Simple Minded Preacher web site, but those online conversations paralleled many of the conversation that I had with fellows employees of CCCM. Someone might say that those conversations were sinful and disrespectful towards Pastor Chuck and they might be right. But I do think there is a sinless way to talk about life after a person retires or passes away. And I don’t think it is sinful to be excited about those changes.

So when I said in 2014 “I spent 14 years waiting for a man to die.” What I meant was “Looking back on all those years of anticipation, hoping and envisioning what would change, it ended up being 14 years of waiting for a man to die.” It still is a disrespectful and unhelpful thing to verbalize because the audience did not share my experience and could not empathize with that “insider” perspective. I was casting a stone of stumbling in front of them. But it was an accurate retrospective comment on how I felt.

Don't read between the lines

Second, in this video I appear to be boasting about working with Brian and helping behind the scenes.  And unfortunately it is easy to write a narrative between my lines that suggests Brian was plotting tohijack Calvary Chapel. Again, I was inarticulate and arrogant. But to attach some sinister motives to Brian Brodersen based off my comments is flat out wrong. If you were immature enough to use this video in that way shame on you. 

If Brian had a plan or agenda for after Pastor Chuck died he didn’t share it with me. There was no plan or agenda that I knew of. In fact I distinctly remember how impressed I was by Pastor Brian’s respect for Pastor Chuck while he was alive and after his death. Even though the leadership transition took place 12 years after the originally agreed upon time frame, Pastor Brian appeared patient and content during the time I worked with him. 

I am very sorry that my bad example has contributed to the idea that I might be the product of Brian’s private conversations rather then my own pure carnality. Pastor Brian is a man of integrity and respect behind closed doors as much as he is in public.

Be an adult and make a phone call...

Third, there is a cancer in Calvary Chapel leadership called slander. One of the shocking things that I have observed over the past few years in Calvary Chapel is how freely Senior Pastors will talk smack behind the backs of other pastors but never pick up the phone or meet face to face.

For example there is a contingent of pastors who don’t like Brian Brodersen, but having been one of Brian’s assistants I know how few of them called to get a first hand account of what he really thought. For some reason these leaders thought it was spiritually acceptable to slander another pastor without directly talking to the man. 

One of my pastor friends who grew up on the streets and was a part of the gang culture explained this dynamic to me. He told me how cowardly it would be considered if one gang member bad mouthed a peer to his homies but didn’t directly confront the peer. He said this was one of the fastest ways to lose the respect of your homies. In my friends words “you go deal with it.” And my question is this: If gang thugs get this why can’t we?  

Having pastors secretly share this video is just another example of the cancer. Trying to use this video to prop up a false narrative is shameful. I take full ownership of the stupidity of my statements in 2014. But if you took this video and shared it with others rather then talking to me directly shame on you. You are behaving no better than gossipy grannies on Facebook. 

I was only able to get access to this video through a level headed CC Pastor who was mature enough to challenge me on its contents and share his concerns. I am grateful for his candidness and mercy towards me. 

The Calvary Chapel family of churches is working through some difficult issues. The last thing that is needed is slander and gossip. I know that it can be frustrating to be in the dark over leadership decisions. You may find yourself tempted to read Christian gossip web sites (also known as Online Discernment Ministries), but at the end of the day we are Christians first. Our character matters. And slander is sin. When I said those things in 2014 I sinned. Why uncover my nakedness to your peers rather then rebuke me to my face?

 

Setting Up Life in Baltimore

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We got into Baltimore on November 27th at 1:50 Pm. I can remember the exact time because we were supposed to me the crew unloading the truck at 2 Pm. It felt good to get into the city a few minutes early. My greatest fear about our move was double parking on the street. I couldn't remember how wide our street was and I didn't know how Baltimore peeps would respond to a big moving truck hogging up the road. Well my anxiety was unfounded. Once I was double parked there was plenty of room for people to drive around the truck.

Five men showed up to help us unload. Two of the five men were chiropractors. One of them brought a chiropractic table with them for post moving adjustments. These guys worked so hard to get the truck unloaded including gently removing my front door so that the couch could make it inside. We were done at 3:00 PM. The catholic church across the street started ringing to mark the time and I felt like it was in celebration of completing one of the biggest things I dreaded.

We spent the next ten days unpacking and setting up the house. Between my wife and I we made at least five trips to the Baltimore IKEA. Melinda was at Target almost everyday. Bit by bit our house started to come together. Some of our early observations of living in a row house were:

  • When the kids are on the third floor and we are on the first floor there is almost a complete separation of sound.
  • Stairs are something that we would have to adjust to.
  • Sliding in your socks on an old wood floor can result in splinters.
  • The kitchen is freezing because it doesn't have any heating vents in it.

I was pleasantly surprised to find an old desk in the far corner of the basement. This was something I had hoped for but had not verbalized. I was envisioning a small dungeon like office and with enough creativity I was able to create such a workspace. There was an old rusty faucet hanging over the back of the desk and a small half wind looking out to the street. During the day I can see the tops of dogs bodies and the bottom half of people walking by the window.

Basement Office
Basement Office

Once we were settled we started to explore the surrounding streets. The temperatures are cold so people are moving with purpose up or down the street. A couple blocks away there is a quaint kosher cafe called Van Gough Cafe. Mindy is the owner and her daughter helps her at the counter. Their bagels are amazing.

Van Gough Cafe
Van Gough Cafe

To our east by a couple of blocks is Patterson Park. This park has historical significance from the Civil War. It was the location of a hospital and camp for the North. Today it has a playground, lake, Ice Staking Rink, Sports fields and paths. The locals have given it mixed reviews. It is a good location for walking your dog or getting some exercise. But it has some legendary stories of crime and villains. I guess you have to pick which theme you want to dwell on as you venture across it.

South of us by a few blocks is the Patapsco River and surrounding harbor. Southwest takes you into Fells Point with its cobblestone streets and endless assortment of bars. And to the Southeast you get into Canton. This is where the local grocery stores and Target are.

We have spent a good deal of time setting the kids up for school. They are going to be homeschooled for the remainder of the year. This means that we have to find activities and classes for them to participate in. Hudson decided to take Karate. Hanalei is enrolled in Gymnastics. And Hayden is a homebody who is content to play Legos and read at home.

In my next post I'll try and give a summary of some of our early church planting plans. We are excited about the next couple of months and look forward to sharing those things with you.

Driving from Santa Ana, CA to Baltimore, MD

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So here is our itinerary for driving cross-country: Day 1

  • Santa Ana, CA —> Flagstaff, AZ
  • 6h, 53m

Day 2

  • Flagstaff, AZ —> Amarillo, TX
  • 8h, 32m

Day 3

  • Amarillo, TX —> Little Rock, AR
  • 8h, 28m

Day 4

  • Little Rock, AR —> Knoxville, TN
  • 7h, 43m

Day 5

  • Knoxville, TN —> Harrisonburg, VA
  • 5h, 9m

Day 6

  • Harrisonburg, VA —> Baltimore, MD
  • 3h, 3m

Church Planting in Baltimore

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We have some big news! This Fall we will be moving to Baltimore, Maryland with the goal of planting a church. This is something that God put in our hearts a few years ago as we considered church planting. It has been a growing desire for Melinda and I. While we are tremendously grateful for the opportunities that Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa has given us, we can’t shake the desire to get out on the front lines of ministry to start a new work.

Earlier this year our family spent some time in Baltimore scouting it out. We stayed in the downtown harbor area and drove through a few of the neighborhoods. It was a beautiful time to see the city. We came away from this time with a clear vision for ministry in the city.

Our plan is to move to the city in late November or early December. I will be looking for work in the city and we will begin to connect with people who are interested in the new church. Our kids will go back to being homeschooled for the remainder of the school year.

If you would like to receive updates you can sign up at www.baltimorechurchplant.com. These updates won’t just be about our family, we will also share information about the city, our church planting process, and other random info. It should be fun.

Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and Pastor Brian have been tremendously supportive of this vision. And the church will be sending us out. It is impossible to be around Pastor Brian and not catch a bug for church planting and missions. (See the video below.)

We have been very blessed by our home church. It has been six years since we returned to Orange County after three and half years of ministry in Kauai. It has been a great season of ministry under Pastor Brian Brodersen. He supported the redevelopment of Calvary Chapel Univeristy and allowed that school to be incubated within Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa for a year and a half. He entrusted me with the development of CalvaryChapel.com in 2012 and again with the team in 2014. He allowed me to preach on Saturday nights. He invited me to become the regular host on the radio program Pastor's Perspective. And more recently we launched the Things that Matters program. I am grateful for our season here at Costa Mesa, and appreciative of their support as we leave to plant this church.

Thanks for praying for our family and again, check out www.baltimorechurchplant.com to start receiving regular updates.

[embed height="315" width="560"]http://youtu.be/JwOex2mc6Uk[/embed]

Top 5 Quotes from Darrin Patrick’s Church Planter

This past weekend I finished reading Darrin Patrick’s book Church Planter. It is an excellent summary of church in the 21st century. The book is broken into three main sections: The Man, The Message, The Mission. I particularly apreciated the first section as it deal with calling and character.

Here are my top five quotes from the book:

Regarding the pastorsal call...

In a heart-call, a deep inclination in the soul says, I must do this or I will die. The called man cannot imagine going into another vocation: he daydreams about ministry, he talks about ministry, and he cannot wait to be in ministry. There is an abiding, relentless desire for the work of ministry that the called man cannot shake off or ignore—even amidst hardship, persecution, and fear. This strong desire in the heart can sometimes result in anxiety and apprehension. Questions are forced to the surface, like Can I really do this? Can God really use me? What if I fail? Nothing provokes insecurity like signing up to follow God’s call and do God’s work. A man who is truly called may doubt and struggle with his calling at times, but ultimately he will not be able to walk away.

The Head Confirmation vs. The Heart Confirmation...

The man who is experiencing head confirmation is thoughtful about his own philosophy of ministry, his own ministry style, his own theological beliefs, his own unique gifts, abilities, and desires. In short, there is uniqueness to the way he wants to do ministry. Unlike many young men who know much about what they are against and little about what they are for, the man who is experiencing head confirmation thinks through very carefully and deliberately, What am I for with my life and ministry? What are my specific burdens for the church? How can I best serve the church in these areas?

The Mistake of Opperating Only in Personal Strengths

Pastors tend to stay in their strengths and avoid their weaknesses. “Theology guys” tend to spend a lot of time reading and discussing dead theologians. “Missional guys” tend to spend a lot of time analyzing culture and drinking lattes. “Shepherding guys” tend to spend a lot of time hanging out with people and counseling them. But rarely do we see pastors step out of their strengths into their areas of weakness. Why is this? Because it is uncomfortable. It is difficult. It is flesh-starving.

Realizing Ones Weakness Through Pastoral Shepherding

When you deal with the sin of others, you become more aware of your own sin. When you shepherd the stubborn, you see your own stubbornness. When you shepherd the selfish, you see your own selfishness. When you shepherd the broken, you inevitably see your own brokenness.

Good Rest vs. Bad Rest

Determined men take time seriously and are very intentional about how they use it. This does not mean that we never rest—far from it! But it does mean that we should be intentional about when and how we rest. For most of us, for example, redeeming the time probably does not mean spending hours each night watching television or surfing YouTube. Such activities may feel relaxing for the moment, but they are often a huge drain on our energy and ability to serve God and people well. For most of us, redeeming the time will mean that we work hard to eliminate unnecessary time suckers in our week, that we design a system for answering e-mails efficiently, that we think through our weekly schedules and priorities beforehand, and so on. You will be amazed at how much this kind of Edwardian discipline and intentionality will give you energy and refresh your ministry over the long stretch.

If you have read the book I would love to hear what gems you picked up.

The Ingredients for Higher Education Disruption

Higher Education has not yet experienced a major disruption like other cultural institutions, but that time is coming. As some of you know I have served as the president or director of three small higher education institutions over the past eight years. I have worked in higher education administration since 2001. This is a world I am familiar with. I have also been deeply immersed in arena of tech disruption. I have watched the music industry be disrupted by iTunes. I have watched the print news be disrupted by online journalism. We are watching the disruption of TV and Cable programing as YouTube and Netflix grow in popularity. Age old cultural institutions are capitulating— being disrupted — by the innovation of the internet. But to date this has not happened to higher education.

One might disagree with this premise and point to the rise of online education. But that does not constitute a full blown disruption of the institution as we know it. The for-profit college concept made an attempt at disruption, but they were thwarted by government regulation.

The disruption I'm talking about will be evident when major colleges and universities begin to shut down because they cannot keep up with the new option (whatever that may be). That has not happened yet… but it will.

This does not mean that higher education will cease to exist. But college, as we know it, will radically change. I am convinced of this fact and these are the seven reasons why.

The Disruption Trend Shows No Sign of Stopping

The concept of the internet has been on a warpath against every industry and institution. There are very few areas where the internet has not made it’s reach known. Just looked at the track record of the internet should cause us to say that there is an inevitability about change.

There is a Growing Sense That Higher Education is Inadequate in its Current Form

Recently James Altucher — a successful investor and entrepreneur — stated that the University is a scam.  James also elaborated on his blog. He isn’t alone in his opinion. Jason Calacanis reiterated this same point when he appeared on the 20 Minute VC Podcast. PayPal founder and legendary VC Peter Thiel paid 24 young adults $100k to drop out of college. These examples are only the tip of the iceberg. There are a number of thought leaders within the culture that are critiquing higher education. Their complaints include: The learning process is analogue in a digital age. The delivery of information is not personalized for the student. The classroom is too theoretical and disconnected from real life.

Mounting Debt from Student Loans

College debt is a significant problem that is gaining a lot of attention. According to a recent Washington Post article student’s college debt is estimated be $1.3 trillion dollars. This site gives a run down on the numbers. Forbes wrote in 2014 on why student loans are a unique form of debt that are toxic for the US economy.

The Meaninglessness of a Degree and Proof that College Does not Equal Success

To say that a college degree is meaningless would idiotic. There are plenty of statistics that show a person with a bachelors degree earns more then a non-degreed adult. But as the Economist pointed out a few years ago, that return on investment is decreasing. The debt load combined with the economy has contributed to a decline in value for a college degree. If that trend continues there will be less and less incentive to pursue a degree.

The Rapidity of Change Within Particular Fields

Many fields, especially related to technology, are evolving so quickly that a four year education becomes outdated. The only way to keep up with the change is to always be learning. In these fields it doesn’t work to front load your education at the start of your career.

The Broad Access to Information That Was Once Only Available in College Classrooms and Libraries

Access to information is one of the biggest reasons for disruption… not just in higher education. The easy access of info is changing all of education. Once upon a time the information that you would learn at University was only available through direct access to the professor or through elite libraries. Now anyone with a computer (mobil phone all the way up to a desktop) can access this same information.

Evidence That Successful People Don’t Need a Degree

Stories about successful entrepreneurs that didn’t finish college are becoming more and more common. Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs come to mind. Business Insider has created their own list of rich college drop-outs. As more and more people succeed without a college degree there will be an impact on the psyche of potential students. If their hero didn’t need college to succeed why should they?

These seven factors lead me to believe that higher education is ripe for disruption. The current product is poor to moderate. The delivery methods are antiquated. The competitive edge has greatly diminished. The costs have skyrocketed. And the results have diminished. Higher Education is extremely vulnerable to disruption.

One of the major factors that will delay the disruption time frame in higher education is government regulations. The government is fairly active in regulating the changes that take place in higher education because they are funneling grants and loans to students. This was seen most recently when the government cracked down on for-profit colleges. Until new government regulations were rolled out in 2010 for-profits colleges were steamrolling the industry. For-proffit college pioneer, Michael Clifford, spoke about this in an interview with the Phoenix Business Journal.

Government regulations have only stalled the inevitable. Higher education disruption is coming. It is only a matter of time.

The GOP Field Doesn't Surprise Me

In the past five years I have only published one political article on my blog. It was published in 2013 as praise to Ted Cruz' decision to filibuster Obamacare. I appreciated the boldness of such a move and I found it fascinating to watch how little support Cruz had among his fellow Republicans. Cruz' decision was bold and different. He stood out as a man of principles.

I also wrote a political article early last Fall but did not publish it. That article was an affirmation of Donald Trump hours after he had suggested that John McCain was no hero. It was not an article that defended Trumps disrespect for McCain, but rather was an explaination on why it was a brilliant political move as the GOP nominee. In the article I noted the pent up frustrations that many Republicans felt towards McCain for his continual comprises with Democrats in Washington. And I suggested that Trump's attacks on McCain were perfectly in tune with an inward anger felt by many conservatives. I didn't publish that article because I feared looking like an idiot buttressing an egotistical outside candidate.

But here were are. The two remaining GOP candidates are Cruz and Trump.

When playing politics there is something to be said for strength, guts, and bold communication. The supposed political decorum has been turned on its head. This time around... Strong, bold personalities have won the day.

I actually don't like either candidate. Neither man will do a good job of representing my political views. But I respect both men's political acumen.

Pastor Saeed Abedini Release

I was delighted to see the news about the release of Saeed Abedidni this morning. It has been a long, heart-breaking, saga since Saeed's imprisonment in 2012. His wife Naghmeh Abiding did an amazing job advocating on his behalf. She was perpetually available to the press and requests for interviews. Here is Nagmeh's tweet from this morning:

This past summer Naghmeh gave me an interview update on Saeed.

Christianity Today has started an article journalling the news of Saeed's release. You can find that here.

On Sunday, January 18th, 2016 I spoke with Naghmeh about Saeed's release: I'll update this article as more information becomes available.

Splitting 1 Timothy 2:12 In Half: Women Teaching and Leading In The Church

[This is a part of an email response I sent to a young lady who was asking about the Complementarian position and women teaching mixed audiences in the church. It does not delve deeply into an interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12, but it does give a basic lay of the land.] Hi,

Thanks for contacting CalvaryChapel.com. You are asking an excellent question that is currently debated in Calvary Chapels. Since it is an ongoing debate I don’t feel comfortable speaking on behalf of anyone other then myself.

As you have discovered in your research, there are some Complementarians that distinguish between the teaching and exercising authority spoken of in 1 Tim. 2:12. I would be in that camp.

In support of women teaching mixed audiences I would point to the follow biblical examples:

  • Women wrote doctrinal worship songs and they are now scripture (Hannah, Miriam, Elizabeth, Marry)
  • A women birthed the Messiah (and every male leader that God called in OT and NT)
  • Women were the first to see the resurrected Christ and report their findings back to the apostles
  • Women were welcomed as students and learners of Jesus in Luke 10:38-42
  • Women were filled with the Holy Spirit in the same way that men were
  • Women were gifted to prophesy
  • Women were permitted to pray in the church

When it comes to women not exercising authority I would point to the following biblical examples:

  • 1 Timothy 2 appears to teach that women should not take an authoritative role in the church
  • I look at the garden and who God made responsible for sin and how that theology is developed through the NT.
  • I look at the fact that 99% of the time God raised up men to be leaders in the OT. Additionally the priesthood was a male only role.
  • I look at the fact that Jesus chose 12 men to be disciples.
  • I look at the absence of female presbyters (elders) in the NT.
  • I look at the male leadership of the husband in marriage established in Ephesians 5.
  • The qualifications for an elder in Titus 1 are written for men and hinge on leadership in the home.

As is always the case, we want to let scripture interpret scripture. In my opinion it is difficult to look at all of scripture and say women cannot teach a mixed audience. At the same time, when I read through all of scripture I don’t see a strong case for women being the head leadership of the church.

Other then that short answer, I’ll try to point you toward some resources that might help you answer this question.

Here is an article that Pastor Kellen wrote on the subject:

I also really enjoyed Kathy Keller’s book: Jesus, Justice and Gender Roles.

Hope that helps!

God bless,

Josh Turansky

The Potential Danger When Warning Against Christian Liberties

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Today on Pastor's Perspective we had a follow up call regarding pastors and alcohol. Yesterday Julie called to ask about an incident that occurred over Christmas. She was at a meal with her pastor and his wife and they were drinking wine. This shocked Julie and she called to ask if that was okay. Both Pastor Brian and I assured her that drinking alcohol was not a sin but that drunkeness was a sin. Later in the hour we got a call about gambling and we gave some warnings against gambling. You can view the show here. Today we got a follow up question asking if we were being consistent in our response to Julie in the same way that we had talked about gambling. It was an excellent follow up in that allowed us to clarify both our comments on gambling and alcohol.

You can watch the dialog here... (starting around the 45 minute mark)

[embed]https://youtu.be/O2jwhQO6ry0?t=46m25s[/embed]

I wanted to explain briefly what I meant when I said that there can be a danger when a leader gives warnings about Christian liberties.

First, Christian liberties are discussed in 1 Corinthians 8-10, Romans 14-15, and Galatians 2. There are other related passages, but I would classify those three locations as "home base" when we discuss the theology of Christian liberty.

Second, Christian liberty is an arena where people can make ethical decisions that are not governed explicitly by scripture. It is essential that we understand that arena as a one which is purchased by the blood of Jesus and one where the Holy Spirit wants to help us decide how to live. A Christian's liberty is directly tied to the work of Christ on the cross.

"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." - Gal. 5:1

When we get Christian liberties wrong we aren't just being legalistic or licentious, we are impugning the finished work of the cross. Our freedom (liberty) is personally connected to Jesus. He paid for our liberty with his blood.

This is an important point because both the weak brother and the strong brother (Rom 14-15) could mistakenly strip the arena of liberty from it's personal connection with Jesus. The legalist (weak brother) boasts in what liberties they don't exercise at the expense of other's spiritual wellbeing (Gal. 2:14-21). The strong brother might mistakenly flaunt their liberties at the expense of other's conscience before God (1 Cor. 8:9-13). But both are violating the implications of the cross.

Third, all liberties can be abused to the point of sin or natural consequences.... including the two we discussed on the radio today: alcohol and gambling. That being the case it is appropriate for pastor's and Christian leaders to warn against excess. Hebrews 13:17 says that Christian leaders keep watch for the souls of those they lead. And that passage implies spiritual leadership.

And that brings me to my point.

When a pastor warns believers regarding Christian liberties and encourages limits they must do so without condemning the stronger brother. If the stronger brother hears the warning of the Christian leader and falls under condemnation that Christian leader has plaid the role of Peter in Galatians 2. If the stronger brother feels less spiritual after hearing the leaders warning then the leader has begun to impact the work of grace in that persons life.

Excessive warning does not compliment the New Covenant message of grace because it can give a sense of spiritual superiority to the person who limits their freedom. We know that our righteousness comes from Jesus Christ and not through us limiting our Christian liberty. By coming down hard on Christian liberties a leader can easily convey a moralistic gospel rather then the message of God's grace. Therefore the christian leader must warn (1 Cor 4:14; Col 1:28; 1 Thess 5:14) without condemning the strong brother and without miscommunicating the gospel of grace.

The Bible gives three specific reasons why we limit our Christian liberty:

  1. We limit our freedom for the sake of the gospel message reaching non-believers. (1 Cor. 10:23-33)
  2. We limit our freedom for the sake of other Christian's conscience. (1 Cor. 8)
  3. We limit our freedom so that our sinful nature is not indulged (1 Corinthians 6:12, Galatians 5:13, Proverbs 4:23)

The biggest emphasis for Paul as he discussed Christian liberties was the advancement of the gospel, second to that, Paul asked for a mutual love. The strong and weak were exhorted to love one-another and not judge each other.

A couple of years ago I shared at length on this given topic. You can watch my lecture here:

[embed]https://vimeo.com/105066869[/embed]

Pastor's Perspective with Brian Brodersen and Ed Stetzer

On December 18th we were privileged to have Dr. Ed Stetzer on Pastor's Perspective with Brian and I. Ed happened to be in town to help his daughter check out Biola University and was gracious enough to give us an hour in the studio. We talked about living a life on mission for God, the purpose of denominations, the Syrian Refugee crisis and the controversy surrounding the Wheaton College professor who was placed on administrative leave of absence. [embed]https://youtu.be/SzpZB3qnpWc?t=2m18s[/embed]