Calvary Chapel

We Are Doing Well And Having Fun


Back in October I wrote a post about Pastor Brian Brodersen and his new role as the pastor of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa. That was four months ago. It was one of the most popular blog posts that I've put up. A lot has taken place at the church since that time. You may have seen the Christianity Today Magazine interview with Pastor Brian that was met with overwhelming enthusiasm. It has been an amazing season. I thought I would give a brief update (from my perspective) and share a few videos.

The Ratification of Brian Brodersen

The Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa Bylaws state that the governing board is responsible for picking the next Senior Pastor and then the congregation is given an opportunity to ratify that designation through a vote. The Bylaws only require this type of procedure in special circumstances and picking a new Senior Pastor was one of those circumstances. This was surprising to me. I was not aware of a congregational vote within Calvary Chapel. But it ended up being a beautiful evening. As the video below shows, Pastor Brian had overwhelming support.

Service Changes 

Early in January Pastor Brian lead the church in a week of prayer. For that week the church gathered every evening to prayer for various topics like missions, the Church in America, and Orange County. There was a good sized group of people every night. When it was all said and done those who attended were saying "We need to do this more often."

The week of prayer was one of the things Pastor Brian shared about at the 2014 Vision service (video embedded below). He also explained the upcoming changes to the different services. The three services that he adjusted were the Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night services. These are the primary gatherings for the church.

Historically Pastor Chuck taught a topical message on Sunday morning that was based on a text being studied in depth during the Sunday evening service. This is a model that has been adopted by some other Calvary Chapels: primarily the larger fellowships that draw a big enough crowd for both a Sunday morning and Sunday evening service.

Pastor Brian felt led to do more in-depth verse-by-verse exposition during the Sunday morning service. He moved the Through the Bible study from Sunday Nights to Wednesday Nights. And this gave him the freedom to start a new service that had been in his heart for a while. He called the new Sunday Night service Acts 2:42. As Pastor Brian explained it, this new service would include Bible Study, Fellowship, Prayer and Communion. He also added a weekly testimony into the mix. If you are interested in watching a testimony and Bible study from this service you can view them here. This service has been amazing.


At the end of October the church hosted the public memorial for Pastor Chuck. The Honda Center was almost completely full and a half a million people watched the video stream online. If you weren't one of those 500,000 people who viewed the feed you can check it out here.

The Men's Conference took place on October 26th and had a significantly larger crowd then the preceding year.

People Changes 

Over the last four months we have added a few new faces. Kellen Criswell has joined the staff and is helping develop the new Lance Emma joined the team and is overseeing KWVE, Calvary Distribution and The Word For Today. A few key staff that were serving at the Bible College in Murrieta have moved up here to Costa Mesa including Dave Shirley and Mark Schwartz.

We have also seen two guys go out and plant churches in the local area. We sent Garid Beeler out in January and two weeks ago we sent out Tommy Cota. Garid’s church is called Vision City Church and it meets in North Irvine. Tommy’s church is called Hope Alive Santa Ana. Both of these fellowships filled their meeting spaces on the first Sunday and seem to be doing well. 

Structural Changes

We have also seen some facility changes and systems changes that have been fruitful. Two weeks after Pastor Chuck passed away we moved the sound board out of an isolated room upstairs down into the sanctuary. This helped the sound guys to hear the live mix in the room rather than guessing from upstairs.

The Fellowship Hall is in the process of being remodeled. I’ve peeked at it once and am excited to see the final results. I think the church is going to love it.

CCCM Fellowship Hall

Different ministries moved offices on campus. A third-party tenant moved out of the second floor of the Logos building and made space for Veritas Seminary. Starting this Fall there will be three different higher education schools on the second floor of the Logos building.

KWVE 107.9, the church’s radio station, saw some changes with the program schedule. These changes added more contemporary music into the mix and a couple of new shows.

The Bottom Line

There have been some very good changes that have taken place over the last four months. We are seeing very strong attendance at all of the main services. There is no known factions or contingents of opposition. The congregation loves Pastor Brian. The staff is more unified than ever. Internal communication is getting better. And people are giving their life to Lord on a weekly basis. Like I said up top, we are doing well and having fun.

The Strange Fire Conference and Calvary Chapel


This week John MacArthur gave Calvary Chapel an awesome opportunity to rally, and unite around the topic of the Holy Spirit. Let me explain... John MacArthur, a cessationist, just wrapped up his Strange Fire conference. The conference web site says that the purpose of the event is to "set forth what the Bible really says about the Holy Spirit, and how that squares with the charismatic movement." There were a number of summaries, responses and reactions written about the conference. There was also a side show when Driscoll showed up on Friday and caused a stir.

I didn't watch any of the conference sessions. I only read what others said and quotes that came out of the conference.

The Christian Post quoted John MacArther regarding Calvary Chapel and the Charismatic movement:

"According to MacArthur, the Charismatic movement is an "alien movement" whose roots can be traced back to 1966 when the hippies of San Francisco moved to Orange County and joined Calvary Chapel and the "barefoot, drug-induced young people told the church how the church should act." he said. "Hymns and suits went out. For the first time in the history of the church, the conduct of the church was conformed to a sub-culture that was born of LSD and marijuana."

I think MacArthur is right to dog-ear the page in church history that connects the continuationist  position with Calvary Chapel. Chuch Smith did play a key role articulating a conservative position and exemplifying how that position could manifest itself. At the same time the continuationist view on the Holy Spirit predates Calvary Chapel. As much as MacArthur would love to chock up our theological position to LSD and youthfulness, there is a strong thread of Christians who have taught the continuationist position.

Charisma vs Charismania

MacArthur's disagreement with Calvary Chapel on their Holy Spirit Theology has been a historic feud dating back 30 years. MacArthur wrote a book in 1978 called The Charismatics and Chuck Smith wrote a book in 1983 called Charisma vs. Charismania.

Since those books were written we have seen an number of evangelical leaders take the same position as Chuck Smith. This has been a quiet evangelical shift. But it has been real.  Michael Patton expresses this in an recent article:

"Though I am not charismatic, I am excited about the popularity of this “fourth wave.” Why? Because they have brought so much balance. They have caused many of us (who formerly wrote off all charismatics as Christianity’s “nutjobs”) to consider seriously for the first time the continuationist theology and biblical exegesis that provides the backbone to the movement. Credit pastors like John Piper, Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll, and Sam Storms along with scholars such as J.P. Moreland, Craig Keener, Wayne Grudem, and D.A. Carson for so much of this. And, like it or not, most of these men are far more well-known and popular than the fading ”cessationists” (non-charismatics) who went before them (Chuck Swindoll, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, Hank Hanagraaff, etc.), especially among the younger generation of evangelicals. It is hard to ignore such a growing movement within evangelicalism."

Through my seminary experience I have met a number of Southern Baptist and Lutherans who agree with the continuationist position but don't know what to do with that theological position. As one of my professors said "I am a in-the-closet Charismatic." He couldn't deny the legitimacy of charismatic gifts, but at the same time he seemed lost when it came to the practical application for his own life.  I have been shocked by the number of people outside of Calvary Chapel that have come to believe that the gifts of the Spirit are for today.

What Does This Mean for Calvary?

It could mean nothing at all...

But I think this is a great opportunity for Calvary Chapel to unify around one of it's strongest points, unite with other tribes, and experience its own resurgence.

It is my opinion that MacArthur and the cessationist are in the minority. I also believe that a younger generation is not interested in leaders who define themselves by what they are against. It is an issue of tone as much as it is an issue of substance. So this leads me to believe that anyone who presents the continuatinist position will have the upper hand, draw a larger crowd, and edify the church.

Calvary Chapel has a strong history of believing in the gifts of the Spirit. But it also has a strong history of letting those gifts be exercised in the church with decency and order. We have been practitioners and that is where we have something to offer.

I would love to see Calvary Chapel host a conference over the theme of the Holy Spirit. It doesn't have to be a tit-for-tat rebuttal to the Strange Fire Conference. It can be a clear articulation of our position, an explanation on how to lead the church in the continuationist position and a call to act on what we believe.

This conference would serve three key purposes:

  1. It would continue that unifying work that is going on within Calvary Chapel. We just lost our figure head leader. It is a new day in Calvary Chapel and unifying around the active work of the Holy Spirit would be healthy.
  2. It would be a great opportunity to unify with the broader body of Christ on an important topic. There are a number of other leaders from different tribes that agree with our position on the Holy Spirit and would love to participate in a conference. Again, this bring unity.
  3. It should stir us up to act on what we have always believed. This subject does not get old. Teaching on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit would not be beating a dead horse.

At the End of the Day

At the end of the day I need to experience more of what I believe about the Holy Spirit. I know that I need to be yielded to his work in my life. Whether Calvary Chapel capitalizes on John MacArthur taking shots or not, I want to be filled with the Holy Spirit and exercising the gifts he has given me.

[Note: as always, the opinions shared in this post in no way reflect the stance of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, it's leadership, or the Calvary Chapel movement. I take full responsibility for the content on this page.]

Enjoy the Conference


Today is the first day of the Calvary Chapel Senior Pastor’s Conference in Murrieta, California. I would link to a web site for the conference… if it existed. I’ll be checking in a couple of times this week. I’m excited to see many of my friends who have gathered from around the world. This year is bound to be a little bit different with assistant pastors being welcomed along with the Seniors.

The easiest way to follow the conference is to view the official hashtag for the conference #CCSPC2013. Don’t mind the occasional heckler.

9 Ways to Keep Up With Calvary Chapel News


There is no single news source for Calvary Chapel and it is easy to feel disconnected from the movement as a whole.  Here are nine ways I stay current with Calvary Chapel news. 1. Web Sites

2. Facebook

  • I have clicked the “fan” button on many Calvary Chapel pastor’s and church’s Facebook pages.
  • I also have “friended” a number of Calvary Chapel leaders and found them eager to connect.

3. Twitter

4. Podcasts

  • Apple has recently been giving more attention to their Podcasting App for the iPhone and iPad. You can search for Calvary Chapel Pastors and follow along with their weekly studies. I’m subscribed to Joe Focht, Damian Kyle, Brian Brodersen, and David Guzik

5. Calvary Chapel Magazine

  • The Magazine is published quarterly and does a professional job of summarizing Calvary Chapel events. The primary focus is on current outreach and missions trips done by Calvary Chapels. You can check out their web site here.

6. Subscribe to a Google Search

  • Do a google blog search for the phrase “Calvary Chapel”. At the bottom of the page you can either “Create an email alert for Calvary Chapel” or you can click on RSS and add the URL to your RSS reader of choice.

7. Subscribe to Blogs

  • Up until a month ago I was using Google Reader to subscribe to various Calvary Chapel blogs. But Google announced that they are killing off this app and so I moved over to Feedly.

8. Regional Conferences

  • Find your local Calvary Chapel ministry conferences and plan on attending. Now, good luck in trying to find info online about your regional conference. There is no centralized list of conferences with dates. But you can contact the leaders listed in your region to find out what is scheduled.

9. The List Serve and Email Loops

  • Based on what region you are in, there are different tools used to communicate privately among leaders. Typically these private messaging systems are only accessible to senior pastors, but you would want to ask your local leadership about what is available.