In December of 2016, I wrote a blog post expressing my perspective on the then-recent sundering of the Calvary Chapel movement into CCA and CGN. Many pastors and members of various Calvary Chapel churches expressed to me either in person or via email their appreciation for the post as it helped clarify their position and gave them something to refer to others. The time has come when an update on the issue seems appropriate.
Now, four years into the split, we’ve had enough time to evaluate how the severing of the movement has affected the individual Calvary Chapel churches and fellowships. The members of the CCA Council with their regional leaders and the leadership core of CGN comprise a relatively small number compared to the total number of Calvary Chapel pastors who’ve wondered what both the philosophical and practical implications of the split would eventually mean. What it means is the focus of this new post.
From my admittedly limited perspective, the majority of pastors don’t want to “choose sides.” Only a small percentage have expressed the need to align with one side or the other of the movement. The majority prefer to hold allegiance to the ideal of the larger movement and at present don’t see a need to absolutely take one side against the other. What they dread is that CGN or CCA will require them to choose a side.
An analogy recently came to mind that I want to offer that may help in sorting out what’s going on. My hope is that the leadership of both groups would consider what follows. I think it will help us all get on with the larger mission of Calvary Chapel.
Many of us (Calvary Chapel pastors) feel like the children of divorced parents who shared joint custody. Each of those parents would prefer to have sole custody and believe they have a right to it but “the court” has declared otherwise. We’re not really sure why our parents split up. We’ve had some vague ideas, but apart from a few of us, we really don’t know. It’s best that our parents keep the real reasons to themselves so as not to prejudice “the kids” against the other parent. Each parent ought to be a good parent and not try to make the other look bad.
If over time, one of the parents moves off in an unhealthy direction, “the kids” can make a decision then about their on-going relationship. But as long as both parents continue to embody and promote the CC distinctives we love and embrace, we ought not to be made to have to choose one over the other, any more than the children of divorced parents ought to have to choose which parent to remain loyal to. A man with the spiritual maturity, discernment, and wisdom to be a pastor ought to be trusted to evaluate where his loyalty belongs. If he needs to be TOLD where he’s not cut out to be a pastor.
My parents divorced when I was in high school. It was a traumatic time for me and left emotional scars for many years. Due to the nature of their divorce, I lost my relationship with my father at a time when I needed it. It was only years later that it was restored. I don’t want a repeat of that now with Calvary Chapel. I love and respect people in both camps. I understand they see things differently and have split. I don’t know all the reasons and don’t care to. That’s for them to sort out. What I absolutely don’t want is for one to bad-mouth the other and demand that if I “really” love them, I’ll side with them. So …
To the leaders of CCA and CGN
Please don’t do that. Let the many of us regular Calvary pastors look to and honor both of you as leaders of our movement. Please don’t “discipline” us because we “hang out” with the other or invite them to speak at our church. Don’t assume we’ve rejected you because we post an article on their site or like one of their tweets or Facebook posts. We have two parents and it’s hard enough as it is being loyal to both that we don’t need to be made to feel like loving one is hating the other. You affirmed our roles as pastors in Calvary Chapel, so trust us to know when aligning with someone proves contrary to the interests of The Kingdom and Calvary Chapel’s unique position in it.
With the deepest love and affection for all my brothers in Calvary—Lance Ralston