this afternoon my Facebook wall began to fill up with the news that Pastor Chuck Smith (the founding pastor and leader of the Calvary Chapel movement) had won his battle with cancer and moved home to Heaven.
though I had only met Pastor Chuck a few times, his life had profound influence upon mine. though I was far from being around at when the Jesus movement began I'm one of the many that felt it's effects.
When I became a Christian in 1993, the church I was taken to was Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. At the time I had no idea what Calvary was or who Chuck Smith was. But something "clicked" for me when I went to Calvary. I understood and felt that Jesus loves me.
After becoming a Christian, I had a desire to be at church as often as possible, so as much as I could, I attended every Bible study at Calvary Costa Mesa, both the youth group & the main service. Now the thing is I knew I wanted to serve the Lord who saved me.
Interestingly enough, the response by those at Calvary was "ok, go for it!" Little did I know at the time that this was very unusual. Most churches required a seminary degree before one could serve the Lord in the church. Pastor Chuck's philosophy was different (in my opinion Biblical); if someone wanted to serve the Lord then let's let them serve the Lord.
Nothing is more evident of this than when a young 18-year-old applied for missionary support so he could go serve the Lord in Baja, Hungary. Amazingly enough, that young man, along with many others over the years, was approved for financial support to take the Gospel to the Word.
Since then I've been blessed to call myself a part of the Calvary Chapel family & for the past 13+ years a Calvary Chapel pastor. With Pastor Chuck moving home, I realize how amazing his vision was upon a whole generation of Christianity and many who are serving the Lord because He believed in the call of God instead of a paper saying one was qualified. So this evening I say, "thank you Jesus for the vision & heart you gave to Pastor Chuck to love people & get the Gospel out all over the world!" I know that I am doing what I'm doing because this is part of the legacy of Pastor Chuck; giving young men the opportunity to serve their Lord.
to be honest the question has been floating in the air for a while now of "what's going to happen to Calvary Chapel when Pastor Chuck dies?" it's something I've thought about & talked with others about. Yesterday I was riding the train up to Budapest to preach at Calvary Budapest & I took the time to do some reading in a book that the elders of Calvary Szeged & I are reading together at the moment, "Spiritual Leadership" by J. Oswald Sanders. I just "happened" to read chapter 19 yesterday about "replacing leaders" and I thought about how timely this was for the Calvary Chapel tribe of churches. Let me quote what Sanders said, “A work inspired by God and built on spiritual principles will survive the shock of leadership change and may even prosper as a result”.
I believe Calvary Chapel IS a work inspired by God and built on spiritual principles. Pastor Chuck is with Jesus, but Jesus is still head of this church & I believe the best days of Calvary Chapel are still ahead of us because of the foundation that Pastor Chuck laid for all of us.
What Pastor Chuck has taught all of us pastors is the importance of preaching the Gospel to the lost, teaching the Bible, loving the church, and giving people an opportunity to the next generation to take up the baton and run with it.
Thank you for running your race well Pastor Chuck. You will be missed but we will continue the work that the Lord Jesus began in & through you.
very sad yet thankful & rejoicing tonight,