Why things don’t change for the better: John Shaffer (The Word For Today, CCCM employee and Smith family friend) illustrates the problem with too much compromise at the top of Calvary Chapel
It’s mind-numbing and frustrating to see something so clearly…yet have what appear to be rather normal and good men be so blind to a particularly destructive reality.
I’ve spoken with John Shaffer, who posts as “A Believer” over at PhoenixPreacher.net, a couple of times. Once at length discussing some of the specifics of the Bob Grenier situation and the abuse in our home. Shaffer is not a guy who is unaware of major problems. He’s been exposed to so much of the garbage that the Status Quo from Calvary Chapel Leadership produces. Shaffer has participated at PhoenixPreacher.net for a very long time and was informed of the terrible details of the Skip Heitzig scandals, the Joe Sabolic situation and so very much more. He has read testimony after testimony of folks who have been hurt by Calvary Chapel Pastors…and heard their frustration at the lack of action by Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, his boss Chuck Smith and CCOF (and it appears Chuck Smith is back to saying CCOF was there to “handle problems” in CC per his email to CCSP’s recently…instead of his lying in recent Radio Interviews and edicts from the CCCM pulpit claiming the contrary).
John Shaffer and people like him are a big part of the problem with the Calvary Chapel dynamic and Status Quo. A seemingly good guy…who is numb to the pain caused by Calvary Chapel’s inaction and irresponsibility.
Shaffer’s missive is the heart of what ticks me off about his (and many Calvary Chapel Pastors’) participation at PhoenixPreacher.net. Knowing all he knows, seeing all the hurt up close…he could care less. It’s Business as Usual. He can work for Skip Heitzig, no problem. He can design book covers for a guy like George Bryson…as long as the checks clear. He can promote the CC Brand through “The Word For Today” without the bat of an eye…knowing how much things should change…and how many people have been hurt…and their painful stories etc etc. Shaffer is “loyal” to the Brand and the Status Quo…and nothing, I MEAN NOTHING, could break through that co-dependence and enabling dynamic. The Kool Aid is strong with many.
I imagine, on a much much larger scale and not nearly analogous (but the dynamic is similar) this is how Hitler was able to do what he did with so many seemingly good people in Germany at that time.
There comes a point where the John Shaffer’s of Calvary Chapel are a part of the Problem and not the Solution. When evil stares you in the face…and instead of saying, “Um, that’s wrong…and we’ve got to correct that right now”…you say, “Well that’s just my dysfunctional irresponsible husband, I’m loyal to the end!”…there is a Problem.
John Shaffer should be disgusted with Calvary Chapel Leadership. He should be a voice demanding changes and he should be a voice in front of his buddies the Smith family challenging them to do the right thing. He’s not that guy…he’s a Company Man, loyal to the Status Quo…to the end, hell or highwater.
It’s wrong. He’s wrong. It is guys like the John Shaffer’s, Steve Wright’s, Ron Arbaugh’s, Jeff Jone’s and all the other CC guys who know so much, have seen so much of the pain, know the long history of abuse and corruption in CC, know that Chuck Smith lies, know that CC is unjust in how they deal with stuff, know how guys like Skip Heitzig, Bob Grenier, Raul Ries and so many others have done wrong and hurt many folks…and their answer is “forgive, don’t be bitter, move on, we’re not all the same, there is more good than bad in CC” etc etc. The same “good guys” then freak out when someone “abuses” them on a blog by being a non-compromising a-hole who doesn’t let stuff slide (ever). They want “justice” then. “Ban the jerk! He’s a trouble-maker!” etc etc. They can find all sorts of words and persuasion then to correct what they perceive is a grave sin and injustice. The hypocrisy and manipulation is sickening…but they are quite adept at confusing the folks at PhxP (but I have confidence that Michael sees through some of it and sees both sides of this).
Nothing will change when the so-called “good guys” see so much…and still defend the Company Brand without fighting tooth-and-nail for its repentance and redemption. We have few men of conviction in this day-and-age. We have too many John Shaffer’s and Steve Wright’s. Too many men who compromise. Too many men who ignorance is not an excuse they can claim. Too many men who should know the right thing to do, but don’t do it. Too many men who can find the courage, the conviction and the means to strongly rebuke and call for action against a person who won’t compromise and succumb to the CC Agenda of “nothing will change, we’re not all the same, Chuck is not responsible, we’re all independent” etc etc out of one side of their mouths…and then the reality of Chuck’s letter to the “affiliates” telling them how things are going to be now etc.
Yes, “nothing will change”…when you have men like John Shaffer at Costa Mesa. Nothing will change when you have men like Steve Wright who are fellow affiliated Calvary Chapel Pastors with guys like Skip Heitzig, Bob Grenier and others. Nothing will change when you want to silence the critics loudly…while not a word against the real abusers…Chuck Smith, Skip Heitzig, Bob Grenier and so many others.
Nothing will change alright…because deep down the John Shaffer’s, the Steve Wright’s, the Jeff Jones’s, the Ron Arbaugh’s etc etc aren’t men of conviction. They’ll only act when something offends and affects them personally.
Those three Pastors who went to defrock Bob Grenier, only to have Chuck Smith personally put the kabash on it…why do you tolerate that? Chuck Smith is a liar. He knows the truth, he said he believes us. The reason Chuck did an about-face is because his pride got tweaked and instead of being a man of God and doing the right thing anyway, he punished the many who have been hurt by Bob Grenier…because his highness wasn’t treated like a King and god.
The peak of abuse and offensiveness is not my non-compromising harsh words for those in Calvary Chapel…it is the ACTIONS of Calvary Chapel Leadership and the INACTIONS of the so-called “good” CC guys.
What good is a John Shaffer’s participation in a Community like PhoenixPreacher.net which is partly filled with many who have been hurt by Calvary Chapel…if he is an Agent of promoting and defending the Status Quo? It’s good for the CC Status Quo and Counter-Insurgency…not so good for the victims of abuse and those trying to hold CC to some measure of accountability.
The following post transcribed verbatim from the public blogsite PhoenixPreacher.net illustrates the callous Denial and facilitation of the Status Quo by those inside the highest towers of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa….and Shaffer is one of the few who care enough to even dialogue with those who’ve been hurt. Imagine the callousness and disregard from those higher up.
Since I have to get to work today, I will try to keep this brief and then end with a bullet list of what this place means to me.
I came on board near the beginning when the CSN, Skip Heitzig, and Joe Sabolick scandals were the hot and heavy topic of conversations here.
I am a long time Calvary Chapel Employee (over 30years) and also do freelance work for other Calvary Chapels including parachurch ministries related to CC, and personally know the Smith family. I have worked directly with Skip Heitzig and Joe Sabolick.
Many of those directly involved in those past scandals are my personal friends and have been for years. Many people who are or were in the CC movement are my personal friends such as Roger Oakland and George Bryson.
I became aware of this site because the CSN offices shared space with The Word For Today here at The Charis Building which is home to many of the CC corporations. The Word For Today is a DBA of CC Costa Mesa. The girls in the office were laughing one day about something they were reading on a blog site. I enquired and they directed me to Phoenix Preacher.
I spent some time over a few days looking at the blog threads. I decided to involve myself on the blog because I could see much misinformation being passed around on the site that involved people I love and know.
I felt that I could help bring balance since I perceived that the site was indeed a “CC bashing site” and much of the bashing was one-sided and unfair.
In the process of time as a CC defender, I also grew as a result of being exposed to the many different viewpoints and perspectives being expressed from all sides.
So with that preface, here is my bullet point list of what the Phoenix Preacher site has meant to me through the years:
• Having only been exposed to Lutheranism and Calvary Chapel theology, it allowed me to dialogue and interact with people of other theological perspectives.
• I was able to develop some wonderful friendships with people of other perspectives. Something I have always cherished and that I believe is a heathy thing. Many of those friendship have continued offline.
• It exposed me to valid criticisms of my tribe, enabling me to be a positive voice within my camp for change as needed
• It allowed me (as stated above) to correct some misinformation about some of my friends who were being unfairly judged.
• It was often a sounding board in my own journey of growth as I got exposed to new thoughts and ideas and was trying to process them, understand them better, or see if my perspectives were sound and worth holding on to.
• At times, the Phoenix Preacher provided me with much comic relief during late night hours under freelance work related stress (Think Old Night Crew). It also showed me I was not called to be a comedian as I tried to participate in some of the shenanigans. I thank Dave Rolph primarily for pointing this out.
• It strengthened my belief that there are indeed some very bright CC guys out there who are able to articulate a great defense of CC, it’s methods, and it’s theological perspectives in a very balanced and fair way. These men have shown they are open to healthy criticism and have taken responsibility for their own actions.
• I have been able to see how a commitment to dialoguing through issues has had similar effects on many posters on the site—a softening or releasing of long held biases and how healing has been brought to many.
• Watching the prayer thread has demonstrated the integrity and deep love of many of the regular posters for people and their needs. This is HUGE.
I could go on, if time permitted, but I will close with this.
Many people have asked me through the years why I continue to stay and work within the CC system which has it’s share of problems. The simplest answer I can give is this. I see my relationship with CC a lot like a marriage. There were a lot of girls I could choose to pick from who were worthy candidates. I chose one. I will stay faithful to her till I die. She is family. She is mine. Whatever imperfections I may discover in her along the way will not change this. I am and alway will be committed to her, …and to coin the words of a friend,
“Make you own application.” ”
I made my own application: You are either part of the Solution…or you are part of the Problem.