Nov 132014
Jason Stellman and Christian Kingery...both ex Calvary Chapel Pastors...take some shots...literally and Religion, Politics and Culture.

Jason Stellman and Christian Kingery…both ex Calvary Chapel Pastors…take some shots…literally and metaphorically…at Religion, Politics and Culture.

Former Calvary Chapel Pastors Jason Stellman and Christian Kingery launched a new podcast aptly titled “Drunk Ex Pastors.”

As the title suggests in a provocatively blunt manner…these guys take some shots and then discuss tame subjects like Religion, Politics, Culture…you know, non-controversial things like that.

While I am politically much more conservative than the pair…I do appreciate their willingness to explore the boundaries in what is a witty, often irreverent yet intelligent manner. I don’t always agree…rarely politically…though I often agree with regards to their more liberal approach to Theology/Religion…but I always laugh and they cause me to think through my particular positions.

The podcast is not for those who are easily offended or stumbled by non-political correctness, so be warned :-)

In the episode linked below, Drunk Ex Pastors discuss…among other things…Calvary Chapel.

 Posted by at 12:50 pm
Nov 112014
Volunteer leader at Calvary Chapel West Grove arrested for sexually abusing a teen girl...unlike past bad examples within Calvary Chapel...the senior pastor at this CC franchise reported immediately.

Volunteer leader at Calvary Chapel West Grove arrested for sexually abusing a teen girl…unlike past bad examples within Calvary Chapel…the senior pastor at this CC franchise reported immediately.

Vincent Daniel Lavello, a 50-year-old Calvary Chapel West Grove volunteer church leader, was arrested and charged with one felony count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a child at least 10 years younger than the defendant and six felony counts of lewd acts upon a child, according to Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

According to police reports, the victim is a 14-year-old girl.

OC Weekly broke the story here:

According to the OC Weekly report, it was Lavello’s wife who first became aware of the alleged sexual abuses and then she went to the Calvary Chapel West Grove pastor and reported her allegations, including “inappropriate text messages.”

The article states that the Calvary Chapel West Grove pastor immediately contacted the police. contacted lead pastor Brad Young. He confirmed that he did report the matter to authorities right away and did not try to handle it in-house. When asked if his Calvary Chapel franchise had Child Protection Policies in place, his reply was “of course we do” but he was hesitant to discuss the matter further stating he wasn’t excited about another article coming out about this situation.

If you have any information about Vincent Lavello you are asked to contact Garden Grove Police Detective Dave Young at 714.741.5836 or Supervising District Attorney Investigator Kelly Core at 714.347.8794. Commentary and Opinion:

Terrible tragedy, too common among church “leaders” and volunteers…we see this happen far too frequently in Calvary Chapel as well as other Church Organizations like the Roman Catholic Church and even institutions like Penn State University.

The message here is: It’s not a matter of “if” there are criminals and sexual abusers in our midst in the halls of church “leadership”…it is “when” will they offend…and is that church and the rest of the leadership there doing the best they can to protect kids from these predators.

In this case, from initial reports, it looks like Calvary Chapel West Grove and their pastor did what they should…they reported to the police right away. This is in stark contrast to the Elizabeth Ayub statutory rape by then Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa pastor John Flores….where leadership there, according to inside sources, first wanted to handle the crime in-house and send the teen girl to the Calvary Chapel castle in Austria and make things go away. This example of immediate reporting is also contrasted by reports from the victims’ family that Bob Grenier of Calvary Chapel Visalia was made aware that an employ of his was molesting his two step-daughters. According to the victims and family, Grenier told them not to go to police and attempted to handle the matter in-house…which is against the laws of mandatory reporting by clergy. Fortunately, the mother eventually reported to police, the step-father copped to the molestations and the family was able to make eventual amends. The family reports that Calvary Chapel Pastor Grenier essentially kicked them out of church for not submitting to his authority on the matter by going to police.

Good job Calvary Chapel West Grove for immediately reporting the sexual crime. Unfortunately, the mindset in many Calvary Chapels is still to handle things in-house and to not immediately report, which is now a crime due to Mandatory Reporting laws. It is my opinion that Pastors like Grenier and others tried to cover up the scandal because they believe it would affect the reputation of their church and attendance and giving if it was found out that such a crime occurred at the hands of one of their leaders, staff, volunteers or pastors. Could it also be that pastors who don’t report are themselves guilty of abuse? Either way, it is very wrong.

Again, I call on the Calvary Chapel Association, the Body that hands out the official “Affiliation” to Calvary Chapel Pastors to use the name and logo rights owned and controlled by Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and Chuck Smith’s Estate…to implement Mandatory Child Protection Policies as By-Laws in prospective Calvary Chapel franchises/affiliates. Why is this not required? Why does Calvary Chapel continue to leave it to the individual franchise holders to make up their own rules with regards to Child Protection Policies…yet requires the same franchisees to sign off on other rules regarding doctrinal agreement, agreement to follow the rules of the Calvary Chapel Distinctives, etc?

Good examples are out there. Calvary Chapel Boise, for instance, has solid Child Protection Policies in place and maintains and executes a policy of reporting alleged abuses immediately to the authorities. Calvary Chapel Boise also background checks all volunteers, employs, pastors, leaders etc. screening for child abuse, sexual abuse, felonies etc. I have had a lengthy discussion with Pastor Bob Caldwell about what he would do in the case of a report/allegation/accusation of Child Abuse at his Calvary Chapel franchise…he told me he would take the matter seriously and would report immediately to local authorities and not try to handle such a matter in-house…no matter who was accused.

Pastor Young did the right thing by immediately reporting. I understand his hesitance and not wanting to discuss the matter and draw more attention to a bad situation…however, the story needs to be told and lessons need to be learned. This stuff does happen and, unfortunately, other CC Pastors have a history of doing the wrong thing when it does happen. Pastors, like it or not, you are on the front lines of this stuff. Most folks will seek YOU out as their pastor first, instead of the authorities. It is your job to have a plan of how to deal with these matters and to deal with them lawfully and correctly.

May Calvary Chapel find Accountability Jesus in this important area, Organization wide.

Oct 182014
Mark Driscoll, embattled pastor/founder of Mars Hill church...recently resigned for being a jerk.

Mark Driscoll, embattled pastor/founder of Mars Hill church…recently resigned for being a jerk.

Mark Driscoll, the Mars Hill founder and charismatic alpha male mega-pastor, has resigned his position as lead pastor after a very public battle with former assistants, congregants, elders and large online community of critics.

Here is a link to Driscoll’s mea culpa and resignation letter that first appeared in Religion News Service:

A lot of critics have been really hard on Driscoll. Here is a key portion of Driscoll’s public response:

“I readily acknowledge I am an imperfect messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are many things I have confessed and repented of, privately and publicly, as you are well aware. Specifically, I have confessed to past pride, anger and a domineering spirit. As I shared with our church in August, “God has broken me many times in recent years by showing me where I have fallen short, and while my journey, at age 43, is far from over, I believe He has brought me a long way from some days I am not very proud of, and is making me more like Him every day.”

Prior to and during this process there have been no charges of criminal activity, immorality or heresy, any of which could clearly be grounds for disqualification from pastoral ministry.”–Mark Driscoll.

Driscoll and Mars Hill church had come under fire for reports by many former members, elders, employees who alleged he was basically an asshole and shouldn’t be a pastor. Initially Driscoll and Mars Hill took a stonewall approach and tried to deflect the criticism as largely “anonymous” online complainers who were bitter and disgruntled. That public response prompted a Group to name themselves and it seemed to throw gasoline on an already raging fire.

The Group “Dear Pastor Mark & Mars Hill: We Are Not Anonymous” exploded onto Facebook with over 1,200 members…many calling attention to specific allegations of general douchery by Driscoll.

The media has since well-covered the resignation…and many of the Groups that criticized Driscoll have pretty much panned his resignation as insincere and not good enough. Commentary and Opinion:

Critics of Mark Driscoll…what is it exactly that you want from Driscoll and Mars Hill? You want Mars Hill to erect a pyre and burn Driscoll at the stake? You want his body drug through the streets of Seattle? What?

It’s hard to be intellectually honest sometimes because it is always guaranteed to piss someone off.

In this case, the majority of Driscoll’s critics have lost their rational minds.

The man acknowledged specific sins. He resigned. Mars Hill accepted his resignation. I am, frankly, quite shocked by the public apology and the public church discipline…and more shocked that Driscoll fell on his sword and didn’t drag the thing out any further…and over him being a dick no less, not even something as serious as Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Adultery, or Financial Misconduct (though we’ll discuss that one in a bit…something might be a bit off there).

Driscoll didn’t molest or beat any kids, he wasn’t boinking his secretary or make-up artist and while he was/is paid a reportedly big salary/compensation package…there are no allegations of financial malfeasance…except one specific concern we’ll discuss shortly.

If it turns out that Driscoll’s “sin” was him being an asshole…then he’s come clean and he’s resigned. Well done Mark Driscoll. If he stops being an asshole, then he should be allowed to pastor again if he wants to do so. Pretty simple. Good example by Mars Hill and Driscoll of actually dealing with sin in a Church Org…something Calvary Chapel doesn’t nearly do.

Here’s the one caveat to my opinion above: There is a question about money that was donated to a particular mission’s fund that allegedly ended up in the Mars Hill general fund for Driscoll to spend. If that is the case…then big trouble in little China…and all bets are off. If it turns out that money was collected under the guise of “this is for overseas missions!” and then it simply went to pay the bills of Driscoll and Mars Hill…well, then, this scandal takes on a whole new light…and Driscoll’s quick resignation may be a smokescreen to take the heat off of folks digging any further into that one.

After analyzing the macro-Mars Hill/Driscoll scandal…that’s the big red flag. If there is anything more serious than Driscoll simply being an asshole…then that’s the issue they (Mars Hill and Driscoll) are afraid of…because that is the issue that, if true, could be illegal and could have much greater implications than a resignation.

Time will tell…but again, if it proves out that Driscoll’s only sin was being a douche…then he’s come clean and he’s resigned…and if he demonstrates repentance by not being a jerk any longer…then he should be restored…in my opinion.

Calvary Chapel could learn a lesson from Mars Hill. CC has seen resignations…but usually at the point of a metaphorical smoking gun to the head of a Bob Coy or an arrest like Dino Cardelli, Chris Olague, Jimmy Kempner, etc. Guys like Bob Grenier of Calvary Chapel Visalia make Mark Driscoll look like a choir boy…yet Calvary Chapel stonewalls and even defends their embattled pastor and invites him to their annual official Pastors’ Conference.

Ironically, Grenier is accused of something similar to the allegations of Driscoll’s bait-and-switch. A separate Reaching Youth non-profit entity was set up by Grenier and Calvary Chapel.  A prominent area home builder, Andy Mangano, gave a large one million dollar donation to the separate charity…and got a headline in the Fresno Bee for it. According to former staff, board member and bookkeepers of Calvary Chapel…a huge portion of the Reaching Youth monies…estimated to be in the many hundreds of thousands of dollars…ended up in Bob Grenier’s general fund at Calvary Chapel Visalia…where he compensated his household to the tune of over $150,000 per year in salary/perks/benefits. Nice trick. An inside source also alleged that Matt Bixler’s law firm that handled the very precarious transaction was quite nervous about it…which in my opinion is very telling that it stinks to high heaven.

We’ll see what happens with the allegations about Driscoll’s money issue and I’ll change my opinion about his coming clean and resigning if it turns out it was just a strategy to deflect attention from a much more serious issue.

Note to Driscoll and Mars Hill…instead of doing what the bible tells you, maybe you should consider pulling a page from Calvary Chapel’s and Bob Grenier’s book and simply sue everyone in sight to try and shut them up. That seems to be a better worldly strategy to silence critics and protect an abusive pastor. Your bad. Maybe next time.

 Posted by at 12:56 pm
Oct 142014
bob coy tiger woods

Bob Coy pictured in a youtube video where he ironically addressed the Tiger Woods’ affair. Sources provide an update on the Coy situation to CCAbuse.

More news out about Bob Coy, the embattled long-time charismatic mega-church pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale.

Coy was forced to resign his position as CCFTL lead pastor after multiple affairs came to light in a very public scandal that garnered international attention earlier this year (a story that first broke on this blog).

Sources confirm that CCFTL is still on the hook for Coy’s massive salary and compensation package that “exceeds” $500,000 per year in total compensation. We will feature a story about the salary/compensation issue soon.

Coy’s wife and daughter have moved to California and his son is away as a college freshman at Liberty University, according to sources. The family is not together, which indicates a separation between Bob and Diane.

According to sources, the Coy’s Florida home is empty and for sale.

Multiple sources inside and outside of Calvary Chapel confirm that Coy completed a rehab program to treat sexual addiction. was emailed by several people claiming they saw Bob Coy at a Coy family-owned beach condo as recent as several weeks after the scandal first broke.

Now that Coy has completed his rehab, he is reportedly “under the leadership” of another Calvary Chapel pastor.

“Bob has left for Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he will be living as a part of the Calvary Chapel community there under the leadership of Pastor Frank Ramseur,” said a CCFTL insider in an email to

Back at CCFTL, change is coming slowly, but a change in mindset is underway. There appears to be two distinct Camps…an old guard of Coy loyalists that seem to be comfortable with the status quo of the Moses Model style of Calvary Chapel leadership…and those who have been fighting for more transparency, more accountability and a shared leadership construct that de-emphasizes a mega-church pastor-led dynamic.

“…there is continued concern raised by some about a cover-up, a lack of transparency on the Bob questions, and a lack of change in the Board or Senior Leadership,” said a source. “Steps toward greater integrity and a dismantling of the Moses Model are underway but real change is not strongly apparent.” Commentary and Opinion:

Let’s hope that real changes are underway at CCFTL and let’s hope the Camp at CCFTL that is pushing for more transparency and more accountability wins out. The Bob Coy story can be redemptive if the church and leadership learn some lessons and example a public repentance in how they do things. We wish the best for Coy and his family…and for Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. We’ve all sinned, some of us as bad or worse than Coy. The greater sin in this situation would be for the church to double-down on mistakes from the past and repeat them again in the future. The world is watching…and the goal for CCFTL leadership should be integrity and righteousness and setting a course that honors Jesus…not simply rebuilding a mega-church and trying to find a way to bring a popular pastor back to the pulpit.

Regarding the $500,000 compensation package…that is a very concerning issue…one we’ll explore in depth. The justification for such a large salary is due to the higher salaries and compensation of big-name pastor friends of Coy like Greg Laurie, James MacDonald, Mark Driscoll and others…also very concerning. Since when did the Gospel get so expensive? Since when did “Serving Jesus!” become a career and make people rich? Since when did Calvary Chapel and the evangelical church at large sell its soul to the devil of wealth and self-profit?

What are your thoughts on the Coy situation? We want to hear from you.

 Posted by at 5:13 pm
Sep 162014

Fellow Christian parents, do not use the Old Testament to justify abusing your children. We are NOT the Taliban or ISIS. Adrian Peterson’s recently exposed Child Abuse demonstrates a huge disconnect in the US and Christian Church at large. “Spare the rod, spoil the child” is not a license to injure and abuse your children. It is evil and wrong. Stop doing it.

Jesus does not want you to beat your kids in his name.

Jul 242014
ken and chuck

Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis (right) pictured with the late Chuck Smith.

OC Weekly reports that Atheist groups will converge today to protest Calvary Chapel’s Creation Conference at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa…which, ironically, is located in Santa Ana, not Costa Mesa.

“Orange County’s most famous atheist” Bruce Gleason, according to the report, will lead a group of like-minded pro-Science, anti-6-Day-Creation atheists who will be calling on the public and government to be leery of embracing Ken Ham’s Creationism ideology because they say, “The teachings of creationism harm the U.S. educational system by promoting and teaching anti-science and religious dogma. They consistently try to change laws which will allow them to teach anti-science creationism in public schools.”

The atheists claim that religious dogma and ideology can lead to the dumbing down of students in American schools and point to the United States’ continuing decline in test scores for math and science, compared to other nations.

Creationists say they have the right to religious freedom and free speech and call atheists “intolerant” of their religious views.

Link to OC Weekly article here:

Headlining the Calvary Chapel Creation Conference is 6 Day Creationist guru Ken Ham.

Ham has come under fire in the past for allegations that he was “unbiblical, unethical” and engaged in “unlawful behaviour” (spelling due to Australian dialect) according to a lawsuit brought against Ham in Australia in 2007. Included in the allegations were claims that Ham was “autocratic” and “authoritarian” in his management style…a charge very similar that has been leveled against many Calvary Chapel pastors and the Moses Model style of pastor-centric, lead pastor has all the power leadership.

Ham’s camp fired back against the plaintiffs, accusing them of “spiritual problems” and “immorality” according to reports by the National Center for Science Education.

The two parties duked it out in court for many years and finally settled their nasty divorce in 2009.

It may have taken God a mere six days to create the earth and the entire Universe….but apparently it took several years, many lawyers and many thousands of dollars of money donated “to Jesus!” to sort out all the money, copyrights, trademarks, assets etc. in the split.

Calvary Chapel Abuse Commentary and Opinion:

I am not a Young Earth Creationist (YEC). There is overwhelming tangible evidence to the contrary…and if “truth” is a Godly virtue…then we must deal with reality and attempt to be as intellectually honest as possible.

I am not an atheist. I have explored the atheist world and continue to read many atheists…but I find their conclusion of “no God” to be equally unconvincing.

The truth appears to be that we have very little understanding of how the Universe and Multi-verse works…and even less understanding of “how” it came to be. Creationists tend to overplay their certainty in their position and are forced into intellectual dishonesty to make the pieces of their Philosophical Puzzle and Conclusion fit together. Likewise, atheists have a tendency to do similar…connecting dots that do not necessarily lead to a certain conclusion of “no God” or “no Creator”.

With regards to the public protests and Creation Conferences and with respect to both Agendas: Both sides have the right to freedom of speech and the right to push their agendas…as long as it is peaceful. Atheists make a valid point, IMO, when they present mountains of evidence that dispute a literal six day creation narrative. Atheists also have the right and probably the responsibility to respond to their conscience and push for pro-Science and pro-Reason…as both of those ideologies tend to reduce archaic religious dogmatism that can lead to abuse, corruption, mistreatment of women, children, etc.  Christians continue to evolve (pardon the double entendre)…and the push-back and criticism from outside groups is healthy. Fellow Christians…we do NOT want to be Islam and the Taliban…and we are not.

Atheists are not the enemies of Jesus…they simply don’t know, don’t understand, don’t see the evidence that the Apostle Thomas was given. I don’t know why God doesn’t provide much tangible evidence today…like walking on water or turning water into wine or allowing Doubting Thomas to get the tangible physical evidence he required to believe…but to fabricate the evidence and engage in intellectual dishonesty only hurts the Christian cause…it doesn’t help.

If Calvary Chapel wants to be like the Calvary Chapel of old that reached out to the outsiders…they should scrap the dishonest 6 Day Creationist stuff and sit down with Atheists as well as dialoging with Christians like a professor Jeff Chalmers and many others who are scientists and Christians who embrace facts and data and truth…and drop the cartoon characters like Ken Ham who seem to make a career out of preying on gullible conservative literalists (theologically speaking).

Personally, I think public education is a government construct and as such, Separation of Church and State is necessary and important. If Islam took over, Christians would be the first in line to shout “Separation of Church and State! No Islam in our schools!” etc.

If you want to ignore mountains of evidence and continue to force yourself to believe a 6 Day Creation fairy-tale, no problem…just do it at church and at a church funded school. If you want to present a 6 Day Creation philosophy/religion/theology…do it in religion classes or philosophy classes…but don’t teach it as science.

I hope the atheists who protest today conduct themselves properly, while exercising their right to free speech….and I hope that our fellow Calvary Chapel Christians conduct themselves properly and I hope they will reconsider embracing and promoting and spending resources on a really bad caricature that gives Christianity a black eye and makes us look intellectually dishonest.

I report the Ken Ham controversy because it demonstrates he is human and not “specially anointed by God!” as some sort of infallible prophet or king or apostle or Jesus. Ham is a man. He’s capable of good and evil, capable of being wrong….like all of us. Don’t be blinded by unhealthy religious worship of men gurus. Examine the facts. Be like the Bereans in everything. View the facts and data we have and compare it to Ham’s version of “the truth!” I have. I changed my opinion about YEC many years ago.

Don’t fear the truth. Don’t fear facts and data contradicting a man-made imposition and interpretation onto ancient text that is very likely to be extremely metaphorical. None are truly bible literalists…or Christians in the U.S. would resemble the Taliban. Don’t fear progressive revelation, don’t fear the Enlightenment, don’t fear the limited facts we can affirm. God is not a book. God is not a verse in the bible. God is not a belief in 6 Day Creation.

Jul 242014
Calvary Chapel Flagler Beach assistant pastor, Wesley Alan Brown, was arrested recently for a "financial scheme" according to news reports.

Calvary Chapel Flagler Beach assistant pastor, Wesley Alan Brown, was arrested recently for a “financial scheme” according to news reports.

Another Calvary Chapel pastor made headlines today….for the wrong reasons.

According to news reports, authorities in Florida said Wesley Alan Brown, an assistant pastor at Calvary Chapel Flagler Beach, was arrested and charged with multiple counts including “seven counts of the sale of unregistered securities, five counts of securities fraud, four counts of grand theft and one count of the sale of securities by an unregistered dealer.”

The arrest details state that Brown solicited money from unsuspecting Calvary Chapel church non-member members and got them to invest in a scheme that took nearly $400,000 from six people.

[Update #1] Senior pastor Mark Convoy says Brown had no prior record and that the church board met immediately when they were made aware of the problem and they contacted the authorities right away and have fully cooperated with the investigation. Pastor Convoy added a good warning in the comments section for those who do wrong in the church, “Your sin will find you out.”

Full article here:

Calvary Chapel Abuse Commentary and Opinion:

Yet another example that dispels the myth that Calvary Chapel pastors are “specially anointed” and not capable of the worst evils you can imagine. CC pastors are capable of doing good…and evil, which is why the Calvary Chapel Association needs to vet their pastors more carefully, needs to mandate Child Protection Policies system-wide and needs to mandate Financial Transparency system-wide as well.

Many times Calvary Chapel pastors are ex-cons, ex-drug dealers, ex-felons, you name it. They’ll tell you their gory testimonies when they are trying to get you to join up…but what they often don’t tell you is that the Calvary Chapel Association and system lacks any checks and balances and accountability measures…and often times CC pastors do very bad things under the cover of “we’re specially anointed! Don’t question us! Don’t ask for accountability measures! Trust us!”

[Update #1]: I appreciate Mark Convoy, senior pastor of CC Flagler Beach, as well as board president Scott Adie coming on the blog and being transparent and addressing the situation. It is good to see and it is good to hear that CC Flagler Beach is an Elder-led church government construct with an active Board…and that the church reported the issue and cooperated with authorities…and that they are also helping the victims of this crime.

A bad situation indeed…and you can’t stop everything…all you can do is make accountability and transparency a priority, have a responsible church government structure in place…and then deal with bad issues in a responsible and right manner when they occur.

In this case, it sounds like CC Flagler Beach did all it could in dealing with a very bad set of circumstances. We wish them the best as they seek to recover from this.

Jul 212014
Bob Caldwell, senior Pastor of the Calvary Chapel Boise franchise, was one of the major voices giving input at this year's Calvary Chapel Senior Pastor's Conference.

Bob Caldwell, senior Pastor of the Calvary Chapel Boise franchise, was one of the major voices giving input at this year’s Calvary Chapel Senior Pastor’s Conference.

We hadn’t been to Calvary Chapel Boise in probably 7 or 8 years…except for a meeting I had with Bob Caldwell and a former CC Boise attendee who was compelled to picket the church for unresolved beefs.

I don’t know if it’s delusion…or “God”…but I feel compelled to re-attend and to try to make a difference from inside the Calvary Chapel walls…vs. lobbing blog grenades from the sidelines with regards to effecting change for System-wide Child Protection Policies and Financial Transparency…as well as a general attitude that promotes the Jesus Model instead of the Moses Model.

For a “mega-church”…CC Boise doesn’t really feel like it. It’s a nice facility, but certainly not overdone. The size of the church is about the size of Eagle Christian Church where my wife and I are formal members.

We were warmly greeted at least twice on our way into the main sanctuary after passing through a large open foyer…more an indoor casual dining/coffee shop area with simple modern tables and chairs, a big screen monitor to watch services and a coffee/espresso bar.

The main sanctuary is fairly typical of many CC’s I’ve been to. I think they get a special deal on the chairs and carpet or something…because they seemed identical to those at Calvary Chapel Visalia and some of the other CC’s I’ve been to. Again…nice, comfortable, clean…but subtle. Not nearly overdone or underdone, just comfy and pleasant and laid back…kind of like CC in general.

The crowd was typical of Calvary Chapel…mostly 20-somethings through middle aged with a sprinkling of older folks. The worship music was very contemporary Christian. The young woman leading the 2-person female-male duo reminded me of several Christian performing artists rolled into one. Not really stuff you could sing along to…more a really good performance….though there were a couple of sing-alongs mixed in.

You had the typical video montages and announcements…though Caldwell struggled through those (he pinned it on little sleep after a wedding he presided over in Sun Valley the prior evening…the same Sun Valley where the uber-Elites of the entire world meet up each year to move the financial-political chess pieces around the Global System board.

Caldwell is an interesting cat. His style is very very very casual…very low key. I’m not sure if that’s who he really is…but he was pretty laid back in my private meeting with him and the gentleman who was picketing him…so I am inclined to believe that’s the way he is.

The message was about love and breaking the cycle of bitterness, hurt, pain, being mistreated etc…what appears to be an emphasis and regular theme of Caldwell’s as I’ve heard similar messages from him before (and haven’t listened to a ton of his stuff, so it must be a regular theme).

He kept it simple…put the cookies on the low shelf. Love God, love your neighbor. We’ve all been hurt and wronged or not loved or whatever else…and bitterness is not the answer etc, you need to break the cycle and love folks who you can’t expect to give you anything back.

Another thing he repeated often (which is telling of emphasis) is that we (he included himself) are all “babies” in the context of being baby Christians and we need to grow up and not be victims etc.  The point he was making seemed to be that bitterness and judgment come from being self-centered…like a baby. He encouraged the audience to be others-centered and to get over stuff and move forward etc. Couldn’t help but thinking that some of that was directed at yours truly, but I won’t presume that…I think, ironically, the message is much more applicable to Calvary Chapel Leadership and CC pastors than it is to the “sheep”.

Think about it…all the problems reported on CC Abuse are generally with regards to Calvary Chapel Senior Pastors who don’t love and don’t extend grace and don’t forgive and don’t get over it and don’t move on and are bitter and judgmental toward a “sheep” who has a beef or a disagreement or some sort of dissenting factor that comes into conflict with the Moses Model pastor of that particular Calvary Chapel franchise. I’ve seen it over and over…and over….the opposite of “love” and the message Bob Caldwell was preaching.

Does the shoe fit? It certainly may in some instances, for all of us…and the shoe certainly fits CC and many of Caldwell’s “Affiliated/Associated” CC pastors. My problem with messages like this is that the finger is generally pointed in your direction…but not toward the Leaders of the Movement that this CC pastor promotes and supports and endorses…speaks at their Pastor’s Conferences etc.

Ya, don’t be bitter, don’t judge…just love. OK, show me how that’s done…in our (I’m a non-member member now) Calvary Chapel Leadership and construct. Show me, don’t tell me. Right now I’m being so “loved” at the other end of a lawsuit meant to silence me from telling the truth about abuse in our home growing up so others will take warning and so that child abuse will be addressed as a serious problem in the church. I felt really “loved” when Chuck Smith blasted me from the Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa pulpit publicly. He certainly didn’t take Bob Caldwell’s medicine.

But, hey, it was a good message and there was a lot of truth in it whether or not Calvary Chapel practices what it preaches and whether or not a Bob Caldwell points the finger inward at his own Leadership within his Movement. We should all be more loving and forgiving and give love to those who hurt us without expecting anything in return.

The service went a little long for our kids….we had them sit with us because we weren’t sure if CC Boise had good Child Protections in place…since it is not a requirement to be an official Calvary Chapel.

Things ended as casually as they began…and we were soon in the foyer/restaurant/open sitting area ordering a cappuccino and espresso. We stuck around for lunch, ordering some really authentic Mexican food outside…and a nice man made a custom fruit salad for my daughter…which she greatly enjoyed and appreciated. We re-entered the foyer and ate in the cool of the building. Pleasant vibe, several families still hanging out and eating and talking. A couple who are missionaries in Rome, Italy, talked with congregants at a table set up to promote their ministry. These folks had been brought up to the front after a video vignette prior to the sermon.

During the post-service calm, I approached Caldwell in the main sanctuary as he was talking to a big young man. It was great to see him so approachable…very un-mega-pastor-like. Good practice, IMO. I waited my turn and then when he finished with the young man, “Pastor Bob” turned to me and we talked.

I introduced myself with some specificity and reminded him of our previous meeting. He didn’t recognize me at first due to the beard…but he quickly caught on. I did most of the talking and nicely let him know I hoped he follows his message and hoped that what he said was real for him. I let him know we planned to attend and to get involved and that I was tired of hammering CC from the outside and wanted to work from inside to effect some positive changes….especially with regards to Child Protections and other issues I’m passionate about. I asked about Child Protections at CC Boise and Caldwell told me that protecting kids was a priority at his franchise and that they vet those who work with the kids including background checks…and that they screen parents as well as personnel…and he alluded to other things they do over-and-above background checks to help guarantee the kids are safe…info he said I could get from a gentleman at CC Boise who is charged with overseeing and implementing these policies. I thought that was great and I will follow up with that guy to get my head around the specifics of what they’re doing.

I told him I wasn’t there to tell him what to do…though, I guess, I kind of am in a sense…and that I knew it would take time and I’d have to earn trust etc to be able to effect some things. He seemed to have a “we’ll see” attitude, which is understandable. I told him I thought it was great that they have a food bank and a thrift store and mentioned that I own pawn shops…to which he engaged, “well you could teach us a few things” in the context of the thrift store. I hope to try and help with that, if needed.

The convo concluded a little abruptly as there were more folks waiting to talk to “Pastor Bob” and I understood…I don’t expect (nor do I want) to be treated any different than anyone else…and I think it’s good stewardship for Caldwell to engage as many folks as he can in the time he’s got post-service. I appreciated being able to have that sort of access…as I’m sure the others were.

My wife and kids didn’t really like it that much as they love Eagle Christian Church…but they didn’t hate it either. I think it’s just a function of comfort zone and familiarity than it was that CC Boise is a bad church. Personally, I found some similarities and some differences…most were neither good nor bad…just different approaches, different styles.

The differences that are important, IMO, are the ones you don’t tend to notice right away…like Open/Transparent Finances and how the leadership handles problems/conflict and whether or not those donating the Jesus Money have any real say in things. The CC Boise Child Protections are a real plus…we’ll see how the other issues are.

Another thing Caldwell stated from the pulpit was that (I’m paraphrasing and giving the gist) it’s all God’s stuff and all God’s money at CC Boise. OK, we’ll see. If that’s true, then there shouldn’t be a problem knowing how much God is paying the senior pastor and where the rest of the money goes.

Caldwell also downplayed his recent attendance at Calvary Chapel Senior Pastor’s Conference 2014 emphasizing his focus is on his church and community and that he really didn’t have a lot to do with what happens outside of his CC franchise…something I hear many CC pastors emphasize…but it’s not really true…it’s just part of the CC Culture that tries to walk the line of a quasi-denomination…denomination when it’s beneficial…”we’re all 100% independent” when it isn’t. Well, Caldwell is a Leader in the Movement/Denomination and is listed as such on the website…and he has a pretty prominent role at the most recent iteration of #CCSPC14…so I don’t buy that one. I let him know I hoped he would help get the CC Association to mandate Child Protection Policies in all by-laws to get a Dove and be an official CC.

I guess, as Caldwell said earlier in the discussion…”we’ll see”.

Jul 132014
Kay Smith and her late husband Chuck. A Smith family battle is waging behind the scenes for control of Calvary Chapel monies and properties.

Kay Smith and her late husband Chuck. A Smith family battle is waging behind the scenes for control of Calvary Chapel monies and properties.

Most in Calvary Chapel Land are unaware of the intense Smith family battle waging behind the scenes after Chuck Smith’s passing.

In a recent article about the Calvary Chapel Senior Pastor’s Conference 2014, I broached one aspect of the controversy.

Here’s the gist:

Not everyone was on board with Brian and Cheryl Brodersen taking over at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. Sources with direct knowledge of the situation state that there was an attempt by Paul Smith and that Camp to get the Brodersens to forgo the throne for $2 million (the initial report I had and that was reported elsewhere was $1 million). [The initial report stated that Jeff Smith was part of that effort, a source sympathetic to Camp Brodersen says Jeff was part of that effort, a source sympathetic to the Camp that opposes Brodersen denies that Jeff Smith had anything to do with that effort].

The Brodersens didn’t take the deal.

An emergency CCCM board meeting was called by Brian Brodersen, according to multiple sources, literally the day after Chuck Smith passed. It was initially reported by Calvary Chapel that the decision to name Brodersen as Chuck Smith’s successor at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa was “unanimous” and the impression given was that things were much more kumbaya than they really were.

The truth, according to multiple sources, was that long-time CCCM board member Rob Yardley was not on board and neither was a big chunk of the Smith family including Paul Smith, Jeff Smith and Janette Smith-Manderson.

[Rob Yardley was the lone “nay” vote and resigned after the CCCM membership ratified Brodersen as the new Senior Pastor]. The Smith Camp in opposition to the “take-over” points out that many of the remaining board members had a vested interest in voting for the Brodersens and claim it really wasn’t a fair and transparent process.

Brian Brodersen has not returned past phone calls to get his side of the story…however, sources more sympathetic to Brodersen’s Camp have the same story regarding how the emergency board meeting went down…but claim that a majority at CCCM wanted the Brodersens for the right reasons.

Another big issue of conflict is over The Word For Today and Chuck Smith’s intellectual property (i.e. his teachings, sermons etc.)

A source with intimate knowledge of the inner-workings of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa says there are two The Word For Today corporate entities. One is controlled by Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, the other is controlled by a Board that has Jeff Smith and Janette Smith-Manderson as members.

A bit confusing, but here’s the nuance and what appears to be Chuck Smith’s doing (and rationale): Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa’s “The Word For Today” entity has the current contracts for distribution…while Jeff Smith and Janette Smith-Manderson’s “The Word For Today” has the rights to Chuck Smith’s intellectual property. Quite an interesting conundrum.

I’ve spoken with attorneys who are of the opinion that it would be very difficult for Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa to get the intellectual property rights away from Jeff and Janette’s TWFT…but that until the current distribution contract held by CCCM’s TWFT expires, the two Groups are kind of stuck in a relationship.

Sources in one Camp claim that CCCM is blocking payments to Kay Smith from some sort of “retirement annuity” with the claim that it’s really so the money won’t be used to fight legal battles to challenge CCCM and the Brodersens.

Also at issue is the claim that the CCCM board pressured Chuck Smith to make the church the beneficiary of a life insurance policy instead of Kay Smith and The Word For Today that the other Camp controls. Chuck Smith did not pay into social security and sources say that Kay Smith has very little income as a result.

Sources more sympathetic to Camp Brodersen with inside knowledge of CCCM inner-workings question the claim that Kay Smith has been blocked from receiving money from what they said was a “Rabbi trust” vs. a retirement annuity. “It would be impossible to do what they are claiming,” said the source.

The same source also stated that Chuck Smith had many assets privately and had been a good steward with his money and that the notion that Kay Smith was broke was “ridiculous.”

“They are spreading misinformation,” said the source, adding, “I don’t like them using Kay.”

Whatever the case, there is a Smith family battle waging behind the scenes…and the fireworks are just beginning.

[I received an update that Kay Smith was finally able to get a partial payment from the “annuity” which the source says has helped because attorney’s fees in administering the “Living Trust” have exceeded $50,000…probably due to the intellectual property issues. It is also reported that Kay Smith just recently received the proceeds of a church life insurance policy in the amount of $12,000. However, the source says that any rumor that Chuck Smith left a “fortune” behind is a myth…there is not a lot of money and lawyer fees and accountant fees are significant].

Jul 132014


Bob Coy is still in an extensive rehab program according to a Calvary Chapel source.

Bob Coy is still in an extensive rehab program according to a Calvary Chapel source.

According to a solid Calvary Chapel source, Bob Coy, former pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, is still in an “extensive rehab program” and trying to deal with the underlying issues of sexual addiction and promiscuity etc.

The source went on to say that in their opinion, it appeared as if Coy was more concerned about “getting healthy” and then “working on his family” than he was about getting back in the pulpit…which, if true, is an encouraging sign.

“These things are usually not about sex or God. There are always deeper issues and hopefully he is making personal progress,” said the source.

Agreed. Sexual addiction is sin and is a symptom of an underlying problem of selfishness. It is a habit that develops, akin to becoming addicted to drugs (in my opinion) and the more you feed it, the worse it gets…you need more and more to get that intense high you enjoy.

“The pulpit is an easy, and dangerous place to conceal pathology. Being publicly shamed, like Bob has, will generally humble a guy sufficiently to get him to see himself more accurately. Bob isn’t like Bakker or Swaggart or Haggard. He is a genuinely humble guy, in my estimation, who was a victim of his own success, combined with a crap-load of unresolved personal issues,” said the source.

Let’s hope that Coy is truly owning his sin and bad choices and truly repents and truly seeks to make amends with his family. The pulpit is not the prize, salvaging his family and his personal integrity and health…is.

Bob Coy, if you read here, email me at agrenier7 at gmail dot com. I would like to talk to you about your situation. There is hope for you and your marriage, but you have to be real and you have to truly own it and not fake your way through. If you are truly ready to give that addiction up, I’d like to try and help you from a perspective that you may not hear from your pastor buddies. I think you’ll have more to offer as a truly repentant sinner than as a mega-church rock star.