Chuck’s dead, Bob Coy is busted, Brian Brodersen’s in charge, Greg Laurie’s trying to keep the peace, Josh Turansky’s pulled back the curtain for all (well done), Levi Lusko’s trying to make a balding Calvary Chapel look relevant…and Pancho Juarez was comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable…and sweatin’ like a boyscout at a catholic priest convention.
Days 1 and 2 of the Calvary Chapel Senior Pastor’s Conference 2014 are in the books…err, in the online archives!
Thanks to unprecedented access via online streaming and social media, all of us can get a front row seat to this year’s CCSPC 14 like never before. This is healthy and is kind of a form of accountability. Glad to see the young techie guys making this transparency happen…glad the old guys are allowing it to happen.
You can view the #CCSPC14 live feed here (and archives are available if you can’t watch live or missed the first two days): http://calvarychapel.com/resources/article/view/senior-pastor-conference/
What’s New or Different this year? What’s big news?
Well, the CCSPC is usually held at the Calvary Chapel Conference Center in Murrieta, Commiefornia…and this year it’s at the Brodersen’s Costa Mesa franchise…probably blind luck that they dodged a hot-spot for the current border/immigration crisis. The reason for the move to the Brodersen’s turf? Brian and Cheryl are in charge now and there’s a big Smith family battle waging behind the scenes…as well as a couple of old-guard CC splinter groups that are persona non grata.
Nothing says “We’re in charge now”…like changing the venue for the first CCSPC post-Chuck and having it at your place.
One quick side-note: Multiple sources confirm (including Smith family) how the CC Costa Mesa non-unanimous decision to crown the Brodersen duo went down…while Chuck’s body was still warm. I’ll report those accounts later and leave others to decide if that’s just business or if things were a bit strong-armed. I can tell you this, it wasn’t all kumbaya and wasn’t nearly unanimous despite the PR veneer. There is also, reportedly, a lawsuit coming in Kay Smith’s name to try and sort things out with regards to a life insurance policy that originally named Kay Smith as beneficiary, but reportedly got changed to CCCM so Kay Smith “would not have a ‘war chest’ to hire lawyers to get The Word for Today.” Sources also report that Kay Smith has very little income as Chuck didn’t pay into Social Security as a pastor.
I hear the words of the New Regime, I see the “Forward!” (ironically Obamaesque)…I don’t see how you treat Kay Smith this way regardless of the family feud.
Once again, if you want to know what’s really going on, read the blogs…and don’t buy into the “it’s gossip, it’s the devil!” canard…who would be for truth and transparency in all matters and who would be for covering stuff up, keeping it hush hush and secret and in the dark? Jesus or satan? I’m not “specially anointed!” like our CCSP friends…and even I can answer that one.
Other stuff that struck me as different included Pancho Juarez’s address to the overwhelmingly white CC pastorate. Everything up to that point was completely predictable…so predictable I could pre-write the sermons of each and every speaker to that point. Not Pancho, LOL.
It was an uncomfortable message…which is a good thing…it’s needed. Jesus comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable. Pancho was uncomfortable…he was sweating so profusely he gave a new meaning to the slur “wet-back” (bada bing!)…that was a joke, let’s not get all PC (not “Pastor Chuck” for you CC guys, rather “Politically Correct”).
Hey, the fact is Pancho made some great points and challenged some Sacred Cows in the CC largely-white-yuppy Movement. Pancho called out “racism” and “bigotry” and challenged Calvary Chapel to reach out to the outsider, the untouchables, the homeboys etc…even seeming to include homosexuals in that list (while being careful to refer to the moral issue as sin). His message of “Love” was in stark contrast to some of his homies like Raul Ries and David Rosales…who he seemed to be speaking against when he challenged CC pastors to stop beating the sheep with law and religiousity (my words, the gist of his message) and to love folks. His other big theme was “transformation” and a pretty typical Transformation Gospel narrative…which I disagree with…all…whether Christian, Buddhist, Atheist or Pagan are capable of great good…and great evil (proven many times over and over…the Christian “anointed” are no different than the other Groups of fellow human sinners when push comes to shove). I thought it was refreshing that he gave a sort of altar call to the pastors there…challenged them to reflect on areas of sin they struggle with…and to ask God to take it from them. Well done. It was also great to hear him challenge his fellow CCSP’s that they didn’t have to travel the world to reach minorities and the poor etc, they could simply meet these fellow human beings with help and the message of Jesus in their own backyard. Well done.
The other messages the first two days were pretty run-of-the-mill and typical CC fare, nothing really noteworthy. Greg Laurie filled the role of Big Guru lending his name to the event and trying to broker some sort of peace in the transition post-Chuck. Bob Coy was noticeably absent…and noticeably an elephant in the room that was not addressed. The biggest national and international news story regarding Calvary Chapel since Chuck Smith’s death…and not a peep from Calvary Chapel. Typical. Well guys, we’ll stand in the gap and discuss the Coy situation in a very detailed upcoming series. Ignoring the truth won’t make it go away. There are a lot of valuable lessons to be learned from the Bob Coy rise and fall…and you won’t be teaching them…but hopefully some of the more independent minded non-CCool-aid drinkers will read and consider.
Damian Kyle looked ill, but played his role adequately. Basically, “pastors have your personal devotions…and don’t talk about each other…and Chuck Smith was awesome”…that’s his speech in a nutshell.
Landing the “CC is also young and relevant!” role was the funny-looking Levi Lusko. Envision a bow-legged Sid the Sloth with tattoos on his arms. Lusko did fine, he was actually less cheesy than I expected. Seems a sincere guy. I don’t remember much from is message other than he made it a big point to pay respect to the older generation before him who blazed the trails and paved the way for young CC guns like him. I thought it was a good thing to honor the old guard for the good they’ve done…unfortunately all you ever get from CC is one side of that story and no real honesty and transparency about all the mistakes to avoid. Again, you’ll have to read the blogs to find out the truth about those issues and you’ll have to be taught by someone other than CC about the pitfalls to avoid in ministry besides the white-washed version you get year-after-year….after year.
Don McClure got up there as the new Gate-Keeper of the “Calvary Chapel Association”…err, but Chuck Smith told me in the presence of Dave Rolph and his attorney Janet Carter that “all the Calvary Chapels are independent!” “We’re a denomination!” “We are not a denomination!” I guess it depends on whether you’re being sued or whether you’re building your Brand that you benefit from.
McClure’s message…yawn. His stuff about Facebook and Twitter was pretty funny, though. Leveraging social media and tech has been a big push at this year’s CCSPC…and McClure delivered some pretty solid humor…mocking both himself…and the tech-heads. “I’ve got 5,000 friends on facebook…and I know of about 10 of them…and five of them don’t even like me so I don’t know why they’re there”…hilarious stuff…and true, I’m one of the five, LOL. Don, I’m there to be a pain in your arse. Just kidding. I’m there to keep tabs on what’s happening and to encourage you and CC to do the right thing.
One disturbing, yet candid moment: McClure seemed to deviate from the crafted portion of his message when he made a comment about spiritual whaps (context being some sort of physical blow) and he quickly corrected himself…”I’m not advocating that” or some sort of retraction. He went on to discuss how you shouldn’t try to “fix” your kids in the flesh…and in a very candid moment said, “I would have gone to jail”…for stuff he did to his kids back in the day. Wow. Well, I’ve heard the reports from more than one source that Don abused his kids and that his son went on to abuse a spouse or significant other. Violence begets violence. The unfortunate part is that the CC pastor audience actually laughed pretty significantly at his “I would have gone to jail” comment. Not funny. Let me beat you for years and years and years…and then we’ll see if you find it funny. Good that he was honest and candid about abusing his kids, bad that it’s somehow funny. Good that he seems to get the message to a degree that you don’t advocating whapping or hitting or striking etc as a godly means of discipline. I’m not saying responsible state-defined corporal punishment is out of bounds (don’t leave marks, bruises, don’t draw blood etc.)…but from what I’ve been told, McClure was pretty rough with his kids…enough that, like he stated, he’d have gone to jail…and probably should have. Pastors, don’t hurt your kids in the name of Jesus. You aren’t required to “fix” them to your version of “good”…that’s God’s job. Love your kids, have responsible boundaries, but love your kids. Don’t hurt your kids.
Rob McCoy was brought to the front and prayed for. CC Abuse participants will remember that McCoy was featured on here as a CC pastor running for a Commiefornia State Assembly seat for the Republican Party. There were allegations made regarding some situations at McCoy’s CC franchise. We looked into the issues, there was some truth there and some things that in context were mistakes, but not actionable. Initially, McCoy and I went to the verbal phone equivalent of UFC ultimate fighter, but in the end I found McCoy to be transparent and a man who has learned from some past mistakes, made great strides in implementing very solid accountability measures at his Calvary Chapel franchise…and someone who can be a change-agent and good example in that area. Rob, keep doing the right thing and please encourage your fellow CC pastors to have the sorts of Child Protection Policies and Financial Transparency and shared-power accountability you have self-implemented at your CC over the years. None of us are perfect, we all have situations in the past we either learn from or repeat the same mistakes. Honesty and learning from those mistakes is all most of us are asking. McCoy is a good example of that, IMO.
Some Suggestions from outside the CC Bubble:
1. Why no Saeed Abedini? You have a 1500 plus “Affiliation” and Movement…and you can organize and rally around a pastors’ conference and livestream and move heaven and earth to make this sort of cohesive and coordinated event happen pretty much Movement-wide now…but you can’t come together in an organized and powerful way to speak loudly about Saeed Abedini, a fellow CC pastor unjustly in Iranian prison for helping orphans there? C’mon Calvary Chapel. So far, not even a mention to my knowledge.
2. Calvary Chapel Association, you still have Affiliation Agreements to be an official Calvary Chapel, you issue invites to “your” conference. I can’t just show up. I can’t just call myself Calvary Chapel (or can I?) Institute mandatory Child Protection Policies and Financial Transparency as requisite by-laws in the “individual” CC’s incorporation to get an official Dove. Do it. Is the devil for or against Child Protection Policies and being honest and transparent with how you all spend the Jesus Money? This is not an “attack from the devil!”…ya, the devil is all about honesty, transparency with the finances and trying to protect kids from abuse.
3. Financial Transparency is needed because I am inundated with more and more info about Bob Coy and others in Calvary Chapel and the large amounts of Jesus Money they take home and fund their lavish lifestyles with. Hey, if you’re going to take over $500,000 per year of the Jesus Money…then at least be honest about it and let your congregation know it so they can decide whether or not to give the next time you are begging for more Jesus Money from folks who are struggling to pay their bills every month.
That’s all I got for the first two days. OK, not all I got, but it’s already long. What say you?