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”.