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.

Jul 132014
 
OK, in keeping with the comparison theme: Alistair Begg is the Paul McCartney of the #CCSPC14. On a serious note, he spoke the Truth and God moved.

OK, in keeping with the comparison theme: Alistair Begg is the Paul McCartney of the #CCSPC14. On a serious note, he spoke the Truth and God moved.

If you watch/listen to one Christian message this year…watch Alistair Begg’s address to #CCSPC14.

The Holy Spirit moved…and you wouldn’t know it because it lacked the drama, all the emotionalism and over-acting of typical Charismania. The message brought me to tears and reminded me that God is real despite my incredible cynicism and disgust of organized religion and pastors etc. As much as I try to challenge the bible and Christianity etc, there is an ember of faith and a yearning for holiness and real revival…in me and in Calvary Chapel. There is a deep and powerful compulsion and drive in me and I can’t deny it. I have many reasons not to believe, but I can’t help but believing and hoping in something real despite all the phonies and all the scoundrels and all the scandal and all the hypocrisy and all the difficult passages in the bible etc.

Begg’s message addressed the Bob Coy elephant in the room without directly naming him. He spoke about the David and Bathsheba story, the fact that great leaders of God are just as human and sinful as anyone and the need for accountability and Nathan’s…and self-reflection and honesty and true repentance. His words were sober, restrained, true…and powerful. He challenged the audience of pastors in a manner rarely seen in Calvary Chapel conferences.

Among some of the big mistakes of the macro-Calvary-Chapel-narrative and apologetic is the “Specially Anointed!™” canard along with “The Devil Took Him Out™” refrain.

CCSP’s, you are TALENTED and you have a COMPULSION to be a pastor and share the gospel. You are NOT “specially anointed.” Calvary Chapel has given a false impression to its “sheep” and its CCSP’s and Assistant Pastors that the CCSP is “specially anointed by God!” and somehow less capable of doing great evil, less capable of committing big sin and more spiritual than the lowliest person sitting in the pew. That is entirely false. The Calvary Chapel Pastor is just as sinful and capable of evil as you or me.

The devil didn’t make you do it (one of Begg’s themes), sin is “an inside job” (completely agree) and the devil doesn’t “take you out”…YOU choose to do what you want, when you want and you are responsible for your sin and the bad choices you make. Skip Heitzig’s b.s. is just that, and many CCSP’s buy into the “devil is attacking me!” garbage. The devil doesn’t need to attack most of you because you are doing just fine for the devil without him caring about you and making you a priority.

I’ve sinned big in my life and it was completely my fault. I made the choices I made because I wanted to for whatever selfish reasons I had, even though I knew it was wrong. Calvary Chapel Pastors and Leaders are no different and don’t believe their lies when they minimize their sinfulness and then lie about it and then go on offense and blame it all on the “devil!” and “attackers from the devil!” etc. That’s just a ploy to protect their lying and sinfulness and to keep up their phony appearances vs. actually practicing what they preach and sell…often for big money and fame.

Begg called out two huge issues that Calvary Chapel needs to continue to address, and needs to make a priority: He called attention to “financial misappropriation” and “moral” unfaithfulness (which can be child abuse, adultery, porn addiction, pill addiction, you name it).

The fact that Begg was given the platform to speak…and given the permission to speak that message to CCSP’s…is a very good sign on many levels.

1. It demonstrates that pastoral holiness and speaking the raw honest truth might be a priority of the new Regime in CC.

2. It demonstrates that George Bryson’s witch hunt is dead in today’s Calvary Chapel Association.

3. It gives hope that pastoral conduct might become a priority in Calvary Chapel…and bad pastoral conduct hurts and disillusions and causes serious doubts about faith and religion MUCH MORE than Calvary Chapel acknowledges or admits or understands.

Brodersen, Calvary Chapel Association, Alistair Begg…thank you for that message. If you want to see real Revival…do more of that. Be honest, be real, acknowledge sin in the pulpit first (most of the pew sitters know we’re dirty ugly sinners in need of Jesus, quit acting like you guys don’t and quit lying about your sin but rather be honest and then point to it as a mistake to avoid instead of always lying and then shooting the messengers).

The devil is NOT for Financial Transparency, Accountability and Child Protection Policies in the church, I guarantee you that. So, don’t blame criticism as “attacks from the devil!” That’s a lie. Practice what you preach and don’t be “blink, blink” phonies (thanks Pancho, love that example you gave from the very real folks in East L.A. who know b.s. when they see it).

To Brodersen’s credit, he called out the dangers of the Moses Model in his talk on the evening of Day 3. He seemed to reinforce what was a major theme of this year’s conference: Pastoral holiness and to practice what you preach.

There is a lot going on behind the scenes. I am not for or against Brian Brodersen. I am for the truth, for the church and pastors trying to do the right thing and I am against lying about scandals and sins and mistakes and against Financial Abuses, Child Abuses, etc in the church that is part of who I am whether Calvary Chapel likes it or not.

I understand that past mistakes have been made. I understand when there is true repentance and when amends are made and families move on and whatever happened is no longer an issue. I understand that some of the old situations were not nearly as bad as what happened in Bob Grenier’s home. I still don’t appreciate being made the bad guy when others broach those legitimate issues and then when I report on it, I’m somehow the bad guy. Talk to me, give me your side, but be honest and let’s discuss how it can be a good thing by showing that you made amends and truly repented and then warn the younger pastors to avoid some of the mistakes you made and give them good advice about how to parent and where the lines are.

What I will never be OK with is simply ignoring, denying, lying about it…and then attacking the messenger instead of attacking the sin that was committed.

Net-net, I think the #CCSPC14 was a transformative conference and pretty clear launching of a new direction “Forward” for the Calvary Chapel Association.

There were very clear messages presented…and those who were chosen to speak at the pulpit and on panels was a crystal clear message as well. With the exception of Skip Heitzig and Don Stewart, the speakers chosen have good reputations (or I would have heard about it by now, believe me, I get inundated with Calvary Chapel’s dirty laundry and skeletons). The topics discussed: Some were typical CC, many were different (in a good way)…especially Begg’s message and couple of others.

Calvary Chapel clearly wants to be an “Association” and form of Denomination…which is good. Having structure and organization can be very good. The lawyers will tell you by doing that you are taking on liability…yes, true…but don’t let that scare you like it did Chuck Smith. What you can do to protect yourself is IMPLEMENT CHILD PROTECTION POLICIES and show you actually care about protecting kids to the best of your ability…then if a lawsuit comes, you can demonstrate that the child was not hurt because you didn’t try your best. In sitting and dialoguing with leading child abuse attorney Kelly Clark (while he was alive)…one recurring theme was how juries dropped the hammer on religious organizations for being in such denial about the issue of Child Abuse and how they willingly and stubbornly refused to address the Problem in their ranks. Well, guess what…those juries hammered those organizations…and now those organizations have Policies. Do it willingly and not with a gun to your head. Listen. Don’t keep putting it off simply because I am pushing the issue…that’s your pride keeping you from doing the right thing.

Watching #CCSPC14 did something that actually surprised me. It rekindled a spark of faith in me and actually encouraged me in the work I’m doing on this blog. I don’t know if I’m “called” or if it’s God who motivates me…but maybe. I do know I’m compelled and have a deep burning passion for these things. I know I’m not “specially anointed”…but I know I’ve got talent and desire. “Don’t grow weary in doing [the work of the Lord]” (assuming it is such and assuming God is real). “Be yourself.” “Be real, don’t be a phony.” “Look inward and deal with sin.” “Take risks.” “Make choices not to sin.” etc.

I’m so fired up and inspired that I’ve made the choice/decision to start attending Calvary Chapel Boise and work from the inside. Bob Caldwell, I’m heading your way. You have a big CC, you are one of the new rising leaders in the CC Association and a potential change-agent…and I’m compelled and motivated to take a risk and work from the inside and out. Buckle up.

Jul 122014
 
Calvary Chapel Theology panel: Noticeably absent: George Bryson. Pictured from left to right: Don (Divorced for non-biblical reasons) Stewart, Brian Brodersen, Dave Rolph, Joe Focht and David Guzik.

Calvary Chapel Theology panel: Noticeably absent: George Bryson. Pictured from left to right: Don (Divorced for non-biblical reasons) Stewart, Brian Brodersen, Dave Rolph, Joe Focht and David Guzik.

What do you get when you cross Peter Pan, an aging hipster surfer and Chuck Smith? The Skipster of course!

Skip Heitzig kicked off #CCSPC14 Day 3 in usual Skipster fashion…retro converse shoes, blue jeans and his Skipster Wave™ hairdo. His presentation was typical Heitzig as well…a mix of very practical Mega-Church marketing and sales advice about incorporating young worship leaders to attract both young and 50-somethings, along with advice on how to ignore critics. Someone has a beef with how you cheated your former congregation and then screwed over the replacement CC ABQ pastor when the folks at Ocean Hills didn’t find you special? Hey, it’s the devil! According to the Skipster, the bigger you are the bigger enemies you’ll have and the more the devil will attack you…because the devil is all about financial accountability and you not screwing people over.

But, hey, the Skipster walked between the raindrops, beat back “the devil!” and regained his Mega-Church status post-scandal…and that’s all that matters young CCSP’s.

Articles about the Heitzig scandal here: http://www.abqjournal.com/news/metro/471623metro06-27-06.html

Here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/october/14.128.html?paging=off

And the “Tom Stipe Report” for CCOF (the accountability arm of Calvary Chapel that Chuck Smith denied existed in that capacity when he was being sued in Idaho and claimed Calvary Chapels were all “independent”…and Chuck Smith stated on air that he had “no responsibility” for other CC’s..even though he was listed as the CEO of CCOF IRS docs (linked on this blog…oops! Liar-liar pants on fire!): http://calvarychapel.pbworks.com/f/Tom%20Stipe%20CCOF%20Audit%20Report.pdf

So, basically, the Skipster is a “blink, blink” phony (thanks Pancho!) and should STFU and drop the act. He’s not much more than a rich man making well into the 6 figures off of selling Jesus through good marketing and klitchy sermons….and is not someone CCSP’s should emulate (and he’ll be featured in some upcoming articles on Calvary Chapel Pastor compensation).

But, hey, at least he didn’t hump his make-up artist (Bob Coy), beat his kids (too many CCSP’s to name) or molest little boys like some of his fellow CC Pastor Associates/Affiliates.

Next up youse guys was Calvary Chapel Soprano’s pastor Joe Focht! Foggettaboutit!

If you’ve never seen and heard Joe Focht speak, picture the love-child of Bill Maher and an aging Italian Mafioso…with a Chuck Smith Systematic Theology™ (that was for Dave Rolph).

I couldn’t decide if I wanted to order a Philly Cheese Steak or go do some devotionals.

Focht’s a decent guy from all accounts. Definitely old-school CC, definitely east-coast, definitely one of the Calvary Chapel Godfathers. If youse guys gonna move on any turf on the east coast, youse better get Focht’s blessing.

The message was pretty much a defense of old-school CC but not an offense. Focht was reasonable, likable, mature. He reinforced some of the main themes regarding old guys embracing tech through the young guys, being personally holy as a pastor…and, like Don McClure, he made reference to some pastor’s kids as “scoundrels”….a recurring knock against Janette Smith-Manderson and Jeff Smith, I’m sure (for those who miss the nuance and aren’t aware of the very ugly Smith Family battle brewing behind-the-scenes…a story we will cover soon on CC Abuse).

Focht also delivered one of the best lines of the conference: “We need to be careful sometimes, how we define success…we know from Laodicea…and the world we live…that you can build a Mega-Church…without the Holy Spirit.” Cough, cough…Bob Coy reference…cough, cough. Ouch.

Asking for revival, another familiar refrain of Calvary Chapel (remember Heitzig’s ‘Riptide!’ that turned out to be a ripple?) Focht implored God to move. CC guys, if you want true REVIVAL, it starts with being honest…and Calvary Chapel Pastors and Honesty are about as compatible as Bob Coy and Celibacy. Don McClure finally has a moment of candidness and honesty when he stated, “I would have gone to jail for what I did to my kids”…and quickly it’s walked back, threats are made and the messenger reporting on the issue is shot.

Mark my words Calvary Chapel: You will get nothing but fake little tiny man-made revivals until the Pastorate finds Jesus and gets honest and candid about their sin. Since that will never happen in my life-time, you will never have a real revival.

Next on the docket was, of all things, a Calvary Chapel “Theology!” panel discussion…and no George Bryson?!?!? But, I went to CalvaryChapelTheology.com and George Bryson says he’s got the correct Calvary Chapel Theology…I’m so confused.

Well, turns out that despite all his letters to CCSP’s, his website claiming to be the keeper of the CC Theology flame…Bryson wasn’t on the panel. The panel consisted of Brian Brodersen, Dave Rolph, Joe Focht and David Guzik and was moderated by the divorced pastor Don Stewart (for non-biblical reasons according to sources…doesn’t the bible “simply” say that Don’s living in adultery for that? Hmm, guess the bible isn’t to be read “simply” after all…I guess adultery as a pastoral disqualification isn’t part of Calvary Chapel’s Systematic Theology™).

Calvary Chapel put its best foot forward choosing this panel to represent the current Regime’s views: Dave Rolph, David Guzik, Joe Focht…good guys (by all reports) and with exception of Focht (not a knock on him, just is)…we heard from three of CC’s brightest minds…especially Rolph and Guzik (though Brodersen’s no dummy). Focht isn’t a dummy either, he’s just not known for his theological/philosophical chops and nothing he added on the panel made me think any differently…though he did add some value on occasions.

Some observations:

1. The Brodersen Regime is much more ecumenical…in a good way. The panel presented the balance well. Basically, on essentials…unity. On non-essentials…we’re not going to go to war with you. I think that’s a mature attitude and the Anti-Bryson. The panel did well in articulating that position.

2. “Calvary Chapel doesn’t have a Systematic Theology,” said Dave Rolph without being struck by lightening. It isn’t true, but it passes as a statement that satisfies CC’s weird need to be viewed as anti-intellectual…even though in the next breaths the panel presents the core of the Chuck Smith Calvary Chapel Theological System™ and then walks back their anti-intellectualism rhetoric in favor of encouraging pastors to have a theological system etc.

Dave, like the Theo-Logos discussion we had…you’re off on this one, but I won’t argue it with you…I’ve heard your angles before and am just shaking my head and smiling 🙂 News flash: Calvary Chapel has a Theological System by a different name…it’s called Chuck Tapes, Chuck Books, the Calvary Chapel Bible College, Veritas Seminary, the Distinctives and the #CCSPC14 Theology Panel, etc.

Calvary Chapel doesn’t have a Theological System just like Calvary Chapel is “not a denomination!” and just like all CC’s are “100% independent!”….saying it doesn’t make it so.

3. The current iteration of CC is a bit rebellious…and I like it. There seems to be some room to move about the cabin, the “fasten seatbelt” sign has been turned off now that Chuck’s in the ground. Good. That’s a healthier dynamic than monolithic Group Think and everyone posturing and walking on egg-shells around Chuck.

4. Brodersen is clearly the Leader of the new Coalition. He’s not Chuck Smith, not nearly…his style is different, he doesn’t command the level of fear and respect Chuck did…but clearly, Team Cheryl/Brian are in charge. We’ll see how it goes. There is an ugly Smith family battle going on and some very serious allegations coming down and supposedly a lawsuit. We’ll see if Brian survives it…but early indications are he’s the new Leader and has been successful in taking the Crown…though he is wearing it much more lightly than Chuck did….so far.

5. Hearing Dave Rolph and the panel claim they aren’t like other Christian Sects….that they just let the bible teach…is either extremely ignorant or intellectually dishonest. Rolph is too smart to believe that b.s. so he must be compromising his integrity to pitch the Company Line.

No one can “simply teach the bible simply” and no one can simply “let the bible teach”…or you’d just read straight from the bible…offering no interpretation, no context, no opinion, no doctrinal/theological position and explanation. You’d just read it out loud with no commentary.

The raw honest fact is that Calvary Chapel pastors have their own particular Sect’s take…and they present the bible in a very non-simple manner…they impose their interpretations onto the text based off of the opinions of Gurus and Theologians who they trust and agree with…they apply their reason and conscience to that particular angle and present the passage through those interpretive lenses as “Thus sayeth the Lord!”

A friend of mine, Alan Hawkins (a Charismatic pastor in Albuquerque), commented on another blog about a particular issue in the bible…and he articulates the dynamic that ALL do…none are exempt, even and especially Calvary Chapel (not the issue, the dynamic of interpreting the bible and telling others…”this is what it really says!”:

“Your views of women in pastoral ministry and baptism are plainly tribal.

My views are equally narrowed by my field of vision. I deny it NOT.

Our use of scripture is mutually instructive. What is derived from what is stated and what we derive by reason are revealed in how we use the texts. From baptism text you derive the liberty to submit to Luther’s biblical interpretation. I would go against it. But that is not scripture it is reason informing the text and making inferences that allow your position.

I admit that Paul was probably narrowly focused as to women in speaking ministry leadership but I deny that his parameters are definitive to limit what we can say now. I offer the matter of slave obedience as something we would agree falls short of the liberating power of the Gospel to eradicate slavery. I glean the right to think through the matter of women’s roles in the church and come to a conclusion that the Holy Spirit has anointed women to preach and teach and serve as ordained clergy.

We should likely just disagree and thank God that neither of us has the power of coercion.”–Pastor Alan Hawkins.

It is intellectually dishonest or ignorant for Calvary Chapel to claim they “just let the bible teach.” Not nearly…and amen to what Alan honestly and intelligently articulated about the dynamic of scripture interpretation (above).

Jul 092014
 
Pancho Juarez of Calvary Chapel Montebello addresses the crowd at CCSPC 14 at CC Costa Mesa.

Pancho Juarez of Calvary Chapel Montebello addresses the crowd at CCSPC 14 at CC Costa Mesa.

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?