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Page history last edited by MrTundraMan 11 years, 2 months ago

What Will Happen to Calvary Chapel when Chuck Smith Dies?

Will there be an enclave to select the next pope when Smith dies? Is there a chimney at CCCM where we can watch for smoke? Will the regional pastors select the next head? Or will there be no head?


The Example of John Wimber and the Vineyard Movement

John Wimber was faced with the same issues at the Vineyard that Calvary Chapel faces. In 25 years, his denomination has grown to approximately the same number of churches (600 at last count) as CC although they have fewer megachurches in their fold so the total attendance is smaller.


The Hub Church

The Vineyard of Anaheim was the equivalent of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa. It was the hub for the movement. In many ways, the Vineyard did things smarter than CC perhaps due to Wimber seeing the things that Smith did wrong. For instance, Vineyard pastors are often seminary trained in contrast to CC which prefers field trained pastors to classroom training. The Vineyard does not divide over non-essentials of the faith such as the timing of Christ's return. Their difference in eschatology translated into a greater emphasis on justice ministries. Wimber did not seem to view the church as an employment agency for his extended family.


The biggest problem with the Anaheim Vineyard is that it mirrored Wimber's faith journey and was very experimental. Groups like the Kansas City Prophets would be in vogue one year and then they would be anathema the next. The flux probably played better in So Cal than it would in other places.


What Happened When Wimber Died?

When Wimber died the hub church had serious adjustments, particularly with a large drop in attendance. Pastoral changes ensued. Finding a star with Wimber's drawing power is necessary to keep the church (which had a Wimber sized mortgage) doors open.


Costa Mesa will have this same problem no matter who the replacement for Chuck at CCCM might be. I think that they are probably in a better financial situation to weather the drop in attendance/giving that will naturally happen with a change in Senior Pastor. They probably have much less debt (if any at all).


If there were anyone at CCCM with the authority over Smith they would have demanded that he deal with this issue more effectively.


The Difference Between Wimber and Smith

Unlike Smith, Wimber realized he would someday die. I will give him credit for a better solution. Maybe it was because Wimber was dying slowly - years of heart problems and a protracted battle with cancer must have gotten Wimber thinking.


Wimber was concerned that the churches would have a struggle after him if he didn't do something to structure things in an intelligent way. Certainly, Wimber must have realized that the structures would not stand the test of time and would over time need to be altered as the needs changed. Wimber's genius was that he understood that it was better to have something in place for the structure to grow from than nothing which would lead to chaos and fracturing.


A bit of structure was invented. The Association of Vineyard Churches was put in place to handle the denominational tasks. There are regional pastors (CC has them too). The Vineyard International Consortium is at the top.


Smith's Choice

Smith likes to keep his head in the sand about the Calvary movement. That way have can have it both ways. Smith is of the sort that like to take credit, but shuns taking responsibility. Dave Rolph describes this as the "freedom" of Calvary Chapel.


From the outside, it appears that Smith's first priority appears to be to make sure that the family assets are protected. The local church (CCCM) and the business interests need to be in the hands of trusted family members.


Beyond the home line

What happens is that the rest of the Calvary Chapels will be left to market forces after Smith passes. CCOF is set up as a denominational control point but is it's legs get chopped out of it when it comes to any real authority in the local church. About all that they are left with is the claimed ability to rescind the "Calvary Chapel" name although even this is probably not enforceable.


I'd love to hear from people who a different view of Calvary and the Vineyard.


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