Chuck Smith’s successor says he is expanding founder’s vision. Other leaders say he’s diluting it.
What would Chuck Smith do?
Three years after the Calvary Chapel founder’s death, church leaders continue to look to his legacy to defend competing views of the movement’s future.
Smith’s son-in-law and successor at California flagship Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, Brian Brodersen, left the Calvary Chapel Association (CCA) this past fall with plans to build on Smith’s vision—but from outside the fellowship that “Pastor Chuck” began.
“As I look at the current situation within Calvary Chapel, I don’t see this separation as negative but rather [as] necessary for God’s work to be expanded,” announced Brodersen, who launched a broader, looser body focused on international missions called the Calvary Chapel Global Network (CCGN).
His statement likened the split to the biblical example of Paul and Barnabas going different ways based on different understandings of mission.
However, a CCA council member compared Brodersen’s departure to a different biblical example: Mark leaving Paul’s authority.
Brodersen’s congregation maintains CalvaryChapel.com, and still includes the association’s 1,700 churches in the new CCGN unless they opt out. The CCA council stated they “cannot endorse” Brodersen’s network and recommended that churches leave it.
What he sees as growing Smith’s vision, they see as diluting it.
“Pastor Chuck left us a glorious legacy. Yet the new [CCGN], established by Brian Brodersen, now threatens that legacy,” the CCA council stated in late November. “Such a network will ultimately de-emphasize our Calvary Chapel distinctives … and will cause confusion.”