Calvary Chapel after Chuck Smith
I remember Chuck Smith teaching about clinging to what God has done in the past instead of moving forward with Him in the new directions God wants to go. We remember the joy and the touch of God in a certain place, and the place, those trappings become like an idol for us. For Pastor Chuck, he saw it when Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa erected the tent. There was concern in the congregation. It’s too big a change. How can meeting in a tent be the same as at the small church? When the new facility was completed, the congregation was concerned again. It’s too big a change. How can the new facility compare to the power of meeting God in the tent?
In his teaching on Mark 6, he said:
It is interesting how easily the traditions of man can become the dogmas and the doctrines of the church. Things that are just traditions. I think that traditions are probably the hardest thing a person has to deal with as far as being free. We are bound by traditions. Traditions have a greater hold on a person than almost anything else. These traditions are deeply ingrained in us.
I think it was at a pastor’s conference, he jokingly warned us against being locked in the past. He said something like, “If, after I’m gone, you start saying well Chuck Smith always did this way so this is what we have to do, I’m going to come back and haunt you…”
But, how do we balance that with the grief of losing a beloved pastor? How do we balance that with the desire to stay true to the vision of God? On one side we are mired in memories of a past revival, living in a dead faith in the present. On the other, we lose our identity and are no longer Calvary Chapel.
Here’s the key. The focus is Christ and His Word. We commit ourselves to continuing God’s work. That is what would have pleased our dear pastor most. He did not create a brand. He did not build a empire to his name and his memory. He followed God, and God did a marvelous work. We want God to do a new, marvelous work in our midst. We do that by focusing on Christ and His Word. We teach. We evangelize. We love one another. These are the “traditions” Pastor Chuck would want us to keep, for they are not the traditions of man but the commandments of God.
I see that many are hurting in this time of transition. Each little tradition that changes suddenly becomes a great loss. This is part of our grieving process for Pastor Chuck. The solution, though, is not to cling to the past. A grieving parent may keep their child’s room just as he left it. That is not what Pastor Chuck wanted. He never desired that we keep things just as he left it. He would want us to keep things and to change things just as God leads.
Understand this most of all. God is doing more than beginning a new work in Calvary Chapel. He is beginning a new work in you.
Headliner Image of interior Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa: http://j7architecture.com/projects.php?type=religious