Philosophy of Ministry of Calvary Chapel (CONTINUED)
Looking back at my topical sermons, I realized
that I was always emphasizing what man should be doing for
God. They were sermons on the believer's walk; how we ought
to be praying more; how we ought to be giving more; how we
ought to be witnessing more; how we ought to be praising God
more. It was always on what we should be doing for God. That
is frustrating, especially for the congregation--yes, I know
I should be doing these things for God, but I don't know how.
You see, if you only pick those texts which are not usually
at the beginning of a chapter but somewhere down the line
where is says, "I beseech ye, therefore brethren, by the mercies
of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice,"
and you haven't gone back to the grace of God wherein we stand
and that we know all that God has wrought and done for us,
then my commitment can be just an emotional thing of the moment.
I'm being called to present my body without any basis for
In the Scriptures, the exhortations to commitment usually
begin with "therefore" or "wherefore." These words are never
the beginning of a thought but rather, words that call for
a response to the statements or arguments that preceded them.
Paul didn't begin the book of Romans with chapter twelve,
he began with chapter one. There's a natural progression of
thought through the book of Romans till you finally get to
chapter twelve where, because God has called you and justified
you and glorified you, I beseech you, therefore, to present
your bodies to Him.
Look at Ephesians, Paul begins the first chapter by saying,
"Thanks be unto God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ
in heavenly places." God has blessed us and Paul spends three
chapters telling us of all these spiritual blessings we have
in Christ. It's not until he gets to chapter four again he
uses the word "therefore." Because of what God has done for
you, therefore, walk ye worthy of the calling where you are
called." It's not until you get to chapter five that Paul
begins to exhort you how you are to walk in your relationship
with your family, your wife, your servants, your employees,
but again, only after he has given us the basis of what God
has already done for us. If we are only emphasizing to the
people what they should be doing for God, that is not a real
As I see it, the Bible teaches that God is the Initiator.
John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His
only begotten Son." God initiated His love towards me. God
reached out to me. God initiated my relationship with Him.
He chose me in Christ before the foundation of the world.
God initiated the whole thing. What I am to do, then, is
to respond to God. When you teach from this solid biblical
perspective, you will discover that when people really begin
to understand God and what God has done for them, they will
want to respond to God. You're not going to have to be begging
them to volunteer for work; they are going to be volunteering
on their own. You don't have to have all kinds of gimmicks
to get them to give. They're going to be wanting to give.
They want to respond to God. When they really know Who
God is and what God has done for them, then they respond to
God. I have been in services where people were encouraged
to "praise the Lord," so that God would bless them, because
they have been told that "the Lord inhabits the praises of
His people." In that case, you're saying man is the initiator;
that you can get things going between you and God. All you
have to do is praise Him a little bit. He'll respond and begin
to bless you. The truest praise is not something that is done
out of motive in my heart to get a blessing. If I am praising
the Lord just so I can get a blessing, that's not true praise.
That's a self-centered attitude. The object for praise in
that case is me, not God. The truest praise is that automatic
response of my heart at the recognition of the grace of God
to me when God has just done something fantastic for me, even
though I have failed miserably, yet God just lays some rich
blessing on me and my heart responds, "Oh God, You are too
much; I can't believe Your love and goodness." That's the
purest form of praise; that which comes spontaneously from
my heart at the recognition of God's grace in my life. I don't
praise the Lord so I can create an atmosphere in which God
will come down and bless me. My praises are a response to
the blessings that God has bestowed. God is the Initiator;
man is the responder.
The book of First Peter begins with a thanks to God who has
"begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection
of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is incorruptible
and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven
for you, who are kept by the power of God." This is all God's
part. We don't have anything to do with this. He's talking
about what God is doing. Thanks to God who has caused us to
be born again. Where do we come in? Peter says "we are kept
by the power through faith." That's where we come in, by just
believing that God has done all this for us. In John 6:29
Jesus said, "This is the work of God; just believe on Him
who He has sent." Yes, human response is important, but I
have to know to whom I am responding. I have to know God and
I have to know what God has done. A person will receive
this naturally if you are teaching through the Bible and through
the books of the Bible.
In essence, the philosophy of Calvary Chapel is to
perfect the saints for the work of the ministry and to build
up the body of Christ, instructing them in the Word until
they come into the unity of the faith and the knowledge of
the Son of God and into a full maturity, unto the stature
of the measure of the image of Christ. [And that is the goal
of the web site you're reading this from toward the entire
body of Christ.]
As you look at the church of Jesus
Christ, you'll find that there is a very broad spectrum. As
you look at our society, you will see there is also a very
broad spectrum of people with many and varied tastes. So at
one end of the broad spectrum you have the very formal liturgical
church: the prayer book, the robes, the choirs with their
chants, the incense, the candles, when to stand, kneel, sit,
and respond; everything's worked out for you; it's a very
formal, ritualistic, liturgical form of worship; on the other
end of the spectrum, you have no form, no program, a lot of
screaming, a lot of shouting, a lot of utterances in tongues,
people going all over and everybody standing up here and there;
there's no order; no form; you sort of sit there waiting for
what's going to happen next.
There are some people who seem to be able to relate to God
only in a very liturgical way. They like the rustling robes,
the chanting choirs and the smell of incense. As they sit
there, they have a sense of worship. When they walk out, they
have a sense of having been in the presence of God and love
to worship the Lord in that manner. I do not doubt that some
people actually, truly worship and love the Lord in that environment
and relate to Him in that liturgical way.
On the other hand, you have people who are all emotional and
unless they've had an emotional jolt and have gone through
a wide variety of physical kinds of things, they don't feel
that they have worshipped God properly. In fact, they'll often
come out of a teaching church and say, "That was the most
dead thing I've even been in. I don't know how you get anything
out of that old man; it was so dead. Why didn't they have
utterances in tongues? Why weren't there miracles?" Their
whole thing is an emotional kick. They live for en emotional
high and in that emotional high, they have the sense of worshiping
God. That's the way they relate to God, in an emotional way.
God knows that there are emotional people; He also knows that
there are people on the liturgical side. And God loves them
Because God knows that there are some people who can only
relate to Him in a liturgical way, He has the liturgical churches
so they can minister to those people who need the liturgy.
Because He knows that there are people who can only relate
to Him in a highly emotional way, He has the highly emotional
churches where people can go and relate to Him through emotional
experiences. I thank God for these churches and I see their
place in the body of Christ. The swing of the church pendulum,
then, is marked by the highly liturgical on one side, and
the totally non-conforming experiential on the other.
Coming down the spectrum from the liturgical side, you
have those churches that teach the Word of God. Their
services are somewhat a ritual, that is, you can know every
Sunday just what's going to go on. It's been going on for
the 100 years and you can feel rather secure because you know
you're going to have the call to worship, the opening hymn,
the announcements, the offering, then the sermon, the benediction,
and time to go home. The sermon is an exposition of the Word
and there are a great many gifted teachers. Unfortunately,
though, many of them deny the anointing power of the Holy
Spirit, so, as a result, you have a dead orthodoxy.
Calvary Chapel believes in teaching the Word of God through
the power of the Spirit of God which changes the lives of
the people of God. If you have just the Spirit--emphasis
with no Word and no foundation in the Word, then you are leading
the people into experiences only, which are shallow. If you
have just the Word of God without the Spirit, then you are
leading people into dead orthodoxy. It takes the power
of the Spirit of God to make the changes, but it takes the
Word of God to give the substance and to give the foundation.
It is that blending of the Word of God and being taught
through the power of the Spirit of God that brings the changes
in the people. [One comment: Chuck and Nancy
Missler taught in their book Way of Agape about the significance
of the bronze lavers for washing the priests. They were made
from women's looking glasses, so when the priests washed before
entering the temple to serve, they could see themselves in
the looking glasses which made up the bottom of the lavers.
In James 1:22-23 James tells us the Law of God is a spiritual
mirror, to show us where the spiritual dirt is in our lives.
The water in the lavers represents the Holy Spirit. To try
to wash just using the Word, without the water of the Spirit
just smears the dirt--dead orthodoxy does this. It takes both
the Word, our spiritual mirror, and the water of the Holy
Spirit, to make changes, clean up spiritually.]
Calvary Chapel recognizes the need for the power of the Spirit,
but we also recognize the need for the solid foundation and
teaching of the Word. To effectively teach the Word, however,
it takes the anointing and the power of the Holy Spirit so
that the person teaching the Word of God is usually exercising
the gifts of the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge and
prophecy, and these gifts are in operation in the pastor's
life as he is teaching the Word of God. This is where Calvary
Chapel fits into the church spectrum.
Since our society has changed drastically over the last twenty-five
years, it is necessary to bisect the church spectrum with
a perpendicular line labeled "High World View" at the top
and "Low World View" at the bottom. The High World View consists
of people who are highly structured, highly organized and
have highly developed programs. Everything fits right within
its little niche, fitting together in this very carefully
put-together package. The Low World View is the kick-back,
casual, take-it-as-it-comes attitude.
On both sides of the High and Low World View are those who
are dependent and those who are independent. The people who
are dependent need something or someone on which to lean.
They need a church that emphasizes their dependency on the
church, and the dependency of the church on them. You have
those who are highly organized and dependent. You have those
who are casual and dependent, and you have those who are casual
and independent. The majority of churches today would fit
into the dependent, highly organized, structured, developed,
everybody-on-a-committee and everybody-knows-what-their-duty-is
category. That church says, "We depend upon you. We depend
upon your giving, your being here. And you depend upon us
for your spiritual life and salvation." When you miss a service,
the designated person will call you the next day to see if
you are alright and to find out why you missed the service.
You dare not visit another church, for you will be accused
of leaving the Lord. They don't always say it, but they believe
that your salvation depends upon your remaining faithful to
Calvary Chapel, on the other hand, fits into the casual, kick-back,
independent mold. We appeal to people who are more casual
and more independent; people who don't generally have to lean
upon anyone, nor do they want to be leaned on. They can wear
T-shirts, no ties, or three-piece suits if they want; no one
cares about how you are dressed.
With the social structures in the United States today
having changed quite a bit over the last few years, moving
more and more toward a highly technical society, ninety percent
of the people in our country would seem to fit into the rather
independent and casual way of life, especially in southern
California, while the remaining ten percent are of the organized,
dependent mold. As a result, you've got ninety percent of
the churches fishing in a little pond of ten percent of the
people and fighting over their share of the little pond. On
the other side, you've got Calvary Chapel, and a few churches
like it, fishing all by themselves in the ninety percent pond.
The ninety percent churches come and look at us and say, "What
are you doing?" They study our church; study what
they think is our program, and say, "Well, it's because they
let kids go barefooted. That's the key." And they're finding
all sorts of keys to explain why people are being attracted
and packing out the Calvary Chapel churches.
What they fail to observe, however, is that it's the
Spirit of God working through the Word of God in the lives
of the people of God that is the key; not following
or conforming to the traditional church. People don't feel
threatened. They don't feel like they're going to be collared
and be thrown a Sunday school book and told, "Oh, thank God,
brother, you've been here three Sundays. We need you to teach
Sunday school now." You're not going to be pressured; your
service is going to be something that's going to come from
within you as you respond to the Lord.
The philosophy of Calvary Chapel is giving and ministering
rather than taking and being ministered to. You will find
that a lot of ministries [in other churches] exist in order
to be ministered to. They don't mind letting you know: "We
need your support to keep this ministry going. This ministry
depends on you." I've concluded that any ministry that depends
upon man for its existence and operation should die, and the
best thing we could do is let it die. Calvary Chapel, then,
exists to minister and our emphasis is on giving; giving to
the people; ministering to the people.
We had a very wealthy man who was vice president of a tool
company from Texas, as well as being in the oil business.
He attended Calvary Chapel quite regularly, and we became
very close to him and to his wife. All the while, though,
he kept saying to his wife, "When are they going to hit us
for the money?" He just kept waiting for our pitch for his
The Sunday before Thanksgiving I announced that we had so
much to be thankful for and how God had been so good to us
that year. "Unfortunately, though," I said, "there are some
who are going through difficulties and they don't have much
for which to be thankful." As I started talking about the
problems that some people were having and the financial difficulties
they were going through, the man nudged his wife and said,
"At last, he's finally getting there. I knew the pitch had
to come some time."
I concluded my statements, however, not the way he had been
expecting. I said, "So, if you are in need this Thanksgiving
and you are going through some real financial difficulties,
just see our assistant pastor after the service and the church
will be glad to give you a turkey and all that you need for
your Thanksgiving dinner. We just pray that you'll have a
glorious Thanksgiving." The man was absolutely dumbfounded.
We were simply operating according to the truth of the Scriptures,
as Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive.
That is our philosophy: giving the Word of God freely to people;
giving freely of ourselves in serving the people; going the
By the same token, the minister is to minister rather than
be ministered to. Somewhere along the line there has been
a tremendous flip-flop in terminology and ideas in ministry.
The word "minister" really means "servant" and Joshua was
Moses' minister. It meant that he was Moses' servant, that
is, he ministered to the needs of Moses. He was Moses' errand
boy. That's what the word "minister" means. Yet, I am amazed
at how upset some ministers get when someone asks them to
minister to the needs of the congregation. "Can you believe
he called me up for a ride? Doesn't he now that I'm the minister
here?" If you are the minister then he should have
called you for a ride. Jesus said, "He that would be the chief
among you, let him be the servant of all."
The minister is a servant. Remember, it was Jesus who took
the towel and girded himself, and went around and began to
wash the feet of His disciples. That was the job of the servant,
not of the master. Dusty paths, open sandals, feet were always
dirty. When someone would come to your home, the lowest servant
in the house had the duty of coming up, taking off the guest's
sandals at the door and washing his feet in a basin of water.
That was the role Jesus chose and illustrated for us by His
example at the Last Supper. Jesus told the disciples, "Do
you see what I have done to you? If I, being the Lord, have
washed your feet, so ought you to wash one another's feet."
In other words, the idea is that we are to be servants, and
we should think of ministry as servanthood. The book The Jesus
Style written by Gayle Irwin [check http://www.amazon.com or http://www.Christianbooks.com for it]
would acquaint you with what real Christian service is all
about and what ministry should be about. The entire church,
from the pastor on down, is here to be minister to the needs
of others. We are not here to be ministered to. We do not
look to the people to minister to us; we look for ways to
minister to them.
The philosophy of Calvary Chapel is to see the whole body
of Christ, and we are filling one little area of the spectrum
that God has called us to fill, and we want to be faithful
to that calling. We strive to see the whole body of Christ
and the purpose of the whole body, and so the only place where
we might be in conflict with others in the body of Christ
is where they are not leading people to a personal relationship
with Jesus Christ. That may sound bizarre to some but unfortunately,
there are churches that have gotten to the place where they
are no longer leading people to a personal relationship with
We're not in competition with the churches that are leading
people to Jesus Christ; we're not fighting them. We don't
exist to fight them; we exist to fight the devil and to proclaim
Jesus Christ. Jesus said to His disciples, "You will receive
power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be
witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem and in Judea and in Samaria,
and unto the uttermost parts of the earth." Their witness
for Christ was to begin in Jerusalem, and it was very effective
in Jerusalem. A few months after the birth of the church,
the disciples were brought to court and the charges against
them were this: "You have filled the whole city with this
man's [Jesus] doctrine." Now that was a successful church.
Would to God that we could be brought to court and the charges
against us are that we filled the whole city with the doctrine
of Christ. I would say praise the Lord.
Persecution had scattered the church of Jesus Christ throughout
all of Judea, and wherever they went, they preached Christ.
We then read that Phillip went to Samaria and preached Christ
to the Samaritans, and many of the Samaritans believed and
were baptized when they saw the miracles Phillip was doing.
Then we read that the Holy Spirit said, "Separate unto Me,
Paul and Barnabas, for the ministry where I have called them."
They fasted and prayed and laid hands on them and Paul and
Barnabas headed for the island of Cyprus. Later Paul took
the gospel to Asia Minor, Rome, Greece and Macedonia. Thomas
took the gospel to India. In just thirty years after the birth
of the church, Paul wrote to the Colossian church, "The Word
of the gospel has come to you as it has in all the world."
In just thirty years the disciples had spread the message
into all the world.
When we started at Calvary Chapel in 1965 with only 25
people, I was determined that I would make those 25 people
the most knowledgeable people of God's Word in all the harbor
area. I began teaching them five nights a week: two nights
in the church; three nights in the home Bible studies. One
night a week, Saturday night, I had a prayer meeting with
the men. We took Acts, chapter two, as our pattern:
"They continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine, in
fellowship, in breaking of bread, and in prayer."
We decided that these would be the essential elements of our
worship and fellowship. The emphasis would be the teaching
of the Word, the Apostles doctrine. We would teach them solid
doctrine; scriptural doctrine. We would teach them about God.
We would teach them about Jesus Christ. We would teach them
about the Holy Spirit. We would teach them about man. We would
teach them about sin. We would teach them about salvation,
and we would teach them about the coming again of Jesus Christ.
Solid doctrine; the Apostles' doctrine.
We began to develop the fellowship, the koinonia,
where we really became an integrated unit and began to minister
to each other both in the physical and in the spiritual sense,
praying for each other, binding our lives together in prayer,
helping out each other in a physical sense. If one in the
group was in need, we would all go together to help him, creating
a strong fellowship. We would also gather together in these
Bible studies and break bread.
In the book of Acts it says that as they did these things,
the Lord added daily to the church such as should be saved.
As we began to teach the people, this fellowship began to
grow into a union, a oneness, a sharing in prayer and in love
and in support, and as we began to break bread together, worshipping
the Lord together, remembering Jesus Who died for us, and
as we started praying together, the group began to grow. My
wife led a prayer meeting for the ladies in the neighborhood
during the week and I led one for the men on Saturday nights.
We also had a group of men we had designated as elders who
would visit and pray for the sick. As we began to do these
things faithfully, we found that the Lord began to add daily
to the church such as should be saved.
In six months we had increased to fifty people. Within
a year we had a hundred people. In eighteen months we were
looking for another facility because we were packing out the
little church in which we were meeting. We had the promise
of getting a local Lutheran church whose congregation was
building a new facility, but they were delayed in their plans,
so, we started meeting Sunday afternoons in the Lutheran church
and waiting patiently until the church could become ours.
We waited for two years but continued growing until we were
soon packing out the Lutheran church as well, so, by the time
we were able to move into the Lutheran church, we had already
outgrown it. Instead, we built our own building and lasted
there for two years until we were so packed and crowded that
we had to move into a tent. [So if you don't think these principles
and philosophy of ministry work, think again.]
While we were building our new sanctuary, we changed the plans
three different time for enlargement. We were growing so fast,
the architect couldn't get the plans drawn quickly enough
to accommodate our expansion. We had actually outgrown the
church three times while it was still on the drawing board
and when we opened our doors, we were at two Sunday morning
services, and that only lasted two weeks before increasing
As we grew and covered Jerusalem, we began to spread into
Judea. My son, Chuck Jr., Greg Laurie, Jeff Johnson, Mike
Macintosh, Raul Ries and Jon Courson began Bible studies and
fellowships all throughout California. From Judea we spread
into Samaria with other effective Calvary Chapels springing
up in Washington, Oregon, Florida, Kansas, New York, Pennsylvania,
Illinois, New Mexico and Washington, D.C. Now we are in the
uttermost parts of the world. England, Hungary, Yugoslavia,
Czechoslovakia, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Singapore, Hong
Kong, Taiwan, Philippines, Thailand, India, Egypt, Uganda,
Peru, Chile, San Salvador, Guatamala, and elsewhere.
If the Lord tarries, will we continue to see this exponential
type of growth, this explosion? It can happen if we will just
hang loose and let the Spirit lead; let the Spirit move.
Don't try to get things too organized. Let God take care of
that. Just teach the Word, bring people into a loving relationship
with Jesus Christ and each other, and celebrate communion
with them. When God established the nation of Israel,
the form of government was a theocracy, that is, they were
to be a people ruled by God. They were not to be as other
nations with a king over them. They were to be a nation that
would be distinct in the fact that they would be ruled by
God. It was a sad day in their history when they came to Samuel
and said, "We want to appoint a king over us like the other
As a theocracy, God established the nation of Israel, but
He called Moses to be the earthly leader over the nation,
and God, through Moses, led the people. Moses was the recognized
instrument of God in leading the people. When things became
too heavy for Moses, the responsibilities too great, he gathered
seventy of the elders of Israel, representatives from the
twelve tribes, and the Spirit of God, Who was upon Moses,
came upon them also. And they began to rule with Moses.
However, there were times when the people would bring an issue
to one of the elders that they were not able to resolve. In
that case the issue was then brought to Moses and Moses, in
turn, went to God and God gave Moses the answer to the problem.
Reversing the process, Moses would then pass the answer to
the elders, who passed it to the people.
Also, under Moses' charge was Aaron and the priesthood from
the tribe of Levi who oversaw the spiritual aspects of the
nation. As the elders were overseeing the legal and business
squabbles and differences of the people, the priests were
overseeing the spiritual aspects of the people.
The following is a diagram of the type of government God established
with the nation of Israel, and a diagram of what Calvary Chapel
understands as the New Testament counterpart as God's government
for the church:
[Calvary Chapels can best be defined as "independent affiliates"
of their "mother" church, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, California,
all operating on the philosophy of ministry being expounded
here and on the principles of ministry given in the other
article in this section. The idea of independent affiliates
forming throughout the body of Christ and its denominations
is a sound one that could breathe dynamic new life into the
body of Christ, especially if these "affiliates" put into
practice these powerful concepts of ministry found in these