Calvary Chapel San Diego


Church Review
Scriptural View: 4/5
Beliefs: 2/5
Community: 3/5
Preaching: Expository
Worship: Saturday 6 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m., 6 p.m., Wednesday 7 p.m.

Website Review
Site Usability: 2/5
Site Design: 2/5
Site Content: 3/5

Review: Calvary Chapel San Diego (CCSD), as its name obviously suggests, is an off-shoot of the monolithic movement started in Costa Mesa California in the early 1970’s under the leadership of Pastor Chuck Smith. In San Diego alone, there are dozens of fellowships affiliated with Calvary Chapel. Because CCSD (and most other Calvary’s) model themselves after the Costa Mesa church, we will examine the movement as a whole and make a view particular observations about CCSD.

CCSD is one of the larger fellowships in San Diego having just moved into a new building in the booming Otay Ranch community of Chula Vista. The sprawling property, which covers an entire block, also houses a K-12 private Christian school called Calvary Christian Academy.

As with most Calvary Chapels, they should be commended for their high view of Scripture. Nearly everyone attending the church carries their own Bible and most are feverishly scribbling on notepads and marking the margins of their Bible during the sermon. Pastor Bryan Newberry faithfully teaches verse by verse and book by book through the Bible and it is clear that anyone attending CCSD continually is sure to be exposed to a regular diet of scripture.

What Calvary Chapel actually believes about the scriptures is quite a different matter, however. Instead of a clear statement of faith as to what they believe, CCSD chooses instead to hang its theological hat on the catch phrase “Simply Jesus!” While this may seem really spiritual and non-threatening on the surface, it belies what they really believe. Although CCSD (and all Calvary’s for that matter) claim to not put a strong emphasis on doctrine because it causes division, a careful examination of the movement’s teaching and writings tell a different story. In his book Calvary Chapel Distinctives (Word for Today Publishing, 2000), founding Pastor Chuck Smith writes: “In Calvary Chapel we value the teaching of the Word, and possess an open heart to the work of the Holy Spirit. This balance makes Calvary Chapel a distinct and uniquely blessed movement of God. (emphasis mine).” The bottom line is that it is precisely their doctrine that makes them a Calvary Chapel. Any deviation from their core doctrinal beliefs and a church can no longer be called a Calvary Chapel. Out of one side of their mouth, Calvary Chapel pleads for unity and non-division…out of the other side of their mouth, they view themselves as “a distinct and uniquely blessed movement of God.” Simply Jesus, huh? (Note: Pointing out distinctions in doctrine is NOT a bad thing. It is what churches should do. It is doctrinal distinctions that separate a truly biblical church from a cult. The problem we have with Calvary Chapel is that, under the guise of being spiritual, they claim to not do it. Their actions and writings prove otherwise.)

Another problem at CCSD, and most other large mega-churches, is a lack of pastoral oversight and community. The church keeps no formal membership which makes biblical church discipline non-existent. With its well-attended, multiple services, it is very likely that you will never see the same people very often, at least not often enough to build any strong relationships. And forget about actually knowing or meeting the pastor or elders (do they have elders?)! As with most large churches, the real ministering and discipleship is said to be done in small groups (or home fellowships). While small groups are important and a vital part of any church, it should NEVER be a substitute for the corporate gathering of God’s people and the oversight of godly shepherds. At CCSD, there is something to do every night of the week: married fellowships, single fellowships, drug/alcohol recovery groups, youth groups, teen groups, Spanish-speaking groups and on and on. Again, while small groups are good, is this the biblical model of community, everyone divided into groups and sub-groups based on age, gender, nationality or vice? It is conceivable that one could be very busy and active in the church and NOT experience true fellowship and community. Unfortunately, it is all too easy in a church this large to slip through the cracks…

While Calvary Chapel faithfully preaches through the Bible, it seems as if many of the scriptural admonitions about the importance of the local church are neglected or flat out ignored. Thus, the growth of an individual Christian in this environment is sure to be affected in the long run. A new Christian may find the church very helpful and learn a great deal about spiritual disciplines like prayer, bible study, evangelism and service. However, because of their extremely narrow and shortsighted doctrinal positions we can only give Calvary Chapel a half-hearted recommendation.


  1. I have attended Calvary Chapel from the time I was four, 19 years in total. This chuch has grown drasticly over time, though I have never sensed a loss of closeness of relationships. Our Pastor, Bryan Newberry, encourages meeting new people and getting to know others EVERY SERVICE.

    There are elders at CCSD- very great pastoral figures who are open to developing relationships with everyone in the congregation.

    Please do not be mislead by this review of CCSD. Here you will find the Bread of Life, brothers and sisters in Christ who love the Lord and love eachother.

    By the way, “Simply Jesus” refers to the Christian’s relationship with the Lord. It all comes down to, well, simply Jesus. It’s not about us- it’s not about anything we (ourselves) or anyone else done. We are saved through Jesus, we have purpose through the Salvation through Him, and our lives are built on the Hope of Heaven, by Jesus’ death and provision for salvation. It’s not complicated, and it’s not just “another truth”. He is THE WAY, THE TRUTH, and THE LIFE.

  2. I have found a very grave misleading by the head shepherd of Calvary Chapel. I too attend a Calvary Chapel and came away feeling like I just left a very bizarre cult.

    They speak from both sides of the neck. And can not be trusted. But if anyone has a copy of the Harvest please look on page 23 at the second to the last paragraph and read the false prophecy that Chuck Smith makes. He claims that God was changing his name, yet his name has never been changed and has always been what it is.

    God warns us about using his name in a false manner. This should alarm many people but this manner is so clever that it does not even strike anyone as wrong or even heresy.

    Chuck Smith has now proven himself to be a false prophet.

  3. I’ve been attending Calvary Chapel San Diego for the last 5 years and I’d just like to say “It’s all about Jesus”. We are all united as Christians by truth ( the truth about Jesus)

    “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
    Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”(Ephesians 4:11)

    It’s seems to me that those who do not know the word of God cling to one defining doctrine that separates them from other Christians. Instead of leading people to Christ, they lead people to their church as the source of salvation.

    “You search the Scriptures because you believe they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” (John 5:39)

  4. Whoever has written this review has probably never invested time into the regular attendance to Calvary Chapel San Diego. If they had they would see that if you slip through the cracks is because you choose to. Using your words ” at CCSD there is something to do every night of the week”, there are to many opportunities to connect with someone whether it be after service prayer time or Sunday evening community prayer. As far as meeting an elder there are 45 elders that serve through out all the services who are in the front of the church ready to pray with anybody who requires it. These men are there to lift up the hands of Bryan and to connect with their brethren. I can testify to this for I am one those elders I know at least 100 to 150 people by name. Multiply this by 45 and you have the congregation more than covered. These men plus women counselors are out there praying talking to and forming relationships with new and old congregants. On top of this out of the 45 men there are 20-30 who are in what’s called the Pastor’s college, men who are being trained for the ministry at the feet of Bryan and our Lord Jesus Christ. To the writer I would say come and see why we say Simply Jesus, because his love was uncomplicated and true such as His is ours.

    Yours In Christ,
    David E. Guzman

  5. I am a single Mom of three and I thank my Lord Jesus Christ for the wonderful family He have provided for me and my children; The family that we have found in every single member of CALVARY CHAPEL SAN DIEGO including Pastor Bryan and The Elders.
    I have been attending Calvary Chapel San Diego for over 3 years and I totally disagree with the commentary of the person who rated our Church. I know all the Elders and they know me even by name and we are many. My teen children are being lead to Christ and are now been Saved by the Grace of God, for He provided help, love, patience and the truth in God’s Words through the bible teachings of our Youth Pastors along with the fervent prayers of the Leaders for their salvation. The fellowship that I have found here in CCSD is awsome and it has been a helpful key for me to grow as a Jesus Christ follower. Here in Calvary Chapel WE ARE FAMILY, Not just a Sunday morning Church members, We encourage one another with love, fervently lifting each other up in prayer our burdens, trials, and weaknesses. Helping each other in concern for the brothers and sisters in need. As one body we function, as THE BODY OF CHRIST.
    Ministries are always open and available as our Lord Jesus Christ leads anyone who desires to serve. We warmly welcome and assist visitors the same as existing members. Simply Jesus is what we profess and we apply our believes through His word which is our daily bread.
    Sadly, the Commentor or judge did not feel the presence of our God, Lord Jesus Christ Holy Spirit dwelling among us.
    I pray that our Lord Jesus Christ will grant this men the gift of discernment in his churches judgements and ratings to come.
    God Bless!

    In Christ, Monica O.

    John 7:24 Do not judge according to appearence, but judge with righteous judgement.
    1 Timothy 6:20-21 Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and vain babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – by professing it, some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.

  6. I am so glad that you did your homework on Calvary Chapel San Diego. Have you ever attended a service? If you would have, you would know that the elders and pastors are available up front afterwards to talk or pray with you. You would also know that we are aware when new people come and also when they do not return. We stand to the beliefs of the Bible and stick to our “simply Jesus” statement of faith to say that we believe in the ministry as Jesus exemplified during His ministry. As a member, we haven’t proclaimed false judgements upon your church without ever actually attending, so I find it odd that, as a child of God, you could bad mouth another part of the body of Christ? Yet it shouldn’t suprise me since Jesus was also ridiculed by the “so-called” religious leaders of His days. All I can tell you is that maybe you should come by for a Sunday night service and see exactly what we are doing-face down in prayer for our city, state and nation-including you! I am sorry that you would not recommend our church, but I am more sorry that you have not truly experienced what we are every sunday evening- the presence of God!

  7. I am truly sorry that you have this opinion. I am the wife of one of the leaders in the church and I myself did not realize what church you are talking about. My husband is always out ministering to the community. Whether he is evangilizing in Public schools or communities, helping those who need it, ministering to those in hospitals(at any time!) or serving the body, he is serving these people. Isn’t that what Jesus called us to do? I don’t think you have even attended one of our services or you would know that the pastors and elders are available afterwards up front for prayer. If you came on a Sunday evening, you would find us face down in prayer for our city, country and even you! What I have experienced here is the most important thing-the presence of God.I have attended this church for 19 years and have seen the hand of God moving mightily. We weren’t just handed that ” sprawling property that spans a whole block” but prayed for and saw the Lord give us that property. Jesus came that we may have life and lived a life that we are to exemplify. He had His close disciples, but it was the “Religious leaders” of His time that worried themselves with hierarchy and position. This same Jesus is the one who stated that a prophet is not welcomed in his own town. As for the reference to “our doctrinal differences is what lets us know what is a truly biblical church and what is a cult” , we do not have our own doctrine but follow the Word of God, therefore if you do not agree with the Doctrine of God, then of course you would be a cult- and that is how it should be! Anyone who adds or takes away from the word of God is a cult. Where do we get that viewpoint from? The Bible! In Galatians 1 and also in Revelation 22 we see that. We do, however, believe that many other denominations worship differently but are still our brothers and sisters in Christ. The Baptists, for example, do not believe that the gifts are for today. Does that make them any less of a child of God? Surely not! You should really get your facts straight before you form a public opinion of someone. I hope that next time you evaluate something you actually do your own research and form an opinion based on truth and nothing else!

  8. You are truly mistaken! I will pray for you!

  9. So out of curiousity why is it that there no information about the critic of what makes a perfect and successful church?I”d like to know where you attend church and serve.Throw your resume-name-and what youve done in the ministry?Even throw a picture up!
    Annoymous critics are a scourge to the body.You require that others post their info,so why are you hypocritical in regards to your indentity?I dont see Paul or any of the boyz hiding their names.Paul begins his letters by stating who he is-how he was called and to whom he was sent-Flows doesnt it?You dont.You could be a Mormon-JW-or most likely an unfruitful self rigtheous carnal believer causing discord.
    At least your a coward!Now,that being said let me share some scriptural principals in the way Gods word is to be handled.Paul is very clear that there are different operations of the gifts of God(Ro 12).Meaning,different ways to do evangelism-different styles of teaching,different and unique traits that God gives to a body.
    As an example,in Nehemiah 8 were told they”read from the Law distinctly-they then explained-then it was illustrated.Reading your reviews of some incredibly gifted communicators you fail in your appreciation of the different skins God can wrap his truth in.So,you have fallen prey to the problem the Corinthians had in comparing men with men.”Im of Paul-Im of Appollos-Im of Peter”,,,The arguement presented by Paul to these “Carnal” believers was different men-styles,but were all Gods men.
    Thats where you have fallen.You would be a perfect candidate to be one of the legalistic Pharisees that belonged to the Jerusalem church.But perhaps this is news to you.Your cure rest in taking the tie that strangles your small impoverished heart off.
    As far as what is a successful church the grid is pretty basic.Acts ch 2,The word was taught(on a level where everyone can understand),they fellowshipped-broke bread(Talked about how good the Lord is)and worshipped him.From there God determines the right Pastor for that congregation and a congregation for that Pastor.
    However,the most defining for a successful church is its Love.Of course you remember Jesus saying “by your love for one another they will know you are my disciples”.A church that is loving is the most dominate sign of a great pastor and church.Like begets like!
    I feel sorry for your pastor to have someone like you sitting there criticizing and not loving.However,given your attitude and lack of respect for the diversity of the body of Christ I doubt you have a church outside of your own lil clique.So,dont be a coward-prove yourself by showing what youve done and are doing in bringing people to Christ and lets hear of your fruit!
    Better yet,contact me directly and lets talk face to face as Peter was cronfronted by Paul over his regression into legalism-step up Peter lets be brotherly-God calls you to repentance!
    A concerned brother,,,,,Jeff

  10. I too attended a Calvary and I would agree with the review. I know that the emphasis is on love and service, and I have no problem with that. However I do believe that Calvary chapel is missing so much of the Christian faith. The non denominational aspect becomes in a sense “their” denomination. It is saying that of all the other churches and liturgies that have existed for nearly 400 years in this country are unimportant or have no value. Classic reformed faith and theology are thrown out. They don’t need any of it. This strikes me as arrogance. I am sure that people will just give simple answers like “we have the holy spirit-that’s all we need” etc….ultimately the theology at CC is extremely shallow. And that is sad because there are a lot of great things about it, but again so much is being missed. We need to get away from subjectivity and back to the objective truth of the Word of the living God. I think that Calvary chapel is fine for a new believer, but to mature and grow, one would need to move on.

  11. I have been to Calvary Chapel on three occasions not including a wednesday night Bible study. Every time they consistently attempted to destroy another churches views. It wasn’t until later that I realized that the two teaching the sermons were both ex-drug addicts who did nothing to make ammends to those who they wronged while on various crime sprees. The goal of me writing this is not to express whether or not I think Calvary Chapel teaches accurate teachings, but rather to show that hypocriticism of CC’s leaders.

  12. I’m not a member of Calvary Chapel and probably won’t be as it is far away from where I live and I don’t have a car right now. But I was just wondering how Christopher Friskey knows that the two teachers were ex-drug addicts or that they had done nothing to make amends? Was it because they revealed that about themselves? If so, I think that public confession is one means to making amends, at least partially. And to state that a former drug user cannot be made clean and new again in spirit by Jesus’s sacrifice is to deny his power.

  13. I am floored to see that a Christian can attend one CC church briefly and judge the whole movement. So many people seem to forget that even the best churches are full of humans.
    Personally, I like small churches the most. It is too easy to get lost in ANY big church. Not just Calvary Chapel. So, rather than blaming the whole of Calvary Chapel, I found a smaller Calvary Chapel. I chose the church not because I thought it was better than any other, but because I knew that if it carries the name’ Calvary Chapel’, it would teach the Word of God.

  14. It seems the reviewer has an ax to grind, and has come with his own preconceived notions and his own idea as to what is an acceptable theology that can qualify as worthy of his imprimateur…and of course the best theology and form of not only church government but form of worship is “HIS”. It’s amazing that such a blanket statement can be made, criticizing a work that God is obviously using and that is blessing so many people, and because it’s not for you because it’s not your “classic style” doesn’t justify your slamming it….It’s sad that every new work of God is put down by those who “are stablished” in their own religious affiliation. This reviewer would have in like manner slammed the new work of God when He was using Methodism as the brothers John and Charles were being used by God in their time, or Martin Luther proclaimed, “The Just shall live by fait”, hey that’s kind of simplistic insn’t it, how can he ignore the importance of indulges and papal authority, and who does he think he is thinking that the common man can correctly read and interpret the Bible for himself…..etc. May God help us to not “call unclen what God has cleansed”, in the Calvary Chapel Movement and all those future movements that God will raise up to accomplish His will in these last days.

  15. I attended CCSD for 10 years, then my family moved to New Mexico where we attend a CC here. We came to have an intimate relation with Jesus at CCSD and others will have that same relation built on Jesus instead of the pastor. If the reviewer should find the perfect church, please don’t attend as you will then reduce it’s perfection.

  16. I feel led to give my testimony after reading the reviewer’s comments about CC. I was saved ten years ago at CC when it first opened in Bonita and Brian Newberry was my pastor. My witness is this: I gained a sound biblical foundation for my faith that has carried me through some tough times. In fact, because of the foundation CC gave me, I was able to discern some false prophets (including Arnold Murray) when I moved back East and couldn’t find a CC. In my travels I tried many churches, and they all fell short. They either didn’t teach the work (relied on topical sermons) or held legalistic practices (passing an exam to become a “member”).
    Now I’ve returned to SoCal and returned to CC and am blessed. I am aware of the criticism surrounding those people who have left the church. I have never felt brainwashed; I was blessed with the ability to use some discernment (which God gave me through His word) when experiencing other Churches, and I am thankful that Calvalry gave me the foundation by in-depth study of the scriptures. I know I am a sinner and fall short, but for the Grace of God am able to make this testimony. CC, as all churches, I am sure has problems, but the Word of God is perfect and my faith is in His word; I am not saved by CC, but by God. CC was/is an important part of my faith.

  17. I read the conflicting reviews of CCSD. I am not a member of this church nor have I made an attempt to know anyone personally at this time but I do attend the meetings. Everyone one is very friendly and kind. For the members of CCSD there’s no need to feel offended or lash out in defending your church. Jesus was not a very popular person while on this earth, but he still loved us. I don’t know Pastor Newberry personally, he doesn’t even know I exist, but I feel like I’ve know him for ever. This Pastor teaches the word and speaks about Jesus in such a passionate way that makes me love Jesus more every day. Thus the title of CCSD’s radio ministry “Words of Encouragement” is most appropriate. Pastor Newberry is an anointed Teacher and has a passion for Jesus that ignited my love for my Lord Jesus even more. This is the reason why I visit CCSD. I didn’t go for Newberry, but to learn more about “Simply Jesus” the author and finisher of our fath.
    I haven’t decided to attend his church yet because I live pretty far, but my heart is there. At everyone CCSD stay encouraged in this ministry.

  18. As a former member of CC, I think it’s only fair that my reply be expressed that isn’t in favor of CC. There are plenty of us out here who were hurt by the teachings of CC, and when I went to the pastor for help, he came to the conclusion that I must never have been “saved”. How could I possibly be troubled by their teachings?, yet I was. Things like Chuck Smith Sr. never thought we’d ever see the year 1980. Then it was 1981, etc. Love is preached but fear is used to control people. Arrogance abounds there. And other denominations were always being attacked.If I could go back in time, I would never have gone there. It left scars on me emotionally. My voice and the voices of others who don’t give it a glowing report need to be heard.

  19. Wow, I was a little taken back when I read all of these reviews. I think there is merit on both sides. But the real issue for me is this: People need to put their eyes on Jesus and not a Pastor or a Church. Many people want so badly to find the perfect Church or perfect Pastor which will never happen. I have attended Calvary Chapel’s and understand the criticism of becoming its own denomination by preaching non-denomination. I understand all of the Jesus is coming back tomorrow to which did not happen.

    I think people have got to get back to putting their eyes and trust in the Lord and stop putting your eyes on people. The Church is nothing more than imperfect people in an imperfect world.

    The concern I have on both sides of this issue is that a non believer who could be trying to seek the Lord could be stumbled by the dialogue appearing here. I am not suggesting there should not be criticism; however, my impression is that the original author of this critique has an agenda, and that the people defending Calvary Chapel are on the defensive. It is a double edged sword… On the one hand, if the members from Calvary do not respond, then a reader may assume that it is factual.

    There is probably room on both sides for improvement. For example, the author of this website must be careful about what is said as there is great accountability for making strong statements judging others.

    On the other hand, Calvary Chapel should really focus on being genuine in pointing people to the Lord and being careful not to play the fear game of the world coming to an end… However, as soon as we say the Lord’s return is not imminent, it will come like a thief in the night.

    Bottom-line… It is sad that people are not seeking the Lord and instead are seeking to hurt each other. Where does division come from? From within…

    [email protected]

  20. I like what Kevin had to say… Well said… I have a lot of friends who have legitimate concerns over what they call cultlike atmosphere at Calvary. Although I go there and do not see that, I can see how we may give that impression. I do think as Kevin said people need to stop looking for an organization and seek Jesus alone.

  21. Here are my concerns with Calvary Chapel. (Calvary Chapel in general, not the one in San Diego, since I’ve never been there.)

    Dumbed Down and Confusing Doctrine

    Chuck Smith, and by extension his disciples, purposely gloss over controversial passages of scripture. If you look at Chuck Smith’s commentary on the book of Romans, especially covering Chapter 9, you will find that his remarks often contradict or confuse what is being said in the text. This he does on purpose in order to confuse the subject enough so that no one knows what he is really saying, and therefore they won’t be offended. This is a teaching style that he openly promotes among other Calvary Chapel pastors. “You don’t want to lose half your congregation, do you?”

    In the traditional Arminian/Calvinist dispute he talks out of both sides of his mouth. He personally is a full 5-point Arminian (many Calvary Chapel pastors are of the more dangerous 4 point variety), but he uses language associated with historic Calvinism. “As long as I abide in Christ, I’m eternally secure.”(Distinctives, Page 110) In that statement he is teaching traditional Arminian doctrine (falling from grace) while using Calvinistic language (eternal security). Calvinistic teaching is that the true Christian is eternally secure because God preserves them. The difference is the “I”. The truth of scripture is that true believers, whom God has given the new birth through the Holy Spirit, are eternally secure because God sanctifies and preserves them through the Holy Spirit. (John 10:27-30, Romans 8:31-39, Philippians 1:6, Ephesians 2:4-10, Titus 3:4-7) That doesn’t mean that people don’t have emotional religious experiences they mistake for true Christian faith. (Matthew 7:21-23, 1 John 2:19)

    Existential Theology

    On page 112 of Distinctives Chuck Smith says that God told him: “I didn’t ask you to understand it (the Bible), I only asked you to believe My Word.” That statement is pure existentialism. That is nothing more than Soren Kirkegaard’s “leap of faith.” Chuck Smith goes on to essentially say that he believes the Bible is impossible to understand. How can you believe or teach what you believe is impossible to understand? How can you say that you teach the “whole council of God” when you don’t understand it? Now, I’m not saying that I understand the Bible completely, but I do believe that it can be understood, and that it should be our goal to understand it better. Chuck Smith’s position is essentially not any different than that of a liberal neo-orthodox theologian such as Karl Barth. I don’t care if you believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, or not! If you believe it can’t be understood, it really doesn’t matter. For Chuck Smith all that matters is his experience (Distinctives, Page 113), which makes him no different that Kirkegaard or Barth.

    Blatant Disregard of Scripture

    On page 23 of Distinctives Chuck Smith says: “It is my belief that everyone should be a deacon.” Now, to be fair to Chuck Smith the Greek word for deacon means servant, and all Christians should serve others. But, Chuck is talking about doing away with the office of deacon so that no one will feel left out because they don’t have a title. In 1 Timothy 3 Paul tells us that deacons must “first be tested”, and lays out the qualifications for deacons. If anyone can be a deacon, and if the office of deacon is unimportant, why are we given qualifications for deacons in Scripture, and why are we told that they must be tested? This I see as a blatant disregard for the authority of Scripture.

    I believe that the Calvary Chapel “strong pastor” form of government is dangerous since it leaves Calvary Chapel pastors, for the most part, humanly unaccountable. That will be especially scary when Chuck Smith dies, and a new generation takes over. Also, the lack of church membership and discipline leaves the church open to lasciviousness and gross heresy. (1 Corinthians 5,Titus 3:10)

    In conclusion I would like to state that I believe that Calvary Chapel is a place that God uses to call His people. But, for a person to have any substantial spiritual growth, it would be wise for them to find a church that believes the Scriptures to be objective, understandable, and authoritative, and where doctrine is openly discussed.

  22. Interesting review, and I appreciate the comments by everyone here. I was a former intern pastor at a Calvary Chapel affiliate and grew up in their movement. I think the initial review was a bit harsh, but I understand the perspective that the writer is coming from and completely respect the point of view taken. Writes seems to hold to a traditional eschatological viewpoint, not dispensationalist view of the end times. Minor disagreement, but when selecting a church for permanent attendance, one would likely select a church which held similar views to their own.

    Here’s how I rate Calvary Chapels seeing as I have attended several of them for over 25 years.

    Worship 8 (Strong emphasis on sound quality and profesional
    sounding musicians, however the leader portion of worship is often lacking and becomes more of a one sided performance, with participation optional. The attendee is not often challenged to do much, other than stand when asked. Can vary with church size.)

    Sermon 8.5 (can vary greatly depeding on the particular branch of Calvary Chapel that you visit. The larger Calvary Chapels have more charismatic/engaging/entertaining pastors, hence the larger following.)

    Ministries 8 (again, can vary depending on the size of the church. Number of activies or groups proportional to size of the church.)

    Discipleship 5 (Not encouraged much from the pulpit. Not often enough are christians encouraged to get together with one another from the pulpit, although I suppose it’s implied by all the ministries they offer.)

    Fellowship 6 (Generally friendly people although I dream of a church where people walk in a sit right next to the person instead of leaving one or two open seats between each family or person. Something along the lines of frequent short term-local mission projects or “team building” type events could do a lot to build “community” within the church. More than just a “turn around and say hi to someone”.)

    I’ve often thought that an outside auditor would be great for churches and the church worldwide. So for that, I thank you for the reviews on your site as it helps us to grow. To many statements by the reviewer and others commenting to reply to…one could write a book.

  23. Just a comment on my experience with Calvary Chapel from 20 years ago.
    I live in Boston now and attend a small “full gospel” AG type church and the pastor has a life-long record of ministry to homeless. I do not agree with all of AG/Pentecostal teaching…however, I’ve never personally seen anyone as dedicated to the Lord as my pastor, Kenny Carll and his wife Rita. I have seen them first hand pour their lives into the most broken people and house the homeless in their small apt in the middle of Boston winter. That said, I went to CC SD before it became Horizon Int. and Ray Bentley left and founded Maranatha. CC as a “modern movement” with a departure from traditional church liturgy, always strictly emphasized the Word of God and salvation according to faith in Jesus Christ and the born-again concept as stated by our Lord to Nicodemus. Twenty years ago when I attended CC San Diego (Mike M.’s church) -there was strong emphasis on “last days” theology and evangelism. CC of Costa Mesa/Chuck Smith –Mike MacIntosh in San Diego and all of the off-shoots of this “movement” of faith in Jesus Christ –powerful ministries that lead many thousands upon thousands to faith in Jesus Christ, with an emphasis on personal accountability to scripture. This review does not make clear what criteria is held up to criticize…and what credentials the reviewer is resting on. But given the message and it’s impact —that Calvary Chapel has propagated, that is —bringing people to faith and salvation in Jesus Christ –it seems that is evidence of the genuine faith represented by the leaders at Calvary Chapel. In my years of being a Christian it seems there are flawed ministries and people everywhere, but Christians downing other Christians is practically worse than criticism from secular unbelievers. With regard to the last days theology of previous years, I would have to say that now with the “prophetic” movement, there are even more fellowships that are declaring the End Times. Who can argue with that? Jesus Himself told us to watch for the signs of His coming.

  24. Calvary Chapel is far from perfect but so is not really any less perfect than the multiple denominations it competes with.

    They bring many people to a closer relationship with Jesus and are great for reaching out to others. I like many of the others here benefited from the friendly atmosphere that is lacking in many other churches.

    That is dangerous though as it disguises feelings with truth, and is very difficult to leave as it feels so good to be there. If I didn’t care about truth I would have kept going there with my wife, but eventually I started to study the history of Calvary Chapel. Which you shouldn’t do if you want to stay in Calvary Chapel with a clear concience.

    My soul was in jeopardy staying in Calvary Chapel and eventually I had to leave or reject God’s will.

    Please don’t mistake the love of Jesus that the Pastors and People at Calvary Chapel have for a zeal for truth. Most are very much in love with Jesus and sincerely follow Chuck Smith’s theology thinking that they are doing God’s Will and sincerely doing their best to follow what he says the Bible says.

    Did the Bible exist before Chuck Smith and Calvary Chapel? Did he really need to start a new denomination, or should he have searched for God’s truth and submitted to it.

    Would you follow me if I started a popular church on my own, even if everyone likes it?

    I looked for a church that had bishops like the Bible said and it took me down a pretty rewarding road. I know this sounds suspicious but if you really had the true Church you wouldn’t be suspicious and would be free to investigate.

  25. The reviewer must be jealous of the success Calvary Chapel has been experienceing for the past 45 years. They’re growing and expanding worldwide in great numbers because of the Lord’s blessing. And we are very greatful for it.

  26. I’ve attended CC for many years and a few churches, due to moving. While I loved the worship and was glad to hear the Bible taught, each of the leaders was arrogant and had no accountability, which is a result of the CC style of church government, “The Moses Model.” Their stories sound like they started out well-meaning, but each had gone into ministry at young ages, which is what I think contributed to their downfall.

    Though things seemed fine as long as people were not involved, I began to notice that those who got involved suffered when issues arose and the Pastors would refuse to deal with the offending leader, even when he agreed the person had an ongoing problem. The same eventually happened to me.

    The pastors had creative subtle ways of shunning people. They also overworked their staff and volunteers to the point of forcing them to neglect their families. The community was considered the “world” so many “caught” the idea that they should not love their neighbor, they shouldn’t even interact with them.

    If you are in a CC that doesn’t have these issues then you are either in a small church, in a small town, or in a pocket of a large church that is unaffected for now. But the leadership structure, lack of accountability, and tendency to draw maverics that are arrogant as leaders is still a grave issue in the culture of most CC’s.

    Just google Calvary Chapel Abuse and that will keep you busy for a long time.

  27. I have attended varying CCs for all of my saved life. Although I have never attended the CCSD congregation, I find it a little bothersome that the author would judge all CCs based on this experience, or based on selected quotes from Chuck Smith.

    I see CC as a congregation of believers. A congregation that focuses on the Bible as the sole source of God’s revelation to humanity. Surely, anyone can achieve salvation on their own without a church. No church has the truth. Only the Bible has the truth. Hence CCs focus on the Bible, as opposed to fallible constructs of man like “doctrine” (the lack of which in CC has been lamented by some on this topic). There is no one-way of thinking amongst believers, other than our agreement that our salvation is through JC.

    Members of CC are one part of the Church. A Church which is composed of all believers around the globe. CC offers a friendly, all-comers welcome community. And sermons, in my experience, are devoted to revealing the nature of God and His plan for mankind through examination and study of His Word. A great place to start? Of course. A great place to stay? Definitely.

  28. Calvary Chapel destroyed my marriage. I am a devoted Christian and have been since the day dot. I grew up Methodist/Presbyterian, but attended ANY Christian church with the same fundamental beliefs even Calvary Chapel though I didn’t agree with everything and never expect to. No church is perfect; to err is human and forgiveable. God is the Foundation of my life; Jesus my Shepherd. Then I married a wonderful Christian man. He was very involved in Calvary Chapel. I started becoming belittled, accused and broken by him and the church. The “pastor” told my husband that woman are like wild horses that need to be broken in. My husband had developed strong CC beliefs of a wife’s submission to him as the church to Christ. He bought me a recording about respecting husbands. By nature he was a beautiful person. But, he was brainwashed by this cult. I started calling it Cultary Chapel. My husband visited my church (prior to our marriage) to meet with my female minister to question her why she was preaching when this role is only for men, according to CC’s interpretation of the Bible. She had some great, and more truthful answers for him, but we was so brainwashed by CC, he was blinded and deaf too. I adored him, but he continued to treat me like something lesser than him. I could no longer play ‘normal’ music; only gospel. Could only see family TV and movies. Was encouraged to read “christian” books, with the same brainwashing nonsense. Many more stories! God stood by me and I stood close to Him throughout. After marriage counceling, my husband walked out on our life and moved far far away and refused to ‘divorce’ me – said it says nowhere in the Bible that a man should divorce and that he could stay married to me indefinitely. I went to the courts and processed the whole divorce. What a loss, thanks to Cultary Chapel. I am so sorry my dearest husband – not how he grew up. They ‘sound’ so convincing. I forgive them in their innocence of not knowing anything differently but I will never go back to a CC; but enjoy attending worship elsewhere where I can lift up my heart and voice to our Awesome God with pure joy and praise! Thank you Jesus!

  29. I was involved in a Calvary Chapel for 9 years and enjoyed to Word being taught as will as the closeness with Jesus. Still, every so often, it seemed something was amis.
    For example, I would be talking to some people after a bible study and suddenly right beside me a pastor/elders would suddenly grab someone and escort them off of church grounds. Others would look onward. As the flock we we were given either no explaination or told that the person was not living biblically. This should have been a red flag that something was wrong with this “church”
    In the 20 years that I have been away from calvary, I have not seen anyone being thrown out of a church. Furthermore, I have had time to read the the testimony of many who were shunned and found that many times it was because they questioned the pastor on something he did or said or they found evidence of financial corruption and made the “mistake” of confronting those in charge.
    Another point…don’t blame the sheep for “worshiping” a pastor at CC. The CC authority structure puts pastors in a place of “Authority” and are often treated as having a “special” connection with God. This is due to theCC structure, not the human fraility. In Churches were pastors have accountability, people have no problem seeing the pastor as just a man.
    All Calvary Chapels follow the “Moses Model” This means all are dangerous. Just cuz you’re feeling blessed and close to God at a CC, do no be decieved!!! The many incidences of ABUSE, CORRUPTION, and COVER UPS are rapidly coming to the surface.
    Also keep in mind that if a CC pastor behaves unappropriatly toward you, he will get away with it. There is no one to report the matter to unless he breaks the law. Otherwise, your only recourse is Chuck Smith and you risk being kicked out of the church by doing so…after all now YOU are the one who is “unbiblical”
    Of Course, you can still tell your story on the internet which thousands have done.

  30. I attended a CC, in Boston, In The City in 2003 – 2005 and stayed in community until booted in 2006. Steve Cole was pastor then, he also worked for as a lawyer for Biggest Mutual Fund Comany in World. I am scarred from the shunning that took place there because of asking questions as I was working through free will vs sovereignty of God issue, and I also discovered the 1981 prophecies and read Smith himself even saying in his own words that if someone suggests a date and it doesnt come to pass, they are a false prophet. I even ended up doing a phone interview with a person in that church in the 70’s and he said that for 7 years Smith had everyone convinced that there would be no life after 1980.

    C C has no place for dissent or even honest exploration of theological issues, yet they stress reading the bible. This is mind control. I found “Distinctives” to be extremely full of double talk, and felt it was representative of a 0 point calvinist instead of 3.5, and also as someone above suggests there are really a 5 point arminian. I do agree with above danger of moses model, where pastor is person you must always agree with, and a de facto God figurehead. As I was lliving with other CCers I ended up leaving church but staying in house to attend a Reformed fellowship, but even though my roomates agreed with me regarding Calvinism, they asked me to leave and threatened me to leave within 30 days or all must stuff would be on sidewalk. They were afraid I would tell others i guess, I only brought it up when asked actually. I was confronted by a bully type brother who asked me if my new church evangelized, I guess he never heard of Evangelism Explosion, I thereupon asked him about 1981, he then asked me if he could tell the pastor and I said its fine with me, then within 2 or 3 weeks I was booted and threatened. The fellowship was great there, but there was always a spookiness of distrust and spying. If you didnt serve you were marked and targetted as not being doing Gods will and helping God. You never felt good enough, I clearly felt God telling me i had to leave despite what I thought was awesome fellowship. When pastor Cole closed out a service by reading John 1-13 and claimed that we still had free will despite God saying there that its not of a mans will that we get saved, I felt God telling him very clearly that this was not a good church, and it was time to leave. I know there were at least 7 calvinists there who didnt leave as I left…as James White says in his critique of CC thats what happens when you ask people to read the bible, romans 9 and the golden chain of redemption in Romans 8 which Smith absolutely mishandles in his youtube video are sometihng White goes into…and claims that there are many many many people coming out of CC as calvinists.

    Since then my life has been not perfect as I have suffered in this life, i look forward to next life and try to redeem each day.

  31. I too was warned about talking against Gods annointing, and I want to restate that the reason I was given for being booted calling C. Smith a false prophet based on 1981 statements as well as the fear that I would tell others. They told me I was a divisive person, but I went through proper channels and never spoke up until asked, honoring their wishes up to a point. But what if I had the truth how could anyone approach CC? Their pastor would not even discuss issue after initial response, also a point of alarm, and indicative of cultish mentality. I warn people now that if you are one who explores God and lets Holy Spirit teach you, then you will be challenged at CC.

  32. John 1 1-13 correction not John 1-13

  33. correction

    I felt God telling him very clearly that this was not a good church, and it was time to leave
    should read
    I felt God telling ME very clearly that this was not a good church, and it was time to leave

  34. The Assistant Pastor at CC In the City in Boston Ma Scot Richardson said to me in the month before I was booted that all the calvinists in his seminary at CC had backslide and fell into sin, every single one of them, implying that they were not saved. As time goes by I have seen more CC pastors fall than any other pastors anywhere, the latest one Dino Cardillo is in Jail on charges of molesting a 14 yr old he had adopted

  35. Correction
    Dino Cardillo
    Should read
    Dino Cardelli

    • Hey Bob

      I too attend CC in Boston. I believe we may have met. I have recently come back after a long time away. I am not sure if I am saved, if I had to say one way or the other I would have to say no(based on my living). I fear my conversion may have been emotional. However a part of me has changed greatly, I did not want to attend church(despite my hearts desire to do so) as i worried i may be an unaware and did not want to add that to my account on judgement. But at the advice of many i was told to come back despite myself. So i did, i am desperately trying to change, and live a Godly life, yet it eludes me. So less then 4 months back i am given an ultimatum, i am not opposed to what he would like me to do, just the ultimatum and how it was done, no conversations with me in past about it, does not even really know the other person involved(my soon to be wife) i have a lot of questions. and you seem like you may have some answers. Also the thing he wants us to do seems to be small in comparison to may other issues in the church, including my own. Do you know Danny from Chelsea??? How can i communicate with you?

  36. searching for a church and wanted to check out this one times days and locations in the san diego area i am new and have no ideal where to look or go

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