Pastor Chuck is at the root of so much we see in the Evangelical Church today. He probably inspired more “church planting” than any other Christian of our time. The proof is in the pudding: Calvary Chapels are everywhere in the USA, Europe and many other places in the world. 1,000s of young church planters were sent from Southern California and by God’s hand established churches in very improbable places, ex. Vladivostok, Russia.
Calvary Chapel invented the American Worship Team with Chuck’s approval. The church organ was replaced by electric guitar driven praise music accompanied by drums, bass and keys. He also established the first Contemporary Christian music label: Maranatha! Music. “Seek Ye First” was one of their first hits. The most conservative and even liberal churches in the world use “worship music” from this genre and it all began in Costa Mesa, CA.
Chuck also brought “expository” preaching back into vogue. He just plowed through the Bible cover to cover. I actually have on cassettes (about 150 cassettes of CS’s sermons OT and NT, the entire Bible) somewhere. His eschatology is pretty much the standard view of most Evangelicals. His standard issue sermon was 40 minutes long. I am not saying that 40 minute sermons are the norm in the USA, but before the Jesus Movement, sermons were shorter and not so central to the worship.
I met Chuck on a couple of occasions. The first time was in South Phoenix. He was opening a new Calvary on Baseline Ave (late 70s). We got our chance to talk to him because he was out in the playground playing with a dozen kids and we just walked up and start talking. Later, at two different locations ~ Sacramento and San Diego, I talked with him backstage while being involved with Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusades. He also hire my friend Ray Snook (Steve Snook’s dad) because he was “old school”. Chuck did Ray’s funeral, we attended, and we chatted again. It is not often that a “groundling” gets to talk to somebody that is going to have a page in future Church History books. I’m thinking there was probably someone like me in the mid 1500s, who ran into Martin Luther on a couple of occasions, and wrote about it in his diary. I relate to that guy!
I take great comfort in the fact that Chuck had very moderate success as a Foursquare pastor before he was 40. He was traditional and competent, a good evangelist, but nothing really distinguished his ministry. All of his churches were under 100 in average attendance. In 1967, he took the job of pastor at a nearly defunct church in Costa Mesa called Calvary Chapel.
The Elders were hard shell traditional Pentecostals who had distanced themselves from their Four Square roots (by the way, the Foursquare Church was founded by a women, Amy Semple McPherson. Today Calvarys’ are adamantly opposed to women in ministry).
Chuck’s wife Kay, suggested that Chuck begin to reach out to the “hippies” down at the beach. He made an instant connection with them and they began to see many of the young street people attend the church. One of the Elders put up a sign “NO bare feet in the Sanctuary.” Chuck tore down the sign during a service and that was the beginning of the Jesus Movement. A year later, over 1,000 were in attendance and it grew exponentially from there.