Chuck Smith passed on to heaven Thursday ( October 3, 2013) morning after his body gave out after a long struggle with cancer.
Chuck Smith was one of the key figures of the Jesus movement in the late 60s and early 70s. and was my pastor and mentor for 10 years. He is the most significant man of God in my life, God used him in so many ways in my life.
Time magazine ran a story on the phenomenon that was Calvary Chapel, a little inconspicuous church in the middle of booming Orange County, California, it began with the 25-member church Smith founded on a Costa Mesa lot in 1965. He taught the bible very simply, verse by verse, and continually pointed to the Holy Spirit, rather than his own abilities as the unexplained explanation. When asked him to share what the “method” or “secret” was, he said, “It’s the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes. If you can explain what God is doing, then it probably isn’t God.”
From the pulpit, and in person, he emanated a disarming warmth. Calvary Chapel became famous as a sanctuary for a generation of counterculture refugees. He wore a Hawaiian shirt and a big, benevolent smile.
He didn’t care how worshipers dressed or how long they wore their facial hair. He welcomed hippies, dropouts and the drug-damaged. He allowed guitars to accompany worship songs. He became Papa Chuck to the thousands he baptized below the ocean cliffs of Corona del Mar (as many as 500 at a time, including myself).
Chuck Smith’s life was a legacy of faithful bible exposition. Chuck taught very simply, but the presence of the Lord flowed from him, and you could sense the Holy Spirit speaking powerfully and giving thrust behind his very simple words when he spoke. Chuck taught trough the bible verse by verse, cover to cover, starting over about every 3 years. It was while at Calvary, that I not only got in-depth teaching of the whole bible, teaching that surpassed any seminary, it was there that God taught me how to study the bible under Chuck, that I still use to this day.
Calvary Chapel has recently been hailed by Ed Stetzer of Lifeway Research as the biggest church planting phenomenon of the 20th century. He added that it was largely an “unintentional” church planting movement. In other words, it’s what happened naturally, organically, and spiritually. It was as if the Spirit of God was directing young leaders to thrust out and plant, all of whom had no idea of what they were doing, but nonetheless, were entrusted by Chuck into the hands of God much like he, himself had been. Calvary planted nearly 2000 churches, all where trained under Chuck. The process was, if you came on staff, the understanding was you where to be trained for three years, then expected to go and plant a church.
God through Chuck changed the world, the way church is done, worship, music. The emergence of Calvary Chapel paralleled — and helped to fuel what was called “The Jesus movement” of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which embraced those the “traditional church” rejected, and that lead to the greatest number of salvations in Americas history.
Because of Chuck Non-denominational churches became the largest type of church in America
Modern worship songs came from Calvary. Before Calvary an organ, choir and hymnal where the only way to “worship” in a church. Or what I called dead worship, this is one of the two principal reasons I was not part of a church prior to Calvary.
Christian rock music started at Calvary.
The first time I walked into Calvary as a back sliding Christina living with my then fiancé Joan Cooper, and for the first time I witnessed a true biblical church. I saw for the first time true lovers of Jesus worshiping Him, I heard for the first time from a pulpit the word of God taught word by word. I was the same after that. He is the single most influential man of God in my life.
He will be missed.