"I also recently left Calvary Chapel...I discerned for two years that the place was not right but always thought it was in my head. Until others from the church were leaving and I found your website...What complete deception!...I would sit there in complete disbelief, but the Holy Spirit kept prompting me to leave, thank God I left."
"I attended a Calvary Chapel for a number of years in another state before marrying and moving to my current location. The experience I am having now is completely different and most upsetting. The pastor runs the church like a 'one man show.' Many precious Christians with various gifts are not being given the opportunity to use them. The 'board' is in name only and the financial affairs are handled by the pastor's buddy. Only the two of them ever see the books. Nor is there ever a meeting, discussion or vote on how funds are spent. Actually no one has a clue what's going on. The pastor and associate pastor are also business partners. I'm sick about all this, but what can you do when the pastor runs a church like a dictator except get out?"
"The personality of the senior pastor is the main driving force of the individual congregations. Nepotism runs rampant. I guess the age-old adage of, 'it's not what you know, it's whom you know,' radiates through the vast majority of Calvary Chapels."
"I am sad to say that I too am one of the 'backsliders' that have been ousted and excommunicated from a Calvary Chapel place of 'worship.' They were on a rampage of sin-sniffing, legalism and even fired one of their veteran pastors."
"I came through the Calvary Chapel system and found Jesus there. But whenever there were problems or struggles, they told me that I was a 'backslider.' Attending counseling with the pastors there was not helpful, you walked out feeling more of a load given than a load lifted. They would ask the same basic questions. 'Have you been reading the Word?' 'Do you fellowship with others?' 'Are you witnessing?' I finally was so depressed that went to an 'outside' Christian therapist, which they strongly disapproved of. Once in therapy I found out that I was indeed depressed and unfortunately wasn't getting the kind of unconditional love and support necessary to help me from Calvary. My story would take a few pages, but I did finally find another church. I didn't know what God's grace was about until I came there."
"I cannot support a group that is abusive. At least this experience has opened our eyes and hopefully we can find a healthy church in our area soon. I feel for those who are still there. I know it is only a matter of time before they too will be hurt. I honestly would like to do something to stop it, but our experience is that it is a waste of time talking to leadership. I feel all I can do is pray that the Lord opens their eyes and help those who have been hurt, when they cross my path. I thank the Lord for people like you who will stand up and tell the truth."
"I have a friend who is attending Calvary Chapel. We were really close friends before he started attending Calvary, we were very much like brothers. Shortly after he began attending the church he started acting strange towards me and tried over and over to convince me to go.I told him that I was quite content with my spirituality and he told me that everyone who is not part of his church would be going to hell and said that included me as well. Since that day I have pulled away from him. I still speak to him, but as time passes it seems that we are drifting further apart. As a friend I feel as if I should do something to help him, but every time I try, he manipulates what I am saying and tries to make me sound like Satan himself."
"Thank you for taking the time to put together an interesting web site. My heart grieves for those who have been abused by churches that take scripture out of context in order to control, beat down and demoralize! I have seen interpretations of scripture with a twist. And rarely do such church leaders submit themselves for correction after being caught in lies. Instead there is always the escape clause 'touch not mine anointed.' A scripture in Proverbs says to run away from evil. This means if you are in a church that preaches one thing, but does the opposite, beat a path to the door. My husband and I recently left the Calvary Chapel. Many of the men at this fellowship think I am too 'strong willed.' I will never be a follower of any person here on earth. I am also full of faults, but each fault makes me unique within that fabric of who I am in Christ. No matter what anyone tries to say for Christ, we must know for ourselves what The Word says. I am a Berean by nature, which means I study the Word and take it as the authority. This has been my salvation through the worst storms in my life. God really does love us with all of our imperfections and He longingly desires to bring healing."
"We used to go to a Calvary Chapel. It was very spiritually abusive and very controlling. There was a Spiritual Elite. We had a bad experience there like many others so we left over a year ago. We just praise God that we left and that we were discerning enough to see what goes on in Calvary Chapels. It's very sad that they get away with what they do to people. I am praying for them all. I really appreciate the website that you have. It has helped us tremendously--especially when we left Calvary. Thank you and God bless you."
"After 28 years, I left Calvary Chapel system. But many of my friends are still there--some have sought counseling. Their symptoms seem to parallel those of post spousal abuse or child abuse victims."
"I just read some of the material on your site about Calvary Chapel and was surprised to suddenly realize that there are others out there who have come to the same conclusions about it that we [my husband and I] have [as former members]. Although they preach grace, [they] bring condemnation for everything--from soup to nuts. They are the Calvary Chapel denomination, as much a denomination as the Presbyterians or the Baptists. We would not call Calvary Chapel a 'cult'--but perhaps leaning that way in some respects".
"I would like to thank you for including Calvary Chapel within your Web site. Your doing so has become a major milestone in my recovery from our 12-year involvement with that organization--half of those as leaders. I have been unable to describe our experience with anyone, because Calvary has such a good surface reputation that I figured I would just be labeled as someone with a personal axe to grind. Our former Calvary pastor has blacklisted us with other churches and spread malicious lies about us among the congregation, which I have felt powerless to counter. For four years I have virtually hidden myself in my house or escaped by doing the shopping out of town--alienated, distrustful, and full of the fear of running into the pastor and members of the church. Now, through your Web site I have the beginning of an explanation for others--who in our small town, ask me why we left. Our Calvary Chapel scored 90% on your ['Warning Signs']'Unsafe Group/Leader' checklist and 90% on your 'People Involved with an Unsafe Group/Leader' checklist. This month I have gotten the courage to seek professional counseling. Thanks again. Don't let anyone ever talk you into taking Calvary Chapel off of your Web site."
"I am presently a student at [an accredited] school of theology. I was involved with the Calvary Chapel movement for a number of years. I have grave concerns about Chuck Smith's teachings. He makes it sound as if Calvary Chapels are non divisive and believe only the Scriptures, but then sets up the leaders of the Calvary movement as the sole judge of truth. This is apparent from the last page of his pamphlet entitled 'Calvinism, Arminianism, and the Word of God.' He makes it sound as if he can judge true doctrine based on his assessment of a person's attitude."
"My wife and I are born again Christians and have not left the faith because of our experiences, but have certainly modified our thinking in some ways so as to not fall prey to these so-called men of God again. I cannot say enough about what an evil philosophy this so called church lives by. I think that you should actually have more about what exactly their guru Chuck Smith actually teaches. You will find that it is a far cry from orthodoxy where Christianity is concerned."
"Thank you, for providing a site where people with questions can seek answers. In my quest to resolve ongoing mental and emotional pain I have always suspected Calvary Chapel. After three years of attendance, in the early 80s my life has never been the same. I've spent years trying to put it back together. It's been a painful journey. On the surface Calvary appears OK, but it's what happens behind the scenes that leads one into confusion, despair and fear. Calvary [can] systematically strip one of self worth, family and friends and break down trust--leaving nowhere to turn. You loose the ability to think for yourself. Your taught to distrust your thoughts, and feelings. Other institutions are discredited as 'cultic' or 'worldly.' It's difficult to leave, you are always bound--if only by thought. But some of us have escaped and I would encourage those gripped by fear that there is a life beyond Calvary and God too."
"Calvary Chapels started in California with the Jesus Movement. Since then they have spread across the U.S. My wife and I experienced spiritual abuse from a Calvary pastor who questioned our motives and became quite antagonistic -- all because of a simple suggestion we made. The pastors wield a lot of power and there is no room for dissent or discussion. Basically, if you don't like what's going on, your only option is to head for the exit. Since leaving Calvary, we have found a church in a denomination where discussion and 'back and forth' is encouraged. There are safeguards, and the pastors have received a professional seminary education, in contrast to Calvary where they study tapes at a Bible college. My advice to Calvary attendees who are considering another church is to not be afraid. There are many better churches out there. We were afraid to leave, but are very glad we have." http://www.rickross.com/reference/calvary/calvaryvisitor.html