CC has a top down leadership, which is run like the Roman Catholic Church. This is based on a faulty understanding of the purposes of the Old Testament theocracy and transferring this bad understanding into a New Testament context.
Calvary Chapel has its own pope (by the name of "Pastor Chuck") at the top. This is a generally benevolent dictatorship that counts on the personal integrity of each individual leader. It ultimately also leaves the organization vulnerable to scandals.
As Smith Himself warned in, The Philosophy of Ministry of Calvary Chapel (PMCC), ©1992, Logos Media Group, by Chuck Smith, page 24:
There are dangers, though, in a theocratic form of church government, primarily because there are some pastors who disobey what the Lord said concerning the one who is chief becoming the servant of all. There are pastors who have abused their powers. They do not make a clear accounting to the board of the financial aspects of the church. They do not seek the advise and counsel of the board before they make important decisions that are relevant to the function of the church. They try to be a one-man show.
We would add that by it's very organization it inherently denies the depravity and sinful nature of man. This form of government also denies the truth of the Scriptures that state that there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors. Ultimately, the Scribes and Pharisees who usurped the Old Testament model of the theocracy replaced the Old Testament theocracy.
Interestingly, Larry Taylor attacks the Episcopal form of church government for the following reasons:
Basically, there is a bishop, or someone of similar stature if called by a different name, who oversees the churches, appoints pastors to pulpits, sets policy, and guides the vision of the local congregations.
Since this seems like a pretty accurate description of the Calvary Chapel, it's tough to see what Taylor disagrees with there.
In his web document, What Calvary Teaches, Taylor makes a point to boast about how Calvary Chapel has a form of church government that is different than other Protestant churches; "Calvary Chapel also differs from most mainline churches in its style of church government."
Usually it is a sign that something is seriously wrong when a group claims to be doing something completely different than all of the other historical churches. There are some reasons that the Fathers of the Reformation broke away from the heavy top down leadership of Rome and replaced it with a system closer to the Biblical model.
It would not be so bad if this was only localized to the local assembly (CCCM), but the form of church government at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa has been repeated in its basic form in the 500+ Calvary Chapel churches across the United States and the world.
Further, when Chuck Smith kicked out what became the Vineyard movement, they spawned another denomination with the same fundamentally flawed form of church government. This was again repeated when the Vineyard kicked out the Toronto Airport (so called Laughing Revival) movement from inside it.
The only solution to disputes between individual congregations in this form of church government is to throw out the dissenters. This has happened to several Calvary Chapels where the Senior Pastors were Calvinistic in their theology. Taylor also has done the same thing when he tossed out the students from CCBC who were Calvinists.
In our opinion, Calvary Chapel views all of their individual churches as "missions." The leaders are typically the "missionaries", If you are one of those that started the church, you have a stake to protect in the church. There is no real sharing of power with the leaders as they sit in the place of Moses in the Theocracy.
We reserve the right to be critical of Calvary Chapel's form of church government since Taylor is critical of the historical forms of Protestant church government in his SoB. http://calvarychapel.pbworks.com/top-down-leadership