(Washington, D.C.) — The Church lost a great pastor, disciple-maker, Bible expositor, church planter, and friend of Israel this month. My team and I are so grateful he is now at home with the Lord Jesus in heaven, but he will be deeply missed.
“Chuck Smith, the evangelical pastor whose outreach to hippies in the 1960s helped transform worship styles in American Christianity and fueled the rise of the Calvary Chapel movement, died Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, after a battle with lung cancer,” reports Christianity Today. “He was 86. Diagnosed in 2011, Smith continued to preach and oversee administration at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (California), where he’d been pastor since 1965. In 2012, he established a 21-member leadership council to oversee the Calvary Church Association, a fellowship of some 1,600 like-minded congregations in the United States and abroad. Smith was known for expository preaching as he worked his way through the entire Bible, unpacking texts from Genesis through Revelation and offering commentary along the way. Yet it was his openness to new cultural styles, including laid-back music and funky fashions of California’s early surfer scene, that helped him reach young idealists and inspire a trend toward seeker-sensitive congregations.”
“As Pastor Chuck fought this dreaded disease, he still maintained a very full schedule of preaching and serving the Lord to the very end,” noted Pastor Greg Laurie, who was discipled by the Calvary Chapel founder. “I can’t help but think of the apostle Paul’s words to Timothy: ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.’ (2 Tim 4:7-8) Rarely does a man come along that impacts a generation, but Chuck Smith was that man. He certainly impacted my life. Chuck is now in heaven and he will certainly hear the Lord say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant . . . Now enter the joy of the Lord!’ (Matthew 25:23).”
I was personally blessed by Pastor Chuck and will cherish the lessons I have learned from him. His passion for the Word of God — and teaching it “line by line, verse by verse, chapter by chapter” — was so refreshing and encouraging. The men he trained and discipled and deployed to plant churches all over the country and all over the world are men of great character and love for Christ. Many of them — including Skip Heitzig, Ray Bentley, Joe Focht, Mike MacIntosh, Greg Laurie, Gino Geraci, Robert Furrow, and Brian Broderson, to name just a few — have become dear friends and faithful allies. What’s more, Pastor Chuck’s love for Israel and the Jewish people — and his commitment to teaching Christians what Bible has to say about God’s plan and purpose for Israel — was deep and sincere and impactful. I first had the honor of meeting him in September 2006 when he invited me to speak about Israel and Bible prophecy at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. Less than two years later, The Joshua Fund team and I had the joy of developing the first Epicenter Conference in Jerusalem, together with Skip Heitzig. It was a defining event for me, and I can still remember him sharing with me stories of the first conference he had ever organized in Israel, which happened to be with Prime Minister Menachem Begin, back in 1983, I believe. How special to learn from godly elders who have so much life experience.
“Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa announced plans for a public memorial service for Pastor Chuck Smith, who died after a battle with lung cancer nearly two weeks ago, that include hosting the event at the more than 18,000-seat capacity Honda Center arena in Anaheim, Calif., on Oct. 27,” reports the Christian Post. “Additionally, more than 200 churches worldwide presently plan to show the tribute, live via webcast, to the man credited for being instrumental in both the Calvary Chapel and ‘Jesus People’ movements. Evangelist and pastor Greg Laurie is scheduled to give a Gospel message during the memorial, according to a Harvest Ministries spokesperson. Harvest, known for its large-scale Christian outreaches, is providing the staging and is facilitating the webcast for the event. Churches planning to show the event by webcast include congregations in Kenya, Haiti, Japan, Peru, U.S., and several other countries.”
- Here is a fascinating interview Greg Laurie did with Chuck Smith (about an hour).
- Here is a short video about his life and ministry (14 minutes)
I commend these to your attention.
Please keep Pastor Chuck’s family, staff, team and community in your prayers.