The Legacy of Chuck Smith

Chuck Smith passed away on Thursday. He was a major influence in the church of North America, and I really enjoyed stories from his ministry like this one (from Ray Ortlund’s blog).

He was pastoring a little church in Costa Mesa, California, in the late 1960′s, not far from the beach.  God began to pour out his Spirit.  Teenage kids started getting saved and coming to Smith’s church.  But there was a problem.  The oil deposits off the coast of California bubble up little globs of oil that land on the beach.  If you step on one, it sticks to the bottom of your foot and you mess up the carpet when you get home.  So these young people began coming into church right off the beach.  They didn’t know they were supposed to wear shoes.  They didn’t know church culture.  All they knew was Jesus.  But the new carpets and pews at Smith’s church were getting stained.  One Sunday morning Chuck arrived at church to find a sign posted outside: “Shirts and shoes please.”  He took it down.  After the service he met with the church officers.  They talked it through.  They agreed that they would remove the new carpet and pews before they would hinder one kid from coming to Christ.  And that wise decision cleared the way for God to visit Calvary Chapel with wonderful revival (Isaiah 57:14-15).  I was there when they were holding services five nights a week, standing room only.  The breakthrough came when they humbled themselves and chose to care about what God cares about, and nothing else.

I love the passion to embrace the outsider. Check out his biography here.

  1. Much of what is being said is crediting Chuck Smith with modern, casual worship styles. I’m not sure that’s what he would want his legacy to be. After joining another Calvary Chapel, I visited Costa Mesa for the first time and was surprised to find Chuck Smith in a suit. This was not my experience or expectation. I was a bit shocked. Wish I could have spent more time there, though. It’s amazing to see God use people so greatly.


    • Josh said:

      Good points, Wade. Being open to accepting alternative styles doesn’t mean being lacadasical in our attitude towards God. Thanks for commenting.


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