The Calvary Family of Churches, Part 1: How it all works
Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series from Mark Hallock explaining how the Calvary Family of Churches (based in the Denver area) is organized.
In every city, every town, every community, every neighborhood, there are places where the good news of Jesus Christ is never heard. There are individuals and entire families who feel lost in the world and are without hope. The local church has been called to reach these people with the message of the gospel: that God offers salvation through the reconciling death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Here is what we know: Planting, replanting, and shepherding a local church can be discouraging and exhausting. This is not only true for pastors, but for other leaders and members of any church. The reality is that there is opposition from many sides. Leaders get burned out and congregations age. Over the long haul, it becomes difficult to stay fired up and encouraged in reaching the lost and making joyful, passionate disciples of Jesus. Sadly, as a result, increasing numbers of churches all across our country and around the world are closing their doors in the very communities where the gospel is needed the most.
This should break our hearts.
Is there a better way? A more effective way? A more joyful, healthy, sustainable, truly cooperative way of leading and multiplying local churches?
These are some of the questions we began to ask and wrestle with several years ago in the dreaming stages of what has become The Calvary Family of Churches (CFC).
I am asked often about the CFC from pastors and leaders who are interested in learning more about who we are and how we function. While as an organization we are always seeking to grow and mature, and while we still feel in many ways as though we are just getting started, let me attempt to give a basic overview of some of the nuts and bolts of the CFC and how it all works.
What is the Calvary Family of Churches?
The CFC is not one church in many different locations, but rather a family of independent (autonomous) and interdependent local churches that work together for the sake of gospel advancement. Under the local leadership of pastors/elders (we use these terms interchangeably for the same biblical office), this family of churches seeks to love, support, and equip one another through intentional partnership. Together we practice radical cooperation and encouragement toward our common vision:
To make Jesus non-ignorable in our communities and to the ends of the earth.
We recognize that we live in a world full of people who are searching for life, for joy, and for hope, but they are searching for these things in people, places, and activities that can never truly deliver them. And all the while they are ignoring Jesus, the only one who can truly rescue them from sin and provide them with eternal life, joy, and hope. This vision of making Jesus non-ignorable in the lives of people is what drives everything we do as the CFC.
So how are CFC churches aligned? How are they connected? What do they share? What do they not share?
These are great questions that we get asked often. To help ensure alignment of our churches joining in this effort to make Jesus non-ignorable, we believe it is critical that each congregation agree on the foundational elements of what is required to be a Calvary Church, staying vitally committed and accountable to the following things. While I won’t take the time here to give all the reasons and rationale for why we chose these and not others, know that much thought, discussion, and prayer went into the CFC landing on the following:
Each Calvary congregation includes “Calvary Church” in its name., e.g., Calvary Church Englewood
Family vision and mission
Each church shares the following vision and mission:
- Vision: To make Jesus non-ignorable in ________ and to the ends of the earth.
- Mission: To glorify God by making joyful, passionate disciples of Jesus.
Each church agrees with and subscribes to the following doctrinal positions:
- The Baptist Faith and Message (2000)
- The Five Doctrinal Distinctives of the Acts 29 Network
Family core commitments
Each church upholds these four elements as essential elements of their ministry:
- Worship God passionately
- Connect with one another authentically
- Grow to know God deeply
- Go show and tell the gospel boldly
Each church is aligned with, and committed to, a shared theological and philosophical understanding of:
1. Biblical theology
2. Shepherd leadership
3. God-centered worship
4. Expositional preaching
5. Healthy families
6. Authentic relationships
8. Missional living
9. Diverse community
Each church shall function as a Jesus-ruled, elder-led, and congregationally-affirmed church. Each church is subject to the control of no denominational body, but it recognizes and sustains voluntary cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention and other church networks.