Calvary Global Network
I want to share our story of how our church fellowship first began on January 6, 2011 so you can better understand our philosophy on doing church.
While I was working at Providence Hospital as a hospital chaplain, I was taken back by a high number of patients who could express and articulate their personal belief in Jesus Christ and convictions in biblical doctrines, yet who also had no involvement and fellowship in any church congregation.
Many of these same individuals also shared stories with me of their experiences with area churches that told similar accounts of not being able to connect with the members or of finding the traditional church format unauthentic, mainly citing the pulpit to pew lecture dissemination as an impediment to connecting with the message, while nearly all had praises for either a past small group or Sunday school class experience.
After hearing these accounts over and over, year after year, I began to be burdened by a mission to reach these individuals and others who aren’t being served by the traditional church formats.
Admittedly, I could empathize with these people because when I was sitting in the pews of an otherwise great church ministry, it was hard for me to feel connected through the program. Despite a godly biblical pastor, beautiful church choir, and friendly people – there was still a disconnect. It seemed to me that modern church services had the similar problem as modern classrooms in that not everyone learns through the exact same method.
A Simpler Way
It was during this time that I learned about a fellow Southern Baptist minister who was on a North American Mission Board missionary team and successfully reaching unchurched people in Arizona through small group gatherings that he called “tactical churches.” He came to similar conclusions that I did and he was serving as a pastor of small group gatherings that served as the attenders only weekly primary spiritual worship experience.
Now my background was in denominational church planting through the traditional route of a sending model that seeks launching big, growing big, and relying on staying big. However, after some research, prayer, and conversations I was being led to a smaller, zero budget, faith based gathering approach that would genuinely rely on the promise of Zechariah 4:6, not a budget or denominational support.
So I set the date of January 6, 2011 as a step of faith in verifying the will of God for the Kingdom of God in Mobile, Alabama through a nontraditional fellowship launch. With no advertising or budget, but plenty of prayer, I began sharing with friends and on my social media the start date and the mission.
We launched in a Ryan’s Restaurant where we were allowed to use a community conference room for free as long as we bought their breakfast buffet. After we got tired of eating their breakfast every Sunday, we decided to move to my home and in about a year’s time we leased our first chapel space on Schillinger Road South in Mobile, Alabama.
In our beginning, as West Mobile Bible Fellowship, we were part of the NAMB Send Network for church planting ministries as part of a program for the first five years of a new church plant life.
After that initial launch period, we made the decision to not further our affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention through our local association, but only because of our polity. We wanted to maintain a non-membership polity for our local church governance.
We are still very much in support of Southern Baptist missions and core doctrines, and continue to partner with Southern Baptist churches through the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions‘ Cooperative Program.
In 2014 while doing a trade name search when changing our church name from West Mobile Bible Fellowship to CrossHope Chapel, we came across the name Calvary Chapel and my memory immediately tied that name to Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.
In that trade name search I realized that there was a multitude of Calvary Chapel’s and our church was very much like them in philosophy, doctrines, and polity. I also learned that there was once a local Calvary Chapel in our city so I made contact with a Calvary Chapel pastor across the bay to inquire about it, and that led to my invitation and attendance at several Calvary Chapel Association conferences and pastor retreats.
In 2017 our church became part of the Calvary Global Network, a community of churches committed to Great Commission engagement, affiliated with Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.