Diagnosed in 2011 with lung cancer, evangelical, expository preacher, radio host and pastor Chuck Smith continued preaching and administering Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa in southern California until his death this week on Thursday, October 3. Smith was known and loved for his outreach in the 1960s, his leadership in the rise of the Calvary Chapel movement and his contribution to the transformation of worship styles in America.
“He led a movement that translated traditional conservative Bible-based Christianity to a large segment of the baby boom generation’s counterculture,” Brad Christerson, a Biola University sociologist who studies charismatic churches in California, told Christianity Today. “His impact can be seen in every church service that has electric guitar-driven worship, hip casually-dressed pastors, and 40-minute sermons consisting of verse-by-verse Bible expositions peppered with pop-culture references and counterculture slang.”
“Chuck Smith is one of my heroes,” said Kurt Frederickson, a church vitality expert who invokes Smith’s work when he trains pastors in Fuller Theological Seminary’s doctor of ministry program. “He’s able to read the culture and to see a group of people who’ve been marginalized by the institutional church and say, ‘these people too should be cared for’…. So he opens up his arms.”
Church leaders tweeted their sadness this morning: Evangelist and pastor Greg Laurie (@greglaurie) wrote, “Pastor Chuck Smith has died. He is now in Heaven. He fought the good fight. He was a great man.” Apologist Lee Strobel (@leestrobel) wrote that Smith “lit Gospel fires all over the world.” And pastor Darrin Patrick (@darrinpatrick) wrote, “We pastors all stand on the shoulders of ‘Papa’ Chuck Smith.” Ed Stetzer wrote in a blog post
, “Simply put, it is hard to overstate the significance of Calvary Chapel in remapping Protestantism, particularly evangelicalism. And Chuck Smith was one of the main reasons for that impact.” His daughter wrote this tender post on Facebook: “My beautiful, beloved darling Daddy is in Heaven. He has heard the words, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant…”
Please join the staff of ChurchLeaders in praying for Chuck Smith’s family and congregation.