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Church Check: Calvary Chapel of Salt Lake City, Utah

Updated: Aug 26, 2020

Basic Church Information

Church Name: Calvary Chapel Salt Lake City

Senior/Lead Pastor: Terry Long

Address: 460 W. Century Dr. Salt Lake City, UT 84123

Phone: 801-264-9999


Denomination: Calvary Chapel

Preaching Style: Expository/Verse by verse

Membership Requirements: Yes

Tithes/Compelled Giving: Yes

Financial Transparency: No

Answered Questionnaire: Yes

Affiliations: Calvary Chapel, ECFA Certified, Guidestar Silver Member

The Questionnaire

1. What is your church's official position on tithing?

"We do pass the plate giving people an opportunity to give to the work of God at Calvary Salt lake. We do not manipulate nor put any pressure on anyone to give. We do believe that giving all that we are and have to God is an aspect of following Jesus. He will guide us where to give and how much to give. I do believe that giving 10% is an excellent place to start, but again that is between the person and God. I have no idea who gives what at our church, I do know that lights are still on and we can keep the doors open, so there are those giving."

Our friend Patrick has attended Calvary Chapel SLC several times and took the liberty of taking these pictures and sharing them with us.

2. Does your church have a particular set of rules or requirements that members must follow or abide by in order to retain their membership status with the church?

"No, we have one requirement for anyone coming to Calvary is that they behave themselves; that is all. If they want to serve in a ministry at the church then we have an interviewing process, this is necessary to keep the church healthy and our kids safe.   We do have a membership class this is relatively new to us, but it has been a good process for people to understand what we are about and where we have come from as a church. It helps me as a pastor to get to know new people and for them to get to know my wife and me."

I'm not sure what pastor Terry considers to be "behaving," but if there is a membership class, there must be a membership agreement. We will have to dig further to see if we can provide one for the curious churchgoers.

3. Are you transparent with your church's financial information? How much does your church bring in through donations and tithing, and how is that money distributed? What do your profit on average?

After more digging, I discovered more about Calvary Chapel's finances. On their website on the Giving Page, you see two different seals of certification.

First, on the left, is ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability). One might look at this and assume, "Oh, good. They're being held accountable by someone and they've been certified in compliance with their standards of accountability. That's all I need to know."

But click on the link that leads you to "read more" about this accountability and you learn a few key things. 1. They brought in $1.6 million in donations in 2017 (they haven't updated this for 2018) which is the same that South Mountain in Draper brought in last year in donations. 2. They also made almost $900,000 in revenue through other means, which puts their total over $2.5 million. 3. It tells us nothing about how that money is distributed or how much goes to the salaries of the staff and the pastor. So basically, all this tells us is how much money they bring in, which is good, but in order for people to actually be held accountable and to be transparent, we need to know more than this.

See it for yourself here:

Second, on the right, is the GuideStar seal.

I signed up for a free membership with GuideStar to gain access to this information, but you can too if you really want to see it for yourself. Just go here, get your own account, and read this information for yourself.

Calvary Chapel hasn't updated their information with GuideStar since 2013, and the amount of information they've given them is no different from what we already know through the ECFA. Less, actually.

Additionally, there's a whole list of Operations information missing. Regarding Board Practices, it says:

"GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices."

It lists Terry Long as the Board Chair, but then in every category following, which include things like Ethics and Transparency, it reads Not Applicable.

So, now we know that Calvary Chapel brings in over $2.5 million in revenue, but we have no idea how that is distributed or spent on maintaining the church.

**Update: 4/27/19**

"We are part of ECFA we also have at least one outside audit every year to make sure we are doing the best practices for how Gods money is spent. We do have a bookstore/deli at the church. This has always been to help people get excellent resource for their bible study and support the family that is racing from work to get to church the deli helps feed their families. The bookstore and deli has never broken even until just recently, we had to make some significant changes to fix the financial problems at the store. It is now at break-even praise God. The bookstore gives away hundreds of bibles a month and it quick to help anyone out that is in genuine need. We also have a thrift store that is separate from the church, it provides jobs to a lot of people, and we used it to support many ministries."

5. Which denomination does your church align with the most, if any?

Calvary Chapel is really its own denomination. Additionally, their What We Believe page on their website used to state this:

Final Authority for Matters of Belief and Conduct

The statement of faith does not exhaust the extent of our beliefs. The Bible itself, as the inspired and infallible Word of God that speaks with final authority concerning truth, morality, and the proper conduct of mankind, is the sole and final source of all that we believe. For purposes of Calvary Chapel Salt Lake's faith, doctrine, practice, policy, and discipline, Calvary Chapel Salt Lake's Board of Directors are the final interpretive authority on the Bible's meaning and application.

*Update 4/27/19** Terry saw this answer and had this to say:

"I will need to see where you got this. I don’t like this wording at all. The Board of Directors is NOT the final interpretive authority of the bibles meaning and application. We will fix that statement. Thanks for pointing that out. We are in fellowship with Calvary Chapel Association and Calvary Global network."

The statement at the bottom of the What We Believe page now says this:

Final Authority for Matters of Belief and Conduct

The statement of faith does not exhaust the extent of our beliefs. The Bible itself, as the inspired and infallible Word of God that speaks with final authority concerning truth, morality, and the proper conduct of mankind, is the sole and final source of all that we believe.

6. Is your church's pastor available for other questions or comments regarding the church, its doctrines, etc.?

**Update: 4/27/19**

"Yes but I will not get pulled into a argument about doctrine."

7. How is your church's doctrinal flexibility and tolerance? If a member has a disagreement with the pastor or leadership on a certain doctrine, how is it handled? Does the church change its position on doctrines fairly often, if at all?

"We have a lot of people and friends that have a different view on church doctrine. If you have two people that agree on every topic you have one person that is not thinking; in other words, I love people that will disagree, Agreeably.  I won't get pulled into an argument, that does not help. We don’t change doctrine on the main issues of Christianity, such as being born again by the spirit of God, Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God and his sacrifice on the cross saves us, etc.   On the non-issues we are always learning and growing, and yes I have and probably will again change my views on some things and when I do I talk to the church about it."

8. Does your church require that its members be baptized? What is your church's official position on baptism?

It does not appear that they believe baptism is required for salvation. Nothing on the site suggests that, although they do have a class you must take at their church before they will baptize you. You can read their brochure on baptism on their website at the bottom of the New to Calvary page.

Terry says this about it:

"We do have a class on baptism to let people know about what it is all about. A person does not need to be baptized to be saved or attend our church, but every believer should be baptized."

9. Please describe what a typical service and/or meeting looks like in your church.

I found a pretty well-written description of what a typical Calvary Chapel service looks like here:

“Worship services are not standardized in Calvary Chapels, but typically include praise and worship at the beginning, a greeting, the message, and a time for prayer. Most Calvary Chapels use contemporary music, but many retain traditional hymns with organ and piano. Again, casual attire is the norm, but some church members prefer to wear suits and neckties, or dresses. A "come as you are" approach allows for a variety of clothing styles, from very relaxed to dressy. Fellowship is encouraged before and after services. Some churches are in stand-alone buildings, but others are in renovated stores. A large lobby, cafe, grill, and bookstore often serve as informal mingling places.”

10. How many people do you have on staff at your church, both paid and volunteer?

"We have I think about 15 that are on staff part time and full time and lots of volunteers I have no idea how many, lots of them. It’s a family."

11. What is the pastor's educational history?

"I am a lifelong student, I graduated from Trinity life bible college a life time ago, also graduated from Liberty University online school, and Calvary west Covina bible college again a long time ago. I am a student that keeps learning. I am always taking some classes I am taking some right now from Logos Bible software mobile education. Always learning never the scholar."

12. How does the church discipline its members with their sin?

"We are here to help people follow Jesus the only time we have had to ‘discipline’ anyone is when they are hurting the church or causing a scene at the church. Everyone is welcome if they behave." 

13. How is the pastor compensated (income, benefits, bonuses, etc.)?

**Update 4/27/19**

"The way we set everyone compensation at the church is the guidelines established by the ECFA and Leadership network. They put out a yearly manual on what the average church across America is paying its staff. Every employee including every pastor at Calvary is making what the standard it for the job position. No one is making over or under the standard."

This still doesn't quite answer the question, since we don't know what the guidelines the ECFA has established, but we will look into this more and see if we can find out for ourselves. I've contacted the ECFA and will update this post with their response.

**Update 5/8/19**

After speaking with Dan at the ECFA, I have clarified something that I think is important.

The ECFA actually has no compensation level guidelines. Based on Terry's answers above, that was the impression I had: That the ECFA has established compensation levels for each church position. According to them, they don't. Read the email I received from Dan Busby with the ECFA for yourself:

So, we don't have the survey information that Terry is referring to, and while the ECFA might have some surveys on file that could be implied, we still don't know which ones he's referring to, and the only guidelines they establish do not actually determine compensations levels, just the process that is used to make them.

14. What is the size of your church and any other space the church owns for meetings and church services?

Terry confirmed:

"The size of our church I think is about 2-3 billion, those that attend Calvary salt lake are about between 1-2000 as you state that is close I would guess."


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