The motivation behind checking another Calvary Chapel has multiple causes. First, while we haven’t had very good experiences with Calvary Chapel SLC and Tooele Springs, the fact that pastor Ryan Shaddix in Sevier Valley was so transparent when questioned gives us hope for other Calvary Chapel churches, as few and far in between as they may be.
Secondly, it’s been extremely difficult to find churches that actually teach the Word anymore, and while we can’t say the other Calvary Chapels we’ve checked have been nearly as transparent as necessary for a recommendation from us, they do still seem to teach the Word much better than most other churches. At CMC, we think the teaching of the Word is extremely important, and if we can at least find churches that do this much for their congregations, it’s a start.
Lastly, we’ve received word from our friends in the Ex-Mormon community that there are a lot of Ex-Mormons in Heber City looking for a good Christian church to attend. After a quick skim of the Christian churches in that area, Calvary Chapel Midway was the closest thing we could find to a church worth checking for potential recommendation.
So, here we are! Let’s get to it, church checkers!
The Website Review
When you go to https://calvarychapelnewlife.com/, the first thing you see is the church’s service time in big, bold letters. Scroll down a little and you can see the somewhat universal mission statement of nearly all Calvary Chapels I’ve looked into so far:
“Calvary Chapel has been formed as a fellowship of believers in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our supreme desire is to know Christ and to be conformed into His image by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
I’ve read this statement several times now as I’ve reviewed multiple Calvary Chapel websites, and I still don’t see any red flags with it. The problem arises with each individual Calvary Chapel church’s interpretation of it.
While some appear to execute it exactly as I believe it should be, giving the ultimate authority and source of leadership to the Holy Spirit within each individual Christian, others have strayed from the liberty in this statement, returning to legalistic practices that seem to contradict this statement. We’ll try to find out which way this Calvary Chapel has gone.
If you scroll down even further on the website’s homepage, you can see a slideshow of their current events. They have prayer on Friday nights, Womens’ Bible Study on Tuesdays, and then below that they show their current studies in the Bible. Sunday services are in the book of Luke right now, while their Wednesday night service is in the book of Genesis.
When you scroll to the bottom of the homepage, there are a few other pages you can go to: Message Archives, Online Giving, Our Events, and Our Location. Let’s check out Online Giving and see if we can find any red flags of money serving there.
This page, just like the giving page of some other Calvary Chapels we’ve looked at (not SLC), is simple and straightforward.
You have a choice of how much you’d like to donate, how often, and where you would like your donation to be designated. I don’t see any attempts to compel or manipulate people into giving in any way, no Scriptural references, no videos explaining why they need your money, no position papers, no ebooks, nothing.
All signs that this Calvary Church is not money serving. Yay!
Let’s move on.
Being a smaller congregation doesn’t always mean less events, but this church doesn’t seem too interested in drumming up “engagement” in their church the same way others like to. Believe it or not, this is a very good thing.
This is another sign that this church is not money serving, but rather makes the Bible itself the priority, rather than entertaining and amusing the desires of people.
The only other page on the website worth mentioning is their About Us page. Here we can read their statement of faith, and while for the most part there isn’t anything unique or troubling here, there are a few statements worth noting.
While the majority of their doctrinal statement is typical essential Christian doctrine, they do discuss issues concerning marriage and sexuality at the very bottom of the page. I’ve noticed this in more legalistic churches, as well as many Calvary Chapels.
My concern with this statement is not a disagreement that I have with the statement itself. That's irrelevant here. The problem is that this can often mean one of two things: either the church is somewhat legalistic regarding marriage and sexuality, or it’s making a political statement.
Based on the fact that this Calvary Chapel otherwise appears to be very gracious, I’m going to assume this is more of a political statement than a legalistic one.
All in all, there are very few red flags on the website itself, with the only real one being the statement on marriage and sexuality in their statement of faith. Because of that, I’d give the website a thumbs up overall.
It took a few weeks, several emails, and a few Facebook Messages to finally get an answer regarding the Questionnaire, but unfortunately, we got pretty much the same response we get from most churches: “No.”
At least pastor Matt Klein took the more civil and professional approach, however. Rather than gaslighting our attempts to hold money serving and legalistic churches accountable, or condemning us to Hell, he simply had someone on his office staff pass on his behalf.
It was all very friendly, but it was still a “no,” so yet again, we’re forced to try and come up with these answers on our own. Let’s do it, shall we?
1. What is your church's official position on tithing?
There is nothing on the church’s website to suggest that they preach tithing here, and the giving page makes no Biblical claims that we must give to the church. For now, I think it’s safe to assume that this church does not preach tithing, but without their response, we can’t know this for sure until we do further in-person research for this church.
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?
We also see nothing to suggest that this church has any kind of membership requirements, roles, or agreements, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have any. We just don’t see anything to suggest it on the website. Typically with more legalistic churches, we will be able to find hints on the website to whether or not they have membership requirements.
We can’t say for sure either way, since they wouldn’t answer our questions.
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?
Well, they weren’t transparent with us, that’s for sure. This doesn’t mean they aren’t transparent with their own congregation, or the public in general, but they chose not to share this information with us, so while we can’t know for sure either way, again, the fact that this is a smaller congregation which doesn’t appear to be money serving leads us to hope that they are transparent.
We will do further research into this church to find out more on this as well.
4. Which denomination does your church align with the most, if any?
While Calvary Chapels call themselves non-denominational, the Calvary Chapel title has become something of a denomination itself.
5. Is your church's pastor available for other questions or comments regarding the church, its doctrines, etc.?
In the process of trying to get someone at this church to respond to me, I tried finding a way to contact pastor Matt directly as well. While he has a Facebook account, it doesn’t look like he uses it very often at all, and my PM to him has yet to be seen. I also couldn’t find a personal email address for him either.
So while it’s possible that people physically attending this church may be able to walk up and talk to him in person, ask him questions, or discuss concerns regarding the church, I can’t say that this can be done online in any way, shape, or form. At least not when I attempted to.
6. 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?
Calvary Chapels typically align universally on a list of doctrinal issues, and in my experience with Calvary Chapels, they tend to avoid any debates or arguments when it comes to non-essential or other minor doctrines within Christianity, while the strictness to their own “majors” may vary depending on the pastor at each church.
Again, we won’t know this until we can speak with pastor Matt and he agrees to answer our questions.
7. Does your church require that its members be baptized? What is your church's official position on baptism?
Once again, we see no hints on the website of this. Calvary Chapels do not typically believe in baptismal regeneration, and since we see nothing on the website suggesting that they require it for membership, it’s probably safe to assume that they don’t based on what we’ve found with other Calvary Chapels. But once again, we can’t know for sure until we dig deeper.
8. Please describe what a typical service and/or meeting looks like in your church.
We found this statement on the church website on their About Us page:
“We believe that the only true basis of Christian fellowship is His agape love. We believe worship of God should be spiritual. Therefore, we remain flexible and yielded to the leading of the Holy Spirit to direct our worship. We believe worship of God should be inspirational. Therefore, we give great place to music in our worship. We believe worship of God should be intelligent. Therefore, our services are designed with great emphasis upon the teaching of the Word of God that He might instruct us how He should be worshiped. We believe worship of God should be fruitful. Therefore, we look for His love in our lives as the supreme manifestation that we have truly been worshiping Him. Please come and join us for our Sunday morning service at 10AM.”
9. How many people do you have on staff at your church, both paid and volunteer?
The website doesn’t give this information, and we won’t know the answer until we can research this church in person.
10. What is the pastor's educational history?
The website doesn’t give this information and from what I can tell, neither does pastor Matt’s Facebook page. Although, we aren’t friends on Facebook, so it’s possible that it does and we just can’t see it.
11. How does the church discipline its members with their sin?
Yet another question that can only be answered if pastor Matt decides to help us out, or if we can get a closer look when we do an in-person check in the future.
12. How is the pastor compensated (income, benefits, bonuses, etc.)?
This church has a very small congregation, so I can’t imagine the pastor has much of an income, and I imagine like a few others we’ve spoken to, he probably has a second job somewhere else to support himself and his family.
We could make a fair estimate based on congregation size, but the amount isn’t important in this situation. Until pastor Matt answers us, we have to assume he is not transparent with this information.
13. What is the size of your church congregation, building, and any other space the church owns for meetings and church services?
This congregation must be fairly small still, and I think that’s a good thing. The smaller, the better in my opinion. While some people prefer a big church (I’ll never understand why), a pastor can shepherd his congregation much better when he knows everyone in it, and the money serving measures that most churches have adopted these days are much less prevalent in smaller churches.
The Calvary Chapel Midway Facebook Page has only 126 likes and 127 follows as of this writing, as well as 17 check-ins. This means the congregation is certainly less than 100, but to the exact number, we can’t be sure.
All in all, we can’t be happy about the Questionnaire since it was stonewalled, and we’ll have to do a lot more research to find the answers to several of our questions. We’re hoping a last ditch effort to reach out to pastor Matt directly will give us some answers, but until then, it’s a thumbs down here for us.
The Worship Service
This church doesn’t have any worship services available to watch online, so until we can physically attend a service and observe one in-person, we will refrain from discussing the worship service at this time.
The sermon we chose to check for this church was from June 9th, and if you’d like to listen to it with us, you can by either going to the church’s message archive on their website, or just click here.
Let’s do this!
Is the sermon topical or a verse by verse study through the Bible?
As is typical with Calvary Chapel churches, this is a verse by verse expository teaching of the Bible. For this service, Matt is going through Luke 12:22-34.
Is it Biblical? How frequently is the Bible used? Is it interpreted in context or twisted to fit the narrative of the sermon?
It is Biblical. Before Matt gets into the verses for studying this week, he goes over the context of the Scriptures and then digs right in. Based on how I read these passages, I don’t think there was any twisting of Scripture or misinterpreting it to fit the pastor’s personal views. It was Biblical and contextual.
He did, however, mention tithes briefly in the sermon. This made my ears perk up. Speaking of covetousness, pastor Matt says:
“...We say, ‘Lord, how come so-and-so has all this stuff and I don’t have anything? You know I go to church, I serve you, I pay my tithes, I give offerings, I bring food to the potlucks…’”
This makes me wonder if this church does in fact preach tithing. If so, that’s a problem, and this church may actually be more legalistic that initially thought to be. As we’ve come to discover in the past, churches that have little to no information on their website are usually either one of two things, one being very good, and the other, very bad.
They’re either very devoted to serving God rather than money, or they’re very legalistic and they just don’t want to share that information on their website because they know legalistim is a great repeller of most liberty-seeking American Christians.
This is a red flag, people. But let’s move on.
What’s at the heart of the sermon? The Bible, the gospel, God, Jesus, or something else?
The main message of the sermon is pretty simple. Luke 12:22-34 is a passage where Jesus is teaching His disciples not to be anxious and not to worry about things. Matt touches on covetousness for a while as that can sometimes be a cause of anxiety and worry, but stays pretty focused on the Scriptures themselves, and what they say about worrying.
The point he makes is that Jesus leaves us with peace in Him and through Him, and we have no need to worry or be anxious. So truly at the heart of the sermon, there is Jesus.
Were you fed the Word of God, or the words of men?
I definitely think this was a solid feeding of the Word. It wasn’t as meaty as I’m used to and prefer, but these days, I’m just happy when a church can give a good Bible teaching, whether it be meaty or milky.
The Grace Scale
Since we don’t have answers to a lot of the questions we have for this church, it will be difficult to place them accurately on the Grace Scale. We’ll have to start them in the middle and work our way left or right based on the little information that we do have on them.
The brief mentioning of tithing in the sermon tipped me off to the big possibility that this church does in fact preach tithing, and for that, we have to put them slightly more toward the legalistic side of the scale.
On the other hand, we’ve listened to a few of Matt’s other sermons as well, and being that he is definitely in the Word, the sermons are very gracious and Christ-centered in nature. This brings them back to the center.
Until we can get answers to our questionnaire, it seems that is where they will have to remain for now. 50/50 it is!
The Political Scale
The statement about marriage, sexuality, and orientation at the bottom of their doctrinal statement could have been a legalistic one, but I actually think it was more for political purposes than legalistic, so for that, we’re going to put them slightly toward the Conservative side of the Political Scale.
Scandals & Controversies
The only controversies we’ve found with this church are the stonewalling of our questions and the few red flags we’ve seen so far. The political statement about gender/sexuality/marriage is one, and so was the mentioning of tithing during the sermon that we checked today.
These issues by themselves aren’t enough for us to say for certain that we don’t recommend this church, but the lack of information is concerning.
All in all, there are plenty of good things to say about Calvary Chapel New Life in Midway, Utah, but a few negatives as well.
Pastor Matt Klein certainly teaches the Word of God. His sermons are verse by verse expository teachings, which we prefer at CMC due to the fact that topical sermons tend to veer away from the Word almost entirely in many cases. The only events this church seems to have are focused almost exclusively on learning and discussing the Bible, which we love, and the website threw up only one red flag for political reasons, as well as the brief mentioning of tithing in the sermon.
The negatives: We were stonewalled for our questions once again, and since the website isn’t nearly as informative enough to answer the questions ourselves, we’re left wondering a lot of important things.
Until we can get the answers, we can’t recommend this church, but due to the lack of red flags, we also won’t not recommend them. We’re on the fence again!