Updated: Sep 24, 2019
In an effort to make Checking Churches easier for readers, we've decided to create two Checks per Church. The first one is just the Quick Check, where you can see everything we checked as well as what kind of results we got regarding everything we checked. We also give a short synopsis or a general overview of what we think of the church, and their final rating.
The second Check is the Full Check, which includes all the details that are left out of the Quick Check. We include the Questionnaire, its answers, our review of the Worship Service, the Sermon, The Grace Scale, Political Scale, and so on. This is where you get all of our input on every little aspect of the church.
So, here is the Full Check for Calvary Chapel Sevier Valley in Richfield, Utah!
About the Church
This is another church request from a reader. I’ve also been told very good things about this church, so I have high hopes. I’m praying it lives up to what I’ve been told. Please, please, please!
On their About page, it says this about them:
“Calvary Chapel Sevier Valley is a fellowship of believers gathered together to:
EQUIP – Ephesians 4:11-16
“…To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”
ENCOURAGE – Colossians 2:2-3
“…that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
ENGAGE – Matthew 28:18-20
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.””
Okay, sounds good to me so far. It also says this:
“Calvary Chapel has been formed as a fellowship of believers in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our supreme desire is to know Christ and be conformed to His image by the power of the Holy Spirit. We are not a denominational church, nor are we opposed to denominations as such, only to their over-emphasis of the doctrinal differences that have led to the division of the Body of Christ.”
I’m really happy about this. The legalistic and rigid dogmatism connected to doctrinal differences in the Body has been so damaging, and unnecessary. I’m glad this church has made an effort to avoid that nonsense.
They also have an entire page dedicated to explaining the Gospel, and all its beauty.
So far, I’m liking this church.
I sent pastor Ryan the Questionnaire email on March 4th. I was expecting to be ignored by him as I’ve been by so many others, and after two days with no response, I decided to try that trusty ole’ Facebook Messenger on March 6th. He responded within a day and explained that the email address from the website isn’t the best one to reach him through. Then he gave me his personal email.
I love these pastors that are so open to questions and make a real effort to make themselves available to people.
He also explained that he teaches High School full time in Richfield, so he’ll try to answer me asap, but it might take longer because his schedule is so tight. I appreciated the legitimate reason, but was pleasantly surprised again to find he’d answered my questions within the following day.
And here they are, churchgoers!
1. What is your church's official position on tithing?
“We follow Paul's counsel to the church in Corinth when he says,
"6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 9 As it is written:
“He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.”
10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, [h]supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, 13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, 14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" (1 Corinthians 9:6-15)
"Giving is an opportunity for the believer, not an obligation, and ultimately God's grace supplies for all of our needs, so if people do not feel led to give, and partner with the body of Christ in Richfield, then they are not less, or in rebellion to a law, rather they are just not in a place where they can cheerfully give.
"Although we do receive an offering in our regular worship services as an act of worship in the same heart as singing songs, studying God's worship, or serving one another, it is NEVER NEVER NEVER proceeded by some plea or admonishes to give. Truthfully we probably discourage people, especially visitors and newcomers from giving more than we ever would even think about compelling. We share full information without solicitation (more on that in our answer regarding finances).”
This is a great response, and a great policy. Let everyone decide in their own heart and through their own connection with the Holy Spirit how, when, how much, or even whether or not to give at all. Beautiful.
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 do not have a membership of any kind.”
3. What is your church's official position on the doctrine of salvation? Through grace, works, both?
“We see grace as a three part work -
1. We are saved from damnation by grace through faith not of works, and we are saved unto good works that have been designed by God (Ephesians 2:9-10)
2. Grace is what saves us through trial, tribulation and turmoil in this life. God's grace is sufficient, and His strength is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Cor 12:8-10)
3. Grace is what saves the church continuously. This is a little more complex, but it is rooted in the concept of Charis the greek word for grace. It 1st Corinthians 12 we have this whole passage on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The word there is Charisma - root Charis - Grace. God gives gifts (graces) to the body of Christ to enable it to fill in the gaps that we have because of this broken and fallen world. These gifts create the potential for us a humans to experience the fullness of God's power and work as He uses us in one another's life through Koinania (or fellowship in English).”
I love it.
4. 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?
“We average about 6000-7000 per month in offering.
Building Mortgage $1000 per month (We just recently purchased a 3300 sq foot building)
Building Rent for Youth Center $1500 per month (This is for our community youth rec center and tutoring center)
Utilities $600 per month
Housing Allowance - $2250 TOTAL for 3 Pastors, 2 Interns
Lead Pastor Salary $700 per month
Missions Outreach and Benevolence - $900 per month (We also see our youth center as an outreach) Our goal is to give away 30% of our income to these areas. We are working towards 50%.
Administration, Ministry Supplies - $250 per month
That's a total of $7200 per month.
"In lean months we dip into savings to cover our responsibilities and months of increase we seek to bless others - missionaries, other churches, or put some in savings.
We list our current savings and goals in bulletin weekly.
We have a missions savings, youth savings, and general savings.
We currently have about $16,000 in the bank.
Anyone that has a question about finances we don't have a problem sharing the information.”
I’m so glad to have finally found another church that is willing to be transparent with their finances. Thank God for pastor Ryan and this church. I hope and pray that even if this church grows and brings in more money in the future, that the transparency, honesty, and integrity with which this church operates remains the same.
5. Which denomination does your church align with the most, if any?
“We are a Calvary Chapel, but we operate in a lot of ways differently from Calvary.”
6. Is your church's pastor available for other questions or comments regarding the church, its doctrines, etc.?
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 try to stick with a New Testament understanding of what the church is supposed to look like. I am very open to conversation and we have many people in our team that do not hold to the same exact views as I do on eschatology, pneumatology, ecclesiology, or even soteriology in some cases.”
It’s nice to see the level of grace this church gives to its attendees on doctrinal issues. Doctrinal dogma in the Christian church, especially in Utah, has become a big problem. I highly recommend Calvary Chapel in Sevier Valley and CAMPUS Church in Murray for any Christian struggling to find their way through the doctrinal maze of Christianity. These churches both seem very open and willing to discuss these issues with you, and allow you the freedom to find your own views.
8. Does your church require that its members be baptized? What is your church's official position on baptism?
“No. We baptize people into the universal body of Jesus Christ in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We do not believe in baptismal regeneration.”
9. Please describe what a typical service and/or meeting looks like in your church.
“If we are talking about Sundays, it’s pretty straight forward. Simple fellowship, simple music, simple teaching through the Bible verse by verse and chapter by chapter. We go about 1.5 hours each service. I will always hijack the sermon to bring everything back to the purity and simplicity of the Gospel.
"Most of what we do in the way in the way of discipleship comes in the way of small groups that are deeply relational and deeply transparent.”
This is great. Another church that does verse by verse studying through the Bible rather than those much too popular topical sermon series churches are doing now. Verse by verse study seems to be very common in Calvary Chapels, and I love it.
10. How many people do you have on staff at your church, both paid and volunteer?
“Over 60% of our church is serving in some capacity. We have a monthly ministry team meeting of 10-15 people. 5 people are receiving housing allowance assistance or some other stipend currently.”
11. What is the pastor's educational history?
“Bachelor's in Literature from Dixie State University, Working on a Master's in Special Education. I have served for almost twenty years in pastoral ministry both paid and not paid in youth, children's and adult ministry.”
12. How does the church discipline its members with their sin?
“Challenge personally, love biblically, pursue and pray consistently. We are not the Holy Spirit.”
We are not the Holy Spirit. Love, love, love it.
13. How is the pastor compensated (income, benefits, bonuses, etc.)?
14. What is the size of your church and any other space the church owns for meetings and church services?
“About 130 people.”
In conclusion to the Questionnaire, I am absolutely loving this church so far. Not only did the pastor personally respond to both my email and my Facebook Message, but his answers are all straightforward, transparent, focused on the Word, the liberty we have in Christ, and the glory of God. If I can manage to get my hands on an online sermon for this church, I think we’re looking at another House of God, folks. Thumbs up for the Questionnaire.
The Worship Service
Pastor Ryan said their worship services are simple. And based on the image I’m looking at before the sermon begins on their Facebook video, which you can watch here, he wasn’t joking. It appears to just be a man with a guitar and a woman at an electric keyboard several feet behind him.
No big stage. No fog machine. No rock band. No show. Just a simple two-person worship team, leading a congregation in some single classic Christian praise and worship songs.
Praise God. And thumbs up!
If you’d like to listen to the same sermon that I did and check it along with me, you can watch it on CCSV’s Facebook Page here. It’s from Sunday, March 3rd.
Is the sermon topical or a verse by verse study of the Bible?
It is a verse by verse study of Revelation chapter 5. I love verse by verse studies because as opposed to topical sermons that are centered around a message made up by men, verse by verse studies of the Bible get into the Word, and it feeds the flock the Word. Topical sermons tend to cherry pick and/or merely sprinkle the sermon with a few Bible verses taken out of context here and there.
So, a thumbs up for the verse by verse study rather than topical.
Is the Bible used frequently and in context, or are verses cherry picked and taken out of context to support a topical sermon?
Since it is a verse by verse study of the Bible, specifically in the Book of Revelation. It is used very frequently and as far as I can tell, in context.
What’s at the heart of the sermon? The Word, God, the Gospel, or something else?
Definitely the Word, God, and the Gospel. There’s no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. No nonsense here. This pastor isn’t interested in tickling ears and stroking egos.
Were you fed the Word of God, or the words of men?
The Word of God. Sometimes the pastor would add his own input and viewpoint on things, but it always comes back to the Word, to the Gospel, and to God in the end.
Thumbs up for the sermon, my friends!
The Grace Scale
I couldn't find anything legalistic about this church, and I tried. There's simply nothing. They have no memberships, they have no policies as far as disciplining sin, they don't require baptism, they don't require tithing, they don't even like to ask for donations according to the pastor!
This will only be the second time we're doing this, but Calvary Chapel Sevier Valley is, as far as we can tell, 100% Gracious.
The Political Scale
I found just a few statements in their Statement of Faith on the website that could be taken as political by some more liberal Christians. Biblical or not, I have to report any signs of political swaying one way or the other. Due to gender, sexuality and marital beliefs, I had to put them slightly to the Right on the Political Scale.
Scandals & Controversy
Nothing to see here, people. As far as I can tell, they’re clean as a whistle.
It can’t get much better than this, folks. In fact, it hasn’t, with the single exception of CAMPUS Church in Murray. We’ve recommended a few other churches over the past few weeks, but Calvary Chapel in Sevier Valley is one we can enthusiastically get behind 100%, right along with CAMPUS.
The pastor was transparent and straightforward with the Questionnaire.
The answers were all exactly what we look for here at CMC.
The worship service did NOTHING to glorify man, material, or emotions. They worship God at this church.
The sermon was a verse by verse study of the Bible, and the sermon’s heart was aimed right at God.
In the end, I think the final verdict should be very clear. We’ve got ourselves another House of God, people!