Calvary Bible Institute (CBI)—Part 3

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CBI focuses on Discipleship, Transformation, & Sending Out

Story by Kathy Symborski
Photos by Tom Price

This is Part 3 of a three-part story about the Calvary Bible Institute (CBI) in Yucca Valley, CA. This story discusses the transformation that occurs in CBI students through the Holy Spirit and the dynamics of a successful senior pastor/assistant pastor relationship.

Follow this series… Part 1: Examines the need for senior pastors to raise up and nurture younger leadership. Part 2 Explains how CBI prepares its students for future leadership roles.

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Jerel Hagerman encourages Calvary Bible Institute (CBI) student Steven Green as he teaches from the Word of God. Students are expected to be able to share from any given passage of Scripture as they grow in training.

Send Them Out

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” John 20:21

CBI Director David Enos has poured into the lives of the students, discipling them and watching God transform their lives. He said, “We watch young people come in, knowing that God has done a work in their hearts, but not knowing what the next step is. We watch the Holy Spirit transform young people working through sin and worldliness, and grow them in responsibility; and we give them a burden for the lost and a vision for ministry.”

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Steven Green vacuums a local thrift store where many CBI students serve once a week.

Jerel Hagerman, senior pastor of Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel (JSCC) and president of CBI, stated, “We take our best [students] and send them out. We tend to want to keep the best for ourselves, but the Lord spoke to me a long time ago: I have to be willing to send out my best and the Lord will send us other eager students to replace them.”

Student Lewis George wanted to know more about this Jesus who had just transformed his rebellious heart and life after his father, a pastor, died, leaving Lewis to care for his mom. When a door opened for him to attend CBI, he walked through it, knowing the Lord had called him. Blaine Pendergrass, JSCC’s junior high pastor, eventually tapped Lewis to serve in that ministry. Lewis remembered, “I would teach through the Bible wherever Pastor Jerel was teaching in the main service. To prepare, I would start in prayer, then read the passage over, pray some more, and then study the passage piece by piece. And then I just taught what the Word was saying.” Lewis now serves in the college ministry at Calvary Chapel Ark City, Arkansas City, KS.

( Learn how you can receive a top-tier educational degree from a totally biblical perspective from one of our sponsors, fully accredited Calvary Chapel University, which is 100% online) 

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Each morning students take notes from the Pastor Chuck Smith 2000 series.

Pastoral Advice

He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30

There comes a time when we must decrease and allow others to increase. Jerel encourages pastors to be confident, not jaded, in the ministry. “There isn’t a pastor who hasn’t been betrayed by someone, just as Paul experienced with Demas and Alexander the Coppersmith, but you can’t let bad experiences cause you to mistrust people. You have to be willing to let loose a bit and watch with great joy as those you have mentored now have the congregation respond to them.”

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Pastor BJ Huether, Jerel’s assistant, encourages a woman after a Wednesday night Bible study. Jerel has given BJ full responsibility for the Wednesday and Sunday night studies and encourages other CC pastors to raise up leaders.

Loyalty and open, honest discussions are the key to making a pastor/assistant pastor relationship successful. The mutual respect, admiration, and trust between Jerel and his assistant pastor BJ Huether is woven through their relationship. “I have a high amount of respect, regard, and reverence for Pastor Jerel and the Lord’s vision through him. Before I make a decision, I ask Jerel. It is wise to stand with counselors who have been through things and know what works and what doesn’t,” BJ recommended.

At first, Jerel gave the Sunday night services to BJ, and then added Wednesday evenings. “And now, not only are they bigger—they are better!” Jerel exclaimed. “BJ spends a lot of time studying, so the message he gives is awesome. The reality is that we have multiple services, and as a senior pastor, I could keep one service where I preach and let the younger pastors have the rest. It just gives me great joy to sit and look around at all the families, single people, kids, older people, all ages; that is what makes the church alive.”

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Students Lucas Lopez and Ray Garcia enjoy laughter during class. Students work hard on their studies and servanthood opportunities, but also have fun.

Both men also caution younger pastors and students about the dangers of division. As an assistant, BJ knows he is to raise the hands of the senior pastor. “Be sure to carry on with the vision of the pastor who has built the church. You aren’t there to change the vision or plan of your pastor.” Jerel echoed this admonition: “When I teach CBI students, I make it clear that if I ever hear they are responsible for a church split, I am coming to rip up their diploma! That is not what God wants."

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CBI students line up to engage Pastor Phil McKay of Calvary Chapel Reno-Sparks, NV, after class with questions. Phil shared his insights about his experiences shepherding a congregation and how to approach different situations and problems.

Reflecting on aging pastors, Jerel is acutely aware that as many pastors reach retirement age, some have opted out of Social Security. “So they find themselves in a precarious position, almost like they have to hang on or they won’t have health insurance,” Jerel related. “The pastor that has been there for years should be taken care of with health insurance and a retirement. A number of years ago, we assumed another ministry about 30 miles from us and took care of the founding pastor until he went home to be with the Lord.

“I want to tell you, there will be no greater joy when you are ending your days, than to look across the church you have pastored your entire life and see that it is alive and thriving and growing in the love of Christ,” Jerel confidently concluded. “I really believe when we raise up the next generation, entrust them with ministries, the church will grow and flourish.”


Watch the video: Calvary Chapel Magazine was on hand to document what God is doing through Calvary Bible Institute (CBI).


Click to learn more about:
Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel
Calvary Bible Institute


Follow this series about CBI… Part 1: Examines the need for senior pastors to raise up and nurture younger leadership. Part 2 Explains how CBI prepares its students for future leadership roles.

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Pastor Phil McKay prays with one of the students after teaching three sessions. Many Calvary Chapel pastors invest in the students by teaching several classes.


(To learn more about Calvary Chapel University, visit their website or read our past coverage on the school)

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All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2022 Calvary Chapel Magazine (CCM). All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.