LIVE with Pastor Mike McClure—Part 2
Compiled by Sherri Spencer
This is Part 2 of a live July 30 interview with Mike McClure, who has been senior pastor of Calvary Christian Fellowship, a Calvary Chapel affiliate in San Jose, CA, since 2003. Mike and his wife, Brenda, have seven children. Mike discusses with Calvary Chapel Magazine Editor Tom Price about how to biblically approach the challenges of the COVID-19 shutdowns and recent civil unrest, his own fellowship’s decision to open despite legal opposition, and why churches and Christian schools are so essential. Don’t miss Part 1 of this interview.
Tom: Rioters seem to have a freedom that churches don’t have, to meet during COVID-19 lockdowns—yet they’re causing damage, hurting people, and hurting businesses, all under the flag of protesting. That seems to be OK in the government’s view, at least statewide and locally from what we hear about California. Can you speak to how that works?
Mike: We have a lot of liberal politicians, and so that kind of goes along with the chaos I’m sure they’d like to have during an election year. A lot of this is politics, and it’s easy to get involved with that. I think most of us as Calvary pastors recognize you can’t, like Pastor Chuck (founder of the Calvary Chapel movement) used to say, legislate morality; but what you can do is recognize the deceit, expose it, and share it with the congregation. So, I look at the COVID-19 numbers, I look at the rioters, and we talk about the Black Lives Matter movement; I read from their website that they’re a Marxist group. They are there to create turmoil, break down society, and destroy the nuclear family—that’s what Marxism does in our culture. I think the church isn’t hearing that from anywhere else. They’re just reading the news, think this is a great organization, and trusting the politicians to have their best interests.
Just before we opened, I was on a [Zoom chat with President Donald Trump and others]. I tuned in when it was [time for] Attorney General William Barr, [who told us]: There [will be] chaos going on, but … you [as a church] have every right to open up. If Walgreens or Walmart are open, you [also] have every right, constitutionally, to open. Those stores don’t love people that walk in like you love people, and [the stores] don’t have a First Amendment right like the church does. If you want to open, and they’re harassing you, call me. I’ll personally send you an attorney.
That’s what we did. I ended up calling Bob Tyler, [who] works with Barr, and he filed [our suit against] the county. We’re also suing the governor—not because we’re mad at them, but because then they can [follow] the First Amendment. The Constitution isn’t there to give us permission to do what we’re doing. It keeps the government in check. Our job is to feed the flock, to minister, and I’m thankful we have that right. We have members of the police and sheriff’s departments in our church, and they’re for us [meeting], [unsupportive of] this social distancing, and they’re not going to enforce any of those laws.
I think pastors [are] afraid, and I had that pressure on me, too. My insurance guy called and told me all the things he’s [required to] read to every pastor: “If you open up and have a civil issue and get sued, the insurance company won’t protect you. You’re on your own.” I’m at the point I don’t care anymore, because, to me, we really have to trust God to take care of it for the sake of ministering to our people. I believe that’s [God’s] compassion for the multitudes. If we put ourselves in that place, I know He’ll fight for [us]. I know He’ll do it, and He has—we haven’t had any problems.
The local Mercury News reporter would show up, and every week he put us in the paper saying derogatory things about us, how we’re going to spread COVID-19. He kept showing up and we just kept loving him and sharing the Gospel. He’d ask, “Did the DA call you? Did the sheriff or police show up?” I told him, “No, you’re the only one here, so God must have a plan for you.” He was disappointed, thinking he was going to get the whole crowd after us. But I think people see through the news. We as pastors need to go with what we know God says, and know that our people see it too.
I loved when Pastor Chuck would say that we’re at the time where this is no longer political—it’s really biblical. With that [said], … if you need a lawyer to help, you do that, but don’t stop doing the biblical stuff. I think [we need to] feed the sheep and take them through the Word. As long as people are here, I just want to give them the best meal. Chuck used to say, “I want to have the best-loved and the best-fed sheep.” If that’s our goal, then [even] people [visiting from other churches during the lockdown] are going to go back to their [own] churches and be an influence, hopefully for the better.
A lot of people are so desperate right now. That burden grows as you begin to see the huge needs … people contemplating suicide and thinking of drinking themselves to death. It’s almost like you’re handcuffed [with the shutdowns], but I believe that we’re really not. We should just go about what God’s called us to do, and just like Paul in the Book of Acts, trust Him, pray, and wait for His peace and guidance. He’ll show us where to go and where not to go.
Tom: You mentioned earlier that you’re not going to close, is that correct?
Mike: Barna [recently] came out with a poll [saying] that over 32% of evangelical Christians are no longer watching [online] church services, and that they’re not going to [return] to church again. They’ve walked away from the Lord. [The Bible warns] us that in the Last Times, iniquity and lawlessness are going to abound and the love of many is going to grow cold, but if we are faithful and endure to the end, we are going to be saved. I think of the face mask [divisions], … of people losing love for one another. They’re hiding in their homes, they’re panicked, they’re afraid, they’re seeing iniquity abound with the riots, they’re seeing the problems and the lies in the media, and they know these things are not right—but they’re not knowing what to do.
I think this is when the church should have the greatest voice. This is like Paul on the ship going to Rome and saying, “You guys should have listened to me.” We [as pastors and churches] should have that type of authority. We had a previous mayor here in our town, a Christian man, who thanked us for that. He would say that the true leaders in our town, in his view, were the pastors. A lot of pastors don’t think of that. We just think, “I’m doing my job,” or “I have a small flock,” or “I’m not making a big difference,” but that’s not true. I think we’re making a huge difference. If we close, we’re telling our church [family] we don’t care about them. That is how a lot of people have seen it. So, we have to work really hard [showing] that we do care and [communicating] what we’re going through. I started sending emails out to people in our church, letting them know we care, and that we wanted to open as soon as we [could]. Some felt if you open, you’re breaking the law; I have to explain, “Well, this is what the law is, this is what God tells us to do, and it comes from Hebrews 10:25, that we don’t have the right to forsake the gathering together of the saints. We need to do that much more when we see that Day approaching.”
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25
[With] Israel becoming a nation again and all the things that are taking place, we know as pastors these are the Last Days. We need to be vigilant, and faithful to preach God’s Word, because this is when it counts. This is when it’s important, and this is when people are on the fence and going to church can make the difference between life and death, heaven and hell, for them. So, every week that we were closed, I was sensing that burden. Since we’ve been open, I’ve just seen those burdens lifted every week as people come into the church.
You’ve got to social distance from everyone, which I don’t think is biblical at all. So, [regarding] those things, you’ve got to look at Scripture yourself—that’s my conviction. God made us to be in fellowship, which you can’t do through [technology] as well as in person. Only about 7% [of a message] is conveyed through watching a screen, versus being in someone’s presence. Church is essential.
Tom: From these difficult times we have found that church, Jesus Christ, and worshipping God is essential. We’ve felt that right slipping away a bit, and it’s been a wakeup call. Share what would happen if we kept silent now.
Mike: Erwin Lutzer’s When a Nation Forgets God is a great book written years ago. In this book, he talks about the pastors being wooed by Adolph Hitler before World War II. Hitler said, “You take care of the churches, and I’ll take care of the people,” and the pastors capitulated, Erwin wrote.
I think [we’re experiencing] a direct attack against Christianity. I think that’s what is going on with California Governor Gavin Newsom right now, whether he knows it or not, as he’s trying to shut down the church. He’s trying to silence the pastors and just ignores what we’re saying. The media is doing a good job of that, too. Then they [try to] close our schools. If you’re truly an established Christian school, and you’re teaching [children] the Scriptures—it’s been our motto at Calvary Christian Academy to raise up ministers and missionaries—if we close, we are following [what] the churches did in Germany as they capitulated to Hitler. I think … we have to really examine this.
Tom: How many students do you typically have at your school, Calvary Christian Academy?
Mike: We have a school through 12th grade. We have about 25-30 students in our high school, which is just a few years old, and we have about 170 students with our kindergarten through 8th grade. So, around 200 or so, but it’s not real big. We turn away about 30% [of applicants]. We live in a town [where] only 2% go to church, and not many of those are really born again or know the Lord—and that’s a qualification for [attending our school].
Tom: Share your thoughts on the increased number of parents trying to get their children in the Christian school.
Mike: Part of Marxism is to dumb down the schools and education. There are two great documentaries by Curtis Bowers, whom I’ve had at the church, called Agenda and Agenda 2. At first, I thought it was a “conspiracy” DVD that someone had given me, but the things that he talks about are almost prophetic. In it, a congressman talks about all the things that are happening in our country [now, that also] happened in Cuba, Russia, and all these other countries that today are Marxist and communist. So, we are seeing the exact same attack in our country, and I think we need to know what it is.
When Curtis came [to our church], he basically said the Number One thing that we can do to fight this is to just have dads be dads for their kids—watch what they are watching, see where they are going, be a part of their and their friends’ lives, train them up, [start] their own private company if they can, and not send them off to college unless they are going to be [in a field] that requires it, because most higher education now is destroying their faith. So, we’ve had a lot of people that want to come to our school because the learning is so much higher than in the government schools. I think [society has] lowered [educational] standards and is following the curriculum with … a lot of Marxism in it. It’s definitely bad education, and Christian schools are the last hope for America.
So, we have to open [Christian schools] despite what the government says. When people call and get mad at me [about that], I ask them to show me a study [confirming COVID-19 deaths in children and their passing it on to vulnerable family members]. We’re going to open because children need the education and the Scriptures. Just like us parents going to church, they need to be in school—it makes a big difference.
Tom: How would you encourage pastors to deal with the protests, riots, and COVID-19?
Mike: I would say the Great Commission hasn’t changed. Society might change, but the answer is still the same: just love people, preach the Word, pray that the Holy Spirit would move, and ask God to [work]. I think sometimes it’s just showing up and praying for boldness and encouraging people to pray. We have prayer going on every night at church; sometimes we’ll have 10 people and sometimes it’ll be over 50 people. They just need the opportunity to pray and let their requests be made known to God, to cast their cares upon the God who cares so much for us. I just think we need to … be unafraid and fearless … to be strong and know what God’s Word says. If we’re afraid, then everyone else will be afraid.
All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version.
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