I am a former 5-year member of Calvary Chapel. After leaving I became interested in the views of others who had left the movement.
In reading some testimonies on this website I get the definite impression that Calvary Chapels vary greatly from one fellowship to another.
This seems to occur because Calvary often relies upon the persona of the pastor within each congregation.
Unlike denominational churches, Calvary Chapels promote a loose approach to leadership, whereby the personality of the head pastor steers the ship.
If a Calvary pastor or leader has strange doctrines, there is no meaningful body of discipline to counter him. Worse yet, the attitude of not questioning the leadership only exacerbates such problems.
The dangers of this policy can be seen through the testimonies on this website.
But through my experience I did not experience the level of abusiveness mentioned by others, though I do believe them.
At the Calvary Chapel I attended it was clear that even mild criticism was not appreciated. And if people were critical in some way it was common to receive the response, "You are being divisive."
Calvary Chapels like to pride themselves in minimizing Christian doctrine. Doctrine itself is often seen as "divisive." Doctrine is so played down that someone might even rise within the ranks of leadership, without having a clue as to what they really believe.
Emotionalism is supplanted for doctrine. This seems superior to any intellectualism or objectivity.
The result is that some Calvary Chapels assume that those who walk through the door either have enough doctrine to be stable in their faith, or they will get enough doctrine on their own.
Because of this some of those that attend Calvary may not be rooted in the historical faith and become instead experiential junkies.
The emphasis at Calvary appears to be the "conversion" experience, which comes above an emphasis on teaching. It seems to me that this leads to an unhealthy twisted understanding of Christianity.
I would not recommend Calvary Chapels generally, but it is important to note that they are not all the same.
One Church can be very different from the experiences within another. This is due to an emphasis upon personalities as opposed to a more consistent approach based on doctrine.