In his senior year of high school, Dr. Gary Chapman, native of China Grove, NC, felt a calling on his life to enter the ministry. Little did he know the way God would use him not only at Calvary Baptist for the past 50 years, but across the world. In 1971, Dr. Chapman came to Calvary Baptist at the request of Dr. Mark Corts, senior pastor at Calvary Baptist, to lead the college ministry and direct the Adult Education program. As with everything you place in God’s hands, He multiplied Dr. Chapman’s gifts of connecting with others, counseling, and the love he has to help families and married couples, impacting and transforming lives in the process.
A Growing Ministry
Dr. Chapman and his wife, Karolyn, joined the Calvary Baptist family with their own family of daughter, Shelley, and son, Derek, knowing he had a purpose to reach out to college students.
“The first ten years, I developed and led our college ministry. Every Friday evening, Karolyn and I had an open house for college students in our home. The format of our time together was a Q&A. I discovered that students are filled with questions and will ask them if anyone seems interested in listening. Then I started our Single Adult ministry and directed it for ten years. With this group, I learned of the challenges and struggles of single adults. It was through both of these ministries that I developed a passion to help people process life in a healthy manner,” recalled Dr. Chapman. With Karolyn by his side, Dr. Chapman’s ministry grew and it took a bit of a turn into family and couples’ counseling, leading him to write the #1 New York Times Best Seller, The Five Love Languages, becoming a guide to knowing the ones you love and how to meet their needs.
Some Things Change and Some Things Remain the Same
After years of counseling, Dr. Chapman realized that what made one person feel loved did not make another person feel loved, leading to the discovery of the five love languages.
“I found that where people were really hurting was in the area of marriage and family. So I started teaching classes on related topics, and those who needed individual help came for counseling. I noticed a consistency in couples I counseled; one spouse would say, ‘I don’t feel like he loves me’ The other spouse would protest, ‘I don’t know what else to do! I’m doing everything I know to do. Why would you not feel loved?’ I knew that people were sincere, but were missing each other emotionally. So I asked myself, when someone said, ‘I feel like my spouse doesn’t love me,’ what did they want? What were they complaining about? Their answers fell into five categories, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch, revealing a unique approach in how to effectively love another person. The premise is simple: different people with different personalities express love in different ways. Each individual has at least one love language that they prefer above the others. Lasting relationships, like anything worthwhile, take intentional commitment over time. But when you’re just not on the same page, keeping your love alive can be a challenge. When couples discovered each other’s love language and spoke it regularly, they greatly improved the emotional climate of their relationship. When I wrote The Five Love Languages, I had no idea the book would sell 15 million copies and be translated and published in over 50 languages,” Dr. Chapman said. Through the years, Dr. Chapman has written over 50 books, including additional Five Love Languages, focusing on Singles, Men, Military, Children, and Teens.
In our current times, so much has changed, but then much remains the same.
“Basic emotional needs and relational skills have not changed. People need to feel loved, and build loving, caring, supportive relationships. I believe a relationship with God will dramatically impact the way we treat others. Jesus said, ‘I did not come to be served, but to serve….’ We are told to love others as He loves us. When we do this, we will find life’s greatest satisfaction. This past year has been particularly difficult with the stress of the pandemic. I wrote a little book: 5 Simple Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage When You Are Stuck at Home Together, Addressing the Stresses of Today,’ commented Dr. Chapman.
Retirement and What Lies Ahead
As Dr. Chapman celebrated his 50th year on staff at Calvary Baptist, he decided it was time to step down from his role as Associate Pastor and the responsibilities associated with that position, but he’s not riding off into the sunset.
“It really felt like it was time. Most pastors don’t stay 50 years at one church, and Karolyn and I have been blessed to have had this opportunity. She has her own ministry with pastors’ wives, as well as the Women’s Ministry and choir. So my plans are to retire from the church staff at the end of July 2021, but I plan to stay active in the church and in my writing and speaking ministry. Calvary has a bright future with Pastor Will Toburen, and our present pastoral staff are committed to loving people and developing opportunities for people to learn to become devoted followers of Christ and to invest their lives into helping others,” Dr. Chapman stated.
With countless lives changed through his counseling, writings, teachings, and speaking, Dr. Chapman looks to the future as he has the past, faithful to his God, his calling to ministry, faithful to his family, and faithful to his church.
Dr. Chapman’s newest book is Life Lessons and Love Languages: What I’ve Learned on My Unexpected Journey and is available at Calvary Baptist’s church office and was released April 6th, 2021.