This has been one of the hardest weeks of my life.
I found out that my pastor, my mentor, my friend Bob Coy fell into sexual sin and disqualified himself from ministry. I have been a mess since Saturday.
Before I share what I believe to be missing in the conversation about Bob’s fall, indulge me to share a little background…
I started attending Calvary Chapel as a young Christian of only 3 weeks.
It was a Wednesday night Bible study and I still remember the subject of the message (he was preaching out of Acts 18).
Calvary Chapel is where I went to Bible College. It’s where I was married.
Bob hired me as a 23 year old kid and took an interest in me.
He ordained me into ministry and I had the privilege of serving on the Calvary staff for 4 years before planting Calvary Fellowship in Miramar, FL in the year 2000.
Bob didn’t officiate my wedding, but he did attend my wedding.
After the ceremony, he congratulated me and asked that I introduce him to my dad.
He shook my dad’s hand and said, “You should be very proud of your son; I know I am.”
When I was leaving to start my church, he called me into his office and spoke words of encouragement and life to me that brought me to tears. I’m grateful he believed in me to start a ministry that has blessed many lives in my city.
I dedicated my book “Zero to Sixty” to Him because he was the one who took a chance on me and taught me how to be a leader
I’m saying all of this because I want you to know that I love Bob. However, there’s a point that needs to be made that I haven’t read in the hundreds of news articles and opinion pieces that are circulating.
In fact, I want to make 4 points:
1. Bob is not a fraud. All the good that he did is still good. He’s a man who made a terrible mistake and will live with the consequences for the rest of his life. Yes, God forgives him (1 John 1:9), but that will not erase the consequences of his actions. Bob knows this. That’s why he resigned. He knows the rules of Christian leadership.
2. Bob is disqualified from ministry. I’ve read lots of comments that fall in to what I would call the “Let’s let bygones be bygones” category. Leaders are held to a higher standard. There are qualifications to serve as a pastor/ elder/ bishop (1 Timothy 3). When a leader breaks that sacred trust, he is disqualified. I’m not saying he can’t be restored, however, that shouldn’t even be the conversation yet. The leaders of the church had a biblical obligation to remove him from ministry and the church has done this. Many of these men I have known for more than 15 years. They are godly men seeking to make the best decisions possible in the midst of a tragic situation.
3. Appreciation of someone’s ministry is not “worship”. We follow Jesus not a man. The same Jesus Bob follows and loves. However, it’s ok to say you attend (or attended) Calvary Chapel because you loved Bob’s teaching. Loving a pastor’s teaching doesn’t mean you worship him. It’s a little too simplistic to say, “I attend _____ church because I worship Jesus, that’s it.” You can worship Jesus in any church. In fact, you can worship Jesus from your bedroom, so why get out of bed and go to church? We get up and go to church because we want to hear God’s Word taught. And yes, it’s ok to say you enjoy the way some people teach the Bible over others. Listen, David kills Goliath no matter who reads the story. But some pastors bring the text to life and others make you wish you were the one getting pelted with stones.
4. You’re only as accountable as you want to be. I believe in accountability, but let’s be honest with ourselves: we’re only as accountable as we’re willing to be. Any system can be circumvented if the heart isn’t right. Yet “more accountability” gets treated like a silver bullet that’s going to fix all leaders. By the way, the issue of sexual sin isn’t happening only within Calvary Chapel. Southern Baptists have a program for fallen pastors and the waiting list to get into the program is 2 years long. Regardless of denomination, Satan is attacking pastors. When you strike the shepherd, the sheep scatter. Accountability is important. Checks and balances are a must for churches to be above reproach. But let’s be honest about what accountability can and cannot do. No amount of accountability can replace a heart that is right with God.
I have cried over this situation more than I care to admit.
Bob has given the enemies of God reason to blaspheme.
Walking into Calvary Chapel on Sunday afternoon was hard for me. It’s my former home. It’s where so many significant moments happened in my life. It’s where I grew up as a Christian and as a leader.
But this past Sunday, I walked out of Calvary the same way I always walked out of Calvary in my years there: with a commitment to do what the Bible says, no matter how difficult.