If you are, or ever have been a part of Calvary Chapel, you know former pastor Bob Coy. Coy was the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale, a 20,000 member mega-church. This past Sunday, Bob Coy's congregation was informed that he had resigned, citing "moral failure" as the reason. Subsequently, unsubstantiated rumors and suspicions have been flying around the internet, rumors that will not be given any credence in this forum. The news hit me last evening like a punch in the face, as I pondered all the ramifications of this news going public in a big way.
Those of you who know me, especially from Florida, know that Calvary Chapel was a very big part of my life for a number of years. I did not serve at the Ft. Lauderdale church, but I was a deacon at a smaller Calvary across town, where I oversaw a myriad of ministries. During that time, I witnessed more than a couple "moral failures", many of which were swept under the rug. I did attend Calvary Chapel Bible College classes at the Ft. Lauderdale church where I had occasion to meet Bob Coy and trade pleasantries. We were vague acquaintances at best and were on opposite sides of a minor dust up over a church plant in Boca Raton. Aside from all that, what I know about Bob Coy is what I have gleaned from the many sermons I have heard him preach on the radio and in person. I have even been in the habit of listening to his sermons on the radio, here in Knoxville.
Having said all that, this news about former pastor Coy is devastating on a number of levels. It is devastating to Coy as it has destroyed his image as a man of God, it is devastating to the Coy family as their pain and humiliation is on public display, it is devastating to any people who might be directly involved in Coy's "moral failure" and it is devastating to the ministry of Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale. Moral failure is not a victim-less crime. As I pondered the ramifications of this news, I felt physically sick, primarily because of the high profile black eye this gives to the church in the secular media. This "moral failure" only goes to reinforce my conviction that the church needs to start policing itself and promoting holiness and sanctification within it's membership, a conviction I have been writing about for some time.
How do we react when christian leaders fail? I have been reading a great deal of articles and comments on this story and have witnessed everything from anger towards Coy to full support. What is the proper response? At first, I felt a twinge of anger towards Bob Coy, but that was completely unwarranted. Bob Coy did nothing to me personally and I have nothing to forgive him for or be angry with him about. I certainly do not condone his actions that led to his resignation, I applaud Calvary Chapel for not making light of this tragedy. The thing that I keep coming back to is that an omniscient God knew this was going to happen 30 years ago when Coy and his family moved to Ft. Lauderdale to plant a church, just as God knew David would fail with Bathsheba, when David was anointed king over Israel. This does not excuse "moral failure" in any way, but it does help put things in an eternal perspective. Just as David suffered great loss over his sin with Bathsheba, so too will Coy, and rightfully so. I do not know the nature of Coy's "moral failure" nor do I know the circumstances leading up to his confession and resignation, I do hope that he came forward of his own accord, not because he got caught and had no choice but to own up. I find it hard to imagine a man who is in the pulpit up to 8 times per week could be engaged in a lifestyle of sin and continue to be effective in ministry.
Coy's failure is further evidence of the fallibility of man. No one is immune to the attacks of the devil. Coy, being such a high profile servant of God becomes a very high profile target of Satan as well. Undoubtedly, Coy enjoyed rock star like accolades and praise heaped upon him by many of his congregants. I imagine it would be hard to remain grounded in such an environment. Moral failure is inexcusable for anyone, and even more so for a minister of the Gospel. Calvary Chapel has reported that it is currently working towards Coy's restoration, I just hope that the people of God in his life do not sugar coat his behavior but take the time to minister to him in a meaningful way.
Romans 8:28 is still in play - All things work together for good, for those who love the Lord and who are called according to His purpose. After all the hooplah in the press dies down, there is good that can come from this. I would hope that at the very least, this will cause believers to examine their lives and submit to God privately, as God has demonstrated that He is not adverse to bowing our knees publicly. Now is a time for prayer. Prayer for Bob Coy, prayer for his family, prayer for any one directly impacted by his "moral failure" and prayer for Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale, but most of all, prayer for personal conviction and church wide revival.