As I sat in my “Introduction to Preaching” at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Rev. Dr. Charles Briscoe asked a question I’ll never forget “Which one of you want to be a preacher?” Honestly, it seemed innocent enough so I, along with everyone in the class, raised my hand. Dr. Briscoe chose myself and 9 others and made these statements, “I want the 7 of you to raise your hands.”
He then said pointing at us, “you will fall in moral failure.” “
Another one of you raise your hand, you, you will fail because of financial impropriety.”
At this point we are all nervous, “Next one, raise your hand”, he did slowly, “you will either burn out or give up on ministry.”
Then he turned to the class and dropped this bomb, “Statistically 1 out of 10 of you (that’s only 10% for those of you counting) will be in ministry after 20 years.”
We were in stunned silence until he said “Now, which one of you still want to be a preacher?”
Dr. Briscoe then began telling us about the many ministers that he had walked with as a part of a ministry called Pastor Serve
“PastorServe is both a crisis response team and a disaster prevention team for the Kingdom… We provide support, direction, coaching and consultation on navigating conflict and crisis – confidentially. More importantly, we can help ministry leaders, their family or their Church proactively preempt the pain and suffering that often follows a crisis.”
That day has stuck with me and never so much as the day as I was called into an urgent meeting at the church I was a new staff member at. When I walked upstairs, turned the corner and there he was. Immediately, I knew what we were about to hear and I was crushed but I didn’t want to admit it. My Pastor, who showed me the Gospel, baptized me, challenged me, helped identify my call to ministry, encouraged me and so much more, had admitted to being in an affair. If you talk to my wife and me we refer to this part of our life as “the train wreck”.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time I heard this speech and I’m starting to realize that will not be my last. My heart broke as I opened up twitter today and saw that Pastor Bob Coy had resigned because of moral failure. My heart broke as I realized Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale was just involved in her own train wreck.
Pastor Bob was another man instrumental in my entering the ministry. I’ll never forget telling my wife that I was not worthy to stand in the pulpit and preach God’s word. She gave me a cassette tape and I listened to his testimony and realized that if God could use him He would have no problem using me. Pastor Bob is truly gifted, and God has truly used him and by His grace He will still use him. I can’t imagine the heartbreak and confusion that is happening in the lives of those who are close to him. I am particularly praying for him and his family and the church. While it will be tough and painful for all parties involved, the church and the Coys will get through it, God will reign, people will grow, and lives will continue to be transformed.
In the wake of this crisis I wanted to offer some things (some of which I’ve learned from other pastors) that will hopefully help you if you ever find yourself in the middle of a crisis like this:
- Stay away from media: Do not search the Internet and look for all the details about Bob Coy, but to scour your own life and “consider ourselves lest we also be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1) We now know enough. It’s bad. We need to avoid our natural tendencies to want to know more about the situation than what the church and the Coy family chooses to release. And, hopefully that will be minimal. More information only stirs more false information and broadens the damage.
- Bob Coy (and your pastor) can be restored: It will depend on his brokenness, humility, willingness to be completely transparent to those who need to know, and his acceptance of the grace of God but he can be restored. If God used Moses, David, Noah, Jacob and so many others as Biblical examples, He can again use what is sinful for eventual good.
- Every pastor (even yours) is susceptible: Stand guard. If we ever believe we are above temptation we have opened the door for the enemy’s plan to be effective. No one wakes up and thinks about destroying their personal life and ministry. It happens gradually over time. The time to build our systems of accountability, support and protection is always now.
- This does not negate Bob Coy’s teaching: I remember the decision to take down my pastor’s sermons from the web and I remember hearing people wondering what it means from all the things they learned under him. Under both men there are thousands who have been positively shaped by the teaching of those men and even more so in the case of Bob Coy. Remember this, if the person was teaching truth, God’s Spirit is the ultimate teacher and that doesn’t change with this failure.
- [We] Do not shoot the wounded: I am not sure why we have to say his but In this time Christians tend to become self-righteous and look down those who sin differently than we or have been in caught in the same sin.“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” – 1 John 1:8-2:2
- Christ and His church will survive: The gates of Hell shall not prevail. Jesus promised this. When it comes to popular pastors and teachers, many of us put them on pedestals on which they should not to be. While leaders are held to a high standard (1 Timothy 3:1-7;Titus 1:7-9), they are not to be looked upon as idols or “stars”. We all have our favorite teachers, I’m as guilty as the next man, but we must look beyond any pastor and keep our eyes on Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith and leader of the church. No man went to the cross for your sin except for Jesus Christ.