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by Dave Bruskas
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Wed Dec 11, 2013
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Wed Dec 11, 2013
by Adam Ramsey
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Tue Dec 10, 2013
by Elyse Fitzpatrick
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Mon Dec 09, 2013
by Cam Huxford IV
‘I welcome the challenges’: Bob Coy talks with Mark Driscoll
This fall, Bob Coy will speak live at our Orlando broadcast location for the 2013 Resurgence Conference. In this post, he takes a few minutes to talk with Pastor Mark about his childhood and challenges, failures and faith.
Bob Coy founded Calvary Chapel of Fort Lauderdale in 1985, an early church plant out of the Calvary movement that began in Southern California. Today, the church is one of the largest in the nation, and Pastor Bob is still going strong.
Mark Driscoll: What was your childhood like? How did God use it to prepare you for the work he called you to do?
Bob Coy: I was raised in a blue-collar town just outside of Detroit. My father was a tradesman and had a sincere heart to raise his family as best he knew how. Both of my parents worked hard to provide for my four siblings and me. Spiritually, however, there wasn’t much in the way of biblical understanding. Our family was a lot like many Midwestern families that had a close affiliation with an established denomination. We knew all of the church traditions, but did not have a personal connection with Jesus.
Speaking for myself, there was always a sense of, “There’s got to be more to this.” And so I believe my childhood set me on course to seek out the fulfillment that could only be satisfied by God. I often recall that sense of searching for “something more,” and I believe the Lord uses it to keep my heart empathetic for those who have not yet made that personal connection with Christ.
MD: What was 19-year-old Bob Coy like?
BC: Energetic, driven, playful, humorous, ambitious, and sinful.
MD: Tell me about when God first called you to ministry. How old were you and what was going on at the time?
BC: When I was 26 years old, God radically revealed himself to me. Up until that time, I had bought the lie that the things of this world were the way to satisfaction. Money, prestige, power—I sought and experienced them all, but was still empty. So when I finally saw who Jesus was and how much he had done for me, I was ready to go “all in.” My secular work was such a reminder of my old life that I was passionate about starting all over, only this time by devoting as much of my life as possible to the Lord’s purposes. It was at my local church where I was given my first opportunity to serve in the ministry full-time. It wasn’t glamorous, but it was my heart’s desire, as it allowed me to give back to the One who had given all for me.
MD: As you look back on your life, what moment stands out as especially pivotal: a risk you took or a decision you made that changed everything?
BC: The decision that my wife, Diane, and I made to move to Florida from Las Vegas to start a Calvary Chapel church was one of those “defining decisions” in my life. Had I not made the choice to follow God’s calling to the other side of the country, who knows what would have happened. But even in a decision as pivotal as this, I have to give God all of the credit. He gave me exactly what I needed to make that choice. He gave me the vision, the confirmation, the conviction, and the resolve to make the move. It had to be that way, because the greater lesson in all of it was that this was his purpose and plan for our lives. That’s a lesson that I rely on even to this day, nearly three decades later.
MD: Did you ever want to quit? How did God lead you through that?
BC: By the grace of God, I have never once desired to quit the ministry. I think a lot of that is due to the circumstances that God saved me from at the outset of my ministry life.
Having said that, there have been a few times along the way when I’ve needed to realign, refocus, and renew my perspective in serving God. Each time I’ve seen the Lord take my desire to serve him to a new level of effectiveness, it’s always been an opportunity to draw closer to the Lord and to allow him to deepen our relationship. So I welcome the challenges that ministry brings, because I’ve seen how they serve to create a greater dependence on the One who can do all things in me.
MD: Your church has endured some serious challenges over the years. Can you share one of those experiences and how God led you through it?
BC: Every church has its own lifespan with discernable stages. There’s the infant stage, the toddler stage, the teenage stage, and on and on it goes. The point is that every healthy church is going to go through a lot of transformation. The body is going to change as it grows. This is a good thing, but change can also be a hard thing for us to accept because we like to rest in what we like and are familiar with. One of the greatest challenges over the years has been accepting the role that change has in our lives individually and in our church corporately. And the way to endure this challenge is to celebrate change and see it from God’s perspective and not man’s. Change is a reflection of God’s eternal creativity and his heart to do what’s new.
“Faithfulness does not mean an absence of failure.”
MD: It’s easy for young leaders to look at Bob Coy and see only success. What has God taught you through failure over the years?
BC: I think that it’s important to understand God’s definition of success. It’s very easy to allow man to dictate and define success for us. As I read my Bible, and as I see God’s heart and mind expressed from page to page, I’m convinced that faithfulness to his calling is his barometer for success. When people look at my life, I pray they see faithfulness to what God has called me to, because not only is it the real measure of success, but it’s also something everyone can follow regardless of the scope of the ministry God entrusts to them. Faithfulness does not mean an absence of failure. In fact, failure has been one of the greatest tools God has used to teach me over the years. But faithfulness means you allow your failures to refine you and not define you.
Failure has taught me the all-important lesson of my own limitations. It’s a mistake to think that you have limitless resources to make every good idea a reality. That’s just not true. We all have limits, and we need to be completely reliant on the Lord, not just to know what he wants us to do, but also to be supplied with the resources that only he can provide. God wants us to depend on him because then and only then does he get the glory for what he does. But that can’t happen when we launch out in new ventures in our own wisdom and strength. Failure is an irreplaceable corrector of this.
I remember when our church in Fort Lauderdale was just starting up. We literally had a handful of people coming. So I had the great idea of doing a mass mailing to strategically target people and draw them to our church. Nobody came as a result of those efforts, my efforts. It was a failure, but it was also God’s way of showing me that this was not going to happen by my own ingenuity, but by the power of his Spirit to draw and lead people to a place where they could really come to know and grow in him.
“I’m not the one who is ultimately responsible for my life.”
MD: What are some other lessons that have stuck with you throughout your life and ministry?
BC: One of the most important lessons I learned early on in ministry is that it’s not about me. Whether people applaud you or attack you, you can’t forget that it’s really all about the Lord and representing him. Don’t take things too personally, in either the negative or positive sense. That way, you don’t get too prideful when you’re praised, and you don’t get too discouraged when you’re persecuted. We are simply an extension of the Lord. We are heaven’s earthly ambassadors, and that’s something that you cannot put a price tag on.
MD: Are there any particular verses or passages in Scripture that have proven to be especially meaningful to you over the years?
BC: My “life verse” is Philippians 1:6, which assures us that, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” This verse means so much to me because it reminds me that I’m not the one who is ultimately responsible for my life and everything going on in it. God is the One who has given me the life that I have. And while I see my responsibility to submit to him, the ultimate results are really in his hands. And not only that, but I can also trust that he is going to fulfill everything that he has promised. I don’t have to worry about the end of the story—God already has it scripted out, and he’s a much better author than I am.
Bob Coy is the exclusive live speaker for the Resurgence Conference broadcast location in Orlando, FL. Buy your tickets for R13 in Orlando for only $99, or see the main event live in Seattle with Mark Driscoll, Rick Warren, Matt Chandler, and more. Click below for details.