Patmos: Another Calvary Chapel Cult?

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98 Responses

  1. Em says:

    I recall long years ago driving past a church – the sign out front read “Calvary Chapel.” I’d never heard of that group and asked who they were. My husband’s boss, a Pentecostal Chrustian, answered, “It’s a new movement ; you don’t want to get mixed up with them……” We let you all down. .. I am sorry for that.
    That said, i know there are sound churches among them. I have family in them

  2. Michael says:

    I have friends that pastor CC churches.
    There are some fine folks among them.
    However, they also can be a breeding ground for this type of authoritarian abuse.

  3. Chico says:

    So sad!

  4. Steph says:

    Calvaryites! Nice word. Yes, it’s a horrible group. Honoring Calvary Chapel over everything: friends, family, and over the Truth, Jesus. Patmos sounds horrendous. Pottersfield, same. But no surprise about either when their source is considered. Calvary Chapel is a corrupt, deceptive, prideful organization that has unfortunately destroyed so much. I hate to hear that people truly seeking Jesus have been so damaged by the disgusting men and women that work for the Calvary Chapel and it’s “ministries”. On the contrary though, I am truly encouraged to hear of someone that sees, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the reality of what CC is. Our God is so faithful. He will not let one sheep wander away. He will reveal the truth to those that seek Him. Kudos to you, escaping Pathos and escaping Calvary Chapel.
    It’s time that people start to call Calvary Chapel what it is, a wolf. Slowly but surely groups like Pottersfield and Pathos are making this crazily obvious. The fruit of Calvary Chapel is rotten. Calvary Chapel is a corrupt, rotten business. It’s a place that puts men into a place of power. They’re worshipped, the focus is on working for and honoring Calvary Chapel rather than Jesus. In order to save face they will now all shun Pottersfield and eventually Pathos and seem to escape the deserved scrutiny, but God is faithful and the truth will be seen. Calvary Chapel can keep shuffling, keep paying these men exorbitant sums of money, keep employing family members in church offices and schools, keep the cult like control over church attendees, keep up appearances, BUT GOD WILL NOT BE MOCKED.
    I continue to pray the the truth comes fully into the light and that people that are truly seeking Jesus can escape.

  5. Steph says:

    I read the replies before mine, yes, maybe they’re not all corrupt. I shouldn’t generalize. The one that I saw, yikes, horrendous. I could write a book. Major, major damage to hundreds.

  6. Jennifer johnson says:

    i never attended Patmos…but my experience with CC mirrors yours. “Women were second class and expected to behave like little mice.”, ” “I was a free spirit and loved to travel, meet new people and learn. Calvary leadership made me feel like something was wrong with my personality. The way I talked, laughed a lot and worked hard seemed to be the opposite of what I was being taught a Christian Proverbs 31 woman should be. Where was my meekness, quiet spirit and desire to submit, marry and have children? I was sometimes told I wasn’t meeting my husband because I had unresolved issues and God was trying to teach me something. I felt like I was always doing something wrong. I longed for acceptance and found myself feeling deeply insecure.”

  7. Jessica says:

    Steph Funny bc God will not be mocked is exactly the words from Chet Lowe to the congregation of CCftl on the week Bob Coy resigned. To see this come full circle is alot to take in and shocking. Wonder what is inside the circle we do not know about. Youth I knew were considering attending Patmos for a time it was promoted alot at CCftl. Pastor Steve Williams left CCftl fairly months before Bob was forced to step down, so did Pastor Clay (music) who started with Coy frm the beginning. This seems to be like the mod, pastors are rewarded for being quite and leaving by opening a church/planting? Which shows the Moses Model rule: If your an assistant pastor and see something wrong they are to go to the Head pastor, if that doesnt not resolve the issue, bring back another witness with you, If that doesnt work, you are to leave quitely and not discuss what issues you have had with the Head pastor to anyone else bc it is considered gossip. CCftl had alot of pastor start heading out right before Coy got outed. Now we see the branches of this has grown to PFM and rooted in Patmos. What I never understood is why CCftl did not shut down and reopen? I believe there is alot more going on there. For one Patmos had copy cat smaller youth ministry pop up called Pierced, I believe that was run as a mini Patmos for middle schoolers, was approved under Bob Coy and continued upto recently when the Family/youth pastor oversaw and ran it was fired due allegations and being sued for years of sex abuse charges from his past. It would have been prudent to dismantle CCftl and reopen, wonder why that never happened? I also believe and was told that some of these actions, including blindfolding and moving kids around Coy knew about as the head pastor. This is an example of why the Moses model is bad and can breed abuse.

  8. Jennifer johnson says:

    PS….i find the concept of my former pastor’s rule of not meeting one on one with a woman absolutely laughable! AS IF a woman wouldn’t be able to control sexual desires around him….hahahahahahahahaha!!! Give me a break!!!!

  9. Mcgarrett says:

    Isn’t this Chet at Coast Hills in OC? If so, is this a non CC, utilizing the Moses Model?

  10. Michael says:

    Remember that in. CC the pastors are affiliated, not the church….

  11. Em says:

    Moses model logic escapes me…. What pastor could possibly identify himself with Moses? As illogical as identifying with David… Adam, maybe…..

  12. Captain Kevin says:

    This just makes me so angry. Like many here, I have been involved with some Calvary Chapels, even being on staff as well as part of men’s ministry leadership. Other than seeing some narcissistic tendencies among a couple senior pastors, I never saw anything like what these young people have experienced. It’s sad, immoral and disgusting, and as Steve Brown is fond of saying, is from the pit of hell and smells like smoke.

    People like Lowe, Coy and Rozelle better hope to God that He is more merciful than some of us. If any “leader” ever treated one of my daughters this way, I would be showing up on his doorstep with a baseball bat, a torch and a posse. #ReallyFeelLikeCussingRightNow

    To the young lady who wrote this testimony, may our Lord continue to bring healing and wholeness into your life. Thank you for sharing this. I hope it will help many others who have been involved with Patmos, PFM or similar “ministries.”

  13. Becky says:

    So the question to ask is if Calvary Chapel is a cult, why associate in any way? Would I attend a Mormon temple that had really nice people that taught mostly nice things even if they were showing signs like this? Just seems pretty cut and dry to me. They’re corrupt to their core. Calvary Chapel is a denomination like church of LDS. Stay far away.

  14. Captain Kevin says:

    Becky, I understand the temptation to broadbrush the entire movement as a cult. However, please understand that not every Calvary Chapel church is like this, and not every CC pastor is a narcissistic asshat like these that have been discussed here. I personally know several CC pastors who are disgusted by this type of stuff, and who could never fathom treating the people in their congregations this way.

  15. pstrmike says:


    “There were things about my time at Calvary that were huge red flags, but I was new to all of this and drank the Kool aid.”

    Yep. That was my experience in a Calvary.

    I don’t consider Calvary a cult. Some of them are cultist in their practices, particularly in their dysfunctional way of dealing with people, but all in all, their doctrine is within the realm of orthodox Christian thought.

  16. Steph says:

    Pstrmike, I hear you….but it’s a very fine line. Having gone to a Calvary Chapel for 20 years, I’m very familiar with what they proclaim their doctrine to be. Watching the leadership and the way that it operated as a corrupt business, I’m really questioning the commitment to said doctrine. That’s been my personal qualm, who/when is something determined a cult. Do we look at a definition in Webster’s? Does an organization (notice, I have trouble calling CC a church) get to determine if their realm of orthodox Christian thought is sincere? What do we call groups that say one thing and do another?
    Either way, I’ve made my choice to distance myself 100%, and the label of cult doesn’t really even phase me one way or the other. I tend to side with Becky though….call em like you see em. Pottersfield and Don McClure made that easy.

  17. Becky says:

    If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck….
    The Calvary Chapel that I attended was so heavily involved in people’s lives that I simply cannot see it as a “church”. Searching people’s social media for “slip ups”, sending out “spies”to bible studies to see if they’re on the up and up, meddle in people’s relationships to make sure they were “equally yoked”. Constantly in fear of being sued. Basically displaying zero fruits of the Holy Spirit. They would misquote scripture as a means of guilting people and controlling them. It makes people very uncomfortable to label it a cult and I get that, but my point is that it’s as much a church as Scientology is. They’re incredibly damaging and I know of countless former members that have walked away from the faith completely. It’s a disastrous business, and after spending decades there, I cannot find it in myself to find some sort of silver lining. It’s rotten to the core. Top to bottom. Current pastors that are disgusted with the corruption will be just that. Disgusted. Nothing more. There is no helping Calvary Chapel.

  18. Donner says:

    These are very serious allegations. I would hope that you’ve prayed it through and at the very least, contacted Chet about them. I, too, attended Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale. When Bob Coy slithered away from the church, Pastor Chet was one of the few that stood up and told the congregation the truth about him. Chet is not cut from the same cloth as PFM, or even Calvary Chapel. Thank you for taking care with this, and performing due diligence. May God be found true and every man a liar.

  19. Michael says:


    I’ve talked to lots of people over a long time now and I believe every word this person wrote.
    I wouldn’t dare publish it if I didn’t.

  20. Donner says:

    Michael, thanks. Are these things going on now, do you know?

  21. Michael says:

    I don’t know about today…but I do know this has gone on as reported and these things rarely stop until they’re exposed.
    I also know that Lowe was asked to leave a prominent CC where the program was housed for a time.

    There will be more on this later…

  22. Bride of Christ says:

    I attended Calvary Chapel churches in Southern California for over 30 years. I attended Calvary North Park ( Mike Mcintosh’s church, Ed Smith’s Calvary Chapel in Encinitas, Jim Hesterley’s church in Poway, and Brian Broderson’d church in Vista. I saw controlling, cult – like behavior in all of these churches – with the exception of Jim and June Hesterly’s church in Poway. I had never attended a church until Calvary Chapel and I thought that this was normal for a church. I thought it was the price you paid to belong to a church, and I needed to belong. It took a long time for me to realize that most Calvary Chapels are authoritarian, controlling, deceptive, and that there are very unhealthy dynamics present in the majority of these churches. These dynamics hurt women and children the most, but they also teach men to relate in unhealthy ways to their wives, children, and others in their life. The unhealthy obsession with submissiveness in women and children makes them easier for the Calvary Chapel men to control, however, I believe it eventually hurts marriages and leaves the children unprepared to face the challenges of life. These are the young people who ultimately become easy targets for exploitation and who are unable to discern when a situation or authority has become abusive.

  23. jessica says:

    As far as waking kids and blindfolding them and used twist ties to tie their hands in the middle of the night moving them around, making them do odd jobs with very little sleep. I can tell you that is true, bc it was part of the program for middle schoolers which was the spin-off of Patmos at CCftl. The police were called out the 1st year of the camp, bc neighbors witnessed the youth being led out of the building blind folded and put into trucks, the police had to call Coy regarding the situation. They moved the program to a camp ground after that. The whole program was to build your endurance and faith,character by breaking you down and making you resistant by placing you in these situations much like the persecuted churches around the world. To challenge yourself, or to prepare for a mission trip.

  24. I did at-risk youth mentoring for 2 years. The “ropes courses” were challengimg, but not abusive. I decided not to go deeper to be trained as a coach because i recognized the LGAT techniques employed and I saw that they worked. What sealed it for me was when a fellow mentor gushed about the coaches training program and how it was based upon est. I saw it for two years and suspected it, and participating in the exercises as mentors did along with the youth, I experienced it. My struggle was that I saw it worked. The last year I was involved as a volunteer yet not a mentor, I directed/produced the LGAT sessions. After that, I was out. That was a secular program.

    The PFM testimonials were by 20-somethimgs. This was by a 29 year old woman at the start. No matter the age as a father this angers me like CK. A bat? Maybe not, but me. If this were my daughter or son, the bat would be the least of your worries if you treat my pups like that. I have experience calling down LEOs to protect my kids. And they did. Lucky for all involved, no bats required.

  25. Captain Kevin says:

    New Victor, for the sake of the uninitiated (me), please define LGAT and LEO’s. By est, are you referring to Erhard’s stuff?

  26. JD says:

    A song I wrote 25 years ago after one of many encounters with abusive church “leadership “.

    Verse 1:
    You have mis-used spiritual authority
    You have beaten the sheep
    God’s precious flock
    You have mis-used spiritual authority
    And your tail has been docked
    Yes your tail has been docked

    Spoken: “You can wag it, but it ain’t all there!”

    Verse 2:
    You have mis-used spiritual authority
    Stop beating the sheep
    God’s precious flock!
    You have mis-used spiritual authority
    Yes your tail has been docked
    And now you’re a laughing stock

  27. TheGhostofBelleStarr says:

    Oh yes, the “woman” thing at CC. I went on a 2 week mission trip when I was at CC. I was a long time attendee at that point, and heavily involved in the church. The pastor was a younger guy. I was 10 years older than him. On the trip , the pastor and I were the only adults, the rest was a group, about 12, of high school kids from the church. During the entire trip the pastor said about 10 words directly to me. I had to find out our daily agenda etc. from the kids. One morning we were up early and after our shower he and I happened to be sitting on the same bench, the kids hadn’t come out yet, he said not one word to me. Talk about an uncomfortable environment.
    I used to carry a white Bible. It was the bible I read after I got saved and had all my highlighted verses and special things noted. It was sentimental to me. It was an NASB version. One day the pastor said to me at church as he passed me. ” You still carrying that baby bible ?” …What !. I guess he thought it was some Precious Moments bible or something? Why say something like that ! And no it was not a child’s bible. I didn’t even answer him I was so surprised by his smart a** comment.
    Another woman who had been going to the church near 20 years was at one point told she could no longer come to church unless her husband was with her, he usually came but occasionally didn’t. She was accused of “flirting” with men. Omg. She was an older woman who was friendly and chatty, that is all. She chatted with women too. But she was seen chatting with a male or two church guys after service in the parking lot and suddenly it became some major issue. So she was no longer allowed to be at church without her husband.

  28. CK- Large Group Awareness Training. Yes, Erhard. LEO is Law Enforcement Officer. Sorry I tend to be too internet sometimes. I’ll reign it in.

  29. Captain Kevin says:

    Victor, haha, no need to reign it in. Thanks for the help tho.

  30. Captain Kevin says:

    BelleStarr, that’s so ridiculous! Have to wonder if the men were more concerned about avoiding their own feelings of attraction (read that as lust), so they cloak it in some pseudo-biblical restrictions on women.

  31. pstrmike says:


    Wow. Thanks for sharing more of your story. I always remember you as someone who just loved Jesus and wanted to know Him more. Glad we got out of there, yet, ironically, the ghosts of that past experience can still haunt me………. I still have to focus at times to not be overcome by them………..

    What is amazing to me was that in all that mess, God was still faithful.

    Holy Week blessings to you my friend.

  32. Bride of Christ says:

    To the Ghost of BelleStarr, I believe the “woman” problem at Calvary has gotten worse over the years. I started going to Calvary Chapel in the mid seventies, and women were treated better then, believe it or not. I believe that the many, many sexual indiscretions of so many Calvary Chapel Pastors over these many years has led to the “scapegoating” of women. These Phoenix Preacher pages have shown why sexual abuse of women and children is so common in Calvary Chapel churches. The Moses Model, Chuck Smith’s past, an extreme emphasis on submission, the tendency to put men with “Bad Boy” pasts and a dramatic conversion story into the pulpit too quickly, and most importantly, failing to hold the men responsible for their bad behavior. Instead of correcting the problem with the male leadership, they’ve somehow managed to blame the women of the church for of all these sex scandals at Calvary Chapel Churches! Unbelievable! The last year I attended a Calvary Chapel Church about three years ago, something minor occurred and it was like the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. I had volunteered to design and put up all the displays advertising the women’s retreat at my church and I had entered the offices of the senior pastors with the church secretary to get information I needed on the retreat. I was in the office for twenty minutes with her, along with a senior pastor who was walking around the office the entire time. At no point did he make eye contact with me, say hello, extend any couteousy to me, or acknowledge me in any way. I spent 30 plus years working as a public school teacher and I mixed professionally with both men and women over many long years. This Pastor ‘s behavior was blatantly rude and inexcusable in any setting. His dismissive attitude was demeaning and belittling. I left the church that very year, after many years of overlooking so many problems at Calvary Chapel . There once were good things happening at Calvary Chapel Churches, but they are now rotting from within, and they are producing nothing but rotten fruit.

  33. Steph says:

    Triggered by your “glad we got out of there” comment

    People are afraid to leave Calvary Chapels because they believe it’s the true church, the only one that teaches book by book and verse by verse and that there’s no other way to teach. They’re lead to believe that it’s the only church doing things the correct way, 100% Biblically, no other church does that. They’re lead to believe that other churches and denominations each have at least one major flaw that negates everything else. They’re lead to believe that other Calvary Chapels around the country and world are the only churches worthy of anyone’s time, ever. They’re lead to believe that leaving Calvary Chapel is always a step down and towards a lesser church. It’s a method that works….until it doesn’t……and people catch on…..and leave……and friends ask……and they begin to feel a sense of relief, that their concerns are shared…..and once they escape and find another church and realize other churches are not awful and they’re in fact good, it’s a wonderful, freeing, God blessed feeling like no other. God does exist outside of Calvary Chapel. Took me a while, but I finally caught on.

  34. Steph says:

    Bride of Christ,
    Yes, rotting from within, exactly.

    And a pastor not even acknowledging that you were in the room…..were you in Boston? Cause that sounds all too familiar.

  35. pstrmike says:

    I was glad to have moved on. We settled in another Calvary Chapel that had a good pastor. He was kind, sensitive to both God and people. He wasn’t ambitious, and consistently demonstrated that he really cared for those whom God had brought to the church. He was good pastor. We moved on from that area some years later, and he eventually moved as well.

  36. anhein says:

    I know someone who was deeply hurt by the recent Potters field events and knows someone who went to Chet Lowe’s program and took years to recover afterwards. I will be spreading this story on social media. This is unacceptable behavior for a church. Whatever “results” they are getting from this abusive behavior, they are also driving people from the faith and giving them a warped view of God. The church is a place of healing and restoration and Jesus describes himself a physician that brings spiritual healing. For the church to hurt its people in the name of faith is disgusting.

  37. Baxter says:

    I attended both PFR and Patmos. Ive been struggling for years with the repercussions of my experience at Patmos. I am in tears, ive felt so alone for years thinking I must be crazy, maybe it wasnt that bad, and I dont know anyone else who had a bad experience. Thank you for sharing. Thank you!

  38. Captain Kevin says:

    Baxter, I’m glad you found this place. As you may have already found, there are many testimonies here of former PFR interns. You are certainly not alone, and I pray that you will find healing from our faithful Lord.

  39. Em says:

    yes, dear Baxter, what the Captain said… amen

  40. Concerned says:

    I hope everyone of the articles about CC from GFA to PFM to Patmos and Bob Coy all the way back to Lonnie Frisby, ect. somehow get incorporated into the history of CC and the legacy of abuse originating from Chuck Smith himself. I want it to be fair and honest accounting in one volume. The group is perplexing to me but I am convinced heterodox with much cult like behavior. It should be required reading for all seminary students as well as entrepreneurial want to be church pastors. A resource like this I think if made available to the public could also serve to inform the public about the dangers of this type of group. The group is dangerous even though it appears some of the pastors are awesome. These pastor’s need to take special inventory of their own legacy which is quickly fading.

  41. Becky says:

    @ Concerned- I completely agree. They’re dangerous, but can be used as a teaching tool. More needs to be exposed. People need to feel free to give their accounts of abuse. It’s what got the ball rolling with PFM.

  42. Em says:

    Nothing gives the Church more credibility with the world than calling out publicly the wolves in our fellowships…. IMO. 😇

  43. Becky says:

    @Em- you’re exactly right. I hope others agree and tell their stories!

  44. Healing says:

    All the same crap. Patmos in CCFTL, Pottersfield in Montana & Renew in Calvary Chattanooga. The umbrella/elephant in the room amongst us all: Calvary. God will not be mocked. Things will be exposed, the devil is evil yet will not win. One by one people will see it all for what is is: one big business. Very very similar to Scientology, I attended renew & pottersfield & both have led me to seek some deep healing. But God is bigger & he’s carrying me through… thank you Michael for fearlessly & perseveringly using this website as a method of healing & bringing clarity to broken hearts! Happy Easter everyone! 🐣

  45. Becky says:

    @Healing BINGO! Is and always will be Calvary Chapel. Precisely where the damage begins. The mafia of “churches”.

  46. Jessica says:

    What is the situation with Renew is Chattanooga? Is that resembling PFM and Patmos? Bc you know Coy ran off to Chattanooga after leaving Ft Lauderdale. This is starting to become apparent to me there is a deep rooted problem.

  47. Toni F says:

    First, I will start off by saying that I know some incredible Calvary Chapel pastors and staff of various Calvary’s but I also worked under Chet for some time. The point about women is “spot on”. I was paid a fraction of men in the same position and often expected to do more. I was told that women were not allowed to lead and had to be submissive. I was torn down often and accused of not being Obedient or submissive. But, today, I have seen some change happening in this area at Calvary Ft Lauderdale with more women being put in leadership positions. I worked there for over a decade. I worked with some incredible people. However, Chet was a master manipulator and used his power in very unhealthy ways when he felt threatened. I saw people blacklisted for “disobedience”, their names smeared, them be targets of attacked, etc. I caught leaders in lies. Threats were often a part of the work culture. We gave our lives to serve in a ministry I am certain God called us to, but we exorcised once we exposed what had been happening to us. Our kids were even a target of his threats and attacks and seven years laters we are still hearing the awful lies spread about us once we decided to leave. We tried to speak up, we tried to warn the new church, we tried to be open with the abuse so it would not happen to others. But, we were stonewalled at every corner. What is the most sad is that there are many people who are honestly trying to serve the Lord and love others at the Fort Lauderdale campus and many other Calvary Churches around the world. But, a few “bad apples” have hurt soooooooooo many people, made them questions their faith, and worse…tearing them down so much that many have considered taking their own lives, struggle with severe depression, anxiety and more. My hope is that those who were hurt would be able to heal. That those who abuse others spiritual like this would be exposed and stopped. And that there would be true redemption for the victims.

  48. Jessica says:

    Toni F Thank you for sharing. I want to believe and have seen the good CCftl has done. However, time and time again as the years fly by, more and more comes up that it is not just “one bad apple” I will only discuss facts. For one, Patmos and every ministry at CCftl has a corporation. Lookup Patmos corporate officers. Why is Billy Venezia on Patmos, why is Billy also in Chattanooga Tn right now, where Bob Coy ran off to but, Stephan Tchvichian announced to the church that Coy was being “restored” in TN Calvary Chapel. Diane told people he cut out and left her and her family after being forced to resign and confronted. Look up all the corporations associated with CCftl and the officers. Why did Pastor Steve Williams leave? Scroll up and read the statements about Steve when he worked at CCA on this blog. Do you remember when he left? Do you remember when Clay left? I have spoken to other pastors that left, some of the church knew about Coy and just chose to do nothing. Maybe it is their policy and the Moses model to not confront a head pastor? Back to the corporations, it is the same people over and over on these documents. Why are the past youth leaders/ pastors from the high school ministry’s allowed to leave and be financially supported by CCftl to “plant churches” under different names, 4 miles from the CCftl church? Whose name is on the corporation’s Billy Venezia from CCftl? Maybe there is a logical reason. But it is odd that a mega church would allow all these youth pastors to move out of the church and open churches 4 miles from campus under a different name than calvary altogether? Some of those pastors that were youth leaders at CCftl/ their campuses went through Patmos. So if people are coming out about the abuse at Patmos & PFM it is fair to say these pastors have seen or had a similar environment from Patmos and are now running churches of their own funded by CCftl. It is a business, it is run very very loosely and there is NO accountability. Why was Mike Rust allowed to run an entire program for middle schoolers that patterned Patmos, where 8th graders were sent to a weekend camp, woken up in the middle of the night, tied up, blindfolded and put in trucks and driven to another place? They were studied and watched by Rust for months and he was to find their weakness and try to break them? Mike was aware of Patmos’ techniques and was allowed to use them with middle schoolers approved by CCtfl and Coy. Now in August of this year, national news came out the Mike Rust is being accused of years of child molestation and rape when he was a leader in the Jehovah’s Witness organization. CCftl dismissed Rust from the church in Aug, but Rust was a part of CC for years and took children on mission trips out of the country too. Why can not CCftl account for where Mike Rust came from? They can not and will not give clarity of how he became a youth pastor. Only to say he was attending church, then voted as an elder, then with the authority of the campus pastor, given the responsibility of being a youth pastor. CCftl will not take any stand on how they allowed Mike Rust to speak at the pulpit, run Oceans Edge, and most important run Pierced. They refuse to take accountability for that by answering questions on where did Rust come from prior to CCftl? Rust told us he served as a custodian when he came to CCftl. Did he go through Calvary House, Celebrate Recovery, where did he get his credentials to work with youth? Bc Calvary House is not a credential to work with youth! Where did Chet Lowe get his credentials to work with youth? It says on his bio along with overseeing foster care, he got a “masters” in Christian counseling but does not say from where??? We know Chet was a local and came from the surfing culture and had a calling to head to Liberia to do God’s work. My point, these pastors do not have proper qualifications and that has been allowed by CCftl. CCftl has a habit of taking in men that fit a certain “marketing” image (surfer: Chet Lowe, ex-Jehovah Witness: Mike Rust, a recovering addict, stockbroker, Mike Rozell etc) and giving them the free rein to run their programs if they look cool and makes money. They have abused the power of Grace by saying these men have been saved and healed and therefore can be in charge of our youth with no credentials. In closing Patmos, led to PFM and then swung back around into Pierced. All run by very shady past men. Sorry it is not one bad apple. Basically CCftl let rehab men run youth programs/ministries and take kids out of the country, which are now all coming with stories of abuse in one way or another. CC must be transparent and accountable with our youth and parents and youth have a right to know where these pastors came from.

  49. Toni F says:

    Wow, Jessica… I do not even know how to respond. I was trying to lean more towards the positive but the details you shared are… wow. The last seven years or so, I have tried to keep my distance but you are spot on about so much. My comment is just the tip of our own personal iceberg of an experience there so I know there is so much I did not even see below the surface.

  50. Healing says:

    @jessica Yes Renew is VERY MUCH SO another pottersfield the only difference is they cater more to men & women wanting to recover from drug addictions. Renew uses the exact same manipulation & tactics as PFM. If you leave they say you’re “out of gods will” and they turn all of your friends and family against you and they shun you. By they I mean the leadership. It’s awful. The leader of the women’s renew makes you feel so small, like you’re nothing without them. They constantly make you feel as though if you want to make your own decisions you’re basically “prideful” and not letting “God” A.K.A THEM have control of your life. They choose where you live work etc. but they disguise it as “we’ll be praying for what’s best” then they formulate a plan and bring it to you and if you say no then you’re being defiant. This ministry will be next at being exposed because the lives they’ve ruin are all so many. They’re a cover up. Not real ministers at all. There’s many people who have left there that now see it for what it was and have been so deeply hurt by them. Yet they refuse to own up to anything just like the Rozells…. I know billy…. he’s at Chattanooga right now. Funny how they all end up in the same places

  51. Healing says:

    Wow didn’t realize all that about calvary house… I know a few men that went there and it all makes sense now to me, these aren’t ministries at all, these are businesses run by corrupt men.. maybe they were good at one point who knows but they’ve all definitely taken a turn for the complete worst, from misusing money to manipulating young men and women to using older men and women against eachother.. it’s horrible. Disgraceful and sad. The devil doesn’t win though and that’s where my peace come. God sees all this and I’m happy I can heal now and that I’m not blinded anymore

  52. Genesis50:20 says:

    I went to CC for YEARS and now have left this Christian circle and follow as a Hebrew believer. I am done with mainstream Christianity who are mostly on the wrong track to begin with. This CC group is very controlling and cause guilt. They divide spouses and are no help to anyone. They point fingers and make themselves the authority you should be under. They are a bunch of chumps that are into handing down their multimillion dollar businesses 501C3 to their groomed sons to take over someday. It’s pathetic and downright dispicable! Superiority is the word. Stay FAR away, don’t look back.

  53. John says:

    I had attended Calvary Chapel since 1992 first at Calvary Sawgrass, then at Calvary Tamarac and last at CCFtL. I had only served briefly as a deacon at Tamarac. I will say that whenever the subject of submission of the wife was preached it was ALWAYS balanced with the roll of the husband to love his wife as his own body as the Word instructs. The Bible does say that women are NOT to be pastor, but I have seen plenty of women in teaching rolls mostly to other women. Maybe one of the reasons for their focus of separation of sexes is the enormous amount of adultery that infected the body. While at Tamarac there where at least 2-3 case. One involving the associate pastor and of course the biggest involving Bob Coy whom I pray has truly repented. So sad. I was a huge blow to the body and you saw many who were going to church just because of him. He was a gifted speaker. Calvary when I first went was very biblically based and the fellowship and love for one another was strong. But I can see the problems that this Moses model of leadership would pose in raising up messiah like attitudes within leadership.
    My eyes were opened when Bob Coy one Sunday quoted from the “Message” bible I had just researched and found out was heretical for it’s new age language. I emailed the ministry about this and never received a response. In doing further investigation I found out that they were supporting the likes of Rick Warren who was mentored to some extent by Robert Schuller and in a big way by Peter Drucker. They were selling his books. I started thinking, what happened to the discernment in this ministry. Many Calvary’s have gone down the emergent church rabbit hole all though I know that there are still many Godly ministries out there since the split with Borenson at CC Costa Mesa. Eventually mega churches become too big for their own good to survive by total Christ centered means. I attend a smaller Baptist Church now. I hope and pray that anyone hurt by ANY ministry would not lose heart. Christ in us is more than any man in a ministry. Blessings in HIM.

  54. Michael says:


    You will be dismayed I’m sure to find that the owner of this site (me)believes in the ordination of women, thinks Eugene Peterson is a modern day saint, believes Rick and Kay Warren are sweet, dedicated believers,and makes sport of people who talk about the “emergent church”.

    I’m also Anglican to the core.

    Just for future reference…

  55. CM says:


    FWIW, my take on ordination of women, continuation of the sign gifts of the Holy Spirit, how often to do the Lord’s Supper are secondary issues within the Body of Christ. I believe that within the worldwide Anglican Communion the issue on ordination of women has been left to the individual members (and even within members up to the individual diocese).

  56. Michael says:

    I also believe they are secondary issues…that’s why when I sniff out folks who believe they are primary matters, I try to forewarn them.
    I’m also irritable this morning, so I’m best ignored for the most part… 🙂

  57. CM says:


    Perhaps some interaction time with your cats and their affection will cure some of that irritability.

  58. B says:

    @healing… I went through the renew program and I completely agree with everything you are saying. They need to be exposed! I have officially been excommunicated along with a few other women who I went through the program with. All because we refused to do things exactly the way our “authority” wanted.
    After my first couple day’s in the women’s Renew program I specifically remembered telling one of the women that I felt like it was a cult. She laughed and told me it wasn’t but I knew it was. I was there for a year and three months. I couldn’t leave because I was court ordered to be there. I remember staring out of the window in my room (that I shared with two other women) half way through my stay and thinking I’m never going to recover from this. I put on the face they wanted me to wear waited patiently for my time to be finished. I did build a relationship with God during my time there, he was the only thing that helped me through the exhaustion from “serving” and pain of not being with my son. After my stent in Renew I went to services for about a month and realized I just couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t live with everyone pitifully looking at me as one of the “renew” girls. I couldn’t live with everyone needing to be “in the know” about every detail of my life. I couldn’t do. I just wanted out. I wanted to close that door and never walk back though it. And that’s what I’ve done. Until recently I hadn’t heard from anyone involved (except the random “how are you?” text from leadership trying to meddle), then a few of the girls that I lived with reached out. Asking how I am and if they can talk to me about some of the things they’ve experienced from the leadership. It’s horrendous. It needs to be addressed. I have spent sleepless nights trying to figure out ways to at least have our voices heard and expose these “leaders” for what they are.

  59. healing says:

    @B All their shit will get exposed, nothing last forever. What gets done in the dark will come to the light. I didn’t realize that there were more of us lol … we could help eachother, want to exchange contacts?

  60. B says:

    @healing yes… if you’re up for it I am!

  61. healing says:

    @B do you have an email? I was in renew also!

  62. Ashley says:

    I’m so sorry… I was with you, and fully in the koolaid and I feel like I was complicit because though I believe it was all abusive, you specifically were targeted by the staff SO intensely. It took me years and years to even start to see abuse for what it was, I even came home from Patmos to my “dream job” of being paid less than half of what my male co-workers made and constantly told I’m tempting the married men with my singleness. I have not recovered and do not feel safe in any church at all. I wish I would have done better at being an ally to you, and seeing through what was happening.

  63. RH says:

    There are very few things, people, organizations, or movements in this world that are all good or all bad. That’s not how humans work. Many people, ministries, leaders, and structures are deeply flawed, and this is true of the facets of Calvary Chapel I encountered for more than 10 years. However, Calvary and the people there helped me form a relationship with God, form life-Ling healthy relationships, introduced me to my wife, set me on the path to my vocation, and helped me and dozens of others whose stories I know personally. There was also a significant amount of the negative realties described here. Calvary, in my experience, is a deeply mixed bag, and it is not alone among human institutions. Some of the leadership mentioned above are deeply flawed in the ways described. However, there are still very good human beings doing great work in some Calvary contexts, and many of them I still consider friends. I pray those who experienced abuse in these settings will find healing and wholeness, and I pray the abusers will be rooted out. The truth is a powerful thing. Also, some unsubstantiated rumors are sometimes shared on similar sites to this one, rumors like the ones here about accusations of people I know, that could destroy lives without proof (not talking about Chet etc., I confronted him to his face about his approach).in any case, generalizations about large groups of people are, generally speaking, usually not entirely true. Calvary’s model is not the best way to do church, in my opinion, but God also did amazing things in my and other people’s lives while I was there. Look up 4 kids of South Florida if you need evidence of fruit. Peace to you all.

  64. pstrmike says:

    After reading your post I was struck by how balanced it was, while at the same time being imbalanced for the conversation here. Anyone with an operating brain understands that wheat and chaff exist side by side in every human venture, including the church.

    What struck me was your post was akin to the ignorant white person’s response to black lives matter when they say “all lives matter.” Anyone with an operating brain understands that too. But it minimizes the struggle for shalom. Follow that.. It minimizes the struggle. It’s a form of marginalization.

    The people who have posted here have experienced the trauma of spiritual abuse and they are still working though it. Spiritual abuse may be one of the worse forms of infidelity. Their experiences are real, their feelings are valid. Let them work out their own salvation in fear and trembling, and let you and I do the same.

  65. Michael says:


    Well said…

  66. Wow. I am speechless. I have a lot to say. Too much for this moment- but had to take minute first and foremost to thank Michael for the years he has labored to bring truth to light. I know the toll that it is taken on your health to protect the flock when the “shepherds” refuse to. You have been a source of help for me personally- and you deserve so Much respect for how hard you have worked. Your love for Christ and willingness to fight for the vulnerable has kept many from leaving the faith. I know it has for me.

    And Ohmygosh- Pastor Mike, thank you for speaking up about that gaslighting response from RH which was so harmful yet sadly so typical. I’m sure they meant to be helpful- but this isn’t the time for silver linings. When a man is on trial for rape to we focus on all the people he didn’t rape? Ignoring abuse only allows it to keep happening and makes you complicit. Enough is enough.

  67. Michael says:

    Thank you, Lauren…we’re all in this together…you have been a help and inspiration for me…

  68. pstrmike says:

    Good analogy Lauren, thank you for that, and you’re welcome.

    Peace to you

  69. ASimpleGuy says:

    Well, as someone who’s been on the front row seat at Calvary FTL and personally second seat of Patmos. (Hello Lauren) I can honestly say, that while calvary is not a cult, this ministry was for sure different and her experience is 100% believable.

    I was in Leadership at Calvary for 10 years, and saw Patmos grow. And many of my brothers and sisters went through it. Only to come back atheist, broken, hurt. And others with a deeper passion for Jesus.

  70. jm says:

    I could have written this.
    I also went through Patmos, probably 3 years after you. And I attended cca for almost a decade. It’s all true. The abuse at Patmos from staff towards those who won’t “break” or “submit” is astronomical. It’s been 8 years and I’m still messed up from time spent under the authority of those in power at Calvary. I’ve separated myself entirely from that part of my life, but unfortunately there’s much I will never forget.

  71. Ted II says:

    I began to see elements of corruption in certain areas after some time there; however I think there’s more to it than just this. I could see a divide between bureaucratic authoritarians and genuinely good people, some even in leadership positions, and my loyalty is to the latter, many of whom were side-eyed and disliked by some of the admins. I still loved Calvary though, in spite of the people who were no good, because to me Calvary was the truly good people that were there and I hoped that they would at some point push out the others and take it back. It upsets me that these things happened and that these corrupt people were there and did what they did because I think they tarnished what otherwise was good and could have been something better. Sadly many of the good ones were pushed out or left and the questionable and commanding people stayed. I was dismayed but my heart has always held for the “old guard,” as it were. There really were some good people there, too, and they had positive and everlasting influence in my life and the lives of many others, in spite of the dark side of the coin and the people who tarnished some of my experiences, and it was the weirdest quiet, internal civil war that grew more apparent to me over time. The way I’ve seen it, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale has two stealth factions, and a lot of ambivalent or unaware people in the middle. Don’t hate them all. Call out the bad and discern the good. I won’t name names at the moment but there are some good ones in there, formerly and currently. It’s like SHIELD in the Winter Soldier.

  72. Baxter says:

    I wanted to let anyone on here who sees this know that, there is now a private groups on Facebook for those who went through the Pierced and Patmos programs. The goal is just to provide a safe space with people who understand the situation, and allow you to share, find community, and find healing, if you want.

  73. Michael says:


    Thank you

  74. Annie wulf says:

    I was apart of Patmos 11 and experienced the exact same thing. After I graduated I suffered from extreme anxiety and depression after what they did to me!

  75. Baxter says:

    I forgot to leave the name of the support group on Facebook.
    Pierced by Patmos: We are not alone
    I hope it will help those who need it.

  76. Linette says:

    This was sent to me by one of the few Calvary friends I keep In touch with. I was on staff and in college/young adult ministry. I tried to raise money for my Patmos. I had a mental breakdown, and became homeless. What led up to it all was spiritual abuse I couldnt open up to anyone about, There were so many loving people there that truly became family. But the reality of whaf was actually cultish is so overwhelming. It was rough, I have and still struggle with my faith. So glad for this to be in the light, I finally feel less alone.

  77. RH says:

    Hey Mike, I didn’t know that this space was only for people to share how they’ve been hurt. I didn’t know perspectives on the good and the bad of a place were unwelcome. Had I known, I would not have commented. Apologies for the misunderstanding.

  78. Anonymous says:

    None of this surprises me. In 2017 I joined Chet Lowe’s church in Coast Hills. I had just left another discipleship in Fresno called Joshua Wilderness because of how dogmatic it was and the psychological abuse I had encountered there. I remember even being told at Joshua that manipulation is a good thing when it comes to telling people about Jesus. When I told Chet my experience he said I was in rebellion against God and that he could help me. I immediately thought the guy was out of his F’in mind. (i apologize for language if i use it haha) He told me to join an internship at the church and told me that the church would help me recover from what I experienced at Joshua. The only thing that sucked was I told other leaders I didn’t want to join Patmos and that if the internship was apart of it I would not like to be apart of it. They told me Chet was not trying to get me to join Patmos and that the internship was just an internship. But, I found out that was a lie right up until the internship ended and found out they were grooming kids to basically be apart of the next Patmos class. I almost signed up for Patmos and was told numerous times if I didn’t go I was outside of Gods will and yada yada yada. Patmos is a strange discipleship and makes you also sign an NDA before going. The fact someone spoke up about it is amazing. I have more to say and talk about with churches who control there congregations through manipulation and pressure. This is something that is becoming more and more common with churches even in CA that i’ve been apart of.

  79. Anonymous, I am so sorry this happened to you. Your experience seems to be typical and the whole reason this needs to be addressed by anyone in leadership that has a fear of God. People that are wounded from other ministries or traumas are sent to Chet for healing only to be further abused. Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale can no longer keep their head in the sand and pretend only a couple people have been hurt by Chet and the programs THEY promoted. They are complicit. Their silence is causing more pain. I am so so sorry for your pain. You didn’t deserve that, and I hope you find comfort and healing. Wounds from those that wield God’s word as a weapon cut deep and eternal. Praying for you.

  80. Josh says:

    Came across this again as I’m reminiscing about my time in Patmos. I’m prepping to go into the military so it brings up a lot of memories of Patmos for sure… It will be interesting to compare Army BT with Patmos.

    It was definitely a rough time for me and I still have many scares from it. To be honest most of it’s just been Buried down deep and I’ve gone numb to a lot of that pain. I’ve worked through a good bit, but there’s still scares for sure.

    I actually quit halfway through. I couldn’t take it anymore. There’s so many crazy stories I could tell. Everything from water boarding to PTSD. I still sometimes get on edge with loud noises. Looking on the brighter side my situational awareness is great because of it. Lol

    Anyways, I just want to agree with the few of you that have said that not all CC pastors are bad. I went to calvary for over 20 years. I grew up in the church through both the good and the bad. I spent close to 5 years on Staff and made some amazing life long friends there. Life has taken my family and I in a different direction so we are no longer attending CC, but I would still call it home. There are some great pastors and staff there and there are some horrible pastors and staff there.

    As far as Patmos goes I don’t think they intentionally set out to abuse, hurt, or harm those crazy enough to join. At least I pray that was never their intention. Sadly many times in ministry our flesh leads the way. We do what we think is good or what will bring the quickest most streamlined results. I think that’s why many of their techniques are similar to military training. Done right it will get results. I just don’t think that’s necessarily the right approach.

    I’ve been throw several “discipleship programs” and read countless “discipleship/ leadership books”. I just don’t believe in them anymore. I don’t think they work. Ministry isn’t streamlined. There is no one size fits all mentorship or miracle book. People are different. Situations vary. And cultures are vast. Discipleship cannot ever be put into a box or written down as some magic recipe… That’s just not how we were created.

    If we look at Jesus’ approach to discipleship and teaching we see this fact clearly. With every person that approaches Jesus He gives a different response. To the rich man who has everything he say, “Sell it all”. To the prostitute who has nothing he says, “Your sins are forgiven”. To Peter He says, “Get behind me Satan”. Yet John refers to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. There’s no one perfect way of doing discipleship. There’s no special sauce. It’s just relationship and closeness with Jesus that brings results.

    It all goes south when man tries to create these “perfect” methods. Discipleship without flexibility is just school, and even mathletes get tired of their teacher…

    Another problem with this style and many others methods of discipleship is the timing. It took Jesus 3 years of spending day and night with his group of 12 to ready them to go off on their own… Yet we think we can figure it out in 10% the time?… That’s in the case of Patmos where you are there 24/7 for 4 months. Most other programs are even less time.

    Discipleship is and always will be about relationship in order to point each other towards Christ. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes Flexibility. And it takes humility. The moment we try and expedite or package it, it spoils.

    Rant aside. I never want to minimize the effect this toxic and abusive form of discipleship has on people. Especially being one of the ones effected. All I want to add to this conversation is that they are not all bad. Misguided, Dumb, and damaging; yes. But not all CC pastors are evil.

    But for real… Patmos sucked… lol

  81. EricL says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I wish you well as you start your time with the Army and thank you, in advance, for your service.

  82. Todd says:

    Any of those that had a tough time with Patmos, clearly missed the point. It was all about seeking your relationship with Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Our Redeemer.

    The whole point is that you were to fail to come closer to Jesus as not to lean on your own understanding but on the solid foundation of Jesus.

    Humility would share nothing but the love of Christ. Pride would share nothing but the shame of your failure and also seek the blame on others versus putting it back on yourself.

    This is a sad post as this is a great disciple ship program and there should be more of these program for young adults that are just starting to go out on their own in this fallen world.

    The discipline in your faith learned from this program has been precious and nothing that this world can give nor understand.

    be looking up as the end is about to begin.

  83. Michael says:


    You are either a plant from Chet Lowe or a theological imbecile…or maybe both.

    Nowhere in the 2000 year Christian tradition do we find putting young people through sadistic drills t advised for “discipleship”…

  84. Lauren Chastain says:

    Bold words from someone who won’t use their last name. Chet told a girl to grab a knife if she wanted to kill herself. He called girls with eating disorder cows. And there is at least one husband who had to tell him to stop harassing wife. Trust me when I say you don’t know what you are talking about. And you will be embarrassed you ever stood up for him when all the truth comes out. If you think using psychological torture techniques have anything to do with the gospel I hope you repent and find Jesus. This is sad.

  85. Michael says:

    Well said, Lauren…

  86. Hannah says:

    Hello Lauren,

    Did you see the Coy commercial for his gym from last year?
    If not I’ll message it to you.


  87. Lauren Chastain says:

    Yup- I commented on it.

  88. Hannah says:

    Oh ok lol 😂
    Thought I found gold.
    Such cheese… and reveals the sales pitch we all got.
    Hope all is well with you and yours.

  89. Lauren Chastain says:

    It’s awful. My comment was merely to inform people who he really is since so many people don’t know because the church never thought it was important to tell anybody. They had so much information that if people only knew they would never gush about what an amazing teacher he was. That’s like saying commending Epstein for being an amazing businessman or Weinstein for his directing talents. Have some human decency and respect for his victims. But leaders at Calvary suppress the truth as much as possible. Sad. But on a more positive note- me and mine are doing better than we have in some time. The more distance we have from that environment the more hope and healing we experience. Hope you are too!

  90. Donner says:

    Lauren, I also left Calvary. Bob Coy showed his true colors and I cannot believe people still want to listen to him. As far as I know, he has not repented. I briefly served in CR Wilton Manors and with Paul (although he may not remember me). I know Chet’s mom and I have ministered for years with her. It is very, very difficult for me to comprehend what you report here about Chet. Please understand that I am not discounting anyone’s personal experience. I have been in abusive churches, including Calvary Ft. Lauderdale, and I know what that celebrity narcissist pastor looks like. Bob Coy personified it. Chet does not fit that mold, in my knowledge of him or of his family. I wish you and Paul the best as the Lord continues His good work in you and in all of us!

  91. Lauren Chastain says:

    Hi Donner! Thank you for offering your time to serve at Midtown! That means a lot to us and to those that you helped. You said some thing that I hope you’ll think about. “Chet doesn’t fit the mold.” That’s a common misconception and why most abuse goes unreported. Abusers are very good at targeting certain people and being amazing with others. I could give you countless examples sadly as many have confided in me not only about Chet but about other men from Calvary who are spoken highly of. Not only do I believe those victims initially on their own but their stories can be corroborated. There’s an epidemic in the church and the only way to make a change is to start believing victims. All the best to you and yours!

  92. Donner says:

    Thanks, Lauren. I miss Midtown and left shortly before CCFTL closed it down.
    Keep the faith!

  93. Rachael says:

    Wow thank you for sharing! I’m so sorry for all you went through! I grew up in a Calvary and I’ve often wondered if there was a support group for people who have left. Is Chet in prison yet for this program!?

  94. Michael says:


    Not yet…

  95. Lyndsae says:

    Wow wow and more wow! I’m just reading this and I have mixed feelings. I believe the person who wrote it had a horrible experience. I believe everything she wrote. I think I know who you are. I went to PFR in 2005. My experience was nothing like this. I had a very positive experience at PFM. God used the program to teach me a lot. I attended CCFL for 15 years. I drank the cool aid. I was hurt by the church, the staff, the clicks. I never fit in. I personally have no hard feeling towards chet but have no desire to speak to him. The only pastor I still speak to is Steve Williams. Also I knew bob was having an affair 5 years before if came to light and no one belived me not even my husband at the time who worked at CCFL.

  96. LC says:

    I’m so sorry no one believed you! They all said “We had no idea!!” And it’s not true. Brave people like you tried to speak up and got no where. Im so sorry. But also, Steve Williams is not a safe person. Leadership knew that too, but they still “sent him” off to Charlotte. I’m not going to speak about the details here- but feel free to email me.

  97. Anthony Iv Thompson says:

    Hmmmm… for as many people who would bash these ministries… there are thousands who will sing their praise! I was a part of all ministries stated here .. as a student… I am a better man for it!!! BUT I am not a calvaryite or a pottersfielder or anything other than a Christ follower!!!!! To Him alone be the glory for my life! At the end of the day you have to ask yourself are you doing good or are you being divisive??

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