I’m married to Jessica, and she and I have 4 children and 7 grandchildren (and counting!). I love my job/role as lead pastor at Neighborhood Church (NC) and Bible teacher at Desert Christian High School. I enjoy baseball, golf, Frisbee, tennis, piano, and listening to a variety of musical styles.
We moved to Tucson in 2006 from central California. When I accepted the pastoral position with NC, God told me I’d have just one shot at this lead pastor thing, and I’d be “going to heaven from Tucson.” I assume that to mean I’m here until God takes me home, whenever that day may come. And God has been so good! We have founded and established the Tucson Neighborhood Food Pantry, planted our first church in central Tucson (“Church at the Pantry”), sent out several domestically-based missionaries, trained over a dozen men to preach, established Tucson’s only Royal Family Kids Camp, and seen many, many people come to a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord over the years. And Neighborhood Church celebrated our 20th Anniversary in April, 2019!
Let me take you back to the beginning…
I grew up in a broken home. My mom and biological father divorced when I was two years old. My sister Kerri was four. We moved around quite a bit between my birth and age 5, but finally settled in a house my grandfather built for us in Monterey County, CA. Other than my reserved and quiet grandfather, I was primarily surrounded and raised by mostly women until mom remarried to Dave Coffin the summer before I turned nine. He was the first constant male figure in my life who truly showed a strong, loving interest in my life. Mom did amazing – don’t get me wrong. But nothing compares to a father figure for a young boy.
I have several “life-changing” moments I’ll share with you – moments that shaped the man I am today.
The first notable moment happened on the baseball field. Dad (Dave Coffin) signed me up for Pony League Baseball, and in my first year, I was terrible. I hated it. I had never attempted any team sport, not to mention anything truly athletic before baseball. Catching frogs, building forts, pretending I was Batman… absolutely. Though I never hit a fair ball the entire season, I managed to survive that first year of baseball, and vowed never to return. But somehow, Dad talked me into playing the following season. “You’ll be a 10-year-old in a 9 and 10 year old league,” he said. “It’ll make a world of difference,” he promised. But 3 games into the season I still was riding the bench and never experienced the glory of a batted baseball. That was about to change. Our team was down 2 runs in the bottom of the last inning, and unfortunately for Coach Chuck, I hadn’t had my mandatory at bat (a rule, back then – every kid was promised at least one at bat and 2 innings in the field). The bases were loaded, 2 outs, and here comes the worst player in the league with a bat in his hand. All I remember is closing my eyes and swinging as hard as I could. The ball bounced past the pitcher, over the 2B bag, and through the center fielder’s legs for what they call a Little League Triple. I stood on 3rd base, stunned, not really knowing I’d won the game with that hit. My teammates mobbed me. It took me a second to realize they weren’t trying to kill me, but that I’d done something good. And something clicked. I went on to hit a few home runs that year and make the all-start team. I never looked back. Baseball was now “my sport.”
The second notable moment came in my mid-late teens. Prior to turning 17, I’d grown up in a Christian church that was more of a club for nice people, but didn’t really teach much of the Bible. My dad decided he wasn’t getting enough Bible teaching and began to seek a new church. He found it – and had a “born again” experience. He was a new man. At first, we celebrated his new-found faith and attitude toward life. He was happier, home more often, more engaged in our everyday activities… but then he wanted us to join him in early morning devotions, and started getting more strict on our weekend schedules, and even started grounding us for poor behavior – as 17 and 19 year old kids! My sister and I would have none of that, and rebelled in our own ways. My sister and dad fought pretty bad one day, and she moved out that afternoon. I was at school, and came home to all my belongings removed from my longtime bedroom and in a heap on the floor of Kerri’s room – the basement (the room I dreamed of having someday). I was all a bit sudden. The sister whom I’d spent my entire life with now lived somewhere else. The shock of it all surprised me, and I remember sitting on the floor, back against the wall, sobbing. My dad came down, and long story short, led me to Christ. It was truly the first time I remember confessing “Jesus is Lord” with my own words, and accepted his grace-filled gift of eternal life by faith. The next 6 months, however, proved rocky. The Devil’s tricks and temptations came on strong. And soon, I moved out myself, and didn’t step foot in a church for several more years.
Moment #3 fast-forwards to age 21. I was in a successful rock band (we had just won the Battle of the Bands in Monterey), was involved in what I would call an “unhealthy romantic relationship,” and was in a dead-end job as a sales and stock employee at Macy’s. And I had managed to accept every credit card offer that would give me more money, landing me about $3000 in debt and unable to keep up with the bills. I moved back home. One week into living with mom and dad, I was invited by my mom to go to a concert at church. With literally nothing else to do but watch boring TV programs, I reluctantly went. And among all other “moments” in my life, this one would prove to be the most life-altering. The concert was put on by the Azusa Pacific University Bel Canto Choir (120 female voices). As I sat in the front row, mesmerized by the music and beauty of 120 girls my age singing like angels, Mom leaned over and said, “Oh, I forgot to tell you: I signed up to take two of the girls home with us, as they’re on tour and need housing.” Right away, I started picking out the two I’d like to take home! When the concert ended, I made my way into one circle of conversation after the other. And one by one, the girls started disappearing to their host homes. Eventually, the room was practically empty. I sat down next to my patiently waiting mother, and said, “What the heck?” She shrugged her shoulders. And just then, a young lady said, “Oh no! Mrs. Coffin, I meant to ask this of you earlier: Would you mind taking the director and the sound man home?” I was incredulous. 120 girls and TWO men. And we, of course, get the two men. After my minor fit of frustration, we got in the car and introduced ourselves. Six hours later, the director of the choir, after listening to tapes of my rock band and hearing stories of my high school band experiences, offered me a full ride music scholarship to APU. While at first I was stupid enough to say no, he left an application for me to stew over. Eventually I filled it out, and 3 weeks later, I was off to APU.
Moment #4… I met the most amazing woman I’d ever laid eyes on. She was back in Monterey County and attending my parents’ church. I fell in love with Jessica Twight as we led a college ministry together over the summer I returned home from APU. 6 months later, we were married. I suspended my schooling to raise a family, and settled into a construction job I truly enjoyed for the next 4 years.
Moment #5… At 26 years old and with three children already, I began to experience constant pain in my major joints. It took a while for specialists to figure out what was ailing me, but I was eventually diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis (rheumatoid family). I couldn’t continue my duties in construction – my muscles simply didn’t cooperate – and I spent a few months on worker’s compensation. Our church was phenomenal by helping us with groceries, bills, caring for the kids, offering me side jobs, and much more.
Moment #6… Jessica and I were impressed by the Lord to have a 24-hour non-stop prayer vigil 3 months into receiving worker’s compensation. While I had experience in our large church assisting (as a volunteer) our worship and youth pastors, I had no experience in pastoral ministry. But I also knew God had been preparing me for ministry for quite some time. We kept a written record of our prayer time. We still have it, in fact. In it we wrote songs, recited various Psalms and Proverbs, and had an amazing time just conversing with the Lord, thanking Him for his providence, faithfulness, and love. Three hours after the prayer vigil was finished, I received a phone call from a pastor in a neighboring town offering an interview for a full-time worship and youth leadership position at his Baptist church. We hadn’t even sent out resumes! We found out later that the pastor had offered the position to a gentleman in our church choir who knew what God was up to in my life, and encouraged him to consider interviewing me. That week, I was hired. And I’ve been in full-time ministry in various roles ever since.
I was ordained with the Christian and Missionary Alliance in 2000. And in 2003 I finally went back to college, graduating in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Christian Ministry through Crown College in Saint Bonifacius, Minnesota. A few months later I was called to Tucson to fill the role of Lead Pastor at Neighborhood Church (then called CrossRoads Church, established just 6 year earlier).
As a pastor, I have a passion to train and release Christians within their Spiritual gifts. I love to teach the Bible every Sunday. I love working with a team of elders (a plurality, meaning we agree unanimously on church direction, and work hard to understand God’s call and direction for our specific body), and I love this city. My wife is my best friend, followed closely by all 4 of our kids, who live and work in Tucson with their spouses and children as well. I love being “Papa!” And my favorite Bible verses are 1 Thessalonians 2:8, Ephesians 4:11-13, and 2 Corinthians 12:9.
You can reach me by email or phone: firstname.lastname@example.org or 520-403-8773.