Interview with Pastor Bob Beeman

Fellow members of the Christian metal brotherhood: In 1987 after rededicating my life to Christ and giving up all of my secular rock music, there was a problem. As a guitar player, I had no music to listen to. I loved heavy music, and this left me with a huge void (musically, not spiritually). Nothing to practice, and nothing to listen to that interested me. One day I decided to walk into a Christian bookstore. It was then I discovered Christian metal, and all the bands we speak so highly of on this site (Barren Cross, Whitecross, Saint, Bloodgood, Stryper, etc...). I remember from my first visit to that Christian bookstore and all through the late 80's/early 90's that it was difficult to try and find a Christian metal album without Pastor Bob's picture on the inside cover. That big frizzy head of hair and huge smile was sort of reassuring that a band had passed the litmus test of being spiritually OK. His regular column in Heaven's Metal magazine was always there to remind you that Christian metal heads had at least one person heading up the "ministry" aspect of things. The bands that were spawned out of Sanctuary had at least some form of accountability. The rest for me is history. I was one of the thousands who had been reached and ministered to by the efforts of Sanctuary and the bands it birthed. Bob has always been someone I admired, and someone who I had always wanted to meet.

Ten years later, I am happy to say that one of my lifetime goals have been achieved. In 1997 I moved to Nashville, shortly after Pastor Bob and Sanctuary had moved to Nashville to re-establish their International headquarters.  Through various situations, our paths finally crossed and I was able to meet Bob. Through the CMR web site, I have had an even greater pleasure of getting to know him a little better. For the past 2 years, we've been in touch and have been working together in some form or fashion to bring you more Christian metal band information (here) and the ministry that holds it together (on the Sanctuary INTL site). 

This interview  is something that I have felt was a "must have" to make this web site complete. Sanctuary has begun focusing on the Internet and the the use of it to maintain an International scale ministry. There are many of you who come to this site often to see what new and marvelous things we have to present. Many of you have told me you would love to site down with Pastor Bob and talk about  the "good ole days". You've wanted to ask him questions about what Christian metal was at its embryonic stages and get the "inside" viewpoint of the bands that caused this revolution of sorts. You also have unanswered questions about issues, such as Roger Martinez. My friend, consider this YOUR interview. Your day has come. 

The entire Contemporary Christian music industry was spawned partly from Bob's work in the early 70's. Yet the only other source for information about this man was published in a book by Beth Whitaker titled, "The calling of a rock star". Those of you who are familiar with Barren Cross (and our web page dedicated to them) already know this was Steve Whitaker's (drummer for BC) mother, and is the story of how the band came to be. There is an entire chapter concerning Bob. We won't rehash this information (guess you'll have to find the book). I just find it amazing that someone so involved in the Christian music scene to be only a footnote in one book. That is all about to change though.

On 10/14/1999, I met up with Bob for lunch at a local restaurant. We sat down and shared a little about some of things we had planned for the next few months and where each of our web site's are going. We talked about how each of our web sites are compliments of the other. I really appreciated the fact the Bob thinks we're doing a good job here. For those of you who can't appreciate the visual aspect, Bob is a big guy (about a head taller than me) with long hair (now starting to gray). He still has the California look and likes to wear sandals and jeans wherever he goes. You can definitely spot him in a crowd. However, once you talk to him for a little while, he seems more like the local pastor of the Baptist church in any given town. He is very low key, relaxed, and cheerful. 

Once can't help but wonder if this the same Bob Beeman that was the glue that held Christian metal together. You might expect a more extreme personality, but Bob is very balanced in both his manner and doctrine. Then as we started to leave in different cars to go to his house for our interview, I noticed a sticker on the back of his automobile that said "Body Piercing Saved My Life!" and that's when I knew it was really him...:^)

Tell me about yourself and how you got into ministry:

Let me start way back... I became a Christian 42 years ago at the age of five, and felt the calling to be a Pastor when I was six. I prepared for it ever since then. I was raised in a wonderful family, and never went through the kind of confusion that a lot of kids go through...falling away and coming back and all of that. Praise the Lord that He has sustained me all of that time. I always enjoyed rock and roll music, and music on the edge. I guess I always fancied myself as a person on the edge. Even in high school and college, I felt like I didn't quite fit in - a lot of the same ways other people felt. When I started hearing music that was contemporary (and in those days it was early Maranatha music, pre-Larry Norman, The Armageddon Experience), I started getting real excited about Christian music and what I could do with it. So really, I guess I've been involved with Christian music for a very long time, even way back then.

I worked with Cavalry Chapel promoting Daniel Amos, Bethlehem, Aslyn. I set up a few tours for Benny Hester and lot of the early stuff. I was an evangelist for many years and talked about music. At one point, I was known as "the king of backward masking", which I never wanted to do. I tried to go other directions and no one would ever let me. I did a presentation on music, because in those days, Bob Larson was doing a talk where he said all music with a beat was satanic. I felt that wasn't right, and that there needed to be a balance. So I promoted Contemporary Christian music and talked about problems with some of the secular stuff having content that wasn't real good for us. In those days, we never really thought much about that. I did a variety of seminars, but that was one of them.  I found two bands that were practicing at Daniel Amos' practice room, which were Lifesavers and Undercover. I think I paid for their first promotional pictures. Joey Taylor and Undercover used to travel with me when I would do my talk on music and Jay would share his testimony. It was at that time I was working at a church in Whittier California that I started hearing about some of the things going on in music. One day Steve Valdez walked in. He was a roadie for Stryper. He walked into the church as I had left the podium during the service to do something. I felt like it was a divine meeting. We spent all afternoon talking, and came up with the concept of Sanctuary that very afternoon, because there was such a need for some discipleship for those people becoming Christians through some of this "new" music that was going on. So the following week, we had our first service. Michael Sweet (vocalist for Stryper) did the worship, and Steve did the talking. I never really thought I would get involved that much. I was just going to help them. I kept thinking, "I'm too old for this", even back then. But one thing led to another, and Sanctuary was born.

Did the band members of Stryper really know what they were getting into?

I'm not sure. They really paved the way. One of the first things we did the first week was start a mid-week Bible study and called it "Metal Missionaries". There were 19 bands at the first meeting in 1985.

At the first one?

19 Christian metal bands - everyone from Guardian to Deliverance to Prophet (Roger Martinez and George Ochoa at the time). There were so many with names you would recognize. It was very exciting and no one had done anything like that at the time. Sanctuary has really been an opportunity to meet some people and disciple some people where a huge need was being met. I think we just happened on the scene when somebody needed to, and it grew quickly from there.

What are some of the milestones of Sanctuary?

I was involved with the "Jesus People" movement a number of years before and one thing that really bothered me what that there wasn't a lot of discipleship. Almost every Bible study I went to was about the book of Revelation and end times. It was kind of a fad thing. I watched a lot of people come into that and then just drop out of Christianity, almost like it was a fad for them and now they're into something else. So I always felt like that if I was ever involved in any kind of a movement again, that discipleship was something that I really wanted to bring to the table. I feel like that has been Sanctuary's desire from the beginning. 

The milestones would be:

Our 800 line. 1-800-548-5222. Still going and a lot of people calling, and it has been almost 15 years. At one time we were at 15,000 calls a month!

Intense records. I am very proud of that and working with Caesar Kalinowski. That came out of a lot of frustration because none of the other record companies would sign the bands, so we got things going with that.

We have literally discipled thousands of people. I won't say that out of the whole movement that no one has dropped out, but a lot of them are hanging on and are still in the faith, and I am real happy about that part of things.

If we were to get into a time machine and drop in on you sometime between 1987 and 1989, what would we see?

Those were the "glam" days. I remember people coming to the church..."dressed up". We'd have up to 800 people in church, and it was quite colorful because there was probably every color of hair, every hair style, and a lot of different styles of music. There were people into thrash, and others with Mohawks, and the people with the poofy hair (which was me at the time, too)...(laughs)

It was a very exciting time. This was a new musical style that was very unique. Nothing like this had been done in Christian music in a very long time - not to this degree. I think there was a newness and a freshness to it. As with any movement's beginning, there was a lot of excitement. I remember sitting around and planning with Larry Farkas, Doug Theime, and Glenn Mancaruso. Most of those people in Vengeance lived with me at the time. We talked about putting Vengeance together. We hand picked everybody. There was the excitement of learning a new musical style. We watched Venom and Slayer videos to find out what the style was all about. None of the guys were even into that style of music (they were mostly blues players). There was the excitement of putting bands together. From the time that we started Sanctuary to the time we were an international phenomenon was a very short time. 

At Palmview Assembly of God Church in Whittier California, we had about 150 people, mostly people in bands.  I actually lived in Redondo Beach, and so, after a year, we started another congregation over there.  After a few years at the Redondo Beach church, we had up to 800 people.  Steve Valdez kept the other congregation in Whittier going, and we just branched out from there.

You know, we talk about learning from our mistakes. It's hard today to understand what things were like then. Things were happening so much of a need, so many people...they were flooding in. We were trying to expand as quickly as we could to take care of needs, but I had a six week waiting list in my own counseling time for people to wait to talk to me. I hated that. It was real tough. I felt we lost contact with a lot of people, but we were just trying to keep up with a huge demand.

Bob's gallery. Do you recognize anyone?

Was all of this news about Sanctuary spread by word-of-mouth?

A lot of it was. Every once in a while we would hand out flyers on the sunset strip at Hollywood and talk to kids out there. It was almost a novelty. Of course, Steve Valdez and I were novelties because of our hair. Everywhere Steve went, he was mistaken for Oz Fox because they looked so much alike. People would drop into our services, even secular bands because it was like the metal head place to go to church. We started the 800 lines right away, and advertised it on the California metal 1 album. We did not want to just put out an album or series of albums. We wanted to disciple people. We said, "Let's do this correctly". So , we put out the 800 lines on them and gave people an opportunity for follow up and make sure they were plugged into churches. I don't think we did a wonderful job of it, but we tried to.

Were the majority of people going to Sanctuary just  bands or those people saved by the ministry of the bands?

Both. We pretty much got the whole movement. If you were into heavy metal and had any inkling to go to church, that's probably where you went.

Did Sanctuary ever evolve into its own denomination, or were you just a large ministry?

It came close to that. In fact, there was a time where we had several churches, not with their own buildings (we felt there were enough church buildings available on Sunday afternoons), but we had church services in Florida, Georgia, California, even in Puerto Rico... I remember there was one pastor's meeting where we realized we were very quickly becoming a denomination. Heaven's metal magazine did a poll asking people what denomination they were and the second denomination on there was Sanctuary.

(Laughs) That was a choice on the list?

No. They wrote it  in.

Did that raise your eyebrow a little?

Oh yeah, it totally did. We all kind of felt like that wasn't what we wanted to do. Denominations haven't worked real well for the most part. Then we realized a lot of us were going into different directions, as far as musical styles (some thrash or glam depending on the location), and even doctrinal differences. I'm not a five point Calvinist, but we had several pastor's that were and it was becoming like, "Well where do stand doctrinally on this?" Finally we thought, "why do we have to stand in one place in particular? We don't want to be a denomination."  Very soon after we decided to become autonomous, and let each church do what God is calling them to do. We wanted to re-identify what we were doing and label ourselves a ministry, which is what we really are, and still are to this day.

When you say you had churches in Florida, Georgia, and other places, do you mean you found someone locally that was in tune to what Sanctuary was doing and became affiliated that way? They used their own church to have a "Sanctuary" services?

Not exactly. Most of the people who were heading up those churches were people that came out of our fellowship, or they moved to California to take our classes and then moved back to start a fellowship.

It's is interesting to me to note that you had this separation point with five point Calvinist, yet your background is one that rises up from the Assemblies of God, which are more on the Armenian side of things. Isn't that where you originally had your ordination?

No. Actually I was officially ordained in 1980. I was working under a ministry as a pastor well before that, but it never meant anything to me (ordination) until that time. I was ordained by a non-denominational organization in Montana at that time. Then, when we set up Sanctuary, I was ordained through Sanctuary. Even though I was working in the Assemblies of God at the time, I am not necessarily Assemblies of God doctrinally. I am probably closer to Southern Baptist doctrinally.

Tell me about the last days of Sanctuary at California. I know usually when a ministry begins to expand rapidly, the element of chaos also develops rapidly...

You learn a lot from retrospect. There were a lot of things that we set up to fail. One thing was that we had a lot of people that had a lot of needs that we weren't able to get to. I had some wonderful people on staff. None of them were spiritual giants. None of them were the kind of mature staff you might find in the average church, but they were the cream of the crop of what we had. None of them, including myself, were mature enough to do what this organization needed to have done. We made tons of mistakes. We never did anything maliciously, but in just trying to learn, survive and do the best we could, we made mistakes. Probably one of those mistakes was not involving ourselves with other denominations. I think if I had it to do over again, I think I would want to have some kind of covering with another  church organization, or some older people who could really help. There were some people that I went to personally that helped me in making decisions, Chuck Swindoll and others that I still have huge respect for. We were real green. Things were so big. I was teaching classes almost every day. No one could say were not a teaching church. We had the equivalent of Bible school classes going on all of the time, so there was a lot of discipleship. But there were a lot of people coming out of huge problems and we were not able to meet their needs. I remember one day walking into the foyer and finding a guy trying to sell drugs to somebody else. There were those kinds of problems. As you can imagine, when you get a lot of people together...

The Lord had been moving on my heart to move. That's a hard thing, especially when you don't quite understand what He is doing. He told me to move to Nashville a year before I did. This was in 1993. We knew that we were going to relocate. We realized we had a choice. We could either become a "superchurch" in California, or we could become an International ministry and restructure to become just that. What Sanctuary does, reaching out to the people on the edge and bring them into the fold, was more our mission than being a "superchurch". That was a tough transition. We began to notice that the church had a lot of problems. A lot of the people that were there needed to move on. We decided to become more of a ministry and less of a church. I waited too long to move. After we made the announcement that we were going to move, Jim Laverde and I flew out to Colorado Springs because we thought that might be a good place. James Dobson and others had moved there. We thought we might associate with those guys and maybe they would take us under our wings a little. But we did not feel like that was the right place. Then I flew to Nashville with Paul Falzone and instantly knew we were supposed to be here. We knew this is where the music industry was coming to and that this was the place to be. In the course of that, we merged Sanctuary with a Presbyterian church in California. That didn't go real well. Even though they were real excited about it, the people who went to Sanctuary were like, "We want a long hair pastor and rock music, etc.." By the time I got to Nashville, I had a little bit of a breakdown. I was so exhausted from everything. Things had been so much of a strain and so difficult that I needed to rest badly. The first 2 or 3 years I just rested to get back to the place I needed to be. I had pneumonia for six months, and a lot of stuff. It was a time that didn't need to happen. Had I done what God told me to do at the very beginning and moved when He told me to, I think we could have saved everybody a lot of problems. But I didn't do it quick enough. I didn't say, "OK, Lord I'll do it" as quickly as I think I was supposed to.

Did a lot of people come with you to Nashville from California and what has happened since you have come here?

We never stopped being Sanctuary ministries. We never skipped a beat on the 800 lines. We've continued  to keep everything up. I've never missed a week of teaching a Bible study of some kind. I think there were 10-15 people that moved here with me. About half of them would have moved here anyway. It was not a matter of relocating a church, but an international ministry. It was so difficult to keep it going in California. The cost of living was getting so extreme that we did not feel we could afford to live there any longer. Then we realized that as an international ministry we didn't need to be in one location. Plus with bands and travel, California is just not a good place to travel from. Nashville is a lot more centrally located. Since that time, there have been a few more that have moved here as well, just trying to get out of California. The toughest thing from looking from the outside (I realized this would happen), is that it looks like a cult moving across the country. Although I have tried everything I could to make sure that was not the case. I immediately wrote an article in HM magazine as to why we were moving and dispel all those cult rumors. I'm sure there is still a few that fly around. The whole music industry moved here, and we feel like that is still a big part of what we do. I personally love living in Nashville. It was a good rest for me. Very honestly, that period was the toughest one in my life. I was not only drained physically, but emotionally. I went into some depression and all of that. But it was also during that time that I got closer to the Lord than I have ever been and it has really changed my life.

I always used to think I was handling things in my life really well, but there was a lot of pride in my life that I feel God needed to purge. I feel He spent some good time doing that, and I'm thankful for that.

For those who are not familiar with Sanctuary, can you explain a little about the organizational structure? Who runs things, who does the administrative task, and how do you run an international ministry?

Wow, that's a big question. Sanctuary was started to meet the need of a heavy metal society trying to find the Lord. Although we've gone though a lot of different styles, it's all been in that same genre. Even though we have done some other things (Mark Morh with Christafari 

Every Pastor needs a library.

and reggae for example), the crux of what we do is hard rock. I think we will always be this heavy metal ministry. The name of our ministry is "the rock and roll refuge". With that in mind, we have tried to reach out to this generation internationally. To reach people on the edge with the tireless Gospel message that Jesus died for them too, and using heavy metal music to do that. Today, some of the same people that were involved in the beginning are still involved today. I mentioned earlier that Michael Sweet (Stryper) led worship our first Sunday. It wasn't long after that Jim Laverde (Barren Cross) became our worship leader, who still is. We've been together all of these years and are still the closest of friends. Todd Boe is still one of our pastors who was with us in California. They live about 2 minutes from here. I've known them for twenty years. Chis Howell (Red Sea, Fear Not) is still involved. Roger Dale Martin (Vengeance, Die Happy) was one of my original elders and moved here when I did. One by one there are still people joining us. I feel blessed to have people around me that I have known for a long time and we have a lot of history.

What would be your title? How does one become an elder?

Structure has changed a lot. There was a time when we had elders and deacons and everything. These days, and I'm not being flippant here, none of that really matters. I think that sometimes we worry so much about structure that we forget about ministry. With that many people (like we had years ago) you had to have some structure, but I think we just handed out titles a lot of times without thinking about it a whole lot. If we err on any side, we err on the side of not giving titles these days. I will always be Pastor Bob. I think my first name is Pastor and my last name is Bob. I do some teaching at a local church and a lot of the counseling as well. My position would be director if anything. Jim is worship leader and we work hand in hand all the time. These days, we worry less about titles and more about working as a team.

What are your prerequisites that you might require when one wants to be involved in Sanctuary?

The most important thing that we do is discipleship. For 25 years now I've taught Intense studies, which are Bible college classes. We're just getting ready to put them all on the Internet. Some will be done live. This is a great opportunity. As far as people becoming Sanctuary pastors, we're not doing a lot of that anymore. Mark Morh is one of our pastors because it really became necessary in his ministry for him to be a pastor. He not only attended our classes, but Biola University in California and has a degree in Christian education. Because of his work in Jamaica, that was something he needed to do. 

But, if someone were to come to me and ask to get involved, the first thing I would ask is, "What do you do?" and then plug them right in. We're always needing people to help out in different areas. But I am simply not as concerned with building a Sanctuary empire as I am about ministering for the Lord and I really don't care if it has the Sanctuary name on it or not. The Lord has broken me of so much of that. I'll even recommend other ministries if a person might be better placed somewhere else. Out there are still thousands of people who look to us for some kind of guidance, so there is always something to do around here.

Are the classes free?

Yes. We used to charge for the books, but now with the Internet, they'll be free.

Let's move on to when alternative music came on the scene and dropped a bomb on metal music. Were there a lot of disappointed people in Sanctuary, or people falling out of the ranks?

No, I don't think so. There has always been a metal scene. During the time when Christian metal was popular, there were always other forms of music. Metal has always been a fringe thing. It's never really been mainstream. There was reason why MTV did not play metal all the time and they had a special show (Headbanger's Ball). Metal has never outsold anything else. It's always been an edge type of music, and that was true in the Christian market as well. There's never been a time when metal sold as well as an Amy Grant or a Michael W. Smith or CCM. Even during the biggest days of Sanctuary, there were other styles going on. I think the one thing that people during the "hey day" of Sanctuary and even people that enjoy it now have in common was that it's always been a  fringe. We've always felt like it was on a fringe. You don't walk down the street and see metal looking people that often. Even in the late 80's when it seemed to be so big, you were still a minority everywhere you went.

I guess the difference was that when metal lost its popularity, people did not even want to be associated with it. I just finished an interview with Rex Carroll where he explains his entire identity was ripped from him and he was not liked as a person anymore because he was affiliated with metal. Have you seen that?

l think you're talking about record companies, mostly. If Rex told you that, I understand what he is saying and know the story behind that. Rex is a great guy and I know that his compassion and dedication to ministry was way up there. But, I think of the process. Record companies are just that, companies. They want to make money and sell albums and promote things that are going to make them money. If you are not one of them, they're nice to you one day and the next they don't care if you exist. We'd like to think that is not the Christian industry, but that is probably as much or more in the Christian industry. But the Christian industry is not a "Christian" industry....

The last couple of years, you've opened up to the Gothic scene. What prompted this change and what results have you seen?

I think we have attempted to open up to the Gothic scene. I don't think we've done it very well, and I don't think it's really our ministry. Wedding Party, for instance. We were involved with some of the people in the band, not all of them. Jamie McCavanagh was with that ministry and with Sanctuary (even in California). I'm not real happy with where the band is at right now, and I took my hand off of it in November because I saw some things that I wasn't too excited about. We've done a few concerts that we've sponsored. It's been a little scary, and I totally don't understand it as much as I'd like to. Dave Hart who pastors Sanctuary, San Diego does Gothic exclusively. The whole congregation is Gothic. I spoke there a few weeks ago and was real impressed with them, and love what Dave is doing. So I know that it's a great ministry, I just don't feel like it is mine...

When you say you don't understand it, do you mean the music, or the scene in general?

The whole scene is real difficult to understand. I like the people that I've met in it. My tendency is to think it's too dark. That's a tough one. I feel like in ministry I've drawn the line many times and God redraws it. It's always drawn according to my own taste. So I know that as I get older (and I'm pushing 50 now) I have to make sure that I don't draw the line where God is not drawing it. I honestly don't feel like I am capable of drawing the line with Gothic music correctly, so I'm leaving that to people who do.

What kind of response have you gotten from your web site?

The response has been good. We have just registered the site, so everything has been word of mouth. I wanted it to be a little bit of a "mega site" especially devoted to discipleship. Not a lot of band information, although there is a lot of band URL's on there. That's not our thing, that's YOUR thing, and we're excited about what you're doing. But we really want to disciple people. 

Pastor Bob at his laptop.

On our site, you can take Bible classes, get on a live chat with Bible studies. We are getting ready to broadcast live on the web from Cafe Express on Friday and Saturday nights. We just have a lot of cool things coming and a lot of information. We're hoping that the Internet will take over where the 800 lines have been, where they can find us live.

I understand the winds of change are blowing at Sanctuary concerning the second wave of Christian metal. Can you expound upon this?

I don't think we've ever gotten out of Christian metal, but I don't think we've pushed it real hard. I think I have spent the first 3 years here in Nashville getting well, and spending some quality time with the Lord and the people who live here with me developing our relationships. This is the most important thing to me.  They're my family. The last couple of years we've spent trying to decide where we are going. As you know we got involved with some Gothic stuff, and some Reggae stuff, and a little of everything. But I feel we've reached thousands of people in the past via rock and metal, and we still have a responsibility there for discipleship help. One of the things on our web site is a column for families. We continue to try and provide those kinds of needs because those people we reached back then now have families. In this process, we're getting ourselves geared up and ready to go. We're seeing things on a more international scale. With the Internet, it makes things easier than it was before. Now at the push of a button you can talk to someone internationally. We are going to be putting bulletin boards up for every country and every state. We are also doing festivals in a lot of different places. We're doing Bobfest 2000 in March 2000 in Stockholm. We have other festivals planned Mexico City, Sweden, Germany, Israel, Australia, and a possibility of Japan. There are still a lot of pieces that have to come together, but we are excited about the possibilities. When we did the festival in Sweden, there were 10 bands and I did some speaking. At the last night of the concert there must have been about 500 kids there, and Sweden is a place where only 2% of the population is Christian, so that was great. So  we are moving to a more international focus.

What is your vision for the year 2000?

On the web site, we'll start having live Bible classes that are interactive where people can ask questions. Possibly a live call in show once a week. There are a lot of those kinds of things that we want to do in the name of discipleship. Personally, my energy is going to 2 places: festivals and the Internet.

Musically, will there be more emphasis on metal in 2000?

Probably so. I don't want to limit what God would want to do though...

Do you believe there is going to be a second wave of metal around the corner? I believe that because of our ability to use the Internet to market things without a large record label. I'm seeing signs all over the place...

The exciting thing about the Internet is that it has given us a whole new genre that we didn't have before. No longer are we at the mercy of record executives trying to tell us what style of music everyone is going to listen to. I don't think it is just going to be metal. I think that we're going to see a lot of styles come back, and metal is definitely one of them.

Do you want to see metal come back?

Absolutely! I'd love to see that happen. Some of the albums we were involved in that came out back in the day were excellent albums. I'm excited about hearing some new stuff, but I'm excited for this generation to hear some good music that came out then. You don't get any better than Barren Cross and Ken Tamplin and those guys. I see the caliber of the people and the musicianship and I am excited for these kids to hear some stuff that came out. Disciple is one of my favorite bands, for 2 reasons: Musically they are way on the edge and very good. But I know the guys and  spiritually  they are above and beyond where most metal bands have been that I have ever worked with.

Are you still aware of the scene and in the middle of it?

I've never stopped being part of it. I get about 50-75 emails everyday. I'm still in contact with a lot of bands and people in the industry. We still have a good sense of what is going on. And I agree with you that there is a resurgence to go back to some of the "good ole" stuff.

Do you think that bands like Disciple are more spiritually mature because they have stood on the shoulders of the metal bands of the past and have possibly learned from their mistakes?

I think so. In fact, Kevin in Disciple told me that. We sat down and talked. He said it was always his dream as a kid to have a Christian metal band endorsed by Pastor Bob (laughs). His favorites are all the old bands. Their sound is a little like 80's with an edge. But they are fully dedicated. To be honest with you, I have had a unique place to see all the bands and get a lot of feedback on what is going on. There was a lot of sin in the camp, and there still is. If I had to do it over again, I would have demanded a lot more from bands I personally endorsed. There are some bands I wish I hadn't endorsed, because of spiritually where they were and where they are now. If it weren't for bands like Disciple and a few others, I don't know if I would even be involved. I think there is a certain standard that the Lord asks us to have to minister and be an example.

It seems like every band that labels themselves a "Christian" band wants to call themselves a ministry, yet they are not able to handle it spiritually. Bands throw around that word "ministry" way too much. Here is a guy who has been saved for 6 months and he is trying to minister to serious issues like suicide and drugs, and I wonder about this.

I do too, and it shouldn't be happening. I remember when Alice Cooper became a Christian. The piece of advice that R. C. Sproul gave to him was "Don't do anything spiritual. Just learn." Of course, he's been discipled by R. C. Sproul, and some of the best. For that reason (because they were never discipled) we've had too many Christian super stars that have come and gone.

Of all the good things there is to say about Sanctuary and Christian metal as a genre, there are negative things. What about the stories of bands being taken advantage of by supposedly "Christian" record labels, band members leading double lives, accusations from the secular world, etc? What hurt the genre the most? What can we do to change things?

First of all, there is no substitute for discipleship. The purpose of discipleship is to get to a point where you fall in love with the Lord, and sin isn't a desire of your heart. Where following the Lord is your desire. Unless you are there, the temptations of this world and this industry in particular are huge. The mortality rate is huge. I think that is #1. There have been many mistakes we've made. Even though I thought I had all the training I needed and took all the classes, there was so much I had to learn. I was so green, and I think all the bands were too. I think it was my immaturity leading their immaturity. I was just in my early thirties at the command post of this whole thing. I think now that I am pushing 50 I have been humbled by the things that I have learned. I have definitely learned a lot more.

Copycat bands: I think you have that in Christian metal. You always want to sound like who you like. You listen to Barren Cross and hear a lot of similarities between them and Iron Maiden. You could also look at it as a rip off. But it is also a compliment to Iron Maiden. This allowed the Christian bands to cross over. People would be able to listen to the Christian bands and not feel like they were giving up the style of music they loved. Then after you listen to the Christian bands more closely, you realize they are not just alike. But I think it is ultimately a good thing.

Concerning rip offs: I am personally really tired of watching record companies become wealthy and bands struggling. If we are truly Christian then we do things differently than the world does. Why do I need to do the music business the same way the world does? Why does that have to validate what I am doing? A band doesn't feel like they've accomplished anything unless they're signed. Then they don't feel like they've done anything unless they've went platinum. There is always something next in line. I tell bands that you know you have accomplished something when your heart goes out to those 5 people that showed up for your concert tonight as the 500 that will show up at the next one tomorrow. Your heart should really be for people receiving the message of Jesus Christ and seeing their lives transformed. If anything else gets in the way, then the ministry is blurred. I don't feel that has been explained very much and I feel partially responsible for it not happening. 

There was a meeting a few of us had a few years ago. Glenn Kaiser (REZ) called the meeting.  It was at Charlie Peacock's house. Doug Van Pelt, and a lot of other people were there. Our goals were to fast and pray and discuss what we could do (as people who helped create this mess) to turn some things around. We had a good day discussing and praying. But our final analysis was sadly that there wasn't much we could do. I'll tell you why. The Christian music industry has become a cult unto itself. There are some things that the Christian music industry allows that the average church does not: Excessive use of alcohol, some drugs, sexual promiscuity which is more rampant than we would like to think, and a life that is not necessarily Godly behind the scenes. What's portrayed on the stage isn't what is happening in personal lives. At one point when the Christian music industry was owned by Christian people, there was a moral standard and foundation and if you did not have that standard, there were repercussions. Not that the moral standard always dictated the best of bands. The stories still fly about all the Gospel quartets and what they were all doing on the bus on the way back from a concert. But at least there was a moral standard and at least you knew when you were doing those sort of things, that it wasn't cool. Today, there are very few record companies that are owned by Christians. They are owned by secular conglomerations. Many times, the very people working on the albums are not Christians. There is not that same call for purity that there was back then. These days it's been "Clinton zed". Don't ask, don't tell. A few years ago, we saw some albums being pulled because a man who had won the Dove award had been caught in some sexual sin.  It happened not long after that to one of the ladies who was at the top of the CCM charts. Nothing was done. It's happened many times since then and it's old news now and no one cares. I think that's a big problem. Here's the solution: It has to come back to the church. The church needs to be responsible for the bands that come out of them. To a degree, in Sanctuary, the bands that I endorsed came out of my church. I had band meetings with them. I don't think there was enough done. I don't think I was able to disciple them the way that I really wanted to. There was so many bands and so many things going on. We were involved in every one of them.

But you knew where they stood spiritually, right?

Sometimes I didn't. Sometimes I was as surprised as anyone to find out what was actually going on. I had concert promoters calling me and saying, "You won't believe what your band is doing.." and I'm like, "Are you serious?".  So sometimes I didn't know. But sometimes I did. And when I did, sometimes it meant calling people on the carpet. Sometimes it meant band members leaving the band and being replaced, or whatever. But I think the churches have to get involved with bands again and have accountability. There needs to be a body of believers that are responsible for accountability, praying for a band, and sending them out and encouraging them. If a band doesn't have that structure, they're headed for some problems.

You are one of the first to actually offer some real world solutions to these problems, and I have asked that question many times. You hold a very unique title because you are considered to be a veteran in a ministry that surrounds "rock-n-roll". I'm sure you've been called everything in the book, from a radical to a cult leader. How have you dealt with that?

It's been real hard. I always tell God I'm a little too sensitive to be in this position, and I mean that. I've spent more than one time on my knees crying, asking the Lord to keep me going because it has been very painful. I remember the time watching Jimmy Swaggart on television when he called me "the heavy metal pastor from hell". And I loved Jimmy Swaggart. Members of Stryper became a Christian through his ministry.  I never had anything bad to say about his ministry. That really hurt. Others have taken that stand because it was the "proper" stand to take, not necessarily that they believed it. We've been called a lot of things. There were times when Christian book and record stores refused to carry our stuff because they labeled us "satanic". We've been called a cult way too many times. We have the longest doctrinal statement of any church or ministry you will ever find because of that. I want people to know where we stand. Others people expect us to be a cult or think that we have some cultic teachings, when we're probably more conservative than most churches out there. I think that has surprised a lot of people. Even though we have gone to great lengths to make sure that we're doctrinally where we need to be, and I think our teaching program is...I don't think any churches have had the commitment to teaching and discipleship as we have... but even so, we've been labeled a lot of things. There was a point where I started to say no to all the talk shows and interviews because it was becoming to painful and I don't think we were accomplishing anything. What we did was sort of shut ourselves off from listening to a lot of it, which may not be the right thing to do. Chuck Swindoll gave me some of the best advice I ever got. He said, "Don't read your negative mail." And he was right. It always bummed me out. I'd get 50 letters that said, "Thank You, I became a Christian through you ministry..." and I love those letters. We still get those kind. But there would be one letter saying, "I think you guys are satanic and I'm going to pray that God will shut you down..." and it would bother me all day. That's the one I would remember. Chuck Swindoll said he never reads his negative mail. His secretary opens his mail and he asks her not to let him see the negative mail, because it would affect him too much. I don't think that we live in an island where we aren't aware of what is going on. But to a degree, we did do that and more, and cut ourselves off from the mainstream churches because we found ourselves hurt by them a lot. A lot of people were hurt by them as well and that is why they came to Sanctuary. But we became too much of an island.

Are you affiliated or do you have ties to any other ministries like the ones you have mentioned, or TBN, or anyone. I know that Jim Laverde (music leader) has been playing music for the TBN revival last year...

We aren't affiliated with Paul and Jan Crouch, but Jim and some of the other guys are affiliated with Bill and Renee Morris. They travel with them some. They are great people. Doctrinally we're at a whole different place than TBN. As Sanctuary, we helped TBN open their teen club and it was broadcasted internationally. We considered doing a weekly program. We didn't feel like doctrinally that it was the place for us to go. I spent a lot of time thinking through that. I talked to Charles Stanley. He is a man I respect greatly. His program is carried on TBN as well and I asked him about any conflicts and how he felt about his program being on there. After weighing a lot of things, I just decided that was not the way God was calling us to go. As far as our heroes (if we can have some) are James Dobson, D. James Kennedy, Chuck Swindoll, Charles Stanley, and some of these guys I consider to be my mentors. They have blessed me greatly. I am involved in a church here in Nashville called Abundant Life fellowship where my accountability has been. It has been great to find that. As far as a national organization, no we haven't been.

You have told me you are in full-time ministry. You are not employed, or work full time. How do you survive?

I really never know. It never happens the same way two months in a row. God always provides. That is all I can say. I have some income from a few  things I do on the side. Not enough to sustain everything. But it just comes in. We've never asked for money. We never have. We still don't. That's always been kind of a sore point with the people we work with, so we just haven't. When we first started Sanctuary we passed around the plate, and it came back almost empty. I remember being a little frustrated and I asked the Lord, "How are we going to continue this ministry if people don't give?" and He said, "You see those people out there? They're not your source. I am, and as long as your eyes are on people, you're never going to have financial success..." So that is a hard question to really answer, because I never know how the money will come in.

Bob and Jim Laverde ( from Barren Cross). Just two old country fellas (yeah, right) enjoying the Tennessee sunshine.

Are you still in contact with those first bands that were there from the beginning?

I would say I am in contact with at least a member or two of a majority of them. I would love to be in touch with them all.

What do you think is your area of strength in the ministry?

Teaching. I love teaching. I hate being a pastor, because I don't play politics very well. And you have to do a lot of that as a pastor. But I love teaching the Word. I think I could probably do that 10 hours a day, 7 days a week if the Lord would let me. That's my passion. It always has been and always will be.

What is the most important piece of advice you would give to the new metal bands?

Find somebody that you respect that is spiritually mature and allow them to mentor you and listen to them. I think most mistakes are made because of their maturity spiritually.

This is important, because if you are going to be associated with Christian metal, you are basically saying that you have an evangelists heart. If you are not willing to take that title on, I don't think you should bother. I hear it so many times in the alternative scene about, "Why can't we just be artists and musicians on record labels? Why do we have to minister?"

Well, the answer is, "You can't" and still call yourself a minister. 

Well, that about answers all of my questions....

You didn't ask a Roger Martinez question.

I have a separate section on that, but I wanted to make sure you wanted to go there.

I don't mind at all. I expect that one.

I knew that you had written that column for HM magazine and you had written recently on your web site that the article was pretty much all you had to say on the subject. But there are some critical things that have not been answered.  You may not even be able to answer some of these questions....

Some of them, we may never have answers to...

I don't want to re-hash everything that has been said. But from your perspective, what really happened that caused the break up of Vengeance Rising?

Let me try and recall it the best I remember. We're talking a few years ago. I always feel like people are going to think I am dodging an issue because I say I can't  remember everything, but if you really understood the chaos during that time.. It was hard to keep up. Vengeance was kind of a project. I remember putting the band together. We called it quite a few things in the beginning. We were going to call it a "thrash opera". We were going to invent a style. I remember Roger riding in my car one day. We were talking about music and he said, "I'd like to do the singing for Vengeance...I've been listening to the thrash stuff and I like it and I think it is something I can do." I don't think it was my decision. I think it was the band and everyone was involved in that decision, and he was as well. I always had a lot of respect for Roger. Roger's dedication to the Word was wonderful. He knew the Word very well. I watched him minister to people and I thought, "I've never seen anyone minister to this generation that way he has". If you ever saw a Vengeance concert, he was phenomenal. He was very good. But there are some tough things. One of them was that not everyone that looks that part is the part. There were a lot of problems that we didn't see until probably a little too late. There was a point where I remember Roger and I having a meeting in my back yard, sitting and talking. I said, "Roger, you know you're traveling a lot with Vengeance and trying to pastor a church as well. I don't think you can do both. One of them has to go." I remember how adamant he was that he could keep up, that he could do it, and that he was okay. It was during a time when I didn't have the time to put into the relationship what it really needed. All of the things were things that I should have spotted had I spent enough time with him, but we were all just trying to keep up. There were so many people. I remember at one point suggesting to him that we merge the two fellowships. That the people from Hollywood would come to the South Bay church. Then I started getting phone calls and people started having concerns. His staff even approached me and said they were concerned about the things they saw happening. So we set up a meeting with his staff and with him and everybody, and he didn't show up. Instead, he resigned the next morning in the church service...just refused any kind of accountability. Then there was a time when the band found out some things that he was doing that weren't too cool. So we had a band meeting. He knew what the whole thing was going to be about so he didn't show up there either. That's when they decided to leave the band and that they were going to close the band down. They would start a new band called DIE HAPPY and go a whole new direction. At that time, Roger went to the record company, secured the name Vengeance Rising...everything behind everybody's back,  and then gave everybody a contract to everyone where he said that he would take over the responsibilities, the indebtedness, whatever. Everybody signed it and away they went.

So it was something that Roger initiated?

Yes. I know that one of things he says that they left him with a lot of debt and stuff. I don't remember everything that happened, but I remember that there WAS a contract where everybody signed away their rights to the band and gave them to him. I probably have that here somewhere...

So the formation of DIE HAPPY was simply a matter of the contractual obligations for the rest of the band or necessity?

Not necessity. I think a desire to go on with music. They felt like they were going a different direction than Roger was.

But to your knowledge, there was never any illegal activity by the band members or anyone affiliated with Sanctuary concerning falsified tax documents as Roger claims?

Nothing that I know of...NO. In fact, I think he did all of those documents. I really don't know but I don't know who else would have done them.

On page 2 of Rogers ten page document dated 1993, Roger states, "Over the past 2 years since the original members of Vengeance abandoned ship, I looked to sources that provided a false sense of hope. Ah, but there was my depression causing mistake. I looked to and relied on man instead of God."  What is he talking about there? I have heard lots of stories..

I've heard all of the rumors too, but I really don't know what happened then. During the time that he got real bad and all the stuff really hit hard was the same time that I went through my very difficult time and moved to Nashville. I pretty much turned everything off for a few years. I had too. But, I really don't know what happened there...

The gap I am trying to bridge is the fact that I received this letter in 1993, and supposedly Roger is still hanging on for dear life. Then, in 1995 a story breaks out about Roger from a magazine based in Atlanta that says Roger is trying to land a record deal for a "different" kind of Vengeance album and it described Roger as an atheist at that point. So something happened between 1993 and 1995. I am wondering what it was that "clicked". I refer to it as the point of insanity for lack of a better term. I mean, you don't just wake up one day and decide to be a raving blasphemer...

And that's the way a lot of people have described it. But this has been my experience with Roger: After he left the church and Vengeance and everything, I really hadn't talked to him in awhile. I wish I would have. Again, I think I was going through a difficult time and I kind of lost track of a few people during that time. I did have a conversation with Roger right before I moved from California. Probably a month or two before, which would have been the end of 1993. A powerful conversation where Roger did most of the talking. I had never heard Roger that way before. I had never heard him cuss and swear and all the things that he was doing on the phone with me at the time. That surprised me a lot and hurt a lot. It was the lowest time of my life, so I wasn't able to offer a lot to him. And very honestly, I've read a lot of things that Roger has to say about Christianity and about the things that bug him, and the things that he feels so strongly about. Some of the issues are the same ones I have. I'm a Christian though, so I've gone a different direction. But there are a lot of things about the church that bother me too...about traditional Christianity that are not Scriptural. I think there are a lot of Pharisees out there as well. So I can't say that Roger is totally wrong. I think his foundation is wrong. I would want him to follow the Lord and wish that he was, but I can't say that he is wrong on everything that he feels. But that conversation...I didn't sleep for days. His tone was screaming at me, it was loud. It wasn't the Roger I knew. That's the last correspondence I ever had with him.

Troy Harris (old pastor for Mortification) once asked the question, "how could such an unstable man attain the ministry in the Sanctuary?"

I would love to know the answer to that. I agonized over that for a long time because that was part of my failure too. Then my dad reminded me that Jesus had Judas. It is so hard to know somebody's heart. Personally, I still consider Roger to be my friend. I feel real badly about where he's at. I love him and I cherish the friendship that we've had in the past. I don't really know if I could carry a conversation with him right now. I think it would hurt too much. But he's in my prayers all the time, and I dare to love him.

Let's step back from the issue from Roger, and look at the much broader issue of eternal security. One of the things I am trying to do with CMR's documentary on Roger was to bring out this point and have people take a deeper look at this and make up their decision based upon Scripture. Roger's situation definitely brings up some hard questions. What are your thoughts on eternal security?

I believe very strongly in eternal security and I believe all of my teaching is based around eternal security. That's the thing that keeps us going in grace. Ruby, Roger's ex-wife was here visiting recently and I asked her the question, "Do you think Roger was ever a Christian?" because I don't know at this point. She said, "I feel like he was..." and I said, "Well then if he was, he still is." and both us looked confused and I'm not sure we ever answered the question.

Then he must be the most tormented person on the face of the earth.

That would be my answer, yeah.

With our documentary, we try not to take either position for Calvinism or the Armenian position. Of course, Dante added his bit of information and gave every reference to R.C. Sproul that exists on (laughs). We try to ask the readers the questions and have them pursue it on their own.

That's where we go doctrinally too (with R.C. Sproul). That is such a tough one to answer, and I don't think I could answer it without a lot of emotion being there as well. See, I remember some great times with Roger in prayer. Some times emotionally where I felt like we were connecting with the Lord together. I can probably look at the some things in his life in retrospect and say, "Well maybe there's this and this and this and maybe he wasn't a Christian.." but I think if I were to go that same route that Roger's gone today I'm sure people would look back on my life and say the same thing. My life has not by any means been perfect and Roger's wasn't either, so I think that's an easy cop-out, to say "Well, there was these things..." There are those things in all of our lives, but we're saved by grace. I believe that if you become a Christian, God never lets you go. And if Roger is a Christian today, it's my belief that Heb. 12 says those that the Lord loves, He disciplines. He's gonna be going after him and keep calling him home, and I pray that one of these days he comes back.

There has not been a day since I found out about this that I have not thought about Roger Martinez. I don't personally know him and have only been to a few Vengeance Rising concerts. I am by no means a huge fan of VR. But because of the difference the band, Sanctuary, and the Intense records had such an impact on my life that I have been burdened about this.

That's very cool.

Thanks for this opportunity.

Thank You.

Scott Moore and Pastor Bob. The metal take-over has begun.

And so, dear reader, we wrapped up this 3 hour interview and I drove away with a feeling of closure. There were a lot of things answered for me personally in this interview, but I think many of you have found out some of the mysteries surrounding all of this as well. Sanctuary's web site is growing by leaps and bounds in popularity, and things are once again focusing on the metal genre. We're very happy to hear about that. My hope is to continue working with Bob and helping out any way I can to see this generation gets discipled.

If you would like to find out  more information about Pastor Bob and Sanctuary, check out these web sites:

Sanctuary, INTL

Sanctuary San Diego - focuses more on the Goth movement

CMR documentary on Roger Martinez and Vengeance Rising - the most information you will find in one place about this band and the whole, sad saga of Roger Martinez.

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