Perry Noble, the founding pastor of NewSpring Church, has been removed from that office by his megachurch’s board of directors and the pastoral advisory team. Perry had a huge following, with an average attendance of 30,000 at 17 campuses across South Carolina, as well as a television ministry that reached perhaps hundreds of thousands more.
Megachurch Pastor Perry Noble’s friendly and down to earth style was at the heart of building a megachurch from a small home bible study that started in 1998. It began as a tiny meeting in his apartment, but in only six weeks, it had grown to 150 people. His first NewSpring church started 16 years ago in the Sullivan building of Anderson University, on January 16, 2000.
NewSpring Church completed its first official building in 2006. The church had 2,360 seats, but the congregation rapidly grew to 8,000 people, according to Greenville Online. Since then the church’s growth has spiraled into a megachurch, and Pastor Noble’s life has recently spiraled out of control.
Perry Noble will be replaced by Clayton King as interim pastor until a suitable replacement for Perry can be found. It will not be an easy fit, pleasing Pastor Nobel’s vast congregation of loyal parishioners. Nobel’s folksy speaking style and humble approach to teaching led to amazingly rapid growth in the South Carolina megachurch.
State Representative Anne Thayer, who has attended NewSpring since it was a small church of fewer than 200 people, described the megachurch’s loss of Pastor Noble as devastating, according to the Independent Mail. Other members explained that their pastor had a way of relating to people that reached them, and that people felt comfortable there wearing t-shirts and jeans. The music was modern, and at times secular.
If He brought good out of the cross – then He can bring good out of our circumstances. pic.twitter.com/44K5384tiA
— Perry Noble (@perrynoble) June 16, 2016
Perry Noble’s heartfelt goodbye was read to the megachurch this Sunday morning, according to Charisma News, along with an announcement from the megachurch’s board of directors.
“Over the course of several months, our executive pastors met with and discussed at length with Perry these concerns regarding his personal behavior and spiritual walk. Perry’s posture toward his marriage, increased reliance on alcohol, and other behaviors were of continual concern.”
Removing Perry Noble from his own megachurch was a difficult decision. Board members informed Pastor Noble their decision was effective on July 1, but guest speakers Brad Cooper and Clayton King had filled in for Perry for the two following Sundays, keeping the decision quiet. The congregation was only notified July 10, yesterday morning during worship service, according to Charisma News.
“Due to this, the executive pastors confronted Perry and went through the steps of dealing with sin in the church as outlined in Matthew 18. Because Perry chose not to properly address these issues and did not take the necessary steps toward correcting them, he is no longer qualified as outlined in 1 Timothy 3 and the church bylaws to continue at NewSpring Church.”
Pastor Perry Noble’s failings in recent months included alcohol abuse, which seems to be the megachurch board’s main if not only complaint. First Timothy 3, when outlining the requirements of overseeing a church, does state plainly that church leaders cannot be “given to drunkenness.” Or, in modern language, they can’t be habitually drunk. Occasional drinking is permitted in many, but not all, churches, but drinking to excess is considered sinful behavior.
“We will continue to love Perry and his family during this difficult time, and we are committed to continuing to pray for his healing, and we are also committed to continuing to provide personal support to Perry and his family in the days ahead.”
Perry Noble is under psychiatric care, according to Christian Post. They cite that the NewSpring megachurch confirms that Pastor Noble is seeking help for his addiction to alcohol. There were no specific details, though. NewSpring is attempting to protect the Noble family and keep their privacy. Perry himself says he is under the care of a psychologist, but there is no indication he has entered rehab or what other measures he may have taken to seek help.
“Though we know you may want more details to satisfy your curiosity, to do so would not be helpful to Perry or his family as they take these next steps. Our faith remains strong, rooted in the power and the promises of Jesus Christ, and the gospel gives us hope that Perry and his family can experience healing. The same gospel also gives us confidence that NewSpring Church will continue to make a difference in our state. In the coming weeks, we ask that you join us as a church family in continual prayer for Perry, his family, and our church. We do believe the best is yet to come.”
Perry Noble also penned a statement to be read to the congregation this Sunday morning. It was an affectionate and characteristically frank goodbye note to those he had served for 16 years. Apparently heading the megachurch had recently proven difficult for Pastor Perry, who had turned to alcohol rather than scripture and prayer as he normally would.
“Hello NewSpring, I hope you had an amazing week and I know the service today is going to be awesome. However, I come to you with a heavy heart to let you know that effective July 1, I will no longer be the senior pastor of NewSpring church. I wish this were a joke or a part of a sermon illustration; however, it’s true. I’ve often told you that NewSpring exists to help hurting, imperfect people.”
Perry Noble has always been frank about the fact that he is one of those imperfect people. His speaking style is very colloquial and folksy. He openly admits his own faults, mistakes, and humble beginnings, in a manner that frequently evokes laughter from the congregation.
Perry Noble, at times, enters the realm of stand-up comedy in his exciting sermons, as he tells some really funny stories in order to drive home his point. It certainly would be possible that he would have used such an illustration in one of his messages. Unfortunately, this is no sermon illustration, Perry says it is true.
“I have joked that you should not attend NewSpring if you are already perfect because I will mess you up. That was my way of telling you I am traveling on a journey each day alongside each and every one of you to try and take my next step to become more like Jesus. If you’ve attended NewSpring for any length of time, you know I’ve never claimed to be the perfect pastor or even the perfect Christian. What we’ve seen the Lord do over the last 16 years has been a modern-day miracle.”
Perry Noble Continued, explaining that he had been obsessed and driven by his desire for megachurch growth and those goals had come at a great personal cost. This evangelical leader made ministry his top priority until he developed a problem.
“However, in my obsession to do everything possible to reach 100,000 and beyond, it has come at a personal cost in my own life and created a strain on my marriage.”
Pastor Perry Noble explained that he had always been a social drinker, not a drunk but in the past year, his drinking and need for alcohol had increased very suddenly. His work suffered, as evidenced by a decrease in the number of blog posts on the megachurch’s website according to Greenville Online. During the first three months of 2016, Pastor Noble published 51 posts, then in April there were only 9, in May only 6, and none in June. His marriage was also suffering though it is unclear in exactly what way.
“In my opinion, the Bible does not prohibit the use of alcohol, but it does prohibit drunkenness and intoxication. I’ve never had a problem drinking alcohol socially, but in the past year or so I’ve let myself slide into, in my opinion, the overuse of alcohol. This was a spiritual and moral mistake on my part, as I began to depend on alcohol for my refuge instead of Jesus and others.”
Pastor Perry Noble makes no indication, what may have led to this sudden spiral into addiction, but people in ministry are well aware of the constant pressures, and stresses. If congregation size magnifies those pressures, being a spiritual leader to 30,000 souls must be overwhelming.
“I have no excuse. This was wrong and sinful, and I’m truly sorry. For those disappointed in me, let me assure you that no one is more disappointed in me than myself. I realize that I cannot continue to do effective ministry if this issue in my personal life is not adequately addressed. I plan to immediately seek the spiritual guidance of some amazing men and women of God in my life, and I am currently under the treatment of an excellent psychologist who is helping me take some major steps forward.”
Perry Noble is seeking help for his problems and is seeking to resolve his issues. There is some hope that he will recover and eventually return to the ministry, whether at NewSpring or elsewhere.
“Let me be very clear, neither Lucretia nor I have committed any sort of sexual sin. I have not stolen money. I have not been looking at porn. And there is absolutely no domestic abuse. This is the story, period. I simply need to address an issue that has gotten out of hand in my life.”
Perry Noble confirms that Alcohol is the one main issue that has gotten out of hand. He and his wife are still faithful to one another, he hasn’t stolen or been violent. Still, a serious alcohol addiction is not something that is tolerated in ministry. Some churches don’t even allow alcohol at all. Noble will have to confront his issues and deal with them before he can continue in the ministry.
“I receive this decision as from the Lord, as I trust the leadership of NewSpring Church, and I ask you to join me in trusting them as well.”
Perry Noble’s wife Lucretia supports the board’s decision to remove her husband as senior pastor 100 percent, according to Greenville Online. Pastor Noble accepts their decision as well.
“I still believe NewSpring is the greatest church in the world. I still believe our children’s ministry is going to provide Jesus on the level of the children who attend there. I still believe the next generation will be loved and invested in, and I know every Sunday in our church, lives will be changed as Jesus is exalted and the gospel is declared.”
Perry Noble tries to remain positive and hopeful in an uncertain future. Pastor Noble has not given up, far from it, as he enters a phase of healing and personal development following a lapse into alcoholism. While tragic, his loss may only be temporary and it is hoped that Pastor Noble will recover.
“As for me, I’m uncertain as to what my next step is. The one thing I know: I am going to put 100 percent of my time and effort into becoming the best father and husband I can become. I would ask that you pray for my family and me as we seek out what’s next in our lives. I’ve preached that the best is yet to come for 16 years. I can’t say it for you. I must receive it as well. I don’t know what’s around the corner, but I know Jesus isn’t finished with me yet and He’s not finished with NewSpring Church. I love you and always will. I’m really sorry and ask you to forgive me.”
Pastor Perry Noble and his wife Lucretia request prayer for themselves and for the South Carolina megachurch NewSpring.
[Image via Perry Noble/Facebook]