My stomach sank on Friday night when I first read that Perry Noble might be fired by NewSpring Church. I hoped this was the worst PR stunt of all time, that Perry would scold all of us on Sunday morning to not believe rumors propagated through social media, and we’d all be slightly chagrined and a little angry at being sucked into such an awful practical joke. But it wasn’t a stunt or a joke. Sunday morning Shane Duffey, an Executive Pastor at NewSpring, announced that Perry had been fired. He then read a letter from Perry explaining that an unhealthy reliance on alcohol had let to this day, and that he will now focus on healing and health for he and his family.
After pouring his heart and soul into ministry, Perry has been disqualified to lead a church he started in his living room. Perry’s influence with leaders around the world has been permanently diminished. NewSpring staff face an uncertain future, and attenders are angry, confused and disillusioned with their pastor and their church. There is no bright side.
This isn’t a post about the lessons we can learn about Perry’s fall from grace. I don’t have warnings for the future, I don’t have advice for church leaders. I don’t know why Perry failed. I don’t know why NewSpring fired him. I don’t know how we can prevent things like this in the future, and I don’t know what is wrong with the American church that things like this keep happening.
All I feel is sadness. So many people in South Carolina found hope and freedom under Perry’s preaching. So many church leaders were encouraged and challenged by Perry’s teaching. At a conference in Atlanta this past April I was convicted again as I listened to Perry teach practical ministry lessons from the 23rd Psalm. I didn’t always agree with Perry’s method or tone, as I’m sure he wouldn’t always agree with mine, but Perry was an amazing voice for the Kingdom. Now, at least for a time and maybe forever, that voice has been silenced. Perry’s family is humiliated and Perry’s church is wounded. This is a time to mourn.
When a soldier is mortally wounded his comrades don’t analyze his mistakes or castigate his commander. They reach out to his family and mourn his loss. Perry has lost his ministry and NewSpring has lost their pastor. Rather than assigning blame and drawing conclusions what if we simply spend some time grieving with and for our brothers and sisters.