Perry Noble is the founding pastor of a mega church New Spring (30K members with 18 satellite campuses) in Greenville, SC. He was fired on July 1 (just announced yesterday) for his poor behavior due to alcohol and his life being out of control. http://www.greenvilleonline.com/…/perry-noble…/86915826/
I am very saddened over the Perry Noble firing. I’ve never met him but I have certainly heard about his ministry. This story is incredibly tragic and my heart breaks for the church and very impressionable new believers. This is very contrary to what many have said but, I don’t think firing him was the best thing. Why not a medical leave? If his alcoholism is a sickness, why not give him a medical leave like he would receive if he had cancer.
This could have been a huge redemptive win for the church. What a great statement the church could have said to the world: “As many of you face the same struggle of alcoholism, we are going to rally around our founding pastor as he receives the treatment he needs. We are a redemptive church! Instead of kicking him out and as long as he is willing, we will walk beside our brother in Christ to seek the help he needs. We look forward to the day when he will be restored and return as our leader.”
I get it when the pastor is caught having an affair or stealing money or beating his wife. End of the story. Must resign. Separation from the church ministry must take place. Alcoholism? Seems to be a medical issue. I don’t drink and would not recommend it to others but hurt for those whose life is wrecked by it.
The pastor is a follower of Christ and a member of the church. His role is different but not greater than others. The requirements for being an elder/pastor are high (1 Timothy 3:2-7; Titus 1:7) and should be. “Not addicted to wine” is listed but I ask where is the grace? I recognize don’t ask a drunk become your pastor but if while he is the pastor he struggles with alcohol, couldn’t the church care for him and his family and get help? If a deacon was found to be addicted to alcohol and he admitted his problems, I believe the church would have responded much differently. They would have followed Matthew 18 and confronted his sin. If he was then willing, they would have sought help for him.
Too often the pastor is viewed as the “hired help.” Church leaders say, “We followed the HR handbook and gave him (minister) two written warnings. Now he is on his third and he must go.” Where is the grace and redemption? Where are the body of believers, the hands and feet of Jesus? Where is the family of God in a local body? Perry Noble is the founder of this church and has given his all to the body. Is he wrong and struggling with an addictive sin? Yes he is but don’t be shocked if you look around and realize so are the elders, deacons, and church members.
How will this end up? My guess is the church may crumble due to having 18 satellite churches and an enormous budget ($65 million I read). Perry Noble and his family will end up outside of their church family and statistically their marriage is seriously at risk of divorce. He is now on the black list of churches and ministries due to the label of alcoholic. He certainly needs time to be in recovery and treatment. Will he be able to use his considerable and God given gifts in a church ministry in the future? Not sure but sadly there are too often many man made obstacles and judgments to overcome for it to happen. His previous books will probably end up in most pastors’ dumpsters. How does he provide for his family? It will definitely have to be outside of vocational ministry and will become a difficult fit. Sell insurance? Corporate Sales? Real Estate?
My prayers go out to the Perry Noble, the Noble family, NewSpring, and their members. I just wished there was a different ending to the announcement released yesterday.