We are not doing this to gloat or bring pain to him or his family but there are some teaching moments found in this situation.
After a week of whispers that he had been fired, NewSpring Church, a popular megachurch in South Carolina with a weekly attendance of 30,000, confirmed Sunday that Perry Noble, the church’s founding and senior pastor, has been fired for alcohol abuse and other “unfortunate choices and decisions” and is currently under psychiatric care.
First, we do not think this is the case but whenever a pastor, church leader or even a regular member of the church is punished by the church, we cannot do it to ‘appear’ spiritual or keeping the spiritual nature of the church.This kind of action tends to pervert justice and brings the exact opposite solution that was aimed for by bringing the dismissal or punishment.
If we are going to punish then we must make sure a violation has actually occurred and it is not being used as an excuse to get rid of someone a person does not like. Then we must be just, not make an example of someone, and if mercy is called for we apply mercy even if others do not think it is warranted. We make sure the punishment fits the crime and in this day and age the trend is to go for the ultimate penalty even when that punishment is far too severe for the offense committed. People have become lazy or they do not want to face criticism for being too soft, etc., but so what. We answer to God for our disciplinary measures thus we need to give multiple chances to those offenders before they finally do something that merits dismissal.
Second, if you a called to be a pastor or steward of God’s flock then you must make sure that you are actually following God’s word correctly and deserve such a calling. This does not mean that pastors will be sinless, but their attitudes should be in line with God;s word and they should know what to do when they err. They should not be using God’s word to justify certain behaviors that allow them to participate in sinful activities.
The body is the temple of God thus certain alcoholic drinks are not allowed for they are pure poison to the body. This means that drinking alcohol should be off-limits to church leaders, except for a little wine as Paul instructed.
He explained that the church tried for several months to help Perry after confronting him about his issues but he refused to take correction so they were forced to make the “painful” move.
Third, Church congregations should be prepared to make the difficult decisions.No matter how beloved a pastor is or a church leader is, if they err they need to be corrected and if they do not hear you then other actions need to be taken, as exampled by the above quote. Beloved spiritual leaders cannot be given a pass on their indiscretions for that is more damaging to the church than disciplining them would be.
of course, this does not mean we go on a witch hunt and dispose of every church leader who is accused of sinning. Spiritual discretion is needed and God’s guidance needs to be followed before removing church leaders. We act correctly not vindictively or irresponsibly.
That was my way of telling you that I am travelling on a journey each day alongside each one of you to try to take my next step to become more like Jesus,” he said.
Fourth, this is NOT the attitude to have as a leader. You are leading people to the truth thus you just already be there if you want to bring people to their destination. You cannot lead if you do not know where you are going. It does no one any good if you try to ‘identify’ with those you are leading because you are merely advertising that you have nothing to offer anyone.
Many years ago, I encountered a young intern in a local church who was in charge of an outreach to street youth He started a coffee-house and advertised it as follows: ‘…we are just like you, trying to figure this whole life thing out.’ Sadly, he was telling the street youth that he did not have any answers for them and he could not lead them away from their problems.
We do not focus on identifying with those we are called to lead. We were rescued out of those aspects of life and now we are to lead others to the same answers. We focus on how to lead people to where they need to go and that takes a lot of prayer and a lot of listening to God. We do not say we do not have the answers because we do and we serve the God who has all the answers. If we do not believe that and know that he has all the answers then we cannot lead others nor have anything to offer anyone.
However in my obsession to do everything possible to reach 100,000 and beyond, it has come at a personal cost to my own life and created a strain on my marriage,” he continued.
Fifth, goals… When goals started to become a fad in the late 70s early 80s God seemed to be demoted to a supportive role instead of a master giving the direction. In other words, we look to God to provide us with what we want to achieve instead of looking to God to see what he wants us to achieve. Our focus is then taken off God and we do not revere him as much as we struggle to reach our personal desires instead of living as God wants and reaching his objectives.
Many evangelistic efforts fall into this category as denominations try to double their number of churches, or reach a certain amount of people. It would be better if believers set goals of living as God would want and let him bring the achievements to us. We focus on becoming better believers instead of goal orientated people where the instructions of God are swept aside or made inferior to our desires.
King David was punished for conducting a census so we must be cautious and not let our goals develop the same pride in us as did happen in David, an attitude that God punished. Goals of humility go a lot further than goals of achievement.
In a statement to the church read by Duffey, Perry said he wished the announcement was “a joke” and apologized to the church for his actions and noted that he was currently under psychiatric care.
Sixth, we skipped this one but still need to address this issue. When it comes to psychiatric care we need to be careful that we do not follow any secular advice or ideas. Psychiatry is not necessarily Christian and not necessarily the action God wants a believer to take. Most importantly a Christian should never go to an unbelieving psychologist or psychiatrist.
Sometimes, a good friend is all a person needs to get their life back on track.
Perry was also quick to point out that none of the other “unfortunate choices and decisions” that he was fired for involved inappropriate sexual behavior or spouse abuse.
Seventh, this is good to hear but even if this was the case, we believers need to remember, before we take any disciplinary action, to ask ourselves one question: where would we be if God did not give us second, third, twenty, fifty and so on chances? We need to remember that we are not better than the one who committed the violation and in need of discipline for we have committed our own violations which God has forgiven us for. That fact should temper our own attitudes towards others who make mistakes stray from the truth or fall into evil’s traps.
We are not hear to be condescending, haughty, judgmental or even condemnatory for we are not perfect and we make similar mistakes if not worse than those who are famous and who have their sins blasted around the world. We are not better and we must keep that in mind when we have to discipline others, even our children.