Thinking Out Loud

July 11, 2011

Perry Noble Lays Down The Law

NewSpring Church pastor Perry Noble has declared that he’s had enough of people arriving to church late, criticizing the music, etc.  They also have a rule that if you have to leave the auditorium during the message you cannot re-enter.  And kids under 12 are not allowed in the service at all.  A little over-the-top authoritarian?  Here’s what FBC Jax Watchdog had to say:

It ain’t easy being a member these days at NewSpring Church pastored by Perry Noble – the rules, the regulations, the sheep beatings, the curses.

According to Perry Noble, you “officially suck as a human being” if you express to Perry that you are purposely late to church because you like his preaching but don’t care for the music style.

NewSpring members need to be careful that their church doesn’t begin to fall into the category of a cult. Cults often begin by having a very demanding, charismatic leader, they will require conformity with rigid extra-biblical rules, they will devalue outsiders and non-conformists, and they will suppress dissent.

You see all four of these beginning to emerge at NewSpring. Not saying they are a cult, but when the charismatic leader starts telling people that :

  • - they can’t come back into the auditorium after the sermon starts even if they leave to tend to a child or go to the bathroom;
  • - that you suck as a human being if you disagree with the pastor over music styles;
  • - you are not allowed to designate how your donations are spent;
  • - you must give 10% of your income to the church un-designated or God will curse you;
  • - parents cannot bring children younger than 12 years of age into the church services;
  • - you must show up to church on time or you can’t get into the church service;

…then you better begin to get concerned.

So I decided to check out the sermon video for myself.  Perry makes some good points.  People have become apathetic about arriving to church on time, while they would never think to be late for work, or a sports match.  And some people seem to have no problem about the people they are distracting when they sit near the front, need to leave, and then return.  As for the issue of kids, I agree with Perry that his sermons tend toward PG-13 content.

But some of it was very disturbing to listen to.  Is something else going on here?  Where is grace in all this?  Why give up an entire Sunday sermon to an apologetic for the church’s rules and regulations?  Let’s return to the FBC Jax Watchdog blog:

Lest you think that I’m overstating things by bringing up the word “cult” – don’t forget what happened to a critic of Perry Noble’s at the hands of staff members a few years back that is the subject of an on-going lawsuit. You see from the “you suck as a human being” quote how those who even mildly express dissent are devalued by the pastor. I would say it is this kind of rhetoric from the pastor towards dissenters that breeds the actions taken by a staff member against the Noble critic back in 2008 and 2009.

Perry Noble even tells the parents that if they don’t conform to the “authority” of the church leaders, they will breed rebelliousness in the hearts of their children . No, actually subjecting one’s self to non-biblical requirements for the pleasure of the pastor might teach your kids that they must endure spiritual abuse at the hands of an over-bearing preacher.

This is classic sheep beating. A pastor is to be the picture of humility and servant-hood for the people he shepherds, but instead Perry Noble is a stand-up comedian who makes jokes about troublesome church members, denigrates Christians who disagree with him, and lays down extra-biblical rules that are burdensome on people.Unfortunately in Perry Noble and other mega pastor superstars these days, we have professional religious men who have turned Christianity from its essence: the release of sinful men and women from the burden of having to try to please God with their works and their alms through simple faith in Christ – into a strict religious system that demands conformity to religious practices, tells people how they must think and what rules they must obey to be pleasing to God and their priest, and uses tactics of guilt and shame in the process. And, oh by the way, they get filthy rich while doing it.

I’m pretty sure that if Jesus were here, he would warn the people of NewSpring about the arrogant Perry Noble and his professional religious men and describe them as he did the Pharisees:

“They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.” (Mat 23:4)

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32 Comments »

  1. I go to a church (a Calvary Chapel) where it is requested that if you arrive after the sermon starts or if you know you will need to leave mid-sermon, there is a big screen TV and tables and chairs in an outer room where you can listen and not be a distraction. I love it that the sermon is respected and the Word honored enough to keep the comings and goings from pulling our attention away.

    We too have a rule that children under 12 learn better and are less distracted/distracting if they are hearing the Word and worshipping on their own level and so we request that they are not in the sanctuary. Our teaching/sermon is about an hour long so telling children that they don’t have to remain quiet all that time is a gift to parent and child and the congregation.I love that too.

    BUT it is all in the attitude isn’t it? Our “rules” are given in love and hopefully received in the same way. And , to be frank, if my pastor used the word “suck” in a sermon or public address I would lose respect for him immediately.

    Comment by Cynthia — July 11, 2011 @ 11:30 am

  2. The title of that sermon should have been, “I Would Rather Yell than Lead”. Every single issue (and there are some valid ones here) discussed could have been solved with humility and a servants heart. Example:

    1. Tardiness: Change your programming so that the sermon happens at the beginning of the service instead of the end. Do this randomly over a period of 6 months and boom…problem solved. Those that are still tardy after this always will be…get over it.

    2. Interruptions: Step one – put some TVs in the lobby. Step Two – put the announcement about the new procedure in the bulletin/screen/newsletter/etc. Step Three – gently announce this from the pulpit. Step Four – Implement with polite folks to politely encourage folks not to enter. Step Five – Get over yourself a good bit.

    3. Children in service: Remind your folks that the service they attend is geared toward them and their children under 6th grade probably won’t understand it and will be bored (like they probably were growing up). Take the opportunity to advertise your great children’s stuff that happens during that time and really shine up the folks that do that work.

    4. Complainers that will never be happy: Step one – Ignore them. Step Two: Repeat.

    Comment by christopherlt — July 12, 2011 @ 10:10 am

  3. Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
    Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

    I am thinking that some more rebuking is in order. That’s right pompous adults in the “big peoples” service, the kingdom belongs to such as them.

    Comment by Stuart Glass — August 18, 2011 @ 4:56 pm

  4. 3 John 1:9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.

    Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

    Matthew 13:25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

    Does our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ need to say more before it sinks in? How about this…

    2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

    Matthew 7:16-20 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

    Comment by Frank E — August 30, 2011 @ 12:48 pm

    • I decided to allow this comment so everyone could see a sample of the comments that get deleted. I have no dispute with any of the scriptures quoted here, but as a “comment” this goes absolutely nowhere. The author doesn’t say a word in his own voice, and it doesn’t advance the discussion one iota.

      Why do people do this? I don’t know. The last one is really strange, because there has, in fact, been much spiritual fruit from Perry’s ministry.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — August 30, 2011 @ 6:01 pm

  5. [...] reporting a single issue here, not trying to tear down someone’s ministry.) This blog covered the Perry Noble situation in [...]

    Pingback by Are Crying Babies and Noisy Kids in Church from The Devil? « Thinking Out Loud — September 1, 2011 @ 7:20 am

  6. Love my church (newspring) and my pastor (perry). You can chop up a video or only show a section to prove a point. Newspring is on a mission!

    Comment by Robby — October 23, 2011 @ 11:16 pm

    • Absolutely right. But as I stated in the article, I did actually watch the entire sermon.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — October 24, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

  7. 3500 people baptized in 2011. ’nuff said.

    Comment by dale339wdp — December 11, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

  8. There’s a major problem with this article, and that is the out of context Bible verse at the end. In the two verses immediately prior, Jesus is commanding His followers to do as the Pharisees tell them to. He THEN goes on to explain that His problem with the Pharisees is not the rules (which would be dumb, because Jesus Himself made those rules up IF you believe in the concept of the Trinity) but with the fact that they don’t keep the rules themselves, nor do they help other people to obey those rules in the spirit of grace in which Jesus came. I think Perry Noble is over the top and as you say, many of his rules are extra biblical which is a problem for some. However, your article offers no evidence that Perry Noble does not offer mercy FOR SIN or stand for grace FOR SINNERS. Pastors are supposed to be the picture of JESUS to the people they shepherd, not just the aspects of Jesus that people love to read about. The fact is, Jesus was harsh as often as he was gentle and He did not stand for even benign disagreement from His followers (Matthew 16:23). He’d put up with their sins, but that didn’t mean He didn’t call them out on those sins (John 6:70).

    You need to keep in mind two things. First, it’s Perry Noble’s flock, he is accountable to his master (Romans 14). He’s not accountable to you. As someone else pointed out, Perry Noble’s fruit is evident – he’s allowed to make extra biblical rules as long as they’re not ANTI biblical rules. Separate washrooms for men and women are extra biblical. That doesn’t make that rule wrong. Second, his authoritarian approach may be what is needed in order to start swinging the pendulum back so people can realize just where that narrow gate Jesus spoke of is. Grace is a pardon we can choose to accept, it’s not the excuse we love to project.

    Comment by Marshall — January 17, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

    • Since the verse in question is part of the original article, and is clearly part of the blockquote, I encourage you to copy your comment and paste it at the source.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — January 17, 2012 @ 5:57 pm

      • Ah, right you are. I hadn’t noticed the formatting. I shall do as you encourage. Even on the detailed read, it was hard to tell if you were endorsing the view expressed or not; I was under the impression you were looking for discussion on it. Apologies!

        Comment by Marshall — January 17, 2012 @ 11:59 pm

  9. My question to Dale would be baptized to what? Baptized to who? I would ask you to listen to another minister, take your pick. One who is respected and known for teaching the Bible in context, compare it to the teaching you are receiving. I think you’ll be surprised at the difference.

    Comment by Debbie Kaufman — January 20, 2012 @ 1:09 am

  10. Or better yet, take your Bible, read that entire chapter that Perry Noble gives, read more of the Bible, and compare it to what Perry Noble is teaching. Again, big difference.

    Cynthia: I disagree with Calvary Chapel for it’s legalism. The “rules” you have given just solidify my disagreement.

    Comment by Debbie Kaufman — January 20, 2012 @ 1:11 am

  11. One more point because this subject is so important. Numbers mean nothing. There are millions, billions of Mormons, Christian Scientists, etc. do those large numbers mean they are right in their teaching? No. Numbers mean nothing. Large numbers do not equal God’s blessing or that they are theologically right. It simply means that a large number of people believe what I would term false, “me” doctrine.

    Comment by Debbie Kaufman — January 20, 2012 @ 1:14 am

  12. I go to Newspring where Perry preaches. I can tell you that Newspring is not a cult! & if you go to Newspring just once you can feel God’s spirit there. He teaches the word of God.

    Comment by Karen Price — January 29, 2012 @ 12:52 am

  13. * – they can’t come back into the auditorium after the sermon starts even if they leave to tend to a child or go to the bathroom; That is because if you are focusing on people getting up and down in the auditorium, then you may lose site of God. It is to prevent distractions.
    * – that you suck as a human being if you disagree with the pastor over music styles; Well obviously you don’t know Perry Noble. These comments are not to slam anyone. People that go to church at New Spring know that. As far as the music goes, any type of music can be worship music. It’s always used in a respectable manner.
    * – you are not allowed to designate how your donations are spent; No, but when hundreds of school children get shoes and jackets at local schools, Food pantries getting filled to the brim, money sent for disasters and the list goes on a on….why would anyone complain about how donations are spent? That is selfish.
    * – you must give 10% of your income to the church un-designated or God will curse you; Well the Bible clearly says this. Perry doesn’t expect you to give to New Spring. He expects you to pick out a church, any church, get plugged into to it and give 10% as God commanded. If every church did this, there would be no hunger or homeless.
    * – parents cannot bring children younger than 12 years of age into the church services; Children under 12 are distracting, plus they have their own level of learning about Jesus that they might not understand being in the adult services. They have to be taught ways in which a child can understand. If there are crying children, then there are distractions. If people are sitting beside a crying child, how can they hear the Word and possibly be saved?
    * – you must show up to church on time or you can’t get into the church service; Again…Distractions, plus this is disrespectful. Where else do you show up late? Should church be an exception?

    Comment by Lynn — February 9, 2012 @ 11:05 pm

    • So how did Jesus survive preaching in conditions Noble would find deplorable?

      * outdoor venue with wind and/or burning hot sun?
      * people of all ages including the possibility of mothers nursing infants?
      * some acoustic advantage (i.e. teaching from a boat across water) but no sound system?
      * people needing to ‘use the facilities’ when there were no facilities?

      We know that Jesus taught in remote locations, large crowds followed him, the sermons often went long and there was no food service available.

      I like a lot of Perry’s vision. I’ve quoted him on this blog and we will continue to link to his material. But be very careful when someone wants to serve only under ideal conditions. This is referred to as serving under contract, instead of serving under covenant.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — February 9, 2012 @ 11:21 pm

      • Please, that whole comment is not very well thought out. He does these things to help facilitate people hearing the gospel. If he can control his enviroment he should. Jesus didn’t need a building either nut I bet you meet im a building that has central air and a roof to keep the weather out, by your logic Jesus would ne appaled at this

        Comment by Ben Hibberts — March 9, 2012 @ 9:05 am

      • No, actually now it’s your logic that’s wrong. You can’t possibly find a basis here for me saying that Jesus would be opposed to anyone preaching under modern conditions (i.e. sound system, air conditioning, etc.) That’s just not in what I’m saying.

        Furthermore, keep in mind, I just reported this because it was making news elsewhere. Only three paragraphs in the post are original.

        But also keep in mind we wouldn’t be having this discussion were it not for three things:

        *The fact Perry devoted an entire sermon to this instead of making a simple announcement like every other preacher would have done.
        *The way he went about it, and the underlying attitude(s) that accompanied the sermon
        *That it got picked up by bloggers around the U.S. and beyond because it clearly crossed several lines.

        Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — March 9, 2012 @ 10:40 am

    • This is completely and unquestionably asinine. Children will learn what’s expected of them. Only a serious @$$ would tell families they couldn’t worship together.

      Comment by jonathanthehymnsinger — May 6, 2012 @ 9:47 pm

  14. I went to one service at NewSpring. My husband and I were invited. When we got there, we were met by “radio-ed” parking attendants who directed us to a parking spot. Then, walking into the “church” we were met by several people gushing their “Welcomes” and “Glad to have you with us-es.” It felt like we were in a Stepford Wives alternate universe! Everyone with big, creepy smiles on their faces. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to be welcomed, but it was the slimy, used-car-salesman aura that gave us pause. I don’t mind at all using the term “cult.” After speaking with members of his “flock” out in the community, I totally believe if Perry Noble told them to drink poison-laced kool-aid, they would stumble over each other to get to the altar!

    Comment by Roberta Smith — March 26, 2012 @ 9:43 pm

    • Well, let’s hope that doesn’t happen!

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — March 26, 2012 @ 9:48 pm

    • Roberta Smith, are you for real? “Used-car-salesman aura”? I have seen four entire families who have had their lives changed by attending NewSpring. If you believe people would drink poison laced Kool-Aid because he asked them to, you need to step back and maybe re-read some of his sermons. He has reached troubled teens and changed their lives for the better, does that make him a bad guy? NO! People connect with him. He isn’t fake by parading around a stage pretending to be flawless and never having had sinned. He is a guy who let’s people get to know that he too is as human as we are. He doesn’t expect us to put on our “Sunday best” or we are awful human beings, he doesn’t care if you show up in your pj’s…his point is simply spreading the word of God. He admits mistakes, and he has a sense of humor. Maybe you just aren’t capable of seeing and accepting he is doing a lot of good. Cult? You really are traveling down the wrong road!

      Comment by JenK — February 28, 2013 @ 6:22 am

    • That is so silly, I respect the fact you didn’t care for the church, but if you didn’t don’t go back. What is the point of saying poisoning people at church? I am a member of Newspring and I love my church! I feel the love of God every Sunday. I’m not controlled by Perry but I am controlled by the Holy Spirit and that is what it’s all about. Dogging another church is just wrong!

      Comment by mary — November 18, 2013 @ 6:56 am

  15. As for the comment by Karen Price re: feeling God’s spirit after attending just one service: I certainly felt nothing of the sort, and furthermore cannot even recollect the sermon, but I do remember he was very condescending and repeated everything at least three times as though we were just a bunch of dullards who were incapable of seeing his point! Needless to say, we will not return!

    Comment by Roberta Smith — March 26, 2012 @ 9:51 pm

    • I believe strongly that it takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people. Some people just naturally gravitate to an authoritarian type of leadership. It’s too bad that you didn’t walk away sensing grace, mercy and love. Normally, I’d say, ‘Perhaps it was an off day, give them another try.’ But maybe not. I don’t think the repeating three times thing is condescending as much as it is his ‘shtick.’ But if it struck you as condescending then it failed.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — March 26, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

      • I LOVE NEWSPRING and Perry!!! To each their own and why judge?? If it doesn’t work for you move on and stop criticizing….. PEACE

        Comment by katiesho — April 9, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

      • Uh, no; not so fast. Why judge? Because when a local church pastor rises to national prominence, what they say and do affects all of us. They are held to a higher accountability.

        Mind you, if he were considered “fringe,” we might all ignore him. But we value his place at the table, and we care.

        Faithful are the wounds of a friend.

        Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 9, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

    • Sounds like it isn’t a church for you, but it doesn’t make it a cult. It means you haven’t found “your church”.
      Or…maybe you are too critical to give any church a chance to reach you. Because it isn’t for you, doesn’t make it an awful place of worship with an awful pastor, it means you didn’t connect with him. Move on…

      Comment by JenK — February 28, 2013 @ 6:27 am

  16. Very wary of this man centered pastor and his watered down gospel.

    Comment by Nancy Breedlove — July 8, 2013 @ 5:59 am

  17. I love going to Newspring, and I love any pastor that speaks there. Perry is awesome, but so is Clayton King. My advice is simple, try it and if you don’t like it then don’t go back. I’ve tried plenty before finding Newspring now I know this church is for me, but you won’t see me criticizing all the other churches I attended. Move on to another church that suits you.

    Comment by mary — November 18, 2013 @ 7:07 am


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