Celebrity pastors are selling their pulpits for commercial gain 37

What would you think of a pastor who preached to his church in front of billboards advertising the newest Cadillac or Monster Energy drinks? Would you find it acceptable for a pastor to paste advertising all over the stage, filling the space with branded messages in the finest traditions of NASCAR?

Would it make it any better if the pastor was pocketing money from these ads?

Steven Furtick surrounds his pulpit with branded ads for his book.

Steven Furtick surrounds his pulpit with branded ads for his book.

The thought is disgusting, but it is happening all the time, and it’s time we started pointing it out and objecting to the commercial corruption of the pulpit. While a lot of deserved attention is being paid these days to the deceptive marketing behind many celebrity pastors’ books, another aspect of the whole endeavor reveals the primacy of commercial interests. Not only are pastors not telling the truth about how they’re earning money, they’re not proclaiming the truth until and unless they’re earning money.

It takes a long time to write a book, and even longer to get the manuscript into readers’ hands. From the genesis of an idea, it can easily take a year for a book to go on sale. For example, Perry Noble wrote his final chapter for his Unleash book in early December 2009, but the book didn’t go on sale until late September 2010. Judging by the book blurbs and breathless celebrity endorsements, these books contain Big Important Ideas that every Christian needs to read Right Now!

Mark Driscoll preaches in front of his book logo.

Mark Driscoll preaches in front of his book logo.

Fair enough, but why do these writers keep their Big Important Ideas hidden from their own congregations until they have the privilege of paying $19.99 at the church gift shop for their pastors’ wisdom? Why not offer the results of their church-funded research to God’s people as soon as they were confident enough to put it to paper? The scheduling of branded sermon series with book releases is so common that it’s almost unremarkable, and while they preach, they routinely plaster their stages and church websites with what are essentially ads for products being sold by secular publishing companies.

Consider the following celebrities, sermons and publication dates.

AuthorBook/Sermon TitleBook Release DateSermon Series DateTypical Blurb
Perry NobleUnleash!Sept 20, 2011Sept 16, 2011Each chapter is chock full of practical wisdom you can immediately apply to experience a breakthrough in areas you thought could never change. (Rick Warren)
Ed YoungSexperimentJan 10, 2012Jan 8, 2012If you want to experience all of the pleasure and happiness God intended for your marriage, this book is a must-read. (Steven Furtick)
Steven FurtickGreaterSept 4, 2012Sept 8, 2012If you are ready for a life-altering experience with Jesus Christ, pick up a copy of Greater. (James MacDonald)
Mark DriscollReal MarriageJan 3, 2013Jan 15, 2013One of my greatest concerns is that ... the church is going to simply sit on the sidelines and react rather than seeking to actually become proactive by confidently teaching what the Bible has to say about [marriage]. (Perry Noble)
Steven FurtickCrash the ChatterboxFeb 11, 2014Feb 8, 2014These four confessions will free you to embrace the life God has called you to live. (Andy Stanley)
Perry NobleOverwhelmedApril 1, 2014If you're looking for answers to the everyday struggles of life, you'll find hope and help for difficult days reading Overwhelmed. (Rick Warren)

This list could easily get much longer, but you get the idea. One particularly jarring aspect of this is the appeal to the reader’s readiness. Rick Warren promises that we can immediately apply Noble’s teachings to achieve impossible breakthroughs. Perhaps, though Noble held out on his congregation for a year before teaching them those useful promises. In his own blurb for Driscoll, Perry Noble worries about the church sitting on the sidelines and not teaching about marriage, while Driscoll does exactly that, sitting on the sidelines waiting for his book to hit stores. Warren also tells us that Noble’s forthcoming book will help us overcome difficult days, though Noble is content to leave his own congregation struggling with their problems until April Fools Day (no kidding).

(Note: Noble preached a sermon series called “Overwhelmed” from February to April in 2012, though the table of contents of the book appears to be substantially different from the 2012 series.)

One interesting aspect of Noble’s new book is his recent revelation about taking antidepressant medications, an admission for which he was widely praised for his transparency. Noble says he realized while writing his new book that he couldn’t fight his mental illness (his characterization) without medication.

After a lot of prayer I decided to write a book about my battle and what I learned about Jesus and His faithfulness. However, as I began the writing process the feelings of anxiety and worry began to slowly slither back into my life like a snake sneaking up on it’s prey.

I remember writing a chapter in the book, driving home and having a panic attack in my living room.

About three days later I took my daughter to a restaurant for lunch and found myself feeling like I could not breathe and that the walls were closing in on me.

I sympathize with Noble and think no less of him as a person for taking medication, and admitting that he does so might help a lot of people in similar situations. What made Perry decide to tell us this important and helpful news now, though? There was certainly no hint of it in the updates he gave us while he was actually writing the book. Contrast these messages from the writing process with what he now tells us happened as he wrote:

Sitting down to write chapter one in the new book coming out next year, prayers appreciated! 🙂

Chapter one done! Yes!!!!!!!!

Thanks so much for your prayers, another chapter done! I’m pumped!

Hey tweets, could use your prayers today, writing the last chapter in my new book!!! Excited!!!

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, he says about his panic attack and medications in the book, but if he decided back then that taking medication was not something to be embarrassed about, why did he sit on the information from at least last May until now? He is a minister, after all. How many people in his congregation have endured unnecessarily unmedicated misery thinking they were following the brave example of their pastor? The reason for Noble’s transparency is quite obvious when you consider it in light of the marketing effort now ramping up for the book.

  • Feb 5. Tweets with #overwhelmedbook start appearing on Twitter, including one by a NewSpring staff member who posts a photo of a highlighted page of the book. Noble describes him as a member of his dream team, which may be a reference to his group of personal assistants.
  • Feb 5. Noble starts promoting his book on Twitter.
  • Feb 20. Noble tweets an unsettling photo of him with his new book.
  • Feb 24. Noble tweets the link to his antidepressant blog post.
  • Feb 26. The Huffington Post and the Christian Post report on Noble’s antidepressants, with links to or videos from the Overwhelmed book.

I am not criticizing Noble for taking helpful medicine, but the way that he timed his announcement for maximum marketing effect makes his bravery and transparency considerably less noble than if he’d told us last year when there was no financial payoff tied to it. The only benefit of an announcement back then would have been to suffering souls in his congregation, but that doesn’t pay as handsomely as book sales do.

What we are seeing, now that we’re all getting a glimpse into the unsavory world of celebrity pastoral publishing, is that book publishing matters to these guys more than preaching. The profitability of Scriptural teaching in 2 Timothy comes second to the profitability that can be created from flashy marketing.

The common practice of delaying preaching for the sake of publishing has a couple of disadvantages and one important advantage:

Disadvantage: It abandons the sheep

Jesus told Peter to feed his sheep. Paul told Timothy to preach the Word. Multnomah Books told Pastor Steven to do neither until bookstores started counting sales for the New York Times. (It happens so consistently that I wonder if preaching a sermon series on a new book is a contractual obligation.) For all the insistence that the blurb writers press on us that we must read these books Right Now, the authors are willing to wait for a year or so before preaching this essential wisdom to their own people.

Pastors ought to write books, but they should fulfill the role of pastor first. Shouldn’t books come from things that have already been taught profitably in the church? A good shepherd does not hide useful teaching from his church until the week that the teaching becomes financially and personally profitable to him.

Disadvantage: It’s ethically conflicted

Sermon series are postponed until a book’s commercial release to drive sales by members of the author’s congregation. Pastor-authors are earning money from the church’s regular tithes and offerings, then supplementing that with the royalties that flow to them from book sales. We know that churches are careful not to overpay their pastors with tax-exempt charitable donations, so they use the profits from book sales to boost the pastor’s total compensation package without drawing unnecessary scrutiny from the IRS.

Where this gets especially murky is when the churches participate in the marketing process itself, apparently spending tithe money on the books, essentially laundering charitable giving into commercial profit. The difference is that the pastor can only be paid a limited — though still very high — amount of charitable money, but an unlimited amount of commercial money. Money given to a tax-free entity is being used to purchase commercial goods from the person in charge of that charity/church. It looks and smells bad.

Advantage: It reveals priorities

Preaching on topics only when they know they’ll get royalty payments does tell us what’s important to these pastors and brings into question whether they are qualified for church leadership. Paul tells Titus that a ruler in the church must not be greedy for gain (Titus 1:8) and tells Timothy that he must not be a lover of money (2 Tim 3:3). In 1 Cor 9 and 2 Cor 12 Paul was able to boast to the Corinthian church that he had not used them to his financial advantage.

Could Driscoll or Noble or Furtick say that, or could they pass the test for elders in Timothy and Titus?

But these preachers probably aren’t going to pay much attention to those standards and Paul’s example now, otherwise they wouldn’t be doing what they’re doing. Perhaps, though, they’ll pay attention to what one of their own says about them.

Perry Noble has, before he became a best-selling author himself, spoken harshly of preachers who put the profit motive above the plain and honest teaching of God’s Word. That person is “a mere preaching whore,” Noble once said. “One who is paid for a service for the pleasure of another person.”

A topic for his next book, perhaps?

37 thoughts on “Celebrity pastors are selling their pulpits for commercial gain

  1. Jim Fletcher Mar 7, 2014 11:51 pm

    Notice too that Noble talked about going home after he wrote a chapter. Assuming he is actually writing his own book, it is really bad form to be writing it on “company time” when presumably the pastor is at the office supposedly filling the role of…pastor.

  2. Josh Mar 8, 2014 12:04 am

    My first exposure to Steven Furtick was when the church I was attending at the time was treated to a 30 minute infomercial for Sun Stand Still in the guise of a sermon. It was beamed on video screens and, conveniently, copies of that groundbreaking book were available at the resource table after the sermon. Ugh…no thanks.

    I understood even at the time that our pastor was doing a favor for the higher ranking Furtick by taking the day off and promoting Sun Stand Still. (I’m not certain, but I suspect that he might have even received a coveted @ tweet or retweet from Furtick himself for his efforts.) Nearly everything a rock star pastor does is calculated to promote the brand. The clothes they wear, the tweets they tweet, and the “sermons” they preach are all part of a carefully considered marketing effort. These guys aren’t just interested in marketing, they’re obsessed with it, blogging about the latest pop business book they’ve read and copying one another’s promotional ideas while accepting praise for their creativity.

    In their own minds, of course, they aren’t promoting themselves; They’re widening their reach and hence the reach of “the gospel.” In the personality cults of the modern church plant movement, a church and the pastor are interchangeable. Furtick is an extreme example, with his coloring book and self-description as “the Visionary,” but countless church plants meeting in bars, movie theaters and elementary school cafeterias around the country are equally dependent on their pastor. The pastor moves on, the church may not recover, but it’s not that big of a deal because another funny, cool guy is starting a church plant two blocks away.

    It’s equally appalling that people are so willing to be financially fleeced and that these pastors are so willing to be deified by people who should know better. Some probably had a genuine calling at some point, but I suspect most are modern day Elmer Gantry’s who discovered in their teenage years the benefits of being the “cool” Christian guy. They didn’t excel at sports and were uncomfortable in the party scene, but the mildly rebellious bed head hair style and ability to play “Jesus Freak” on an acoustic guitar got the attention of the cute girls in the youth group. It must have; they all managed to land “smokin’ hot wives.”

    They aren’t really motivated by money in the traditional sense. Most could probably make more money, starting out at least, using their seminary degree to become a youth pastor at a big traditional church. It’s rare for them to take an excessively high salary because part of their makeup is the self-belief that they are sacrificing for the ministry somehow. Because they’re experts at everything, most believe they would be a senior VP at Apple had they not become a church planter. It’s satisfying to take only a reasonable salary, though they’re also getting a tax free parsonage stipend, free travel to the conferences they want to go to, and the latest Apple gadgetry three seconds after it’s released. And, no matter how much the speaking fees and book deals bring in, as long as the salary itself is “reasonable” they can maintain the self-satisfaction of financial martyrdom. Even though the lifestyle is pretty comfortable for all but the newest and least successful church planters, you’ll find very few church planters who are much concerned about their salary, per se. It’s all about the lifestyle and the lifestyle is paid for, one way or another, by the givers in the seats.

    Sadly I don’t see much likelihood that things will change anytime soon. If the rock/worship band can do a decent cover of some U2 songs, then shift seamlessly over to some Chris Tomlin tunes, people will come. They’ll sit an listen to the generic, relevant message, tweeting furiously about how the pastor is “bringin’ it.” They’ll buy the tshirt and the latte. And they’ll shout down anyone who questions the vision of the lead pastor. They identify the church with the pastor, so when he’s “attacked,” justifiably or not, it’s an attack on the church or even God Himself.

  3. Joshua G Mar 8, 2014 6:21 am

    I could not agree more. Not only was Mr.Duncan spot on but mad props to the 2nd comment writer Josh. The saddest part of these “marketable shepherds” are many of our local churches are wanting to adapt to these teachings and style. My Pastor is in his 60’s and being what I believe to be forced to conform to this style by being “hip” and “over the top”. The only credit I will give these new age pastors is they have broken non biblical traditions. With that said they are also breaking it with non biblical teachings. I hope and pray these men wake up one day and wonder why they were called to ministry and realize that what they are doing isn’t following the standards set by Christ and Paul for the Ministry and that being a Shepherd is a call of sacrifice and not gain.

  4. Ron Mar 8, 2014 8:57 am

    As an aside, I recall Perry Noble having John Maxwell speak at NS back in the mid-oughts. During Maxwell’s introduction, Maxwell’s new book (I forget the title) was shamelessly hawked by Noble from the stage. When leaving, I noticed racks of Maxwell’s book were placed in the foyer. I had thoughts of money lenders in the temple.

  5. Concernedparent Mar 8, 2014 9:56 am

    It’s simple, these are con men.

  6. Loren Haas Mar 8, 2014 11:26 am

    A nice comparison to these celebrity preachers in this regard might be Greg Boyd. His book “Myth of a Christian Nation” was published in May, 2009. It was based on a sermon series he gave to his church in 2004. It was not well received by about 20% of his congregation and they left for more “patriotic” churches.
    Which pastor is more likely following God or mammon; one who preaches a difficult sermon he knows will drive some from his church or one that uses his sermons and church to markets his books?

  7. Clark Mar 8, 2014 12:18 pm

    Perry actually told the congregation about his struggle with depression and his use of antidepressants along with counseling as far back as 2011. In fact, when I found out he was writing the book, I knew it was simply a written version of what he already preached about and taught about from his own life.

  8. Joshua G Mar 8, 2014 1:40 pm

    Peter’s ministry cost him his life as did it all the Apostles with the exception of John. Thousands upon thousands have lost their lives for fulfilling the Great Commission, yet many will charge you $19.95 for their ministry. Anyone else not see a problem here? Who are Christian authors in the business of building up, themselves or Christ?

  9. Russell Mar 8, 2014 5:50 pm

    It’s all about the money ! New Spring may have began with a humble background but now, as with any multi-million dollar business .. It’s all about the money .. Books, mass baptizing.. Best selling lists .. Coffee shops .. Selling souvenirs and t-shirts .. Kids coloring books of the visionary of choice .. All the “owners” of the body of Christ (the church) .. All this in the name of Jesus ..
    What happened to the cup of water or the vist to those in prison or feeding the hungry, clothing the naked ..
    Did Jesus change ?
    People often try to justify Perry Nobel and his behavior but in view of scripture it’s impossible . With 50 million at Perry’s command, Anderson should not have a single child go to bed hungry or the sick with out meds. What they do now is only a drop of compassion when Jesus demands a flood … But I guess NS needs a few more campuses first or he needs a fresh vision . So 10,000 will attend a service and millions of dollars will flow though the doors but no REAL change ever takes place . We must all have to wait on the book … 🙂

  10. Will Anon Mar 8, 2014 11:52 pm

    Most pastors lnown excellent communication skills write sermons 6 months to a year in advance of presenting them. The cycle isn’t the problem.

    I’d be more concerned that a publisher is helping craft a “marketable” message rather than a pastor shepherding their flock. I don’t even think I’m concerned about any revenue they generate if they are in compliance with intellectual property law for non profits. (I.e. Who “owns” the message, the pastor or the congregation who pays their salary?)

  11. Jason Mar 9, 2014 1:54 am

    Sadly, the only watchdogs over the mammonites in the Lord’s house seem to be these discernment blogs and websites. I liken the herculean work that Dr. Duncan and others are doing to such late Middle Age writers as Chaucer, Boccacio, and ultimately Erasmus w/his praise of folly. During this time, Rome had grown legalistic in tradition, paganistic in practice, and ultimately money obsessed. Offering salvation via indulgences as well as hawking the latest gimmic at the pilgrimages (e.g. purchase a rosary or a true piece of the cross in order to receive a physical healing, etc) this all sounds so very, very familiar to our own times. What Chaucer and others did was, to avoid being excommunicated, ridiculed and mocked the so called church leaders who had gone astray and seemed to exist for little else except to fleece the Lord’s remnant for more and more mammon in order to build their earthly kingdoms. It was these gifted and talented authors who helped to set the stage for the later Reformers to bring about the Protestant Reformation.

    In a sense, then as now, humor is a very effective weapon. The one thing that these so called men of God cannot stand is to be laughed at, mocked, or ridiculed. It upsets them terribly and demonstrates that far from having such a pipeline to a higher source that all too often they have feet of clay just like everyone else.

    I will close by saying this: The reason these blogs are starting to make headway (albeit slower than some would like) is due to the technology available. The internet, social media, etc make such critiques instantaneous which in turn can lead to bigger stories. The recent stories investigating Furtick’s house probably wouldn’t have been so quickly reported on without the internet. Yes, it would’ve been a big story but it would’ve taken far longer for the traditional media to report it in the pre-internet days.

    Thus, this is the first generation where these super “annointed” pastor-brands can now be instantaneously critiqued. Like Erasmus and Chaucer, by using humor to mock their message as well as their style, Christians can now see these charlatans for what they are: False teachers that constantly spew out half truths while keeping both eyes on building up their earthly kingdoms.

    May we live to see interesting times? I think we’re all ready there and thank goodness that we are. With the internet at least Godly persons can be raised up quicker than ever before to quickly critique and warn the sheep that they are about to be fleeced.

    Thank you for your posts, I truly appreciate them.

  12. LJ Mar 9, 2014 12:09 pm

    Over the years, so many great pastors with large churches, have written books and marketed them! Why are people picking on my pastor and “making up” lies just because my pastor wires books. I think Billy Graham made a dollar or two off of his books. Just because a new generation of pastors are actually preaching the gospel and pushing the great commission to reach the world, doesn’t mean they should be attacked! So many lives have been changed because of Gods love at NewSpring. The church is growing! And ONLY because we invite people to church, accept them as they are, teach them about Jesus, and help them with their next steps in their relationship with Jesus!
    I feel sorry for anyone and everyone who judges my church and my pastor. Only God can judge. And if God wasn’t in our church, the church wouldn’t grow. And also if God wasn’t in it, I don’t know where me or my family would be. It’s people like the one who wrote this article who turn people off from the church! This is only an attack from the devil on my pastor. God uses Christans for his glory! Not to tear down a man of God!

    • James Duncan Mar 9, 2014 1:05 pm

      LJ, I can’t shake the feeling that you’re judging me, but perhaps I’m misinterpreting your comment.

      As I examine your comment, it seems as though you’re judging Perry, too. For that matter, it looks as though Rick Warren, Steven Furtick, Andy Stanley, Brian Houston, Clayton King and others are publicly judging Perry and his book.

      Are you against judging, or just against judging if it’s not in the affirmative?

  13. LJ Mar 9, 2014 2:45 pm

    I just don’t think anyone should judge anyone. That’s God’s job. I just know that I’ve attended NewSpring for many years now and I know my pastors heart. His heart is for the lost and when so many churches send people away into a world of sin, our pastor believes we should accept people as they are into the church and let God work on their heart. People who don’t attend my church only see what they want. They see big buildings, that are needed to reach as many people as we can, bands that play the music loudly, for the glory of God, and money, which is needed to run the church and minister to the community and to the world.
    One comment was made to the effect that that with NewSpring in Anderson, no one in Anderson should be in need. My comment would be, with as many churches in Anderson, no one should be in need.
    It’s time for churches to work together, in spite of doctrinal differences, to take care of their communities TOGETHER!
    I was very reluctant when I visited NewSpring for the first time. But in the service, I could feel God’s spirit! My life was changed, the lives of my children have been changed! Family members and friends of mine have changed at this church! And our lives were changed because of Jesus! Not because if Pastor Perry. Yes he is God’s instrument, and his vision for a church like this played a part in our life change. But ultamently it was Jesus working through Perry and NewSpring that changed our lives.
    I pray that God continues to use Perry and NewSpring Church to continue its vision to reach the lost and help people see that they can have a better life with Jesus in it! Just know this. At NewSpring, it’s not about money, fame, big buildings or the bands, it’s all about Jesus and reaching the lost for Him.
    I pray that God blesses you in your ministry as you reach the lost. But I pray you would do so without trying to destroy a church or man of God. If we put as much energy into saving lives as we do criticizing each other, imagine how bright the church would shine in this lost and dying world. Instead, the world is watching the bickering and criticism and laughing at the church.
    I believe we could make a bigger impact on the world if we would give up the attacks, put aside our differences, personal and doctrinal, and work together the was Christ would want us to! We are ONE CHURCH!

  14. Jason Mar 9, 2014 2:54 pm

    I would ask: Exactly WHAT Gospel exactly is being preached at these mega-churches? Your best life now? Give to an “anointed” pastor and financially support his vision and then you too will have all that you desire? We don’t need to follow Christ at all for that sort of thing; we can simply follow after Oprah and the Secret and all our desires can be realized

    Remember, Mr. Duncan has first hand experience with New Spring Church. Frankly, I never heard of NS before all of the unpleasantness first occurred but now that I am familiar w/NS and its leaders, I can’t say that I’m glad I know about this church.

    From looking at modern church, you’d think that only the ignoramuses were in charge and running things and to a great extent they are. Why have we allowed the idiots to dumb down the content of our historical Christian faith and teaching? When did theological studying and training become such dirty words and vapid stylish symbolism over sound doctrinal substance become the norm for learning about the Lord?

    Sometimes I wonder: Is this a “bible-belt” thing in general and/or a Red State thing in particular? These regional cultural aspects then get remade into “authentic” American Christianity at large and the rest is supposed to follow and if anyone questions then automatically they’re judging and not being Christ-like?

    Where exactly in the Scriptures does it say to allow leaders to have carte blanche over the congregation? When did that become acceptable? Why is it okay to allow dumbed down mindless entertainment to pass as an acceptable substitute for sound exegetical teaching?

    Perhaps we deserve the churches that we get since it is apparent that noble Bereans who diligently search thru the scriptures and test the spirits before swallowing every single thing just isn’t happening on a daily basis. This childish, imbecilic “I had a vision from God and if you don’t accept it completely, there’s the door cause it’s my way or the highway!” When did THAT become acceptable Christianity? The same church that played a secular rock song during Eastertime is now going to lecture others about having a vision from God and oh, don’t forget to purchase their warmed over sermons in latest book form? Gee thanks, where can we get a fresh copy?

    Yes, Virginia, there may indeed be a Saint Nicholas but there isn’t any Good News being preached at the megas except for a carnal gospel of mammon that’s heavily sauteed with a generous helping of Gimme, Gimme, Gimme.

  15. LJ Mar 9, 2014 3:23 pm

    Wow! Talk about talking out if both sides of your mouth. Chritisizing a church and name calling? Yeah , that’s what the non Christians are turned off about. If you have ever attended NewSpring you would know that the Gospel being preached is the same Gospel I’ve heard in every church I’ve ever attended in my life, as well as the church you attend. Our service styles may be different, but the message is the same. The secular song that was played was Highway to Hell by AC/DC and it was Easter 2008. That was the Sunday that my brother in law finally have his heart to Jesus. He told me had that song not been played, he would have not payed attention to the message at all. It got his attention, he opened his heart and he let Jesus into his life.
    And just so you know , our sermons aren’t for sale. You can watch any sermon you want at http://www.newspring.cc free of charge!!!
    Criticize all you want. We are going to keep reaching the world for Jesus and showing everyone in the world that they matter to God. And we will do so without tearing down men of God or childish name calling.
    It’s time for the church to be the church and win the lost for Jesus, by working together and being a blessing to others. Not by trying to distory or put down one another.

  16. Humblylearning Mar 9, 2014 3:46 pm

    I have to share some critical thoughts to some of what you’ve said in your posts LJ, and this is nothing personal, only based on principle. I hope you will be open to listen what I say without immediately having a feeling of disagreement just because it’s critical, and consider it for thought. Thank you. 🙂

    You first say that over the years many pastors have written books, but still, does that justify an apparent manipulation for commercial gain as Dr. Duncan was pointing out? Many people have done many things, but the amount of people, or the prominence of people as you pointed out with Billy Graham, does appear to determine the justification of an action.

    You’re next point is that you view this article as an attack on the good that you perceive your church is doing, but is it possible that critical analysis can just be that, critical analysis to make us think and help us all collectively do our best to keep the standard and authenticity of the Word? Is that not perhaps beneficial, regardless of what church is it that is receiving critical analysis? Is it required of us to be prideful in whatever church that we attend to the point that we believe that it can do no wrong?

    You next say only God can judge, but according to what Paul said, that doesn’t appear to be true. 1 Cor 5:12-13 “12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” Next you say, because Newspring is growing, God is with you.

    First I ask, is right to ever frame God being on any person’s side, or isn’t that it should be framed that we as people are on God’s side? Secondly, you equate numbers with authenticity again, but would you believe that God is with Muslims as well, because there are number of them in this world as well? It would seem to use numbers would fail to legitimize whether one is accurately and authentically working with God. You next accuse Dr. Duncan of being an attacker for the devil, which is a rather strong accusation to make for someone who professes that we shouldn’t be judging each other, though as I’ve pointed, we are supposed to judge, but based on the Word. One other point I would ask you to consider getting back to the judging point, recall how Paul treated Peter for his hypocrisy in Galatians. It would seem that would be an example for all of us, no matter who we are or what status we have, we all have to hold each other to the standard of the Word.

    In your next post, you mention people who don’t attend your church just can’t understand. Again, I would ask, is it required of us to be so prideful in whatever church that we attend to the point that we believe that it can do no wrong? Secondly, you say you know the heart of your pastor, but doesn’t the Word also know the heart of men and judges it’s intentions. So if the word, which John 1 says is God, is being applied to a church or a person in whether they are conducting themselves closely in an manner to the standard of the Word, would that not be a better judge of someone’s heart?

    Now you also say we should come together in spite of doctrinal differences, but for what cause are we coming together? Are we coming together for the cause of God and His Word? If so, then it’s important for each of us to help each other come closer to reflecting that in the scriptures, and it would seem once again to be a benefit when we can point out to each other together where we’re far away from it. It’s not to hurt anyone’s feelings, or make anyone feel bad, but it’s to help us all closely follow the Word in our daily journey to glorify and honor God with our lives.

    To try to keep this from being much longer, let me briefly address some of your other points. You say that you felt God’s Spirit in Newspring. I would ask you to consider, is subjective experience a determiner of Truth, or is the Word of God the determiner Truth? Finally, one point you conclude with is that you hope Mr. Noble and his church continue to reach the lost and that people stop criticizing. I would say again, the Bible tells to judge, to test the spirits, and to stay within the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels and the Apostles in their letters. There’s no room for differences in many respects when it comes to closely upholding the standard of the Word. I hope you can consider what I’ve said, without viewing this as a personal attack, and I appreciate it if you taken the time to read all of this. 🙂

  17. Russell Mar 9, 2014 3:55 pm

    It’s the work of God through the Holy Spirit that changes lives. No one church or Pastor can take credit for it. As for helping the needy .. To those much is given much is expected . If the church grows, then God must be in it is a flawed argument .. (Jim Jones) .. I think even the unsaved can lead people to Jesus .. The message is the power of God not the one speaking. Many will cast out devils and Jesus will still say depart from me . I am not saying anyone from NS fits this description .. For I do not judge the salvation of men.. But Jesus will .. I do judge their actions .. And so does the IRS ..

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  19. Junius Mar 9, 2014 9:43 pm


    I HAVE attended NewSpring–for well over a year–and the “Gospel” being preached there is decidely NOT the same Gospel I have heard in other churches or my church.

    So you say we shouldn’t criticize NewSpring. Should we instead let those who attend travel down the road to eternity under the doctrinal and hermeneutical error of Perry Noble? Is that the Christian thing to do?

  20. Junius Mar 9, 2014 9:46 pm

    To clarify, I no longer attend NewSpring, if my wording was confusing.

  21. Josh Mar 10, 2014 12:04 am

    Two thoughts….First, supporters of Noble, Furtick, et al constantly justify whatever they do by claiming they’re spreading “the gospel.” In my personal experience, many people who use that term have no idea what it means. That is, they have no idea what the actual plan of salvation is. Getting people talking about some Jesus caricature doesn’t get anyone saved. Getting people to “start following Jesus” doesn’t get anyone saved. Getting people to join the parking volunteer ministry, or help with the egg drop, or “start living for God” doesn’t save anyone. Not everyone who claims to be spreading “the gospel” actually is.

    Second, I can’t help but roll my eyes a bit whenever Billy Graham is used to justify whatever unbiblical practice is under discussion at the time. Billy Graham, who believes that there are saved people who don’t even know the name of Jesus? See point one, above. I’m sorry, I really don’t give two bits what Billy Graham does, thank you.

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  24. Bill Lonas Mar 14, 2014 2:57 pm


    “The church is growing! And ONLY because we invite people to church, accept them as they are, teach them about Jesus, and help them with their next steps in their relationship with Jesus!”

    Ominously missing from your growth formula is the one, actual component that causes true growth – The Holy Spirit working through the Gospel preached.
    Only the Holy Spirit, working through the proclamation of the Gospel can cause true growth.
    Entertainment, events, cute/funny stories and enlisting people into doing community outreach programs does not convert a single person who is dead in their sins and cannot save themselves.

    Sorry to sound so ‘judgmental’ but it appears your church has been very successful in massing people that will follow your lead pastor (and his vision for impacting the community) and the relational atmosphere of your churches events/gatherings.

    However, that does not make them disciples of Jesus Christ. Nor does that make YOU one either.

    In reading a later post you write:
    “I believe we could make a bigger impact on the world if we would give up the attacks, put aside our differences, personal and doctrinal, and work together the was Christ would want us to! We are ONE CHURCH! “

    In this one statement you have (unknowingly) demonstrated the danger in following pastors who are more concerned with popularity, fame and ‘impacting the community’ rather than preaching ‘Christ, and Him crucified’ (1 Cor. 2:2).

    It seems you have the first part of Matthew 7 (‘do not judge’) at the forefront of your mind. I suggest prayerfully reading and considering the rest of Matthew 7.

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  26. LJ Mar 16, 2014 3:48 pm

    The Holy Spirit Moving in lives to lead people to salvation is implied. Everyone knows that The Holy Spirit is the reason behind people coming to Jesus!! Not a preacher, not a church, but the Holy Spirit.
    Some of you guys are so far off because you don’t know what goes on at NewSpring. You THINK you do and you make a lot of assumptions of what YOU think goes on here. Prayers for everyone! We all need Jesus in our lives and we will do whatever it takes to attract the lost and teach them about Jesus.

  27. Junius Mar 16, 2014 4:40 pm

    we will do whatever it takes to attract the lost

    Do you mean that literally?

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