Monday, July 11, 2016

An Open Letter to NewSpring

I write this with a heavy heart, knowing very well the myriad emotions that flood your hearts and minds at this hour. A man you've known and loved is gone... just like that. In many ways it feels like a death in the family, even though Perry Noble is very much alive.

As a brother I'm putting out this appeal to those of you who journeyed with Perry at NewSpring. My heart is to see that this painful experience is maximized for God's glory... that restoration, healing, and fruitfulness would abound.

For those of you who are members, this is a time to freshly assess where you are in Jesus. Are you secure in Him, freely serving with your gifts in the ministry God has for you, or have you been content to be a mere spectator or even a busy religious worker bee serving as an extension of someone else's "ministry"? God created you to be much more than a cheerleader in the stands applauding and building into the "ministry" of a celebrity preacher. Do you even know what your gifts are?

In Ephesians 4, the Lord lays out his plan for the church, for apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to build you up for the work of ministry. In reality this rarely happens. Most real ministry does not happen from a pulpit on a Sunday morning. It happens in work places, in neighborhoods, in the streets during everyday life. And God uses people like you to do it, not paid "professionals".

I recently had the privilege of interviewing and getting to know a new friend who has written an awesome book called "Sustainable Church". Walt Russell lays out a vision for churches with every member operating in their gifts. If this resonates with you, a good starting place would be taking the spiritual inventory test available at this link:

There is also an excellent book on leadership that provides much needed adjustment to our understanding of leadership in the Church.

Jesus is building His Church with people growing in mutuality, serving and loving one another. Is this the desire of your heart?

As for NewSpring, my hope and prayer is that no one replaces Perry Noble. Truthfully, we've practiced at least 1700 years of religious dysfunction, building "churches" around "pastors" rather than Jesus. (And I'm still waiting for someone to show me the title of "senior pastor" in the scriptures) I know this is heresy to the modern day church growth movement, but we need to reexamine several irrefutable truths:

-Jesus truly discipled (pastored) only 12 men. He equipped them to serve others relationally, not to build ministries around themselves

-The Church is a living 24/7 organism, not a meeting or an event.

-The American "church" as we know is dying. Membership and attendance are declining across the board, even in megachurches, and if we are honest with ourselves, we will acknowledge much of what we have done is simply "Christian laundering", moving people from one religious venue to another. For the most part, growth is not happening because we are making new disciples or welcoming new believers in Jesus.

The religious landscape in America is riddled with wounded and damaged believers still recovering from man centered McChurches in Chicago and Seattle, just to name a few. God will not be mocked.

It is too easy to believe in the veracity of our own press releases. At this critical hour I urge the leadership at NewSpring to get objective perspective from outside the church growth echo chamber. There are faithful servants who can provide timely wisdom in how to proceed at in a way that exalts Jesus, the true builder of the Church. (I can recommend several who have deeply enriched my life and others).

For those believers outside NewSpring, in the Upstate and beyond, now is not the time to self righteously look on in judgment at the failures of one man or organization or rejoice in the opportunity to expand our own religious empires... to profit from the likely turmoil at NewSpring. (be honest, for some of you this is an opportunity to get one up on the "competition". If we are wise, we will see that self examination is in order for us all. The same issues and questions apply. The size of the religious institution doesn't matter. For our Father, it’s all about our hearts.
Above all, this is a time for us to look to Him to fulfil the promise to build His church, not to build ours.

1 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Vince Coakley
Greenville Radio Talk Show Host

P.S. Finally, pray for your embattled brother. To the extent you are able; please reach out to love on Perry Noble and his family. His greatest need is not accountability or any of the other religious mumbo jumbo nonsense we've manufactured. Now more than ever he needs to experience the love of our Father directly, and the love of his brothers and sisters in Christ... love detached from the titles, positions, and roles he's embraced, and those imposed on him from others.