"I wrote something to the church: for Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them...I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words, and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church." (3 John 9-10)
----------------------The video below is a bit disturbing, it is of Perry Noble, Senior Pastor of NewSpring Church, calling his "non-committed" church members "spiritual hoes" ("hoe" of course slang for "whore"), and then announcing at the very end of the service that those church members who don't "get involved" in church ministry by December 2010 are "liars" and will be purged from the rolls of the church.
[Can you hear the questions in the car on the way home: "Mommy, what is a 'hoe'? Maybe you are a 'hoe', Mommy! Are we 'hoes' like the pastor said?"]
And best of all, Noble declared that God told him that morning to announce that the rolls of the church needed to be purged. Yikes. I would be nervous, very nervous, when the pastor announces that God told him to start purging the church rolls. I might next be looking for small cups of flavored Kool-Aid, and announcements for satellite churches in Guyana. When a guy thinks he has the authority to make these pronouncements on a whim because God told him that morning, without discussing it with church lay leaders, your cult radar should go off.
You might remember Perry Noble from a post I made earlier this year on tithing, where he gets on his people because church leaders "looked" at the giving records of the members and found 90% of the congregation is "robbing God" by not forking over at least 10% of their income to his church.
Why bother showing this video? Well, Perry Noble is a rock star amongst what are called the "emergent" churches - those non-traditional, what we might call "seeker friendly" or "purpose driven" churches. Noble founded NewSpring 10 years ago, and it has experienced explosive growth, thousands of members on multiple campuses in South Carolina. Noble has preached at Rick Warren's church. Noble holds conferences where pastors come to learn how his church has experienced such rapid growth. Noble is a harsh, harsh critic of the traditional evangelical church, criticizing everything from Sunday School to deacon boards to old fashioned pastor's wive's hairdos.
There are some things I like about Perry Noble and NewSpring - unlike some of his harshest critics I do believe he preaches the gospel. Noble says things that I think other mega church pastors think, but wouldn't dare speak publicly. But Perry at times borders on the cultic and spiritually abusive. This is an example of such behavior - and Perry and his church are the "gold standard" amongst emergent churches so this sort of behavior is troublesome.
About the "purging the rolls" comment: purging of rolls might be a good idea for many Baptist churches who have "members" that haven't been seen or heard from in years. But Perry is doing here what I have criticized other bullying mega church pastors of doing: trying to take the place of the Holy Spirit by bullying and intimidating people into doing or giving as the pastor wants them to. Here Perry says effectively serve God according to how NewSpring and Perry Noble define "service", else they will effectively kick you out of the church. As I said before, he wants his people to know HE HIMSELF made this decision, AFTER GOD TOLD HIM. Scary stuff.
Perry does say that purged members can still attend (gee, thanks Perry - allowing us to attend your church, how charitable) - so I suppose they won't be taking tresspass papers out on members for being bad Christians, or for "church misconduct".
And this past Sunday Noble told his congregation that when he said "purged" he meant "placed on inactive status".
That makes sense - after all, how could you send tithing envelopes to people who are "purged" from your membership roll? :)
If you want to watch the entire service, go here.