"I think you officially suck as a human being if that is your focus...and the people that think the music is about them can leave the church." Perry Noble's message to church members who say they don't prefer the music style at NewSpring Church.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 undesignated 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.
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.
If you're interested, Chris Rosebrough has done an excellent review of this sermon that he has entitled "The Perry Noble Sheep Beating Incident of 2011." You can listen to the entire Perry Noble sermon here, and click on the sermon "Frequently Asked Questions".
Chris is right on in his analysis. 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)