The upcoming Radicalis conference scheduled to take place at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, February 9-12, will include speakers Rick Warren, his ministry team, and what is shaping up to be a line-up of, well, the usual suspects for apostasy. One headliner is Perry Noble, Senior Pastor of New Spring Church where there are 10,000 members. The arduous chore of pastoring such a large crowd means that sacrifices must be made, but not by the pastor. Noble explained some of the sacrifices members must be prepared to make in a video-clip retrieved from YouTube, in which Noble explained: “We have people coming to this church, going: ‘I want a church where I can know the pastor.'” Noble’s admonishment to those people was: “You need to leave. I don’t have time.”1 The factor of time in such a large church certainly plays a role in how often a pastor can meet with the sheep, but Noble has a larger problem with shepherding.
He went on to explain in the video: “I love my wife, and I love my kids, and I will not sacrifice my family on the ministry altar so I can come eat food that I won’t like, and hang out with people who make me feel uncomfortable.”2 Clearly, Noble does not like the sheep, and even finds them repugnant (and seems to possess a prejudice that Christians possess no culinary art). Noble is simply not going to sacrifice as a pastor, or be troubled by ministry, and he is “dead serious” about it.3
To prove that point, Noble also informed members that they better be prepared to tough it on their own in sickness and disease. Addressing the idea that he should visit members in the hospital, Noble clarified that his visits to the sick were strictly limited to a last-rites scenario of seeing a person just prior to them expiring, or as Noble delicately phrased it: “The guy behind me has the bag you’re leaving the room in.”4 Why Nobel would visit the sick at this juncture, and not in the intervening time for prayer and the laying on of hands for the sick to recover, might be further affirmation of how little he really cares about them; unless he somehow believes he really is empowered with special authority to ensure transition from earth to heaven for the dying.
A church of 10,000 is far too large for a pastor who can only find room in his heart to love his wife and kids, and not the sheep, but it is the perfect situation for a hireling, a stark contrast from a true shepherd:
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. (Joh 10:11-13)
This hireling is among several that will be merchandising the sheep at Radicalis, under Rick Warren. In order to get an idea of what Noble will be selling, a look into his own product line will be helpful, but first a key term must be defined.
In the nomenclature of compromise there is an important thing to understand about the stampede to be relevant by these men; it is not to reach the modern world with the gospel, it is to emulate the modern world for profit. Consequently, they don’t build churches, or even houses of worship. They construct civic auditoriums for the purpose of staging theatrical productions.
Admission prices vary, with usually a standing charge of ten percent of a person’s income paid for the regular Sunday matinee, and fixed ticket prices for special events. For example, Noble has been producing his “one day church conference for pastors, staff members and volunteers” since 2007, and this year the tickets for Unleash 2010 are selling $59 each.5
To create excitement and drive up sales, Noble warned readers at his blogsite that this “early bird rate” is only good till the end of the month, and stresses the price is “cheap” by placing the word in all capitals followed by three exclamation points.6 In comparison to other productions Noble markets, as we will see, here, at least, he is being honest.
The composition of Unleash 2010 is made up by eighteen different sessions with Noble only headlining one of them. Titles for the productions include those that would be typical in a business-growth formula being marketed by a large successful production company to smaller, up and coming production companies. Topics touch on those things vital to growing businesses such as “Hiring, Firing and Creating a Great Staff Culture,” and to maximize profits there is “The Magic Formula for Getting People to Volunteer.”7 That would be for keeping astronomically high salaries in the hands of that great staff culture they created.
It is tempting to dismiss this fare as the product of small enterprises attracting too few to be harmful, but these conferences (like the promoters, and much of the attendees) have been sell-outs every year. Ticket sales exceeded 850 the first year the conference was offered. The real money, however, is in Noble promoting himself.
One of Noble’s bigger productions is his Personal Coaching Network which he limits to “around” fifteen senior pastors.8 The restriction to a smaller audience is intended to imply an intimate presentation where Noble will share money making church-growth secrets, but it’s strictly marketing. If orders kept coming in, Noble would almost certainly continue to sell tickets to fill his auditorium, and schedule additional performances if necessary.
By pretending to limit the number of ticket sales Noble is doing two things. Firstly, he is demonstrating his knowledge of what the market will bear. Secondly, he is manipulating one of the elements of value; in this case scarcity. When a commodity or product appears to be scarce, people tend to assign a higher value to it. Here specifically, Noble is looking for people “willing to do whatever it takes to grow,” and that includes agreeing that the tickets are worth the $1,500 he is charging for them.9
To date, Noble stages two of these networks per year. At face value, a pastor charging other pastors to discuss the ministry with them is scandalous. As we are witnessing, though, this is not the ministry; this is apostasy.
1. Museum of Idolatry, A Purpose-Driven Scolding, Perry Noble (YouTube, January 31, 2009). Video-clip.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSxkhs9x98w&feature=related. (accessed January 7, 2010).
3 – 4. Ibid.
5-6 Perry Noble, “Unleash,” Perry Noble: Leadership, Vision, and Creativity, January 11, 2010http://www.perrynoble.com/2010/01/11/unleash-6/. (accessed January 12, 2010).
7 New Springs Church, Unleash 2010, “What to Expect at Unleash,” http://www.newspring.cc/unleash/2010/. (accessed January 12, 2010).8-9 Perry Noble, “Coaching Network Openings,” Perry Noble: Leadership, Vision, and Creativity, December 9, 2010.http://www.perrynoble.com/category/coaching-network/. (accessed January 12, 2010).