Pastor Perry Noble won't be at the pulpit of his megachurch this Sunday. The NewSpring Church pastor has taken a two-month break for the first time in 12 years of ministry.
The extended leave is not due to a marriage, family or church problem, he has clarified. Instead, Noble said he realized he needed to do "what sets me up for long-term success and sets this church up for the same way."
With 90 percent of people entering into ministry and not finishing and some pastors being worked too hard by their church, he noted, he decided to take a sabbatical.
Noble made the announcement to his congregation, which draws around 16,000 people every weekend, last week. Attendees expressed their support of his decision.
He made it clear to them that he was committed to NewSpring, which he founded, and that he wasn't leaving to figure out if he's supposed to stay. His goal is to lead the church for another 20 years until age 60. That is when he wants to pass the baton to the next generation.
"Your pastor is not going anywhere," he stated, emphasizing that he is not a hireling but rather a shepherd called by God.
"In order for me to lead this church well for the next 20 years, there's got to be some changes in me," he told his congregation last weekend when he preached his final message before his break. "I noticed the closer you get to Jesus, he just peels back another layer on your life of something that you've got to work on."
Noble has not shied away from admitting his weaknesses and how "screwed up" he is to his church. He was open about having battled depression just a few years ago.
"I'm not the perfect person but I am trying my best to pursue Jesus," he said.
Two issues he is currently working on, he confessed, are "fear of man" – being scared of what people think about him – and "control issues."
After years of hearing from friends and counselors that he needed to take a sabbatical, Noble decided to take their advice.
"When God presses in on an issue, He's not going to give up until you got that issue resolved. God loves you so much that He will do whatever it takes to remove the cancer from our lives," he said.
During his sabbatical, Noble expects his church to continue moving forward successfully as it has been.
"This church is in great shape," he said. Along with various preachers, NewSpring will also show pre-recorded messages by Noble until July 29, when he returns.
As he continues to lead, Noble has asked that the congregation keep him in their prayers because he will be held accountable one day.
"I will stand in front of God one day and be held accountable for everything I taught this church," he said.
"In 20 years I want to be able to have an unbelievable marriage, a daughter that respects me and a church in great condition," the pastor envisioned.
NewSpring currently has seven campuses throughout South Carolina.