In public letter Carl Lentz says ‘I’m no longer in ministry,’ admits sins led him to some ‘dark places’

Former Hillsong Church NYC pastor, Carl Lentz.
Former Hillsong Church NYC pastor, Carl Lentz. | YouTube/ FX Networks

Despite recent news that he had joined Pastor Michael Todd’s Transformation Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as a “strategist,” former Hillsong NYC pastor, Carl Lentz, revealed Tuesday that “I’m no longer in ministry” and admitted that his sins led him to some “dark places.”

“Even though I’m at an amazing church that loves and supports us, I’m no longer in ministry,” Lentz revealed in a public letter posted on Instagram Tuesday evening. “I’m not preaching, not overseeing people, my role is to help give perspective and insight where I can.”

The letter comes in the wake of a two-minute teaser released by FX Networks on April 27 promoting a new docuseries set to premiere this month called “The Secrets of Hillsong.” The docuseries, which will premiere on FX on May 19 at 10 p.m. ET with two episodes, followed by two more episodes on May 26, will feature Lentz’s first public interview since his firing in November 2020 from Hillsong NYC over a sex and leadership scandal.

Lentz said in the letter that for the last three years his only priority has been “fighting for my wife and my kids.”

“In order to do that, seeking sobriety and healing had to run parallel with those goals. Honestly, nothing else mattered. None of the noise, the lies, none of the half-truths that were said about me and or us, mattered. All I wanted was to prove to my wife and kids that I could show up for them like I had never done before,” he wrote. “Although we have a long way to go, with a lot of hard work, a lot of honesty and a lot of prayer, we have found ourselves in a beautiful, happy, and deliberately honest place. So much so that we not only celebrated our 20th anniversary on May 5th, but we got to do that in the purest way. Unfortunately, that came through a lot of humiliation embarrassment and heartache.”

Lentz was fired from his post at Hillsong NYC in November 2020 over “leadership issues” and moral failures, including being unfaithful to his wife with multiple women including a staff member at Hillsong NYC. Details from an internal investigation shared with The Christian Post in 2022 that was conducted on behalf of Hillsong Church by the New York City law firm Zukerman Gore Brandeis & Crossman, LLP, alleged, among other things, that he manipulated some former staff and volunteers so badly it caused them to suffer mental illness.

Even though it had been rumored for months that Lentz and his wife, Laura, were intent on getting paid for their story and had been shopping an exclusive interview, the former megachurch pastor claimed in his letter that they chose to do the docuseries to help them heal from heartache from their failures in ministry.

“Part of the healing from that heartache led us to the decision to be part of a documentary that we do not control, that we don’t have any say in and that we haven’t even seen yet. We’ll see it when the world does. We were not interested in blame shifting or responsibility deflection, we focus on my mistakes and the context for what transpired,” Lentz said.

“I can honestly tell you that when you get to a place of honesty and freedom in your life, when you’ve gone through hell, and you realize God is still with you…. It is so freeing. It’s the freedom I wish for all of the many people that I know that are called by God and wrestle with secrets and the feeling of not being worthy. Trust me it led me to some dark places,” he added.

While Lentz claims he is no longer in ministry, Transformation Church’s Executive Pastor Tammy McQuarters said he was involved in the work of their church in March because they believe he has been restored and are pleased to have him “help others experience restoration” as well.

"After two years of Carl being in his own discovery and healing process, he has shown readiness to use his God-given gifts towards the local church again. We believe in Carl, his marriage, his skill set, and his restoration,” McQuarters said in a statement previously reported by The Christian Post.

“We pray that Carl, Laura, and their family experience not only their own restoration, but help others experience restoration by using their triumphs and failures to create resources for the body of Christ at large,” she added. “We believe that this is part of what it looks like for the church to be the church.”

In his letter on Tuesday, Lentz said it gives him “joy and hope” knowing that he can use his experience to help others.

“I can do that in so many different ways, inside and outside the church. I’m not the first man to be in this situation and I won’t be the last, but I can promise you I’ll be the guy standing with his arms open wide for anyone who’s been on this path of addiction and destruction,” he said. “I can say I understand it and my relationship with Jesus in a way that I couldn’t from the pulpit. Repentance and life change is proven over time with consistent choices and that’s a road I look forward to.”

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