Over 700 people attended and 18 were saved at the grand opening of Perry Noble’s Second Chance Church in South Carolina, according to the former megachurch pastor.
Noble, who was ousted from the state’s largest congregation, NewSpring Church, in 2016 over alcohol abuse and other "unfortunate choices and decisions,” officially launched his new church plant at a strip mall in Anderson on Sunday.
The service was centered around the themes of healing and loving your neighbor.
According to the 47-year-old pastor, more people showed up for the service than were anticipated and some people could not get into the service.
Following the service, Noble posted on Facebook that 725 people attended the service. In total, there were 18 salvations.
“It seemed too good to be true all day yesterday but I woke up this morning and realized it was real!” Noble wrote in a Facebook post Monday morning. “Don’t ever give up on the dream God has placed in your heart for He is greater than the haters who want to pull you down! If He can use a screw up like me, He can absolutely use you!! So don’t give up — but press on — for the best is yet to come!!”
In his sermon, Noble explained that sometimes people can’t love their neighbors or love God because they have been judged or condemned on behalf of people who claim to be speaking on behalf of God and that has impacted their view of themselves.
“Sometimes we can’t love other people because we don’t love ourselves and we don’t love ourselves because of how put down we have felt by others and the battles that we have in our own minds,” Noble said at the beginning of his message following worship. “So what do we do with that? How do we heal that mentality? I am glad you asked. It all starts with this one verse. … One of the most popular verses in the Bible … is Proverbs 17:17: ‘A friend loves at all times [and a brother is born for a time of adversity].’”
In a Facebook video Sunday night, Noble apologized to those who showed up to the service but couldn’t get in. He explained that they will work on doing something — such as adding more services — to ensure that they are able to accommodate more people on future Sundays.
“I wanted to say a huge thank you to everybody who came out to Second Chance today. Needless to say, the attendance was way beyond our expectation,” Noble said.
“I am sorry for those who weren’t able to get in today. We honestly had no idea what to expect and we did not expect those kind of numbers,” he added. “So, I had a couple people ask me: ‘Hey, what are we going to do about that?’ I just wanted to let you know that we’re working on it. We are in a great facility. Our next option, of course, would be to add additional services in the future. We are going to be talking about that and trying to pull that off.”
Noble asked those who couldn’t get in to come back next week, stating that many people who attended the grand opening service came from places as far as Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee.
As Noble struggled with alcoholism and made mistakes during his time at NewSpring, which he founded, he issued last July what he called his “last apology” for the mistakes he made.
In a Facebook post, Noble called his ousting from the over 20,000-member church the "most humiliating and shameful” experience of his life.
"My mistakes had cost me everything (family, friendships and ministry) and I did not believe picking up the pieces was even a possibility,” Noble said at the time. “I dealt with intense bouts of loneliness, fear, depression, doubt and self defeat."
After going through rehabilitation, Noble announced his plans to launch Second Chance and secured the location last July.
"This time it’s one of those things where I feel like I’m supposed to do it," he told Independent Mail. "I don't think this would be my first choice, but it is my calling. Preaching absolutely is my favorite thing to do in the world."
A day before the grand opening, Noble admitted that he was scared. When he started NewSpring in 2000, he was 28 and "full of energy." Now, he's 47 and no longer feels like superman.
Responding to those asking why he's starting another church, he said, "It's simple - I just can't get away from it. I tried - trust me, but the Lord just keeps bringing my busted up, broken, sinful self back to the idea that the local church really is the hope of the world - and I'm supposed to be right in the middle of it."
Second Chance Church, he explained, is meant to serve as "a safe place" where people don't have to fake it and can be "fully loved."
Noble, who was sexually abused as a child, acknowledged being "under-qualified" but stated, "I used to believe the Lord blessed my ministry because I was a good person, you know, read my Bible every day, prayed and didn't say (a lot) of cuss words. Overall I would have said I was a good person.
"Um, I don't really believe the whole, 'I'm a good person' anymore."
He added that "an overwhelming awareness of my sinfulness has brought about a level of empathy and compassion in me that I can honestly say I've never experienced in my life."
Although it was the grand opening, Sunday’s service was not the first physical service for Second Chance. Last Easter, Noble claimed that over 2,100 attended his Easter service and said that 50 people gave their lives to Christ.