Former NewSpring Church pastor Perry Noble, who lost his job and separated from his wife last year following struggles with alcohol, has announced he launched Second Chance Church online - despite criticism he's "unqualified" to return to ministry.
"I am believing Him for greater things, that we will see lives changed, communities transformed and the Nations reached with the greatest message ever - The Gospel!!" Noble wrote on Facebook on Dec. 4, one day after preaching his first sermon under the title "So I Screwed Up, Now What?"
"Yesterday was just the beginning - I know the best is still yet to come!! A huge 'thank you' to everyone who have been praying for this - and for all of your encouragement! I can't wait to see what happens next!"
On Sunday, Noble declared that "second chances are not just for some people, they are for all people," and said he's currently looking for a physical location for the church. In the meantime, he will use social media to promote his sermons despite facing continued criticism.
"There have been days when I have just felt down and defeated. People say 'you shouldn't be in ministry anymore, you shouldn't preach anymore,'" he said.
"There was one day in particular where I had taken a barrage of hate on Facebook," he continued, noting that "middle aged white people" are some of the "meanest people in the world."
On that day, a friend reached out to him with the verse Romans 11:29 from the Bible, which reads: "For God's gifts, and His call, are irrevocable." After hearing that verse, Noble knew God was telling him, "now is the time to step into your second chance."
Christians who are quick to judge others "haven't had a face to face encounter with Jesus" yet, and haven't been in "awe of His grace," said Noble, explaining that "that's what happens when religion trumps grace."
"God has the ability to take a mess and turn it into a miracle," he said. "If God can take a blood stained cross and turn it into an empty tomb, then He can take my situation, your situation, the biggest mess in the world, and turn it into a miracle."
Christianity Today notes that earlier this year, leaders at NewSpring-which spans across 15 locations in South Carolina-reiterated that Noble is still unfit to be restored to the pulpit.
"We have been asked why Perry can preach at other churches but not at NewSpring," said teaching pastor Clayton King. "We cannot speak for other churches and how they make decisions. For us, Perry currently does not meet the biblical qualifications of a pastor, teacher, shepherd."
Last month, Noble said that those calling him "'unqualified' are absolutely correct," pointing to 1 Timothy 3, which lists the various qualifications for biblical leaders, including "to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money," among others.
Still, Noble contended he doesn't know anyone "batting 1,000 on all of these qualities" and reiterated that he has never felt qualified in his life.
"I am also UN-wavering in the fact people who fall down need a Second Chance, and I'm called to start a church not for perfect people, but for those who want to get back up!"
He added, "I am UN-willing to allow those who don't know my story to try to tell me what my future should look like."
"I am UN-able to give my life to anything other than the local church. I am UN-phased by those who want me to quit. I am UN-afraid of the future God has for me. And I think it is UN-real that God still wants to used a messed up, busted and unqualified guy like me to take the Gospel to as many people as possible."