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Former Hillsong NYC Pastor Carl Lentz Says He’s ‘No Longer in Ministry’

By Colleen Houde
carl lentz hillsong nyc ministry
Carl Lentz appears in the upcoming docuseries 'The Secrets of Hillsong' (Photo via Instagram)

With a docuseries featuring disgraced former Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz about to hit, Lentz has published a long message on Instagram, claiming he has “no control” over the final product. Lentz also clarified his new job at Transformation Church in Tulsa, Okla., saying it’s not a ministry position, seemingly answering critics who claimed Lentz was disqualified for ministry roles.

In 2020, Carl Lentz was fired from Hillsong East Coast after he confessed to having an extra-marital affair. This week, he spoke out about what happened and what he describes as the “healing journey” that followed, which will be included in a new FX docuseries titled The Secrets of Hillsong.

“For the last three years, my entire focus has been fighting for my wife and my kids. My family has been my only priority,” said Lentz in a statement on social media. “In order to do that, seeking sobriety and healing had to run parallel with those goals.” 

He said nothing else mattered, none of the noise, lies, or “half-truths” that were said. 

“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 added. “Although we have a long way to go, with a lot of work, a lot of honesty, and a lot of prayers, we have found ourselves in a beautiful, happy and deliberately honest place.”

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Carl Lentz abuse Hillsong NYC
In this July 14, 2013 file photo, then Pastor Carl Lentz leads a Hillsong NYC Church service at Irving Plaza in New York. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)

On May 5, Lentz and his wife Laura celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. He says they were able to do that in the purest way. 

He says, unfortunately, that came through a lot of humiliation, embarrassment and heartache. Part of the healing from the heartache led Carl and his wife to be a part of the upcoming FX docuseries. But, he says, they didn’t have any control over the documentary or any say in the final edit — and haven’t seen it yet, despite Lentz’s presence being a significant part of its promotion. 

“We’ll see it when the world does,” Lentz said. “We are not interested in blame shifting or responsibility deflection. We focus on mistakes and the context for what transpired.”

Carl Lentz
Carl Lentz

He goes on to say, “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,” said Lentz. “Trust me. It led me to some dark places.”

In March, it came to light that Lentz has been hired by a nondenominational megachurch in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is led by pastor, author and popular YouTuber Michael Todd. Many questioned Lentz’s quick return to ministry. “It’s not loving to quickly bring a fellow Christian back to the spotlight, when it’s the spotlight that quickened their fall from grace in the first place,” wrote Katelyn Beaty, author of Celebrities for Jesus.

Carl says even though he is at an amazing church now, he is no longer in ministry. He says he will no longer be preaching or overseeing people.

“My role is to help give perspective and insight where I can,” said Lentz. “I am 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 arms open wide for anyone who’s been on this path of addiction and destruction. I can say I understand it and my relations with Jesus in a way that I couldn’t from the pulpit.”

Lentz says he looks forward to a road of repentance and life change as life moves on. 

“It truly makes me wonder if this is what all of this pain was about,” said Carl. “From the lows of where I’ve been, to the grace and forgiveness that God granted me, I have something to share and so does Laura and my kids.”

The FX docuseries, produced in partnership with Vanity Fair, debuts on May 19.

Josh Shepherd contributed to this article, which was originally published by CHVN.

Journalist Colleen Houde is a news writer and on-air host at CHVN in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

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13 Responses

  1. My husband also had an affair. It took a long time to bring our relationship back to a point where I wasn’t afraid. He worked hard to regain my trust & He has spent time building me up! He tells me he loves me every single day & he tells me how beautiful I am. I put Bible verses on pieces of paper under his side of the mattress & affirming statements i.e. My husband is a Godly Man! My husband loves me and will not intentionally do anything to hurt me. Our marriage will live and not die and we will Proclaim The Works of the Lord! My husband loves the Lord God above all else! Over time I saw a huge change in him. I’m not afraid anymore. The past is under the blood and as Jesus says in his Word: Romans 8:11
    There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

    1. Wow. Amazing post, Lajuana. God is so faithful. Unbelievable grace you have extended to your husband. Happy Mother’s Day.

  2. I hope they find peace. Only God knows where he is truly at, but I will say he sounds better than JMac in the repentance dept. Working with Vanity Fair to put out an exposé feels like the naughty kid in class who wants attention whether it’s good or bad, they want the spotlight on them no matter what. I still do not understand how “disqualification” is meaningful in any way. It seems to be just a word with little meaning in the context of real life, as these fallen leaders trudge ahead into other churches somehow finding themselves on church payroll. Why not quietly join another body, heal and get a job outside the realm of church like any regular person?

  3. In my opinion, someone who is truly repentant and in real recovery would give some specific examples of the work he has done and continues to do. Saying you have done a lot of work sounds good on the surface, but for someone who has broken trust, it’s just not even close to enough. He has chosen to put himself in the spotlight with his post and the upcoming docuseries, and I believe that also comes with the responsibility to be transparent about what he has actually done to repent along with how he has paid retribution to those he betrayed.

    1. I agree. I just don’t think he owes that to us. What Carl has specifically done to rebuild his family and repair the damage done to his marriage is between him and his family.
      There are some details we are not entitled to, even in the name of church accountability.

    2. He doesn’t owe that to you or me or anyone else on this earth. He only owes that to God the Father and those who oversee Transformation church. Carl and Laura I’m pulling for you and your family. Welcome to Tulsa.

  4. I find it abundantly rich and ironic. Church folk hold every soul on earth to such an incredible standard, almost cultic, when it comes to heterosexual sin in marriage. Yet, it’s cute and “progressive” when we have trans and same sex couples visit our pews. In other words, double standard abound. Not really certain what drug American Evangelicals are smokin’, but its contents don’t include unconditional grace or quite frankly, common sense. Not all marriages are happy. It’s abusive to stick your nose in others business. I don’t condone moral failings, but people involved in broken marriages don’t need the church gossips and small minded people hanging up on people already hurting. Last time I read Bible, there are a plethora of sins that don’t involve sex, Pride and self-righteousness is a good place to start.

    1. Here goes the question:
      Which standard do you adhere to, yours, man’s or God’s standard?
      Do you love people enough to tell them about unrighteousness or should you just hope someone else might love them enough? Isn’t that the very reason Jesus went obediently to Calvary?
      If one won’t tell the truth, it is usually they can’t handle the truth themselves.

    2. Quick question, where exactly are church folk holding heterosexual sin in marriage accountable? I mean other than prophets crying out asking for accountability. Even this story is about how a year or so after a pastor gets caught in an affair, he’s back working for a church. That doesn’t seem like he’s being held to an “incredible standard, almost cultic”. it seems like he (and nearly all others in his circumstances) is getting a pass.

  5. There is no way any of what they say is true. Hillsong was such a cesspool that there is no way the other leaders weren’t very aware of the similar sins all the others were engaged in and encouraging. It wasn’t one or two pastors, they didn’t just become “aware” like innocents, which they are not.

    Likewise, all the thefts and abuse of funds and other sins.

    Also, I find numerous posts on a blasphemous easter show he directed, and speaking in stage, looks like false ministry to me. It’s a point no newspaper is going to print, and the most serious – you can repent of all the sins you want – and are bound to have being unsaved – but you still are not born again and still hold a blasphemous gospel.

    And this appears to be a worldly sorry – sorrow over getting caught, not godly sorrow. Hillsong puts out stories like this anytime more negative ones may come out – that’s not real repentance – and hint – they are incapable of it, being unsaved with no godliness.

    These aren’t the worse sins by far. Satanism is what I expect to come out when it all comes out. Founded by a pedophile abuser of young boys, it continued, and spiritually, abuse of the children of God is like. I’ve been at their services, spoken to members, staff, and pastors. I saw them give a satanic message in a theater decorated with devil gods and priests performing human sacrificing for Halloween, and I heard a member say he knew he was saved when his prayers for money were answered, not unlike lighting occultic candles for money were two examples.

  6. In saying that Lentz is no longer in ministry assumes that he was once in ministry. Is it okay to suggest he may never have been in ministry at all but was merely a 2 Corinthians type superapostle showman?

    Impressive guy? No doubt. Servant of the Lord? Was there ever any evidence?

    When will we see the underlying systemic problem of our being enamored by power and stardom?

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