John Gray
Pastor John Gray preaches at Relentless Church in a video posted Nov. 10, 2020. (Video screengrab)

Oops, John Gray Did It Again

By Steve Rabey

For years, as rumors of extramarital affairs circulated, people asked, “Did John Gray do it?”

Now, following additional rumors that arose this summer, people are asking a new question. “Is John Gray still the pastor of Relentless Church?”

Gray, a former associate pastor at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, has faced charges of unfaithfulness since he arrived at Relentless Church in South Carolina in 2018, and his family moved into a $1.8 million house the church bought for them.

He tried to make things up to his wife Aventer for an earlier  “emotional affair” by buying her a $200,000 Lamborghini as an anniversary gift, but the gesture only generated criticism of his lavish spending.

John Gray’s latest scandal began August 21 when social media and entertainment news websites pounced on claims posted by a Houston woman in a YouTube video. “Mary” claimed she sent Gray nude photos and meals, while he gave her money.

Days later, The Greenville News reported that Gray’s attorneys said the woman was blackmailing and extorting Gray and called for an FBI investigation.

The next Sunday, Aug. 30, Gray posted an online video addressing the rumors and offering vague apologies to his wife and his church.

“Aventer, I am sorry for the pain I have caused you, and my prayer is that the life I live from this moment will be one worthy of the love that you extended…To my church, I am sorry. You’ve gone through enough.”

In addition to Gray’s sexual problems, the church faces possible eviction over a dispute with another church, Redemption Church, which owns the property. Late last year, Gray said he would soon announce a new location for the congregation, but that announcement never came. The church faces another lawsuit involving a former children’s ministry volunteer who abused children at Relentless Church before taking a position at another church.

In Gray’s online confession, he said he is undergoing intensive counseling and seeking guidance from other leaders. He also said he might disappear for a while.

On Nov. 6, Gray posted a long, rambling Instagram post along with a professional picture of his wife, saying, “A few months ago I sat down from leading at Relentless. My life wasn’t in order…I never knew what consistent discipline, planning, leadership, manhood, or personal holiness in action from a man’s standpoint looked like.”

He also apologized again to his wife. “Although you are the only woman I’ve ever slept with, emotional unfaithfulness is just as wrong. Sin is sin.”

But writer Shana Pinnock, who is the social media director at theGrio, says enough is enough in an article entitled, “The only thing ‘Relentless’ about Pastor John Gray is him embarrassing his wife.”

“The irony is not lost upon me that the same man who delivered a sermon to the Black women of his church advising them ‘not to walk in the spirit of girlfriend’ can’t seem to curb his affinity for an abundance of side chicks,” wrote Pinnock.

“Let’s be clear, this is emotional and spiritual abuse. It is the conditioning of Black women in his congregation to accept manipulation and infidelity as simply ‘the Devil’…and not an actual shortcoming and moral failing of their partner. This refusal to take responsibility is a clear indication that John Gray is not a good husband, and he should not be a leader of any church.”

In October, Gray said he was going on sabbatical, but he delivered a sermon in November. Meanwhile, Relentless isn’t answering questions about Gray’s problems or status.

Gray also remains listed as a member of the Lead Team for the Association of Related Churches (ARC)—one of the largest church planting organizations in North America with nearly 850 churches launched to date. The Roys Report reached out to ARC President Greg Surratt seeking clarification about Gray’s role eight days ago, but Surratt did not respond.

Steve RabeySteve Rabey is a veteran author and journalist who has published more than 50 books and 2,000 articles about religion, spirituality, and culture. He was an instructor at Fuller and Denver seminaries and the U.S. Air Force Academy. He and his wife Lois live in Colorado.

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16 thoughts on “Oops, John Gray Did It Again”

  1. *** “I never knew what consistent discipline, planning, leadership, manhood, or personal holiness in action from a man’s standpoint looked like.” ***

    It interesting that nobody ever seems to have thought this deficit made him a poor choice as a pastor.

  2. John Gray and Carl Lentz, nothing surprising here. From a macro level, American Christianity or possibly Western Christianity is a secular religion focusing on materialism and hedonism while promising the individual a “feeling” of “experience” that then they know their worship is true.

    We need to continue coming clean. Whatever religion is in America, it is not Christian and has not been for a very long time.

  3. “…to accept manipulation and infidelity as simply ‘the Devil’…and not an actual shortcoming and moral failing of their partner. This refusal to take responsibility is a clear indication that John Gray is not a good husband, and he should not be a leader of any church.”

    I noticed that this kind of refrain is the go-to response for pastoral sin. It’s always someone else’s fault, weariness from ministerial perpetual motion, the devil made me do it, yada, yada, yada. “God be merciful to me, a sinner” worked for the publican and for each of us. I guess just not for the celebrity pastors. It’s time to abandon pixel and social-media driven churches.

  4. In a country where evangelicals are more comfortable defining their “church” by what is provided under the Internal Revenue Code and the US Constitution than they are by how its defined in the Bible, perhaps we should not be surprised that they view their “pastors” more like “business executives” or “entertainers” than they do like the church leaders described by the Apostle Paul.

  5. Grateful for my small church. (under 200). No dazzling lights here, no million dollar home available for a pastor, only a humble bungalow kept up by the parishioners. Nothing to attract celebrity pastors. Just godly leadership by men who keep each other accountable, stand on the Word of God and pursue righteousness. Blessed by being far from the mega churches.

    1. maybe one day you will be lucky enough to find the person who will identify your potential and bring his amazing talents into your church to lead you to your destiny during a period of divine breakthrough while the LED’s twirl and the fog machine belches out a glory cloud! Your mega church is on the horizon!!

    2. @Joyce – so well said. There are many, many such congregations seeking to serve the Kingdom of God. I’ve had the privilege of being part of such a church. I’ve also watched some of our folks get enamored with the big and glitzy and move to the new “hot” church.

  6. Sigh. How embarrassing.
    I do have a question based on the comments in this thread (and others like it): what is actually wrong or unBiblical about a large church? In the book of Acts, weren’t 3,000 souls added to the fellowship in one day? That’s quite large.
    And is there something wrong with a senior pastor structure? Wasn’t Moses advised to take on a “staff” of sorts to make leading such a large flock more manageable?
    I’ve been to both large and small churches, based on where I was in my walk with God (right now I attend a mid-sized church). I understand the appeal of both, but it sounds like many think there is a “right” size.

  7. I guess John Gray will have to con his marks (aka giving units) to help pay for for a McLaren Senna to give to his wife this time. As a Lamborghini like the last time he fooled around just won’t do.

  8. You just cannot serve God and Money because you will love the one and absolutely despise the other. Jesus also plainly stated that you will know them (teachers and prophets) by their fruit. The congregation that gives a man a mansion and the means to buy a Lamborghini has clearly stated their preference and what their itching ears want to hear. They will pay through the nose in order to have someone preaching a lie to them. This is one fruit that shows that the whole congregation despises the Real Jesus. Adultery is just a symptom, it is not the root problem here.

  9. I can’t understand how anybody who actually READS their Bible falls for this kind of stuff! Sham artists living high on the hog! Certainly not the gospel of the Bible!

  10. So many church celebrities. So many evangelical pastors that can’t keep their zippers pulled up. The church news is somewhere between entertainment tonight and jerry springer’s show. How embarrassing for a Christian.

    Thank you Julie for getting this into the light. Only truth can start cleaning this disgusting muck up.

  11. “Mary” claimed she sent Gray nude photos and meals

    There are two routes to a man’s heart and it looks like she had ’em both covered.

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