Last few years have been 'hell', says Carl Lentz

Carl Lentz when he was pastor of Hillsong NYC.(Photo: Facebook/HillsongNYC)

Carl Lentz has opened up about the "hell" of the last few years since he was fired as pastor of Hillsong New York City for moral failures and leadership issues. 

He penned an open letter, shared on his Instagram, in which he said he had been in some "dark places" but that he had also come to "a place of honesty and freedom" and was part of a church where he and his family are loved and supported. 

Lentz, who was fired in November 2020 at the height of his influence and popularity, said his only focus these last three years has been "fighting for my wife and my kids" and "seeking sobriety and healing". 

"Honestly, nothing else mattered. None of the noise, the lies, none of the half-truths that were said about me and or us, mattered," he 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.

"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."

It recently emerged that Lentz has been hired as a strategist at Transformation Church, pastored by Michael Todd in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

Addressing his appointment, Lentz said that he was "no longer in ministry" and that he was "not preaching, not overseeing people". 

"My role is to help give perspective and insight where I can," he said. 

The open letter has been published ahead of an FX docuseries called "The Secrets of Hillsong", which will look into the recent scandals affecting the Australian-based church, premiering on 19 May. 

The docuseries will include the first televised interviews by Lentz and his wife, Laura, since his firing. 

In a teaser trailer for the docuseries, Lentz reveals his regret about everything that has happened, telling the audience, "You do not want to be in this chair. I cannot stress it enough."

Lentz said in his Instagram letter that doing the docuseries has been part of the healing process and that he and his wife have not seen it yet. 

"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," he said.

"We were not interested in blame shifting or responsibility deflection, we focus on my mistakes and the context for what transpired.

"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 also talked about how he was looking forward to the future and happy that he can use his experience to help others who have walked a similar path. 

"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."