News & Opinion | November 6, 2020 8:46 am

“Hipster Pastor” to the Stars Carl Lentz Fired for Having an Affair

The pastor famous for baptizing Justin Bieber confessed his "moral failures" in an Instagram post

carl lentz
Carl Lentz is out at Hillsong.
Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Celebrity pastor Carl Lentz, famous for preaching to the stars at New York’s buzzy Hillsong East Coast, has been terminated from the position due to “leadership issues and breaches of trust,” specifically, cheating on his wife.

Religion News Service first reported news of Lentz’s ousting in an email sent to Hillsong members on Wednesday, citing “a recent revelation of moral failures” on Lentz’s part, but refusing to provide additional details.

“Please understand that it would not be appropriate for us to go into detail about the events that led to this decision,” Hillsong’s founding pastors, Brian and Bobbie Houston, wrote in the email. “However you can be assured that this decision was made in order to honor God and pastorally care for you, our East Coast family, Pastor Carl and his family.”

The specifics of those moral failures came from Lentz himself the following day, when the former pastor took to Instagram to confess his infidelity.

“I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life and held accountable for that,” Lentz wrote in Thursday’s Instagram post. “This failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions. I now begin a journey of rebuilding trust with my wife, Laura and my children and taking real time to work on and heal my own life and seek out the help that I need.”

View this post on Instagram

Our time at HillsongNYC has come to an end. This is a hard ending to what has been the most amazing, impacting and special chapter of our lives. Leading this church has been an honor in every sense of the word and it is impossible to articulate how much we have loved and will always love the amazing people in this church. When you accept the calling of being a pastor, you must live in such a way that it honors the mandate. That it honors the church, and that it honors God. When that does not happen, a change needs to be made and has been made in this case to ensure that standard is upheld. Laura and I and our amazing children have given all that we have to serve and build this church and over the years I did not do an adequate job of protecting my own spirit, refilling my own soul and reaching out for the readily available help that is available. When you lead out of an empty place, you make choices that have real and painful consequences. I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life and held accountable for that. This failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions. I now begin a journey of rebuilding trust with my wife, Laura and my children and taking real time to work on and heal my own life and seek out the help that I need. I am deeply sorry for breaking the trust of many people who we have loved serving and understand that this news can be very hard and confusing for people to hear and process. I would have liked to say this with my voice, to you, in person because you are owed that. But that opportunity I will not have. So to those people, I pray you can forgive me and that over time I can live a life where trust is earned again. To our pastors Brian and Bobbie, thank you for allowing us to lead, allowing us to thrive and giving us room to have a voice that you have never stifled or tried to silence. Thank you for your grace and kindness especially in this season, as you have done so much to protect and love us through this. We, the Lentz family, don’t know what this next chapter will look like, but we will walk into it together very hopeful and grateful for the grace of God..

A post shared by Carl Lentz (@carllentz) on

Brian Houston also expressed his own distress regarding Lentz’s dismissal from the megachurch in the email, writing, “While I have no doubt in my heart that this is the right course of action, I must mention Bobbie’s and my personal sadness, as we have known Laura her entire life and Carl for well over 20 years.”

During his tenure at Hillsong, Lentz was known for his hypepriest personality, hipster aesthetic, and for baptizing Justin Bieber in an NBA player’s bathtub.