Ex Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz ‘Has No Plans to Open a Church’ After Affair, Says Friend

Rachel DeSantis
·3 min read
Ex Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz ‘Has No Plans to Open a Church’ After Affair, Says Friend

PEOPLE Explains: Carl Lentz's Hillsong Church Scandal

Everything you need to know about Carl Lentz and the celebrity-filled church

Former Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz is focusing his efforts not on rebuilding his career, but on fixing his marriage following his termination from the church and admission of infidelity.

Though he spent the last 20 years of his career with Hillsong, Lentz, 42, does not intend to use his high-profile status to start a church of his own anytime soon, a friend of the couple tells PEOPLE.

“He is not working and plans to take time away from the church to work on his marriage. He has no plans to open a church or seek fame at this time,” the friend says.

Lentz was fired from Hillsong in early November in a statement from founder Brian Houston that said the termination came after "ongoing discussions in relation to leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures."

“They have a heart for people and we are confident that after a time of rest and restoration, God will use Carl in another way outside of Hillsong church,” the statement read. “In terminating his tenure, we in no way want to diminish the good work he did here.”

Shareif Ziyadat/WireImage Carl Lentz

RELATED: Ex-Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz and Wife 'Continue to Work Through' Effects of Affair, Says Friend

While the specifics of the issues remain unclear, Lentz admitted the next day that he’d been unfaithful to his wife Laura, whom he married in 2003 and with whom he shares three children.

RELATED VIDEO: Hillsong Pastor and Justin Bieber's One-Time Spiritual Confidant Carl Lentz Fired for 'Moral Failures'

Hillsong Pastor and Justin Bieber's One-Time Spiritual Confidant Carl Lentz Fired for 'Moral Failures'

"I am very sad to inform you that Hillsong Church has terminated the employment of Pastor Carl Lentz," the church's founder Brian Houston said in a memo

“He never planned to leave his marriage nor said he would do so,” the friend of the couple tells PEOPLE. “He has led the church and his parishioners for more than 20 years and takes his duties extremely seriously and has never shared confidential information about parishioners.”

Hillsong has since announced that upon hearing from several people following Lentz’s firing, it would launch an "in-depth review and investigation to all concerns and any wider cultural issues."

Carl Lentz/Instagram Laura and Carl Lentz

Lentz first got his start with Hillsong when he enrolled in the Hillsong International Leadership College in Australia at age 20. There, he met Laura, and together, they helped launch Hillsong Church N.Y.C. in 2010, which was the church’s first branch based in the United States.

As his profile rose, so, too did his celebrity following; a 2015 GQ profile listed Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner, Selena Gomez, Kevin Durant and Bono as fans.

Though Lentz has not identified the woman with whom he had an affair, he wrote on Instagram that “this failure is on me, and me alone and I take full responsibility for my actions.”

“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..,” he wrote.

RELATED: Former Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz Reportedly Sold New Jersey Home Days Before Being Fired for Infidelity

A 34-year-old woman named Ranin Karim came forward two weeks later to allege that she and Lentz had had a months-long affair that ended in October.

The source previously told PEOPLE that Lentz and Laura are working through their problems with “intense” counseling, and are focused on repairing their marriage.

Laura was spotted at a tanning salon with Carl on Friday without her wedding ring, though the source said she took it off specifically to go to the salon so as not to lose it, and wore her ring for the rest of the weekend. Laura, who was wearing several other rings on her fingers, did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.