Update (July 30): Less than six weeks after resigning as the senior pastor of a prominent Orlando-based church because of an affair, Tullian Tchividjian says he has no plans to withdraw from the public eye.
“One of the big questions I’ve wrestled with is, how do I properly steward this glorious ruin?” wrote Tchividjian on his Facebook page Tuesday. While Billy Graham’s grandson wanted to crawl “into a hole and be anonymous for a long, long time,” Tchividjian said he feared that his message of grace—the topic of many of his previous books—might be undermined if he stayed quiet.
“If I only let you see me when I’m ‘good’ and ‘strong’ and polished and ‘at the top’, I undermine the very message that I claim to believe,” wrote Tchividjian. “...But if I run away because I don’t want you to see me broken and weak and sad and angry and struggling with fear and guilt and shame, then I fail to practice what I preach—and one of the many things I’ve learned from this is that failing to practice what you preach is destructive.”
Tchividjian, who has continued to tweet and post on Facebook since the news of his affair broke, said he would use the social media platforms to update the public on “the good, the bad, and the ugly.”
“My dad would've been 76 today,” he wrote. “No one would've helped me more right now than him. I miss him. Bad.”
Tchividjian’s ministry Liberate, which launched in 2012, closed indefinitely and canceled its upcoming conference following his resignation.
[Originally posted June 21]
Popular pastor and author Tullian Tchividjian has resigned as senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.
A grandson of Billy Graham, Tchividjian cited "ongoing marital issues" as the reason for his departure from the PCA congregation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He said that his wife had an affair, and in response, he sought comfort in a friend and their relationship turned "inappropriate."
Tchividjian’s name was removed from the church’s website on Sunday as rumors of his resignation began flying on social media.
He confirmed the news on Sunday in a statement to The Washington Post:
Last week I was approached by our church leaders and they asked me about my own affair. I admitted to it and it was decided that the best course of action would be for me to resign. Both my wife and I are heartbroken over our actions and we ask you to pray for us and our family that God would give us the grace we need to weather this heart wrenching storm.
On its website, Coral Ridge acknowledged that Tchividjian "admitted to moral failure, acknowledging his actions disqualify him from continuing to serve as senior pastor or preach from the pulpit, and resigned—effective immediately.
"We are saddened by this news, but are working with and assisting Pastor Tullian and his family to help them through this difficult time, and asking people to join us in praying that God will bring restoration through this process and healing to all involved," stated church leaders.
"The Leadership of Coral Ridge remain committed to promoting the transforming power of the Gospel," the statement continued. "While we do not yet know whom God will direct to lead our congregation in the near future, we trust the Lord’s guidance during this transition period, knowing He is our hope."
Tchividjian’s tenure at Coral Ridge had been troubled from the start. In the spring of 2009, the church named the then-36-year-old as its senior pastor. At the time, Tchividjian led a young church plant which later merged with Coral Ridge.
Founded by famed preacher D. James Kennedy, Coral Ridge had once drawn as many as 7,000 worshipers. But it had been in decline following Kennedy’s death in 2006.
Church elders hoped that Tchividjian’s youth, vision, and name could revive the fortunes of the aging congregation.
Instead they got chaos.
Within six months, a group of church members led by Kennedy’s daughter, Jennifer, called for Tchividjian’s ouster. Those dissidents were banned by the church.
At issue were a change in worship style and Tchividjian’s rejection of culture war politics.
Tchividjian talked with Leadership Journal about the attempted coup in 2011:
It was tremendously uncomfortable coming to worship every Sunday morning during that time not knowing who liked you and who hated you. There were people in the choir who, when I would stand up to preach, would get up and walk out. People would sit in the front row and just stare me down as I preached. It was extremely uncomfortable. People would grab me in the hallway between services and say, ‘You're ruining this church, and I'm going to do everything I can to stop you.’
In 2014, Tchividjian used his last blog at The Gospel Coalition (TGC) to complain that he had been abruptly ordered off the Reformed network. He had already planned on transitioning his material to the site of his Liberate ministry, which seeks to reidentify Christianity with its "core message: the forgiveness of sins."
In response, TGC founders Tim Keller and Don Carson suggested that sanctification theology was at the heart of Tchividjian’s departure, and that “the dispute was becoming increasingly sharp and divisive rather than moving toward greater unity.”
Tchividjian later apologized for his "very public 'break-up.’”
"This conflict has 'given the world the justification they're looking for to disbelieve the gospel,'" wrote Tchividjian, citing Francis Schaeffer's warning on public divisions among Christians, "and I am sorry for my contribution to this conflict."
Tchividjian had been absent from the Coral Ridge pulpit for several weeks prior to his resignation.
A prayer list from the church asked members to pray for Tchividjian and his family. Coral Ridge kept his sermons online, unlike what fellow Fort Lauderdale megachurch pastor Bob Coy's church did after his own resignation for a "moral failure."
On Sunday, Tchividjian posted this message on Twitter:
“Welcome to the valley of the shadow of death...thank God grace reigns here.”
[Photo courtesy of YouTube / Rock Church]