Tullian Tchividjian: Allow Your Critics to Teach You

The new pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church talks about the effort to remove him from the pulpit.

Tullian Tchividjian survived an attempt Sunday by dissident church members to remove him as senior pastor of the 2,500-member Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The daughter of the late D. James Kennedy, Tchividjian's predecessor, was among six Coral Ridge members who circulated a petition calling for the new pastor's ouster. Kennedy, who founded Knox Theological Seminary, a political advocacy organization, and several very popular broadcasting programs, served as Coral Ridge's first—and only—pastor from 1960 until his death in 2007.

With Tchividjian's hiring in March as the second pastor in the church's history, the South Florida congregation he founded —New City Church— merged with Coral Ridge.

He spoke this week with Christianity Today about the conflict at Coral Ridge, its impact on Christian witness, and his grandfather Billy Graham's advice on using the turmoil for God's purposes.

Conflict seems to be everywhere, from the debate over national health care to Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift on stage at MTV's Video Music Awards. Given the high-profile dispute at Coral Ridge, how do you persuade the world that the church is any different?

I'm not sure that the difference between the church and the world is the absence of conflict. We are all fallen people in a broken world. The difference is how we respond to conflict and how we recover from conflict.

My hope and prayer is that here at Coral Ridge, we will respond to this conflict in a way that demonstrates for the watching world the reconciling power of the gospel.

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