One of the hardest issues in pastoral life in following a long-time pastor who founded the church. That pastor’s identity is in lockstep with the identity of the church—so when God calls a new pastor, there can be some growing pains.
Tullian Tchividjian is the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida—founded and pastored by D. James Kennedy until his death in 2007 for 48 years.
Now, a small faction has been circulating letters asking for Tchividjian’s removal. Why? He doesn’t wear robes like Kennedy, preach political sermons like Kennedy, having the same priorities as Kennedy, etc. In response, Tchividjian wrote an article in the opinion section of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. I hope you will read the entire article, but the concluding paragraphs sum this servant of Christ’s attitude up nicely:
To get this matter behind us once and for all, the elders and I have called this congregational meeting and a vote will take place on Sunday. You will no doubt read about the result, but whatever it is, I want to say three things to the South Florida community that I love so much and have called home for 37 years.
First, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church is not my church, and it wasn’t Dr. Kennedy’s church. It’s God’s church and I want to honor Him and carry on the legacy of Jesus above anything or anyone else.
Second, I remain committed to serving our one new church and the community where we’re located. We are surrounded by so much need for God’s love and the hope that comes from knowing Him and I want this to be the focus of my life and ministry. I want Coral Ridge to be a church in Ft. Lauderdale, for Ft. Lauderdale. We want God to use us to make Ft. Lauderdale a better place to live for everyone, not just us.
Finally, whenever you see any of us who claim to be "Christ followers" behaving in a manner that is unlike Jesus, please forgive us. And please let that be a reflection on us, and not on Him. As imperfect people, we will continue to let you down and disappoint you, but Jesus will never let you down–he will never disappoint you. This conflict has "given the world the justification they’re looking for to disbelieve the gospel", and I am sorry.