Drew Dyck has a great interview with Tullian Tchividjian about his difficult first year at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. I am thankful to God for this brother, who has blessed me in many ways through his speaking and writing. As Dyck reports:
Tchividjian’s church plant, New City, merged with the larger Coral Ridge, but the honeymoon was short-lived. Seven months later a group of church members, headed by Kennedy’s daughter, circulated a petition calling for his removal. On September 20, 2009, Tchividjian survived a vote to remove him from leadership.
An excerpt from the interview:
Some of the reasons you were opposed seem trivial. You didn’t wear a robe, like Dr. Kennedy did. You weren’t political enough from the pulpit. Was there something beneath those objections?
Not preaching politics was a big one. But yes, I’m sure there was something underlying those complaints. Part of it may have been an old-fashioned power struggle. There were people who had been in places of power under Kennedy who felt that this was their church, and they should be in charge of running it. I think some of them probably saw in me a young guy who would be wide-eyed by coming here and would basically do whatever they said. What they underestimated was that we had prayed and thought hard about what God wanted this church to be, and we were very determined to get there.
What was your initial reaction to the resistance?
Well, we expected it. But it’s one thing to talk about war and another to be a soldier on the ground when the bullets are flying. It was hard. It was the first time in my life where I was leading a church where I knew many people didn’t like me.
Things started blowing up pretty quickly because there were things that had to change immediately. There were issues on staff that had to be addressed immediately, dangerous things. Yet if you’re not in the know, all you see are these changes taking place. To some it looked like we were just being disrespectful, that we were bulls in a china shop. We were coming in as the guest and taking over. So there were a lot of those kinds of accusations. They weren’t accurate, but we couldn’t disclose all the reasons we had to make the changes.
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.” I would come out to my car and it would be keyed. Some people would stop at nothing to intimidate.
They put petitions on car windows during the worship service. They started an anonymous blog, which was very painful. Here we were trying to build consensus and there’s this anonymous blog fueling rumors and lies. The blog almost ruined my wife’s life. Anonymous letters were sent out to the entire congregation with accusations and character assassinations. It was absolutely terrible.
A proclamation of Christ’s sufficiency that frees us from self-righteousness and keeps us anchored through storms.
Jesus + Nothing = Everything is the equation that Tullian Tchividjian took away from a year of great trial and turmoil. In this book he describes the bitter divisions that soured the beginning of his pastorate at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and the personal anchor that he found in the overwhelming power of the gospel. The book of Colossians forms the basis of Tchividjian’s call for Christians to rediscover the gospel and continually reorient their lives around Jesus.
Tchividjian insists that many who assume they understand the gospel fail to actually apply its riches to their lives. He takes particular aim at self-righteousness, which emphasizes moral behavior while ignoring gospel indicatives. In contrast, Tchividjian delivers a strong grip of the gospel and the radical freedom and peace that are only then possible. This book delves into the profound theological truths of the gospel, yet the message is intensely practical–Tchividjian sounds the call for believers to lean hard on Christ in every area of every day.