WHEN WILL WE HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAYS TO CHRIST’S BODY?
The One-Person System Strikes Again
Many loudly proclaim “the Scriptures are our rule of faith and practice,” yet their actions reveal that in crucial areas they don’t really care what the Lord says. People say that they care what the Bible says about their personal lives, but what the New Testament says about Christ’s life in His body is, practically speaking, disregarded and pushed aside.
Only by turning a blind eye to the New Testament can we end up with a deeply entrenched system that flagrantly denies Paul’s crystal-clear remark — “the body is not one part, but many.” The way most churches are run gives the distinct impression that everything depends on one part — “the pastor” — not many.
All of this comes out openly once again in the case of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida. Their famous pastor died and it took a while to find a replacement. The church began to decline after his demise in 2006. “Church elders hoped that Tchividjian’s youth, vision, and name could revive the fortunes of the aging congregation.”
Do you see the pattern here — a pattern that is repeated over and over and over again in churches every day? The health of the church is put into the hands of one person and their vision. If that person dies or leaves, then another “senior pastor” must be found. It is thought that the welfare of the congregation centers on the presence of that one person.
So now Coral Ridge must look for another person to fulfill the many expectations deposited in the position of “pastor.” The church’s statement said, “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.”
There is already Someone to lead congregations, and His name is Jesus Christ. But the system’s focus on a human leader functionally negates the leadership of Christ. Do we care that Jesus clearly said, “don’t be called ‘leaders’ because you have one Leader, Me.”
The religious system solidly in place, fueled by “the pastor” as the linchpin, has profoundly wounded untold church members, clergy, their wives and their children (see http://searchingtogether.org/articles/Pastors_Wife_Letter_1989.pdf). Even Christianity Today editor, Mark Galli, confesses that pastors “are in a profession that is about as morally risky as they come . . . . American churches exalt and isolate their leaders almost by design . . . . most pastors have become heads of personality cults. Churches become identified more with the pastor . . . . When that pastor leaves, or is forced to leave, it’s devastating . . . . [Your pastor] is stuck in a religious system from which few escape unscathed” (CT, August 8, 2011).
When will the Lord’s people rise up and say, “enough is enough”? There are 58 “one another’s” in the New Testament and zero about the central assumption behind how most churches operate — “the local church pastor is key — absolutely central — to everything we are and do as a church” (Ministry, 2010). The “one another’s” abound — love one another, encourage one another, wait for one another, accept one another, etc. But the New Testament has absolutely nothing to say about our emphasis on “the pastor” — the basket in which we are putting all our churchy eggs.
Is it any surprise that the visible churches are sick and filled with troubles when they turn a deaf ear to Paul’s words, “the body is not one part, but many”? In focusing on “the pastor,” the 58 “one another’s” go virtually untouched.
The Spirit is saying to the churches, “You need the life of Christ flowing through every part; you need gatherings where each and every one can bring a song, a teaching; you need body-life where relationships can be deepened and care expressed.” The Spirit is not saying to churches, “You need a new pastor to replace the one who just left.” — Jon Zens, June, 2015
From Christianity Today — Tullian Tchividjian Resigns after Admitting ‘Inappropriate Relationship’
(UPDATED) Billy Graham’s grandson: ‘Welcome to the valley of the shadow of death…thank God grace reigns here.’
[ posted 6/21/2015 09:18PM ]
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.’
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.”