As I’ve noted before, restoration isn’t a quick or easy process. I don’t have the inside information on Tchividjian’s restoration process, but whoever put the rubber stamp of approval on his return to ministry might have been a bit hasty. I guarantee that everyone involved had the right spirit and intentions toward him and the church, but there is no replacement for a proper restoration.
A few months ago, Pastor Tullian Tchividjian, grandson of Billy Graham, left Coral Ridge Presbyterian after it was discovered he had been in what he described an “inappropriate relationship.” Shortly after, he began working at Willow Creek .
In the past 72 hours, many stories have broken about Tchividjian. It is being reported that he has left Willow Creek because of “some previously undisclosed failures in his life.” The same article reports that half of his board has also resigned.
Sadly, the news doesn’t end there. A source told the Christian Post that Tchividjian had disclosed his adultery to at least two Coral Ridge leaders two years ago and that those leaders advised him to not tell his wife. The two leaders reportedly decided not to tell the other leaders about Tchividjian’s adultery.
If these allegations are true, then there are many troubling issues to wrestle with. However, all churches, pastors and leaders can learn from this situation. Here are four things we can learn:
- As I’ve noted before,restoration isn’t a quick or easy process. I don’t have the inside information on Tchividjian’s restoration process, but whoever put the rubber stamp of approval on his return to ministry might have been a bit hasty. I guarantee that everyone involved had the right spirit and intentions toward him and the church, but there is no replacement for a proper restoration.
It’s a process that takes months, sometimes years and it results in a broken, humble person who is accountable to Christ and others. It results in a person who is fundamentally different in every way than they were before.
The good news for Tchividjian and what every Christian needs to remember is that his restoration can still take place. He needs to be actively restored to a right relationship to Christ. Every Christian should desire this.
- Consequences are very real.Tchividjian is a guy who gets the tag, “Billy Graham’s grandson” every time an article is written. But even without that, he would have had a successful ministry because of his preaching ability and charisma. But because of his sin, it’s gone. After the first time, he would probably have been able to hold on to a following; but not now. He’s going to be lucky to have a handful of friends.
Sure, maybe in fifteen years we’ll see him write a book about his life and encourage people away from making the same mistake. But it’s likely over for him in the capacity he’s known ministry. Worse, he’s drug down a lot of people with him this time. Not just him and the woman he committed adultery with, he’s taken down people who stood by him and vouched for him.
Pastors, understand that the consequences of sin are real. God is not joking when He tells us to stay pure and stay away from adultery. Christ isn’t kidding when He tells us that even thinking about a woman in the wrong way is the same as committing adultery. Pastors, Christians, protect your heart.Once you lose your reputation, it is very difficult to gain it back.
Ray Carroll is the author of “Fallen Pastor: Finding Restoration in a Broken World.”