Tullian Tchividjian, Pastor Kevin Labby, Liberate Network, Repentance, Clergy Sex Abuse, Restoration
The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. Ezekiel 34:1-3
I have a disappointing update on Tullian Tchividjian. To recap events, I am posting an excerpt from an earlier post:
In June, Pastor Tullian Tchividjian resigned as lead pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida. Here is part of the original statement Tchividjian released to the Washington Post from June:
I resigned from my position at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church today due to ongoing marital issues. As many of you know, I returned from a trip a few months back and discovered that my wife was having an affair. Heartbroken and devastated, I informed our church leadership and requested a sabbatical to focus exclusively on my marriage and family. As her affair continued, we separated. Sadly and embarrassingly, I subsequently sought comfort in a friend and developed an inappropriate relationship myself. 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 (Source).
Last month, mid-February, Tullian Tchividjian tweeted the following:
Here is the statement from the Board of Directors at Liberate Network:
It is with much excitement that we announce the relaunch of LIBERATE.
As many of you know, LIBERATE was founded in 2011 by Tullian Tchividjian as a resource ministry whose mission was to connect God’s inexhaustible grace to an exhausted world through books, conferences, television, radio, social media, and a variety of other mediums. Over the next several years, LIBERATE grew to become a unique and vibrant ministry.
In light of what has transpired with both Tullian and LIBERATE over the past year, you may be asking, “What will Tullian’s involvement be as LIBERATE moves forward?” Today, Tullian continues an encouraging season of rest and healing as a part of the Willow Creek Church family in Winter Springs, FL. The elders of Willow Creek Church are presently overseeing a care plan for him, one involving routine worship, prayer, fellowship, study, professional counseling, and more. The process is going remarkably well, and we are very encouraged by his honesty, humility, repentance, and commitment to healing.
Our prayerful hope and expectation is that Tullian will join us fully in this great work one day. In the meantime (and in keeping with his care plan) he is presently on sabbatical from the board of the Liberate Network.
Thankfully, the Liberate Network is ultimately about the message of the gospel, not any particular messenger, and so we’re moving forward together. To God’s glory, we look forward to the Liberate Network sharing the good news of God’s inexhaustible grace to an exhausted world for many years to come.
Please be sure to connect with us on Facebook (facebook.com/LiberateNetwork) and Twitter (@LiberateNetwork) for exciting news and ministry content.
Board of Directors
Liberate Network, Inc
Dr. Chris Crawford, M.D. – Partner, Dallas Associated Dermatologists
Mrs. Barbara Juliani – Editor, New Growth Press
Rev. Matt Popovits – Lead Pastor, Our Savior New York
New York, NY
Rev. Kevin Labby – Lead Pastor, Willow Creek Church
Winter Springs, FL
Mr. Peter Ouda, J.D. – Peter Ouda Law
Ms. Lana Trombly
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Mr. Dwayne Williams – Executive Vice-President, Frontline Insurance
Winter Springs, FL
Ms. Catherine Wyatt – Vice President of Development, Key Life Network
Winter Springs, FL
Rev. Dr. Paul F.M. Zahl – Retired Episcopal minister and author
Winter Garden, FL
Notice who is listed above? Rev. Kevin Labby is Tullian’s new pastor.
This tweeter had an appropriate response:
Here is a tweet from the Liberate Twitter account – a timely tweet promoting a quote by Tullian Tchividjian:
On the following tweet, we see a speaking opportunity for Tullian Tchividjian:
And here is a live (sold out) speaking event this weekend (already concluded at the time of this post):
Pastor Kevin Labby gives Tchividjian his pastoral blessing by posting this tweet:
Here’s my beef:
I don’t want to call it an affair because Tullian Tchividjian was in a position of trust. In Florida, it appears there could be legal ramifications for someone who has sex when they are in a professional relationship with a client, in this case, congregant:
Florida 491.0112(1): “sexual misconduct with a client or former client when the professional relationship was terminated primarily for the purpose of engaging in sexual contact”
There are two fractured families that we know of because of the clergy sex abuse, emotional abuse, and spiritual abuse. However, the whole congregation put their trust in their pastor, and for Tchividjian to be preaching Christ, the gospel, and grace from the pulpit, while engaging with another woman in an emotional, physical, spiritual, and sexual way, is harmful to the Body of Christ. It takes time to get over that kind of unfaithfulness. This is especially difficult for individuals who are already struggling with trust issues with people in authority.
While Pastor Labby is currently the pastor of his own flock, which now includes Tullian Tchividjian as congregant, did he consider the hurting flock Tullian left behind at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church when he started tweeting about Tullian? Was he sensitive to the ongoing struggles of Tullian’s own family, the “other woman’s” family? . . . or was getting Tullian Tchividjian back in the speaking circuit his primary goal?
I question the wisdom of Kevin Labby as pastor. What is in it for Labby to have Tullian Tchividjian speaking again? Or Tchividjian’s involvement in Liberate Network – the group in which Labby is on the Board of Directors?
I have seen true repentance. I have witnessed the fruit of true repentance:
True repentance shows the utmost concern for victims who were harmed.
The victims are the primary focus. Abusers who fully repent willingly forfeit their rights because they will do anything to help victims recover.
We do not see that displayed here. Why do I say that? Because a pastor who understood the full extent of their sin and abuse would not put themselves in a teaching position. Speaking at events is a teaching position. It is a trusted position for leaders. Using social media as a platform to his 108,000 Twitter followers is akin to a teaching position.
For crying out loud, even his Twitter handle has “pastor” on it:
My favorite response I read a while back comes from Christine Pack of Sola Sisters fame:
“My summer pedicure lasted longer than his so-called repentance/restoration season.“ (Source)
Update: The speaking event was held at Spring Hills Community Church, a sold out event.
Here is the event summary (which may be too small to read in the image above):
Bestselling author Tullian Tchividjian is convinced our exhausted world needs a fresh encounter with God’s inexhaustible grace—His one-way love. Sadly, however, Christianity is perceived as being a vehicle for good behavior and clean living—and the judgments that result from them—rather than the only recourse for those who have failed over and over and over again. Tchividjian convincingly shows that Christianity is not about good people getting better. If anything, it is good news for bad people coping with their failure to be good.