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.
113 thoughts on “Tullian Tchividjian is Back, Fully Endorsed by His Pastor, Kevin Labby”
Welcome, Mrs. C., and thank you for your comment. Be sure to check back, as I am going to use your comment as the beginning of discussion on this topic.
Mrs. C. —
Thank you for that comment. We’ve seen that happen in a lot of Christian ministries. Typically when a visionary leader dies, it leaves a vacuum. And an opportunistic person who aggressively steps into place is often a bad choice (although seen as a “savior” a first).
Succession planning with a clear message to the public on who will come next is very important, but in an effort to horde power, the egos of these older leaders cannot do it.
I agree they have to train the next generation and be humble enough to hand over the reins.
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I really would like to figure out how to avoid this problem in the future. It gets hard to keep reading these stories and seeing the hurt over and over. What is the take away lesson here that we can use for the future, or even pass down to the next generation of pew warmers? I would hate to believe that this is the new normal in the church. We just can’t keep betraying each other in the church and expect everything to be great. The church will implode.
If my husband was an elder that knew the Pastor had an affair and covered it up, along with not disclosing the affair to the Pastor’s wife…I would have some serious trust issues with my husband, the elder. If a man is OK doing that in the church my first thought, as his wife, would be to question what in OUR marriage is he OK with covering up? If I was a member in that church, while this whole thing went on, I would have some serious thoughts about how they view women. See how this is a cancer that eats away at everything?
“Typically when a visionary leader dies, it leaves a vacuum. And an opportunistic person who aggressively steps into place is often a bad choice (although seen as a “savior” a first).”
Believers have a visionary leader, Jesus Christ.
“Succession planning with a clear message to the public on who will come next is very important, but in an effort to horde power, the egos of these older leaders cannot do it.”
This reminds me of the Jews who were convinced they needed a king like the Pagans had. This made God angry because He was their king. He gave them what they wanted because they did not want to be mature adults seeking His wisdom.
Isn’t it sad that sdult believers cannot gather together to learn and fellowship with one another without someone in charge of them with a vision that God did not share with all of them.
The reason we have charlatans is because we have bought into these systems that do nothing to help us mature as believers but keep us looking to gurus.
What if the woman he had an affair with turned out to be a 17 year old youth member at his church? Does he still get all that “grace” and forgiveness poured over him by other pastors? Does he still get to be Mr. Spiritual Leader again? Christians dole out all that wonderful grace conditionally. We happen to live in time where Pastor’s are easily forgiven for putting their penis inside the vagina of another man’s wife – after all he’s only human and that sucks he got caught. No biggie, see you at your book singing! This guy is a narcissist and an ego maniac and he will keep doing what he wants to do. After all, God forgives, so why not?
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What if a woman in leadership had done what TT did? Would the elders be so lenient? Imagine someone like Joyce Meyers did something like this?! All good questions and I think we can guess at the answers. I think the churches should be held accountable for the counseling of the women, since harm is done to them, but the perp gets all the counseling perks. Pastor perps are babied and the women are discarded like trash. I don’t like his equation.
Here is a quote from Labby that answers questions:
“I think it would be helpful and important to clarify a few things. First, the South Florida Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) deposed Tullian from what we Presbyterians call the office of teaching elder (what most American Christians would label “pastor”), but did so without further censure. He was not excommunicated. Since his deposition did not include excommunication, Tullian is not precluded by our church polity from serving on a PCA church staff per se. His deposition simply means that he cannot do so as a teaching elder.”
I guess there is a bright side and a not-so-bright side. So the PCA did depose Tullian, which means that he’s not going to be a pastor in any Reformed/Presbyterian church anytime soon, and that is good. The not-so-bright side is that people like Labby are going to find out all sorts of ways to put him in positions that “use his gifts” without those positions being legally classifiable as exclusive to the office of teaching elder. Something like seminary professor, for example.
The other somewhat positive is that the only court that can restore Tullian is the court that deposed him. I’m not sure what would be required for that restoration, since the deposition probably happened because his sin permanently disqualifies him from holding office.
Another used slick snake oil salesman back in the pulpit who stands to gain from all the monies he brings in? Was he out for a minimum of two years and in hardcore counseling NOT of his choice? This is where Herb Goldberg and Susan Forward and Dr. Laura need to be their counselors and ALL THREE determine if fit to go back; people who you can’t B.S., NOT what stupid church inept leadership determines who are so unhealed themselves and that’s why all these dead ministries that SHOULD NOT EXIST! Some of the comments were righteous!
Not sure why he is still in ministry. It seems like this is all he knows and can’t earn a living anyway else. However, a big moral failure has to have consequences. Some time off to build his relationship with Christ. I’m for grace, but not abusing grace or misinterpreting it to mean a license to sin. Humility and submission go along way with Pastors and especially with Pastors trying to make a comeback.