Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tullian Tchividjian Elected as Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church

This morning Tullian Tchividjian preached for the first time at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida—just 12 miles away from Monarch High School in Coconut Creek, FL, where New City Presbyterian Church (EPC) meets. Tulian founded New City in August 2003.

Following the worship service, the members of Coral Ridge gathered for a congregational meeting and voted (91%) to accept their Pulpit Nominating Committee's invitation for Tullian to serve as their Senior Pastor. The result will be a merger between Coral Ridge and New City. (Official announcement here.)

Tullian becomes just the second senior pastor at Coral Ridge, succeeding D. James Kennedy, who went to be with the Lord in September 2007 at the age of 76. On the day that Dr. Kennedy died, Tullian wrote on his blog:
Growing up in South Florida, we knew the Kennedys for many years and I can say with absolute certainty that because of his evangelistic ministry there are more Christians in this area now than there were 25 years ago. He was an amazing man. When I moved down here to start New City he met with me on a few occasions to encourage me and to tell me how happy he was that I had “come home” to preach. I liked having him around. Knowing that I could go to him with questions and counsel was a comfort to me. I’m going to miss him. I’ll see you on the other side Jim.
Thirty five years ago--February 3, 1974--Tullian's grandfather Billy Graham preached the dedication sermon for the then-new sanctuary of Coral Ridge, telling the congregation that their "example . . . is being followed by churches all over the world." Graham was 55 years old at the time—Tullian was 19 months old! And just yesterday was the two year anniversary of the death of his beloved grandmother, Ruth Graham Bell. So his grandparents' shadow was undoubtedly cast upon this weekend at Coral Ridge.

Yesterday on the New City blog Tullian wrote:
I have never prayed so hard. I have never felt more desperately dependent on God. I sincerely and genuinely want whatever God wants. It’s in His hands. I am not my own. I belong to Him. Therefore, I will do what He tells me to do and go where He tells me to go. Period.
Earlier in the week Tullian had written an exhortation to both congregations:

If the Gospel is not embraced and applied by all from both churches, it will not work. We need to be willing and desirous to lay our lives down for one another because Christ laid his life down for us (1 John 3:16). That’s what the Gospel-centered life is. And that’s the life that God has called us to live. No one from either church is going to get everything they want (that’s self-protection). But everyone from both churches will have everything we need to do the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way (that’s self-sacrifice).

So, as I’ve mentioned before, to all of those who are willing to change and serve and grow and be stretched and lose it all for the sake of Christ, I applaud you–more importantly, God applauds you. To those who, like their Savior, are ready to take up their cross and “go outside the camp”–who understand that it’s better to give than to receive, to be self-sacrificial rather than self-serving, to look out for the interests of others before your own interests, to live life going to the back instead getting to the front–I thank you for fueling my weak faith. To those who understand that you are owners of nothing and stewards of everything–that God is God and you are not–we need you!

God is clearly up to something big. Don’t miss out. Don’t let fear of the unknown prevent you from this great adventure. And please, continue to pray for both churches. Continue to pray for God’s clear direction and fierce protection. If this moves forward, I will consider it a high and holy privilege to serve and love and teach and lay my life down for those who move ahead with us. We will move ahead together–side by side, back to back!

For more on Tullian--including his prodigal journey, his relationship to his grandparents, how he became Reformed--see my 2007 interview with him here.

His second book, Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different (foreword by Tim Keller), is due out from Multnomah next month.

Update: To listen to his sermon at Coral Ridge, click here, then click on "Audio Archives."