At Coral Ridge Church, "Unfashionable" Is In, Kennedy's Daughter Is Out
That's Rev. Tullian Tchivijian, the fresh-faced grandson of the Rev. Billy Graham explaining the principles of his book Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different. In the first several months of his pastorship at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, that's been a hard sell to church traditionalists -- especially a group that includes Jennifer Cassidy Kennedy, daughter of the Rev. James Kennedy. The Sun-Sentinel reports that this weekend she was kicked out of the church along with five other members for leading an insurgency that aimed to remove Tchivijian for trying to bring too radical a change to the megachurch that Kennedy built.
Clearly, though, church management realized that Tchivijian's lineage, as well as his charisma in the pulpit, would fill the huge void left behind by Kennedy. And it's evident those same church powers have long since realized the folly of leading their members on crusades against gay marriage and other hot-button political issues in which evangelicals are destined to be on the wrong side of history.
Coral Ridge Ministries, which originated with Kennedy but is no longer associated with the church, remains a cultural warrior -- as well as a cautionary tale in what happens to religious organizations out of step with the times. It's most recent YouTube campaign is a two-part series that accuses sex researcher Alfred Kinsey of child abuse. Take that, pansexuals!
The title of his book notwithstanding, Tchivijian's new Christian message is more fashionable in these times, and it's more sustainable over the long haul. Tchivijian gives the church a chance to keep pace with Calvary Chapel in attracting young Christians.
If Tchivijian's detractors reached for scandal, they didn't find much, judging by the flier the Sun-Sentinel describes:
They have mass-mailed accusations to congregants, accusing Tchividjian of heavy-handed tactics such as downplaying the church's traditional service in favor of contemporary worship. They've criticized Tchividjian for replacing some Coral Ridge staff with his own people, and planning to sell land at the church's west campus "to make up for budget shortfalls."
Sounds like the monotonous, inevitable work that comes in any transition of leadership. And it sounds like Tchividjian wasn't going to win over this group no matter what he did.
As coups go, this one's a yawner. Wake us up when Tchivijian challenges Calvary Chapel's Pastor Bob Coy to a steel cage match.
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