Warren Throckmorton interviews pastor:
Is it too soon for Tchividjian to return to church work? To facilitate conversation on the matter, I briefly interviewed Willow Creek Presbyterian Church’s pastor Kevin Labby via email. Labby addresses some of the social media questions flying around and offers his rationale for Tchividjian’s new position. Labby’s answers follow my questions in bold print.
What is your reply to the critics who think it is too soon for Tullian Tchividjian to re-enter ministry?
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.
Second, the position offered to Tullian does not involve responsibilities unique to the office of teaching elder (or pastor). His work will be as a support staff member.
Thirdly, Tullian is not new to our church family. He and his family attended Willow Creek years ago, during his seminary studies. He has friends here, and so his re-entry into our community during this difficult time seems quite appropriate and natural. We simply want to care and help provide for him and, by extension, his family.
Finally, I understand that some might disagree with the timing. We sense genuine confession and contrition from Tullian, and are eager to welcome him to Willow Creek. We want to see the process of repentance continue in the context of a loving church family. We believe that it is important for the church to demonstrate faith in the reconciling power of the gospel by running toward those pastors caught in public scandal, not away from them.