William Graham Tullian Tchividjian (/ˈtʌliən tʃɪˈvɪdʒɪn/; born July 13, 1972) , a grandson of Christian evangelist Billy Graham, Tchividjian is a pastor who was removed from ministry of the Presbyterian Church in America denomination, and author of more than a half dozen books about Christianity and current issues, including One Way Love and It is Finished (David C. Cook, 2013 and 2015).
Prior to his 2015 pastoral removal, Tchividjian blogged for some time for The Gospel Coalition, contributed to a variety of secular and Christian publications, and appeared on a variety of major televisions news programs.
Tchividjian founded an Evangelical Presbyterian Church congregation. In 2009 he was invited to merge churches and become the second senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (after the church's late founder and longterm leader, D. James Kennedy).
In 2015 Tchividjian resigned from Coral Ridge after revelations of an extramarital affair. This was the first of more than one to which he would admit, the initial admission being sufficient for his being deposed by his denomination as "unfit for Christian ministry."
As of December 2016, the Christian publisher David C. Cook remained committed to publishing Tchividjian's next book.
In 2019 Tchividjian started The Sanctuary, an unaffiliated church In Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Early life and education
William Graham Tullian Tchividjian, whose third given name is shortened from his namesake, the theologian of antiquity, Tertullian, was born on July 13, 1972, in Jacksonville, Florida. He is the middle of seven children of Stephan and Gigi Tchividjian, Gigi the eldest daughter of Billy and Ruth Graham's five children, and Stephan, a psychologist of Swiss-Armenian ancestry. He is the nephew of evangelists Franklin Graham and Anne Graham Lotz.
Tchividjian attended the Westminster Academy, an educational ministry of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for a time, but is described as having "dropped out during a period of rebellion—sinking into South Florida's "pleasure-saturated culture" ... then [coming] to a personal faith in Jesus at the age of 21 and return[ing] to a Christian lifestyle." In this same rough time frame, he attended and graduated from Columbia International University, in Columbia, South Carolina, with a B.A. in philosophy in 1997. Tchividjian subsequently earned an M.Div. degree at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando in 2001, and was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) denomination.
New City Presbyterian Church (Coconut Creek, Florida) and earlier
Before founding New City Presbyterian Church (New City), an Evangelical Presbyterian Church congregation, Tchividjian spent "a short two-year stint at a Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee". Tchividjian went on from that position to found and pastor New City in Coconut Creek–Margate, Florida, about 12 miles northwest of his earlier Westminster Academy school in Ft. Lauderdale, ca. 2003. The church has been described as "a young church plant," and in 2009 it would merge with the nearby, larger, and widely known Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. At the time of the merger, it was described as being a congregation to 650 persons. Tchividjian noted at the time that "the denominations [of the merging churches] are both theologically conservative and [they] have maintained a good working relationship over the years."
Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
Merger and installation
As described by Tchividjian and others to James D. Davis, Religion Editor of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the process to decide leadership that resulted in the merger of the two congregations was a year-long process managed by "Coral Ridge's 15-member Pulpit Nominating Committee" (Dan Westphal, chair), who evaluated 150-175 candidates nationally and internationally. Coral Ridge is described as having approached Tchividjian three times during the process, beginning in May 2008, and his having stipulated the necessity of a church merger for him to consider that pastorate at Coral Ridge; the final discussion between Tchividjian and Coral Ridge began "just before Christmas ."
Westphal announced the committee's selection of Tchividjian, pending congregational approval, to Coral Ridge congregants in a Sunday morning service on January 18, 2009, to "[g]asps, then applause" (as described by Davis of the Sun-Sentinel). The merger of the two congregations was official on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2009. Tchividjian was approved, with his installation on May 10, 2009 as senior pastor of Coral Ridge, formally succeeding its late founding pastor, D. James Kennedy; the installation address was delivered by Evangelical Christian writer and social critic, Os Guinness, and more than 5,000 are reported to have attended the installation worship service. Tchividjian brought with him a less formal worship style from New City, for instance, conducting services in a suit and tie rather than the vestments Kennedy had worn.
At one time drawing 7,000 worshipers, Kennedy's Coral Ridge "had been in decline" since the death of its famous first preacher in 2007; Tchividjian's presented vision, his relative youth (aged 36 at time of installation), and his association with the famous Graham family and were seen by the church elders as a way to "revive... the aging congregation." At the time of Tchividjian's installation, Coral Ridge was described as having a weekly attendance at 1,800, from a membership of 2,200 persons. The combined weekly attendance of the merged congregations was anticipated to be on the order of 2,450 persons.
However, the response of the church to the difference in pastoral styles, and "Tchividjian's rejection of culture war politics" led to "chaos" in the church, and Tchividjian's recall was sought by a group led by Kennedy's daughter, Jennifer, within 6 months of his installation. In its description of the conflict, Bobby Ross Jr. of Christianity Today describes its outcome as "Tchividjian [having] survived an attempt… by… church members to remove him.
Tchividjian was retained by a majority of the congregation in September 2009. and the individuals bringing the removal action were described as being banned from the church.
At its peak, under Kennedy, as many as 7,000 worshipers attended Coral Ridge, although this number had declined between Kennedy's death in 2007, and 2009. In a Press Release from both churches just prior to the merger, Coral Ridge was described as having 2,200 members (with weekly attendance at 1,800), and New City as being "a church of 650 people." More than 5000 were said to be in attendance on the Sunday of Tchividjian's installation as the church's new senior pastor in spring of 2009. In September 2009 Coral Ridge was described by Christianity Today as having "2500-member[s]".
On June 21, 2015, Tchividjian resigned as senior pastor of Presbyterian Church after admitting to an extramarital affair. On August 11, he was deposed by the South Florida Presbytery of the PCA, who ruled him "unfit for Christian ministry."
Willow Creek (Winter Springs, Florida)
On September 2, 2015 it was announced that Tchvidjian was hired to a non-leadership, non-pastoral staff position, as Director of Ministry Development at Willow Creek Church (PCA) in Winter Springs, Florida. Tchvidjian was fired from the position at Willow Creek on March 16, 2016, following the disclosure of a second extramarital affair, one predating his earlier admitted affair, one that had also occurred during his previous position in pastoral leadership at Coral Ridge.
The Sanctuary (Palm Beach Gardens, Florida)
In 2019 Tchividjian, with his second wife, started The Sanctuary, an unaffiliated church In Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
Other ministries led
Tchividjian was among those who founded LIBERATE, a resource ministry that held an annual conference, and published music, books, a website, and a daily radio program on Moody Radio by the same name. LIBERATE was closed indefinitely after Tchividjian's resignation from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. A related organisation, Liberate Network, was initiated by Tchividjian after his hiring by Willow Creek Church in Winter Springs, Florida, but was disbanded within months of its launch, following his departure from that second church after the revelation of other affairs.
Tchividjian has written for Christianity Today, and other print outlets. In addition, Tchividjian was a contributor to Don't Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day, published by the Reformed network called The Gospel Coalition (TGC) in 2011, and was a contributing editor of Christianity Today's Leadership Journal.
Tchividjian was a regular blogger at TGC. In 2014, a dispute regarding differing theologies of sanctification was described by TGC founders Tim Keller and Don Carson as "becoming increasingly sharp and divisive rather than moving toward greater unity," leading the TGC Council to decide to remove Tchividjian's blog from the network's website. Part of the division stemmed from Tchividjian's teaching, which many within the Reformed community criticized as endorsing antinomianism, a claim which Tchividjian denies.Christianity Today described Tchividjian's final blog post on the network as "complain[ing] that he had been abruptly ordered off the Reformed network," but noted that he later apologized for his role in the "very public 'break-up.'"
As of December 2016, Tchividjian has also written a few blog posts for a variety of other publications, including the Huffington Post, and the religious ecumenical website OnFaith.
Tchividjian has written several books. Some of the works are as follows.
- — (2005). The Kingdom of God: A Primer on the Christian Life. Carlisle, PN: Banner of Truth. ISBN 0851519008.
- — (2009). Do I Know God? Finding Certainty in Life's Most Important Relationship. forward by Billy Graham. Colorado Springs, CO and New York, NY: Multnomah [Penguin Random House/WaterBrook & Multnomah] and Knopf Doubleday Religious. ISBN 1601422180. Retrieved December 7, 2016.
- — (2009). Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different. forward by Timothy Keller. Colorado Springs, CO and New York, NY: Multnomah [Penguin Random House/WaterBrook & Multnomah] and Knopf Doubleday Religious. ISBN 1601420854. Retrieved December 7, 2016.
- — (2010). Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels. Wheaton, IL: Crossway. ISBN 1433523612. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
- — (2011). Jesus + Nothing = Everything. Wheaton, IL: Crossway. ISBN 1433507781. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
- — (2012). Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free. Zahl, David; Holcomb, Justin & Johnson, Matt. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook. ISBN 1434705153. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
- — (2013). One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World. Zahl, David & Fitzpatrick, Elyse. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook. ISBN 0781410894. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
- — (2015). 'It is Finished': 365 Days of Good News. With Lannon, Nick. Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook. ISBN 1434708993. Retrieved December 11, 2016.
Jesus + Nothing = Everything (2011) tied for Christianity Today's Book Award in the category Christian Living in 2012 and was a finalist in the non-fiction category for the 2012 Christian Book Awards from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free (2012) was a finalist in the non-fiction category for the 2013 Christian Book Awards from the ECPA. His books have been translated into Spanish and Chinese. In 2015 many of his books were taken out of print for violating the publisher's moral turpitude clause.
As of December 2016, the Christian publisher David C. Cook remained committed to publishing Tchividjian's next book.
Tchividjian has maintained a presence on social media throughout his ministry, and has "remained active on social media" since resigning his ministry positions in 2015, stating to Christianity Today that "leaving the public eye would undermine the message of grace" that he had advocated.
Tchividjian has appeared on Fox News, Morning Joe, Sean Hannity, and the 700 Club.
In a story done at the time of the announcement of the merger of his New City church plant and Coral Ridge, Tchividjian is described as enjoying "weightlifting while playing the likes of Coldplay or John Mayer on his iPod… surfing when time permits, as well as spending time with wife Kim and their children."
Tchividjian married his first wife, Kim, in 1994; they have three children, Gabe, Nate, and Genna. In August 2015 Tchividjian filed for divorce.
In August 2016, he married Stacie Phillips. He is step-father to her two sons.