Former megachurch pastor and grandson of Billy Graham, Tullian Tchividjian, has written an extended post on expastors.com, explaining that he was on the brink of suicide after the revelations of two affairs ended his marriage and his job. Last summer Tchividjian stepped down as pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church after he confessed to an extramarital affair. Initially, he said the affair happened after he learned that his wife was also, having an affair, though, in a statement to The Washington Post, she said, “The statement reflected my husband’s opinions but not my own.”
This March, he was fired by Willow Creek Presbyterian Church after another affair was revealed. It was all a really ugly situation, and even led to the resignations of several leaders involved in one of his other ministries.
Now, in a deeply personal post, Tchividjian explained how he nearly killed himself—and even wrote a suicide note—after the revelations. He explains how ashamed he was of his actions:
But as shocking and painful as all these losses were, my instinctive response shocked me even more: the rage, the blame-shifting, the thirst for revenge, the bitter arrogance, the self-justified resentment, the dark self-righteousness, the control-hungry manipulation, the deluded rationalization, the deep selfishness, the perverted sense of entitlement.
How did I arrive at that dark place where I actually wanted to kill myself? … What I see now that I couldn’t see then is that this explosion had been building for a few years. The shift from locating my identity in the message of the Gospel to locating my identity in my success as a messenger of the Gospel was slow and subtle … My confidence was severely misplaced: Confidence in status, reputation, power and position, the way I spoke, the praise I received, financial security and success.
No matter what your thoughts are about Tchividjian, the piece is a compelling read, and offers a look at someone who truly seems to be dealing with the consequences of some of his actions, their repercussions and what it means for their faith. Discuss
According to a new CNN/Kaiser Family Foundation poll, most white, working class evangelical voters don’t have a very favorable view of America, and most think their values are under attack. Six-in-10 said that America’s best days are behind it, and somewhat a shocking 90% said that “Christian values” are under attack. By comparison, just 41% of Americans with no religious preference believe that Christian values in the U.S. are somehow under attack.
Most of the same group, also are concerned about Muslim immigration, with 75% believing immigration from Muslims countries increases the risk of terrorism.
The poll also showed a racial divide among evangelical voters. From CNN, “While black evangelicals are solidly against the GOP nominee, among white working-class evangelicals, about three in four—76%—say they'd consider voting for Trump.” Discuss
It’s not uncommon to hear people claim religion is bad for society. Of course, we disagree for all kinds of reasons. But one of those reasons might surprise you.
Earlier this week, The Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion published the results of a study of the economic impact of religion on America—which is the first of its kind. The findings are fascinating.
The study, "The Socio-economic Contribution of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis"—which you can read here— analyzed the “economic impact of 344,000 religious congregations around the country, in addition to quantifying the economic impact of religious institutions and religion-related businesses,” according to a press release. They valued the "total economic contribution of religion in America" at almost $1.2 trillion.
Here a little perspective on what that means: Religion in America, according to this study, produces an economic value equal to the world's 15th largest economy. That’s more than Apple, Google and Amazon—combined.
In an age where there's a growing belief that religion is not a positive for American society, adding up the numbers is a tangible reminder of the impact of religion. Every single day individuals and organizations of faith quietly serve their communities as part of religious congregations, faith-based charities, and businesses inspired by religion.
The study evaluated church social programs, religion “based or inspire” business and religious educational institutions.
Here's a video put out by the study's sponsor, Faith Counts, of Grim breaking down the study:
The pastor of one of the country's fastest growing churches is resigning. This Sunday, Pete Wilson, who has served as the pastor of Nashville’s Cross Point Church for 14 years, told his congregation that he was stepping down, saying he was tired and broken . Wilson is also known for his best-selling book Plan B.
We have a community here at Cross Point where everyone’s welcome because nobody’s perfect and we really believe that anything’s possible … I haven’t prioritized some other things that were equally as important. Leaders who lead on empty don’t lead well. For some time, I’ve been leading on empty …
I think the best thing for Cross Point is for me to step aside. And so I’m resigning as the pastor of Cross Point … I really need your prayers and I need your support. We’ve said that this is a church where it’s OK to not be OK, and I’m not OK. I’m tired. And I’m broken and I just need some rest. I love you all; I love the vision of this church more today than I ever have.
Wilson founded the church back in 2003, and it's since grown to multiple locations, drawing more than 7,000 every week. The elders released a statement following Wilson’s announcement, saying,
Pastor Pete's resignation was 100% his decision. In fact, we tried to talk him out of it as we told him to take as much time as he needed. But he was ready to get rest and start a new season … Pete even indicated he would always be available to help us answer any questions—we plan to take him up on his offer … We can’t wait to watch all that God has in store for Pastor Pete."
Americans want to keep politics out of church. According to a study from Lifeway Research, 79 percent of Americans said that it is “inappropriate for pastors to endorse a candidate in church.”
There is currently a legal ban against 501(c)(3) organizations (like churches) being active in any sort of political campaigns, though, it’s become increasingly unpopular among some evangelical leaders. As Lifeway notes, during the 2008 election, a group of pastors around the country observed “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” which encouraged pastors to sign up “to preach an election sermon.” Evidently, their congregants aren’t as excited about the proposition (in 2008, 86 percent of American said it was inappropriate).
In a statement, executive director of LifeWay Research Scott McConnell explained, “Americans already argue about politics enough outside the church. They don’t want pastors bringing those arguments into worship.” Discuss