I wanted to do a follow up post because so many people from all over are asking good questions about what we're doing and how we're doing it.
First of all, we're thrilled at the response from people both inside and outside the church.
People inside the church are ecstatic about our new found unity. Many have been waiting a long time for this. The response has been out of this world. God is clearly doing something new in bringing us together around a shared theology of mission, worship, and ministry. As I said in an earlier post, this is NOT first about music-it's about the gospel. While I certainly don't claim to know each and every situation in each and every local church, I don't think a local church can experience the degree of deep, rich gospel unity that Jesus prayed for the night before he went to the cross by having a "traditional/contemporary" split in worship. I think by segregating ourselves this way we miss out on some choice blessings that Jesus intends for his one body to enjoy. Coral Ridge has turned a big corner and everyone on board is praising God for the gospel revolution we are experiencing.
People outside the church have written and called to express their gratitude and enthusiasm for taking a principled stand regarding the nature and necessity of unity and the gospel rationale for making the decision we made. In fact, many pastors and music leaders who currently lead uncomfortably in churches with a "traditional/contemporary" split in worship (knowing that something about it is wrong but not knowing exactly how to fix it) are intrigued and have asked us to provide them with some audio and video of the new service so they can see how we're doing it. We're trying to get that together. Others have asked to see the bulletin so that they can get a sense for the flow and how something like this is pulled off practically. You can download this weeks bulletin here.
Secondly, we certainly don't pretend to have mastered this in any way. We're not claiming to be experts. This is new for us too. We're learning by making mistakes. But our gospel-informed theological convictions have compelled us to work hard at making sure we end age and style segregated worship. In fact, I hope this move of God will embolden other churches and church leaders to do the same thing for the same reasons.
And thirdly, one thing that's been really helpful for us is to reflect deeply on a couple of Bible passages. As I already mentioned, the last thing Jesus prayed for before he went to the cross was that his people would be one as he and the Father are one. Think about how huge that is! Jesus wants our oneness to reflect the oneness enjoyed between he and the Father. And while this oneness includes rich diversity (the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father) it expresses genuine unity (both the Father and Son are equally God). Therefore, we conclude that while uniformity in worship is not what Jesus prayed for, unity is.
Another passage we carefully considered was Revelation 21-22. In those remarkable chapters we see what perfected worship will look like: people from every tribe, tongue, nation, socio-economic class, generation, and musical preference gathering together as one Body, united to one Christ, by one Spirit, sharing one song. Knowing this is what heavenly worship looks like now and what perfected worship will look like when Christ comes back to consummate his Kingdom "on earth as it is in heaven", we believe it's very important to worship now in a way that gives people a small, imperfect sampling of what will one day be a universal reality. Do we really have a choice?
So we sing,
I long to be where the praise is never ending, yearn to dwell where the glory never fades. Where countless worshipers will share one song and cries of "worthy" will honor the lamb.
Thank-you all for your support and prayers. We're still learning and growing but we like what God is doing. It's been simply stunning!
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About Tullian Tchividjian
William Graham Tullian Tchividjian (pronounced cha-vi-jin) is the Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. A Florida native, Tullian is also the grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham, a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a contributing editor to Leadership Journal. A graduate of Columbia International University (philosophy) and Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando (M.Div.), Tullian has authored a number of books including Jesus + Nothing = Everything (Crossway). He travels extensively, speaking at conferences throughout the U.S., and his sermons are broadcast daily on the radio program LIBERATE. As a respected pastor, author, and speaker, Tullian is singularly and passionately devoted to seeing people set free by the radical, amazing power of God's grace. When he is not reading, studying, preaching, or writing, Tullian enjoys being with people and relaxing with his wife, Kim, and their three children—Gabe, Nate, and Genna. He loves the beach, loves to exercise, and when he has time, he loves to surf.
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