Willow Creek Fires Tullian Tchvidjian After He Confesses to Another Affair

"In light of what has transpired with both Tullian and LIBERATE over the past year, you may be asking, 'What will Tullian's involvement be as LIBERATE moves forward?' Today, Tullian continues an encouraging season of rest and healing as a part of the Willow Creek Church family in Winter Springs, Florida. The elders of Willow Creek Church are presently overseeing a care plan for him, one involving routine worship, prayer, fellowship, study, professional counseling, and more. The process is going remarkably well, and we are very encouraged by his honesty, humility, repentance, and commitment to healing," said the board at the time.

"Our prayerful hope and expectation is that Tullian will join us fully in this great work one day. In the meantime (and in keeping with his care plan) he is presently on sabbatical from the board of the Liberate Network," it added.

It is now unclear what will happen to Liberate as Labby says he wants nothing to do with it.

"In my case we wanted to make it very clear that I, as the representative of a local church, was not going to be partnering with that ministry moving forward. ... I wanted to separate from Tullian organizationally and anything that either the present or future to be associated," Labby noted.

He further noted that Tchividjian was never an "active presence" at Liberate and that is was the board that had been leading the ministry all along.

"He never was (leading the ministry), he was always an inactive presence there. There was a board of several individuals and they along with myself, we were leading it," Labby said.

When asked why Willow Creek cut ties with the ex-pastor over the unconfessed affair after already knowing so much of his past, Labby pointed to "trust again."

"It really comes down to trust. Even though there was great sin in his previous church and work, there was professed contrition, there was confession, there was openness ... our care plan really rested on trust and with trust violated it made moving forward very difficult," he said.

"And the elders have not distanced themselves from Tullian the person but the form of care that they would like to offer has changed. And beyond that I can't really comment. I can't really tell you individually why," he continued.

He said while Tchividjian didn't "overtly lie" to the elders, his decision to withhold information from them constituted a lie that points to serious issues with integrity.

"He didn't overtly lie to us. He withheld important information that we needed to know and that creates a trust issue," Labby said.

"Restoring somebody as an individual member of a church is one process. Restoring a former minister over time through the appropriate course of the church that requires a threshold of integrity that we needed to see and in this instance, didn't," he said.

When asked if Willow Creek had any regrets about employing Tchividjian so quickly after the scandal, he noted: "I said publicly before that I would frame the kind of thing that we did more as a sabbatical in the future than a staff position."

While the decision to fire Tchividjian may appear tough, Labby said he accepted it with a lot of grace.

"Honestly, he's remarkably humble and accepting. He's not in any way pushed back. He hasn't sought to justify anything. He quietly accepted the elders' decision. Thanked them for their investment in him. The opportunity they gave. Apologized, asked me to express his apology to the church. There's just been nothing negative at all. Humble, contrite, positive, I would say," Labby said.

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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