Churches seem by their very nature conservative institutions. Any change is apt to cause controversy. And that is a good thing. Christians are admonished to continue in the Apostles' teaching, to hold to the faith once delivered to the saints, and to remember that it is Jesus' Church, not ours. Also, in an ever-changing world that can put individuals under great stress, continuity in worship from week-to-week and year-to-year provides the reassurance of a stable reference in the midst of a life that threatens to descend into chaos. Chesterton once wrote that tradition is the ultimate democracy, even the dead have a vote.

But, there is a difference between righteous conservatism and mere traditionalism.

While apostolic doctrines cannot be allowed to change in their essence, the manner of explaining them may need to change for different ages and circumstances. The style of preaching that reached one generation, for example the often two-hour sermons of the First Great Awakening, may not reach the generation of the internet effectively. And, some traditions of the church are not exactly apostolic, but are practices that may have arisen for very good reason in their day, but now live on because "we have always done it this way." Sort of like the new bride who cut off both ends of the ham before baking. When asked by her husband why, she replied that her mom did it that way. Prompted to call Mom, the older woman said, "I always had a short baking dish." Some traditions, though, do reflect theological positions that need to be thought-through carefully before changes are made. Controversy can help the reflection process, if done in a Christian manner. At the very least, controversy can prevent change for the sake of change.

Changes in church life always produce stress, and usually produce conflict. Coral Ridge Presbyterian seems be going through both kinds of changes--in style and in substance--and schism is now the result. From the AP:

Hundreds of congregants have left a pioneering megachurch in Florida to form their own congregation because they were unhappy with leadership at the church that's seen as a bedrock of the religious right.
The feud at Coral Ridge appears mostly to be a matter of style, not substance.
Under the leadership of Kennedy, who died in 2007, the church was a forerunner to modern evangelical megachurches, a fiercely conservative voice on social issues including homosexuality and abortion, and a powerful political voice.
Tchividjian, 37, took over earlier this year. While he has shown no sign of theological differences with Kennedy, he has rejected politics as the most important force for change, and his sermons have not focused on divisive issues. Meantime, he cuts a far different image, forgoing the type of choir robe Kennedy wore during services, and sporting spiky hair, tan skin, and sometimes a scruffy beard.
The difference in approach prompted dissenters to circulate a petition urging Tchividjian's removal. Their letter called him "a disaster" who has shown "a complete lack of respect" and made "grievous missteps."

I think the reporter may err in his characterization. Granted, preaching without a robe (Kennedy wore a pulpit robe, not a choir robe), spiky hair, etc. is "a matter of style, not substance." The change in worship style probably is one of the necessary changes made to reach the present age. But, the "rejection of politics as the most important force for change," may be a change of style, or may indicate a change in theology, that is a change in substance. Calvinism (the Reformed tradition) to which Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, and D. James Kennedy belong, believes that Christians individually and collectively have the responsibility before God to try to change the world to bring it more in line with God's will. Just as we pray, "Give us this day our daily bread," and then go out and work for it rather than sitting back and waiting for bread to happen, so also we pray "thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," then go out and work to bring about godly change in the world, rather than sitting back and waiting for the world to descend into greater depths of evil. Downplaying politics at Coral Ridge could be a stylistic change, or, it could indicate a substantive change. We'll see what develops.

I did an earlier post> on Coral Ridge, and on Liberty University & Thomas Road Baptist Church and the changes now underway.