I want to be fair and accurate…and I think we are better able to be both now.
My source is very conversant with both Presbyterian polity and this situation…this is not from a fan determined to defend Tullian.
1. Tullian is not in a “ministry” position as CC’s or evangelicals define it. Rather he’s a paid staff member, i.e., an employee of the church. He’s not doing any “ministry” work (preaching, teaching, overseeing the church, or providing pastoral care to members). Rather, he’s now doing development/management of the church staff and its resources. He’s essentially doing staff management stuff.
2. This particular church confuses this matter greatly by speaking of their staff as engaged in “ministry,” (a non-Reformed/Presbyterian way to speak) without making the important qualification that these people who “minister” do so as paid employees of the church (i.e., staff positions). As such, they are all under the authority and rule of the elders of this church (the session). Their work is overseen by the session and they answer to the elders as their “bosses.”
3. While in this position, Tullian remains under the discipline of his Presbytery (the local churches in that region). The elders of this particular church (the session) are the ones assigned by the Presbytery to actually do the work of oversight. He is under their authority. He has been deposed from his office as “minister” (i.e., teaching elder), so he cannot get in a pulpit, do weddings, etc., unless and until he’s restored. This is not circumventing the process to get back in the limelight. This is the process at work.
4. Actually, this is a good spot for him unless/until he is restored to office (teaching elder). He can use his gifts to serve the church, and yet he’s an employee, answering to the session. Pastorally speaking, this is a low-key, safe, and redemptive place for him, out of sight, doing stuff like scheduling staff, training them to do their jobs, etc. It is not a glamorous job, any more than the church secretary’s is.
We can debate the propriety of the hire, but we now can do so understanding the process much better.
If indeed, this is part of the discipline/restoration process, then it would behoove us to reserve judgment until we see how that process plays out.