Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, said today (Aug. 28) he is taking a “leave of absence” after violating the church’s social media use policies. Chandler will also step aside from his responsibilities as president and chairman of the board of the Acts 29 church-planting networking, according to a statement from Acts 29.
In a brief address to his church, Chandler said a member of the church had expressed concerns to him about the way he was direct messaging with another woman who was not his wife. Chandler said he took those concerns to his wife, Lauren, and two Village Church elders, Josh Patterson and Jasien Swords, immediately and “submitted to their leadership in addressing the situation.”
The messages were not “romantic or sexual in nature,” Chandler said in a brief address to the church, but the concerns were about the “frequency” and “familiarity” of messages that were “unbefitting of someone in my position as a lead pastor and elder.”
“In their grace to me, and I think they’re right, to put me on a leave of absence starting immediately from preaching and teaching at The Village Church,” he said. “The word of God holds me to a certain standard. … And I fell short.
“We cannot be a church where anyone is above the Scriptures and above the high heavenly call into Christ Jesus.”
“I’m apologizing to my family, to you, to all involved in this situation,” Chandler said.
Patterson, a pastor at The Village Church, thanked the individual who brought the concerns forward, which he said “took a ton of courage, it took a ton of conviction.”
The church’s full statement is below:
“A few months ago, an individual approached The Village Church’s lead pastor Matt Chandler with concerns about the way he was using direct messaging on social media with a woman who was not his wife. Matt shared those concerns with his wife, Lauren, and two elders, Josh Patterson and elder Chairman Jasien Swords, that same evening, and submitted to their leadership in addressing the situation.
“The elders commissioned an independent law firm to conduct a review of Matt’s messaging history across social media platforms, cell phone, and email. The investigators’ report led the elders to conclude that Matt violated our internal social media use policies, and more importantly that, while the overarching pattern of his life has been ‘above reproach,’ he failed to meet the 1 Timothy standard for elders of being ‘above reproach’ in this instance.
“We are strong proponents of brothers and sisters in Christ being friends, but there are boundaries around what’s appropriate in these kinds of friendships. A pastoral role requires a greater awareness of those boundaries. In this case, while the messages were not romantic or sexual in nature, the frequency and familiarity of the messages crossed a line. They revealed that Matt did not use language appropriate for a pastor, and he did not model a behavior that we expect from him.
“While the elders believe that this did not rise to the level of disqualification, we do hold elders to a higher standard of behavior. The elders concluded, and Matt agreed, that Matt’s behavior was a sign of unhealth in his life, and that the best course of action would be for him to take a leave of absence from teaching and preaching at The Village Church. Matt’s leave of absence is both disciplinary and developmental, which allows him to focus on growing greater awareness in this area. The timeline for his return will be dictated by the expectations the elders have laid out for his development.
“We know this update is challenging, and you may have questions about this or want to process this with someone. That is normal and expected. Our staff and leaders are available to receive you and pray with you. If you don’t know who to connect with or where to go, you can start by emailing the Care department, and we’ll make sure your email gets connected to the right person.
“While we do wish to respond to every inquiry, we appreciate your grace and understanding as we seek to prioritize the care of our congregation in this season.”
Acts 29 responds
A statement posted to the website of Acts 29 said the organization “prioritizes personal integrity and holds our leaders to a high standard of conduct.
“Considering the findings of the TVC investigation and consistent with the leave of absence from preaching and teaching that the Village Church has placed Matt on, the Acts 29 Board has asked Matt to step aside from Acts 29 speaking engagements during this time.
“We hope that Matt can use this time away from speaking to focus on the process that TVC elders have laid out for him.”
Acts 29 Executive Director Brian Howard will continue to lead Acts 29 throughout this time, the statement said.