Texas pastor Matt Chandler returned to the pulpit Sunday (Dec. 4), three months after acknowledging online communications that violated the church’s social media use policies.
Chandler was greeted by a standing ovation and cheers by members of the congregation of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas. Church elders prayed over Chandler prior to his sermon.
Josh Patterson, lead pastor at TVC, compared Chandler’s return to that of an athlete returning to the playing field following an injury. Chandler spoke on sin, humility and reconciliation in his sermon.
“It is my understanding that I have fallen short of the glory of God, and He has met me with grace,” Chandler said.
Church elders announced Chandler’s return in a Dec. 1 email. The letter said Chandler “has been diligently working through a development plan that we laid out for him while on leave from the pulpit.”
“We asked a lot of Matt, including time spent in study and prayer, personal reflection and multiple intensives with trusted outside experts,” the elders stated in the letter. “Matt has completed everything asked of him with submissiveness, steadfastness and humility, and we have received positive feedback from all involved.”
Chandler’s 20th anniversary at TVC also was noted during the service. Chandler has served at TVC since Dec. 2, 2002.
In their letter, church elders acknowledged that while they had not previously established a target date for Chandler’s return, “we did not think it was appropriate to delay Matt’s return to avoid it falling on the anniversary.”
Chandler announced Aug. 28 he would take a leave of absence after church elders were made aware of social media communications between him and a woman who wasn’t his wife. At that time, Chandler said the messages were not “romantic or sexual in nature, but concerns about the ‘frequency’ and ‘familiarity’ of the messages were raised by a church member. The messages, Chandler said, were “unbefitting of someone in my position as a lead pastor and elder.”
Chandler also stepped aside from his responsibilities as president and chairman of the board of the Acts 29 church-planting networking. No decision on his status at Acts 29 has been announced as of Dec. 5.