A Texas megachurch pastor is taking a leave of absence after learning that he and a woman who is not his wife were having frequent messages at his church.
Matt Chandler is the lead pastor at The Village Church in Flower Mound, about 30 miles northwest of Dallas.told his congregation on Sunday The move was prompted by church leaders calling inappropriate messages between the couple.
In The statement was recorded and shared on the church’s website, The pastor explained that a few months ago, a woman approached him in the church foyer with concerns about “how I was on Instagram (direct messaging) with her friend.”
“I don’t think I did anything wrong.” Chandler, 48, told the council. “My wife knows it, her husband knows it, and yet some of the things she said threw me off course.”
That same evening, Chandler shared those concerns with his wife, Lauren, and two elders, in an effort to resolve the situation, The Village Church said. wrote in an August 28 report on its website.
Adults, the report continues, then hired an independent law firm to review Chandler’s message history across social media sites, his cell phone and his email.
The investigators’ report led elders to conclude that Chandler had violated the church’s internal social-media policies, and “more importantly, while the overarching pattern of his life was ‘above reproach,’ he failed to meet the (biblical) standard for being “above reproach” in this instance,” the report said. says
“Although the messages were not romantic or sexual in nature, the frequency and familiarity of the messages crossed a line. They revealed that (he) did not use language appropriate for a preacher and that he did not model the behavior we expect from him.
His leave is “both disciplinary and developmental, allowing us to focus on building greater awareness in this area,” the statement said.
The timeline for his return will be determined by the expectations adults have set for his development, the statement said.
“I feel so embarrassed and stupid…I feel like I’m embarrassing my wife and kids,” Chandler told the congregation Sunday. “I was held to a high standard and fell short of that high standard.”
Lindsay Einenberg, the church’s executive director, told USA Today on Tuesday that a “strong group of pastors” will preach in his absence.
Chandler too President and Chief Acts 29, An organization dedicated to starting new churches. The organization issued a statement to the United States on Tuesday:
“The elders of The Village Church have decided that Matt’s leave of absence will be from teaching and preaching. The Acts 29 Board has decided to follow TVC’s direction and have asked Matt to step down from his Acts 29 speaking engagements for the time being. Executive Director Acts 29 effective May 2020 Brian Howard, who has provided daily leadership, will continue to lead Acts 29 in our commitment to plant disciple-making churches around the world.”
According to his online church profile, Chandler married his wife in 1999 and they have three children together. In 2002, he became pastor of First Baptist Church of Highland Village, now known as The Village Church.
In 2009, he was diagnosed with brain cancer, underwent brain surgery and was declared cancer-free in 2010.
The recent backsliding of the church
The pastor’s leave is the latest blow to the church and the Southern Baptist Convention — the nation’s second-largest faith group, of which Village Church is a member.
Earlier this month, the SBC announced it was under federal investigation for alleged sexual abuse.
“Individually and collectively, each SBC organization is determined to fully and fully cooperate with the investigation,” read the SBC statement released on August 12.
The investigation follows the publication of an internal report that accused SBC leaders of mishandling sexual abuse cases over two decades.
Also on August 1st, Village Church announced on its website It has settled a 2019 lawsuit alleging one of its former children’s ministers molested an 11-year-old girl. The criminal case against the minister was dropped in 2020. Religious News Services reported.
Written by the Church After a thorough and lengthy legal investigation, “we firmly believe we have done nothing wrong.”
Natalie Neissa Alund covers popular news for USA TODAY. Reach her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.
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