In a bizarre development, Matt Chandler has been placed on leave for allegedly inappropriate direct messages with a woman on social media. Matt Chandler was a rising star a number of years ago and held a considerable influence over orthodox Christians. Yet Matt Chandler would go woke. And ultimately many including Evangelical Dark Web would consider him a wolf. This past Sunday, Matt Chandler made an announcement to his church:
Hey guys. I know it just feels like ‘oh my gosh, what’s coming?’ So let me, I’m the lead pastor of this church, I plan on being the lead pastor of this church for the next 20 years. But I do need to… It’s harder seeing you.
Several months ago, a woman approached me, outside here in the foyer, she had some concerns for how I was DMing on Instagram with a friend of hers. I didn’t think I had done anything wrong in that; my wife knew that, her husband knew that. And yet, there were a couple of things that she said, they were disorienting to me.
And so I immediately came in the room, I found chairman of the elder boards, Jason Swords, found Josh Patterson, the other lead pastor, and said, “This is what this person just told me.” And then I went home, Lauren wasn’t with me that night, and I told Lauren, this is what was said to me tonight.
From there, the elders began to look into, because that’s what they’re supposed to do. Because we cannot be a church where anyone is above the scriptures, and above the high heavenly call into Christ Jesus. And so they looked into the conversation between me and this other woman, and they had some concerns.
And those concerns were not that our messaging was romantic or sexual. It was that our conversations were unguarded and unwise, and because I don’t ever want there to be secrets between us, the concerns were really about frequency and familiarity.
We believe in brother/sister relationships here, and yet there was a frequency that moved past that. There was a familiarity that played itself out in coarse and foolish joking that’s unbefitting of someone in my position as a lead pastor, and as an elder I’m held to a higher standard and fell short of that higher standard.
So the elders have decided, and I think they’re right, that my inability to see what I was in probably has some revealing some unhealth in me. And I don’t know if that’s tied to the pace I run or the difficulty of the last six, seven years, but I agree with them. And so in their grace to me and my family, they’ve decided and again, I think they’re right, to put me on a leave of absence starting immediately from preaching and teaching at the Village Church.
If I’m honest I’m just really embarrassed. Feel stupid. Feel dumb. Feel like I’m embarrassing my wife and kids. Putting a ton of pressure on our staff. Feel like I’ve fallen short for you-and you might be hearing me, you might not even be a Christian, you might be hearing me saying this, like ‘what the H?’
But the Word of God holds me to a certain standard. And, I need to I need to live into that, and I fell short. And man, I’m apologizing- my family, to you, to all involved in this situation. And I, some things I love, I love that our elders engaged at the level they did. You know, easy this would have been to make it nothing and just let me not address whatever this is? Super grateful that the elders have loved us and walked with us the way that they have. Super grateful for you. I’m super hopeful for what’s to come in the future. But I need to breathe. And that’s both discipline, the discipline and it’s development. And so when in time, forgive me, I love you. Eager for the other side of this, whatever God has for us. And so let me pray for us. And then Josh will step in and lead us in the service.
What Was The Sin?
Matt Chandler is taking a leave of absence for what cannot objectively be defined as a sin. Coarse jesting, without sexual or romantic overtones, is a highly subjective way to describe what initially Matt Chandler saw no wrong in. Fart jokes, yo-mama jokes, what exactly does this even mean? Additionally, the other woman, her husband, and Matt Chandler’s wife are said to have had no issues with this communication at the time.
Matt Chandler’s actions were cleared of sexual or romantic content, being described as “unguarded” and “unwise.” This appears to look as though Matt Chandler was violating some sort of Billy Graham rule, rather than a law of God.
Additionally, Matt Chandler stressed how much his church was following Scripture in this process, when the church accepted a charge against this elder on the basis of one witness, not two or three as required. Additionally, it is suspicious that the church took several months to adjudicate this issue, when examining DM’s would only take as long as to get all the necessary parties in one room to hash it out.
Is There A Coverup?
Many are speculating that Matt Chandler is soft-peddling what is actually happening, and that there is a pressing sin that The Village Church does not want the public to know about. This is supported by the months long process and the precedent for churches to soft-peddle their leader’s sin.
Others have employed Rachael DenHollander theology to accuse Matt Chandler of being abusive towards this non-complainant woman he was DM’ing. They accuse him of narcissism and establishing an abusive relationship. The Village Church has adopted Critical Race Theory, and could have likewise adopted Rachael DenHollander theology and held Matt Chandler guilty of violating it.
Lastly, Matt Chandler could be forthcoming about this and is literally taking a leave of absence for something that is not objectively a sin or a sin that reaches the level of reproach to warrant temporary removal from preaching. Violating the Billy Graham rule is apparently a sin in this Southern Baptist church’s eyes.
The situation is a bizarre and developing story.
Oh I think he’s certainly being evasive in his wording. What he describes doesn’t warrant such discipline. Maybe some really racist jokes or comments, but even that doesn’t take all this to figure out. Definite cover-up, with the excuse being for the better of the church and those involved most likely. But who knows, maybe it was what they say and they’re being a weird about it.
I am not a Matt Chandler fan, but maybe we should pump the brakes? There doesn’t have to be a specific sin for the parties in any case to determine it’s best for the pastor to step aside for a while in order to sort things out appropriately. Maybe this will turn out to be a nothing burger, maybe it will turn out to be much more serious. Until then speculation that we’re not getting the whole story isn’t helpful for anyone, especially those of us who aren’t directly involved.
I believe there does have to be a specific sin for a pastor to have to confess and undergo a discipline process. The fact that TVC is not forthcoming opens the door to speculation. Until they are they are setting a bad precedent.
Seems to me it makes sense for a pastor to step away if there is anything about his ministry that might be seen as a stumbling block, whether it’s specifically sinful or not. I’m a lawyer and even lawyers are subject to the ethical rule that you shouldn’t create an appearance of impropriety by your actions. How much more should this apply to pastors?