The announcement that Matt Chandler would be taking a leave of absence following allegedly inappropriate DMs came with little information opening the door to much speculation as to whether or not The Village Church is covering up a deep sin or whether Matt Chandler even sinned at all. However, what is far more clear is that the elders at Village Church were derelict in their duty, and that is while we still do not know whether they are covering up sin or adding to the law of God. And while this is to be mildly expected from a church helmed by a wolf, the precedent that this is expanding upon is quite detrimental to the church.
After Matt Chandler concluded his “confession,” pastor Josh Patterson came on to reiterate what Chandler had said. In doing so, Patterson explained that The Village Church hired a law firm to investigate and determine what if anything Chandler did wrong.
We’ve seen this pattern before. Ravi Zacharias International Ministries hired a law firm to investigate their deceased founder’s deeds. The Southern Baptist Convention hired a pro-grooming law firm to handle the Sex Abuse Task Force investigation. Yet the Village Church would hire a law frim to investigate social media activity. It’s clear in Patterson’s explanation that the moral judgement that Chandler’s activities were neither romantic, nor sexual, came from the law frim they hired and not the elders. This is a clear violation of 1 Corinthians 6.
Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? 4 So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, 6 but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?
1 Corinthians 6:1-6 NASB1995
The elders at Village church went to the pagans to adjudicate this matter and not taking it upon themselves to investigate a sin issue with the evidence. They relied on lawyers to make moral judgements that pastors are tasked with ding in such a matter as this. While we understand that Christians suing one another to be generally wrong, this same principle Paul articulates also applies to outsourcing pastoral duties. If the church wanted to collect evidence and conduct interviews, they could have hired an private investigation firm. The lawyers were hired to make judgement calls on what took place.
The referees in the National Football League consists of men with legal backgrounds, because the NFL has tasked them with interpreting the rules on the field. The church does not need lawyers to interpret God’s law. We have the Bible. If Matt Chandler’s DMs were salacious or romantic, the Holy Spirit will lead us to that determination.
Additionally, it must be said that the lack of transparency provided by the elders was also poor execution of their tasks. While we do not know whether what Chandler did was a worse sin than indicated or something rather minor, the elder’s communication that Chandler was not above reproach, yet is not disqualified from ministry is an unacceptable contradiction.
When God givens us authority, we cannot outsource that responsibility. A husband cannot outsource responsibility to his wife or children. The church cannot outsource responsibility to the pagans. The precedent set by Village Church is as dangerous as the one they set when they went woke.