“And I know that’s your posture and your heart,” Patterson said. “And that matters.”
Patterson went on to publicly thank the person who brought forward the concern about Chandler’s online behavior. He also expressed that Chandler had brought the concern immediately to the elder board and had willingly submitted to a third-party investigation that required he give complete access to his phone and other devices, technology platforms, and emails.
The investigation revealed that Chandler had violated TVC’s social media policies. Further, in this instance, he failed to be above reproach, as he “did not use language appropriate for a pastor, and he did not model a behavior we expect a leader of our church to have.”
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Nevertheless, the elder board determined that Chandler’s behavior did not disqualify him from eldership and “did not rise to the level of more severe discipline.” Patterson emphasized that the online relationship was neither sexual nor romantic in nature, and that this pattern of messaging was “a unique case. There were no other examples found like it.”
“Matt’s leave of absence is both disciplinary and developmental,” Patterson reiterated, “which allows him to focus on growing greater awareness in this area.”
The TVC elders have laid out a set of expectations that will be the basis of the timeline for his return to the pulpit. Patterson did not give details regarding those expectations.
Chandler became the pastor of what was then called Highland Village First Baptist Church of Flower Mound, Texas, in 2002. Since that time, the The Village Church has grown from 160 weekend attendees to a congregation of about 14,000. The Village is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and the Acts 29 church planting network, of which Chandler is president.
In a statement to ChurchLeaders, Acts 29 said that TVC had notified them regarding the situation.
“Acts 29 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,” the statement said. “We hope that Matt can use this time away from speaking to focus on the process that TVC elders have laid out for him.”
“Executive Director Brian Howard, who has provided day-to-day leadership for Acts 29 since May 2020, will continue to lead Acts 29 throughout this time,” Acts 29 went on to say. “This decision does not in any way change our commitment to plant disciple-making churches throughout the world.”
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ChurchLeaders has reached out to The Village Church for comment and will update this article in the event of their reply.