Matt Chandler, author and lead pastor of The Village Church (TVC) in Flower Mound, Texas, is set to make his return to the pulpit this weekend following a three-month leave of absence that was both “disciplinary and developmental.”
Chandler’s temporary removal from the pulpit arose from the revelation that he had engaged in an inappropriate, though not sexual or romantic, direct messaging relationship with a woman on Instagram.
In the announcement of Chandler’s leave, which came on August 28, Chandler described his online relationship with the unnamed woman as being characterized by “familiarity” and “coarse and foolish joking,” further noting that it was “unguarded and unwise.”
Fellow TVC pastor Josh Patterson informed the congregation that leadership had brought in a third-party to conduct an investigation into all of Chandler’s online activity. They concluded that while this online texting relationship was an isolated incident, Chandler had violated TVC’s social media policies.
Further, Chandler had 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.” 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.”
The TVC elders laid out a set of expectations that would determine the timeline of Chandler’s return to the pulpit.
While the details of those expectations were not given, the elder board updated the church on Nov. 3, saying that Chandler had been “diligently” following the plan they had laid out for him, and “the feedback received from all of the various parties involved has been on a consistent and positive trajectory. We have been pleased with Matt’s posture throughout the process.”
In that email, the TVC elders also indicated that Chandler’s return to the pulpit would come sometime soon, something Chandler himself indicated in an Instagram post a week previous on Oct. 24.
On Thursday (Dec. 1), the TVC elders sent another email update to the congregation, informing them that Chandler would return to the pulpit this Sunday (Dec. 4).
“We asked a lot of Matt, including time spent in study and prayer, personal reflection, and multiple intensives with trusted outside experts,” the email said. “Matt has completed everything asked of him with submissiveness, steadfastness, and humility, and we have received positive feedback from all involved. We have been encouraged by his posture throughout, and we remain so.”