Matt Chandler Responds to Questions: “I Don’t Want You to Think That Five Employees Complained About Abuse, and We Fired Them Because of It.”

By Julie Roys

In an email to Acts 29 members over the weekend, embattled president, Matt Chandler, responded to questions stemming from the 2015 removal of five Acts 29 staff who complained about abuse by former Acts 29 CEO Steve Timmis.

“I don’t want you to think that five employees complained about abuse, and we fired them because of it,” Chandler said. “That’s not what we did, and we believed we had communicated that clearly to them until the article was published last week.”

According to an article in Christianity Today and one I published last week, Chandler and the Acts 29 board fired the five staff  within a week of  them meeting with Chandler and submitting a letter expressing their concerns about Timmis.

In the recent email, Chandler said the decision to fire the employees “had far more to do with whether an Executive Director in England (Timmis) could lead staff in Dallas.” He added that the “conversation to let go of the US staff began before the letter (from the five staff) was received.”

“I don’t want you to think that five employees complained about abuse, and we fired them because of it. That’s not what we did . . .”

However, Chandler admitted that in 2015, “I didn’t have the leadership tools to process these allegations, and Acts 29 didn’t have any process to handle it.”

Chandler said he met with the staff complaining about Timmis’ abuse, read the letter they submitted, and asked some clarifying questions. But Chandler said that at the end of the meeting, “I believed that only one of those concerns would fit into the category of ‘abuse/bullying,’ but I was unable to substantiate that accusation (though I tried) for reasons that are private concerning the employee who made the accusation.”

Chandler added that he has “already begun to reach out to the former staff personally.”

I reached out to all five of the staff who were fired in 2015. So far, only two have responded. Both say they have not heard from Chandler. When I asked one of them what he thought of Chandler’s explanation, he texted, “This makes me crazy.”

Chandler also addressed questions stemming from the changing stories he gave regarding the firing of Acts 29 CEO Steve Timmis on February 3.

Initially, Chandler said in a video announcement that Timmis was taking a four-month sabbatical to “rest and recover.” A day later, Chandler said that Timmis was being removed because of accusations of abusive leadership.

Chandler said the reason he wasn’t more forthcoming initially was “due to some legality involved for both Acts 29 and Steve Timmis.” However, Chandler said that when he and the board realized that the accusations about Timmis were going public, they decided to go public, as well. 

“A public accusation requires a more public response,” Chandler wrote. “That public accusation was on abusive leadership, and we responded to that.”

Chandler said if Acts 29 members have more questions, they should reach out to their Network Directors who “will help you with all the information they have.” Chandler added that the board is working on a plan to examine how Acts 29 functions and “how the organization is structured at every level . . . We will look to learn from this in every way that we can and make appropriate changes.”

Chandler’s complete letter to Acts 29 Members:

Chandler Response Letter
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18 thoughts on “Matt Chandler Responds to Questions: “I Don’t Want You to Think That Five Employees Complained About Abuse, and We Fired Them Because of It.””

  1. Who is Matt Chandler and who groomed him and put him in play? Ask him straight up if he is in any type of sin because usually when you cover sin your covering up something in your own life? Ask him if he is even Christian or it’s just a paycheck? Another thing why are we afraid to ask our Pastors or Leaders if they are in homosexual sin themselves as let them lie to God as asking them if funded by luciferian/satanic regimes, if masons/masonic ad if ever prayed for anyone to die or curse with Cancer? Start praying that the deep, dark and hidden secret things come forth and God to continue to lift up their skirts. Like Albert Mohler should also resign (as the many) for his comments and cover-up because it’s about the $ and not about people. People start coming forward with lies and covering-up!

  2. A few thoughts here:
    1) Why did Acts 29 move Tyler Powell from Seattle and Casey Smith from Sheffield if they were considering relocating the Dallas office to Sheffield in the first place? Chandler’s statement are disingenuous.

    2) I’ve known Casey for years. He called me on the day he was fired. Never once has his story changed on this. He told me he was fired because they wrote a letter about abuse of staff from A29 Leadership. When I asked him who it was and named Timmis, he affirmed. Casey’s story has never changed. Yet somehow Chandler and A29’s story keeps changing. Ask any one of those five staff members why they were fired and they all say, “It was the letter.”

    3) How could Chandler not know about Timmis when the allegations in the 19 page letter are all about Timmis?

    In conclusion, this is a standard-operating-procedure spin job from A29 leadership, which has been their M.O. since the Driscoll days. Never own up, never accept responsibility, hide, spin, silence, and abuse.

    1. “this is a standard-operating-procedure spin job from A29 leadership, which has been their M.O. since the Driscoll days. Never own up, never accept responsibility, hide, spin, silence, and abuse.”

      –well, it’s what a narcissist does.

      wonder what the ratio is of certified narcissists to learned narcissist behavior amongst christian leaders.

      it’s gotten to the point that evangelicalism is a psychiatric clinical study. we’re all observing on the other side of the 2-way mirror.

      and extremely dark comedy. what are these bumblers going to bungle next…. it’s quite a sight to behold.

  3. It is just like C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries (aka Sovereign Grace Churches, Inc.). “Never own up, never accept responsibility, hide, spin, silence, and abuse.” The same is true of John MacArthur and Phil Johnson. See my website.

  4. Jennifer Treadwell

    From twitter, and this sums it up perfectly-

    Chandler: “I’m a leader incapable of meeting the demands of leadership.

    Also, I require an external moral compass to make up for the moral compass-shaped hole inside.”

    You aren’t fooling anyone Matt. Oh, and feel free to give me a call since apparently you find online commentary cowardly. We can discuss why we were never contacted after your child molester engaged in children’s ministry during our tenure there. My daughter was in contact with him. We were members. Why were we not contacted?! Then we can discuss why you cried for the molester but never cared enough to even meet the victims. I have LOTS of questions, in fact.

    Or maybe we can just pray for another tornado to wipe out your hell hole.

  5. I’m tired of the ‘failed to clearly communicate’ line that leaders in faulty ‘ministry’ use to spin/excuse what they did. Just take responsibility, Matt, then resign and spend a few years learning from Scripture what God-honoring leadership looks like.

  6. Why are these pastors trying to wear so may hats? Pastor, President, Board Director, etc. for so many different organizations and agencies? They wear themselves thin and incapable of handling so many issues on their plates. God has entrusted them to feed the flock with the church that they have been called to. Do that one job well, disciple and train others to lead these other ministries. Equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. Without judging, I trust that they arent trying to build their own name or kingdom to be well-known and famous throughout the world and universe. Julie, continue to be the voice for the voiceless that do not have the same platform as these prima donnas to stand on. Disregard the critics who wear blinders and are close-minded to the truth and are mesmerize by the spin.

    1. “Without judging, I trust that they arent trying to build their own name or kingdom to be well-known and famous throughout the world and universe.”

      Two things:

      1. that kind of trust is what enabled this mess in the first place.

      it’s what enables Matt Chandler and his peers to operate with immunity — to cover up their own ineptitude by means of deception, in order to protect their power and revenue streams with no accountability.

      2. it is not judging to say “Matt Chandler, because of your actions i conclude you are building your own name and kingdom to be well-known and famous throughout the world and universe.”

  7. Predicting that there may be more to this story so I pray that Julie keeps up the hard work. Look into how staff are treated, how congregants are treated, how victims of abuse are treated, how information and people are controlled, what systems of accountability exist (or not exist), how money is spent, how people profit, what connections between other leaders exist, etc. Whom should leaders serve, the organization or people?

    Matthew 20:25-28 English Standard Version (ESV)
    25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

  8. “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” – Jesus Matt. 5:37 I think I heard the devil today right through a guy who claims to be a pastor…

  9. By not immediately resigning as president, Chandler demonstrates that he still doesn’t “have the leadership tools to process these allegations.”

  10. I can imagine being a leader of a large organization like Acts29 can be difficult – heavy is the head that wears the crown. I don’t envy Matt Chandler. However, given that through the years, Chandler’s own church has been seen as heavy-handed (think Karen Hinkley and Jordan Root) and there’s more evidence that Chandler’s leadership has been compromised with the mentality of “how does this look to the public” which seems to be the only thing that forces his hand. Given these things, is it not time for Chandler to move on?

  11. Unless we see more specific evidence of the claims that have been made, I say that we should step back and wait for more specifics. All I’ve seen in the many responses is generalities.

  12. “I Don’t Want You to Think That Five Employees Complained About Abuse, and We Fired Them Because of It.” This statement reveals all that needs to be understood. Notice the audience. Matt does not care what God thinks. He only wants other people to think something. The focus is public image and not righteousness or justice. Notice that he does not say “We did not fire them to silence them.” He just said that regardless of actual motives, that he wants people to think of something. He does not claim that it is not true that they were fired for that reason. From the abundance of the heart the mouth certainly speaks.

  13. Seems like quid pro quo retaliation. He’s going to need a lot more than “I thought they understood” if any of the fired decides to take legal action.

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