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Matt Chandler Signals Imminent Return to Ministry in Social Media Post

By Julie Roys
Matt Chandler
Matt Chandler (Source: Video screengrab)

Embattled megachurch pastor Matt Chandler has signaled his imminent return to ministry at The Village Church (TVC) in Flower Mound, Texas.

In an Instagram post yesterday, Chandler wrote, “I am eager to return to @tvcfm soon and am grateful for a family of faith that have loved me and @laurenchandler so deeply in this season. . . . Eager to see what the Lord has for us in the next 15-20 years! #grace #family.”

In August, a tearful Chandler confessed an inappropriate online relationship with a woman other than his wife and told his congregation he would be taking a leave of absence.

Chandler said the relationship was “unguarded and unwise” but not romantic or sexual. In a statement posted online, TVC said an independent law firm had found that Chandler had violated TVC’s social media policies, as well as biblical standards for an elder to be “above reproach.”

Chandler, 48, has pastored TVC—a high profile Southern Baptist church with average attendance over 8,000 people—since 2002.

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Chandler also has served as president of the Acts 29 church planting network since 2012. When news of Chandler’s inappropriate relationship became public, Acts 29 issued a statement saying its board had asked Chandler to “step aside” from speaking engagements.

The Roys Report (TRR) reached out to TVC for comment and a spokesperson responded, “(T)he elders are working with Matt to discuss a plan for his return to preaching, and they are encouraged by his posture. As of today, we have no further comment on those details.”*

TRR also reached out to Acts 29 for comment, but did not receive a reply.

In his Instagram post Monday, Chandler wrote that his mantra the past few months has been: “Jesus, I don’t want to do this without you.”

He added, “Whether it has been going on a walk, heading out to our river cabin or even walking into Jiu Jitsu I have been more aware than ever of that earnest and angsty prayer of David’s in Psalm 27:4. He has been my sustaining grace and the strength of this season.”

Most all the comments on Chandler’s Instagram post have been positive.

Daniel Darling, an author and director of the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote: “Thankful for you and rooting hard for you.”

Similarly, David Campbell, an author and church founder wrote that he’s encouraged Chandler is “entering back into the battle. Your ministry is so greatly needed.” And Luke MacDonald, former pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel and son of now disgraced pastor James MacDonald, wrote: “Much love pastor…in your corner always.”

Someone with the handle “deejtherapper” wrote: “Although I have never stepped foot into a service at the Village Church, I have listened to multiple sermons by you Pastor Matt and have highly respected you . . . Glad your (sic) on the road to recovery. Can’t wait to hear you preach again.”

Someone else commented, “I’ve admired, respected, and followed you from afar for awhile. The admiration and respect for you has grown even more . . .”

On her twitter account, Katelyn Beaty, author of “Celebrities for Jesus,” expressed concern about those who are eager to see Chandler return “but listen to his sermons from afar.”

“(I)t strikes me that his listeners/supporters ‘from afar’ have the least to lose in a potentially hasty return to the stage.

“Given that we know so little about what transpired with Chandler—we know so little because we’re not there, and also the announcement was rather vague—we are wise to reserve judgment. But aren’t we also wise to reserve praise? . . .

“In situations involving celebrity leaders, we need to train ourselves to hold our affections and attachments at bay.”

In response, Robin Jester Wootton, who tweets about “evangey culture and its failures,” tweeted: “Yes to all of that, but take it a step further and find that the local constituents . . .  will take into account the ‘from afar’ support as almost more relevant – file under: look at all the good he’s doing.”

*This article has been updated to include comment from TVC received after publication.

Julie Roys is a veteran investigative reporter and founder of The Roys Report. Before that, she hosted a national talk show on the Moody Radio Network, called Up for Debate. She’s also worked as a TV reporter for a CBS affiliate, a newswriter for WGN-TV and Fox News Chicago, and has published articles in numerous periodicals.



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14 Responses

  1. Ultimately I wonder why anyone could care less about any of these fellows – the fact is, they do not know anything that any other human being knows – they have no special knowledge. Whatever Bible knowledge – for better or worse – is derived from the same database that we all have… WHATEVER!!

    The priesthood – including the evangelical priesthood – is OVER!

  2. I find myself on the fence, if as here the fall or offence is from or relative to moral standards, as opposed to there being a victim who has been demonstrably harmed.
    I then understand that for others, whose Christianity is theologically idealist, the fall or offence is fatal. So no dismissal or negation of that position. The idea of “beyond approach” is the gold standard for this constituency, and that can be respected on its face. Usually the demand here is that such a fall, entailing failure to be beyond approach, bars an individual for future pastoral or leadership roles
    However, it is also possible to approach Christianity in terms of “agency”. Agency which aspires to God manifestation. Agency capable of communicating to others the meaning of commitment to God and Jesus and the Christ idea. Perhaps one with such agency might prove better than one beyond reproach, in bringing this triad to others.
    Such an individual of Christian agency is then always a human being, with all the frailties. When they stumble or fall, we choose whether to condemn or reach out a helping hand.

    1. If “beyond reproach” is the definition some are choosing to judge by then we have to look at what that really means. Reproach is defined as “addressing someone in such a way as to express disapproval or disappointment”. This isn’t up to us but up to his elders and congregation to determine if he is or isn’t qualified…or…”beyond reproach”. Personally I think that they way it was handled…immediately and publicly (in their church…speaks volumes to their elders leading that church.

      I get it that people are skeptical based on how the SBC has handled things in their past. But I think this is what this is suppose to look like. Beyond reproach doesn’t equal never sins.

  3. Evil has so many faces, most of them attractive, most looking honest and sincere, many professing the truth. How can we discern when it’s only a pretty face or only empty words? I’m gonna go with Jesus warning/teaching on the topic in Matthew chapter 7. It’s the same chapter that says “judge not.”
    vs. 15 Jesus says,
    “beware of false prophets,”
    with the following description:
    vs. 15
    wolves in sheep’s clothing
    vs. 16-20
    trees that do not bear good fruit
    vs. 21
    call Jesus Lord,
    but, do not do the will of the Father
    vs. 22-23
    prophesy, cast out demons and perform miracles in Jesus’ name,
    but, practice lawlessness
    vs. 24-27
    foolishly build
    a “house upon the sand,”
    because they hear,
    but, do not do what Jesus taught in the sermon on the mount.

    So, a profession of faith
    and even miraculous ministry
    are nothing without faith that:
    1) Does the will of the Father
    2) Keeps the law
    3) Obeys Jesus’ teaching

    We need to take fruit inspection seriously. The wolves use words as their “sheep’s clothes.” So whether the evil is covered with winsome words or weeping confessions, we can still know a “false prophet” by his actions or inactions.

    Inspection needs to be closeup. So that leaves me out of the Chandler case. May God give discernment to those who are close enough to do the inspection.

    1. Tom, you wisely recommend inspecting the “fruit”, inherent and potential in the being another presents to you. I would then say that no human being is ever “beyond reproach” in the understanding and evocation their being is grounded on. The manifestation and understanding of every single human being is always open to critique. That involving them in no reproach. Rather we bracket their limitations in order to engage with them.
      For example, when you appeal to ‘Doing the will of the father, Keeping the law, Obeying Jesus’ teaching’, you indicate your being is grounded in those items of faith. History, and perhaps personal life experience, then evidences the horrific things which have been done in the name of those edicts. I would have to inspect your being to confirm that you would never be party to such outcomes.
      I think that the problem here is the idea of leadership and being led. I think that if we rely on the whole of our own being and life experience, and test the other across the capacity emerging from that, then we are in a position to inspect immanent and potential fruit. So we might be disciplined in being critical in a Christian manner.
      Jesus is spoken of Biblically as seeing the shortcomings of another, yet embracing them in terms of the conditions of their personal stance with God. How close can we come to that ideal?

  4. “Given that we know so little about what transpired with Chandler—we know so little because we’re not there, and also the announcement was rather vague—we are wise to reserve judgment. But aren’t we also wise to reserve praise? . . .”

    Well said.

  5. “Julie Roys Explains Why She Spoke Out Against Moody Bible, Decries Evangelical ‘Machine'”

    Is it possible that a Megachurch Machine is operating in this case that is observed in the Matt Chandler article? Why take back damaged goods when you can get a brand new pastor Who isn’t carried all that baggage?

    It’s good to see that the Moody Bible Institute seems to gotten back on tract?

  6. Beyond reproach simply means beyond accusation.
    In other words “don’t put yourself in a position that if an accusation was made that there could be any question whether it was false.”

    As stated by the church leadership, the outside counsel, and Matt regarding his own relationship with his wife, nothing sinful occurred.

    The harm was that in texting a friend who happened to be a female, it put him in a position where if an accusation was made that there would need to be scrutiny to discern if it was true.

    Therefore he was not “above” reproach.

    That is why I’m his own words he found the accusation disconcerting and immediately told the board and his wife.

    This was an error of judgment.

    The board handled it well.
    Matt handled it well.
    Time to move in.

  7. An “inappropriate” relationship that was neither sexual or romantic. Are we playing Jeopardy here? This could range from something so trivial that it shouldn’t have even been addressed all the way to something that might be borderline criminal. While I understand the desire to not sensationalize the issue, being this vague only leads many of those who read the story to assume the worst and therefore lose all trust in Chandler.

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