Matt Chandler, lead pastor at the Village Church in Flower Mound, returned to the church’s pulpit Sunday after three months on leave because of online messages with a woman.
On Aug. 28, Chandler, 48, told the megachurch congregation that he had conversations through Instagram direct messages with a woman — with both of their spouses’ knowledge — and while he said “there was nothing romantic or sexual” in the messages, Chandler described their conversations as “unguarded and unwise,” and the “frequency and familiarity” of the messages were concerning to others. The conversations included “coarse and foolish joking that’s unbefitting of someone in my position as a lead pastor.”
Church elders put Chandler on an indefinite leave of absence, starting in August. The elders “prayerfully considered both the discipline and the development necessary” for Chandler to be able to return to preaching, one of the elders said during Sunday’s service. Chandler completed everything asked of him during his leave, genuinely and eagerly, the elder said, adding that the church and Chandler are ready for him to return, right around his 20th anniversary of joining the church.
Chandler walked on stage to a warm ovation from the congregation, and began his remarks with an apology.
“If my foolishness … created any additional weight or hardship for you, then please forgive me,” Chandler said, thanking the elders and staff who stepped up during his absence. Elders prayed over Chandler, who later gave his first sermon in over three months.