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Chandler returns to Village Church pulpit following months-long leave of absence

Screen capture from Twitter

FLOWER MOUND, Texas (BP) – On the weekend of his 20-year anniversary as The Village Church’s founding pastor, Matt Chandler returned to the pulpit after a leave of absence brought on by “inappropriate messaging” with a woman on Instagram.

“I’m sorry, I failed you,” Chandler said. “The Lord met us and He carried us through, and I don’t want to lose sight of that.”

In August, Chandler shared, a woman approached him in the church’s foyer with concerns over his communications with her friend. From there he informed church leaders, who commissioned a law firm to review his messaging history.

Those steps led to the elders’ decision for Chandler to take the leave of absence from the church. Chandler would also be suspended as president of the Acts 29 Network. At that time the pastor admitted to “unguarded and unwise” messages that he also described as neither “romantic nor sexual.” However, he also admitted that the messaged were unwise in terms of “frequency and familiarity.”

Chandler expressed at the time that he felt “embarrassed and stupid” and that the leave of absence was “disciplinary” as well as “developmentally caring.”

According to the New York Times, Chandler faced a packed sanctuary on Sunday and repeatedly referred to his behavior as “my foolishness.”

The crowd greeted him with enthusiastic applause. Chandler was later joined on stage by the church’s elders, who laid hands on him in prayer.

During his time away, Chandler told the crowd, he took part in two “intensives” described as counseling sessions by the church. Those sessions were with professionals specializing in Christian leadership and included a neurological exam.

A spokesman for the 5,000-member church said there was no evidence that the brain cancer Chandler received treatment for in 2009 had returned, the Times reported. An email sent to church members last week said Chandler had “completed everything asked of him with submissiveness, steadfastness and humility, and we have received positive feedback from all involved.”

The woman with whom the messaging took place has remained unidentified.

Highland Village Baptist Church changed its name to The Village Church in 2002 after Chandler was named pastor. The church experienced explosive growth over the years and planted other campuses as Chandler became a sought-after speaker. At the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting, Chandler took part in a panel discussion hosted by 9Marks.

As of 9:45 a.m. Central time Dec. 5, Chandler’s message had yet to be available on The Village Church’s website, social media and podcast services. Calls to the church from Baptist Press were not returned as of press time.

UPDATE: After initial publication, The Village Church uploaded its Dec. 4 service. It can be viewed here.