Matt Chandler, the lead pastor at the Village Church, which operates under the Southern Baptist Convention, announced this week that he's resigning his position after having an Instagram relationship. Chandler, who is married with three children, told his flock, "I fell short."
Christianity Today explained that the elders in the church were made aware Chandler's online messages and reviewed some of the comments he'd made on the social media site. They found that the direct messages he exchanged "revealed something unhealthy."
Chandler is an anti-abortion pastor who once compared rape victims to Hitler. His church also "disciplined" a female member for wanting to divorce her husband after she discovered he was watching adult videos sexually exploiting children. The man was later prosecuted by the FBI. After a huge backlash, the church issued an apology.
Calling the actions "unguarded and unwise," Chandler said he agreed with the assessment from the elders and was grateful for their spiritual oversight.
“We cannot be a church where anyone is above the Scriptures and above the high heavenly call into Christ Jesus,” Chandler said. “The Word of God holds me to a certain standard. And I fell short.”
It all began when Chandler was approached by a woman who said she was disturbed by the way Chandler was talking to her friend on Instagram.
"He told the congregation he didn’t think he’d done anything wrong, and the DMing was not a secret. His wife knew. The woman’s husband knew. And yet the woman who approached Chandler did not think the online exchanges were appropriate," said the report. He said he found the interaction "disorienting." Once the elders were informed, a review was done and they took issue with the conversations. They've now hired a law firm to sift through all of Chandler's social media.
Chandler has been a pastor at the church for 20 years. He has also served as president of the church-planting network Acts 29 for the past 10 years. CT notes that the gig was previously held by Mark Driscoll, but he was later disqualified due to his "personal character." Driscoll helped found Mars Hill Church in Washington state, where he had a long history of misconduct.
CT noted that less than a year ago, Chandler told them pastors need to be "in the kind of community [where] they might be encouraged or challenged if you start getting red flags."