Texas pastor Matt Chandler returned to the pulpit Sunday after completing an elder-approved restoration plan that began in August when he took a leave of absence over "inappropriate" social media messages with another woman.
"We asked a lot of Matt, including time spent in study and prayer, personal reflection, and multiple intensives with trusted outside experts," Village Church elders said in a Dec. 1 statement that was posted online by the Roys Report. "Matt has completed everything asked of him with submissiveness, steadfastness, and humility, and we have received positive feedback from all involved. We have been encouraged by his posture throughout, and we remain so."
Chandler, the lead pastor at the Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas, had exchanged messages that "were not romantic or sexual in nature" but that "crossed a line" due to their "frequency and familiarity," the elders said in August. The elders did not believe the behavior rose "to the level of disqualification," they said in August. Still, the elders added, "we do hold elders to a higher standard of behavior."
Chandler preached on Sunday.
"To humble ourselves before a living God gives us a shot at peace," he said, according to Christianity Today. "I've got a part of this I've got to own. It might just be 1 percent, but that's my 1 percent. Forgive me. Now we've got a shot at reconciliation."
The church elders, in their Dec. 1 statement, said they created the restoration plan "based on careful reading of the Scriptures, considerable time spent in prayer seeking the Lord's wisdom, and with the input from other leaders in the church."
Chandler's 20th anniversary at the church was Dec. 2.
"Although we did not work toward this date as a target for Matt's return, we did not think it was appropriate to delay Matt's return to avoid it falling on the anniversary," the elders said. "We decided to stay true to the plan for Matt to return when the goals were met, and we embrace the beautiful coincidence of the timing."
Matt Chandler Takes Leave of Absence Following Inappropriate Messages: Not 'Sexual in Nature,' Church Says
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.