Embarrassed, stupid, and dumb, were the emotions passing through Matt Chandler, the lead pastor at the Village Church in Flower Mound, Tex., as he stood in front of his congregation. On Sunday, with his head hung low and tears in his eyes, he announced a leave of absence.
The pastor was “kicked to the curb” after the church leader’s lawyer determined Chandler had violated the organization’s social media policy, by exchanging inappropriate messages with a woman who is not his wife.
The leaders determined that the messages were not “romantic or sexual,” Chandler explained to The Washington Post. “It was that our conversations were unguarded and unwise.”
He also told The Post that both his wife and the husband of the woman he was messaging knew about their communications. But church leaders thought the messaging was too frequent, and familiar and resulted in “coarse and foolish joking.”
In a statement, the church said that Chandler’s “leave of absence is both disciplinary and developmental” and his return will be determined by the “expectations the elders have laid out for his development.”
Chandler’s leave is just the latest blow for the Village Church, which earlier this month fought against a lawsuit alleging that one of its ministers molested an 11-year-old. The criminal case against the minister was dismissed. The church maintained that it “committed no wrong.”
Chandler left the congregation with one last message: “I’m just really embarrassed, feel stupid … feel dumb. I’m held to a higher standard and fell short of that higher standard.”