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US megachurch pastor takes 'leave of absence' over messages that crossed 'boundaries'

by Sophie Drew
Matt Chandler.png - Banner image
The Village Church, YouTube

Matt Chandler, the lead pastor of teaching at the Village Church, has been forced to take a leave of absence after sending "inappropriate" Instagram messages to a woman who isn't his wife. 

The messages supposedly "crossed the boundaries" of what is expected of a pastor because of their "frequency and familiarity", despite not being sexual or romantic in nature.

The messages came to light after an individual confronted the pastor, who then shared the concerns with his family and the church elders. 

In a statement, The Village Church board said: "The elders commissioned an independent law firm to conduct a review of Matt's messaging history across social media platforms, cell phone, and email. 

"The investigators' report led the elders to conclude that Matt violated our internal social media use policies, and more importantly that, while the overarching pattern of his life has been 'above reproach', he failed to meet the 1 Timothy standard for elders of being 'above reproach' in this instance.

"We are strong proponents of brothers and sisters in Christ being friends, but there are boundaries around what's appropriate in these kinds of friendships. 

"A pastoral role requires a greater awareness of those boundaries. In this case, while the messages were not romantic or sexual in nature, the frequency and familiarity of the messages crossed a line. 

"They revealed that Matt did not use language appropriate for a pastor, and he did not model a behaviour that we expect from him."

Addressing his congregants on Sunday, Pastor Chandlersaid: "I'm just really embarrassed. I feel stupid. I feel dumb. I feel like I'm embarrassing my wife and kids, putting a ton of pressure on our staff. [I] feel like I've fallen short for you."

"Forgive me," he concluded. "I love you."

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