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Megachurch Pastor Resigns After 'Shameful' DM Investigation

Megachurch Pastor Resigns After ‘Shameful’ DM Investigation

A married pastor of a Texas megachurch resigns after an independent investigation uncovered “shameful” and “frequent” Instagram DMs with a woman who is not his wife.

On Sunday, Matt Chandler, lead pastor of The Village Church in Flower Mound, which is about 30 miles northwest of Dallas, told his congregation that the leave was prompted by a decision by church elders after a research on their use of social networks. according to USA Today.

The news comes just weeks after the troubled church, which has a congregation of more than 15,000 attendees, settled a 2019 lawsuit in which one of its former children’s ministers was accused of sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl.

While the exact contents of Chandler’s DMs were not released, it was described as “gross jokes” in investigative reports and many on social media speculated that it included adulterous overtones.

Megachurch Pastor Says He ‘Didn’t Think He Did Anything Wrong’

Chandler explained in a statement posted on the church’s website that several months ago, a woman confronted him about “how he was (direct messaging) on ​​Instagram with a friend of hers.”

The 48-year-old said he “didn’t think (he) had done anything wrong” and that “a couple of things she said threw me off.”

“I didn’t think I did anything wrong with that,” Chandler told the congregation. “My wife knew about it, her husband knew about it, and yet there were a couple of things he said that threw me off.”

Chandler reportedly told his wife Lauren and two church elders that same night in an attempt to address the situation, according to a statement The Village Church wrote on its website Sunday.

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The statement went on to say that the elders hired an independent law firm to investigate Chandler’s social media message history, along with his emails and cell phone, six months after they were made aware of the issue, reports the middle.

Independent Law Firm Finds Pastor’s Direct Messages Violate Church’s Internal Social Media Policies

Ultimately, their findings led the elders to believe that Chandler had violated the church’s internal social media use policies, adding that “more importantly … while the overall pattern of his life has been ‘above reproach’, he did not meet the requirements (of the Bible).” standards for elders to be ‘above reproach’ in this case.”

Investigators found that while “the messages were not romantic or sexual in nature,” the frequency and familiarity of the messages crossed the line” and that Chandler “did not use language appropriate for a pastor.”

The messages were also described as “unsuspecting and reckless” and “revealed something unhealthy in me,” Chandler said.

“While the messages were not romantic or sexual in nature, the frequency and familiarity of the messages crossed a line,” the statement continues. “They revealed that (he) did not use language appropriate for a pastor, and did not model behavior that we expect of him.”

The church statement described Chandler’s leave of absence as “both disciplinary and developmental, allowing him to focus on raising awareness in this area,” according to USA Today.

Pastor feels ‘really ashamed’ and ‘stupid’ after failing to meet ‘highest standard’

Chandler said he felt “really embarrassed” and “stupid” before adding that he “held himself to a higher standard and didn’t meet that higher standard.”

“I’m really embarrassed, I feel stupid… I feel like I’m embarrassing my wife and kids,” Chandler told the congregation on Sunday. “I am held to a higher standard and I did not meet that higher standard.”

The disgraced pastor’s online church profile states that he married his wife in 1999. Since then, they have had three children together.

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He became pastor of the First Baptist Church of Highland Village, now called The Village Church, in 2002, reports USA Today.

Chandler was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2009 and was declared cancer-free a year after undergoing brain surgery.

Village Church, Southern Baptist Convention under investigation for sexual abuse allegations

The pastor’s leave marks the latest embarrassment for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) denomination, of which The Village Church is a member.

The SBC, which is the second largest religious group in the country, announced that it was under federal investigation for sexual abuse earlier this month.

“Individually and collectively, each SBC entity is resolved to cooperate fully and completely with the investigation,” said an August 12 SBC statement.

The investigation comes on the heels of the release of an internal report that found SBC leaders had mishandled sexual abuse cases for 20 years, according to NPR.

On August 1, The Village Church in particular announced that it had settled a 2019 lawsuit in which one of its former children’s ministers was accused of sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl, after a criminal case against him was dropped. minister in 2020, Religion News Services. informed.

The church “firmly maintains and believes that we did no wrong,” he wrote after a lengthy legal investigation.


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