The pastor of a major Dallas-Fort Worth megachurch said he had an inappropriate online relationship with a woman and would retire from preaching and teaching.
Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Flower Mound, told his congregation on Sunday that the relationship was not sexual or romantic. But elders at the Southern Baptist Church thought the messages shared on Instagram were “reckless and reckless” and “revealed something unhealthy in me,” Chandler said.
“We cannot be a church where anyone is above the scriptures and above the high calling in Jesus Christ,” Chandler said. “The Word of God holds me to a certain level. And I fell short.
The announcement comes at a time when certain entities of the Southern Baptist Convention are facing a federal investigation into sexual abuse, and the denomination recently released an internal report into abuse mishandling.
Chandler said a woman approached him at church several months ago and told him she was concerned about his communications with her friend. He said he didn’t think he did anything wrong initially, as his wife and the woman’s husband knew about the messages.
But Chandler said he found the confrontation “disorienting” and informed another senior pastor and an elder, who reviewed the posts and found the frequency and familiarity concerning.
In a written statement, the church said it hired an independent law firm to review Chandler’s posts on social media platforms, cellphones and emails. The report found that Chandler violated the church’s social media usage policies.
On Sunday, Baptist News wrote that the news “hit an unusual chord at a time when Southern Baptists and other churches are focused on child sexual abuse and marital infidelity.”
The village church is a large and influential Southern Baptist congregation in D-FW. In 2019, a woman sued the church for $1 million and said she was sexually assaulted by a minister and counselor when she was 11.