Matt Chandler identifies 2 'non-negotiables' for pastors to lead well in 'increasingly hostile' culture

Matt Chandler preaches on day 2 of the Passion conference at the Dallas-Fort Worth site on Jan. 3, 2019.
Matt Chandler preaches on day 2 of the Passion conference at the Dallas-Fort Worth site on Jan. 3, 2019. | Sterling Graves

Village Church Pastor Matt Chandler identified two “non-negotiables” pastors must employ to lead their churches boldly post-COVID-19 and offered the reminder that though culture is growing “increasingly hostile” to the Body of Christ, the Church was “made for this moment.”

“What I want to encourage the brothers and sisters to do is to make sure their eyes and hearts are oriented around Jesus and who He is and His promises to His bride, His promises to the Church, so that we might stand in the confidence of knowing that the gates of Hell will not prevail, that we might stand in the confidence of knowing that we are the bride, and He will not betray His bride,” Chandler said during Exponential's Reset Summit on Wednesday

“If we will orient our imaginations, our minds, our hearts, around being the Bride of Christ, what the Scriptures have said about the Bride of Christ, and consider the reign and rule of King Jesus lion and lamb, I think we can move forward in courage. If we use the old metrics, I think we're in a lot of trouble.”

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When it comes to leading a church with confidence post-COVID, Chandler, who also leads the Acts 29 church planting network, presented two “non-negotiables” for pastors. The first, he said, is to “fight for unhurried time with Jesus.”

“It's one thing to kind of create space for, study your Bible or to write a sermon or to do deep work. It's another thing to say, ‘I want to fight for, and I will want to find, unhurried space where I can just linger with Jesus, thanking, praising, asking for gratitude to be stirred up in my heart, remembering who I am in Him, remembering He called me into this ... so He won't betray me, He won't abandon me.' And just sit there and listen, and that will reveal all sorts of other things that are going on in your heart that then the Spirit of God can deal with that I think will really embolden and strengthen ministers of the Gospel.”

The second non-negotiable is, “I'm always going to fight for transparency with my inner circle," Chandler said, revealing that, for him, his “inner circle” are two close, trustworthy friends. 

“Those guys have seen my budget, they've seen my tax returns, they know when [my wife] Lauren and I are trying to navigate something, they know when I'm frustrated or concerned or worried about a kid, they know when I feel like I'm crushing it, and when I feel like I'm not. I will copy the select group of men … on emails that I'm in that seem to be growing hostile, so that they serve as a buffer for what the compulsion of my heart is versus how I probably need to behave as a pastor to a member.”

“I've been sustained by the Spirit of God simply by fighting for that unhurried time with Jesus, and then making sure that those closest to me know exactly what's going on in this head and heart of mine.”

Coming out of a pandemic, Chandler said he wants to “preach confidence back into the people of God.” He stressed that though there is a “growing hostility” toward the Church, the Body of Christ was “made for this moment.” 

“God created us for this moment, let's step into it with all the zeal of those who understand how the story ends,” he said. 

“If the Church believes it's over and we've lost, and it's over ... what an opportunity we just squandered,” he said. “People are more lonely, more desperate. Secularism has been exposed as lacking, our sexual ethics is starting to show the cracks in its ideology. What an opportunity to step in and be this plausibility structure that, life can be different than you see it, life can be different than you know it, and here's a group of people that embody that and believe it and pray and worship and love one another in a way that shows you there's something better than the life you're in.”

It’s inevitable that pastors are “going to get beat on” in today’s culture, Chandler said, making it all the more important for people to know who they are in Christ. 

“It has been given to you to suffer and be misconstrued and be misrepresented and to be in some senses bullied and badgered,” he emphasized. “As it was given to Jesus so now it's given to you. I would try to reframe this as, what a privilege at this moment in history to endure as our Savior endured and bear the reproach, even from those who are in the household of faith.”

“You are not going to be able to lead in such a way where you're not misrepresented — that day is gone. You will be misrepresented, you will be misunderstood … I want you to reframe that as the blessing that Jesus said it was,” he added.

“What a privilege to endure hardship for the sake of the King, and then boldly step into the call to radical discipleship, the call to radical surrender that He's called us to that now comes with a cost … we will suffer, but through worship and prayer and fasting and confidence, we will overcome and conquer.”

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