Concerns about Matt Chandler’s The Village Church

I happened to visit Apprising Ministries website today and when I spied a post about Matt Chandler and The Village Church what I read troubled me greatly.

First, Silva pointed out the covenant for membership at the church. Pretty common these days, but I have yet to be convinced that such covenants are Biblical. James 5:12 says, “Above all, my brothers, do not swear–not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your ‘Yes’ be yes, and your ‘No,’ no, or you will be condemned.” Covenanting with a church even with pure motives puts a person under condemnation later when they fall short of their promises — as practically every person will.

I visited The Village Church website for myself to view this covenant document myself.

Silva did not get into the biblical or unbiblical nature of covenants. Rather he went on to examine what The Village Church is requiring of its members and was particularly concerned about the requirement of “spiritual disciplines” which you can see in the second bullet point below:Those words also got my attention. Silva continued: “The issue now becomes what is meant by ‘practice of spiritual disciplines.’ After-all, it could simply mean practicing what’s commonly referred to as the means of God’s grace e.g. in Acts 2:42. It wouldn’t automatically mean that Matt Chandler and his elders are telling their covenant members that they must practice spurious CSM.” (Silva uses CSM as an abbreviation for Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism)

Silva found the answer in the membership section of TVC’s website devoted to Frequently Asked Questions where Dallas Willard’s definition of spiritual disciplines was praised and his and Richard Foster’s books were recommended.

How sad to find that Chandler’s church is not only endorsing books about contemplative spirituality, but actually requiring its members practice “spiritual disciplines. Pastor Gary Gilley lays out the reasons such practices are unbiblical in this article (and exposes Foster’s many theological problems). I pray that Chandler and others in The Village Church would be awakened to the dangers of these mystical practices.

Related articles:

101 of Contemplative Prayer – from Stand Up For the Truth

Richard Foster, A Celebration of Deception – Critical Issues Commentary

Biblical Silence vs. Mystical Silence – Do Not Be Surprised

Related books:

A Time of Departing – Ray Yungen

UPDATE 3/8/15

I’ve been meaning to add to this post for awhile now because I don’t want readers to misunderstand this critique. I’m not saying that The Village Church is a terrible church. I don’t agree with everything Matt Chandler says or writes (as you can see from my review of The Explicit Gospel), but I can tell from reading his books that he has a heart for the gospel and a love for the Scripture. He also showed great courage to speak truth in a church that routinely hears false teaching from its own pastor at the Code Orange Revival a couple of years ago too.

My specific concern with The Village Church (although it is applicable to many others) is with or without knowing it they have promoted error. I’m convinced many well-meaning Christians who want to love God and be transformed by Jesus Christ are embracing “Spiritual Formation” programs and “spiritual disciplines” teachings because they are unaware of the problem. They sound so good. I mean, who wouldn’t want to grow closer to God?

The problem is these are not biblical methods of discipleship or instructions given in the Bible. We should study the Bible and pray, we should go to church, fellowship, give cheerfully, etc. The teachings of Richard Foster, Dallas Willard and many others have gone far beyond legitimate behaviors prescribed in scripture, by borrowing from medieval monastics who had themselves borrowed practices from eastern religions. I will be writing a much more detailed post about the problems and origins of these practices as soon as I am able. In the meantime, if you’d like to look into this yourself check out the book, Out of Formation by Gary Gilley. In the meantime, I hope that clarifies my concerns for everyone coming across this post.

7 thoughts on “Concerns about Matt Chandler’s The Village Church

  1. Okay, I am not 100% sure why you needed to write about the Village Church and the method it uses when it comes to their churches “membership.” I do not go to that church nor have I ever heard of it, but who are we to judge the “covenant” that folk’s in that community of believers enter. “Let the one who is blameless cast the first stone” It is not our place to point out what is wrong with other churches. If they are alive and bringing people into a saving knowledge of Christ, then we should be supporting them and championing their cause….that being said, I respect your opinion and you have every right to that opinion, but bashing the bride of Christ over what you believe to be bad methodology, in my opinion, is just not good.

    Upon further examining of what the Village Church “means” (quotes because only they know what they meant) I feel like when they address “Spiritual disciplines” it is really pointing folks to those scriptures they listed. If you look at just Ephesians 5:1-21, you can see that “spiritual disciplines” are things like leading a holy life, that is free from sexual immorality. Things like, “nor should there be any greed…” These types of things is what I believe they meant.

    But thats the beautiful part of life, right? We are all entitled to our own opinions and beliefs. It is how we were created, and therefore is how we live. Hope I didn’t come across as rude…just wanted to reply to what I saw.


    • Thank you for your question. My intention in writing about The Village Church was my sincere desire for believers everywhere not to be led astray into mystical practices (such as the practice of “silence” advocated by Foster). The membership covenant came into it because it explicitly requires that church members agree to practice spiritual disciplines (in addition to Bible reading, prayer and fellowship).

      My opposition to membership covenants is a general one. I disagree with the practice and have yet to have someone share a compelling Biblical argument for such covenants with me. If someone would like to do that I am happy to listen and consider it. I agree there are many pragmatic reasons for such covenants, but the Bible and not pragmatism is supposed to be the ruling authority in the life of every believer.

      As for the spiritual disciplines if you read the FAQ page I linked it is obvious the practices are not as you suggest “leading a holy life, that is free from sexual immorality. Things like, “nor should there be any greed…” These types of things is what I believe they meant.”

      It expressly delineates the teachings of Willard and Foster on the spiritual disciplines. I am attempting to warn people that what Willard and Foster are teaching are unbiblical practices. So it is extremely concerning that a church would be requiring those under its care to swear to practice unbiblical “disciplines.”

      I hope that answers your question.

      God bless!

      • Absolutely! Thanks for the reply! I am glad you have educated opinions. It is a real breath of fresh air as opposed to some people who simply post opinions that aren’t grounded in facts or research.

  2. Anything I see negative about Matt always refers to mysticism, etc. please tell me what you are referring to other than a book they recommend on their website that I haven’t read. I do not attend there but I can attest after listening to a majority of his sermons over the last few years I have never heard anything remotely close to false teaching. I think other believers in other areas can misinterpret him due to the crowd he is preaching too. I’m in Texas and I can testify to people thinking they are Christian because they are born here or grew up in church or even that they believe about Jesus or read a bible once. These are the people he addresses on a regular basis which has a lot to do with the way he teaches and why and it is so greatly needed here. Not making excuses, I can just see that easily if the covenant thing is taken the way you mentioned. The covenant is just a reflection of the responses by a true follower of the Lord and not someone who just calls themself a Christian but has never given their life to Christ. Most people here don’t understand there is a difference unfortunately.

    • The Village Church pastoral group, led by Matt Chandler, has a very sound Biblical understanding of grace, sovereignty, and soteriology. Whether or not they run afoul of Biblical teachings on other topics depends upon where you land theologically on such topics. I attended the Village Church for nearly a decade so I’m very familiar with their teachings and pastoral group. For instance, the Village Church believes in replacement theology, or more specifically covenant theology. They believe that while the covenants made by God to Abraham were everlasting, that Jesus was the fulfillment of all Old Testament covenants and prophecy. As such, as heirs in Christ, both Gentile and Jewish believers would inherit the Abrahamic covenants. In essence, according to the Village Church, there is no distinguishing between Jew and Gentile in the Church age. In fact, I was told by multiple Village Church pastors that there would really be no Biblical need for Jews to even exist to fulfill any particular eschatological prophecy. The Village Church also does not subscribe to a pre-trib rapture of the Church. They also do not believe in a specific seven year tribulation period. They believe we have been in the tribulation since the ascension of Christ. Because of that belief, they believe there are no signs one can look to if they wanted to determine that Jesus return was near. They would point to Matthew 24:30 (NKJV) “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” According to the Village Church the only sign of Jesus return that believers will see is the actual return of Jesus Himself, “coming on the clouds.” The pastoral group at the Village Church is somewhat conflicted on the issue of the millennial reign of Christ, but the majority take an a-millennial view of Christ’s coming kingdom. I left the Village Church primarily over the issue of spiritualizing modern day Israel, or as it is more commonly referred to as – replacement theology. I could have agreed to disagree on the other issues, but Israel was the hill I had to die on so to speak. I believe the coming tribulation, or as it is referred to in the OT as the “day of Jacob’s trouble,” is the time God finally reconciles His chosen nation of Israel to himself. I can’t allegorize epic teachings in Romans 11 and in Revelation to cut Israel out of the picture as the Village Church does.

      • Thank you very much for sharing this information. I personally reject replacement theology so that would certainly be an area of disagreement for me and one I noticed while reading Chandler’s Explicit Gospel.

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