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A three-day stubble adorns Matt Chandler's handsome, boyish face, belying his booming voice. It's actually "six-day" stubble, says Chandler, 39, laughing. Over lunch, Chandler's metaphor-driven mind is busy condensing big ideas into practical concepts, a trademark of his preaching and writing. As someone who preaches both "the gospel on the ground" (how Christ came to save individual sinners) and "the gospel in the air" (how Christ came to redeem all of creation), he may be well positioned to take a Reformed church-planting movement to new corners of Christendom.
"I think I'm intrinsically gifted when it comes to metaphors," he says. "I am constantly thinking, This resembles that." He tosses humor into sermons and conversations like pitching salt, so fast that listeners may miss words but get the flavor. His energetic preaching makes him a fitting choice to lead one of the fastest-growing international movements of "churches planting churches" today.
The busy Tuesday that Christianity Today visits him, the 6' 5" Chandler wears a black T-shirt and jeans. He chats while wolfing down a mixed salad in his modest office at the Village Church in Flower Mound, a Dallas–Fort Worth suburb. Posters around the building don't explicitly tout his Calvinism as one might expect, just "biblical" teaching. Cubbyholes and hangout areas in the rehabbed Albertsons grocery store promote the coffeehouse-casual feel that's nearly ubiquitous in large evangelical churches. Even Chandler's first book, The Explicit Gospel, takes a scented-candle approach to Calvinism, freshening up its more arcane teachings to attract a new generation.
A leader at the Village Church for 12 years, Chandler is entrancing if demanding to hang with. "His intensity is one of the first things you notice," says Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. "Just ...