Harvest Bible Chapel: “These are NOT the Droids You’re Looking For”

The scene is almost as classic as the film in which it is found. Having just discovered the brutally burned remains of his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, Luke Skywalker has agreed to travel off-planet with Obi-wan Kenobi on a desperate mission to deliver two droids that contain vital information to finally putting an end to Vader’s Empire.  But upon arriving at the Mos Eisley Spaceport, they are confronted by imperial stormtroopers hunting for the droids.  Just at this moment, when all seems lost, the mysterious Kenobi, in his first real display of power, simply waves his hand and says the iconic words: “These are not the droids you are looking for.”  And just like that, the befuddled stormtroopers parrot his words and numbly allow the heroes to continue forward on their fateful journey.

Several weeks ago, Pastor James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC) attempted his own “Jedi mind trick” of sorts, as he sought to convince his congregation that they need not listen to the external critics of his ministry, in spite of the evidence that was right before their eyes.  Listen closely to what he says in this sermon based loosely upon John 2:13-22.[1]

We benefit a lot from criticism, by the way.  I wish some of you could read my mail every week.  Some of the criticism doesn’t honestly come in that nice a package.  Sometimes I have to read things by people who seem to have [as] their only goal to oppose me or us.   But I still try to benefit from it.  However, this I will say: you don’t qualify to criticize – we should listen to everyone – but you don’t truly qualify to criticize if you don’t participate.  Would you allow your next-door neighbor to walk into your house without knocking today and say, ‘I’d like to give some input about this family?’  How many people would not allow that?  Next-door neighbor just BAM!  ‘I’m here.  I wanna tell you some things I think about you and your family and how you should run it!’  You’d be offended by that.  And if you understand that, than I think you’ll understand why a person who doesn’t serve and doesn’t give and doesn’t attend faithfully should not be instructing us about our family.  Amen?  The people that should be instructing us and should be instructing our elders and the ones that we should be listening to – I think it’s very appropriate for our elders or for a small group leaders to say, ‘Do you serve?  Before you give me your input, do you serve?  Do you give?  Do you attend?  Regularly?  Faithfully?  Alright, well then, we totally need to hear what you have to say.  Otherwise … not so much.’

Did you catch all that?  In a season that has been marked by the Elephant Room 2 – a season where Harvest Bible Chapel and the ministry of James MacDonald has come under intense scrutiny – MacDonald is trying to suggest to his congregation that outsiders who do not attend, give and serve regularly do not “truly qualify” to comment upon the actions and decisions of the leaders of HBC. This, of course, raises two significant questions.

First, do the guidelines offered in this sermon line up with the teachings of Scripture? 

Secondly, does MacDonald himself live by his own teachings?

With regards to the first question, the answer is clearly and unequivocally “no.”   Scripture is filled with examples in which God brings voices from outside a given community to speak into the life of the community in question.  Indeed, the vast majority of the Apostle Paul’s epistletory writings would fall into this category.  While Paul may have founded many of the various churches he wrote to, the itinerant nature of his ministry most certainly assures us of the fact that he did not regularly attend these churches, nor did he regularly serve them or support them financially.  Moreover, and perhaps more significantly, Paul displays no hesitation in calling out the actions of another church leader, even in a context where he played no part in establishing the ministry of that leader or the church that leader served.

But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he had clearly done wrong. Untilcertain people came from James, he had been eating with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he stopped doing this and separated himself because he was afraid of those who were pro-circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also joined with him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray with themby their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not behaving consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peterin front of them all, ‘If you, although you are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you try to force the Gentiles to live like Jews?’[2]

So as you can see, Paul was not reticent to offer critiques.  And yet, Paul did not establish Peter’s ministry.  He did not ordain Peter as elder.  He didn’t attend Peter’s church.  He never served in Peter’s church.  In fact, if we take the testimony of Scripture seriously, it would seem that Paul may have only visited Peter’s church on two separate occasions.  And yet, when Peter begins to act in a way that is concerning to Paul, the Apostle demonstrates no hesitation in calling Peter out in a public fashion – indeed, in a letter that was meant to be widely disseminated amongst the growing Christian community in the ancient world.

So, to put it simply, when Pastor MacDonald elects to teach his people that external critics of his ministry do not “qualify” to voice their concerns, he is teaching a message that calls into question the validity of the actions of the Apostle Paul.  And that, from an evangelical perspective, is a highly troubling message that should be openly challenged by anyone who sat in that room listening to MacDonald teach.

Now, as for the second question, does MacDonald live by his own teachings, the answer, once again, is a most emphatic “no.”  As anyone who has been around Harvest Bible Chapel for any length of time well knows, MacDonald has never been one to shy away from calling out the ministry of another church and/or leader.  As recently as 18 months ago, at the Elephant Room 1, he was publicly seen offering a vigorous critique of both Steven Furtick and David Platt over their ministry practices and associations.  And as far as I know, MacDonald does not regularly attend, serve or give to their respective churches.  So why does MacDonald “qualify” to question the actions of other church leaders, while at the same time teaching that others outside of Harvest do not “qualify” to question or challenge his decisions?

It seems to me that he is attempting a bit of a “Jedi mind trick.”

“These criticisms are not the criticisms you should be looking for.  Move along”


[1] This transcript is based upon a two-minute video excerpt that MacDonald posted on his blog.  It can be found here:  http://jamesmacdonald.com/blog/?p=12614#more-12614  A complete copy of the sermon can be found at the following link:   http://www.jamesmacdonald.com/teaching/video/driving-consumers-out-of-the-church/#divSpecialVideoFeatures-tabhttp://

[2] Galatians 2:11-14

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63 Responses to Harvest Bible Chapel: “These are NOT the Droids You’re Looking For”

  1. Ryan (my real name) says:

    This is a weak theology of the church. Understandably, someone that has been in the trenches for years along side of me is going to have larger voice than someone, a brother or sister in Christ, that has been in a parallel trench. His analogy is poor. My neighbor has no familial relation to my household, but that is not the case with Tim Keller and D.A. Carson with respect to his ministry, they are brothers in Christ and significant voices at that.

    Nevertheless, the Body of Christ, Church Universal is primary, and it finds expression necessarily in the local body; he obviously inverts this priority. Nevermind to say how people within his local body have been treated when question and criticism has been raised. Rank hypocrisy.

    • Great observation, Ryan. But is it terribly surprising? When a modern evangelical mega-church church is beholden to no denomination and no authority save that of its own self-appointed elder board, are we to be shocked that its conception of ecclesiology is so weak? This is where I come closest to my appreciation for the Eastern Orthodox Church. While I don’t think I could find my way all the way to Rome, with its papal infallibility, I do think that a college of Bishops that are co-equal in authority truly strengthens that church in a way that would benefit the modern evangelical non-denominationals.

  2. Fred says:

    You have to be kidding me! This from the guy who Tweeted that his brothers in Christ (of a Reformed persuasion) were Nazis! Gimme a break. See this link for a photo capture of his “Nazi Tweet.” http://apprising.org/2012/02/11/james-macdonald-teaches-us-to-do-as-i-say-not-as-i-do/

    • John Thomas says:

      Wow. I can’t believe he called them Nazis for disagreeing with him. I guess I should put on my brown shirt and red armband then. It is amazing how some people can dish it out but they can’t take it; typically weak bullying stuff.

  3. Fred says:

    I know. What’s crazier is this is the same guy that sent (along with his elders) a letter to Willow Creek admonishing them for inviting Bill Clinton to their leadership conference some years ago. So it’s okay if your James to send a letter to Willow about a controversial speaker with whom significant disagreement exists, but do not dare question him about a similar move. Cognitive dissidence.

  4. Greg says:

    All your points are well supported, as usual. But I think the argument is easier than which you give it credit.

    The perspective taken is basically a fundamental tenet of cult psychology. And I’m highly confident that most any sociology or social psychology text will cite similarly.

    Secondly–and perhaps more disturbing–is the focus on self and empire, rather than Christ and eternity.

    • Thanks for chiming in, Greg. I too noticed the focus on Harvest. In fact, at one point in his message, he commented that “this isn’t a message for the church down the street” (2:34 in the blog video). And I found myself wondering: “Shouldn’t Scripture, if properly taught, apply to everyone, regardless of which local church body they claim as a home?”

      Again, to Ryan’s point above, this simply highlights a poor understanding of ecclesiology and the role of the church universal in the life of the local church.

  5. Luke says:

    Scott. Your intentions are obviously good. You want Christ’s church to be honored. However, I think you have missed the mark here. Here’s why … feel free to push back. 🙂

    1. Your intro of calling it a Jedi-Mind trick assumes motive. Is it not possible that he has a different interpretation of how criticism can be offered that you disagree with?

    2. Paul was an apostle. By nature, this allowed him to speak into any situation he deemed fit. That is different than people on the outside speaking. Additionally Paul’s interaction always fit the pattern MacDonald outlined above. He did it face-to-face from the inside. Not an unwelcome bomb from the outside.

    3. By coming to an event advertised as discussion about ministry methodology, Platt and Furtick welcomed MacDonald to the table by attending the event. The invitation for critique can always be extended, but the critique is necessarily allowed for anyone who contributes to their church.

    4. As for some of things outlined above, James has acknowledged openly in the ER2 and other places that he has changed his views substantially over the years as he has moved from a fundamentalist upbringing to his assessment of a grace/truth balance.

    5. Since his comments speak directly to your many blogs over the last 6 months, maybe I could ask a question to you … what is your hope with this crusade against James + Harvest?

    • Luke … First of all, please allow me to offer you my sincerest thanks for taking the time to offer a well thought out comment. While I suspect that we may disagree on some points here and there, I can honestly tell you that I genuinely appreciate the manner in which you are approaching the dialog. And given that, I really do want to respect the time you have taken in commenting by offering a reply to your question. You asked: “what is your hope with this crusade against James + Harvest?” Quite frankly, I think that’s a very valid question.

      So here’s my reply. Over the past few years, there seems to have been a shift in the way that MacDonald is approaching ministry. If that shift had been confined to the boundaries of his local church or perhaps even the Fellowship at large, it is unlikely that I would have written even one word on the subject. The fact of the matter is, there are problematic issues in every local church, just as there are problematic issues in every individual life. So for me, if this issue had been contained within the walls of Harvest, I almost certainly would not have addressed the matter in a public forum. It wouldn’t, in my opinion, have been appropriate to do so.

      But unfortunately, MacDonald appears to be interested in creating some sort of “new tribe” through the very public forum that is the Elephant Room. And because he is interested in shaping the public theology of the broader evangelical church, I would argue that the only appropriate response is a public response. Let’s shift the discussion off of MacDonald for a moment, and take, for instance, Rob Bell’s most recent book on the doctrine of Hell. By the logic that MacDonald has laid out above, only those within the walls of Mars Hill would have been “qualified” to critique Bell’s position. But I’m not sure that silence within the larger church community would have benefited anyone. And I say that regardless of whether you agreed with Bell or disagreed. The magnitude of the claim was so great that no matter which side of the debate you were on, it had to be discussed in a public manner. Otherwise, a critical doctrine in the history of the church would have been challenged with no meaningful counter-arguments being put forward to test its claims.

      So that is why I have responded to MacDonald’s actions in a public manner. Doctrine matters. And when someone is looking to publicly shape the doctrine of the larger church community, we have an obligation to engage that conversation. As to what to what I hope to accomplish, the list is relatively short. First, I hope that MacDonald and/or his elders might find this blog and consider some of the arguments I have put forth. Secondly, I hope that congregants inside Harvest might read this, and raise important questions with the Harvest leadership. Thirdly, I hope that the broader church community might read this and realize that the historical orthodox teaching of the Church Universal is worth contending for, even if it means asking some very pointed questions in a difficult season.

      Now, having said all of that, let me offer a few shorter replies to a few of your other points. If any of this sounds quick or harsh, please know that this is not my intent. I’m just trying to keep this reasonably short.

      2. I think your argument pertaining to Paul’s apostolic office is flawed. Scripture talks repeatedly about teachers and pastors needing to protect the sheep from false teachers. While I am not necessarily putting MacDonald into that category, the principle of pastors and/or teachers correcting others is well established in the New Testament; and it’s not limited to the Apostolic office (see for instance 1 Timothy 5:20).

      Additionally, your comment about Paul correcting others “face-to-face from the inside” and not as “an unwelcome bomb from the outside” is not factually accurate. Consider, if you will, the book of Galatians. Here, perhaps more than anywhere else, Paul is seen boldly confronting the Gentile Christians in the form of a public letter. He is not doing it face-to-face, and he is not doing it in a private manner. What’s more, the tone and content of the letter contain some of his harshest rebukes on record. So I think you’re off on this point.

      3. I’m not sure what you meant by this statement. Can you clarify?

      4. While it may be true that MacDonald has acknowledged the fact that he has changed over time, the question remains as to whether that change is altogether “good.” Acknowledging the change does not necessarily mean that he is moving in the right direction. And here, in the context of ER2, I would suggest that any “change” that is being exhibited is dangerous to evangelical theology. The Trinity is not a small matter, nor is the issue of the Word-Faith movement (or the Prosperity Gospel movement).

      Does this help clarify my perspective? I hope that it does. But in the event that I have not been clear, or if you just want to push back, please feel free to comment again. I welcome the discussion and appreciate anyone who takes the time to really engage these matters of importance.

      • Luke says:

        It can be hard to do this back and forth, but let me try. 🙂

        1. As far as your analogy to Bell goes, I think you take what MacDonald is saying in the wrong way. The whole discussion about ER2, whether to invite Jakes, how they questioned him, the posture towards criticism, all comes down single thing …. the difference in relating to a christian and non-christian. what Rob Bell wrote necessitates response because a person going to heaven can’t write that. Can a person who prefers different language and is soft on the trinity go to heaven? According to many many scriptures, the answer is yes. MacDonald is saying that you should approach brothers by the law of love. Assuming the best, aiming for unity like Christ commands, and approaching disagreement in a gracious way while trying to push for truth. That was his whole vision for the ER the way I understand it. If Jakes isn’t a Christian, MacDonald handled everything wrong. If he is, he handled it pretty well and the criticism of him is over-the-top and unreasonable.

        2. The issue comes down to tone. If you believe James is a believer in Christ and going to heaven, your critique seems more to inflame the already angry than to try and convince the unsure. By calling his tactics a ‘jedi-mind trick’ you imply evil motives, which i see no reason to. Disagreeing with what he said is fair,

        but do you really think that he is intentionally trying to lead his flock astray?

        • Luke … welcome back. I’m glad you took the time to actually sift through my response. For whatever it’s worth, my apologies for the length. Like you said above, “it can be hard to do this back and forth” online. In the interest of trying to keep on track, I’m going to follow the points you made above. If you want to branch out, feel free. I’m just trying to keep myself organized. 🙂

          1. There were several issues in your first comment that I wanted to respond to. Let me start
          with this: “what Rob Bell wrote necessitates response because a person going to heaven can’t write that.” While I think I understand what you are trying to say, I’m not sure that I can agree that the doctrine of Hell is an in/out issue while the doctrine of the Trinity is not. With all due respect – and I really mean that! – I think you’re on dangerous footing when you suggest that someone can “prefer different language” and be “soft on the trinity.” Modalist theology suggests that God ceased to be the Father when He became the Son, and that He ceased to be the Son when He became the Spirit. The problem is, if you take this approach, you are forced to allegorize numerous passages thoughout Scripture. Moreover, you run the risk of creating massive problems with the atonement and what was accomplished on the cross. If there is no Father when there is a Son, what was Christ bearing on the cross? Our sin? Certainly! But what about the Father’s wrath and justice being poured out on the Son? If there is no Father, the theology of the cross becomes incredibly warped. Or what about Judgement Day? Who is Christ standing before as He advocates for us by virtue of our being covered by His death and resurrection? If there is no Father, how does Judgement Day work? Do you see what I’m getting at? It’s not just a preference for language. Language impacts our theology in meaningful ways. And thus, I would suggest that Modalism is every bit as problematic as Bell being open to universalism post mortem.

          Again, I really do mean it when I say that I appreciate the way in which you have challenged me. Hope to hear from you soon.

          • Luke says:

            by ‘soft’ I mean, within the bounds of Christianity, but not the ideal viewpoint.

            he said he believes in 3 and he believes in 1. he said he believes they eternally exist. he doesn’t prefer some of the classical language.

            everything you say is true, except that is isn’t what he believes. many modalists have disowned him.

            apart from this I really would more prefer answers to my other questions, but either way we threaten internet history. 4 back and forths without descending into name-calling … 🙂

          • Hi Luke … Looking back on our discussion, it seems to me that the only question I haven’t answered is whether I believe he is intentionally trying to lead his flock astray. And brother … that is one tough question! 🙂

            While everything that I am about to say is nothing more than personal conjecture, I do believe that he is trying to manipulate his congregation. And I know that’s a harsh charge, but I see no way around it. As best as I can tell, there is no way that one can synchronize MacDonald’s admonition to ignore external critics with the teachings of Scripture. Moreover, you can’t really synchronize it with his own personal practices either. So as best as I can tell, this appears to be a move in which he is attempting to “protect” his ministry by trying to discredit those that are calling him into question. Fair? Not fair? What do you think?

            While we’re talking, would you mind if I asked you a question? What do you make of the fact that neither MacDonald nor Driscoll said anything publicly about Jakes’ associations with the Word-Faith movement? Would you not consider this issue to be extremely significant for the church?

            We’re five for five, friend! Wanna go for six?

  6. Jeremy says:

    I would suggest that the most efficient way to drive out “consumers” in the church would be to for the postmodern evangelical church to stop looking like a (free/subsidized) marketplace, and simply offer the one thing that is and always will be free…the pure gospel.

    Why do churches offer FREE CONCERT on Saturday night!!, free (or below cost) seminars, bring in celebrity Christians, books, videos, worship albums, podcasts, blogs, radio shows. Could these be some of the “tricks” that Luke is referring to (http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/content.aspx?site_id=10424&content_id=162806 7:16)?

    And we expect a different result than “consumerism” in our churches? C’mon!

    When church becomes the super-cool terrific awesome happy hour for mom, dad and kids alike, what should we expect from seeking, immature and luke-warm believers? Leaders struggling with this problem should look in the mirror and ask “how did we create this environment, and would should we do to correct it?”, instead of “who should we blame?”

    I suspect that this is the frustration a leader like James MacDonald senses when a church’s ministries, programs, offerings and reach grow faster than the spiritual maturity of its body as a whole. This is accomplished by resources and force, but does it crowd out the more “organic” workings of the Holy Spirit?

  7. Jeremy says:

    And apologies that the previous post is more a commentary on the referenced sermon, and not the more specific blog post topic of outside criticism. Perhaps a topic for another post?

  8. Dan McGhee says:

    http://nocoever.com/

    Uh oh. These guys are get in trouble for having their own Elephant Room about the Elephant Room… But, that’s OK because they are just a bunch of angry, white, middle-aged, reformed guys.

    • Luke says:

      Dan, for someone who was part of this denomination 6 months ago, it seems that you take a delight in trying to drag all of them through the mud.

      although I may disagree with you, you certainly have a reasoned opinion about all that has gone on, but why this comment?

      are you hoping to hurt these people?
      do you wish James MacDonald harm?

  9. Dan McGhee says:

    “going to” get in trouble:)

  10. Dan McGhee says:

    Luke, why do you beat your wife?

  11. Dan McGhee says:

    Luke, the point of my question is in the absurdity of it… I’m making assumptions about you even in the question itself. I’m assuming you’re married and I’m assuming you’re beating your wife. Therefore, I’m assuming what kind of a person you, right? If you are married and if you are not beating your wife, you would be like, “Why would you ask me a question like this when none of it is true to begin with?”

    That’s how I look at the the questions you’ve just asked me, brother. Therefore, I won’t answer any of them.

    • Luke says:

      if you took the words ‘harm’ and ‘hurt’ to mean physically, I apologize for being unclear. I just don’t understand your aggressiveness and angst … you have tweeted 93 times ever … 47 of those are about MacDonald/ERoom etc. it seems a little angry. your response to my questions seems angry. it can be hard to understand tone online, so forgive me if i understand, just trying to understand.

  12. Michael says:

    Dan,

    I think what Luke is getting at is that your online activity begs the questions to be asked.

    If Luke’s wife had bruises and Luke seem to be angry a lot you might ask some probing questions.

    Brother, you are the only ex-Harvest pastor (of the few who left over the ER event) who puts effort into publicly commenting on Harvest and MacDonald. I don’t think it is fair to paint you with the same brush as someone who is overly hammering away constantly on MacDonald or Harvest churches (a la @megachurchmouse on Twitter) but the question seems like a fair one: What is your purpose? What are you seeking to accomplish? What is the goal?

    • cindycurtis says:

      I would like to see James MacDonald apologize to his congregation and publicly repent.

      • Alex says:

        Hey Cindy,
        I go to Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows where James is the pastor (and have since the 90’s). What exactly does he need to repent to me about?

        • cindycurtis says:

          James MacDonald needs to apologize to his congregation for his failure as their shepherd. He needs to publicly repent of his trivialization of God.

          • HBC member says:

            Yes, agreed. Here is something to repent about:
            From a recent post 3/22/12, same blog, “Does pastor James MacDonald possess too much power?”

            A HBC attendee writes:

            …As an outsider, but someone who has watched (and I can honestly say have loved and admired Pastor James) from a distance, what followed was very disturbing, uncomfortable and saddening.

            Rising to speak, Pastor Jenkins implored the room full of men to “appreciate this man”. At first I thought this meant giving him a hearty round of applause for leading a great event, and encouraging him in his apparently trying week. But at HBC, this means something much different. What ensued was a nearly two minute standing ovation love-fest that including the worship team marching back onstage single-file and doating praise that would make any rational person who was the subject of such groveling a bit squeamish and humiliated. I, regrettably, not wanting to stand out, joined everyone in standing and applauding, and at that point my disappointment was on this body for directing such lavish praise on a man, and to Pastor James for not admonishing this behavior (In all of my following, I have never witnessed him doing such a thing). My mind had not yet gone in a direction that caused it to think that Pastor James actually thrives and feeds off of this lavish praise of men.

            This is just one example. Several weeks ago two men leaving HBC or full time ministry (I can’t remember) provided James with this same sort of lavish praise (ostensibly unbeknownst to James beforehand but frankly looking very scripted). It is disturbing to have men fawning over him at the front of our church. It takes the focus off of Christ Jesus and puts it on a man. This was the week that Grayslake was disenfranchised and we heard nothing about that. Why?

    • Fred says:

      Maybe he wants others to know about what happens behind closed doors that would send most of that congregation fleeing if they knew. I left and his theology was the least of my concerns.

  13. Luke says:

    Scott,

    for whatever reason it wouldn’t let me respond above, so I will here.

    so what if we slim down what he says a little bit to the basics …. this is probably the most important sentence

    Sometimes I have to read things by people who seem to have [as] their only goal to oppose me or us. But I still try to benefit from it. However, this I will say: you don’t qualify to criticize – we should listen to everyone – but you don’t truly qualify to criticize if you don’t participate.

    what does he say?

    1. We should listen to and try to benefit from people who criticize with what we think are bad motives.
    2. The main means of critique should come from insiders and not outsiders without a full scope or connection.

    question 1: Does that seem fair and biblical advice towards the normal local church which doesn’t have much influence or desire to influence outside of itself? (i think the answer is yes)

    question 2: Does it change the equation if you are a well known church which prescribe your methods and beliefs to others?

    to me that changes things a little, but still the answer is yes. listen to all and primarily to those who contribute and/or your leadership. Sure you don’t think outside opinion should be equal to the elders or pastors in a church? the parts you bolded are certainly the most salacious, but on balance that doesn’t feel like that unreasonable of a statement to me.

    your serve 🙂

  14. Dan McGhee says:

    Michael,

    Does posting this link – http://nocoever.com/ – constitute in your mind me seeming to “take a delight in trying to drag all of them through the mud” as Luke stated? Really…. You don’t think this question is the equivalent of “Why do you beat your wife?”

    BTW, did you click on the link to listen to those angry, white, balding, middle-aged, reformed guys? If so, do you think they raise any valid concerns based on the short clip you saw?

    Are those who are asking these questions doing so just because they “wish James MacDonald harm” as Luke would probably suggest? After all, if it is assumed that I wish this simply because I posted a link to the video, what must be assumed of the motives of the men who are actually in the video?

    • Luke says:

      I don’t think anything negative of the people on the panel’s motives. I disagree with their opinions and methods, but I assume they are aiming to do what is best for the cause of Christ.

      You didn’t just post a link … you took several potshots at MacDonald. And you do most everyday on twitter and on blogs all of over the place, but as recently as 6 months ago, your church was in their denomination.

      that is the part that seems a little noteworthy and worthy of a question. You haven’t answered my question or even responded reasonably. I tried to show respect to you, now you need to do the same.

  15. Michael says:

    Hi Dan,

    Did I misunderstand your comment? I guess I took it in light of your online activity regarding Harvest and MacDonald. If you were just a random guy who made that comment it may have caused me to pause a bit – but you are not just a random guy. You are one of the 3 or 4 churches who left Harvest who alone has taken up the mantle of being the voice of the “Harvest Disenfranchised” and has been ‘banging the drum’, so to speak on Twitter and blogs.

    So again, the question seems fair: what’s your purpose? What are you prayerfully hoping to accomplish?

    • Jeremy says:

      Let’s not be too dense guys. I think it’s pretty obvious what Dan’s motives are. I’ll let him answer specifically, but I believe he addressed his grievances initially on his blog (I’m sure you’re following) when he explained his motives for his church’s disassociation from HBF. Did he forfeit the right to continue to voice these concerns when he left the Family?

      It’s a very scary thing to hear someone arrive at “do you wish James MacDonald harm?” from someone posting a clip of a couple guys strongly disagreeing with two influential pastors’ handling of an important doctrinal issue that included giving Jakes the resounding stamp of approval: “T.D. Jakes is not a modalist.” (how is that not an endorsement?). What exactly, is the “harm” in that (Dan’s tongue-in-cheek comment aside)? Shouldn’t JMac’s reputation be one that stands the test of humble critique?

      Greater harm is being done to those discerning faithful that have called HBC home for many years, raised their families there, and are being crushed with sorrow over what they see happening (associations with Jakes, Furtick, Driscoll, pastor celebrity, shift in balance of authority. and somewhat hostile talks of catapults and criticizing non-participants). Honestly answer you all that see nothing wrong: what are they supposed to do when nobody addresses their concerns? Aren’t we all be thankful that Martin Luther was the original Christian blogger?

      Of all people in the sphere, I would argue Dan has the greatest right to voice an opinion and concerns as a once-participating member.

      • Alex says:

        Crushed with sorrow? I’ve been attending and have raised my family at HBC Rolling Meadows. My sons learned a love for the Word growing up under the preaching there. My marriage has grown, we’ve seen many friends come to follow Jesus Christ.

        Was ER2 a great success? No. But even pastor James has admitted that. Is he a “celebrity pastor”? Not to me. He’s just my pastor. Furtick preaching was a trainwreck but I give my church the grace to mess some things up.

        Here’s my challenge: find me something that James MacDonald has preached that would be worthy of nailing anything on the Whittenberg door?

        • Jeremy says:

          “find me something that James MacDonald has preached that would be worthy of nailing anything on the Whittenberg door?”

          Actually the 95 Theses had more to do with what was going on outside the pulpit (like selling indulgences to finance a fund raising campaign..hmmmm). But so that my post doesn’t get twisted any further…I AM NOT (I’ll let someone else) comparing the atrocities and abuses of the Roman Catholic church to JMac. I’m simply saying that the voice of concerns need to be heard by the flock if they won’t be heard by the shepherds. And aren’t we all thankful that ML did that 500 years ago?

          But since you asked… the list is growing…but off the top of my head, here are a few:

          “Perry Noble didn’t lie”
          “Steven Furtick is wise wise wise”
          “T.D. Jakes is not a modalist”
          “Forgiving means, you never bring it up again” (from Have the Funeral)
          Then:
          When I was just starting out in ministry, two women were absolutely sure that I was going to deny the faith in the very near future. They were convinced I was a closet charismatic, soft on the gospel, and weak in biblical faithfulness because…I wouldn’t stop worshipers from raising their hands, I wouldn’t give a public gospel invitation every week, and I wouldn’t preach against the things that they feared. They had gifts of discernment that were not controlled by the Holy Spirit, but were lovelessly expressed through fear and anger doing incredible damage to our church. Finally they fled, predicting horror and judgement to fall on our ‘apostacy.’ That was 21+ years ago.” (from Association vs. Discernment blog post 9/27/22). Guess those poor church ladies haven’t been forgiven yet.

          and to lighten the mood:

          “What is the difference between these two sentences: 1. I have a cat 2. I am a loser #joking #sortof”

          I’m glad that your experience has been different. For some the details, methods and means, and simultaneous enrichment and unwise associations don’t matter or are justified by the end. But for many it counts,and matters, and burdens them severely when these shift occur. And they’re labeled “haters”, “critics” and sent along their way via catapult. Where’s the love & unity, and truth without brutality in that?

        • James Conway says:

          ER2 not a great success? Even Pastor James has admitted that? That is not what he posted on his blog.

          http://jamesmacdonald.com/blog/?p=11139

          He is relieved that it went as well as it did. Here’s his description, in his own words of the event:
          Great Response
          Great Conversation
          Great Clarity
          Great Vindication
          Great Counsel

          How many times must the adjective “great” be used positively about an event before it can be considered a “great success”?

          A little more searching on the blogosphere and twitterverse would reveal more glowing words from Pastor James about ER2. I have not seen any public comment by him admitting that ER2 was not a great success. If you have a link supporting that belief, I’m sure there are a few of us who would be interested in that.

          You believe that Furtick preaching at Harvest was a trainwreck. Why do you believe that? Pastor James has had nothing but public praise for Furtick and his appearance at Harvest. In addition to proclaiming that Furtick is “wise, wise, wise” he has declared that T.D. Jakes has “Biblical solidity”. Do you have any concerns with those comments?

          • Jeremy says:

            Is anybody willing to give a line item defense here…or has James acquired some form of pastoral immunity from his contradicting, and at times hostile posture of the past year or so?

            Much of his defense comes in the form of 1.defending the man (fine, but pointless as it’s not a personal attack) 2.Making invalid claims (“ER2 was a great success? No. Even James admits that”) 3.Revising, reshaping what James said in a softer tone 4.Going on the offensive against a credible and sincere pastor with genuine concerns.

            It seems James’ sterling record of biblical fidelity and pastoral care to his flock has been galvanized for all posterity, regardless of current or future trajectory (or decent).

            Please answer Luke, Alex, Michael or anyone else: Does JMac get a pass for the direct quotes above? How about the Reformed/Nazi comment? Is that funny, defensible, do you agree with it?

            Is it true, as this blog has stated, that James just announced this year that future speakers at HBC will need the approval of the elder board, after 24 years of ministry? Is this what is meant by “the grace to mess up”? What happens if one or more elders disagree with a future speaker coming? Does that make them factious, or not “with me heart and soul”? .

        • HBC member says:

          Yes, literally crushed with sorrow. And trust me,…NOT ALONE.

          • Luke says:

            ok Jeremy…you have a few trains of thought going at once, so let me try to answer them each as candidly and graciously as possible from my perspective. You obviously care about God’s word and the church, so I want to try and answer respectfully.

            1. MacDonald’s reformed/nazi is not in good taste. Nazi jokes are never funny. However I agree with his underlying point.
            2. I read his Perry Noble didn’t lie blog and although I don’t why he did it, I thought the explanation was true to my own experience in life. The emphasizing of different parts of a story in different contexts isn’t the same as lying.
            3. Although Steven Furtick does some things I wouldn’t … he preaches a biblical gospel. Even though some of the people he embraces I wouldn’t, I have heard a bunch of his sermons and find them biblical if a little outside my preferred style. As for him being at HBC, I thought it was kind of cool. I want to be the kind of church that rejoices when Christ is preached. Did he go overboard about JMac? Sure, but it isn’t as if you can blame JMac for that.
            4. TD Jakes says he isn’t a Modalist. Although that seems not to be good enough for some, it is good enough for me.
            5. I think the statement from have the funeral fits with biblical teaching.

            I don’t necessarily want to get into all of those in detail, but you asked and I tried to answer. I did want to probe one thing … Does JMac still preach the biblical gospel?

            if the answer is yes, then critique should be framed with love. Love is telling the truth in a way that it can be most effective. That was my original point with Pastor Dan. His crusade across the internet doesn’t feel like something built on love. I could be wrong and certainly wouldn’t put that label on him without trying to understand his motives. That is why I asked …

  16. Michael says:

    Hey Dan,

    Just reread the comments here and I don’t want you to feel “piled on”. If this line of questioning is too harsh I am sorry (hard to show heart-intent in a blog comment). I really want to hear your thoughts in this. MacDonald has said in the original blog article here that not all critique carries the same weight (all is helpful but not all equally so) … so (without any attack in my question) where do you see your critique of Harvest churches and MacDonald being helpful? For him? For your church?

  17. Jeremy says:

    Hi Luke, thanks for responding in grace. I’m a little more blunt and direct, but I do come from a place of love for Christ’s church and his people.

    I’ll make one last round, and then bow out. It seems that our fundamental disagreement is whether it matters what a pastor is doing and saying when they’re not in the pulpit. I believe it does, some not as much. Anecdotally, I would argue that much drift, compromise, and at the extreme, moral failure of once faithful pastors probably couldn’t be spotted in their gospel preaching…if so, they would have been brought to account (and by God’s grace restored) before a major fall occurred or a compromised gospel was preached.

    A couple points of amplification and clarification on your replies to me:

    1. I’m glad you disagree with the Nazi comment. I wish he would have acknowledged being held accountable for saying that, and publicly apologized for the public comment.

    2. I, to some degree, do also agree with the “two versions of truth” argument that James laid down on “Perry Noble Didn’t Lie”. I should have been more clear as to why I included that quote. I really don’t care if PN lied or not. What bothers me is that James would (very publicly) cross the street for this scripture-twisting money-back guarantee prosperity peddler with major ego and temperament issues. The expounding of energy to get PN on the couch, and get in his head and come up with a plausible excuse for why he played H2H on Easter, and how he didn’t lie in having two distinct explanations, shows severe lack of judgement (or some ulterior benefit) on James’ part. Why would sticking his neck out for this guy, and risking healthy relationships be worth it? Where was/is the profit? What makes you think that he might not be next in line for a pulpit-swap with JMAC once he comes back from his sabbatical? Respectfully, would you also enjoy his version of Christ being preached?

    3. We are a ways apart on our views on Furtick, but if you believe that James has no control over what goes on in his pulpit when he’s out, you need to run, not walk to your elder board and insist on stronger accountability and oversight. The Sr. Pastor should be ruthlessly protective of his flock, and extremely critical of who comes to speak. Can’t RD, JD or DL preach Christ just as effectively?

    The “wise, wise, wise” comment came during ER2, and thus after his HBC performance. A year earlier James was telling Furtick to “grow up”; that HIS associations (Jakes and Osteen, perhaps?) could affect his followers that don’t have the capacity to “eat the fish and leave the bone”. Who changed or “grew” in this past year? I am comfortable saying it wasn’t Furtick. Must ask, does James appreciate the pastoral gushing, the overboard Tweets, and having his wife called “hot” by another pastor?

    4. Ok, the modalist horse is beyond dead. Is he also not entangled in the prosperity movement?

    5. Agreed (Micah 7:10, Eph 4:32)…but how does that reconcile with James bitterly bringing up the fundamentalist ladies that he drove out of the church 20 YEARS earlier?

    To answer your question Luke, so far as I can tell, yes I do believe that James still preaches a biblical gospel on Sundays at Harvest. Admittedly, I don’t listen to his sermons as much as I used to. However, comparison of his tone, posture and public comments between ER1 and ER2, show a significant change, in my opinion, in his his approach to ecumenism.

    • cindycurtis says:

      Yes, RD, JD and DL can all preach Christ just as effectively. Would prefer any of them live in the pulpit engaging with the congregation to a video of JMAC.

  18. Alan says:

    Luke, funny that we would run into each other on this blog. Hope you guys are doing well.

    I’m not sure why your MO is to accuse others of judging motive. I don’t care at all for JM due to the fact that he’s an arrogant, authoritarian bully. I don’t have the first clue as to what his motive is for acting that way. I also didn’t care for the fact that in the wake of ER2, he and Bryan L played the race card and then days later MacDonald stated “I’m troubled that race was brought into the issue.” Now, you’re always on guard against juding motive, but I don’t know what to conclude when a person raises an issue, and then complains that said issue was raised.

    I’m more troubled by your point, if I understand it correctly, that as long as a pastor isn’t preaching overt heresy, then you’re fine with him, regardless of what else he does. That view is compounded by the fact that (again, as I understand your position) you have no problem with a guy like Jakes, despite the fact that he can’t seem to figure out the Trinity, one of the core teachings of the Church. So you’re fine with over the top, crass guys like Noble and Furtick, because they supposedly preach Jesus. Interesting that there’s a disciple of Noble and Furtick (I won’t name his name on this blog) who “pastors” a “church” in Georgia. While this guy was a “pastor” he had an affair with his church secretary. So he stepped down, but less than a year later, he’s back “pastoring” again, because he felt God calling him back. So, as long as he’s not teaching overt heresy and leading people astray, then you’re fine with him, right? Back to Noble, his “church” harrassed, threatened, intimidated, stalked and basically tried to ruin the life of Anderson Univ professor James Duncan (no, not the James Duncan from AK that you know) all for the high crime of Duncan daring to disagree with Noble. But as long as Noble isn’t overtly leading people astray, then all that other stuff is fine, I guess. Furthermore, to conclude (as I believe you have) that the only thing that matters is if the person is preaching the gospel, is to choose to ignore the listing of requirements in the NT for one who would be a pastor.

    I can’t help but think though that maybe guys like Noble and Furtick really are leading people astray, due to teaching a counterfeit and/or incomplete Gospel. From what I’ve read and seen, their “churches” seem more like multi level marketing schemes. The goal is to get more people in, so that those new people will get more people in, so that they will get more people in, etc. etc. As you fully know, Christianity can’t be reduced to praying a pray, claiming then that you’re saved, and then doing whatever you want, as long as you too try to get more people into the club. Yet it sounds to me like Noble/Furtick view the gospel in just that manner. Noble has mocked people who think they should be following the Biblical command to be holy.

    Finally, I’m puzzled by the whole Rob Bell saga. I don’t understand why Rob Bell is fair game to be called out, for daring to ask a few questions. Yet, the people who called out Bell seemingly have no issues with Noble, Furtick, and Jakes. Seems quite inconsistent to me.

  19. Ryan M. Mahoney says:

    @Luke…”he said he believes in 3 and he believes in 1. he said he believes they eternally exist. he doesn’t prefer some of the classical language.”

    Three is not orthodox. Modalist believe in three…three modes. The historic, global Church confesses together in full unity that God is three persons and one substance (for English confessors). If he would prefer a different English translation of the Greek to English, fine, but that is not the problem he has with the language, according to his own testimony.

  20. Alan says:

    @ Ryan, You’re exactly right. When I watched Driscoll “question” Jakes, I remember thinking to myself, boy if I was ever accused of a crime, I would sure hope for Driscoll to be the prosecuting attorney in my case.

    Driscoll: “Alan, did you really do this crime?”
    Me: “No”
    Driscoll: “Swell. Your honor, we’re going to drop all charges against the accused.”

    I’ve heard more than one person say the Devil doesn’t have to come up with new lies to use against us, he just keeps recycling the old ones. I find it amazing the Church rejected modalism in the fourth century, yet today, we’re still fighting the battle.

  21. Jeff C. says:

    Hi everyone,

    This will be the first time that I am publicly talking about this. I know that this is a bit off-topic, but I think I can shed some light here.

    As one who attended HBC for 10.5 years, the shift in priorties started to become apparent in 2010. However, HBC’s decline into seeker-sensitive territory began in about 2003 with the acquirement of the old Safety-Kleen headquarters (which is now the Elgin campus). At this time, influences from men like Bill Hybels and Greg Laurie began to assert themselves in the way ministry was done. Some of your readers do not know this, but Bill and James do lunch just about once a week.

    Here is a list of the major changes:
    1) Messages became more topically focused. These messages’ main emphasis is on the believer and on life-application, instead of Christ. The temptation to approach Scripture in this way is to try and find verses out-of-context in the means of having these verses to say something you want it to say. The “Get Healthy” series is a prime example of this.

    2) No transparency with the congregation from the elders that reveals significant ministerial changes in direction and structure. The elder staff become incredibly insular. I can honestly say that the vast majority of the flock does not know any of the elder board (even by name of face). My insiders sources claim that only 1-2 elders are truly calling the shots.

    3) False belief that numbers equals blessing and validates your ministry methodology. This cannot be supported by Scripture. What about smaller churches? Are they not being blessed by God? Or is numbers the evidence of God’s hand upon you?

    4) The overemphasis on the pastor instead of the word of God has created a cult of personality. Two examples:
    a) Walk in the Word website is now JamesMacDonald.com.
    b) Video broadcasting the message.

    5) More concentration on “Soul Care” classes that mixes psychology with Christianity and less emphasis on theology, doctrine and ptolemics.

    6) With the huge size of a megachurch, discipleship is virtually impossible.The emphasis has shifted from being a student to serving. People get lost in the shuffle because everyone is so “busy”. Not to say that serving is bad, but an over-emphasis on serving can lead to a works-righteousness mentality. There is no time for one-on-one discipleship from those who are mature in the faith.

    In the analysis, HBC was ripe for unsound events such as the ER2, the Chicago Harvest Crusade and for allowing such men as Steven Furtick to take the pulpit. Because of these practices, I was not comfortable to call HBC my home anymore. I left after trying to appeal to the elders and staff to get back to basics.

    If HBC does not heed the warnings given by their brothers, the inevitable outcome will be that HBC will become post-modern or a relic of part glories. One only as to see what has happened with the Crystal Cathedral to see my point.

    Thanks,
    Jeff Collazo

    • Thank you for stopping by, Jeff. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your reply.

    • cindycurtis says:

      Jeff,
      I have attended HBC Rolling Meadows for over 12 years. You are absolutely correct in your observations. I am still there, hoping to see the church turn around but not sure how much longer my family and I will stay. Thanks for your post. I have no doubt other Harvest attenders will see it and be affirmed. Many of us are very discouraged, don’t want to leave, but can’t deny what is so apparent.

      • Jeff C. says:

        To Scott and Cindy,

        Thank you for your replies.

        I only desire for those at HBC and any other church to get back to what the church was called to do, to proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sins. Unfortunately, the American church is infected with several nasty viruses that is clouding its main mission. This has made many of these churches self-absorbed. Because the majority of churches are so focused on behavioral change and mission creep, they never truly get to the root cause of our bad behavior-that we are sinners by nature. It’s truly a miracle that God saves anybody.

        I fully agree with both Ryan and Jeremy that we need to get back to declaring orthodox Christianity and not be ashamed of it. The end result will most likely turn off many of those who call themselves “Christian” and cause church shrinkage. Let’s say that I’m not a huge fan of the country club mentality that is so prevalent in most churches today.

        What you believe does matter and will dictate your methodology and practice in how you do ministry. I will also add to the fact that in 1 Timothy 4:6-16, Paul warns Timothy to guard his life and his doctrine closely. You cannot divorce your theology from your behavior. It’s incongruent with your walk with Christ and it’s hypocritical. I personally tried it. Trust me, it doesn’t work. It’s actually borders on antinomianism.

        I don’t understand how many of these “pastors” can say the things they say and think that they are serving the body of Christ by their rank behavior. It makes matters worse when they try to defend their actions with their congregation. If your preaching, ministry practices and lifestyle are biblical, no defense is necessary.

        • TruthSeeker says:

          Precisely correct Jeff C.!
          Preach what the Bible say – The Word- not your own made-up mumbo jumbo to avoid false teachings, further division and disintegration within the church, misunderstandings, financial abuse and corruption.

  22. Baloney R. Mahoney says:

    I guess the good news is as y’all continue your little sub-cult of Harvest bashing, it pulls you out of the general gene pool and ministry population, thereby limiting your reproductive potential. But too, it’s sad to see so so many hours, words and lives caught up and giving themselves to “what’s wrong with everyone else” elitist banter. If we could all only be so smart and savvy as to the real motives and ways of people like James. And now you’ve added to you cadre flunkies like McGhee, a legalst-fundy who only hitched his wagon to HBC while it worked for him. But old legalism dies hard. Now his rants (the tweets duly noted/counted above) show the true colors of self-righteous and proud-of-it “shepherd.” He just left before he was kicked out, I bet. I mean catapulted…that’s the favored language of this site of very special intellectuals who wear the veil of theology. (I know, I know, “James started it.’)

    Keep talking, ranting and fooling yourselves into thinking you’re that sexy…your logic and thinking is on to something big. You are so clever. You’re really, really smart. You uncover all the hidden reasons for why stuff is the way it is that no one else sees. You can even sniff out the Jedi mind tricks. Now that’s something. You are a gift to church critics. People like Luke above just don’t get it. But maybe Cindy can get him to repent too? Go orthodox crusaders, go! Carry that flag of self-fulfilling prophesy, circular-reasoning, straw-man debate and ad hominem arguments. I’m sure D.A. and others are just trying to put the finishing details on the conference they will host where you will all be the keynote presenters.

    Just like Wilberforce! (Not.)

  23. Chris says:

    SWB, thank you for your posts regarding this issue. Our family has been at HBC RM and a campus for almost a decade now. I have had concerns about the changes, but i was not aware that others were having the same perceptions. I discovered your blog and other way more caustic sites, after a sermon by JM in which he said (quoting loosely) that even if you were living with someone out of wedlock, you could just come forward and be saved. Our family was shocked that there was no mention or expectation of a repentant faith that leads to salvation. When i sought out a church leader regarding his comment, i was told that JM was under alot of pressure because he had recently separated from the Gospel Coalition. We were asked to be gracious to JM, but after the following weeks of sermons that were a self serving interpretation of Scripture to defend his actions and position following ER2 and TGC fallout, we could no longer extend grace and turn a blind eye.

    I understand that many of the arguments by bloggers and TGC and attempts by Driscoll and JM to be more inclusive are about “TDJ” holding to a modalist perception AND teaching such. i think your post misses the main point that “JM” holds TDJ as a “”brother”” and has chosen to associate with him as a brother and his continued teaching and modeling of a prosperity gospel, while at the same time refusing to be teachable and accountable to an established coalition of brotherhood.

    That is the point that i believe some who comment on this issue are neglecting.

    If JM has started these associations, as we are told, with the goal of influencing other pastors like TDJ, Driscoll, Furtick, Noble, and Stanley, i believe it is working in reverse and they are influencing him and he in turn is influencing many at HBC.

    Pastor Dan, thank you for your stand against the actions of JM regarding the ER2 and TGC. I know you are portrayed an instigator, but the actions to withdraw from the HBF provides a comfort and sense what is right to those of who remain at HBC to serve (with) the many people who are really trying to be discipled in Christ to His fullness. Some of us who remain are frustrated with the direction that JM is leading HBC, but we remain because we are involved in daily ministry… that by the way, exceeds the 10 hours a week JM thinks is performed by volunteers. While it is a tough decision for us to stay, i recognize that it was a tougher decision to call out the HBF and JM and leave. I hope the Luke and Michael will understand that you mean JM no harm, but only for him to return back to a biblical association and perspective that pleases and brings glory to God alone.

    Fred, i agree with you comment that many have felt abused. Moreover, i think that there are many of us who remain and many more who have left that are GRIEVING over relationships, serving in ministry together, and previous expectations/doctrines that are no longer valued at HBC.

    Alex, although you may not regard JM as a celebrity, i think you would have to admit that he sets himself up to be a celebrity. It is akin to Charles Barkley once claiming that he is not a role model.
    You also challenged any inconsistencies from JM… our family has raised kids and served at HBC for almost a decade as well, but here a few more in recent months that Jeremy did not mention:

    HBC teaches us to be teachable and accountable, but is that the case for JM?
    JM admits to the men that Furtick preaching was a train wreck and that in the future the elders will hold him accountable to who preaches. That infers an accountability of associations, yet JM has no problem having multiple conferences with SF and other marginal speakers, so it’s not alright to have him speak at HBC, but it is if he takes it elsewhere?
    When answering a question in order to get votes at winnetka church to become a campus, JM said it is ok to consider ‘old earth’ age theory and expressed disbelief that it is on hbc website, but months later it remains posted as a ‘young earth’ age theory. Did JM only say that to get votes? was it only important at that time?
    If you do not agree with JM or vote against an HBC model, then you are wrong or catapult worthy and you will be a short example and mention in the following weeks’ sermon (eg. TGC; Winnetka Bible Church after voting twice to NOT become a part of the HBF). Is that a self serving expositin of the Bible?
    Why is there an invitation for an ‘inner circle’ of the Walk in the Word ministry for people who provide a larger donation? Is that included or ignored as consumerism in the church? Why is there no public record of financial accountability for this ministry?
    JM said we should pray in the name of Jesus to the Father, but not pray TO Jesus. Then why do we sing to and about Jesus each week?
    JM may admit some faults of ER2, but he does not admit his own faults in handling relationships with VB or TGC, or doctrinal error. Is that really an admission of fault or apology?
    JM told us in the fall that the elders asked him to be more present at the pulpit and in the hallways of HBC, yet JM will be gone most of the summer to preach at conferences and go on a book tour. Is there accountability to his schedule by the elders?
    JM recent preaching looks more to a cousin to prosperity teaching by mixing a few evangelical phrases and thoughts with an emphasis on a message and prayer that esteems and exalts man instead of God alone. (eg. Get Healthy; the recent weeks in John 1-2)

    You also asked what JM needs to apologize for. There is quite a bit to so many. I hope it is biblical and private and public, on WMBI and twitter. AND that the apology is not short lived.

    Finally, as Jeff C. has commented, much of this started years before ER2. i think it was when the old elder board did not want his picture with prosperity preachers on a billboard over the expressway advertising a TV station and when RBC turned JM down to be the president or main pastor.

    • Jeremy says:

      Thanks for sharing your struggles and encouragement Chris and Jeff C. And if the Harvest folks that are surely watching this blog don’t take heart to what sincere, authentic and gracious men you sound to be, and consider the direction they’re heading, I don’t know how they will.

      To add to Chris’ WBC comments, and I know this is last year’s news, and that Harvest has gotten their North Shore campus by other means, but many probably don’t know, because the whole story just isn’t sold at Harvest.

      So here is one small side of the WBC story: http://kinnon.tv/2011/06/the-devils-advocate.html

      And here’s a (presumably) Harvest produced Vimeo showing the Jedi mind trick being applied to the leaders of WBC. So many things wrong with this video. Interesting to note, the first elder says “God planted a vision…” and then a few seconds later another is heard saying ..”that’s what prompted US (emphasis added) to develop this vision.” I wonder how many of these guys took their admiration over to the new HBC-NS in the aftermath? Maybe their congregation catapulted them over after trying to hard sell them on transitioning them to a video-pastored church. http://vimeo.com/22149761

      And here is what a self-self serving ministry does when it wants something. I wish I could say this service event seems selfless, but they have lost that “above reproach” credibility from me. Most bothersome is that in the same sentence they write:

      “…While the church membership will need to vote and approve this transition in mid-April, we would like to bless this church with no strings attached by serving them on two work days:…” Well there were strings attached unfortunately. There’s plenty of hurting churches out there to serve (least of all on the NORTH SHORE), why was this one in need of a HBC spruce-up? I wonder if leaders have organized a service event at WBC since the vote-down?

      Even IF this church was struggling, in decline, divided AND approached Harvest, why would that be the impetus to have a day of “serving” them before the vote? Why wouldn’t Harvest offer to assist in pruning themselves back to health, or possibly selflessly helping them through a true re-plant? Why is ANOTHER Chicago simulcast thought to be the way to nurse a sick church back to health? Because that’s how this org. operates.

      Check out:
      http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:S08HK_951NoJ:www.harvestbiblechapel.org/opportunity.aspx%3Fsite_id%3D10424%26opportunity_id%3D242285+winnetka+bible+church+harvest&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

      Finally, one of Jeff C.’s observations on changes at Harvest (and I paraphrase) was “…no transparency with the congregation from the elders…” I once heard in a “family chat” that we don’t always hear the whole story (or any of it) when something happens (major event, staff transitions, ministry restructures…) because it’s too painful for the family to bear. Really?

    • Harvest Rolling Meadows says:

      Chris. Thanks for writing. It is good to know that other members have concerns and that I am not alone. I have just had so many questions and concerns over that past couple of years and they continue to grow. I have been attending Harvest for 10 years now. I don’t want to leave, but I am deeply troubled and saddened by recent events.

  24. Z.B. says:

    It seems to me… most of you, just don’t get it! It’s amazing to me that so many people can get led to Christ and also Baptized under HBC ministries, and then the witnesses of that amazing act still have a doubt about whether JMcD and Harvest are on the right path, or how HBC is somehow changing course for the worse lately. Bottom Line – It’s going to be really hard for you guys to convince me, after my wife and son were recently saved at HBC, that something is amiss there. Before you comment on that and other things I might say here, please take note: I’m on the meat, and I know it wasn’t JMcD that saved my family. My point and concern is it’s almost like you guys don’t really care about that part, you just care whether scriptures are being followed to a “T” and to your exact interpretation (that you were taught) or even JMcDs previously self-stated interpretations. Weren’t you guys at church recently, when JMcD said he is changing as a person? And that God has always been working on changing him? And if we’re honest, God is always working on all of us. He made it very clear to me during that sermon that, from now on, he was going to be attempting to place a little more (well deserved) weight on grace, then he might have done in his past. He made it clear to me, indirectly, that he hoped the people of his Church, would strive to be more like Christ, Full of Truth AND Full of Grace! ( I know that is impossible for us) That hit me like a ton of bricks! I was always more of a Truth person as well as I’m sure most of you guys on this blog are. And I too as a member of HBC have been struggling lately with this kind of “new” point of view about …. More grace! And I too am feeling a little like… what’s happening with the Church and the Pastor I’ve known and loved for 15 years! And I too am listening very closely for comments made by JMcD during sermons that might be different than he previously would have said, and therefore different than I previously believed, so that if I heard something amiss I would immediately get up and walk out and never look back. However, I’m trying and praying that when I do hear something slightly different, I’m being very careful to not over-analyze it and make it fit into this new controversy, and making sure I don’t assume it’s a new age, or new direction, anti-bible, type thing. This is what I believe is going on lately. I believe JMcD has always said at least some things that could easily be taken the wrong way, or twisted, or easily be taken out of context. Before the church was big, none of the members cared, because they all knew JMcD pretty well. But as long as HBC has been Bigger, there has always been people trying to twist what is going on there now.
    One difference lately is the ER2 controversy has caused members to question and doubt JMcDs motives and direction, that coupled with some HARD-CORE ALL TRUTH & Little or No Grace type members, and complete and total inability to make that leap to Grace + Truth, has resulted in the recent fall out. They have been vocal and they have an audience of themselves.
    I’m sure there are many long time HBC members still struggling with this same issue right now. The only reason this is happening lately is because it almost appears, especially to long time members, as a major change of basic philosophy on JMcDs part is taking place, but it’s not major, well, on a very deep level – it is major, but it’s still 100% biblical, but on the surface, its not major at all. It’s the personal attempt to place as much weight on Grace, as on Truth, the way Christ did. It’s the attempt, to not place way more weight on Truth, then on Grace, as many of us have done in the past.
    In other words, the problem is, what has changed recently with JMcD as I stated above, can be easily twisted by anyone with a lot of time and / or a free cheesy online wordpress blog-site. If I had a lot of time, like you guys do, I could easily go through the past 6 months of JMcDs sermons and find many instances where he admits he was tried by fire, he confesses he was wrong, he confesses he has fallen short and he confesses he has areas of hypocrisy in his own life. I’m also certain, that if I had the time to waste, as you guys do, that If I could listen to your sermons and or of your pastors sermons, I could easily pick out a lot of things I could twist and cause a stink about. The problem with that is, no one would really care, because no one has heard of you, or your pastor. AND THAT IS THE MAJOR DIFFERENCE between you guys and your churches, and HBC.
    I wonder if Christ ever worked a change of view in any of you guys? If not – STOP HERE – we have just pinpointed a major part of the problem! Imagine being the leader of a major Church with many followers. A lot of you guys are excellent writers, but aren’t any of you guys smart enough to realize this is a very big organization, and not everyone is going to be happy – 100% of the time?!?! Haven’t any of you guys ever led a group that grew, and then in the end had to clean house a little? Or haven’t any of you guys ever greatly respected a person, but seen and interpreted something (the same thing) completely different than that person that you know for a fact is very intelligent and sincere? I understand why the blog creator does this, he just wants members to visit the site, but what are the rest of you guys doing here?
    Other than that one change / revelation, nothing I’m hearing / seeing at HBC since before the ER2 has truly changed – in a negative or anti-biblical kind of way.

    • Chris Cartney says:

      ZB,
      I praise the Lord who has changed me. He has used the words of JM and Pastor Rick and others at HBC and elsewhere, but the common denominator is a repentant change by the Spirit and a desire to please the Lord.

      There are at least a few of us who are writing and a few others who are not writing (reading only) that have led groups that are ‘large’. But the vision and the goal is not to be ‘large’ or (not) ‘too large’, but it is to be biblical. Those of us who have led are not seeking to make 100% happy. What is being unraveled and told on this blog are different issues that are questionable and unbiblical because they vary and have been repeated. It has been simmering and has only since ER2 boiled over. As I read your post, it doesn’t appear that you are applying the image of the ‘NEW’ JM evenly. If JM SAYS he is showing more grace “and” truth, then why wasn’t this applied to the gospel coalition and Voddie Baucham? or elders and staff who are no longer at HBC? or the pastor at HBC Greyslake? or Pastors and churches that chose to leave the fellowship?

      The point that many of us are trying to make and saddened by, is that it seems that, what JM SAYS is not always accurately represented by what JM DOES. The support of TD Jakes, Furtick, and Noble represent a change by JM to be more about grace “than” truth… if you define grace as pandering or friendly association with false teachers. JM is off on both grace and truth – and THAT is unbiblical.

      Most (not all) who are contributing or hosting this site are slowly trying to assess the situation and consider a plan of reconciliation regarding direction and perspective. That is why I tune in. But if you do not agree with the dissent of those contributing and you have been asked by a teaching pastor at HBC to not participate (positive or negative), then what are you doing here?

      • TruthSeeker says:

        Z.B. It is good to know that your family has been saved by the grace of God. However, very little that James is preaching is of biblical origin. He sells Salvation like pancakes ensuring people that is all they need “Is to believe in The Lord”
        As if Jesus walked this earth and obeyed Our Father’s will for no particular reason, and in doing so he generates millions of dollars on which he can buy 1.9 million dollar mention alright. By the way, he can’t collect tithes in form of money. It is unbiblical and down right wrong. I do understand Salvation is in The Lord alone and no amount of work or adherence to His Law saves me, however there is much more in our walk on the road to Salvation than The Faith. All the false teachings of Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Sunday worship observances cannot be found on the pages of The Word. Neither hierarchy of the church or the trinity doctrine is there. I have to give James a credit though for Saturday 5pm service. I used to be a regular attendee there and sang in the choir in 2007, however it would be safe to say I have learned very little in that church. His flock needs to brush off his charisma and ability to joke and check everything his says with the Scripture each and every single time. I guarantee you you’ll find multitudes of errors that are in opposition with the Scripture. What struck me the most at that church is one day, as we were prepared to hit the stage to sing the song we were passing a little room in the back where a lady was dictating speech instructions to James via microphone to his ear piece his always wearing during services. I must admit I was quite shocked as I believe a gifted, knowledgable, honest pastor has no outside help source while reasoning to congregation. I believe a pastor prepares and speaks from the heart earnestly, not by someone’s direction. Anyway, I am happy I am not a part of a pagan religion, tradition of men based church any longer. I believe he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing that does not deliver the True gospel, rather financially abuses his flock doing that subtly however. That is my opinion that I am entitled to and I am going to stick to it for the rest of my life. Preaching wrong, riddled with paganism Gospel is preaching No Gospel in my opinion. He is guilty and he knows precisely what he’s doing, trust me folks. Great discussion, by the way.

        • Chris Cartney says:

          Truth Seeker, I was not trying to defend JM. I actually agree with you on most of what you wrote.

      • TruthSeeker says:

        Oops! Z.B. pardon me, my message meant to be addressed to Chris Cartney.

  25. rainbowmn says:

    ZB,
    Many of us out there have been a part of Harvest since it was 100 people meeting in Rolling Meadows High School. We are a part of the Harvest DNA.

    Don’t you wonder why even today the men closest to James continue to abandon him?

    Keep digging, friend.

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