Harvest Bible Chapel: Is Dissent the Same as Rebellion?

Last Sunday, on the 24th of June, Jeff Donaldson, Campus Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel – Elgin, preached a sermon entitled “Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself.” In it, he utilized the Old Testament account of Korah’s uprising against Moses to argue that issues such as envy, self-deception, anger and distrust could lead a congregation into open rebellion against the pastor or elders of their church.[1]

Interestingly, as his argument built to a climax, his attention shifted to the blogosphere, where he made comments both “on camera” and “off.” Let’s start by looking at the “on camera” remarks.

“I get on the internet and see some blog or some website – their whole commitment is to tearing down some church or to tearing down some pastor.  I tell you what.  Don’t even get on that website.  Don’t make a comment.  Don’t make a comment for.  Don’t make a comment against.  Just get away from that.  You get away from it.  You’re gonna talk about God’s man?!  I did not say that he was perfect.  I know they probably mess up somewhere. But we become twisted in our thinking, and all of a sudden their entire body of work, their whole life’s work, is garbage.”

Now, in this situation, one of two things must be true.  Either Donaldson would lump this blog in with others committed to “tearing down some church or to tearing down some pastor,” or he would not.  If it is the latter case, than you, as a reader, would be free to continue reading and you would be free to take the critical questions raised by this site back to your elders for their consideration.  If, on the other hand, Donaldson would categorize this site as rebellious, then I would openly contest his evaluation.  From the beginning, this site has simply sought to ask critical questions pertaining to the life of the Church Universal and the culture around us. More specifically, in the posts related to Harvest, the hope has been to spur on discussion amongst those that continue to call Harvest their home.

After wrapping up the sermon, which was beamed to the other Harvest campuses (save for Rolling Meadows) the cameras were turned off, and Donaldson concluded the service with a special message just for the Elgin Campus.  Reports vary on the exact language used, but at least two sources suggest that Donaldson issued a stern warning specifically to the people of Elgin.  Apparently, from what these sources report, Donaldson said that he sensed a rebellious spirit amongst the people of Elgin, particularly as it pertained to the authority of the church.  As a congregant, I would want some more specifics.

  • What have we, or I, done to give you the notion that we are being rebellious? 
  • Who was perceived to be involved in this rebellion? 
  • What can I do to stay alert and steer clear from such rebellious attitudes? 

So, after listening to Sunday’s sermon and hearing several reports about the “off camera” comments, I must admit that I am once again troubled by Harvest.  Let me make two points.  First, I am troubled by the lack of balance in the message about submission to authority.  I am troubled that Donaldson would say the following:

“When you start to distrust people in positions of authority, that’s a problem.  That’s a problem! … There are sometimes people prove themselves – they loose their trust with us – but that’s very rare.”[2]

To suggest that only rarely do leaders prove themselves untrustworthy is nothing shy of ignorant, or worse yet, deceptive.  The Old Testament alone is filled with examples of God’s appointed leaders failing the people of Israel time and time again.  What’s more, recent mega-church history is replete with examples of significant failures amongst leadership, a trend we are sadly witnessing at Harvest as well.  So to imply that an attitude of healthy skepticism is a problem and that untrustworthy leaders are rare is nothing short of irresponsible.  Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick”; and as far as I know, this applies to pastors just as much as it applies to the sheep.

Other than a brief, five-second remark, suggesting that we need not submit to authority if they ask us to do something wrong, there was no teaching on how to properly deal with church leaders who may be in rebellion themselves.  Interestingly, while Donaldson was delivering his message about rebellion, David Jones, the Senior Pastor of Village Church of Barrington and the former Research Assistant to James MacDonald, was also preaching on the subject of rebellion.  As part of his ongoing series on the book of Ecclesiastes, Jones delivered an excellent message about how we are to deal with “foolish authorities.”

As for the second point, it must be recalled that  Jesus completed Israel’s mission, which moved us beyond the commands and authority structures designed specifically for the nation of Israel.  Dissenting against MacDonald’s illegitimate use of authority cannot be rightly equated with Korah’s rebellion.  Since Harvest is a Protestant church, they are beyond the point of having the right to claim divine appointment to spiritual leadership, as the Pope claims in the Catholic Church.  As Protestants, there is no singular, institutional expression of the true church, including Harvest Bible Chapel.  Given that Post-Reformation reality, we must take care to remember that there is no singular, divinely appointed spiritual authority for the church.  In other words, we don’t have the equivalent of a Moses in the Church, unless you are Roman Catholic.

Harvest has always been a “vote with your feet” church.  They have consistently communicated throughout their history that if you object to something the leadership has done and leadership was unwilling to relent, then you could always “vote with your feet.”  Objecting to Harvest’s leadership or leaving the “umbrella” of their authority is not rebellion, it is the post-resurrection, post-Reformation reality.

What do you think? 

Does reading material that openly asks critical questions necessarily equate to participation in a rebellion? 

Are untrustworthy church leaders truly as “rare” as Donaldson suggests? 

What is the appropriate response to church leadership when it makes questionable decisions? 


[1] Numbers 16.

[2] This statement begins at the 24:19 mark of the video.

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194 Responses to Harvest Bible Chapel: Is Dissent the Same as Rebellion?

  1. Deb says:

    Another example of why the Donaldson sermon doesn’t work for me. Since God created us to have free will, why would any church expect or demand blind submission to the head pastor, no matter what he does publicly or privately? I believe you really should know someone, before trusting them as your spiritual leader. There is nothing wrong with healthy discussions, even arguments, which will lead one to know the truth about a leader’s character, motives and lifestyle. Having been part of early HBC days and leadership, Harvest’s “management” frequently hides behind the banner of “rebellion” when questions or concerns are brought forward. I voted with my feet and found a place where the leadership is transparent about themselves and church administration.

  2. rentafriend2000 says:

    I have heard rumors, but cannot find anyone who heard the “Off Camera” comments. Can anyone give me a transcript or at least the basic gist? I heard the “on Camera” comments, but the hubbabaloo seems to be the difference between what he said ON and OFF camera. What did he say, man!? WHAT DID HE SAY??!? 3,000 people with camera phones were there. SOMEONE must know!

  3. Bob says:

    I am thinking this morning of the relationship dynamic and transparency that existed between Paul and his beloved Timothy. Paul writes in his 2nd letter to Timothy and warning him about Godlessness in the last days. He writes, “There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, wihtout self control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them…But they will not get very far because as in the case of those men, their folly will become clear to everyone.”

    Paul continues then and writes to Timothy “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings.” There was a transparency and intimacy that Paul had with Timothy as Timothy looked to him as a spiritual leader and father in his life. Its sad to me to read and hear what is happening at Harvest church, as I remember being baptized there during a summer when I had returned home from college. However, in regards to “voting with your feet” I presume that many in the church will stay and will not challenge or enquire deeper into what message is being taught in the church. Paul warned Timothy of this reality in the same letter writing, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

    Lord have mercy and tune our hearts and our ears again to your gospel to your kingdom. Let it not be about the messenger, but about the message that you promise will never return void.

  4. stauron3n1 says:

    One of the classic and widely accepted indicators of a “cult” is leadership deflecting criticism and accountability and compelling obedience, conformity and submission by claiming that critical thought or asking questions are equatable with disobedience and “rebellion”.

    Sometimes this is accomplished by incorrectly applying Psalm 105:15 “touch not mine annointed and do my prophets no harm” to all authority figures in the organization. Jeff’s rhetorical question, “You’re gonna talk about God’s man?” seems to come uncomfortably close to that mindset.

    Starting down this road often leads to greater and greater demands for submission and conformity that have little in common with true unity in Christ’s church, but quite a lot in common with cultic Christian sects.

    In Hebrews 13:17 we’re called as believers to “obey your leaders”. In the context of this discussion, it seems a funny thing that the Greek word for “obey” in verse 13:17 is peitho and that peitho is also the root of the Greek word for faith and truth (pistis) .

    The primary definition of peitho in Strong’s dictionary is “persuade” or “to be persuaded”. It’s not so much a exhortation to absolute submission and blind obedience as it is to permit oneself to be persuaded by, and to have faith in one’s leaders in the church, presumptive of a personal knowledge that the leader had proven himself worthy of trust and obedience and not because the leader says, “Trust and obey me because I say I’m worthy of trust and obedience”.

    Pastor Jeff encouraging the HBC congregation to not question or think critically about the character and the activities of leadership is very close to saying “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” except, of course that we’re not talking about Oz .

    Several years ago, I would never have believed that Jeff (or anyone in leadership at HBC for that matter) was capable of saying something like this, but times and people change, and those in leadership at HBC and elsewhere are no exception.

    • cindycurtis says:

      I agree. Would not have expected this from Jeff D. James MacDonald, yes.

    • Linda LaFianza says:

      I’ve only been attending HBC services since last February, and knew early on I needed to seek out apposing opinions to make some sort of a balanced assessment of this place. I am so grateful to find Bloodstainedink (and other online resources) looking at that institution critically. The Biblical-based teaching can be wonderful, and I know there are many, many well-meaning saints in the congregation. However, last week’s message alarmed me a great deal, for all the reasons you outline, stauron3n1, plus, within the context of the preached scripture, where is the evidence of HBC’s leadership falling prostrate before God IN FRONT OF THE CONGREGATION asking for forgiveness and fresh direction? No, instead we get a surrogate with firm marching orders to “obey” or risk being struck down or swallowed up by God’s wrath. Definitely time for feet-voting.

  5. Dan McGhee says:

    Thanks for the link to the EXCELLENT message by Pastor David Jones of the Village Church in Barrington! David has been such a dear friend to me through the years, and especially in recent months. David loves Arabic food and he grew up in our area. So, when he comes over to see family we like to hit up a great little Arabic place that has the best chicken shawarma ever. I’m very thankful for David and his ministry. His wife has been a good friend to my wife as well. If we lived in Barrington and we were a family looking for a good, solid, Bible-teaching church that is lead by a good, solid, honest, humble, shepherd-leader, Village Church would be first on our list.

    I’m also glad to hear of the birth of their newest family member, Genghis Khan… LOL. You’ll have to listen to the message to understand the name, but once you do you’ll see that it relates to a recent answer to prayer for David’s wife, Helen.

  6. Jeff Donaldson says:

    I just stumbled across this site today after a friend told me about it. I won’t debate the message here, and I encourage you to listen to it. I humbly stand by it. As for the off camera remarks, as a shepherd, I do think that we’ve had a bit of a rebellious attitude at times in our church. I pointed to myself first and our leadership saying that it starts here. If you hear the message, I often state that God is working on me in this area. I do think we should seek the Lord together about any wrong attitudes and repent of them. If anyone reading this goes to Harvest, I am glad to discuss any concerns with you. We can have coffee together or dialogue via email. Feel free to contact me. I won’t comment anymore here. Having concerns about leaders and churches if fine. Be a thinking person. Go to the leadership and sit with them. It happens at Harvest, and makes us all stronger and more united together for the cause of Christ. I was preaching about rebellion, which we all agree is a sinful attitude.

    • Ryan M. Mahoney says:

      Jeff,

      Scott and I listened to the entire message, and I listened to it more than once. You mentioned the imperfect nature of leaders, and you suggested we should still follow them when they are imperfect. In a rather qualified way, I agree. Nobody is perfect, and I only need look at my own depravity to know how dark the human heart can be. But simply stating leaders are imperfect and suggesting that we should continue to follow them is hardly the end of the story.

      While we all sin, elders are required to be held to a higher standard (I Tim. 2). True, we should all strive towards that standard, even as it points us towards Christ. There is, however, a burden that leadership bares, to exhibit those qualities in manner that leaves them “above reproach.” It should be a hard and difficult thing for the community to even believe it’s possible for a particular charge to be true of an elder; their response should be, “No way, (name), was involved with that!” Yet, in my opinion and in the opinion of numerous other people, that is not the case at Harvest.

      Moreover, what is one to do when an elder is unwilling to repent, to acknowledge they have done wrong and continues on in a pattern of sin? What if that leader exhibited hostility towards those that have challenged him and proven to be unsafe as a dialogue partner? Alternatively, what if that elder has willingly lied to cover up their foolishness and coerced others to share in the cover up? What does a congregant do then?

    • Jeremy says:

      So much for modeling the exhortation to “not get on those sites. Don’t make a comment.” What blatant hypocrisy. Pride and hypocrisy have so infected the leaders of Harvest from top down and are the root cause of all of her dissent. Repentance and humbling needed. What a mess.

      • Jeremy … It is possible that Jeff Donaldson may not be categorizing this site as a problematic site under the operational definition he offered in the sermon. And if that is the case, than he is not being hypocritical. On the other hand, if he would categorize this site in that fashion, than yes, there may be some issues with “Do as I say, not as I do.”

        • Jeremy says:

          Scott,

          Quite possible…would have been great if JD would have said as much, as he drove by.

          I have a couple reasons why, I arrived at my earlier conclusion, and believe Harvest would likely lump you in with the “others”. IMO, for what it’s worth, believe your posts have been direct, albeit fair, balanced, reasonably objective and lacking emotion. I believe the same for many of the commentors (signficantly, a number of HBC attendees).

          1. JD already admitted in his sermon that (in the past) he has gotten on the internet and seen “some blog or website”.

          2. Fair or unfair, your blog titles are provacative and eye-catching. Content aside, I believe you get lumped into the incendiary crowd on your titles alone!

          3. Most unfortunate, and Pastor Jeff, I hope this doesn’t qualify as tearing you down: The drive-by nature of the earlier post is somewhat disrespectful to the host. Twice you state you won’t diagogue or debate here. Your prerogative, but if this is a friendly, balanced site, than why not stay a while and answer a couple questions and add some depth to what you consider rebellion, and why it’s been on your heart recently? There are plenty of concerned (and observably confused) congregants that could benefit greatly from it. Even James MacDonald occasionally goes back and forth on his own blog, and I have even seen him show up in comments of another bloggers site as well in the past.

  7. miron says:

    I would like to discuss concerns with the leadership of HBC but do not out of fear of being catapulted out of the church. There is a spirit of hostility toward those who approach leadership with questions and concerns.

    • Miron … May I ask you what leadership has done to leave you with this impression?

      • James Conway says:

        Greetings Scott. For some insight into Harvest’s use of a catapult and miron’s reference to it, I highly recommend watching the full closing message of this year’s Harvest U by Pastor James. Here’s the link: http://www.jamesmacdonald.com/ministries/walk-in-the-word/broadcast/video/harvest-university-2012/#divSpecialVideoFeatures-tab

        According to Pastor James, any member who disagrees with Harvest leadership’s decisions is a factious person. The factious person is to be catapulted out of the church. Leadership is to also ignore comments from non-tithing attendees.

        Although the message was in the context of addressing leadership of the various churches who are members of the Harvest Bible Fellowship, the sentiments expressed in that message have been repeated during weekend services.

        • miron says:

          Thank you, JC. Yes, that is what I am referring to.

          • Michael says:

            I have listened to the “catapult” message and NEVER got the impression that MacDonald was referring to people who disagree … he was referring to those who spend their time always criticizing and disagreeing. If you’ve spent any time in church leadership you understand the kind of person he is talking about. And there are times where it is better to just ask that person to find another church.

            Miron, I would love to hear how Harvest reacts to you if you go with a heart of humility to discuss your concerns with the church. The problem is that if you have a God-glorifying interaction with the leadership of Harvest it would never make it onto a blog … you get way more hits with criticism and problems than with, “this church acted so graciously to me … even in disagreement”.

    • tabby35 says:

      Why be at a Church where you have to fear being kicked out for bringing up concerns?

  8. Ryan M. Mahoney says:

    @Michael…the problem with your interpretation is it lacks context. While he was yelling that message at people he had just kicked out a HBF church for expressing, privately, their concerns and problems with ER2.

    • Michael says:

      Ryan … It’s a jump to assume direct correlation between that sermon and the church being asked to leave. One’s personal bias would more than likely determine how the connection is made … not saying that you couldn’t draw the line between the two but I would not be so confident to state it as the context for the message.

      Again, it would be so much more enlightening to hear how Miron’s experience goes when expressing concerns.

      My two cents – many of those who express themselves on blogs and twitter don’t actually go “face to face” with those they have concerns about. It is much easier to just talk “about” people/pastors/churches rather than talking “to” them.

      • Alan says:

        Sorry Michael, but go try to sell that line elsewhere, because I’m not buying it. As if JM would actually sit down with anyone who dared to disagree with him. LOL.

  9. lamehousewife says:

    This is all so fascinating…here’s my two cents, if they are worth anything…we have been given the gift of discernment through the Holy Spirit, thus we can tell the worldly leaders from those who are serious about the call of Jesus. Worldly leaders cannot offer much advice, if any, on how to live the authentic life in Christ while humble leaders can help a lot! I am thinking of Mother Teresa, Gianna Molla, John Paul II…St. Teresa of Avila was known to ignore the advice of worldly men and guided the sisters in her charge to do the same. It took her several years to find a good spiritual director..that said, her spiritual heads were all priests and still could adminster the Sacraments, which are ALWAYS perfect, no matter how faulted the leaders and their teachings were…God bless, brother…

    • Morning friend,

      I would be really curious to know what you think of this as a Catholic. Given the Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility, what does dissent and/or rebellion look like in your church? How are Catholics taught to handle concerns with authority when authority figures make moves that are problematic? Care to share?

      • lamehousewife says:

        I will try to answer this as well as I can…this was something I had to learn about when I came back into the Church about 11 or so years ago. Papal infallibility was something I knew nothing about even though I grew up in a “Catholic” household. Papal infallibility refers to encyclicals, clarifications on dogma, and such matters that relate to faith and morals. All of those that I have read thus far are rich in Scripture, reverberate with the same teachings of the Gospel, etc. They connect to the four pillars of the Church (the Creed–which includes Scripture, Sacraments and Liturgy, the Life of Christ, and Prayer). Now for me to get to this point, I had to learn A LOT about discernment in prayer, the spiritual battle, and the like. Popes are not infallible when they are out to coffee and just speaking off the cuff. If they are working diligently for holiness, then they might have good advice at the coffee table. Because I believe Jesus did not leave us orphans and that the Holy Spirit is truly in charge, I do believe that He has worked through the Church throughout the last 2000 years or so. Popes who were sopped up in sin did not, from what I know, teach anything about morals, Jesus, Scripture… They became mute. But when these bad popes existed so also did Saints who were willing to counsel them out of their errors, to continue holding the torch, so to speak. So, does that mean, I as a Catholic can jump ship when a person decides to not pursue holiness? No, because Christ has given us the Sacraments. I still desire Christ even when others quit. And maybe, just maybe, it is me He is calling to continue that faith no matter what. So for me this comes back to discernment…If a person has fallen into moral relativism, is leading a blatantly sinful life, is falling for erroneous ways of preaching and praying, saying Lord, Lord but not living the Gospel, then I will not trust them, Catholic or not. I look at the degree of sin, too. I can understand venial sins happening from time to time, but mortal sin is another issue. I can love those deep in sin and have seen wonderful conversions from such lives, but I am not required to follow their advice when they are in sin. In our Church right now, we have authority figures that are screwed up and ones that are doing an awesome job (I have a lot of trust in Mother Teresa, John Paul II, and even our current Papa). But I have to pray, learn the faith, pursue this way of life diligently, or I run the risk of no longer being able to see who is a true teacher and who has become false. Discernment in prayer and fighting my own personal sin with Christ…I guess that is what it boils down to. I don’t know if that helped, but that is what I have…God bless, brother…Oh, and to know how Catholics have dealt with erroneous authority figures in the past, I would point you to the Saints, Catherine of Siena, Bridget of Sweden, Francis of Assisi, John of Avila, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, to name a few….

        • rainbowmn says:

          Wow.
          That’s a mouthful. You did your research.
          But its a bit confusing on where you wanted to end up.

          I think Scott’s question went directly to the issue of personal rebellion and religious authority. Its not about ‘error’ in teaching. That issue is taken up in classrooms and pulpits around the world every day.

          This is about questioning authority. When someone like Harvest corrals its people and tells them what to do and think under the banner of God’s anointed authority, how does one react?

          As a former way-back Catholic myself before I went to an evangelical seminary, I am familiar with the significant divide between priestly/papal authority and the layman in the pew. Its a messy issue dealt most effectively with silence (all the way to the realities of child sex abuse in the priesthood).

          There will always be the Harvest’s of the world, created by power-hungry individuals who seek to build empires for themselves (note the Vertical Church blog is “A Ministry of James MacDonald” – not Jesus).

          Sooner or later they collapse under the weight of their own need to control. That is happening to Harvest now. Reach out to Mike Bryant – bloodstainedink.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/fourth-church-kicked-out-from-fellowship-via-catapult/ – if you want to see how this is all unraveling in real time.

          It’s amazing.

          • lamehousewife says:

            I felt like I had left out something when I posted this…my personal experience. I have had experiences with priests that are not doing what they should be doing, teaching what they should be teaching, etc. It even came to the point where I was treated so badly at one point that I felt on the verge of leaving. It is aggravating and even hurtful! But, no matter how faulted that person is, I still can receive the Sacraments from that person. I don’t depend on his leadership. I depend on Jesus in the Sacraments. I don’t know if Protestants have this sort of anchor. A Catholic who is living their faith does question what a Bishop says, or a priest, or whatever, but you have to know what the faith is supposed to look like if you are going to say that someone else is doing it wrong. It helps them to grow in their faith, too, if you get the chance to get close enough to them and tell them, ‘hey, what’s up with that?’ The humble ones will listen. The proud ones won’t.
            My reaction to priests who are doing an awful job is to be aggravated, but then I begin to pray like crazy that they will not lose souls in the process of pretending to be God rather than His instrument, and I also pray that they will find somewhere else to be. This has happened a few times in our parish. It is not surprising since we have had a few decades of bad priestly formation in the American part of the Catholic Church. Bad pastors can unfortunately cause people who are weaker in their faith to commit a sort of spiritual suicide. But, they still can give us the Sacraments, which are still pure no matter what. Jesus in the Sacraments is what I cling to. And fortunately, we have been blessed here with two very good priests of late.
            But I think what you are asking me is what is a Protestant supposed to do when they have a bad leader? I don’t know if I can answer that…

  10. Deb says:

    Michael and Jeff, I was in leadership at HBC for many years. I did speak with elders, pastors and even JMac personally. I humbly went to them for various one-on-one and small meetings. I blindly thought I could talk to James about concerns – I prayerfully and humbly approached him. There was NO grace; he blasted me in the meeting in a public place with witnesses present. It went very, very badly. There was NO grace – just his attack. I had nightmares from it for years. So unless you dare to question the Mighty Oz yourself, don’t judge those that have and were abused, or those who are afraid to meet with him. His angry outbursts are very well known at HBC by staff and congregants that dare to express their concerns or worse yet fail to live up to his demands. If you’re willing to try to prove me wrong, I can provide some questions to ask him. Be prepared to be quickly catapulted!

  11. rainbowmn says:

    Jeff Donaldson says he just stumbled across this site today?
    He is lying.

    To what end are the leadership at Harvest accountable to the Body of Christ? They have no special dispensation – no extra authority that is not available to all under the blood of Christ.
    They speak on their own behalf for their own good for their own profit.

    They speak with no special words, have no special insight. MacDonald has no word from God greater than the UPS man sitting in the first pew of his church. The Priesthood of Believers has claimed MacDonald’s authority as childish babble.

    Jesus reordered our lives by showing us what it meant to love another. It is the only measure that translates in the New Kingdom.

    You can accuse Harvest and MacDonald of many things. Loving others is not one of them. They are a clanging cymbal.

    • Michael says:

      Wow … you have a great deal of confidence that Jeff Donaldson is lying. Do you have some sort of records to show that he visits this site regularly? Have you heard him say anything that would cause you to be so bold in this accusation that when he said that someone pointed it out to him he then read it?

      You are obviously very angry with this church but I’m not sure about your absolute certainty in your accusation.

      Now I do completely agree with you that the pastor of that church is equal to the UPS guy in relation to his standing before God. But you’re understanding of pastoral leadership and authority from a Biblical standpoint is a bit weak. Scripture is clear that we are under the authority of our pastors and elders.

      Now if you think that they are acting in an unbiblical manner then by all means speak your mind in love and humility as you bring them back to the Word.

      • rainbowmn says:

        Michael,
        You are a sweet heart.
        A couple of things.

        Not angry with Harvest or MacDonald in the least. Have know him personally since before the church began. I understand who he is and what he has fallen into.

        No doubt that Donaldson is lying. Sorry if that hurts your feelings. It is impossible to have read any posting on Harvest over the last 9 months without having a link to this particular site. Believe me, the leadership of Harvest knows this site very well. This is the most outspoken blog on Harvest on the internet. Jeff’s entire message was manipulative and full of error, which is another form of lying. Didn’t say he visited the site regularly. Said he was lying when he said he had never heard of it before his posting. He was manipulating the truth for his own gain. Its a pattern, friend.

        Harvest has long forfeited their claim to pastoral leadership and authority. As someone has said, their road is littered with dead bodies. They prey on those who have a desire to be led. Strong men (and women) who confront them are dismissed as agents of darkness.

        Jesus was an unremarkable character. Scripture tells us that he didn’t glow or particularly impress.
        But he loved fiercely and demanded that you die to your self.

        Nothing is so wrong at Harvest that death can’t cure. But that will have to happen at the hands of the Spirit. Until then, it is no more the body of Christ than the car wash at the corner.

  12. bob (Editor: This is a different "Bob" than the "Bob" in comment #3 above) says:

    Wow. Reading all these comments and criticisms
    Is scary, and honestly, I have trouble understanding why people would spend SO MUCH TIME and countless hours going to a church website, analyzing their messages, bashing their leaders, and being absolutely pathetic by spending all this time JUST to talk about a church you don’t even attend. This is not what being a Christ follower is about. You over complicate and analyze things. Its fine if you are into theology, and have your own views, but the Bible is no text book, and I don’t believe that Christianity is as complicated as you make it. Its a relationship with Christ that matters. If you can’t handle harvest or their views stay away from it. Go somewhere else. This is sad and pathetic. I’m e

  13. Dan McGhee says:

    So, James MacDonald catapults a good, honest, hard-working pastor named Mike Bryant and his church out of the HBF (Harvest of Grayslake)… Then, a little over a month later he has his picture taken at a gala celebrating 35yrs of TD Jakes pimping the Gospel?

    http://www.donotbesurprised.com/2012/07/james-macdonald-celebrates-35-years-of.html

    • rainbowmn says:

      Wow.
      I can’t figure out what James is thinking.
      Very very very unfortunate.

    • Harvest RM says:

      I wondered why the message was pre-recorded that weekend! I guess, now I know…celebrating with TD Jakes instead of being at Harvest. 😦 (The messages are just not the same when they are pre-recorded and just shown on video. I know that there are many people who only see the video each week, but there is something different when he is actually preaching to the congregation.)

  14. Jeff C. says:

    I only have one word to say: Ichabod (1 Samuel 4:21).

    The glory of God has left HBC and is now replaced with the traditions of men. I need not say anything more.

  15. rainbowmn says:

    Sorry Bob – you may not get it.
    I hope 10,000 people use this blog to think thru what is happening at Harvest.
    There are twice that number out here in the Chicago suburbs that are following MacDonald as if he is the Messiah. They need to be encouraged that it is alright to ask questions – even to leave.

    Many on this blog and others have attended and have friends that still do.

    It’s serious stuff, friend.

  16. Sharon says:

    I’m all for being a Berean. But the micro-parsing of teaching and statements taken out of their immediate context is fertile ground for speculative motive attribution and for bitter roots to thrive. Even more so when the examination is removed from the context of someone’s lifetime body of teaching.

    That said, nothing in this blog or its critical comments gives enough first-person context, Phil 4:8 intent, nor attribution to the greater body of James MacDonald’s teaching to credibly impact my thinking. (Even the former leader’s reply is only one-sided.)

    Rather, this ‘questioning’ gives only the appearance of bitter roots unpulled and seeking to defile many. Not seeing how God is glorified in that. 

    • rainbowmn says:

      Sharon,
      There is no questioning going on – rather accountability.
      There can be no leadership without accountability.

      We have experienced a pattern of behavior with MacDonald and his staff since the church began.
      It would take volumes to compile it all.

      If you are truly interested in understanding the backstory, reach out to MacDonald’s Elder Chairman who resigned a few months ago after being with Harvest from day one.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about God’s image in all this. He can take care of Himself.

      • Karen E. says:

        I would value hearing from this former elder. Who is he and how do I contact him?

        • Karen … The individual you are looking for is David Corning. I would think that if you did a Google search for his name along with keywords such as “Harvest” or “elder,” you would find his contact information in fairly short order. Best regards.

  17. bob (Editor: This is a different "Bob" than the "Bob" in comment #3 above) says:

    You wouldn’t worry about God’s image in all this? Who are you people? This definitely does seem like a bunch of bitter people who are seeking to hurt others through all this. I don’t see any point to all this..besides the fact that you’ve made it extremely clear that you think harvest is a cult or a “Mega church.” Okay, its a big church so what. People at harvest seek to worship God, notJames MacDonald.

    • Bob …

      On the one hand, I tend to agree with your concerns regarding our need to “protect” the image of Christ. How we conduct ourselves should be of concern to us, lest we ultimately be held accountable for someone outside of the Church using us as a reason he/she did not come to faith. So I do agree with you on that subject. Having said that, I would suggest that you are misreading this site if you believe that our goal is to “hurt others through this.” While I can respect that you may not “see any point to all this,” that does not mean that there is not a point. I would humbly suggest that, perhaps, you just haven’t seen it as of yet.

      Lastly, with regards to your original comment, none of this is about being “into theology.” Theology is not a hobby by which we pass the time. Theology is a profoundly important subject that is increasingly under assault by virtue of its neglect in the modern evangelical world. While a “relationship” with Christ is necessary, I would argue that in any “relationship” (earthly or otherwise), understanding your relational partner is vital if the “relationship” is going to thrive or even survive. Thus, it can never be a question of theology or a “relationship” with Christ. It is a “relationship” that is derived from understanding Yahweh, as He has revealed Himself through the Scriptures, through His Son and through the Spirit.

    • rainbowmn says:

      I am sorry, Bob if that hurt your feelings when I said God’s image was not in danger.
      God just doesn’t need any of us to protect Him.
      What we do in our vain attempts to speak on His behalf is just short of blasphemy anyway.

      I would encourage you to take a deep breath if you want to engage the possibility all of us are probably wrong on everything we think about God. It doesn’t mean that we are bitter at all – I hold nothing against Harvest or the countless groups like them that trade on the Bible and authority.

      But I will tell you this. There are thousands of Christ seekers in the Chicago area alone that instead of seeing Jesus are seeing this man who professes to speak with the God’s authority in all matters. They have no voice, no place to ask questions, no retreat to hear the Spirit of Truth.

      The sword that will divide all of this in the end will be love. There is no other weapon in the Kingdom by which Truth is exposed.

      Watch and see where the love is over these next few weeks as churches continue to be excommunicated from the Harvest association for not obeying MacDonald’s orders.

      • Sharon says:

        Actually, my point was not at all that God’s image is in jeopardy, but that the purpose and execution of this blog is failing to bring Him glory. If that isn’t a concern, it ought to be – and dismissing it as ‘worry about God’s image’ (or even Scott’s concern of being a stumbling block), sidesteps the greater point.

        Instead, the tone and content perpetuated here are consistently more accusatory than accurate. No balanced perspective or Phil 4:8 in sight – just assumptions and scrutiny about what wasn’t even heard firsthand. And inflammatory generalizations and allegations in reply.

        And no representation of the fruit being borne and what it indicates in Christ’s economy (Matt 7:16; John 15:1-8). Here’s one recent example that stands in stark contrast: http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/article.aspx?article_id=307998

        • Stephy says:

          Right on, Sharon. Harvest is part of the bride of Christ and God is using this church in some amazing ways! I see it every week and hear the testimonies first hand of people who were searching (sometimes for years) for a place where they would learn God’s word and find other like-minded believers to worship with. They find that home at Harvest (we did too). To focus on some “out of context” quotes and situations where we can’t see the whole picture seems unwise at best and sinful at worst.

          I have never been to a sinless church. It’s made up of people and sin is a given. But so is grace and growing in the likeness of Christ. Why blog about the “hidden sin at Harvest” when sin is is found in every church if you look hard enough? Why not blog about grace, and people who are being saved and changed? It’s as if you want to wallow in the mud and take great joy in that.

          Bottomline: Christ died for the church and Harvest is part of that. Don’t you think you’re putting yourself in spiritual danger by attacking His bride? Can’t you trust that Christ is purifying His bride (Harvest included) and that He doesn’t really need your help to do that?

          • cindycurtis says:

            There are a lot of problems at HBC that need to be dealt with, not ignored. Anyone who has been there for a number of years and has been immersed in the life of the church knows that. Despite what James MacDonald says from the stage and that silly song about being united, there is much disunity at Harvest. The fact that you are seeing these posts and similar posts on other sites speaks to that. Many, many good people have left and some have chosen to stay, hoping to see a turn from the destructive direction this once fine church is now taking.

          • Fred says:

            Stephy, While every church has problems that is not call to passivity when the main elder is failing to live out the calling of an elder in accordance with 1 Tim. 2. We all sin, but we are called to repentance. What if there was not fruit of repentance? Hypothetically, if you knew the character of the man was rotten to the core would you still be saying what your are saying?

        • Sharon,

          Might I suggest that Philippians 4:8, while a God-given passage, is not the end-all in a discussion such as this. One has merely to look at the ministry of Jesus, Himself, to see that an integral part of the Christian life is the critique of religious institutions. And personally, I believe that when Christians take the time to self-critique, we take the weapon out of the hands of any potential “outsiders” who would seek to damage the church. Would you agree with that statement?

          • Sharon says:

            Agreed. But your statement assumes that self-critiquing is not taking place apart from blogs such as this. Another assumption you cannot accurately make.

            Citing Phil 4:8 refers to the lack of balance in your perspective, while giving ample space to hypercriticism of Harvest. Agreed, it is not the end-all passage – Romans 14:10-13; Hebrews 12:14-15; and Eph 4:29-31 shed additional light on being an arbiter of righteousness.

            Matt 7:20 is another – “by their fruit you will know them,” said our Lord. There is abundant, consistent, undeniable fruitbearing going on Harvest – lives being transformed because of the faithful proclamation of the Gospel, followed by committed discipleship. And you’re choosing to ignore it.

            God is being glorified there…and for all of the reasons and passages I’ve cited, it appears He is not here.

  18. Harvest RM says:

    Why did Dave Corning resign? I had heard nothing of this through Harvest? I thought he had been there for a very long time!

    • Ryan M. Mahoney says:

      You should ask him.

      • Harvest Rolling Meadows says:

        Would he be receptive to such a question?

        • There is only one way to answer that question, friend. At the end of the day, what do you lose by reaching out to a former elder and asking him a few questions? If he is half the man that Harvest held him up to be over the years, than I would imagine that you would get a straight, honest answer.

          • Chris Trees says:

            Try to be mindful, that without doubt this man may also have regrets and feelings of loss and disappointment, and consequently he may be sensitive to your questions. Extend him the grace and respect that you’d hope for if the situation was reversed.

    • Fred says:

      I suspect that after years of trying to bring about godly correction and constraint to a man out of control he realized the man was more out of control then ever before and could no longer support the ministry, even if good came from the ministry.

      • Jeff C. says:

        Exactly. You have hit the nail on the head.

        Can believers be deceived? Absolutely. Scripture tells us that in the last days, even the elect will be deceived (Matthew 24:1-28)

        Partnering with men like Jakes, Furtick, Driscoll, Hybels and Noble only affirm his behavior because they are feeding into his already delusional state of mind. They tell exactly what he wants to hear and influence his actions. He once had relationships with good men like MacArthur, Mahaney, Begg, Ham, Carson and a host of others. One can only wonder what happened that caused this pastor to slip and to forgo those relationships for something that is fleeting as the Seeker Sensitive Movement. I can only think of when Harold Camping was once sound in the faith (he was Reformed) before he apostasized. My fear is that MacDonald is heading down the same trail.

        A couple of weeks, MacDonald made a statement where in the John 3 message, he ripped on John Calvin. I am not sure on the context of why, because I haven’t heard the message or received notes on it. I can only go on what two people told me who were there to listen to him preach. I think that it’s a safe bet the those in the Young, Restless and Reformed crowd who championed MacDonald as a role model will also now hold him responsible for destroying the movement due to ER2.

        Just my 2 cents.

        • Jeremy says:

          Jeff,

          You beat me to the thought on pastoral guidance. I too heard JM mention MacArthur as a guiding influence as recently as circa 2009-10 and believe he may have even been at Harvest around that time. I used to see pictures of him with Begg, Swindoll and others at Moody events. Now we only see pics with the Rat Pack you mention above, while humble guys like Platt and Dever are chided and condescended.

          If even Driscoll, Furtick and Noble claim guys as “their pastor”, I would love to hear once again who James MacDonald looks up to.

    • Alan says:

      The very fact that you didn’t hear squat about it from HBC ought to tell you most of what you need to know.

  19. Jeff C. says:

    Dave Corning not only resigned as chairman of the elder board, he left HBC altogether. Other prominent staff members who were there for 10+ years left within months of each other. This is not because they moved to a different location or new opportunities. The reasons are due to the lack of (or non-existent) pastoral and eldership accountability that is due to the congregation and to each other. One of these former staff members I know personally and have confirmed 100% of all that have be addressed on this website and other blogs.

    Dave Corning currently attends and serves at another church within the Chicago suburbs. I don’t have his contact info. If you want to speak to him, you will probably have to hunt that down yourself.

    As much as Sharon and Stephy are trying to defend James MacDonald’s actions and shift in ministerial direction, these changes cannot be defended by Scripture. When you are trying to correct brothers by means of evidence given by Scripture and you are dismissed and berated for doing so, what other recourse do you have to address these issue? HBC’s actions are hurting the church universally and is causing division by partnering with heretics (T.D. Jakes, Steven Furtick, Perry Noble) and furthering doctrinal confusion. James is NOT influencing these men, they are influencing him and it shows by his ungodly outbursts and his sloppy exegesis of Scripture.

    Might I implore you to take a look at the early church fathers and the trials they endured to bring the church to a correct understanding of doctrine. Especially look at the life of Athanasius, who stood alone against the entire church to defend the doctrine of the Trinity.

    Thanks.

  20. rom623rom828 says:

    MacDonald’s recent pandering of TD Jakes at Jakes 35th Year celebration is the final straw. Enough already. As an attender at HBC-Elgin, I hereby ask publicly for the resignation of James MacDonald from HBC leadership.

    Gordon Zwirkoski is another former elder and leader at HBC for several years that left in 2010. Don’t know why he left but he was formerly the leader of Harvest Fellowship among other things. Now it looks like he is heading up a somewhat “competing” organization – – Five Stone Churches. See Gordon Zwirkoski

    • Robert says:

      You’ll be outraged to know the “Greatest Verse” message was taped to an empty studio in Aurora so he could hang out for the weekend at Jakes’ party. I wish my boss would let me mail in my job at full pay.

      • Jeff C. says:

        If it’s the message based on John 3:16, this verse cannot be fully understood without the true key verse in John Chapter 3.

        Contrary to popular opinion, John 3:16 is not the key verse. The key verse is John 3:3, “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:16 only serves as a summary (and a good one at that). Many individuals believe that Jesus existed as a man. But they do not believe that he is God nor have they not placed their trust and faith in Him for the forgiveness of their sins. And how is that trust and faith in Christ possible? It is only by the Holy Spirit that God makes dead sinners alive. Hence why John 3:3 is the key verse.

        I doubt very much that JM caught that fact and probably preached a form of universalism. However I could be wrong.

        Also, in regards to rom623rom828’s link to Gordon Zwirkowski, my only reservation is that 5Stone Churches are only repeating the same error that HBC is committing. They do have a statement of faith but no confession of faith or creed that is systematized. Error can creep in very quickly because of this.

      • rom623rom828 says:

        According to my sermon notes, MacDonald was live in Elgin on Sunday morning June 10, He was wearing a suit with a burgundy vest according to my notes. Dont know about Saturday June 9 evening service. He usually preaches Saturdays at the Rolling Meadows Campus. The Jakes gala was Friday June 8.

        Anyway, it was one of the rare times that I saw MacDonald so dressed up — he said he dressed up cause it was fitting to dress his greatest in honor of what he called the greatest verse — John 3:16.

        I see from Jakes gala fest pictures, that MacDonald also dressed up for that. So he dresses up for the greatest verse and Jakes. Interesting.

        • rom623rom828 says:

          Rechecked my sermon notes for June. MacDonald usually preaches every other weekend in Elgin. My notes indicate he was in Elgin Sunday June 3 and Sunday June 17. I know the 17th for sure as I have an audio of his “family chat” before the sermon — during such chat he indicated that he was going to try to “reconcile” that upcoming week with a couple of people regarding ER2 fallout — kind of ironic given that he pandered to Jakes just a couple weeks earlier on June 8.

          MacDonald was dressed up for the John 3:16 sermon which I heard on June 10 but given his “every other week schedule” in Elgin, now I don’t think he was in Elgin on June 10 so perhaps it was taped in Aurora after all.

          • rom623rom828 says:

            Looks like at least one of the sermons the weekend of Jun 10 was preached live in Rolling Meadows. MacDonald mentions that he is preaching there in his John 3:16 sermon

          • Harvest Rolling Meadows says:

            He pre-recorded the message during the week from Rolling Meadows. There was some staff in attendance, but it was definitely pre-recorded. You can always tell the messages that are recorded during the week. If you watch you will never see any audience members. Compare the June 10th video to the week before / previous. You only need to watch the first 10 seconds to see the difference.

            During the past year, there seems to have been more and more of the “pre-recorded” sermons. It kind of makes me sad. I am not even sure why, but it bothers me to think that it was preached to an empty (or nearly empty) room earlier in the week. I think as a teacher, there is a certain amount of feedback/interaction with the audience that is necessary/important. In messages from previous years, Pastor James has mentioned seeing the reactions on people’s faces (such as sadness, tears, etc.) How can he see what is going on when he pre-records the sermon?

          • Mike Farrants says:

            rom623rom828, please email me mikefarrants@gmail.com. I attend a HBC in NC. I got questions and don’t know where to start. Thanks

    • rainbowmn says:

      I know Gordon. He is a good guy.

  21. Robert says:

    Jeff is going to preach this message in RM this week. He already has tonight, so I want to see if there are any edits to the message this Sunday.

  22. Chris says:

    Whoa to the Woe!
    I think most of us posting need to take a few steps back and get some perspective to draw to the main issue again… (based on the previous blog posts on this site re: HBC)
    “Is it accurate and biblically correct to claim a (prosperity) false teacher as a ‘brother in Christ‘ and maintain that claim to the point of severing relationships with other pastors/teacher, elders for many years, congregants, and fellowship churches?”

    First, I hope you clearly understand that I do not agree with JM making that claim. And I am puzzled as to how he has allowed this to get to the extreme of trashing relationships. But I do not believe that it is the right thing to have Jeff Donaldson bashed and assigned motives for words that were not heard in context or directly. I am not saying that i agree with Pastor Jeff, but i saying that it is not fair. And perhaps that is the corner he has painted himself into after delivering that application point or example. This blog site should welcome his visit and expression. If we call him a hypocrite and assign motive to him, we are doing to him what those of us who are still at HBC claim is happening to us when we approach leadership. capice?

    Like many of you who are posting, I have been in church leadership. There are times when it is the leader’s responsibility to have a closed door family chat. This happens in small groups and staff meetings and congregational meetings. In this regard, I would show Pastor Jeff grace and be allow him to speak caution, and honor my leader(s) as Scripture instructs. I do not consider it unsubmissive nor a sin to post on a blog. I guess, neither does Stephy, Sharon, Bob2, or even Pastor Jeff. Some closed door chats are sometimes necessary, and I have found that they are usually very difficult to speak and prepared in previous prayer. I don’t know him personally, but Pastor Jeff seems like the kind of guy that would pray about things before speaking about that. Basically, I do regard him as an enemy deserving of ‘hostile witness’ treatment.

    Some of the postings are getting to extremes and are therefore not productive on either perspective.
    Michael (June 3 & July1), I can see you point, but I really believe it is easier to ‘be silent’ than to ‘talk about them’. There are many who still attend HBC and are holding their breath and tongue but are very concerned about changes in staff, elders, and direction resulting from the question i posed as the main issue above. If you listen to the emotion of the words that are written, you may hear some of us who are confused, hurting and grieving over relationships and ministry involvement.

    Bob2, Stephy, Sharon, it may be that some definitions need to be clarified. Having spontaneous baptisms so that a number can be claimed does not necessarily correlate to God’s glory. Neither can we judge that (solely) a ‘changed life’ is necessarily directly related to sola gloria. How would you account for the baptisms in a church like TD Jakes’ or Osteen’s? How do you account for behavior modification by groups like AA or Muslims? And aren’t we called to make disciples and then baptize? At HBC it seems like we baptize and then hope they get in a new believer’s class or small group to be discipled. If it was not spontaneous, would HBC be able boast such numbers? If you listen to the emotion and comments of people who have a long and deep history with HBC, i think you will find that we at HBC find glory to God in worship, and walking together in relationship, but there is a halting in worship and glory when the Word is used to defend personal decisions and inconsistencies by our prominent teaching pastor.

    Jeff C, your reference to Ichabod was very clever. But it can be perceived as over the top and jarring to Stephy and Sharon. There are some of us who attend and serve at HBC who do not feel that the lamp stand has been removed. Would you consider withdrawing/amending that comment?

    Rainbowmn, you seem to share some insight and history with HBC, but would you consider that you discredit your comments when you embellish? (eg. the price of JM house; the word ‘death’ on July 4: Corning calling to apologize). You make good points but we need to keep the standards that we ask of church leadership.

    Pray with us to see a returning to a biblical, all out, God glorifying church and blog site.

  23. rainbowmn says:

    You should all know that Scott has removed my last two blog posts. There was nothing mean-spiritied or disrespectful in them, rather he has communicated to me that he chooses what goes on the site and he has some compass that is guiding him.

    That’s too bad. It means that what appears on this site is only what Scott wants us to know – that he is filtering the communication.

    Look folks, this is heavy stuff. We haven’t scratched the surface on what will come out from people who have real stories about their time with MacDonald and Harvest. If Scott is monitoring and choosing what does and does not appear, that is problematic.

    You are a nice guy Scott. This is not how blogs work. Too bad.

  24. MODERATOR’S NOTE:

    In the comment above, Rainbowmn informed the readers of this site that I had removed his prior two posts. This is correct. It is also the first time in the short history of the site that I have felt the need to do this. Generally speaking, I maintain a very open policy on commenting, and allow people to speak for themselves in whatever manner they wish. In this case, I personally believed that Rainbowmn had crossed a line by discussing the private sins of an individual that is no longer associated with Harvest Bible Chapel. After privately asking him to consider removing the first remark, Rainbowmn elected to share the very same information again, in a second remark. So I removed the comments. I hope you can understand my decision.

  25. miron says:

    What I don’t understand is that the posts on this Blog and others clearly communicate that James MacDonald has hurt a lot of people in his congregation. I just don’t get why he doesn’t speak to that either at the church or even on his own blog. He seems so callous to the pain he is causing. I am not talking about big, important people in ministry. I mean little people like me who have no influence.

  26. Hope says:

    As a former HBC flock leader (a.k.a. ministering elder) miron has touched my heart. In answer to miron’s question – it seems MacDonald does not believe he has harmed others in the congregation, or by radio, so he doesn’t feel the need to apologize or explain himself.

    If you have been harmed may I suggest you find and read Ken Blue’s book “Healing Spiritual Abuse – How To Break Free from Bad Church Experiences”, because it was very helpful in my own path of grief, pain and healing. To sum it up, some “Christian leaders” “abuse spiritually”.

    From the book pg.12-13 “They are usually so narcissistic or so focused on some great thing they are doing for God that they don’t notice the wounds they are inflicting on their followers.” Sound familiar? If yes, ask for God’s wisdom and discernment to fully reveal the truth to you through the work of the Holy Spirit.

    Spiritual Abuse is something I hadn’t thought about until my HBC experience. God will heal the wounds over time. “I John 1:9-10” talks about healing us from all unrighteousness – but that covers not just the sins we commit, but the sins committed against us. Praise God for His mercy!

    • miron says:

      Hope,
      You sound very kind and I appreciate your response. I will read the book you suggested. I had not really thought of myself as “abused” but certainly hurt and neglected and I know something is seriously wrong when I am afraid to approach the church leadership with my thoughts and questions for fear of getting kicked out of the church that I love.

      Do you still attend Harvest? If not, would you mind sharing why you left?

      • stauron3n1 says:

        Miron,

        I’m sure that Hope will soon answer your question, but in the meantime I can say that at least in part, Hope left because she no longer trusted James MacDonald to speak the absolute truth without spin, qualification or equivocation etc. or wonder if while speaking he had his fingers crossed behind his back. Eventually, it became quite tiresome (and disheartening) to parse everything that he said in order to sift out the wheat from the chaff.

        Also, having had a good long look “at the man behind the curtain”, Hope (and I) realized that we couldn’t in good conscience serve under him, nor lend him credibility by our presense, as inconsequential as that may have been.

        In a nutshell, if you don’t respect the pastor, it’s a very good idea to go somewhere that you can.

        • Hope says:

          For Miron, after meeting with James MacDonald, and later for the last time with Dave Corning, we left HBC RM, several years ago. We felt lead by God to Matt 18 the leadership above us. We spoke with them, then confronted the leaders through written communication which led to face-to-face meetings. Surprisingly, James Mac called us at home to have a meeting with him, which was a shock. We deeply prayed before this meeting with him, and we brought 3 primary concerns to his attention with the hope for reconciliation. There was no reconciliation.

          The 1st issue covered his home and lifestyle. James told me that “I didn’t have a fully orbed theology of wealth”, he then asked where did I get my thoughts on money from? I said, “Jesus”. It went downhill from there. There are several points in this issues. James did not agree with my premise that all money received into the church is ministry money. People give to the ministry work of HBC or Walk in the Word. A portion of the money given to the ministry is used for salaries. To me, all money given to the ministry of HBC is given as an offering to God. So James’ income is ministry money offered to God, it is certainly not to be used to pay for a “living large” lifestyle. I mentioned Jesus didn’t have a home or a big bank account on earth. Also Mac’s lifestyle totally negated my witness at work, since he bragged about his home in the Chicago magazine. There are more lifestyle issues, but this is enough.

          The 2nd concern was the treatment of staff, we provided many examples. For example, we felt that their freezing of raises, presenting staff with questionable “sin lists”, pushing many to work 80 hours a week and then terminating them for little if no cause (we provided specific examples of pastors and staff), which for Mac was all appropriate treatment. If what’s been done to HBC staff, was done in the profit world, it would be considered actionable, but this is a non-profit and the rules aren’t the same. So you’d think a Bible believing non-profit church would have a higher, more Christ-like standard, but HBC does not follow a Biblical standard because James wants it to be this way. No discernable changes have been made, the staff is still treated miserably. In the current economic climate, this is just sinful lording it over others – in a church no less. This is just very sad. For my staff friends, it has made me sick.

          The 3rd concern was over church finances. Without looking for this issue, we found some seriously big financial “deceptions”. I believe a partial truth is also a partial untruth – which logically makes it then a lie. One can be deceptive by not sharing the whole truth to manipulate others. We feel the congregation had been manipulated during various fundraising campaigns, and that the congregation needed to know the whole truth about the church’s financial situation. Full disclosure was promised, but has never been provided for even the membership. There aren’t any more Business Meetings at HBC, and when was the last time the audited financials were provided to the membership? Try asking for the audited financials for HBC, the Fellowship or Walk in the Word and see what happens. This broke our trust, and made us feel betrayed.

          We still pray for HBC and Pastor James. Pray for all those that have left HBC too. We were able to do much service for the Lord there, but it started changing about 10 years ago, when James got on Moody and started to be noticed in larger circles. It was a gradual change at first, but once it skewed off track, it began to change at a faster pace. Sin is like that. This is not a simple story, so pray and listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in your life.

          Let me leave you with one last thought. If you’re listening to Pastor James because he’s so in your face and forceful when he preaches that the message really touches, even pounds your heart, then be very careful. It shouldn’t be Pastor James touching your heart – but the Holy Spirit through God’s Word. If you can’t listen to a calmly preaching pastor and get moved by the Spirit, then you are addicted to the rush from James, not God. Be very careful about this issue, it’s probably the most important one of all to you personally. May God bless you.

          • miron says:

            Thank you, Hope. Thank you, very, very, much and may God bless you as well.

          • Hope says:

            Your very welcome, that’s the most open I’ve been about the past with HBC than Ive been in a long time. Just keep praying and living your life to glorify God, not any man. With Christ’s love, Hope

          • Chris says:

            Hope, thank you for confirming another account of what many of us have experienced. Your last paragraph about listening to the Spirit and the Word and not to simply be attracted to and leaning on the personality of delivery is very relevant for me. I will prayerfully consider.

          • Christ follower says:

            I wasn’t a flock leader but served as did my family for many years, I could have written this it is so similar to my story. What really bothers me are 2 things (at least!) 1) Everything was to the glory of God at one time in this church. Now it is all about the Brand and growing our market share and growing James’ influence. The glory does not, sadly, go to God alone. And 2) the deceptions regarding church finances. It is so upsetting to see it go on and on. The covering up. It’s public record regarding James’ salary for Walk in the Word. And the loan the church gave him, interest free to begin this “ministry”. You have to go back several years, but it’s all there. My unsaved family members also point to James and are totally turned off to anything of Christ because of his “witness”. I also spoke with elders, wrote letters, and finally spoke with Dave Corning and could not get answers to my financial questions. He said “Maybe this isn’t the church for you” and I couldn’t believe I was being told to take my family and go after so many years. (Oh how I cried!) “Isn’t this MY church too?” I asked. Well we left, but came back because of our kids…I know that’s the answer for me as to why we have stayed. All the while we have tried to teach them about why we question content of the messages or the leaderships decisions. We want to insulate them from some of this and teach them to be discerning and think, not follow people blindly. We follow Christ the King alone…. This is truly cathartic. Thank you all for sharing.

          • X-HBCer says:

            Hi Joy,

            Just wanted to clarify some facts regarding the financials as I think anyone who cares about their church should make it a point to know where the money is going and where the financial needs are. I recall Crown’s Larry Burkett or Howard Dayton (can’t recall which one) once said that one’s priorities can be determined by their checkbook on where they spend their money… my paraphrase 🙂

            1. Audited Financials for Harvest Bible. I strongly urge anyone with questions to contact one of the elders to set up a meeting to review the audited financials with you. (they will not provide you a copy, but will let you see if and answer any questions including followup questions you have about the income expenses, assets, liabilities incl. debt at Harvest). You may have picked up that some of the 5G campaign contributions will be used to pay off some church debt which is fairly significant due to Elgin Campus Build Issues, Crystal Lake, misc. capital improvements to Meadows, Aurora, Camp Harvest, etc. I believe there is an existing municipal bond regarding the Elgin school which you can find through google.

            HOWEVER .. based on James recent talk at Harvest U, that if you are not a regular attender or tither, then I don’t know what they will do…

            2. Regarding the fellowship, Churches helping Churches and WITW, I have never asked for these financials, so I cannot tell you whether they will provide that to you. But if you are reviewing the HBC financials, you can ask how much or what portion of the tithing goes to these two or three ministries.

            3. Regarding WITW and other Harvest Non-profits, you could go to charity review websites (Guidestar, efca, charity navigator, etc) which would rate the nonprofits as well as provide additional information. I like Guidestar and have been using it for years to research ministries that request my support. You sign up (free) and pull the tax returns (form 990?) for prior years to review. This is for any non profits required to file. Typically when I review a non profit, i am looking at income (sources), expenses, fundraising, disclosures including salaries to execs, directors, board, and other non-salary type payments (ie. royalties, consulting, etc) which includes significant payments or payments to related parties. I recall from my review of these tax returns that James owns the rights to his sermons, so he collects a royalty on them as well.

            4. Regarding the church debt and church finances, there are many good Crown Financial articles out there that discusses this “Elephant in the Room” (pardon my pun) topic.

            Hope this is helpful for some that have questions regarding financials. .

        • No longer HBC-RM attendee as of today says:

          stauron21n1,
          Thank you for succinctly confirming our decision to finally leave HBC. We haven’t respected JMac for a long time but continued attending with the hope and prayer that he would be humbled, convicted, stopped!

          Today we attended a small local church that has begun like Harvest; at a high school.

          I kept praying, ‘Lord, please protect this pastor’s heart; keep him humble; remind him often of his first love – YOU!’

          It was solid biblical teaching, the worship was in spirit and in truth.

          I will continue praying that this young pastor will not fall into the temptations that JMac has fallen into AND I will pray for those that continue attending HBC will grow in discernment to distinguish their worship of Christ or of JMac.

  27. rainbowmn says:

    Staruon,
    So here is the $1M question – what obligation do Christians have to expose these communities for what they are as opposed to simply leaving and allowing them to damage those who might not be so perceptive?

    • Rod van solkema says:

      There once was a rabbi who was making a hike in the desert up a high mountain.

      A scorpion confidently asked him, “rabbi, would you please place me on your shoulder and take me up the mountain”.

      The rabbi responded,”why would I do such a thing. You will sting me and I will die”

      But the scorpion promised, “I promise to be your friend and never sting you. Please let me ride on your shoulder”

      So the rabbi took the scorpion and placed him on his shoulder and began the long trek up the mountain.

      All went well as the rabbi and the scorpion conversed the whole way.

      But when they made it to the top, the scorpion took his stinger and sent it deep into the rabbi’s jugular. His poison shot through the rabbi’s bloodstream.

      As the rabbi lay dying, he said to the scorpion, “you promised to NOT sting me. Why did you do it?”

      The scorpion responded, “you knew what I was when you picked me up.”

      Rod Van Solkema
      Former pastor at HBC

      • Chris Trees says:

        Rod,

        I’m grateful for your contribution, and I’m sorry that I missed it when you first posted. At one time we served with you at HBC (under a different name) and we look back with fond memories of those days.

        Your lesson is to the point, and I’m sad to say unerringly accurate. Back in the day, I was told by one of James’ most loyal friends that it was wise to only trust James to follow his nature. The years have proven this advice to be as sage today as it was during the “Seize the Opportunity” campaign.

        What is most troublesome to me is the apparent nature of James’ nature. Despite his claims that he is a “work in progress” like every other believer, I’m at a loss to recall a time when I could honestly say that I’ve observed him producing abundant fruit, “in keeping with repentence”. Instead, I’ve witnessed him engaging far more often in the “works of the flesh”. I’ve prayed for his spiritual welfare more times than I can possibly recall, and while admittedly this has been for less than two decades, I have [so far] been discouraged by what I’m still seeing.

        Back when we served together, neither of us were in a position to do much to help him, much less to prevent or repair any of the damage that he caused, but I’ve never abandoned all hope that James’ and HBC’s courses can be righted.

        Repeatedly, on this blog site, the question has been asked in a variety of forms, “Who is responsible for holding James’ and HBC accountable?” Some have argued that it is the exclusive prerogative of the HBC elders, while others maintain that it is purely a local matter that can only legitimately be addressed by those who currently call HBC their church home.

        It’s been our position, (as well as the apparent positions of many others who have contributed posts to this blog) that since there is really only one “Body”, any member, ANYWHERE who desires to see Christ’s bride presented as “spotless” shares the responsibility to lovingly call attention to sinful attitudes and practices ANYWHERE in the Church as well as the responsibility and prerogative to act in a godly way to positively effect change ANYWHERE in the Church where it is required.

        If, as in this specific case, the church in question is historically unwilling, or incapable of addressing its internal problems, and since as a matter of doctrine we are all members of the Church Universal, how can any of us in good conscience turn away, shrug our shoulders and say, “It’s not my job”?

        The deliberate and ever expanding influence (some say intrusion) of James and HBC into other local bodies, spreads both the strengths and failings of James and HBC like a contagion carried by the printed word, broadcast media, conferences and arena events, making it less of a “local” matter every year. The consequence being that many outside the HBC camp now are faced with not only the direct responsibility for shepherding their own sheep but also for the health of shepherds of other folds who may carry dangerous doctrinal and pratical pathogens to their flocks.

        I’m not in any way certain that former pastoral staff or elders can do much more than to verify the seriousness of the many and tragic [and far too often sinful] failings at HBC. But, even if this is true, wouldn’t it be a blessing to Christ and His Church, [including James and all who attend HBC as well as those who have been directly or indirectly harmed by HBC] if all the former staff and elders who were witness to these “failings” but now philosophically stand in opposition to them; were to step forward together and in love and truth, testify in one voice to what they know with their only motive restoration of what has been lost.

        Rod, if you’d care to speak directly, Scott knows who I am and can put you directly in contact with us. We really do miss both you and Dave D. and the days when we served together. Our best to Libby.

        • rainbowmn says:

          Chris (and Rod),
          Boy, this gets really tricky now, doesn’t it.

          There are so very many stories out there – some more than a decade old – that in the real world it makes it almost impossible to unravel it all.

          You would think that it now falls into the hand of those in positions of authority around James.
          You see, they know. Just like we all knew. They need to be bold unlike many of us who just disconnected.

          No one wants retribution against James. That is the amazing thing. Hidden among all of these comments are feelings for the guy. And that’s the point. He is just a guy.

          The elders of Harvest need to call him back from his James Saves the World 40 city road show.

          They need to tell him there are concerns that threaten not only his ministry, but his personal life and the future of Harvest. They need to take him out of the loop for a year – go ahead and pay his salary, no one minds – tell him no more preaching, no more writing, no more radio. No more.

          Be quiet, find God’s voice and hear what he wants to tell you. STOP telling others what to think and do.

          Listen to what God wants to tell you. Walk among the mortals for a year. Forget everyone else.

          STOP LEADING.

          Stop.

          Be quiet James.
          You are killing us.

          • stauron3n1 says:

            rainbowmn,

            At this point, it would seem problematic for the elders to call James to heel.

            According to one of James’ recent revelations of his evolving understanding of power sharing, “right off the bat” he has 50% of the authority pie with the elders sharing the remainder. Based upon these metrics, if only one elder were to choose to side with James…well not much would be likely to happen.

            If on the other hand we apply one of James’ even more recent “understandings” HBC is now a movement of Senior pastors and any elder who might choose to not remain in exact lockstep with James could be found guilty of “going sideways” and subject to a ride in the catapult. With constraints like these, exactly what functional authority could the elders use to pull back on the leash?

            Perhaps the best hope now resides in the power of public disapprobation resulting from benevolent exposure of the truth by those who know and care for James and HBC, but who are currently outside the HBC Universe and James’ direct control and influence.

          • Treading out the grain says:

            Rainbowmn, that’s not gonna happen…

            @HBFellowship
            Harvest Bible Chapel Elders join the Vertical Church Tour in Davenport tonight. Showing support to our pastor. We love you @jamesmacdonald

          • intheknow says:

            @treading the grain…you do not love him. If you loved him, you would help him. Your blind support that allows him to continue is not love. It is a sickness that is wounding the gospel and the reputation of Christ of which you are now a part.

        • Big *Sigh* says:

          According to Pastor James from the Sunday night ‘men only’ meeting, one of the men that holds him accountable is Dr. Garrett Higbee, Executive Director Biblical Soul Care.

          • rainbowmn says:

            Impossible, folks.
            Garrett Higbee is a paid employee of James. He works for Harvest Biblical Soul Care.
            He is in a compromising situation – he cannot win.

            It would need to be someone independant of the Harvest money tree.

          • intheknow says:

            which is owned by Harvest Bible Church, Churches Helping Churches…hmmmm.

          • Deb says:

            Per Big Sigh….This is the man holding James MacDonald accountable – he’s on staff and essentially works for James. Dr. Garrett Higbee is the Executive Director of the Harvest Bible Chapel Biblical Soul Care Ministries. He is also the founder and former president of Twelve Stones Ministries, Inc.
            See weblink: http://www.biblicalsoulcare.org/content.aspx?content_id=178689&site_id=10440

          • stauron3n1 says:

            Big Sigh,

            Since so many have already responded to your Garrett Higby/accountability question, I’d just like to direct your attention back to Justin Facts 8/2 posting.

            For the longest time, HBC held up Alexander Strauch’s book “Biblical Eldership” as the “go-to” resource for church governance and touted governance by “a plurality of elders” as the paradigm for organizational structure.

            In this book Strauch quotes from Robert Greenleaf’s book “Servant Leadership” Although Greenleaf’s book should not be considered “gospel truth” it’s none the less a very accurate observation.

            “To be a lone chief atop a pyramid is abnormal and corrupting. None of us are perfect by ourselves, and all of us need the help and correcting influence of close colleagues. When someone is moved atop a pyramid, that person no longer has colleagues, only subordinates. Even the frankest and bravest subordinates do not talk with their boss in the same way that they talk with colleagues who are equals, and normal communication patterns become warped”.

            Garrett Higbee or no Garrett Higbee, the organizational structures at HBC have left James functionally “unaccountable” and totally exposed to the temptation to abuse his power and influence.

            Wouldn’t you hate to be in his shoes?

        • Dave says:

          Chris

          Your reply has hit the nail on the head. That has helped me to sort out this mess. I attended a HBC in st Louis Mo. Confronted the pastor over James Mac and left accordingly. Many times I heard if you are not a part of the HBC movement then you cannot criticize. However being a former pastor at another church, I felt a responsibility to call to attention when things were wrong. We DO have a responsibility to speak out against other churches when there is a problem with authority. Thanks for bringing this to light

  28. stauron3n1 says:

    Rainbowmn,

    I wish I could give you a definitive answer to that one. All I can do is tell you how it happened for us.

    Before we left, we had some very good counsel from a couple of very godly men with impeccable reputations and ministry credentials whose names you would likely immediately recognize.

    Essentially, we were advised by both men to follow the model in Matthew 18 with our first and last step to be speaking to the elders. (In this case it also included a meeting with Pastor James)

    We were further advised that if they didn’t agree with us or refused to act, (in our case they agreed with us AND refused act) we were to leave quietly. Since the last step in Matthew 18 involves the elders presenting a matter to the congregation and since we were instructed that this is not the prerogative of any other individual(s) the process ends there.

    We followed this advice, although our closest friends were told the actual reason for departure. Sadly, even among those friends who were in total agreement with us, all but one stayed on at HBC and many (at that time) were angry at us for pointing out a problem. I’m glad to say that time has changed many hearts, and now only one friend remains. The rest eventually, for similar reasons, came to understand that it was time to leave.

    In general, we learned that in the case of HBC and James MacDonald, people may know unfortunate (and dare I say sometimes ugly) truths about how the church is operated, but still elect to stay on board; rationalizing their decision by citing the annual number of baptisms, or the church growth statistics etc. It would be pointless, I’m afraid, to point out that it was Ovid and Machiavelli who said “Exitus acta probat” (The end justifies the means) and not the bible.

    In reality, I think very many people suspect or know that everything isn’t rosy at HBC but because they may personally benefit from their association with the church, and have been instructed that they are to “obey” leadership at all times, they’re willing to turn a blind eye to the church’s problems and those who are directly or indirectly effected or injured by those problems. Others, I’m sad to say, cannot even imagine that anything could possibly be less than perfect at HBC and will, without thinking or hesitation, follow blindly onward.

    Coupled with the fact that little or nothing positive usually comes from confronting HBC leadership with legitimate concerns the easiest (and perhaps wisest) course is to walk away silently.

    Somehow, many believe (or want to believe) that they bear no responsibility for the collective/corporate conduct of the local church, and that the sole responsibility resides with leadership. We firmly believe, that as long as the Holy Spirit indwells every single believer, none us has the privlege of willfully remaining ignorant or refusing to stand up for the truth and to do so, we will someday give a full account for our inaction. (You do know that we’re only sheep in a metaphorical sense and not real sheep, is a question sometimes best left unasked)

    HBC isn’t unique in this either. About 10 years ago a Southern California mega-church pastor was caught in an outrageous sexual scandal that immediately made the newspapers and national television news. Despite the fact that there was incontravertible evidence of the pastor’s sin, almost half the church supported him and wanted him to remain in the pulpit. Why, because they liked the preaching and in other respects the church was very “successful”.

    Although is sounds like a rationalization, we still take comfort in knowing that HBC is just one local address of Christ’s Church, and the final authority and responsibility for its operation is His. He can at any time he chooses “remove its lampstand”.

    This doesn’t abrogate the believer’s responsibilty to speak the truth in love, but effectively relieves us of the responsibility for outcomes.

    I’m sorry I couldn’t answer your question directly or more briefly, but it’s a question for a wiser mind than mine.

    P.S. James paid $1.9 million for his house in 2005, and not including improvements, he be lucky to get $800K for it today.
    Before we left, we had some very good counsel from a couple of very godly men with impeccable reputations and ministry credentials whose names you would likely immediately recognize.

    Essentially, we were advised by both men to follow the model in Matthew 18 with our first and last step to be speaking to the elders. (In this case it also included a meeting with Pastor James)

    We were further advised that if they didn’t agree with us or refused to act, (in our case they agreed with us AND refused act) we were to leave quietly. Since the last step in Matthew 18 involves the elders presenting a matter to the congregation and since we were instructed that this is not the prerogative of any other individual(s) the process ends there.

    We followed this advice, although our closest friends were told the actual reason for departure. Sadly, even among those friends who were in total agreement with us, all but one stayed on at HBC and many (at that time) were angry at us for pointing out a problem. I’m glad to say that time has changed many hearts, and now only one friend remains. The rest eventually, for their own reasons, came to understand that it was time to leave.

    In general, we learned that in the case of HBC and James MacDonald, people may know unfortunate (and dare I say ugly) truths about how the church is operated, but still elect to stay on board; rationalizing their decision by citing the annual number of baptisms, or the church growth statistics etc. It would be pointless, I’m afraid, to point out that it was Ovid and Machiavelli who said “Exitus acta probat” (The end justifies the means) and not the bible.

    In reality, I think very many people suspect or know that everything isn’t rosy at HBC but because they may personally benefit from their association with the church, and have been instructed that they are to “obey” leadership at all times, they’re willing to turn a blind eye to the church’s problems and those who are directly or indirectly effected or injured by those problems. Others, I’m sad to say, cannot even imagine that anything could possibly be less than perfect at HBC and will, without thinking or hesitation, follow blindly onward.

    Coupled with the fact that little or nothing positive usually comes from confronting HBC leadership with legitimate concerns the easiest (and perhaps wisest) course is to walk away silently.

    Somehow, many believe (or want to believe) that they bear no responsibility for the collective/corporate conduct of the local church, and that the sole responsibility resides with leadership. We firmly believe, that as long as the Holy Spirit indwells every single believer, none us has the privlege of willfully remaining ignorant or refusing to stand up for the truth and to do so, we will someday give a full account for our inaction. (You do know that we’re only sheep in a metaphorical sense and not real sheep, is a question sometimes best left unasked)

    HBC isn’t unique in this either. About 10 years ago a Southern California mega-church pastor was caught in an outrageous sexual scandal that immediately made the newspapers and national television news. Despite the fact that there was incontravertible evidence of the pastor’s sin, almost half the church supported him and wanted him to remain in the pulpit. Why, because they liked the preaching and in other respects the church was very “successful”.

    Although is sounds like a rationalization, we still take comfort in knowing that HBC is just one local address of Christ’s Church, and the final authority and responsibility for its operation is His. He can at any time he chooses “remove its lampstand”.

    This doesn’t abrogate the believer’s responsibilty to speak the truth in love, but effectively relieves us of the responsibility for outcomes.

    I’m sorry I couldn’t answer your question directly or more briefly, but it’s a question for a wiser mind than mine.

    P.S. James paid $1.9 million for his house in 2005, and not including improvements, he be lucky to get $800K for it today.

    • rainbowmn says:

      Thoughtful response, Stauron. Don’t know if we are ‘relieved from the responsibility of the outcome’ though. Haven’t seen Jesus bouncing around on a horse lately slaying dragons. He seems to use real people like you and your family to accomplish His purposes.

      It is such a tricky situation.
      If James weren’t bent on world domination, it probably would better less.
      The reality is hardly a week goes by when someone doesn’t tell me they began attending Harvest.

      We would never tolerate as a community this type of abuse on a physical level to persist. Why do we tolerate the abuse on a spiritual level?

      Reminds me of the child abuse that goes on in the Catholic Church by a very few priests. Let’s not speak of it….

  29. Rolling Meadows Attender says:

    stauron3n1,

    You actually got a meeting with James. It must have been a serious problem!

    I will admit to feeling confused and concerned. How does a person know what to do? Should we leave and try to find a new church? I am too scared to try and talk to anyone in leadership.

    Will I be in harm’s way by staying? Are the problems at Harvest large enough to hurt the members? What exactly is going on there?

    We have been going there for quite awhile now, and I have noticed changes, but I don’t think I realized the severity of it before.

    Please advise.

    • James Conway says:

      Greetings RMA,
      I encourage you to seek the Lord in prayer. Ask Him for wisdom. He will give you the wisdom that you need. Only the Lord knows if you are called to stay at HBC or to leave.

      When an individual church or movement begins to “wander off into the weeds”, you won’t notice anything obvious.

      It’ll start with the departure of a few trusted leaders. It then progresses to the remaining leadership taking a defensive posture. They’ll “circle the wagons” and expel (or in this case, catapult) detractors. There will be a few “sermons” whose purpose is to address an issue rather than to disciple those in attendance.

      After that, the sermons will appear to get back on track. But there will be veiled digs and slams against those detractors who remain in the camp. These references will only be known to the targets of those comments and those of the “inner circle” of leadership. To everyone else, things will appear fine. That will continue until the remaining detractors leave.

      Ultimately it comes down to checking your heart. Is the Lord asking you the question, “Are you following a man, a movement, or Me?” The answer to THAT question will help you determine the answer to the question you posed.

      I continue to pray for Pastor James… I have been greatly blessed by his ministry in the past, and hope that he can get back on track. There’s so much work to be done!

  30. Rolling Meadows Attender says:

    Also, does anyone know what will happen while James is on his vertical church tour? He is currently on his “summer break” and then it appears he will go immediately to his us/canada tour. It appears as if that is from August through the beginning of October. Are we just going to continue to have pastors fill in for 4 months?

    And what is an “Ephesians” service????

    ——————————————————————-

    JULY 14-15
    Pastor Eric Mason | Epiphany Fellowship
    Rolling Meadows, Elgin, Crystal Lake, Chicago North, Aurora, and North Shore

    JULY 21-22
    Pastor Bryan Loritts | Fellowship Memphis
    Rolling Meadows, Elgin, Crystal Lake, Chicago North, Aurora, and North Shore

    JULY 28-29
    An “Ephesians” service
    Join us for one of our sixteen weekend services and find out what an Ephesians service is.

    • cindycurtis says:

      Powerful, Biblical, Christ centered sermon from Pastor Eric Mason this morning. Refreshing!

  31. stauron3n1 says:

    RMA,

    Yes we did, and we accomplished little except to know that we stayed the course until the end. Best thing anyone can do is to pray for James and HBC.

    At this point, I sincerely believe that no one but God can get his attention. It’s like James used to say, if you don’t answer the clue phone, then expect that the clue truck will back up and dump its load on your head. (paraphrased)

  32. rainbowmn says:

    I don’t think you folks understand.
    This has been going on for 15 years.
    The same stuff.
    Many of us were there in the first days…its the same nonsense.

    So the answer is to pray about it?
    Pray for James? Pray for Harvest?

    What do you think people have been doing for 15 years?

    Keeping their mouths shut and praying.

    So lets see where that has got us. 100,000 followers of MacDonald. Radio programs. Books. Cd’s.
    Speaking tours. Conferences.

    And dead bodies everywhere while innocent, unsuspecting people file in the front door.

    Hey, I don’t know the answer either. But we sure haven’t found it yet.

    • miron says:

      I would like to hear some suggestions for what to do from any of the readers of this Blog. I am willing to fight for Harvest but don’t know what to do in addition to the prayer. Confronting the leadership is ineffective and just leaving doesn’t solve the problems. As you noted, there are new, unsuspecting people coming in each week. And there are so many new believers at Harvest who have no clue about anything and are not being discipled. The small groups (not all) are often the blind leading the blind because the small group leaders are not adequately trained and the small groups are little more than social get togethers. There seems to be little interest in true discipleship, only in growth.

  33. stauron3n1 says:

    Miron,

    I completely understand and share your concern, sadness, frustration and even outrage with HBC’s trajectory, as well as your desire to intercede, but in the years since our departure I\’ve learned to be more patient.
    The way we see it, there are two sides who may at any time ”turn on the lights” at HBC.

    #1 Satan. The ability to bring dishoner, disrepute, opprobrium on Christ’s Church is always a powerful incentive for the evil one, and the fact that HBC’s influence is so widespread, would certainly be an added incentive for him to expose some of HBC’s less attractive features should the Lord permit.

    #2 Jesus Christ. Should the Lord decide that some of the actions of the leadership at HBC performed in His name are or have become, intolerable, He can, without any doubt, personally and directly expose the issues at any time. From my vantage point, it would seem that the Holy Spirit has already been actively revealing the reality of the conditions at HBC to more and more people each year. Six years ago, hardly anyone knew or would admit that there were serious problems, but each year since, more and more people have become aware, and more and more light has been and is being shed on HBC. The existance of this blog and others like it, should be evidence enough of this fact.

    I for one, have no desire to someday discover that while correct in my beliefs and assertions about HBC and JMac, I was presumptuous in my actions and words regarding HBC and JMac and unwittingly interfering with Christ’s plans for them.

    All this to say, that the desire to ”do something” must in this case be tempered by the realization that the situation has always been under the scrutiny and authority of God and in all liklihood, does not require our immediate actions.

    Continue to pray for the wellbeing of HBC and JMac and see what happens. God\’s ability to surprise has not been diminished anymore than His arm has been shortened.

    And when, and if, the moment comes to become actively involved, be prepared to speak the truth in love, and also be prepared to wait on the Lord’s timing to see the effect of your words.

    • Karen E. says:

      Great evil has entered into HBC and is being advanced through the leadership. God works through his people. We should fight.

  34. Big *Sigh* says:

    Its interesting to hear the term ‘spiritual abuse’. I ran into this term a few months ago and although relatively new, at the same time, very familiar.

    My family and I attend HBC (but not RM or Elgin). Reading through some situations of what other people have gone through, I have had similar experiences at my campus. Went through each step, but stopped short of receiving an audience with Pastor James.

    The three concerns mentioned by Hope were very similar to what I had brought up to the leadership. In the end, nothing was resolved (to this day). Other people on our campus are experiencing the same things – concerns about “quality of discipleship”/ “blind leading the blind”.

    If I were given a chance to have a meeting with Pastor James, I honestly would not know where to start. Yes, of course, begin with prayer. But I have ran the scenario in my head a number of times. The only thing I came up with was, listen first (to his perspective) and only then, can I come up with questions.

    A question I constantly have, knowing what I(we) know, is , “Why do I continue to attend HBC?” Am I making the relationships I have at HBC an idol over my relationship with Jesus Christ? If I were to take all the mess that is going around me in the church, what is God calling me to do at the very place I am in now, – my current role as a husband, my current role as a father, and my current role in ministry, in regards to treating the bride of Christ- His Church.

    I did listen to David Jones’ message suggested above. WE have got to apply the biblical points mentioned in Jones message to the situation at HBC. Truth IN Love (that may also mean separation from HBC but not separation from the Church).

    I’m sure everyone here has a million questions for Pastor James and the leadership at HBC. What would yours be?

    ~ Not a Christian, but a follower of Jesus Christ.

    • Ryan M. Mahoney says:

      You asked, “why do I still attend HBC?”. Another commenter here wants to venture out, but he/she fears not being able to find a “good” church. These comments are raising an issue that should be addressed. Our conception of church, as American Evangelicals, is too influenced by the terms set by the dominanate culture. This is not just an HBC problem.

      The Evangelical movement broke away from the early 20th century movement of Fundamentalism because it was too closed off from culture. Evangelicalism is marked by its openness to culture as an attempt to reach the culture. However, it’s openness to culture has allowed the values of the culture to come in without question or examination.

      We think of success in terms of numbers. How many baptisism? How many members? How many giving to the capital campaign? How many plants? How many campuses? How many, how many, how many? Our definition of health cannot be driven by such American entrepreneurial values.

      We also think of success in terms of authentic emotional experience. The way we are moved to empathy in a film or at a concert, we want that same authentic experience in our “worship” in order for it to be defined as “good.” Video production, lighting, music, hipster attire, vocabulary, and models for success are all derived from the culture and infused into the church and our conception of a “good” church.

      These are cultural values thriving in the church. There is obviously nothing wrong with numerical growth, and there is nothing wrong with authenticity or emotion. The problem lies in that these values and others, have come to dominate our conception our imagination for what a healthy church should look like. The danger we face is that only the Megachurch (by and large) has the talent pool and economic resources to give us, the consumer, what we demand. It is the Walmarting of the American church. This phenomenon has been evidenced by Barnard Group studies. I also know this to be true because I have been guilty of it myself.

      Scripture and historical practice across time and culture have shown us a higher way. 1 Tim 2 talks extensively of the character of the men that should be leading. If you cannot talk/live among your leaders you cannot determine if they live up to this incredibly high standard and see if the church is healthy. Follow the man not the program.

      Some are returning to the use of liturgy in worship. The strength being, all participate in prayer, scripture reading and singing rather than sitting passively watching the performers do it. The radical individualism in the West is countered in corporate liturgy as a practice that rubs against a “me” centered form of worship.

      I could go on, but this is all ready too long. Basic point. Re-examine your assumptions of what constitutes a “good” church. Then find one or start one.

  35. Harvest RM says:

    I think we should compile questions. I am sure that there is someone in the leadership of Harvest who keeps up on the blogs. Maybe we can get answers. Here are some I have.

    (1) Why has Joe Stowell’s position never been filled again. As Pastor James spends more and more time away from Harvest, (June – October this year), I really think having some consistency with an assistant Pastor/teaching pastor would benefit the church. This would be someone that we as a congregation could develop a relationship with and there would be more consistency from week to week. Why have they never gotten someone for this position?

    (1a) Did something happen behind the scenes with the relationship with Stowell? It seems like Matt, Joe, and Joe Sr. all left at the same time and rather abruptly. I asked once if they still sold the CD’s from Pastor Stowell, and the lady practically screamed “NO” at me, like I had asked a horrible question? There was just something that didn’t feel right here.

    (2) Twice (that I remember), Pastor James has talked about making himself more available. I first remember him talking about it during the “Love – The Missing Piece”. He also talked about it at the beginning of the series for the 5G when he announced he would not be switching from one campus to another on Sunday mornings. He said it would allow him to be able to be in the hallways of Harvest and connect with people. He said he did not want to meet people and not know who they are. Now, maybe I have not seen this, but I have not seen him in the hallways between services. Why say this if it isn’t going to happen.

    (3) What happened with Walk in the Word and RBC? I remember WITW moved to Michigan. All the CD’s had the RBC symbol on them. Then all of a sudden, everything moved back to Elgin. What happened here?

    (4) Wasn’t there something about Walk in the Word and Back to the Bible merging? I seem to remember a lot being said about this during a “family chat”. But then I don’t remember anything else about it.

    (5) As “tithing/attending members of Harvest”, can we please have some information about the 4 churches leaving? To my knowledge, this has never been addressed at Church. I know it was mentioned briefly in his closing remarks to Harvest University, but as it is our tithes that help to fund the start of these churches, I think we deserve to know what is going on with them.

    (6) Why would you choose to associate with TD Jakes / Furtick / Noble over people such as Pastor Mike from Grayslake (and others) who you have partnered in ministry with for approximately 20 years. I do not understand that.

    (7) As a church, shouldn’t we be kept abreast with the important decisions that the church is making. I do understand that not everything can be disclosed, but I feel like at Harvest, NOTHING is ever disclosed until it happens (and then sometimes not even disclosed). Shouldn’t we be kept informed of Elder board decisions and changes on the Elder board (especially if the head of the elder board leaves)?
    (8) Transparency with the budget. Is the monthly need on the back of the bulletin the “actual need” to keep the church running?

    (9) What is the reason for the change at Harvest. I can listen to sermons consistently from 5 – 10 years ago, and they are all consistent. Such change in reason times. Why the partnering with Jakes/Furtick/Noble? What is the end game or hope? I saw this on another blog (and I am paraphrasing, but someone said something to the effect of what have you done with the real Pastor James. Listen to any sermon from 5 – 10 years ago. Listen now. There is a change…and not for the better. Why?

    (10) Is it in the best interest of the church to show old sermons on video (an old DVD from “Lord Change Me” was shown), pre-recorded sermons (taped before an empty auditorium), or all worship services (no sermon given – this has happened a couple of times). Is this the best way to fill the Sundays when Pastor James is not going to be there? Again, I think this is where the church could most benefit from an assisitant/teaching pastor.

    Thanks for reading.

    • Karen E. says:

      These are good and reasonable questions that deserve answers.

    • James Conway says:

      Regarding question #5. Your tithes did not go towards starting ALL of those churches. Of the 4 churches that left, the church formerly known as Harvest Bible Chapel of Prescott did not receive a single dime from Harvest Bible Fellowship, nor did the church formerly known as Harvest Bible Chapel Detroit West. (though Pastor Dan can correct me if I am not correct).

      Questions #1, 2, 7, 8, and 10 seem like reasonable ones to ask as they are concerning the local congregation.

      Harvest RM, what is the motivation for asking those questions? What would you do with the answers if you received them? Are there any possible answers that would be acceptable justification for what is transpiring?

      Scripture’s warning regarding the last days is very clear. God’s Word doesn’t warn us that the dangers facing the Church will be a lack of unity (though that is important where appropriate) but it will be false teachers.

      Pastor James has claimed that T.D.Jakes possesses “Biblical solidity”. Mark Driscoll, Stephen Furtick, and Perry Noble have all been given his seal of approval as well. He’s had Furtick preach at his pulpit and claims that Furtick is “wise, wise, wise”.

      What’s your tipping point? T.D. Jakes preaching at Harvest? Benny Hinn invited to ER3? Pastor James appearing on TBN to be interviewed by Paul and Jan Crouch?

      There are a few small Bible teaching, Christ exalting, Spirit filled churches in the surrounding area. Maybe the Lord is calling some out of Harvest to be body parts (hands and feet of Christ) in those local bodies of believers. Seek the Lord on that…because if He (the Lord) wants you out, He’ll either put a burden on your heart to leave or He’ll allow the Harvest Bible Catapult ™ to accomplish His will.

      Time is short, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

      • Christ follower says:

        Which churches? Name them please. I would LOVE to go to one. But there must be some meetings of the members, and there must be some formal notes from elder board mtgs. which members may view. They must be extremely transparent about financial dealings of the church and any personal ministries or additional ministries that are connected with the church. I will never again attend a church where the members are so uninformed and uninterested in what is going on behind the scenes.

        • miron says:

          Please, I would also like to know some good churches for our family.

          • Miron … While I cannot speak to the ministry of every church in the area, I am sure there are many that could meet the needs of your family. More specifically, I can tell you that I deeply appreciate the ministry of Pastor David Jones at the Village Church of Barrington. Blessings.

          • followerofchrist says:

            any churches around glenview, wheeling, mt prospect, arlington hts?

          • Hope says:

            There’s The Orchard an EFCA church in Arlington Heights. Mt Prospect Bible was a good church, but haven’t been around it in a long time. I’m sure others have churches to offer too.
            May God bless you and your family.

  36. rainbowmn says:

    Harvest RM,
    This is tough.
    If you wanted to go down the path you suggest, you would have almost 20 years of questions dating back to the very first days of Harvest, issues that have never even hit the street. Thousands of questions/issues, all with shocking revelations.

    These are symptoms of the larger issue.

    James MacDonald has always, from the very beginning, understood himself to have special dispensation from God to direct the thinking and affairs of his followers. He understands himself to be ‘knighted’ from God to wage battle against all who would rise up against him. He has special rules just for him.

    He has thought this way from the very first moments of this thing. I helped him put together his first men’s campaign 15 years ago – what was it called? MEN AT WAR. MacDonald was the general.

    Nobody had the guts to stand up to him, to tell him he was a regular guy like everyone else – that he is flawed like the rest and that in the end his opinion was of no more value than anyone elses.

    So now we have this mess. And it is OUR MESS. To follow God is now to follow MacDonald. To listen for God’s voice is to listen for MacDonald’s voice. To fight God’s enemies is to fight MacDonald’s enemies.

    This is not God’s deal. We made MacDonald. We have been his audience. This is our fault. We fell in love with the power just like James did. We wanted the bigger buildings and the larger programs just like James did and the great performances on stage and we someone who would make life very easy by telling us exactly what to think and MacDonald gave us all exactly what we wanted.

    And now we have so inflated MacDonald that he has become a caricature of himself and has no idea how messed up he actually is because he is surrounded by thousands of followers telling him how great he is.

    We had better figure out a way to clean it up. This is our mess.

  37. Former Harvest RM attender says:

    A couple of people have mentioned other blogs which have raised concerns about the direction of Harvest and JM. Can anyone supply links to these or indicate the names of the blogs? Thanks.

    • Jeremy says:

      donotbesurprised.com (Erin Benginzer)
      apprising.org (Ken Silva)
      @megachurchmouse (on Twitter)
      teampyro.blogspot.com
      jamesmacdonald.com/blog

      to name a couple…

  38. stauron3n1 says:

    As far as I can tell, only Rick Donald, Kent Shaw and JMac are still around from the nineties.

  39. stauron3n1 says:

    Ciofani left HBC for a while in a dispute a couple of years back but came back. So there are four, but only 3 have never left.

  40. Christ follower says:

    And elders Scott Phelps, Robert Jones, although don’t know if they were elders back then. Also Dan Plantz and John Smith-not elders but around for many many years. Dave Learned has been around a long time. Oh, and don’t forget the family members that serve in leadership roles.

  41. Jeremy says:

    Holy destertion Batman…recent comments here led me to the HBC elder page http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/10780/staffcategory/category_id/7074/Elders where I recognized the North Shore elders from this video http://vimeo.com/22149761 (something strange in some of these men’s demeanors in this video, by the way, makes me think of hostages with Stockholm syndrome).

    I don’t know what’s more disturbing…that these men would desert their own flock at WBC to wave the HBC banner, or that HBC leaders would attempt this hijacking of a church’s leadership. I’m sure the real story is somewhere in the middle, and for some strange reason I have a peace that the WBC congregation is much better off, but WOW.

    • Jeremy … I had heard that some of the Winnetka Bible Church elders quickly became HBC elders in the aftermath of that incident, but I never knew if that was true. Can you confirm which elders came over? Moreover, can you explain how they were added to the HBC elder board so quickly? Thanks.

      • Jeremy says:

        Great point Scott. I am not sure of the exact timing of everything, but I believe the “failed” votes at WBC took place in March/April. Let’s assume by coincidence they were appointed this morning. That means they were elder candidates for all of three and one half months At Harvest I do know that elders are usually known in the body for years (plural) and elder candidates for six months or longer. How else can we be sure they are biblically qualified? Also important at Harvest is that the elder has shown themself to be deeply committed Harvest herself..

        I am not sure about the division of labor on HBCs elder board, but at all Harvest churches elders are responsible for the three D’s: Direction, Doctrine and Discipline. Now if Harvest is one united church meeting in several locations, and led by a plurality of elders as they claim, that would mean that these 5 men are charged with exercising the 3 D’s over the entirety of the body.

        See the HBC elder page for the names of the 5 former WBC elders from the vid. The elder page names the location that they attend (or possibly have authority over?).

      • stauron3n1 says:

        Formerly, one needed to be a member of HBC for a year before one qualified to be a small group leader, and two years to be a “flock leader”, but these rules were very pliable. They were in force or ignored at the discretion of “you know who”. A great example is Dr. Joe Stowell. He became an elder immediately upon his arrival. While he was certainly well qualified to be an elder just about anywhere, under the rules in place at that time he shouldn’t have even been a small group leader.

        It seems that this sort of thing is a wonderful example of the truth of the saying, “if the rules don’t apply to everyone, they apply to no one”. In other words, there are no actual rules that can’t be ignored or superceded by the leadership at HBC.

      • Seven Votes says:

        It is true. The five elders of Winnetka Bible Church that pushed for a HBC merger were promised to become elders if the vote was passed. This announcement was made to the congregation at WBC. When the vote failed, supporters of the merger left WBC and began searching for a new north shore location. The five former WBC elders are now elders of the HBC Winnetka campus. I know this because I am a member of Winnetka Bible Church.

  42. Chris Cartney says:

    Why were their names not put in the bulletin for a few weeks as has been the case in previous nominations for members and elders and deacons? It is my guess that it would draw too much attention to the backdoor of 4 missing church plants.

  43. cari says:

    For the previous poster who is looking for a chuch–We attended HBC Elgin for almost six years before deciding to leave over many of these issues. Both my husband and myself were baptized at Harvest, tithed, and went to small groups. Rather than stirring up strife, we quietly left the church last fall. We feel very blessed to have found a great little church in Gilberts, IL– Fellowship Life Bible Church. The preaching of God’s Word from our pastor and has been outstanding and reminds me of John Macarthur. I am sure our pastor would not appreciate me extolling his virtues, so let me also say that we have found everyone in leadership at Fellowship Life to be sincere, humble, dedicated servants of Christ.

    • Ryan M. Mahoney says:

      Ty is good people.

      • cindycurtis says:

        I looked this up. Wasn’t he at HBC as well? Didn’t know he had left.

        • Ryan M. Mahoney says:

          Yes, he was on staff for many years before heading out to be a pastor at Park Community in Chicago. Now he is a senior/head pastor of a new church. He is a good man.

  44. rainbowmn says:

    Dave Corning was the last elder from the first several years – he left just months ago. All the other elders that are mentioned have come much later. Rick Donald was not an elder in the early days. Rick Donald has always been a paid staff member and long time friend from Canada of James.

    All the men from the first days are gone.

    Keep your eye on the ball. Many of the issues that are flying around are matters of opinion, style, perspective and point of view. What is in play specifically is MacDonald himself, who he believes himself to be, the influence he seeks to wrap around his followers and his belief that he alone speaks for God.

  45. Justasheep says:

    I’m late to this discussion but wanted to add to some of the comments as the related to a Catholic point of view. I was raised Catholic (in a very very actively involved Catholic family). I left the Catholic church in my mid-twenties after being continually frustrated by the “official” answers that priests were giving me over the years, being a philosophy minor in college I had a LOT of questions, reading many Catholic philosophers and writing many papers especially on Aquinas and Augustine.

    Fast forward to this past decade – I gave my life to Christ 9 years ago at the age of 31, we eventually found our way to Harvest and were thrilled to devour God’s word on Sundays and in small groups. We knew no church was perfect, so when some things happened that disappointed us we rolled with and tried to stay active in the church.

    When the first Elephant room happened we were left scratching our heads – thinking wow James must be trying to influence these guys to good doctrine. So we trusted and waited. Late in the fall of that year – Stephen Furtick was given the pulpit. We listened, we prayed and at one point came to a conclusion – we would check to see who was preaching at Harvest before we went each Sunday. We prayed some more, searched the scriptures some more – and I came to the conclusion that an approach like that would be putting me in a position of disobedience to my church leaders. How can I sit under the preaching of a man I know to be preaching something other than the Gospel (Furtick) and still obey the authority that God placed over us? That was when I realized the trust that we had for James as our pastor had been broken – and just like the Catholic church he was setting up his own authority over the interpretation of scripture (The same mistake the Catholic church made). It was that day that with many tears I decided we would not be going back there ever again. Until James has publically repented of welcoming a wolf in among the sheep I and my family will not sit under teaching of anyone there.

    To my disappointment, James seems to be going the opposite direction, adding to his sin of pride. Just like the Catholic church did, he is saying we are not to question the judgement of leaders (maybe he’s saying something else, but his actions clearly say that). I pray daily for the rest of my family that is still attending and involved there, I pray that they will continue to be moved by the power of the Gospel despite the false teaching that is being endorsed by the leaders. I am worried though, because I know my family that are still in the church have been very susceptible to a word/faith, prosperity gospel message in the past – I worry that their faith and the faith of their children will be contaminated with a false hope promoted by the wolves that James has given access to the flock by his failure to vigorously defend the Gospel, and his failure to accept a biblically sound rebuke from his brothers.

  46. rainbowmn says:

    Justasheep,
    Forward this blog thread to your family at Harvest.
    The healthiest thing we can do for them is to give them a chance to think for themselves.

  47. Jeremy says:

    To X-HBCer and anyone else…

    Fair warning to anyone who would muster the courage to ask to see the “audited financials” of their church. You will likely be VERY disappointed in the transparency of an external NFP audit report. These reports are meant to detect fraud and theft, not wasteful and unwise spending. You are likely to see updated indebtedness via the consolidated balance sheet, and footnotes might give you some terms of the loan(s), but actual expenditures and cash flow are VERY condensed into general categories such as MINISTRY(IES) which could even include salaries and allocated facilities expense within them. And you won’t see individuals’ salaries, either.

    Three recommendations:

    1. Compare Current Year vs. Prior Year to see which direction overall debt or spending went up/down. Also compare reserves if it’s broken out – this will generally tell you if your church spent more or less than it took in for the year.
    2. Take the categories (outflows) on the Statements of C.F. and compare them as a % of giving/revenues (inflows)
    3. The Income Statement for a NFP is near worthless…don’t spend too much time reviewing.

    I don’t want to discourage anyone from asking, but if you are struggling to know and trust where your tithes and contributions are going, a church audit isn’t likely to answer many of your questions. You are right in saying that one’s priorities can be known by where they spend their resources, but the audit just won’t give you much clarity on this.

  48. Big *Sigh* says:

    You—Shut Your Mouth

    http://jamesmacdonald.com/blog/?p=13165#more-13165

    “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” (Proverbs 29:11)

    • rainbowmn says:

      Stunning.
      You can see why he so good at this.
      Totally impressive.

      • Jeremy says:

        JM’s policy on dialogue = 1 way…me to you:

        http://jamesmacdonald.com/blog/?page_id=11171

        Comment Policy: No Comments

        Because a toxic few outshout legitimate criticism and meaningful conversations for everyone.
        It’s just not worth it.

        ###

        Yet, no shouting on this site, just plenty of legitimate concern…hmmmm.

        • rainbowmn says:

          Jeremy,
          You know, like many others I was part of MacDonald’s journey from the very first days of Harvest, so in a sense nothing surprises me any more.

          But I have to tell you, James’ recent new stated policy that you just made us aware of on his website –

          “Comment Policy: No Comments
          Because a toxic few outshout legitimate criticism and meaningful conversations for everyone.
          It’s just not worth it.”

          – this stated policy by MacDonald is the most chilling thing I have seen yet from James. What in the world. What can he possibly be thinking? It is the most self-delusional reflection of his thinking yet. With this statement he has become his own cult. He is the only one with the truth.

          Shocking.

          • Jeremy says:

            James has had civil discourse on his blog in the past, albeit on selected postings. I believe that there was always a disclaimer that comments were subject to moderation. It’s not difficult to moderate out the truly toxic, vulgar, and untrue. It does become more difficult when you have to start playing the arbiter of what should be disclosed and whose thoughts can be heard.

    • Mike Sagan says:

      He’s a slippery one, that James MacDonald.

      • Chris Cartney says:

        Read my posting @ “where have the elders gone” on july 18. You can find most of the points directly or implied. How can those who attend, serve and tithe at HBC be constructive for change, when the lead pastor does not think change is needed and that the current course is damaging?

  49. rainbowmn says:

    Mike,
    Its actually kinda funny if you think about it – that he has been able to pull it off this long.

    You teach the people that you are the only one who is allowed to think critically, express your views and that what comes out of your mouth is from God because you have slapped a bible verse on it.

    Then you run the people thru fire drills on what to do if people question what the church is up to, tell them they are not allowed to talk to others, shun those who do in public and grab yourself a bunch of bunch of radio and book contracts and POOF – Messiahville.

  50. HBC Underground says:

    BTW The pastors have been given a list of members to call in response to this blog. Got my call yesterday. They want to know if we have questions. I kept my mouth shut because I don’t want to be catapulted and I don’t trust them. I can’t leave HBC yet but planning to. And then yesterday James blog. What a joke.

    • stauron3n1 says:

      Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain… OR ELSE!

    • rainbowmn says:

      Underground – fascinating.
      Are the faithful being held prisoners inside Harvest being apprised of this blog so they can ask questions and think for themselves??

      How did they know to call you? How could they have matched your name against this blog?

      BTY – sooner or later some of you HAVE to speak up. You must stop being afraid otherwise MacDonald wins.

  51. Mike Sagan says:

    Why would he want to change? The current course is serving him well.

  52. Linda LaFianza says:

    I haven’t received a call and as a visitor since only last February, perhaps I will not. But if I do, I will ask the caller what this bit from Matt 20 means: 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26  It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,[c] 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,[d] 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
    And then based on the Shut Up post, ask if the 1st amendment of the US Constitution applies at HBC. Those two answers will determine if I ever worship there again.

  53. Harvest RM says:

    How will they pick people to call – attenders or members only? If a person does admit to having questions, will they be “catapulted” or will they get (truthful) answers.

    Initially, I was happy to hear about them being receptive to questions. Then with the recent blog by JM, I am not sure. Is this a “trap”?

    Was the elephant room and the continued partnership with TD Jakes really worth all this?

    • DS says:

      The questions raised here are okay questions, but asking them will only get you spin. JMac is a master spinner. When Leo “left” his previous position there was an all staff conference call to get everyone on the same page with the same story, or spin control. So unless you are well informed your questions will get spun. The control of information is one of the highest exercises in power.

    • tabby35 says:

      I had questions and concerns about the compassion I was not receiving from accountability partners and Pastors when I was dealing with depression a while back. I wrote 3 Pastors multiple times and other people and nobody got back to me except 1 person (not a Pastor) to tell me my discernment was bad and I needed to work on that. Luckily I am strong with God and I didn’t let the negative comments and lack of compassion bring me down anymore than I already was. Now I have been doing really good and wrote one more time about my experience and concern and all I got in the mail was a letter and paper to fill out letting them know if I was still attending or not? This automated letter came from the Pastor I wrote.

      • rainbowmn says:

        Tabby,
        I am glad you are strong with God. That’s a great phrase. He is all you need.

        It’s easy for people to disappoint – especially when they create large expectations.

        I am happy that you sound healthy. And don’t question your discernment – my guess is that you are usually spot on.

      • Hope says:

        Tabby35, When I was at HBC, there was more compassionate, personal care from pastors and elders, so I find your lack of receiving it another indication that this church is not healthy for you or anyone else. May I suggest you check out this church for care of any form of depression. They actually have a licensed psychologist pastor on staff that runs Caring Minisitries. The Depression Group and individual Counseling to the community are free to low cost. There are many opportunities to get quality care there.
        http://www.efccl.org/#/adult-ministries/caring

        This is just one of many Evangelical Free Churches in the area – Pastor David Jones’ church has already been mentioned and is close to HBC RM. The EF churches are congregationally lead with elected governing elders. There are Business Meetings with Budgets and Financials openly discussed. They are based on God’s Word. The pastors, elders, leaders and teachers will know your name and pray with you.

        Local EF churches are grouped into districts, so there are multiple layers of oversight beyond the senior pastor, unlike at HBC. You can read about how this type of church functions on the EFCA website http://www.efca.org/ Let me also say the Crystal Lake church has been there over 100+ years, where Jesus is King, and people are drawn to the His Truth by the Holy Spirit, not a man. With love, Hope

        • tabby35 says:

          I did the counseling and it was great and yes there are groups. I am talking about the general heart of a person to care about somebody outside of a group. I loved my counseling and had much support in a group, when it was outside of that people didn’t come through. I believe and have seen with two churches since that people should care about others when they are in their normal lives. You can’t just throw people in a focus group all the time. It can’t be about motions, making sure someone has one day a week for support. When I got depressed it usually wasn’t during the one day I had group. When I disappeared for weeks at a time, did anyone call? Did anyone care that I could be falling back into things I shouldn’t fall into? Now I help and counsel others outside of Church, I am there when needed in the moment. That is how it should be. Jesus wasn’t only there for people on Tuesdays when they were in a focus group. Every Church has something they could work on, but that’s the difference, will they hear the congregation and work on the change? I had ideas on helping people sympathize and understand things they never experienced and nobody wanted to hear it. That is where the problem lies.

    • James Conway says:

      I believe that Pastor James made it clear in his closing session of Harvest U this year as to the priority of weight (relatively speaking) he gives to people who interact with Harvest… 1) Tithing members, 2) Tithing attenders, 3) non-tithing members, 4) non-tithing attenders. Again, that is only relatively speaking. At best a tithing member will be given an explanation for a decision that was made. Any probing of that explanation will result in being catapulted. Any belief of something beyond that is not founded in his track record.

      What is interesting in Pastor James’ and the rest of the Harvest leadership discussion of dissension and rebellion have been a complete and total silence on the content of the dissension and rebellion. What are the issues that these people are raising that are worthy of being catapulted? For example, if the dissenters were embracing and promoting unbiblical beliefs then surely all would agree that use of the catapult was appropriate. And if that were the case, publicizing the matter would be an encouragement to not only their congregation but to all who are contending for the faith.

      But as it stands, Pastor James and the Harvest leadership have taken the position that what they believe and stand for is correct and therefore any opposition is in error.

      Sometimes I wonder if Pastor James titled his book “Vertical Church” because that is the angle that the catapult is set to.

  54. rainbowmn says:

    Some of us have known Harvest/MacDonald since its inception.
    Many of us have been a part of building it from the very first day.
    We understand its DNA.

    It was broken from the beginning.
    The only question left is how we respond.

    • Mike Sagan says:

      rainbowmn,
      Appreciate yours posts as I try to make sense of this mess. My question for you is how has MacDonald managed to bring the church to this current state? There have been solid elders over him over the years. How has he been allowed to run the show?

      • Chris Trees says:

        In part, the answer to your question is that the “solid elders” weren’t ” really over him”. James is considered “first among equals” and derives a great deal of his practical authority from his ability to persuade, coerce, intimidate etc.

        In the early days of HBC, James nearly was shown the door due to his inability to play nicely with the other children in the HBC sandbox. Instead of learning the lesson of the importance to “play nice”, it seems that James learned to refine his methods and develop a power-base so that he could dominate the playground. Over the course of the past 19 or so years, James has been able to consolidate his power by influencing the selection of elders to those who were on staff, who weren’t likely to challenge him or had some vulnerability that could be exploited.

        When you think about it, Rick Donald, Kent Shaw and two of the Stowells were James’ subordinates, who no matter how noble their intentions, still had to defer to the boss if they wanted continued employment.

        For example at one point on an elder board of 9, the roster consisted of James, Rick Donald, Joe Stowell III, Joe Stowell IV, Kent Shaw, Bill Ciofani, Ron Allchin, Sam Jindoyan, Dave Corning,

        In this group, in addition to Donald, Shaw, and the Stowells, Ron Allchin’s ministry was supported by HBC through numerous referrals, and in large measure, his livelihood as well as those of all his employees depended on the relationship with HBC and by necessity, James.

        So… out of 9 elders, only three were completely financially independent from HBC’s (James’ influence) Since the elder board doesn’t vote, but in theory must reach a “consensus”, being in minority dissent certainly must have included enormous peer pressure, along with the unspoken threat of being isolated, marginalized, and potentially forced off the board, and thereby losing all influence to form policy.

        Now, since the expansion of the elder board to include elders from the satellite campuses (with the elders selected by James and Kent Shaw) the effect has been similar to when FDR “packed” the Supreme Court in 1937 so that he could push through his “new deal” programs without the pesky interference of the Court. As an added bonus, these men, with the exceptions of Rick Donald, Kent Shaw and Ron Zappia, are unlikely to have much historical perspective on the history and power structure of HBC so they are even more likely to unquestioningly follow James’ leadership.

        One more small point. When the Harvest Bible Fellowship was originally constituted, the executive board consisted of the senior pastor and elder board chairman of each of the member churches. Now the board is limited to 10 men, James, Kent Shaw, Rick Donald, Bill Molinari (Fellowship Employee), John Macdonald (Yes, James’ brother) Robbie Symons (HBC Oakville, Ont.), Doug Helmer (HBC Indianapolis, IN), John Dirkse (HBC Rockford, IL) Rob Willey (HBC Davenport, IA,) and Ron Zappia (HBC Naperville, the very first church plant in 2000 and Jame Protégé and Dave Corning’s successor.
        By reducing the number of board representatives, and careful selection of these men, the practical effect has been that James’ direct influence and patronage now extends throughout the entire HBC universe. By patient and diligent consolidation of his power base, James has finally reached a place where he no longer has many if any constraints.

        • MK says:

          And I heard he uses black helicopters that no one can see and has placed tiny computer chips in all the HBF Senior Pastors that shocks them of they ever say anything against him.

          This blog has officially moved into the realm of ridiculous and most definitely slander and gossip.

          Sad.

          • rainbowmn says:

            MK,
            Yeah pretty much.
            This blog hasn’t comeclose to tapping what goes on behind MacDonald’s curtain.

            And if you think anything you have read on about MacDonald’s Harvest here remotely resembles the Church of Jesus Christ, you are simply mistaken.

          • Jeremy says:

            MK,

            What is gossip if it’s meant to inform and ultimately build up the body? What is slander (libel) if what’s written is true?

            JM and those that defend the actions being discussed and continued silence take a very narcissistic viewpoint of what this discussion is really all about.

          • Ryan M. Mahoney says:

            What part, precisely, is slanderous? Recall that slander is an untrue statement.

          • Chris Trees says:

            MK,

            Have you read the latest post on “Establishing the Authority of King James” ? Do you still think that my post was “gossip”and full of hyperbole?

            Brother, things aren’t always as they seem to be or as we’d like them to be, or as we’ve been told that they are. The one and only way out of error is by learning the truth admitting it’s reality and readjusting to it. And often someone has to point out error to us because we can’t see it from our perspective or don’t have enough information to come to a correct conclusion.

            If the “noble Bereans” hadn’t been willing to openly discuss what they saw and heard, Paul wouldn’t have known that this was their practice, would he? If they could evaluate and discuss what was said and done by an apostle, then it seems reasonable that it should be okay to evaluate and discuss the words and conduct a regular, run of the mill, celebrity, mega church pastor as well.

          • Ryan Mahoney says:

            @ Chris Trees . . . please be aware that MK is also Michael Knight, posting on the most recent post. It is a HBC insider; that’s all I’ll say for now. HBC is very, well aware of every comment and post on this blog . . . don’t worry . . . he’s read it.

        • Former HBC says:

          Ron Zappia…indeed the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

          Funds from selling this old church were used to get HBC-N out of Glenbard South and into their current location:

          https://www.act3online.com/ArticlesDetail.asp?id=57

          Plenty of carnage in his wake as well, but I don’t wish to distract from the main point. One HBC at a time.

  55. Bleedingknees says:

    4 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4  For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

  56. Mike Sagan says:

    It sounds like MacDonald is finally being unmasked.

    • Chris Trees says:

      Unmasked or not, or if he’s just changed, the situation is sad. So many people damaged, so many people disillusioned, so many people mislead, and for what?, multiple campuses?, some book sales?, a little notariety, a little money?

      Once long ago, a very godly and wise man who was on the pastoral staff at HBC said to me, “If it can’t be counted, then James isn’t interested”. At first I couldn’t totally appreciate what this meant, but when James later began to candidly refer to his brothers and sisters as “giving units” then later, more cynically as “butts in the seats” I mournfully accepted the truth of the matter and left behind my friends and reputation behind and went in search of a different pasture.

      Everyone remembers the quotation, “power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely”, but few know that this is only the first part of the statement. The second is ” Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it. ”

      It is a special tragedy that this has been proven over and over in the past two thousand years again in Christ’s church, and once again at HBC.

      Despite this, my sincere and best hope is still that someday, James will have a change of heart, and willingly acknowledge that people have been wronged, and seek true reconcilliation with those that he’s left damaged along his path to greatness.

      Never stop praying for James and HBC. To do so, would be a sin and a short route to bitterness.

  57. Kevin W. says:

    As I look for a new church for our family, I now know the questions I should be asking the senior pastor up front, before committing to church membership. I am thankful to this blog for opening my eyes. I now see that we sheep need to take more responsibility for where we raise our families and give our tithes and offerings.

  58. MK says:

    So Jeremy what do you suggest? Maybe a wikileaks for pastors where everyone can expose dirt on their pastor … Oh, of course only for the benefit of the body of Christ.

    • Jeremy says:

      If pastors and the orgs. they lead were above reproach (2 Tim. 3:2), we wouldn’t need this blog or wikileaks.

      A site like this gives context and clarity to an alert person’s (as we’re all called to be) confusion when they hear something that doesn’t quite sound right or relevant…and there’s been a lot of that (from consumerism to criticizing non-participants to catapults to rebellious people) from the HBC pulpit lately. When James and other leaders refuse to clarify or add depth to their messages when people ask questions, and do little more than justify their silence, they invite people to get together and talk without their participation.

      I have a feeling JM and others at HBC are laughing at all of this right now. They seem to care little for those that have genuine concerns, and the “innocent curious” that are “getting caught in the crossfires”. JM’s recent blog on being silent confirms this. The JM and HBC loyal are obediently abstaining from these discussions, as you can plainly see.

      Things are not ok at HBC. JM’s blog post today on “The Glory of Staying Put” allusively acknowledges that. The tone and thought process of some of his recent posts this past year point to a shaken leader. Rainbowmn is correct when he says that “we” are to blame for the mess this has become. Our lavish praise of an individual has so inflated this man. One only needs to read and listen to JM’s own words for evidence of this.

      I do pray for James and HBC. I pray he would return to preaching a solid gospel message to His church week in and out. Although I don’t attend, I pray he would return to being a shepherd to the church that he started 14 years ago. I pray that he would put aside the hostile tone towards his own church body that he has demonstrated recently. I pray that his ecumenical endeavors of love without biblical fidelity would end. I pray that he would return to the godly relationships that he once had publicly with respected men of faith. I pray that he would be a voice and influencer to the younger generation of pastors, and a voice of correction to those that are in clear error.

      • Jeremy says:

        “I pray he would return to being a shepherd to the church that he started 14 years ago”

        Sorry…I meant 24 years ago.

    • Ryan M. Mahoney says:

      It’s not about exposing dirt, but exposing a pattern of unrepentant arrogance. We all sin. We all fail. When biblical confrontation has failed to produce repentance then you bring it to the congregation.

    • Chris Trees says:

      MK,

      If any pastor is unrepentently sinful, and scornful of correction, manipulative of his flock, and generally no longer “above reproach” why not a “wikileaks for pastors” as a last resort? Exactly how do you suppose that silence about sin in the Church glorifies Christ? If James MacDonald was sincerely interested in “clearing the air” he could do it; albeit not easily or without risk to his “self image”, but it could be done. Instead, through the years, he’s demonstrated repeatedly, in words and deeds that he’s not much interested in the thoughts or opinions of those he leads or of those with whom he disagrees, even when it comes in the form of direct, godly confrontation over allegations of sinful behavior. One single example is an oft quoted “Jamesism “in “Harvestworld” is “The business of the church isn’t the business of the church”.

      Jeremy was correct, those of us who at one time or another lionized James MacDonald and unjustifiably excused his behavior because of his claimed statistical successes in ministry, have done him great harm and we share responsibility for the present situation, including the necessity for this blog or others like it. I believe that he may also be correct that James and others at HBC are laughing at the people who post on this blog. Could it be that this type of response fits into the category of “scoffing”.

      MK, by the way, your sarcastic and scornful tone, does not speak well of you. How about some godly respect for others?

      If you really care for JMac and the welfare of HBC, spend some time praying that he’ll come to a place where he’s no longer at emnity with so many in the Church.

  59. rainbowmn says:

    Chris and all,
    For those of us who have been a part of Harvest since its first service (and for many who have long since moved on), much of this has become a bit of chatter.

    Many of us know James. We love him. We like him.

    He is just a bully, that’s all – and most bullies are cowards. He only takes a fight he knows he can win. Loves controlling women and men who need leaders. Wraps himself in Godspeak so he can pound you with the high-ground.

    In the end, James has become terminally boring.

    So, let’s move on from all this. I would love to get together with many of you for an evening to see what God might be whispering to us as a community of believers about going forward.

    Interested?

    • Chris Trees says:

      I totally agree with your assessment, with one qualification.

      The discussion of James does get tedious and repetitive especially for those us who have been reluctant, long term witnesses to the unfortunate stuff at HBC however; I’m convinced that it’s a good and necessary thing to let in some light on James’/HBC’s most serious problems when the situation calls for it.

      It’s a shame, but the consequences of James’ choices and actions are no longer localized to HBC, but now effect people and churches that he’ll never meet or see, as well as non-believers looking in from the outside.

      Finally, I’m sure I’m not alone in my dislike and opposition to bullies of any stripe. Not standing up to bullies only tends to encourage more bullying, and expands the number of victims. If a forum like this is the only place where the bully can be exposed, then I’m afraid that this is a sad, but important form of resistance.

      Notwithstanding, I think you’re right; it’s time to move on for now.

      I’d love to meet with some of you if Scott can arrange it.

    • Chris Trees says:

      Rainbowmn,

      I’d be glad to meet with you for prayer but, I’ve said about all I have to say about James and HBC and have no great desire to belabor the same topics. After too many years, I’m completely persuaded that the only possible good outcomes for James and HBC to will follow prayer. I’m not talking about imprecatory prayer, and don’t desire to “prayer bash” your friend; I’m only interested in prayer for the good of the body and to thereby glorify the Father.

      The ball is in your court. If you think you may be game, PRAY ABOUT IT and let me know what you decide.

      Chris

      • Chris Trees says:

        I’ll leave the agenda up to you. I’d be interested in hearing about what brand of Christianity that you follow, among other things. If we both email Scott, perhaps we can come to a mutually agreeable protocol for our meeting. Still interested in having other participants?

  60. Harvest RM says:

    Mabye the is not the place to ask questions, but I do not know where else to ask them. So, if you don’t want to read them, then just skip it.

    I am writing in reference to the “message” on7/29/12, or maybe I should say the lack of a message of 7/29. I totally get the fact that there is more to church then the sermon, and because my personality is one in which I hope to absorb as much knowledge as possible in during my time of learning under the great men that God has given to us. So therefore, I go to church “with my mouth open wide” as pastor James used to say, to devour the word of God.

    I travel a long distance (very) to get to Harvest (because in the past, it has been worth it). To my disappointment today, there was no message. We read the book of Ephesians. No interpretations, no learning. Very strange “session”. I was disappointed for a while, sad for a while, angry for a while, and so I waited until all my original emotions had passed. h

    I am honestly looking to see what other think. Is that a good use of our church time? I think you know my answer. We have already chopped our sunday school, morning church, evening church, and wednesday night into one gathering on Sunday. I would really like to make the most of it. But what do others think? Is this a big deal? My feeling is that we should have a preacher up there to preach the sermon that God gave him to us. (And, via the video, it “appeared” Pastor James was ready and anxious to go…why not have just had him come out?

    My other questions is about Rick Warren. I don’t know much about him, but I saw his name mentioned with Pastor James’ Book. Is that a good/bad association to have?

    Thank you to anyone with input for me.

    • Kevin W. says:

      Harvest no longer focuses on equipping the saints. There was a time when there were weekly classes with world class professors from Moody, Trinity, etc.that gave indepth teaching and there was even an Apologetics Ministry that met each month with notable speakers that would come in to teach and train. But no more. Now the focus is on expanding the empire. Harvest Bible Chapels on every corner of the world filled with attenders who could not recognize a false teacher to save their lives. Very sad the direction this church has gone.

  61. Harvest RM says:

    Sorry…I wrote my comment in the wrong place:

    Mabye the is not the place to ask questions, but I do not know where else to ask them. So, if you don’t want to read them, then just skip it.

    I am writing in reference to the “message” on7/29/12, or maybe I should say the lack of a message of 7/29. I totally get the fact that there is more to church then the sermon, and because my personality is one in which I hope to absorb as much knowledge as possible in during my time of learning under the great men that God has given to us. So therefore, I go to church “with my mouth open wide” as pastor James used to say, to devour the word of God.

    I travel a long distance (very) to get to Harvest (because in the past, it has been worth it). To my disappointment today, there was no message. We read the book of Ephesians. No interpretations, no learning. Very strange “session”. I was disappointed for a while, sad for a while, angry for a while, and so I waited until all my original emotions had passed. h

    I am honestly looking to see what other think. Is that a good use of our church time? I think you know my answer. We have already chopped our sunday school, morning church, evening church, and wednesday night into one gathering on Sunday. I would really like to make the most of it. But what do others think? Is this a big deal? My feeling is that we should have a preacher up there to preach the sermon that God gave him to us. (And, via the video, it “appeared” Pastor James was ready and anxious to go…why not have just had him come out?

    My other questions is about Rick Warren. I don’t know much about him, but I saw his name mentioned with Pastor James’ Book. Is that a good/bad association to have?

    Thank you to anyone with input for me

  62. Hope says:

    Concerned & confused Christians, try to talk to former elders, leaders and pastors that were involved in HBC, but be aware that most of them feel betrayed and have hurts from their time with HBC. This isn’t gossip, or bashing, there is a long standing concern for James – that he has often admitted from the pulpit – over anger and power issues. If you listen to older messages back in the 1990’s versus today, you can hear the edge in his voice and changes in sermons. When you admit you have an on-going sin problem like anger, you must repent. Pastor’s and elders must be above reproach. Repent means you turn your back on this sin and stop. If you don’t remove anger from your life, it takes over as raging outbursts, constant sarcasm and passive aggressive behavior – with more aggression growing until it owns you. Please talk to former leadership and hear it directly from them. This is serious stuff and that’s why we all keep asking all those writing or reading to pray. There are many, many innocent, young Christians in the faith whose hearts are at stake.
    There are many true stories out there from many good people over the years, please continue to write and read these stories of genuine concern.

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  64. Sick & Tired says:

    Notice how all the commenters who “know James” or been “around Harvest” for along time hide behind anonymous User names?

    RainbowMN

    Who are you? Let’s get it in the open. If you really want to see change…I mean REALLY, then get on the record, with your real name and push the process forward.

    Unfortunately, you’re gutless and will remain hiding behind anonymity like a clanging symbol.

    This thread is straight gossip. It dishonorable the Gospel…it dishonors THE LORD.

    Read Exodus 14:14.

    I pray that those with legitimate concerns will be silent and have faith in a sovereign God. for those that love their sin…I have faith that God will deal with you himself.

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