Harvest Bible Chapel: Establishing the Authority of “King James” …?

In recent days, I received an email from a trusted source who wishes to remain anonymous at this time.  The email in question, which contained a rather telling account of a 2010 meeting amongst Harvest Bible Fellowship senior pastors, directly relates to many of the concerns that have been raised, both by this blog and by others as well.  Nevertheless, because of the nature of the material enclosed, I took it upon myself to confirm the details of the account with three separate sources.  All three men were present at the meeting and all three men confirmed the validity of the account you are about to read.  [Editor: Subsequent to the initial post, another individual stepped forward to confirm the veracity of the account in question. This brings the total to four men testifying to the truth of the following email.]

“In the summer of 2010 [Editor: one account suggests that this meeting may have occurred in the Fall of 2009], every Senior Pastor of an HBF church was invited to come to Chicago and help James story-board his newest book, Vertical Church.  There were approximately 30 HBF pastors in attendance.

The HBF pastors were invited to James’ home for pizza and fellowship one evening. The pastors gathered outside James’ Inverness home around his pool for a Q & A time with James.  The matter of elders and leadership in the church became the topic of conversation.

One of the pastors asked James something along the lines of, “James, you have always taught us to keep a small, nimble elder board that can respond quickly to opportunities as they arise. You have recently told us that you are significantly increasing the size of your Elder board. Would you please explain to us why you have done this, especially since it is seems to be a change from what you’ve been saying all these years?”

James then proceeded to give his explanation.  He said that he had learned many things over the years about elders and leadership in the church, wishing he had learned these lessons years ago.  He went on to reveal his opinions about leadership and power in the church, and in particular, who controls the church.

He continued by saying that the elders and the senior pastor share a pie, representing authority and influence in the church. He explained that the senior pastor, by virtue of his calling, gifting, and role in the church, ought to possess, right off the bat, 50% of this pie.  The pastor controls the pulpit, is the most vocal member of the elder board, and also has the most on the line as the primary leader of the church.  He said that this leaves 50% of the pie to be divided by the remaining elders.

Here is where it became more disturbing.  James said that Harvest had grown so much that he had come to realize a small group of elders can’t handle this responsibility anymore.  James continued, saying that in order to protect Harvest from an elder who goes “sideways,” doing great damage to our body, he needed to lessen the elder’s influence.  He stated that the way he was going to lessen the influence of the Harvest Elder Board was to increase the size of the Elder board, thus giving each member of the board a smaller piece of the pie.

At that point, one pastor decided to brave a question.  Senior Pastor “John Doe” of Harvest Bible Chapel – “Generic Location”[1], asked a question along these lines, “But James, this is so different than what you’ve always taught us. This is a profound change. Do you realize what you are saying to us here?  Senior pastors need accountability and dividing up the power makes it more difficult for them to hold us accountable.”

James began to dress down John Doe in front of all of the HBF pastors in attendance.  He retorted to John that he would eventually have an elder go “sideways” on him in the future, and that John would come back to James, admitting that James was right.

John and James continued to go back and forth for another minute or two.   Eventually, James was quite angry and yelled at John, telling him he had no idea what he was saying!  James continued by saying that he had great relationships with his elders, but they can go “sideways” on you.  Sadly, he never took into account the greater damage that takes place when the main, lead, senior, 50%-of-the-pie-elder goes “sideways.”

Later that same year, during Harvest University, [MacDonald] met with all the senior pastors and their wives during the annual dinner.  At that time, James addressed them regarding a number of issues, but one issue stood out in particular: his vision for the new direction of Harvest and Harvest church plants.  He stated that HBF had been a movement of Pastors and Elders, but HBF was going to change.  Going forward, HBF was to become a movement of senior pastors. He further added that they needed elders, but the elders will never understand “our” role and the tremendous weight that is on pastors.  I wonder if his current elder board is even aware of their “true” role as defined by MacDonald.”

This story, as reported to me, speaks to the very heart of many of the concerns raised in the aftermath of the Elephant Room 2.  As you may recall from my earlier post, there has been a standing question regarding the authority and the influence of the Harvest elder board.  If this email and the witness of these three men is to be believed, than it would appear that MacDonald has intentionally structured the current elder board in such a way as to minimize their ability to effectively govern and assert control over the direction of the church.

Furthermore, tying back to my previous post, Where Have the Elders Gone?, this email and the testimony of these men also raise questions as to whether this “restructuring” of the elder board played a significant role in the departures of Chairman David Corning, Dr. Ron Allchin, Dr. Joseph Stowell III, Joseph Stowell IV, and Sam Jindoyan.  Did these men leave because their role was being intentionally diminished and direct accountability was being lessened?

Finally, if this email accurately captures the essence of the 2010 meeting amongst the senior pastors of the Harvest Bible Fellowship, several other questions must be asked:

  1. Are the present elders in agreement that by swelling their numbers and diminishing their individual influence, the congregation can be protected from an elder that might potentially go “sideways?”
  2. If the Senior Pastor is allowed to possess 50% of the pie, what structures are in place to prevent him from going “sideways?” At best, an utterly unified board in opposition to a decision made by MacDonald could only result in a deadlocked vote.
  3. Under this arrangement, should any paid member of the Harvest staff be allowed to serve as an elder in the church?  After all, if MacDonald serves as staff member’s boss and their livelihoods are directly tied to their job performance, how can they be expected to challenge him as an elder without either real or imagined fear of economic reprisal?
  4. Have any changes been made to the governing documents and/or constitution of Harvest Bible Chapel?  Furthermore, are attendees of HBC allowed to see both the current constitution and the original document side by side?

Ultimately, these are the reasons that this blog continues to raise questions regarding Harvest Bible Chapel and the ministry of James MacDonald.  In the eyes of many, including this author, something went seriously amiss with the execution of the Elephant Room 2.  And as we seek to understand how this happened and how decisions are being made at this massively influential church, we desperately need to hear from the elders, both past and present.  How is Harvest presently structured compared to how it was formerly structured?  Who is ultimately responsible for making these decisions?  Where does the true power lie? And finally, does James MacDonald possess too much power with too little accountability?

Unfortunately, as has been the case thus far, we may not publicly hear from the man we are most anxious to hear speak.  For even as MacDonald prepares to embark on a two-month, 40-city tour to promote his new vision for how we should do church, he has published a post on his own personal blog in which he has argued that “every question does not need an answer.”  And with that, he seems to have spoken his final word on the subject.

[1] The email I received did contain the Senior Pastor’s name and the name of the Harvest Fellowship Church. Nevertheless, I have elected to omit these references and have used the name “John Doe” in their place.

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177 Responses to Harvest Bible Chapel: Establishing the Authority of “King James” …?

  1. Ryan says:

    I remember leaving, what was then, Harvest Bible Chapel Gurnee, after two years of helping out a respected friend of mine, Mike Bryant (no relation to the author of this blog) to return to the “main campus” of HBC in the fall of 2009. I was excited to come back, as I had been hearing about James’ struggle with cancer and the preaching he was doing on trials and suffering. I was anticipating a season of rest and re-energizing after taking on a number of new challenges in our life during that season. I was looking forward to being blessed by James’ teaching and being encouraged by the changes suffering often produces. It was not long before our return back until a splash of cold water was thrown on my excitement.

    I remember, in Aug. or Sept. of 2009, sitting with my folks and their friends, at their friends house, when James pulled up to the house. At one point James took the floor….anyone familiar with HBC knows what I mean. He began to explain all of the changes he wanted to make to the elder board, and he gave at least some of his reasons for the changes. He stopped to ask something like “what do you think?” My heart just sank.

    I have worked on a U.S. Senate campaign and a Congressional campaign. I have followed the ins and outs of politics for decades now; not just the content of political discourse, but I am I intrigued by the methods, the process or the behind the sceens of politics. One thing that politicians do all the time, especially The White House, is float “trial balloons.” Often someone on staff with the President will leak a plan of action the President is considering but is fearful of taking due to political fallout. The White House source talks to the press anonymously so that the President can have “plausible deniability.” If the public goes ape wire then the President can retreat. If there is little to no reaction then it is full steam ahead. What I witnessed James doing was just that, a trial balloon.

    Unfortunately, I said nothing. I should have; not that it would have made any difference as I was no one of consequence. It was also clear he had made up his mind to undertake a radical change in the power structure of the church, so it was obvious, to me, that he was not seeking input but only reaction. My immediated reaction was that he is the last person who needs more power and less accountability, in my opinion. I saw disaster written all over his plan because of his particular character struggles (we all have our besetting sins).

    I was, however, hopeful that his season of trial had refined his character. I was hopeful that his decision would work out, after all, there is no one way perscribed by scripture to structure a church. My wishful thinking would be proved wrong time and again, resulting in our exist from the church while I was on staff at the school.

  2. Mark Notestine says:

    This reminds me of some similar situations that also highlight the same philosophy:

    1. There is the complaint that nothing gets done in Washington because of gridlock. Well that is the idea!!!!! The founding fathers knew the danger of no checks and balances. The process may be slower but is more likely to not have a decision that goes “sideways.” No significant checks and balances is more likely to lead to something dictatorial that makes sideways decisions.

    2. Also reminds me of the danger of Obama ruling through executive orders because that congress “slows him down.” This is called dictatorial by critics whether it was Obama, Bush, etc. This is mitigated a bit by term limits.

    3. Reminds me of the claim that the pope protects from theological error and all those Protestant denominations go sideways because of the lack of a single authority. Actually the plurality of Protestant churches dilutes the chance of going sideways by offering the people alternate options. A single religious leader in this situation increases the chances of going sideways. So theoretically the Catholic church is a benign dictatorship albeit not an absolute dictatorship with a greater chance of going sideways.

    4. The Roman Republic used to elect at least two people to most executive positions in the government (consul, praetor, aedile, quaestor, tribunes). The censor was by himself but that person was chosen with great care. The only other situation was in emergencies the office of consul was suspended and a dictator was put in place. All these positions have limited tenure of office; most positions 1 year, dictator 6 months. Gaius Julius Caesar made the mistake of removing limited tenure in office, first by ‘dictator for 10 years’ then by ‘dictator for life.’

    Consider also this Roman view that if absolute power is really needed for some reason then it absolutely needs to be put in check by limited tenure in office. But history has shown that this tenure check disappears and absolute power for an unlimited amount of time occurs.

    • Ryan M. Mahoney says:

      No one can resist the lure of power for long.

    • Mark … as always, you bring a keen, historical perspective to the discussion – a perspective I very much appreciate. If this account is to be believed, checks and balances are exactly the issue at hand.

  3. Mary DeVries Yager says:

    Scott – if you find severed horses head in your bed one of these days, you and the family can come stay with me. Write on, brother.

  4. Josh says:

    The idea of using ‘anonymous sources’ seems exceptionally unbiblical. The idea of wanting to make a point but not being willing to put your name beside it lacks accountability and posting it seems a little beneath you Scott.

    • Josh … I’m open to hearing what you have to say. Can you help me understand how this is “exceptionally unbiblical?” Bear in mind, that term suggests that Scripture would have to explicitly condemn what I have done. What passage or passages would you point me to in order to support your contention?

    • ithink youagree says:

      I think “Josh” is James MC

  5. Josh says:

    It ‘seems’ exceptionally unbiblical. Nathan and David. Mathew 18. 1 Tim. 5.19 Galatians 6.1-2. Galatians 2.11-14. 1 Cor. 5. the entire biblical pattern of interaction over Christian conflict in the scripture is direct person to person or at the very least out in the open. Now, a public person is completely open to critique on what they do or say publicly, but to build conclusions based on a story that the person who told it is unwilling to attach their name is out of scriptural bounds.

    You seem to have gone to some effort to make sure the story is true, but the question is, does the posting of it fit the biblical pattern of doctrinal or behavioral disagreement?

    • All of your citations are excellent examples in their own context. And I appreciate you taking the time to actually respond to my question in an open, non-confrontational manner. But here’s what I would suggest you are missing. The Apostle Paul called out numerous individuals (e.g. Alexander the Coppersmith, etc…) in his epistles to the various churches. And this was not a face-to-face interaction with these individuals, nor could it be given the circumstances under which Paul was writing. So while I would agree that face-to-face interaction is the superior methodology prescribed in the passages you cite above, it would appear that Scripture allows for the public questioning (or in Paul’s case, the chastisement) of public figures who are impacting the local and/or universal church.

      Assume for a moment that someone such as Billy Graham were to go seriously astray. Would you honestly suggest that you and I should remain silent on his hypothetically errant behavior/teaching because we don’t personally know him and could not interact with him face-to-face? What about the influence he has on the nation as a whole? Would you let questionable behavior/teaching slide and say nothing? That’s an honest question, Josh. So please don’t read that as a sarcastic parting shot. I honestly want to know what you think.

  6. Josh says:

    I am not questioning your conduct. While I may not agree with everything you have said,You have attached your name and been willing to be accountable on some level by attaching your personal credibility to the discussion.

    What I find distasteful is the person who wants the story out, but isn’t willing to their name next to it. That is against the biblical model of how to deal with things. … by granting ‘anonymous sources’ a venue I think you hurt your own credibility on some level.

    • Josh …

      Someone said to me the other day that this site “felt different.” Whereas many sites have comment sections that tend to spiral down into the morass, this site seems to have attracted relatively fair and balanced people for the most part. And as I engage in this conversation with you, I can’t help but think that you are exactly the kind of commenter that my friend was talking about.

      Have I hurt my own credibility by “granting ‘anonmymous sources’ a venue? … Perhaps. Believe me when I say, there is not a day that goes by when I don’t at some point think about the fact that my name is on this site. I know why I’m doing this. I know why I think ER2 was such a dangerous precedent for the evangelical church. I know why I think it demands a public and robust response. And I know why I am concerned about how decisions are being made at Harvest. But not everyone knows me. They don’t know my heart. They don’t know where I am sinful and broken. They don’t know anything about me other than my name and what I have said here on this site … So I do hear you, friend. And I appreciate the fact that you are willing to challenge me to consider what is “beneath me” as you said in your first post. While we may not agree on “everything,” I do appreciate people who push me.

      One last thought. Why do you think people would submit something anonymously? As best as I can see it, there are only a few options:

      1. They have an axe to grind because they feel as if they’ve been wronged and they just want to hurt HBC and/or MacDonald. And by failing to put their own names on it, they’re not only vengeful, but cowards as well.

      2. They are deeply concerned by what is happening, but for some publicly unspoken reason, they believe that there would be consequences to speaking out – consequences that are unfavorable either to themselves or those that they are trying to protect.

      If you sense any sense of fairness or balance in what I am doing on this site, if you sense any presence of restraint and measured response, I would ask you to consider those two options and ask yourself: which one of these is the author of this blog likely to publish?

      Thanks for taking the time to challenge me, Josh. Believe it or not, I really do value it.

      Yours in Christ,

  7. Michael Knight says:

    I’m with Josh. I don’t understand the need for anonymity. I get that you don’t need face to face contact for a public figure but why would “sources” need to remain anonymous? If they believe as strongly as you do regarding James should they not be willing to put their opinions on the line? If you could give me some biblical support for this idea of anonymous criticism that’d be great.

    • Ryan says:

      Because you don’t understand the reprisals so many have faced at James’ hand. Just ask Jim Jodrey, Lindsay McCaul and others. Maybe these people want the truth to be known but fear his reprisals. In any case, it misses the point and you are only changing the topic while using a pseudonym yourself.

      • Mark Notestine says:

        A good point that I had thought about making too. It is ironic that some people criticize an anonymous source all the while they use a name/nickname/pseudonym that conceals their true identity. This is a double standard regardless of whether anonymous sources are good or bad.

        • Jon says:

          Not sure how Michael is being challenged for hiding behind a pseudonym when he has posted his full name … but I am no blogging expert.

          What are those who criticize afraid James MacDonald will do? I don’t know all the names that Ryan – if that is his real name 🙂 – listed but Lindsay McCaul seems to be doing well and I didn’t even know she had a falling out with MacDonald.

          I have friends who are missionaries in closed countries so I understand that some face serious risks an need to be secretive in the spread of the gospel – I just don’t understand it when it is about publically criticizing a church or pastor.

          I am not trying to be argumentative but actually trying to get a good biblical grasp on this – what is a good biblical argument for anonymously being critical (justified critism or not). And if this is too much of a derailment of the original intent of this blog entry then I apologize and you can just carry on 🙂

          • Jon … Like you, I wasn’t sure what to make of Ryan challenging Michael regarding the use of pseudonyms. In the end, I’m guessing he was referring to the well established practice of people doing so on this site; and wasn’t referring to Michael specifically.

            As for your question, I think it’s a very valid inquiry. What are those who criticize afraid James MacDonald will do? Perhaps one answer to that question could be found in the way that one church was “catapulted” out of the Fellowship for privately challenging Harvest over issues related to the Elephant Room 2. If the Fellowship is willing to kick a church out for asking questions behind the scenes, what would they do to a pastor, elder, or church that asked questions publicly? And before you answer that question, consider this: was Harvest aware that a church was kicked out over these issues before I posted the story on this blog? No, they were not. So perhaps the better question is this:

            What would Harvest and/or MacDonald do if someone used their name and would that response be publicly known or would it occur behind the scenes?

          • Ryan Mahoney says:

            Michael Knight? Unless Michael is riding around in a 1982 Pontiac Trans Am named KITT, wearing tight pants and fighting crime, I have little reason to believe the name is real. I could be wrong as I have often been before. He previously posted here with the initials MK, and when I first saw the letters I thought it stood for “Millionaire’s Kid.” 🙂 I don’t have a problem with a pseudonym, many people do it, but don’t remain anonymous and question anonymity.

            The issue of “biblical” continues to come up, and it is a question worth addressing. The Bible does not address in specifics what we should and should not do, even in terms of sin. There are many things that you and I might agree are sin that scripture does not mention, and there are many things you and I might agree we SHOULD do as Christians that scripture does not mention. All that to say, determining the “biblical” nature of a matter is often challenging, and when reasonable minds disagree we need grace.

            There is no scripture that deals directly with the issue, so I would argue that the burden of proof rests with those that want to use the Bible to argue that anonymity is a problem. I am very comfortable with people that want to help and do the right thing, protecting others by speaking about their experience and what they know, without disclosing their identity to the public. Reasonable minds can disagree, but the thing that matters is whether what they are saying is true or not. Since Scott chose to post this information without using the various names the weight is on him and the story itself. What is the likelihood that Scott put up false information with HIS name on it? What is the likelihood that HBF members at that meeting got together to construct a lie and feed it to Scott?

          • Fact Checker says:

            Following your blog and just absorbing some of the information. In reference to Lindsey McCaul, I was out on the vertical church website, and she appears to be part of the Vertical Church Band.


            Formed from within Chicago’s Harvest Bible Chapel, Vertical Church Band comprises worship leaders Andi Rozier, Meredith Andrews, Lindsay McCaul, Jacob Sooter, Seth McConkey, Kyle Fredricks and Heather Headley.

            Its first label offering, Live Worship From Vertical Church, provides a window into the powerful worship movement emanating from the Harvest community.

      • Jeremy says:

        I wondered if she was given a cheerful sending. That’s sad to hear, she seems like such a sweet lady with a heart for worshiping.

        Harvest leaders always used to say you let your best go.

      • X-Harvester says:

        Did Lindsay leave Harvest? What happened and when.

      • Harvest RM says:

        Ryan, can you please confirm whether Lindsay left over trouble with HBC / James. I would find this SO sad if true. I have noticed her la k of presence and a lack of a “goodbye” to her. They usually would acknowledge someone leaving (for example Sandy Song). Could you please give some info or update regarding this. Thank you!

        I have some things I would like to address about some other things mentioned here, but I need to pause and collect my thoughts.

    • Michael … As you are “with Josh,” I would like to invite you to read everything that I have discussed with him above. And please know that everything I said to him, I would say to you as well. I don’t sense any hostility in your comment. Rather, I sense a man pushing back and asking good questions as he should.

      With regards to your last question, I must admit that I cannot give you an example from within Scripture where someone cites an anonymous source while offering criticism. To the best of my knowledge [without doing any research], I am unaware of anything that would fall into that category.

      But if I may be so bold, I would suggest that silence from Scripture may not be the best grounds upon which to make an argument. We engage in all sorts of activities as a church for which there is no precedent in Scripture. Take for example the mega-church practice of multi-site campuses. In Scripture, the regular pattern appears to be a locally installed elder board governing and teaching a local church. Moreover, there is no evidence of a local pastor preaching to a multitude of flocks in differing locations on a regular and consistent basis. So by your logic, would you argue that Harvest should shut down multi-site campuses?

      Just because Scripture does not actively endorse something does not mean that it passively condemns it. So I would caution you against making arguments from silence. Does that make sense?

      • J Crane says:

        a few reasons why you might use an anonym:
        1. i am ‘confrontation avoidance’ type person
        2. i don’t want to be a burden to the underpaid and over worked staff that are responsible for the weekly work at the real Kingdom at HBC
        3. i need a hedge to prevent becoming a divisive tool because others at HBC know me and need to make a their own decision to stay of leave

        why is there a concern about anonyms being biblical, but not a concern that the following are clearly NOT biblical?:
        1. partial truth communication
        2. patterns of anger
        3. wrecked relationships with christians

  8. just the facts says:

    This may be helpful.
    Page 15 – of the HBF “The Elder Playbook”
    Elder Training:
    Lesson 3 – Principles for Effective Eldering
    Topic 3. Authority Balanced with Responsibility
    Point 1. In Elder meetings there needs to be an equal voice but not equal influence between vocational and non-vocational Elders. Vocational pouring life/more responsibility and thought– what they do. Non-vocational Elders need to listen and stay informed about what is going on.
    Point 5. Know your role and play it. (Senior Pastor is quarterback, Elders are linemen….)

    • Just the Facts … You are clearly citing a document. But for the sake of anyone who is reading this, would you mind providing a bit more narrative? What is this “Elder Playbook” and where can one obtain a copy? Thanks.

      • Justin Facts says:

        The Elder Playbook is a 46 page booklet containing 5 lessons and 4 appendixes for Harvest Bible Fellowship Elders.
        1. Why We Believe in an Elder Form of Government
        2. Expectations of an Elder
        3. Principles for Effective Eldering
        4. Developing Healthy Relationship Between Leaders
        5. Practical Issues
        1. Case Study
        2. Elder Renewal Form
        3. Elder application
        4. Moral Fences

        Where can one obtain a copy? Ask Kent Shaw 😉 or an HBF Elder

    • I keep thinking about your comment. This is scary stuff. It’s almost like Orwell’s Animal Farm.

      “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”

      • Justin Facts says:

        Very apropos quote of the HBF Eldership model Scott, “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” I agree “This is scary stuff.” very scary!

        Point 1 and 5 of lesson 3 topic 3 of The Elder Playbook are a misunderstanding and misuse of the term “first among equals”

        “[First among equals] doesn’t mean, however, that elders who are first among their equals do all the thinking and decision-making for the group, or that they are pastors while the others are merely elders. To call one elder pastor and the rest elders ….. or the rest lay [non-vocational] elders is to act without biblical precedence. To do so will not result in a biblical eldership….. The advantage of the principle of first among equals is that it allows for functional, gift-based diversity within the eldership team without creating an official, superior office [quarterback] over fellow elders….The differences among the elders are functional, not formal.” Alexander Strauch , “Biblical Eldership”

        “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” Robert Greenleaf, “Servant Leadership”

        “The local church and its leaders must be serious about biblical requirements for elders. A “self-willed” man, “lording it over” others, does not qualify to be a church leader according to the New Testament and should be removed from office (Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 5:3). Also non-functioning elders, mere figureheads, are not qualified to serve as elders and should be removed from office (1 Ptere5:2). If the local church is not solidly committed to having biblically qualified elders, it will find itself powerless to act against tyrants or idle shepherds.” Alexander Strauch, “Biblical Eldership”

        • a fellow sojourner says:

          It seems we, the American church as a whole, have a major struggle finding the proper biblical balance between “servant leadership” (Matt 20:26) and the authority delegated to church leaders (Titus 2:15) as well as the greater responsibility and accountability of those who teach and lead (Heb 13:17; James 3:1).

          I am concerned about how many churches, pastors and elders endorse the “first among equals” principle to describe the relationship of a senior pastor to other elders. Since it has become part of this discussion, I offer a few facts and thoughts for consideration:

          1) “First among equals” appears nowhere in Scripture. The oft-cited proof text, 1 Tim 5:17, says nothing about extra authority. It calls for “double honor” to be shown to those elders who direct the affairs of the church well, especially teachers and preachers. “Honor” is a different word and a different concept than “authority.”

          2) One of the earliest, if not the earliest, uses of “first among equals” was as “the Roman Emperors’ way of reducing the appearance of dictatorship (which was particularly important during the early Roman Empire to appease those who may have longed for a return to the old Roman Republic; see Princeps).”

          from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primus_inter_pares. (Yes, I know wikipedia is not the last word – perhaps more academic types out there can add historical validity to the above statement if necessary. Check out this reference also to see how many churches and denominations historically utilized “first among equals” as a valid leadership concept, despite its secular roots).

          So what is perhaps the earliest use of the concept “first among equals” is shrouded in dubious motives to mislead and obscure the true nature of a quantum shift toward more concentration of power in one leader (shades of Senator Palpatine’s – a.k.a. Darth Citius – “reluctant” acceptance of “emergency powers” as the Galactic Republic morphed into the Galactic Empire in the Star Wars epic!).

          3) Jesus was very clear about what he thought of the Roman emperors’ leadership model in his reply to the mother of the sons of Zebedee who sought first place for them:

          – the Gentile leaders (emperors, Herod, etc.) “lord it over” others;
          – this is not to be so among the followers of Jesus;
          – whoever wants to be first must be your slave, just as Christ came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many (Matt 20:25-28).

          4) In Biblical Eldership, Strauch warns of two dangers in applying “first among equals” to the relationship of the Senior Pastor to a plural eldership in the church.

          – The other elders “will relinquish their God-given responsibilities for the spiritual care of the church to one or two exceptionally gifted men” and become non-functioning figureheads;

          – “Another danger is that the principle of ‘first among equals’ will be abused by a dominating, controlling leader. Such a leader may monopolize the church’s key ministries, seek his own way, and force out all dissent and disagreement,” preferring yes men and loyal subjects. (Strauch, p. 49)

          COMMENT: In my humble opinion, Strauch’s book on Biblical Eldership is mostly right on and very useful for pastors and elders. However, though I agree with his assessment of the dangers of “first among equals,” I cannot agree with his endorsement of the concept as a valid model for the pastor-lay elders relationship. Given the dubious, non-biblical roots of the concept, Jesus’ ringing condemnation of the imperial leadership style, and the ways in which “first among equals” potentially tempts pastors to assume a concentration of power in the church unto themselves and other elders to become passive, we need to rethink whether this concept should be used as a model for church leadership.

          I am certain others see things differently and I respect that reality. So the questions for all churches that follow Christ:

          Is “first among equals” clearly supported (or even allowable) by Scripture or not?

          To those who say yes, how do you propose dealing effectively and biblically with the dangers pointed out by Strauch?

          To those who say no, what alternative descriptions do you offer for the senior pastor – lay elders relationship?

          What does “double honor” mean, and how should it be shown to highly effective, key elders in the local church?

          Thank you, Scott, for providing this forum.

          Praying for God to give us all his light for the journey . . . .

  9. I’m disturbed with the quotes about percentages. I remember reading last year that James called congregationally run churches “Of the devil”, or in the least “unbiblical”, yet according to this post he states that the lead pastor has “50% of the pie” [control of the church], etc, etc. (For the record, I attend a Presbyterian church which is run by elders, however our lead teaching pastor focuses on just that and leaves the rest to the elders.) How is James’ idea of church structure any more or less biblical than other forms of church structure? His description of how his church is to be run seems much more blatantly power hungry than other forms I can think of. It’s not grace-filled, it’s not Christ-centered. Its very “senior pastor-centered” and reflects more of a corporate structure than anything else. I was slack-jawed just reading it.

    • Jennifer … As a former attendee of Harvest, I would imagine you well recall the way in which Harvest used to lift up the character of the men on the elder board. Ten to fifteen years ago, we were taught that these men were of impeccable character and that they played a vital role in the ongoing health of Harvest. To me, what was shocking to read [and hear], is the way in which MacDonald now allegedly sees these men and the role they play. If these accounts are accurate — and I have no reason to believe that they are not — I think you’re spot on in your likening this situation to that of a corporate structure. And if “congregationalism is from Satan” as James wrote following the failed attempt to merge with Winnetka Bible Church in the summer of 2011, what is a corporate structure designed to intentionally minimize the influence of the only people who might have some capacity to establish checks and balances over your power and influence?

      • Scott, I can definitely see a shift in the way he views elders. And it is disturbing. Very clearly a power play on James’ part. It’s authoritarian. That structure demands unquestioning trust in the person holding half the pie.

    • Ryan Mahoney says:

      Jen what just amazes me is that he argues that 1/10th of HALF of the power in the church is too much for one elder to have in case they go “sideways,” but one elder having all of HALF the power is not too much. The logic is truly dizzying.

      What continues to perplex me about Evangelicals is that on the one hand they are deeply distrustful of governmental power because they know that power, even in the hands of a benevolent person, is dangerous for that person and the people under them, but when it comes to the church they eagerly surrender themselves and their churches to the power of a singular, charismatic figure without thinking twice about it.

      • Ryan, yes, his logic isn’t logical. To your second point, I have so long thought that very thing! American evangelicals are so “rebelliously independent” in their politics, but they surrender their brains and their trust unquestioningly when it comes to the church. I remember a conversation with a former HBC attender who is a friend. She was arguing with me about whether or not I should read a particular book because James, as her pastor, had preached and railed against it. When I asked her why she shouldn’t read it and come to her own conclusions, she basically said that James is a godly man that she trusts, and why shouldn’t she trust his opinion? FOR REAL? My response is, “Because he’s a man. A human man who is also a sinner and he may be wrong. You would do well to make up your own mind as to whether or not you agree.” She didn’t get it. I guess it’s just too much to ask some evangelicals to think for themselves concerning theological matters. Then the lot wonders why people look down on them. There are too many sheeple in evangelicalism.

        • Gary says:

          Wow Jennifer. Great post and spot on!! I too have witnessed this mentality first hand. People I know who are totally distrustful of govt, but when they get to “church”, check their minds at the door. For some reason, the “pastor” gets blind trust, regardless of what he says or does. I just want to ask them one favor: Let me know how the kool-aid tastes.

  10. stauron3n1 says:

    This is eerily reminicent of some of the comments that Chris Trees posted on July 22nd about the recent history of HBC and Pastor James enlarging the number of elders with hand picked designees to dilute the influence of the elder board the way that FDR did it with the SCOTUS in the 30’s.

    If James can pursuade/demand? that the HBC and HBC Fellowship Boards re-invent the organizational requirements for the member churches to reflect this new vision for power-sharing, with senior pastors personally governing their churches and directly reporting only to James, then he\’d have his very own Calvary Chapel Movement, with himself in the Chuck Smith seat ruling over everything.

    I’m not sure if under the present constitution and by-laws the congregation still has any real role in revising the constitution and by-laws. Who’s to say that the elders couldn’t decide to take away any constitutional role of the congregation, and not even tell them about it? For that matter, this may possibly already have happened

    Wow! Talk about George Orwell and Animal Farm!

  11. Bob Arosen says:

    I enjoy reading your nonHarvest posts and find them thought provoking. However, I think it is time for you to quit beating this horse. Maybe check in once a year and find some unhappy former attender or fired staff person that wants to vent.

    You have stated your objections and you have left the church. I assume that you have warned your family and friends to leave. You have made your case about Harvest and James to all who will listen. So what is the point? That means the people who are there still are there because they want to be. That’s why I’m there.

    I’ve known James for almost 20 years. He’s done some great things, he has done some stupid things, but he hasn’t done any disqualifying things. If you ask around about me you will find that I am one of the most cynical and sarcastic people to ever attend Harvest, I am also not a Biblical lightweight. With that being said, I support James 100%. You and I might disagree on what would disqualify someone from being our pastor, but that is our opinion. My line is heresy and moral failure.

    I will pre-empt some of your reply. Having TD Jakes attend a conference to explain and defend his view is not heretical. The argument that James gave him an endorsement by appearing with him is crazy. If you believe that you better burn all of your RC Sproul books because I’ve seen him interviewed by Paul Crouch on the TBN flagship program Praise the Lord. Search the iTBN site for Sproul and watch him squirm as Paul asks him about people raised from the dead.

    You will probably consider moral failure to include power and removing ineffective people. I catalog them under strong leader. Strong leaders step on toes and have people unhappy with them. If you think that a pastor needs to make his decisions by consensus, don’t go to Harvest and don’t dismiss the decision I’ve made to attend as uninformed or ignorant of Scripture.

    To continue down this Harvest/James bashing road would lead me to assume that you have an agenda other than informing. Why not a post about one of the thousands of lives that has been radically changed through this ministry? If you choose only the negative, that is a statement.

    James is a flawed human. I think if I remember my Hodges (I’m assuming you lean Covenant rather than Dispensational) correctly, so are we. God has used him in ways that I have found mind blowing. I would consider my life well lived if I impacted in my lifetime as many people as he does in a week. I know, I know, numbers don’t matter, there are churches with 6 people that are great.

    Big churches tend to have strong leaders. Strong leaders make people mad because they tend not to lead by consensus. People who are mad love to vent and will gladly give you their version of everything James, Mark Driscoll, Bill Hybels, and other megachurch pastors have ever done wrong. If he had your email address, Barnabas would have ripped Paul a new one for you, and probably would have let you use his real name.

    I think you are wasting your insight and talent on this. You’ve made your point. At some point you are posting for an audience of the antiJames brigade. Gamaliel gave the Jews some good advice, I believe it is applicable here.

    If there is nothing good going on at Harvest to write about, and you’ve pointed out everywhere you think James is wrong, it’s time to move on. There are 300,000 evangelical churches in America, so there is no lack of ecclesiastical material.

    • Sam Adams says:

      I happen to agree with Bob Arosen. I have been reading this blog for a while now, and this is the first time I’ve ever commented. You raised your concerns about HBC, and I appreciate those concerns as you have tried to be as fair and accurate as you know how to be. But these constant, negative HBC posts begs the question, what is the point (anymore)? What is your objective? I hope you take my (Bob’s) questions seriously.

    • rom623rom828 says:

      Bob, I’m a multiyear regular attender at HBC, I find the comments here and at other blogs io be informative regarding what is happening and has happened at HBC.

      Very very little is actually said to the sheep at HBC regarding the issues involving HBC. For example, my wife didnt even know anything about the Voddie incident or the 2 bloggers excluded from ER2 until I informed her. And I only knew about it from the blogs that I read, not directly from HBC. Sheep are largely kept in the dark about a whole list of matters.

      What the sheep are fed is primarily just the “good stuff” – how many baptisms there were, how many church plants there were, how they bought the Elgin building for $1, etcetera.

      Lets just try one example: Matthew 18:17: “tell the church” — 13000 sheep at HBC, can you name even 1 person in the last 7 years that HBC leadership informed the church about in regards to disciplinarian action? Ok, how about the last 20 years?
      I’m not talking about some nebulous “well there were individuals we had to ban from our church building that made threats against JM” — be specific.

      Meanwhile HBC has told the sheep little (actulally i think nothing) in regards to the churches that have left HB Fellowship, or how much the Elgin building construction cost or how much in debt the church is. The list goes on and on.

      Keep writing Scott, you are loved!

      • Bob Arosen says:

        I would imagine that if you were the one who was disciplined you wouldn’t want your name and dirty laundry exposed. I appreciate their discretion.

        My point is that there are great things happening at Harvest that outnumber, in both quanity and importance, the items brought up here 1000 to 1.

        • rom623rom828 says:

          It’s not a matter of what i want or dont want. Its a matter of what the Bible says. I don’t mean to be too sarcastic, but just what part of “tell the church” do you not understand?

          This (church discipline) is just one of many matters that HBC keeps the sheep in the dark about.

        • Mike Sagan says:

          I agree that there are some great things happening at Harvest but that is in spite of James MacDonald and the weak elders, not because of them.

        • Bob … Since when do numbers matter more than truth? Do you remember the days when we used to talk about pursuing a quality of discipleship over a quantity of disciples. The numbers game is a dead end, Bob. If we judge by numbers, Jesus’s earthly ministry was less effective than Paul’s or Billy Graham’s.

          • Mark Notestine says:

            If numbers mattered then Joel Osteen would be one of the most successful with his irritating smile, designer suits, and avoidance of calling sin sin. I wonder what the governmental structure osteen’s church has?

          • Bob Arosen says:

            I agree completely, numbers are not a measure of God’s blessing. I was stating a subjective observation that I would like to impact laves as he has. No way to I base any of my opinions on James or his minitry by numbers.

        • Gary says:

          James….er….Bob, thanks for taking the time to stop by and post here. 1000 to 1??? LOL, that’ funny bro.

    • Bob …

      First things first. I do honestly appreciate you taking the time to challenge me and what I have written. While we may not agree at every point, conversations such as this can only lead to greater clarity if we’re both committed to the process.

      In the interest of brevity, I wanted to respond to two comments you made. First, you have asked me why I continue to write when I’ve already “stated my objections” and “have left the church.” The answer to this question is actually rather simple. James MacDonald and the leadership of Harvest Bible Chapel have not adequately addressed the fallout from the Elelphant Room 2. According to MacDonald, the goal of the Elephant Room was to create a “new tribe.” So this is not about the internal workings of a local church impacting only those that willfully elect to attend that church. MacDonald is about to embark on a 40-city, two-month-long bus tour to promote his vision of a “vertical church.” There is no way that one could convincingly argue that he is looking to create massive influence within the broader evangelical community. So why do I write? Because he continues to expand his influence and I’m concerned about the “new tribe” he is creating. I think Trinitarian theology matters. And I think Prosperity Gospel teaching matters. So if MacDonald wishes to invite a figure who is associated with these things into an open discussion, but then doesn’t want to address them in a robust fashion, well … I think it becomes a little difficult to defend his actions.

      Secondly, you have suggested that, in your opinion, the only things that disqualify someone from being a pastor are “heresy and moral failure.” With all due respect, I think you’re off base in that regard. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 lays out a far more robust description of what qualifies one to be an elder/pastor.

      “The overseer then must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, not a drunkard, not violent, but gentle, not contentious, free from the love of money. He must manage his own household well and keep his children in control without losing his dignity. But if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for the church of God? He must not be a recent convert or he may become arrogant and fall into the punishment that the devil will exact. And he must be well thought of by those outside the faith, so that he may not fall into disgrace and be caught by the devil’s trap.”

      So while I would agree that “heresy and moral failures” are disqualifiers, the list is not nearly as short as you make it out to be.

      What do you think?

      • Gary says:

        The ER was a total and complete scam. The clowns in charge kept saying that the goal was to “bring together brothers who disagree.” I’m sorry, what a complete crock. There wasn’t a single dissenting voice in the room that day. James would make a great politician. Do one thing, but just say something else all the time and the sheep will believe what you say and ignore what you do.

    • Mark Notestine says:

      I find this information useful in my own church decisions. I started attending HBC in1994. I left for a HBC church plant in 2000 because I did not feel connected and the people in my small groups were taking what James said from the pulpit without a Berean attitude; I don’t like discussions where the answer was “That is not what James said.”

      I left the Crystal Lake church plant when it became a satellite campus for the same reasons plus the worship ministry did not treat my wife with respect and there was no recorse because the worship leader appeared to be one of James’ ‘chosen ones.’

      I attend the Lake Zurich branch and these issues will propagate and affect my church. This type of information along with other information helps me to decide if I should stay with my church or leave. This stuff will directly influence my church.

      • Stlhook says:

        Maybe you should check out Grace Community Bible Church in Grayslake!

      • Jeremy says:

        This stuff already has and will continue to influence all of the HBF churches. Many ministry programs are now being birthed out of main HBC and passed down to the plants (Soul Care Counseling, Missions, Church Planting, even the 5G Capital Campaign was re-labeled and also-ran at some of the plants. Shouldn’t a cap. campaign, or a season of “taking new ground” be a spiritual movement that takes hold in a local body, not manufactured and packaged on a corporate level? HBF pastors and staff follow James and those whom he follows or endorses, parrot his teachings, sayings and methods, promote his books and other collateral, and support him fiercely. The autonomy of the local churches and elder board seems to be yielding to the HBF Council’s influence. Something that just a few years ago wasn’t so evident.

    • Ryan Mahoney says:

      Hey Bob,

      Let me say some things publicly that you and I already know. You were my junior high leader way back in the day at Mt. Prospect Bible Church. Since that time you and I have had little personal contact, but in recent years I have come to know your brother and his family. Point being, I deeply care about you, your brother and his family. Please take all that follows in a spirit of love as I do have a tendency, unbeknownst to me until my wife tells me, to sound a “little edgy.” No, seriously I do. 😉

      I don’t think “heresy and moral failure” is a sufficient standard, nor do I think “moral failure” has been sufficiently defined. For example, T.D. Jakes suggested that gambling was a “moral failure” sufficient to be removed from office. I don’t know if you would agree or not, but that is beside the point. The term “moral failure” is not sufficiently defined so as to determine when that has taken place. After all Ted Haggard was a pastor and head of the National Association of Evangelicals, and I am sure his spiritual resume is replete with notable accomplishments for the Kingdom. God uses all kinds. That does not justify all kinds.

      Moreover, 1 Timothy 3, as you well know, provides the criterion for eldership. It is the “go to” passage for conservative evangelicals to determine if a particular man is qualified to be an elder. I am not a fundamentalist, nor a literalist, in that hard, wooden sense of the term when it comes to scripture, but that list gives a definite feel to what a person must be like to be an elder. In that list there is nothing that suggests a utilitarian standard such as you are advocating here and elsewhere as a defense of James. It does not matter how many people get saved and baptized under a person’s ministry, for purposes of eldership qualification.

      We disagree; I know. That changes not one iota of my care and thankfulness for what you have contributed to my life. In fact, your differing perspective is helpful. You are indeed cynical, but you are also pragmatic. I am an idealist. Maybe that accounts, more than the facts themselves, for our different interpretation. I don’t know.

      When James decided to take his program global, it no longer was about just talking to the people at HBC. I know that people at HBC have been helped by this blog, and I know that some people are REALLY angry with me and my participation in it. Because he wants to influence the broader Evangelical world with his leadership, it became about conversing with a much broader audience than HBC.

      Bob, please read this in its best possible light. I really do care for the people of HBC. I really want the best for the Church. I really want James to change, not just to be “taken out.”

      • Bob Arosen says:


        Don’t worry, nothing personal here. The church needs idealists and pragmatists.

        Keep an open mind and don’t assume every nasty thing you hear. Give James the benefit of the doubt.

        • J Crane says:

          A HUGE reason why this blog needs to continue, is because the whole truth of the matter has not been revealed. Pieces are put together by reading the comments and stories. For example, Pastor James told the men that the previous elder board (Corning and others) left because they did not agree with bringing on more elders to share the leadership. We were left with the impression that the elders left amicably and that they were a bit power greedy. But if this account is true about dividing 50% while Pastor James retains 50%, and not an equal %, then that changes a lot of the perspective we were given. This along with the silence of the 4 churches that are out of the Fellowship make me feel like I am being lied to. How do we then trust what is preached from the pulpit? Isn’t building credibility and trust the reason for the qualifications in Timothy and Titus?

        • Gary says:

          James….er…..Bob, how long do you give James the benefit of the doubt? Forever?!?!?! That’s exactly the problem here: the blind trust of James that chooses to totally ignore all the garbage.Yes, I’m not looking for a perfect pastor. Those don’t exist. I get that. But I’m also not looking for one who embraces a false gospel and heretics, abuses people and consolidates all power into his own hands.

    • Glenn Smith says:

      Dear Saints~

      When orthodoxy and orthopraxy alike, enter the realm of being antithetical to our scriptures, they can only survive when they do not get scrutinized. I have learned to listen carefully to any cry for unity, as it too often covers the approach of wolves. If ever we should follow 1 Thessalonians 5, and examine everything carefully, it’s when somebody is crying unity, love, and acceptance.

      Unity is built on agreement about the truth, not by spiritualizing politics. Few things are as political as trying to preserve movements once they have fragmented theologically. I believe that the collective experience outlined on this blog, regarding HBF, is indicative of a fragmentation in process and at it core is a politically motivated (within HBF itself) power struggle.

      Post ER2, I tried to have a discussion on governance and ‘authority’ (I would contend they are not mutually exclusive) as a foundation to question what Pastor MacDonald has been doing in terms of his associations, how he has gone about it and the scope of their effects. His actions and statements pre ER2 and subsequent defense/deflections post ER2 put me in a place where I believe his leadership has put the Gospel itself at stake.

      I met all the standards that Harvest lays out for its members (faith in Christ, attending, tithing, and serving in leadership roles) and by HBF standards, I was their responsibility. I had never once in over 2 years of attending expressed dissatisfaction or said anything that could be construed as dissent. However, on this issue (ER2 fallout and the use of extrabiblical authority) rather than sitting down with Scriptures open, feeding me and assuring me that I was in no danger, I was dismissed. They did not afford me the opportunity to meet the criteria for dismissal by “stubbornly disbelieving” those who lead. There was no “watching over me” as shepherds or pastors. Shepherds lead their flocks, make sure they are fed, and protect them from danger. The flocks trust them because of the example they set, not because they fear reprisal or rejection.

      In short order, I received a letter suggesting that I find another church and that my membership had been revoked. Within the letter was an invitation to return, however it was predicated on accepting their ecclesiology rather than on my faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Not only does this seem contrary to the very things Pastor MacDonald was contending for in the ER series, but I would contend that elevating one’s own ecclesiology to such a level is indicative of the institution (tradition) as being on par with Scripture itself. Sound familiar?

      Scott, keep your posts about “Gospel faithfulness” and you can’t go wrong.
      Grace & Peace~

      “He loves God too little, who loves anything together with God, which he loves not for God’s sake!”
      “The finished work of Christ is the love of God rescuing us from the wrath of God, in such a way that the justice of God is vindicated and the glory of God is exalted.”

      • rom623rom828 says:

        Wow Wow Wow! If what you say is true, and I have no reason to believe it is not true, then your statements here deserve its own blog post (hint hint Scott) A copy of that letter was be golden for Scott to see. Keep on writing Scott!

        Meanwhile if your membership was revoked,(apparently due to disciplinarian reasons) why weren’t other sheep told — u know “tell the church” so we can minister to you accordingly, reaching out to you and seeking to restore you to fellowship — Matthew 18 🙂 Oh the sheep are kept in the dark again.

        • Glenn Smith says:

          Rom623Rom828 – I didn’t catch it before, but it should be noted that I was never under church discipline. I was never contentious, divisive nor factious. My membership was yanked because I questioned Pastor MacDonald’s leadership (and, I suppose by extension their leadership). Maybe I questioned them in a way that they didn’t like, or maybe I sinned in my words and/or actions… I’ll never know because they never addressed one point on which I based my questions. They simply suggested, by way of a letter, I find another church. No discipline, no discipleship… just rejection.

          As an aside, church discipline looks very different (Matthew 18) when you begin to understand that church leadership ‘like’ those within HBF throughout today’s post-modern evangelicalism have CLAIMED an authority that was never intended to be theirs (ref. my post below and Ryan’s subsequent post)!

          Grace & Peace

          • Dave Davis says:

            Glenn, I too confronted a HBC senior pastor over ER2, he would not give me the time of day. We were attending in ST Louis, MO, and thankfully we were there waiting for our new church to open, so we weren’t fully committed, but nonetheless, I have pastored churches before and I feel it is my duty to speak out if something is wrong. This pastor was a learned man, it was so sad to hear his parrotting of Kent Shaw’s letter to me, and essentially dismiss me because I was just an “attender” Although an attender who was allowed to speak at the youth group. I was immersed in Harvest Culture. Now I am moving on. But I wholeheartedly agree, the truth needs to get out on this!

          • Glenn Smith says:

            Hey Dave~

            As I mentioned in the above post, the claim of authority and power by church ‘leaders’ has so obfiscated the biblical view of “leading” that rather than look for opportunities to disciple with the Word of God when orthodoxy and/or orthopraxy are challenged, they look for threats that needed to be eliminated.

            One of its necessary effects is to ‘separate’ those who are ‘under’ them into classifications of ‘usefulness’ based on a secular view of ‘rule.’ With this system, classifying you as an ‘attender’, limits their need to be answerable to you in any meaningful way. Don’t take it personally though Dave, for this system has been used to catapult an entire church from the fellowship.

            This is the system that Pastor James is touring to promote – a new ecclesiology that, in order to be received into the fold, one must embrace. My welcome back to my Harvest church was clearly outlined, and predicated, on accepting the Harvest ecclesiology as biblical… not on my faith in the person and finished work of Jesus Christ. To quote the letter of dismissal from the chairman of the board to me… “If at some time you come to believe that the Harvest model of church governance is truly the biblical model, as we believe it to be, we would welcome your return to Harvest Bible Chapel _______.”

            This is an ecclesiology that is based on a top down model of ‘rule’ rather than a bottom up application of ‘leading.’ It seem’s that James’ namesake (and subsequently those closest to him – let’s call them “John”) is once again vying to sit at the right of Jesus (Mark 10)!

            Grace & Peace

      • Chris Trees says:


        Your post has reminded of three more quotations that I found and took to heart immediately prior to my departure from HBC:

        “It is better to be divided by the truth, than united in a lie.”
        Adrian Rogers

        “Nothing stinks more in the local church than the smell of politics. No skunk stands out more clearly and lingers longer than the smell of spiritual politics.”
        Pastor David Cofield, 1st Baptist Church Center Star, Killen, AL

        “There probably is a short list of things that are in our control that create significant erosion of the platform of respect. Near the tip of everybody’s list needs to be the lack of integrity. People expect us to be honest in our words, relationships, and promises. And while few of us would be directly dishonest, honesty goes deeper than simply being truthful in our words. An honest person has a life that lives up to the truths that he proclaims. Honest people deal squarely and in an aboveboard way with money. They do not use the truth in ways that manipulate and serve their own purposes, nor do they withhold information to advance their own agendas. People will perceive us to be dishonest when we refuse to admit that we’re wrong, promote ourselves without warrant, and take credit due to someone else. If a shepherd has obvious gaps in his integrity, respect will soon be undermined. It’s difficult to respect someone you cannot trust.
        Dr. Joseph Stowell, Shepherding the Church, (Chicago, Moody Press, 1997) pp 106,107

        Perhaps, quote #3 may at least in part, explain the departure of Dr. Stowell

        • Chris … If I am not mistaken, there was a time when Shepherding the Church by Dr. Stowell was recommended (or even required?) reading for the elders. I can distinctly remember being given a copy by my pastor and being told that this reflected Harvest thinking on the subject of leadership. If I recall, I was given Stowell’s book and Piper’s book, Brothers We Are Not Professionals. Both were excellent reads.

          • Glenn Smith says:


            Frankly, I believe the ‘church’ will collectively stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and be called to repentance for the professionalization of the pastorate. Effectively we have put men in a place of extreme temptation, and we have allowed the “office” to sanctify the person. The result is a view that there has been an appointing and and annointing by God Himself.

            The true measure of the word group “diakonos, diakoneo & diakonia” in the NT involves compassionate love toward the needy within the Christian community and describes a ministration that is to be viewed with reference to the labour needed for others.

            Sadly, and I go back to the reason for your recent post, I see HBF as laboring for itself and is doing so on the spiritual backs of a largely biblically illiterate Christian culture.

            The claim of authority and power by church ‘leaders’ has so obfiscated the biblical view of “leading” that rather than look for opportunities to disciple with the Word of God when orthodoxy and/or orthopraxy are challenged, they look for threats that needed to be eliminated.

            Many have taught and lived the Authoritarian way for so long, they feel they cannot turn back now; others actually want the few to “rule” because they are a part of it. They enjoy the prestige, power, and in some cases, the money that goes along with the ‘office.’. Then, there are people who defend this position because, whether they realize it or not, it is little more than an escape from their ‘theological’ responsibility before God by “letting the elders do the work” for them.

            Waymon D. Miller has written a fine book entitled The Role of Elders In The New Testament Church, in which he states,

            “This is the essential fact to be established to prove that elders are vested with an ‘office’ and ‘authority,’ as is maintained by some. If inspiration had intended to confer upon elders such superior ‘authority’ to which all members must submit, why is this nowhere clearly expressed in the New Testament? Why must such a crucial issue rest upon a fabric of assumption, and suspicious interpretation of Scriptures?” (p. 40)

            Constrast this with the words from the Chairman of the Board of my Harvest Church as they ‘catapulted’ me out of the congregation…

            “…thank you for reminding us of the heavy load our Lord has laid on those of us whom He set apart to be elders in His church. It is first the burden of taking responsibility for the souls of the saints He has placed in our hands. Second, it is the burden of using our God given authority to carry out this responsibility as servants of Christ.”

            To close I do not believe there is a NT verse that declares that we can transfer or confer an anointing from one person to another, or subsequently declare authority based on any such anointing. I am open to rebuke on all these matters.

            Again, keep it about Gospel faihtfulness friends!
            Greace & Peace

          • Ryan says:

            A friend of mine just reminded me of this article that’s right on point. http://frankviola.org/2012/07/17/christianleadership/

          • Chris Trees says:


            Yep, Dr. Stowell’s book on church leadership was also recommended reading for flock leader candidates in Gordon Zwirkoski’s “leadership” class back in 04-05. Unfortunately, my wife and I read the suggested books and that darn old law of cognitive dissonance reared it’s ugly head and we began to notice that at HBC the leadership’s words often didn’t bear much resemblance their deeds.

            As for Piper’s book, once when discussing his new residence I brought up the chapter, “Brothers, tell them copper will do”. James dismissed my concerns, by telling me that I didn’t “have a fully orbed theology of weath” and then told me that Piper is “radical”.

            From what I saw in ER1 James didn’t think that David Platt”s theology of wealth is very well orbed either although, he now seems to have retooled this apologetic and now prefers to talk about a “fully orbed theology of joy” instead.

            You know, with so many questionable authors like Joe Stowell, John Piper and David Platt out there it’s no wonder that James shuttered the bookstore. It may have been to protect his sheep from exposure to the not-fully orbed Christian literary crowd like these guys.

          • Mark Notestine says:

            Fully orbed theology? I have not seen that term in my books.

            The only ‘orbs’ I know of are the ones in Lord of the Rings that allowed Saruman and the Steward of Gondor to see things far away and led to self inflicted downfalls for both. Saruman by greed for power and the Steward by letting fear distract him from sheparding and protecting his citizens.

            Or is fully orbed theology where you can get nicer cars and houses on the sacrifice of individuals who perhaps have older cars and smaller houses so they can give to the church?

            I have no problem with wealth in the marketplace where everyone agrees to the price of a good or service, but that is far different from sacrificial donations.

  12. stauron3n1 says:

    What makes it even more scary, is that in Animal Farm the rules would be changed by the leaders (Napoleon and initially Snowball) but the rest of the animals weren’t told…only exploited.

  13. Deb says:

    We’ve hit this point in time with mega-churches that people, “Sheep”, don’t know their senior pastor or corporate leadership, therefore they can’t have much discernment or are just happy with the current “consumerism of church” in America.

    Many of the people writing on this blog have gotten to know James, some Elders or other HBC leaders well, and are very concerned about HBC’s growing global initiatives. Growing the HBC denomination without levels of accountability that reach to the top is really dangerous. Surely you can see the pitfalls in it. It’s your choice to trust what’s being written or not. This at least goes beyond James’ blog to blindly follow him alone. In defense of anonymous, those of us that are leaving their full name off are afraid of repercussions. I know I still am afraid of him. My last meeting with him was scary. I am determined not to support a ministry that has a senior pastor without accountability.

    The world commonly calls this mess a “Cult”, because they point to a charismatic leader that “Sheep” just blindly follow.

    Despite all of this, those seeking discernment still hear the voice of God, through the Holy Spirit, and know something is off, wrong or odd with a growing church, which is lead by only one man, where questioning, blogging and reading unapproved books has been labeled wrong by that same man at the top. So many arguments and situations have circular thinking at HBC.

    As for me, this blog is about protecting God’s church from false teachers that are using a bully pulpit to gain power, and gain financially, from exploiting the unaware sheep. Many good things do happen at HBC, but God still warned us to be watchful and discerning. It’s His good name at stake in the world. Believe me, the world is watching Evangelicals quite closely, and so is the evil one. Pray and be careful with your support.

    • J Crane says:

      This is paste from a comment by Kevin W. on 7.30 “Harvest Bible Chapels on every corner of the world filled with attenders who could not recognize a false teacher to save their lives.” and your comments probably go with the fact that most of those at HBC hear only James’ voice. That’s why some are disappointed when he is not preaching, laugh at every silliness he performs, or quote him in small group discussions more than using biblical text.

  14. When I lived in Salt Lake City, I discovered a Christian ministry run by two former Mormons. They print a monthly newsletter where they expose the lies of the Mormon church. Many Mormons attack them for their work, tellling them to just leave the church alone.

    While I still consider Harvest to be a Christian church, I find the problems at Harvest serious enough to warrent a blog such as this. Harvest is not a small church and it’s influence is strong.There will continue to be people who hate the slightest bit of questioning directed at Harvest, but there are also many people who appreciate this. Keep up the good work Scott!

  15. Bob Arosen says:


    You know that James is not a heretic, nor does he condone heretical teaching. That is a rabbit trail that you know in your heart is false, but does feed into the narrative of discrediting his ministry. I have no interest in a discussion of James the heretic, that is foolishness.

    As for pastoral qualifications, I gave my objective standards. The Biblical mandate found in 1Timothy forms my standards, but I think that we both agree that many of the specific qualifications mentioned are subjective. Again, I have no interest in a discussion of pastoral qualifications.

    I also should state that while I did not dispute the accuracy of your post in my initial reply, that does not mean I believe you actually portrayed an honest and unbiased account of intent, events, and actions. Testimony given by someone with an ax to grind that is attested to by others with an ax to grind is hardly credible.

    With that being said, my point is that your one sided posts should stop. Have you attempted to speak with any current elders to get their take? Have any current elders contacted you to try to give you a different perspective?

    I think that reporting on discussions, events, and actions using only input from those who are angry or disagree with James is disingenuous at best. If you are after the truth for your readers, let them hear opposing views posted by you and your research, not replies to your posts by knuckleheads like me.

    • James Conway says:

      Greetings Bob. Your reputation as an apologist for pastor James is well known on the twitterverse. The fact that you acknowledge that you support Pastor James 100% is evidence that you are not objective on the subject.

      Pastor James has embraced a heretic, T.D.Jakes, as a brother in Christ and has repeatedly claimed that Jakes possesses “Biblical solidity”. How do you reconcile that? Since you support Pastor James 100% then you support his claim. If you believe that a Word-Faith Health-Wealth Prosperity preacher possesses “biblical solidity” then that says quite a bit about where you stand on Christian orthodoxy.

      Since you support Pastor James 100%, you have never put yourself in a position of exposing yourself to the possibility of being catapulted. Pastor James’ latest blog post is dangerously close to the health-wealth prosperity gospel… and it is sad.

      We’re called to be good Bereans, not supportive fans.

    • Bob … I have one question for you. Why do you assume that the testimony of the email (and the four men who verified its veracity) is given “by someone with an ax to grind?” You are making a massive assumption. With all due respect, thoughtful inquiry and genuine concern is not the same as grinding an ax.

    • Gary says:

      You have zero credibility. TD Jakes is a false teacher (on more than one front) and James has fully embraced him as a brother. Those are facts that are not in dispute.

      But keep selling your story because lots of sheep are buying it.

    • Deb says:

      A old friend just posted this on facebook and it landed on mine 8/2/12.
      “James MacDonald – Walk in the Word
      You can’t fake glory. You can’t manufacture it, or manipulate it, or manifest it at will. Only God Himself can bring glory into a church, and when He does, communities get shaken and lives get changed, and the fame of Jesus Christ curls continuously upon the shore of human hearts like a Hawaii 5-0 wave!”

      My thoughts – This is backwards! A church should glorify God, not God glorify a church. The twist is a subtle and dangerous one.

      • Mike Sagan says:

        Good catch, Deb. You can find a lot of these twists if you listen and/or read MacDonald closely and carefully. His new book “Vertical Church” cracks me up since all the stuff he is criticizing in the book is the very stuff he promotes at Harvest.

      • Jeremy says:

        Hist tweet today:

        The biggest obstacle to making Christ magnificent is the refusal to make yourself small. #VerticalChurch p222

        He is pretty much daring Christ to show up and humble him.

      • Stephy says:

        By “glory”, he doesn’t mean that God is glorifying a particular church, but that God’s glory (ie. His specific presence) is IN that church. Think back on the Old Testament and what it meant for God’s glory to be seen (for example, above the ark of the covenant). When God’s glory is in a church, it means that His presence is there. When it isn’t, you have Ichabod (the glory departed). And that is a very sad thing. God is omnipresent, but that doesn’t mean His glory is everywhere. I think we can all agree that God’s glory is not in EVERY church in North America.

    • Jeremy says:

      Mr. Bob,

      Were you at the infamous prayer meeting? Didn’t James give his version of this story there? Didn’t he say it was the elders who needed to, but were resistant to sharing control/authority/influence? They couldn’t go along, so they took their balls and went home?

      If that’s not accurate, please clarify. I’ve heard a lot of different defenses and deflections of JM’s actions here, but no one seems to be denying these accounts.

  16. Deb says:

    Scott is presenting multiple stories and sides from people, unlike the one-sided blogs and message from HBC. Most people on this blog are not mean-spirited either, we all seem to agree that we’re praying for James and HBC. It would be difficult to pursue HBC leadership to provide anwers and stories, since they aren’t supposed to be using a blog. Again, another example of circular thinking. So this seems quite balanced in light of all the really difficult things many of us know about HBC. Sorry please take this with a little smirk from me – but maybe this blog isn’t for everybody.

  17. Michael Knight says:

    Hey Ryan,
    No I am not the tight jeaned, leather jacket wearing, talking into my wrist watch, Trans Am driving crime fighter. Nor am I the Australian politician, or the soap opera actor, or the journalist, or the author … or even the RAF officer. Lots of Michael Knight’s out there I guess. So I am not an anonymous critic of anonymous critics.

    I am studying and praying through what a good biblical response to annonymous critism of people. I am the first to admit that I don’t have a clear handle on it yet. But it does seem to be commonplace amongst Christian bloggers.

  18. Harvest RM says:

    Hello Bob ( and others):

    First, the anynonomous post do not bother me. For many reasons, people may need to hide their identity.
    You spoke to the reasons for this blog. I think this work is critical. Can you honestly tell me that you agree with the congregation not being told about 3 churches leaving the HBF and then the local grayslake church being catapulted out? I thin that we as a congregation deserve to know this.
    We are told nothing except “exciting news, but I can’t tell you yet”.
    I sense pastor James being much less I cloves with the congregation (I.e. the sheep). From 8 years ago until today. Wow! When he is do e preaching is exits stage left not to be seen. Twice he talks about being more involved with people, I don’t see that. And I think that such a symbolic change was the move to the stage. I remember in earlier years, he would say”I never want to preach from up there. I like being down with you.”. Now he is on a stage.

    I know that none of the above things are that critical, but I think that they show a larger and frowning concern about harvest. Pastor James wanted the book store closed , the book store is now closed.
    Anyway, I think this is showing a greater divide between the sheep and the leadership. So, this is where mr. Bryant can really help us out.

    Here is a quitically important question: how many things about Harvest have you learned from this blog that you didn’t know from our little “family chat”?? (Voddie, two people threatened for arrest, 4 chuches leaving OUR (is it even our) fellowship??how can this be?
    Harvest has continued to get darker and darker cloth to make the curtain out of. Then,laughingly, what little snipets can we tell them to satisfy the sheepskin curiosity?
    When I uses to google James when we were first looking for a church, I remember the names of people listed under his for “like pastor”. Now do it. Google pastor James and Gurtick, Noble, jakes, come up!
    I believe that this article is focused on how can we get back to the good harvest days. To the church that I chose to go to. We want a return…but the question is, can the current leadership of elders provide James the kind of support and rebuke that is needed. No one is perfect and everyone needs people to be accountable to. If he has 50% and 20 others each have 2/5%, I don’t think it works right.
    If harvest does not want to be under fire from this blog, I think a pastor James apology would go a long ways. Also a restructuring of the elder board – the right way.

    And bob- I hope you are still reading, because you mentioned the amount of good he does. And i agree. But, let me tell you, if someone is saves at harvest and harvest has some serious problems, I think much of that work will be undone. Right or wrong, the people will associate this bad experience with all churches,

    Please Bob, and others, I hope that by my long type at 3 in the morning you can tell how special James and harvest are to me. I just want to help turn things around before it is too late.

    P.S. as Pastor James returns for 1 week and leaves foe 2 months, does anyone have any more ideas of what the sermons will look like? This should would be a nice time to have Pastor Stilwell (and Matr up there leading worship)!

  19. Jonathan says:

    J. Crane gave some reasons for remaining anonymous:

    1. i am ‘confrontation avoidance’ type person
    2. i don’t want to be a burden to the underpaid and over worked staff that are responsible for the weekly work at the real Kingdom at HBC
    3. i need a hedge to prevent becoming a divisive tool because others at HBC know me and need to make a their own decision to stay of leave

    I don’t want to be a jerk here but these are fairly weak reasons.
    #1.This is not a great reason for anything … maybe James MacDonald is just the “type of person” he is does that give him a pass?
    #2. how are we less of a burden in anonymity than face to face?
    #3. I get that and yet if you believe what you believe strongly than your leadership should be an asset … the anonymity of your comments are not what cause division – the comments themselves are divisive (whether it’s appropriately divisive or not).

    I don’t doubt the accuracy of the informants as it seems as though the 4 of them would all have to be pastors (from my understanding of the story here) as that is who was at the meeting at MacDonald’s house … so we can assume then that one of them would be Mike Bryant – no real detective work needed there (Michael Knight can leave KITT in the truck).

    I don’t know why Mike Bryant would need to remain anonymous now as he has already been catapulted. The other 3 pastors should “man up” and make their concerns known to Harvest Bible Fellowship and if they are not addressed and the pastors feel strongly enough then they can act like the autonomous church that they are and walk away from Harvest – I respect churches like Harvest Prescott and pastor Jon Gaus who calmly and quietly moved on.

    If you are concerned for your friends and family in the church and you feel they need to leave then tell them. It would seem much more effective than telling a blog and hoping they might read the blog. We have become so disconnected in this new technological realm.

    • John says:

      Reprisal . . . that is often a reason people don’t speak out when they leave. They have seen others put through the grinder, and they don’t want to experience that for themselves. And, I agree with you that technology has some downsides to it, but it cannot be glibly dismissed.

    • James Conway says:

      Greetings Jonathan. You don’t understand why Mike Bryant would need to remain anonymous? You really don’t understand? Perhaps because if he were one of the four (I have no clue whether he is or not), he would be accused of having an axe to grind in an attempt to discredit his account of what happened.

      What is underneath it all is (a) a dismissal/rejection of any negative anecdotes regarding pastor James and the HBF and/or (b) dismissal/rejection of the things that pastor James or the HBF have on the record that merit concern or criticism.

      Furtick preaching at Harvest had many people concerned, yet pastor James has defended his invitation to Furtick and went on to praise Furtick as “wise, wise, wise” and even went so far as to challenge the other Harvest senior pastors to hold an event exactly like Furtick’s Code Orange Revival.

      I’m perplexed as to how anyone who calls Harvest Bible Chapel their church home can direct their energies towards those who criticize Harvest rather than ask the tough questions of leadership as to why pastor James has embraced and endorsed heretics like T.D.Jakes, and up-n-coming WF prosperity preachers like Noble and Furtick.

      Claiming that a health-wealth prosperity preacher is a “brother in Christ” has serious implications. Does that concern you?

  20. Done with HBC! says:

    Scott, as someone has already mentioned, your blog has informed those who attend (attended) HBC about what has and is happening behind the curtain when otherwise they blindly have continued attending without question. The sheep who bother to find out either choose to stay and remain loyal to JMac or begin to watch for more symptoms of…dare I say it?… cult formation. Sadly, MacDonald’s impact is becoming worldwide and I wonder if he would fall under the category of the antiChrist of this age?
    We left HBC-RM recently after having finally admitted we can’t trust James. We’re suppose to follow the example of our Pastor (plenty of scriptures teach us that principle) who in turn is following the example of Christ. James is not following Christ anymore. He is a pastor who has a different agenda. It’s true that many have heard the gospel, the Real Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, preached from James MacDonald’s lips and God has given those who hear the faith to believe but after that, these ‘baby’ christians shift their loyalty from Christ to James.
    Anyone who continues attending HBC after learning what kind of a man James is really needs to question where their loyalty lies: in a man whose agenda is questionable? in a church? or in Christ.

  21. rainbowmn says:

    i would suggest to you – as some of us have already done – that you personally call Mike Bryant and sit down with him for the morning to get a deep understanding of what actually went down in regards to his excommunication from Harvest for your next piece.

    I am not sure if you know Mike, but he is articulate and spirit-filled. He has no ax to grind, is deeply committed to his calling and will speak openly with you, I am sure.

    That would be a powerhouse piece.

  22. X-Harvester says:


    Earlier you stated: “Because you don’t understand the reprisals so many have faced at James’ hand. Just ask Jim Jogry, Lindsay McCaul and others. Maybe these people want the truth to be known but fear his reprisals. In any case, it misses the point and you are only changing the topic while using a pseudonym yourself.”

    Can you clarify what you know about Jim and Lindsay and the timing / circumstances as to why they left? I know that Jim is pastoring a church in Wisconsin and Lindsay moved to TN. Always assumed they left Harvest for other reasons and based on what you stated I am not so sure anymore.

    Thanks brother.

  23. rainbowmn says:

    I might suggest you contact Ryan’s father who was at Harvest from the beginning and on staff until the last several months. He is local and represents the herd of longtime personal allies of James who have now left his side.

  24. X-Harvester says:


    Sorry, am I suppose to know who Ryan’s father is along with his contact information?

    I asked my question because Ryan mentioned their names in a previous post implying they were forced out. If we are casually throwing out names of former employees and then assigning fault to Harvest and James as to why they left, then I think the facts should be clearly stated. That’s all, otherwise, this blog and comments are no better than a tabloid.

  25. Little Lamb :) says:

    X-Harvester, rainbowmn, & Ryan,

    Might I suggest that it is up to the individual people involved (for example, the people mentioned above: Jim Jodrey, Lindsay McCaul, etc.) to choose what they would like shared (and when they would like to share) about their stories? Whatever happened to privacy and respect? Protecting our brothers and sisters in Christ? Unless they themselves are posting, why would they want their stories shared to a blog full of strangers? In any other case unless confirmed by them personally, isn’t this gossip? X-Harvester, if you don’t know Ryan’s father, then why should you be entitled to the inside information he might possess (and you apparently desire)? And Ryan, I see (and agree with) your point on why people might want to remain anonymous, but don’t you think it a little ridiculous that you then posted as examples the names of the people who might want (for potentially good reasons) to remain anonymous? Doesn’t that contradict the very point you were trying to make? Just thinking out loud….

    • Ryan M. Mahoney says:

      Little Lamb, please forgive for any offense. Did not mean to do my thing other than get people asking thoughtful questions of their elders to get them asking questions. ‘nough said.

    • X-Harvester says:

      Point taken Little Lamb 🙂

  26. Jon says:

    So Little Lamb asks a great question … is it gossip? If it is gossip then maybe it should be removed … and if it is gossip Ryan would need to do more than just say “I didn’t mean to offend anyone” – the correct response is repentance. Is it gossip?

  27. rainbowmn says:

    Little Lamb,
    I might suggest to you that all this is a little more complicated than that.

    When someone is placed in a public position of leadership, that part of their lives becomes part of the public discourse. They have a responsibility to maintain lifestyles that are consistent with the expectations of leadership, be transparent and exercise the responsibilities they are charges with in a faithful and responsible manner.

    Within the exercise of that very public leadership, if there comes a time – for whatever reason – they believe it is impossible to fulfill their duties, that becomes part of the public discourse.

    These are not folks who are sitting silently in the pew and and slinked off into the night. These are folks who – because of the authority extended them from James – exercised some measure of control and command over thousands of people. Within those roles as leaders comes the responsibility to actually lead and that does not mean hiding the truth about things as one comes to understand.

    Public people, public responsibilities,
    The stories they are all hiding about James and Harvest make the chatter on this blog look lame.

    Some of us know because we have lived inside many of the stories. If we all shared what we knew FIRST HAND, it would crumple Harvest and MacDonald.

    • Cindy Curtis says:

      I agree with you, rainbowmn.

    • JoyCh12 says:


      Your post belies itself, a bit. Your ultimate goal, it seems, is to ‘crumple MacDonald and Harvest’. Not the welfare of the church as a whole. And I am saying “WHOLE”, meaning brothers and sisters who have left (for various reasons), and brothers and sisters who are still there.

      IF people have been spiritually abused (which also creates mental/emotional stress), it is a natural reaction to withdraw. Withdraw, rest, and recover. And I am not aware of any scriptural passages which entitles you, as a member of the “private sector”, to know the workings of private conversations of people you do not have a relationship with. While public figures need to be above reproach and live openly and with integrity, their every move and every decision does not need to be publicized. Nor can you force people to the place of healing and moving forward (if that is where you are) that you potentially find yourself… After however many years it has taken you. 

      It seems to me, the people who have left and are recovering are doing so at the pace God is leading them. And it may not be the pace at which He has lead you. Its also good to remember these people have close family and friends cheering and pushing them on in the Lord and in recovery. And your place, if you are not someone with a personal relationship with Jodry or McCaul or anyone else who has been mentioned- is to pray. Your pressure and demands to know every conversation and detail may well be causing further harm and delaying the process.

      There also needs to be the distinction between and elder and a worship leader. They are both public but only one has a list of character requirements in scripture. And while I think they are things, as Believers, we should all aspire to, I don’t think you have the authority to apply the list to worship leaders. Worship leaders don’t exercise authority- they usher people into worship. Whatever authority you feel they’ve “exercised” may have more to do with what hype you may be giving them in your own heart, rather than what they have commanded/demanded from you. 

      You may be surprised to know that I agree with you that I believe if people would have spoken out about their experiences previously, years of this may have been avoided. But I also know, after not experiencing these mistreatments firsthand, that I am in no position to force or demand someone to be at a place to talk publicly about it- if that is what is even necessary. 
      I think this whole conversation begs the question: What is the appropriate was to handle all of these accusations? Blog about them? Discuss them through comments? Make a private meeting with the elder board? Make a public meeting with the elder board? No one really knows! So to think forcing the publicity of stories will solve the problem- well then, that is just one more suggested solution. But not necessarily the right one. And definitely something you are not biblically entitled to. 

      • rainbowmn says:

        unless you have actually been inside of James inner team like some of us have, you have no perspective on this.

        we are telling you that the actual truth about these matters is much much worse than the chatter on this blog. thats not gossip.

        if people dont wake up, Harvest will soon be a crater.

        • JoyCh12 says:

          I was not aware that the verses on gossip being a sin and something to steer clear of were predicated upon how bad the situation actually is.

          And I am sincerely sorry for the things you witnessed, because I know it breeds doubt, confusion, and anger- towards the church and towards God. But sin is still sin. Tell your story. Allow other people to tell theirs. Ask questions of the people who tell their stories…

          Pro-truth. Anti-Gossip. They do not have to be mutually exclusive. Aim for both. No one will ever have right standing trying to rectify the situation the wrong way. And my guess is that is part of the reason people stay quiet for so long- trying to have a right and godly response. Even in injustice. And that is a hard thing to sort through!
          My prayer is that this blog would be a place that would allow people to do that- in a good and godly way. And that people will challenge each other to respond in a courageous, just, compassionate, and loving way. Otherwise, this entire blog is all for naught.

  28. Little Lamb says:

    Ryan & X-Harvester: thanks for your kind responses…was just trying to ask a few questions to get people thinking too. 🙂

    rainbowmn: could not say it better than JoyCh12 if I tried!

    • Jeremy says:

      Let’s just mention a few publicly known facts and let it go.

      She is recently no longer at HBC. She is now down in Nashville making music and touring. Some people get send-offs when they leave, she didn’t. JM now tweets up a different female worship leader at HBC. LM follows caricatures like megachurchmouse , sonofmegapastor and others on Twitter that are trying in vain to reflect the absurdities of JM’s behavior. Enough said.

      Fact Checker: She wrote and performed songs for the album, so she deserves to be credited, but isnot with them on tour. In fact, she is busy on her own right now http://lindsaymccaul.com/tour/.

  29. Harvest RM says:

    Gossip is not right – that is obvious, and I agree.

    But, somehow, I do feel this is different. If (I have no first hand knowledge) abuse (spiritual or otherwise) is occurring at Harvest, do not the people who know of it have an obligation to do something.

    If a person knew that a child was being abused physically, surely they would not remain quiet. Of course, there, authorities could be called in, etc. But what is to be done in this situation. To be quiet, may allow the abuse/harm to others to continue. Isn’t there a responsibility to do what can be done to stop it?

    Here is a possible thought: What if people have left Harvest and do not want to say/talk about things for fear of causing trouble for friends that still rely on Harvest for a place of employment? Again, just a thought.

    Rainbowmn: I have an honest question. You have mentioned before about the information you have first hand. Have you talked to people about it? Have you talked about it on here?

    • JoyCh12 says:

      Harvest RM,

      Yes, I agree with everything you said! My points are:
      1) No one has the authority to command/demand someone talk about it simply because the positions were “public”
      2) I think people should talk about it, for all the reasons you stated, but only when they are ready and God has healed over their wounds. Otherwise, I believe talking about it too early only increases bitterness and anger which can lead to a mass variety of other sins!
      3) The ones closest to any hurt individuals have the relational position and responsibility to talk with them about things and push and challenge them on how to handle it- when the time is right. I don’t think it’s up to any one else to “break a story”.
      4) It does seem there are a number of people on here who said they have experienced different things from the church and it may be more appropriate to seek them out rather than seeking out stories of people who don’t appear to be sharing their stories.

      I was not trying to say no one should talk about the things. I WAS trying to say no one has the right or biblical authority to demand it.I had seen several x-harvest names appear on here by people who don’t seem to be the person mentioned, nor did it claim any relationship with, or permission to be talking about the situation. And that isn’t information for the greater good- that’s most definitely gossip and what would be pushing this blog into being a “tabloid” as people say. This shouldn’t be taken to be about only McCaul or Jodry but anyone who has left. If it’s not your story- leave it untold… As hard as it may be.

  30. Bob Arosen says:

    Just finished reading through all the posts since I last posted. Scott, perhaps “ax to grind” wasn’t the right term but my point was that all of your coraberation was used the put James in the worst possible light. The fact that Godly men made the right decision for Harvest is not even acknowledged as being possible.

    Yep, that was me defending James on Twitter. I have always defended my pastor. If I can’t defend my pastor, there is no reason to attend that church.

    I’ll explain one more time in case there is a fair minded person reading this. James is not a heretic. He thought that he could begin a dialog with the Black church, which historically is more pragmatic than dogmatic in its theology (don’t rabbit trail that comment, I know you can give me a few names), by opening a dialog with one of its leaders. It blew up in his face. He was getting unfairly blasted by those who moved beyond questioning his actions to questioning his intention and impugning his integrity (which also is happening here).

    One last thought before I slowly sink into the sunset. The over riding tone on many of these replies has been one of spiritual smugness. I remember hearing WA Criswell at the height of the SBC inerrancy debate in the 70s say “they believe the Bible is inspired in spots and they’re inspired to spot the spots”. I get the sense that many of you believe that you have superhero discernment, you are able to discern things about James and Harvest that all of us poor sheep can’t and we need you to save us. And now, gasp, James is trying to take down Christianity world wide – assemble the Justice League. What a crock.

    The contention that anyone who is at Harvest is there because they are sheep or lack the discernment that you have smacks of elitism. It is being inferred that if you are at Harvest, especially in leadership, you are too either dumb to realize what is going on, or are in on it. I know many of the elders. They are godly men who know everything you all purport to know (minus the half truths and spin) and believe they are doing God’s work and following God’s man. I trust them. The chairman of the elders is someone I would trust with my life. If he says it is cool, it is cool.

    So you can continue the charade of all being objective truth seekers and tellers if you like, but your obsession and bias is evident to fair minded people.

    To James Conway, you state that because I said I support James 100% I can’t possibly be objective. Your bias does not allow for the possibility that one could objectively weigh all options and choose to support James. I’d have to be an idiot. Well there are a lot of people who think I’m an idiot so ok, I’m an idiot who supports James. There are a lot of us out there.

    So good luck with the whole Justice League thing, and saving Christianity for the generations that follow. I will continue, with eyes wide open, to support my pastor 100%.

    • rainbowmn says:

      Love you buddy – but in my broken opinion you couldn’t be any more wrong.

      The only grid I look thru is whether love flourishes. There is no other measure I know. It is the oxygen of the Kingdom. As Paul said, you may possess all else, but without love you have in the end nothing.

      The Harvest dilemma is simple that way. In the very beginning, from the very first month with James and Harvest – if you were there – there was strife and fighting, warring over turf and bodies falling to the side. The wounded were everywhere.

      And it continues to this day.

      I really don’t care much about James’ theology or the goofy celebrity pals he hangs with or even how much money he makes. I don’t care how many churches he buys or how big his radio audience is.

      But I hurt deeply because of the walking wounded, because of the the bitterness and contempt – and I mean CONTEMPT – that James deals from for those he can not control.

      That is not speculation. Many of us have been in those meetings, phone calls, and car drives around the block with James. We know what he says when no one is around. We know what his secrets are. Anyone with eyes just needs to look around or listen to figure it out.

      So Bob – I am sorry you believe us to be off base here. But somewhere someone rises up to stop the bully before he hurts everyone on the playground.

      He deserves no special treatment because he is James MacDonald. He has conditioned everyone for that expectation. He is just a messed up guy with a lot of power.

    • Jeremy says:

      What is this black church, anyways? Do you have it on authority that one of the main goals of ER2 was some kind of race reconciliation between two “segregated churches”? How would you grade the results? Any problems with how Voddie Baucham was talked about in absentia at the Men’s Conference by James?

    • James Conway says:

      Greetings Bob. Pastor James has embraced a heretic, T.D.Jakes, as a brother in Christ and has repeatedly claimed that Jakes possesses “Biblical solidity”. How do you reconcile that? Do you believe that a Word-Faith Health-Wealth Prosperity preacher possesses “biblical solidity”?

  31. No Ax, Just Truth says:

    There is way too much money, power and influence involved to simply trust. I believe church members have a responsibility to see that every cent of the money that the people of God have given as an offering is used to His glory and that everything done in His name is without APPEARANCE of wrong doing. This is biblical. There is no excuse for the complete lack of transparency and accountability that has been historical since the business meetings were discontinued so many years ago. Just as James asked us years ago not to expect him to rely on Harvest for his income, and that he should be allowed to have streams of income (neigh mighty rivers), we should not be expected to rely upon the character of mere men to resist the pull of power and wealth. HBC has many protections for sexual sin (staff may not ride in car with member of opposite sex alone, etc…) but where is the protection of temptation to sin financially and spiritually by abusing power? I asked years ago why we were not putting in place PROTECTIONS for James so that this day would not come. Out of love for my church and my pastor I asked. But no protections were put into place. Is it true that Elders may be removed at his discretion? Is it not true that some of the elders and leaders may have their own “streams of income” which are tied to Harvest? Or is that not true? Why don’t you share with us here how elders are now chosen, retained, disciplined? How is it decided who will benefit financially from having a stream of income from HBC or HBF? Would you be willing to share if you have a stream of income related to the church? I think many at Harvest would love to know more about this.

  32. Bob Arosen says:

    I grew up at Mt Prospect Bible Church and observed an interesting dynamic, no matter how ridiculous the allegatio, there was always a percentage of members who believed it. Whenever a decision was to be made there was a percentage of the members (usually the same ones) who questioned the motives and saw evil intent. As I spoke with others in different churches, they acknowledged they had seen the same phenomenon. That leads me to believe that there is no reason for me to post here. No matter what my logic, I don’t see the truth, or I’m in on it.

    My function at Harvest is to be Mr. Bob. For the last 17 or so years I have taught grade school kids on weekends and every week at AWANA. That’s it. No river. No stream. No drop of money.

    I hate to ruin that storyline because the basis of the question implies that if you know the truth ( maybe not among readers here, but others who where involved might dispute your interpretation of the truth) and choose to stay you must be getting money. Some might say that implication is offensive and an insult to those who love James and serve at Harvest.

    • Mr. 990 says:

      Dear Bob,

      I believe you are mistaken with regard to your assertion, “No stream. No drop of money.” Perhaps you were not paid the bounty that Mrs. Nelson has been paid, but, nevertheless, I trust as a director of Walk in the Word, you were sufficiently renumerated for your services, so as to have received at least a “stream” or “drop of money.” Regards.

      • Bob Arosen says:

        Dear Mr 990,

        Hi my name is Bob Arosen. I am at a disadvantage because you know so much about me and I don’t even know your name.

        You’re right, I misspoke. Early in this decade I worked for Walk in the Word as the interim director. I oversaw the transition to RBC control. I didn’t think that the several months that I was paid for over 8 years ago was germain to this discussion. Maybe it is.

        So I will rephrase, other than a several month period of time in 2003 or thereabouts when I assisted the transition of WITW to Michigan, no river, no stream, no drop. That’s not why I’m posting here.

        Is that better? I assumed that the poster was referring to present day, and that’s what I was responding to. If you, who seems to know me, thinks that my loyalty can be bought by a few dollars I earned 8 years ago, then you don’t know me.

        • no ax says:

          I think all the money paid out over the years by Harvest-spawned personal ministries is very germain. I would not call $80,000 a few. Or maybe I am not correctly reading the public tax forms for Walk in the Word from 2004. If indeed you received $80,000 for a few months work, well, I know I would remember something like that. Most of us would love to have a temp job which paid so well and a friend to offer us such a position. Forgive me if I am mis-informed about this. If I am, please set the record straight. I just think we should be clear about all of these important matters. Money can be very influential. It is interesting to look at the tax forms (I am no accountant) and try to understand-if I may be so bold as to try and understand. Prior to 2009 it APPEARS (I’m no accountant) that James received around 150,000/year for his work in his personal MINISTRY. For the last 2 years on file, it APPEARS that James has received NOTHING for his work at WITW. (Although suddenly I notice that some company which he APPEARS to have a 35% interest in has sold WITW a license worth…you guessed it, 150,000) That is fine. I just think everyone would feel better if all these things were out in the open. Years ago, when James announced (to thundering applause) that he was freezing his salary, I never heard an announcement about his quickly burgeoning salary at WITW. I just thought, “Isn’t that wonderful? He feels the Lord has blessed him enough, and he wants to be an example of Heb 13:5!” It is possible, it seems, that he knew he would not be needing any more raises for the foreseeable future. It’s that kind of smoke and mirrors that makes us feel like dumb sheep once we open our eyes, Bob. I’m sorry if these facts offend anyone. I know that they offend me. I believe that HBC has gone way beyond 1 Thess 5:22. Charity Navigator has given WITW a one star rating out of 4. Why is that?

          I also want to be clear that although these financial concerns are important to me, the underlying ROOT problem is actually accountability and strength of the elder board which has been a problem for YEARS. How many times did we hear an announcement that they were reigning James in and he would not be so busy or travelling so much? I think the entanglements and possible conflicts of interest between business and church and ministry are VERY SIGNIFICANT. It SOUNDS like the strength of the elder board has just been diluted in a significant way. The ROOT below that is…I guess pride.

          Kevin W., you said it all in a gentle yet truthful way. SO MANY of us see what is going on and have tried to speak out and have some impact. Some of us for YEARS. Why not just deal with these issues instead of hiding them under a bushel??? Let the light in. The righteous are as bold as a lion…

          • Not A Dime More says:

            Actually, No Ax, according to a WITW audit, “most of the materials sold by WITW were developed by a member of the Board of Directors [James]. During the years ended June 30, 2009 and 2008, WITW paid a licensing fee of $150,000 and $137,750, respectively, for the right to use these materials and honorariums of $30,000 and $37,000, respectively, to this member or his corporation.”

            Please keep in mind that these sums, $180,000 and $174,750, are in addition to his massive church compensation package for the same respective years.

            Wonder how many of the current elders even know all the different ways and the massive bounties James is collecting from his “ministry?” I wonder how many economically struggling members of the church, that were urged to “sacrificially give” to the 5G campaign, know how much James is collecting from the “ministry?”

          • Scott Bryant says:

            No Ax …

            I thought your comment regarding the Charity Navigator rating of Walk in the Word was rather interesting. So I went to the site and looked it up. Sure enough, it was rated a 1 out of 4 possible stars. Anyway, as I continued to poke around, I came across a few other interesting issues that shed a little light on the rating.

            1. From 2005 to 2008, Walk in the Word was rated as a four out of four stars, scoring a 60.7 out of 70 points. But following that, it began to experience a slow and steady decline.

            2009 – 3 out of 4 stars (57.8 out of 70)
            2010 – 3 out of 4 stars (52.3 out of 70)
            2011 – 2 out of 4 stars (average score of 47 out of 70)
            2012 – 1 out of 4 stars (37.2 out of 70)

            2. If you look at the breakout for the current year, the “Financial Score” is actually on the edge of a 0 out of 4. And while the “Accountability and Transparency Score” is currently a 3 out of 4, it too is on the edge of dipping down into a lower range.

            I wonder what’s causing this? Quite honestly, I’ve never looked into Charity Navigator before, and I don’t know a lot about how it works. But according to the site, a score of 1 out of 4 means the following:

            “Fails to meet industry standards and performs well below most charities in its Cause.”

            And as for the “Financial Score,” which is on the verge of a 0 out of 4 rating, a dip into that category would mean the following:

            “Performs far below industry standards and below nearly all charities in its Cause.”

            For anyone who is interested, here’s a link to Charity Navigator’s “Methodology” page. It walks you through how ratings are assigned, etc…


          • x-harvester says:

            You can download WITW’s 2011 (6/30/2011) tax return, Form 990 off Guidestar.org. It is another charity website that allows you to view a number of different information including downloading tax returns.

            You will find the 2011 return (Form 990) available for download (referencing pages of the downloaded Form 990 pdf). Here are some items:

            Page 1, Line 20) Note balance sheet portion which shows WITW balance reduced by $2.2mil during 2011 with ending Net Asset balance is at $100K.

            Page 19, Sch D) $2.2 mil of WITW assets transferred to Harvest Bible Chapel.

            Page 7) $0 Compensation to James Macdonald

            Page 27, Sch. L) 76K payment to Sustend LLC. Additional Disclosure that JMac is a greater than 35% owner.

            Page 14) Note changes in total support between 2006 – 2010

            I don’t know the reason for the transfer nor why the change from compensation to JMac to payments to Sustend LLC (which is owned by JMac). There are questions, but as I am not familiar with the persons or names, I will leave for those who are familiar to address.

  33. Kevin W. says:

    We raised our family at Harvest and will always fondly remember you as Mr. Bob to our children as they went all the way through AWANA. They loved you and we observed your gifts as a teacher who could reach the young ones. We love you for that and thank God for you.

    Your loyalty to your pastor is admirable but at best it is naive to deny that there are serious problems at Harvest springing from James’ misguided leadership. We have been at Harvest long enough to see the change in direction the church has taken. We are not “insiders” just a family that has been regular attenders and involved in various ministries. We have been concerned for a long time but continued to trust that James and the elders would lead us in the right direction while never forgetting that they are fallen men just like everyone else.

    The situation at Harvest is coming to a head. People who should be protected and ministered to by our church leaders are instead being hurt. James is casting a bad witness by his arrogant behavior and lifestyle. We have stood by our church and our pastor but I don’t know how much longer we are willing to do that. So many are claiming that Harvest has become a cult and although in the past we have defended against that, we are not so sure that is not becoming the case. We actually grieve that James has not had the kind of accountability that has kept many of us in check. It has been to the destruction of his character.

    James MacDonald, to the best of my knowledge, is not a heretic. But he is a man who is drunk with his own power and influence. Harvest has become about “James MacDonald” not about Jesus. Sadly, the glory of Christ has been eclipsed by the glory of James MacDonald. Our prayer for James is that he would come to a state of repentance. He is a man of gifts, there is no denying that, but he has misused those gifts. Our prayer is that he would come to see that; that God would bring someone into his life that would help him see that. Maybe it will be you, or someone else at Harvest who loves him and has no ax to grind but just a genuine heartfelt desire to see James turn around and become a humble shepherd for the glory of God.

  34. intheknow says:

    @ Bob…how did that go? The turning over of WITW to RBC? This time, James actually was found out, a Godly RBC leadership team confronted him on his unethical business practices and his self-serving usage of people, he did not get his way, and had to quietly retreat while loudly spinning the situation. But since you were a part of that, I am sure you are well aware of how that went down. RBC has chosen to have zero affiliation with James MacDonald and WITW.

    • Harvest RM says:

      I would like more info on this. The RBC issue has continued to nag at me. Since I support WITW financially, I would like to make sure of
      1) how it is being run.
      2) why does RBC not want anything to do with them? (also, there was a possible merger with Baxk To The Bible that fell through). Does anyone know if it was for similar reasons?

      Also Dr. Stowell still is very involved in the RBC ministries.

      • No Ax, Just Truth says:

        Well you will need to be very persistent and prepared BEFORE you go to try to find your answers, I will tell you that much. Please see the posts above about Charity Navigator and Guidestar.org. Do your homework. If you know an accountant, maybe they could look through those documents with you. I pray you will get some answers that satisfy you.
        Be aware that you can only access tax records for ministries. Churches, although they may file a 990 if they desire transparency, are not required by law to do so. Strange isn’t it? That the people of God have so much to hide… Just be aware that you can only see what WITW pays-and apparently, that is getting harder to figure out too. Are there other streams? HBF? Harvestsongs? Churches Helping Curches? Who knows? For the record, I HAVE asked these questions. I was on a need-to-know-basis, and the elders felt I didn’t need to know.

  35. Bleedingknees says:

    More goats here than sheep!

    You ex Hbc folks were just closeted Congregationalists. Your issues are ecclesiastical. When was the last time any of you, including Scott William Bryant prayed with someone to receive Christ, when…. I thought so? How can we find young men for the Pastorate with piranha like this? SHAME! And all you ….I was in the room, I was an insider, right, and not enough stones to give your name? James just ain’t that scary….

    I pray repentance for us all, love your pastor, pray for your elders, follow them, even when they error, Soverign God has Glory for himself and trials to refine the church in it!

    • Jeremy says:

      Error without repentance? No thanks. I prefer humble, transparent shepherds.

    • Not A Dime More says:

      You ok with “most of the materials sold by WITW were developed by a member of the Board of Directors [James]. During the years ended June 30, 2009 and 2008, WITW paid a licensing fee of $150,000 and $137,750, respectively, for the right to use these materials and honorariums of $30,000 and $37,000, respectively, to this member or his corporation.”

      Please keep in mind that these sums, $180,000 and $174,750, are in addition to his massive church compensation package for the same respective years.

      Wonder how many of the current elders even know all the different ways and the massive bounties James is collecting from his “ministry?” I wonder how many economically struggling members of the church, that were urged to “sacrificially give” to the 5G campaign, know how much James is collecting from the “ministry?”

      • No Ax, Just Truth says:

        Might I add that James was paid for his work through his regular salary (stream 1) when he first wrote the messages for the church. If it is indeed a “ministry” meant to reach as many as possible, I don’t see why James was paid again to re-package the same material (stream 2). Is that the best use of the money that God’s people give sacrificially? To double pay James for writing it? Many other ministries provide messages for free on their web sites so as to reach as many as they can. Ours are packaged and sold. Sold even during our worship services, held up at the front of the church when we are in a worship service to the Lord. Hmm.

        • Waldo says:

          Sounds like James charges “what the market will bear”.

        • Chris Trees says:

          No Ax, Just Truth,

          Let’s not forget, that after the messages are aired on WITW, James and his ghost writers turn those messages for which he’s now been paid twice into books creating additional revenue, (stream 3) the books then lead to conferences and guest speaking honoraria,(stream 4) and when he’s really on a role, to multi-city arena events ala Downpour and Vertical Church. (otherwise known as (stream 5)

          Finally, when all the other streams are exhausted, the HBC Fellowship churches through their membership fees pay for the privilege of repackaging and reusing the messages for their own consumption.

          People in the pork packing business are proud to say that nothing goes to waste, and the only part of the pig left unused is the squeal. They really need to check out the WITW approach to learn to really maximize their profits.

          • No Ax, Just Truth says:

            This is exactly the kind of dishonoring practice that turned my church into a business. It happened slowly at first, but I think I still remember my discomfort and shock the first time a tape series was “hawked” in the church. I’ve always felt a little bad for the pastor they made hold that merchandise up…

            I just happened on this article. The similarities are striking.


            And I want to say that I do feel responsible for the support I’ve given over the years. It seems a little caustic, but as Rainbowmn said, we made this mess. Now HBF is planting churches worldwide full of members that will never vote again, but buy lots of great Christian products!

            One possible reason for James’ change in attitude towards the likes of Furtick, Noble, etc…is marketing. You cannot cross market if you don’t build some consensus. The discernment we were once taught doesn’t serve well any longer. If we are more accepting of different views, we can go to each others conferences and sell each others wares. I think we have already seen this happen.

            And I was wondering if anyone knows how the elder board make-up could be changed without a change in the church’s constitution. Or was the constitution changed? Has anyone even seen the constitution? Did anyone mention that in a family chat? Just wondering…

          • Jon says:

            Chris I am not sure where you are getting your information from but the Harvest Church plants don’t pay a fee for rehashing James’ stuff. They have solid and capable men who preach the Word. There is a small portion (5% of budget) that is donated from each plant to help plant more churches and the ROI is unbelievable … and eternal. Do you really think that James takes a cut of this money? This kind of misinformation is what minimizes the impact you are all hoping for from this blog.

          • Ryan M. Mahoney says:

            No Ax . . . The constitution was changed.

          • No Ax, Just Truth says:

            Did I miss that announcement? Really? The constitution was changed? I shouldn’t be surprised. The constitution once gave members a vote. And a meeting. And required a vote in said meeting from those members to change said constitution. Now members don’t even rate an email blast. Not even a few second in the amazingly cool announcement video. So distracting. So fun. So soothing. Don’t you worry about such complex things. Just sit back and enjoy the…

          • Stephy says:

            This is ridiculous and completely untrue. Vertical Church can be purchased for $10 at Harvest churches (hardcover) or $13 on Amazon or free with any donation at the WITW website. The CD is $10. That’s cheaper than most books or CD’s that you find at any Christian bookstore!!

            The Vertical Church event is free. So is the day for pastors and leaders (where you get the book, workbook and CD for free as well). This is not financially profitable for Harvest but they consider it important because the North American church has lost sight of God (and therefore truly seeking His glory in so much of what they do). The desire is to put our eyes back on God and off of ourselves (creating seeker-sensitive “horizontal” programs etc). You may not love Harvest, but I would hope you can at least appreciate that this is a good aim and goal.

            All Harvest pastors write their own sermons and have no special access to what James is preaching (other than hearing him online like everyone else). Beyond that, I’ve never heard someone copy his sermons. That’s just ridiculous. Harvest churches do give to the Fellowship (as mentioned), but that’s to help with new church plants and the ROI is amazing.

            It’s one thing to have a whiney blog. It’s a whole other thing to tell outright lies. You should be ashamed.

            Scott, you need to do a better job of fact-checking before you approve comments. This has descended into slander. Beyond that, why don’t you read Vertical Church? You might be surprised to find that you agree more than you were expecting. Now wouldn’t that be a fun blog post!!

          • Ryan M. Mahoney says:

            @Stephy, While those charges for the materials are quite reasonable, and it might be true that little, if any, profit is coming back to HBC (which would make the announcement that all proceeds are going to 5G seem irrelevant), you have not addressed where the real money is made on books. It is the advance that makes money for the authors. Assuming all you have said is true it does not eliminate the possibility of making money through an advance on sales. I am not suggesting he has or has not made such an advance; I have no knowledge on the subject either way. But, you seeming to be rushing to assert that no money was made on the advance. Maybe, maybe not.

            As for the contents of the book, I would probably find much agreeable, and, I suspect, some I would not find agreeable. Scott and I left HBC and theology was the least of our concerns.

          • Harvest RM says:


            Better check your facts…the book is $15 dollars (hardcover)!

    • rainbowmn says:

      BK – “love your pastor, pray for your elders, follow them, even when they error.”

      So sad.

      • Chris Trees says:


        You’re absolutely right about revenue stream #6, and I freely admit the error, although since there is no longer such a thing as a HBC bookstore, any HBF attender who desires to hear own messages or read his books, is buying them retail like everyone else and thereby contributing to James’ bottom line . As for items 1-5, up until the point where WITW was subsumed into HBC, I’ll stand by those as being accurate. Since WITW became a HBC enterprise how the money is handled is a little murkier, but it’s unlikely that James enthusiastically gave up his compensation, without an offset someplace.

        As a former elder once said to me, “James is paid thousands of dollars everytime he speaks someplace”. He truly does get a whole lot of mileage from his sermons.

  36. Jeremy says:

    If this is the same Bob Arosen commenting on Ryan’s blog, then ccording to you Bob, no one in the history of church has EVER been abused by leaders in authority, correct? In fact, no one should ever speak up about their “perceived” abuse because it’s one-sided and biased (due to the fact that leaders in these churches rarely if ever publicly respond to these “allegations”)?


    I bet your pastor’s buddy Perry Noble is also running a humble, fine upstanding, God-glorifying church, and the college professor who’s family got royally harassed, is just a big fat liar. Funny thing is, chances are near 100% that people who share in the responsibility of those events, and are still in the employ of New Song, will be watching James as he gives his speech there. Oh sure he’ll give a great talk on VC and how we should be doing it, dripping with scripture, but at the cost of how many godly relationships? But it’s never James fault is it? It’s all the other godly men that have turned their back that are in the wrong, right?

  37. Waldo says:

    How long until “Christianity Today” picks up on all of this? They’re local aren’t they? Has anyone notified them? The body of Christ needs to be warned, especially before James does his big tour.

    • rainbowmn says:

      My understanding is that The Herald / Paddock Publications has begun an investigation into Mr. MacDonald and his use of non-profit cover from Harvest for personal gain.

      Lots of stuff coming down.

  38. Bob Arosen says:

    It was nice meeting all of you. So many places like this, when confronted by something they don’t want to hear, rabbit trail and try to discredit the one who might post an opposing view. So glad to see that doen’t happen here. It is an open forum where people post under their real names.

    Good luck in your quest of truth, justice, and the American way.

    • Chris Cartney says:

      i AM seeking ‘truth, justice’ and the “biblical” way. You have taken a written position and tried to defend the history of a pastor who has made written and verbal allegiance with a false teacher, while discarding the allegiance he had with orthodox/prax teachers.

      Your points to defend, raised questions from the words you wrote, so it seems fair to challenge those words. No one was digging for anything… as you imply with ‘rabbit trails’. Why are you ending the ‘confrontation’ now?

      If you are correct, and the many of us who are commenting and others who are just reading/healing are wrong, then why can’t Pastor James ask just one of the elders who are no longer at Harvest to write an update or appear with him for another meeting at the church? Hearing from Allchin, Jodry, Corning would be healing and end the controversy of why they ended their position and also left the fellowship of all the Harvest campuses and plants.

  39. Sick & Tired says:

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


    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.

    • As I do not post anonymously, I feel free to point out the irony here. You complain that others posting without their names, but you do so under the pseudonym: “Sick and Tired.” Help me out, here, because I see a pot calling out a kettle.

      Ultimately, whether people post anonymously or not, you still haven’t dealt with the core of the issue raised by each article under which you posted this comment. Are you not even remotely concerned that something has gone amiss at Harvest?

    • Sick & Tired . . . I have commented on a few issues here with my name and my picture.

      I don’t believe the road of silence that many of the former elders and staff members have taken has served James well, Harvest well, the Kingdom well or the others that have been deeply hurt by a man out of control. I want people to know so they will be spared the experience that others have had, and I want people to know so that change can happen. I have faith in God to work in this situation, but I also know that God, for whatever insane reason, choses to use human ACTION to be part of his work.

      There’s my name. Now, what’s your name?

    • rainbowmn says:

      Sick and Tired –
      Is this what you really believe?

      “I pray that those with legitimate concerns will be silent.”

      If it is, there is really nothing more to talk about. Respectfully, you simply are not correct on that one.

      James is a regular guy like the rest of us. He has not been given any special authority. He is not extra-ordinary. He is not smarter or speaks for God.

      What he is – is accountable.

      Sorry if that hurts your feelings. Who we are all is meaningless. Its James’ actions that he is responsible for. Those of us who worked alongside of him have been covering for him for more than a decade. Needs to stop.

  40. Jeff A says:

    I’m a bit late to this post, but I thought I’d offer a couple of thoughts in response. From my experience, churches with small elder boards and large elder boards alike can be controlled by a dominant, controlling senior pastor. If the elders are selected by the senior pastor or the existing elder board (which is essentially controlled by the senior pastor) then it would be very easy for a pastor to select elders that can be easily bent to his will.

    I think the key issue is the assertion that the senior pastor should have a 50% share of governing decisions. One of the readings at my church today was from Matthew 20: “‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” How do “vertical church” and the leadership pie deal with this passage of Scripture?

    In my church, our pastors believe in a “flat leadership” model in contrast to the “vertical church” model above. We have multiple bivocational pastors and a shepherd board with several members. Leadership is shared more or less equally. I’m sure the pastors have a bit more influence but I doubt they’d put percentages on it. Is this as efficient? No. Does it prevent some of the pitfalls of a “vertical church” model? I think it does. Could a pastor/elder/shepherd go “sideways” in this flat leadership model? Possibly, but since the emphasis of our leadership model is on submission and service instead of domination and control I think it’s less likely.

    Anyway, thanks for the post Scott. Also, I don’t know if this helps, but when you mention that HBC is “massively influential”, I think it’s good to put this in perspective. HBC is only “massively influential” in a relatively small context, amongst a subset of evangelical Christians. Outside of the Chicago area, a lot of Christians probably know very little if anything about HBC or James McDonald. Not trying to say you shouldn’t keep raising concerns here Scott, just thought it might help to remind everyone here that HBC is a very small slice of the Church pie (pun intended).

    Peace of Christ be with you,
    Jeff A

    • Jeff,

      Thanks for the thoughtful comments regarding church leadership and the insight into other leadership models. I think it’s always helpful to remember that the Christian church is a mosaic of practices.

      With regards to your concluding comments, I would humbly disagree. The radio ministry for Walk in the Word stretches far and wide. The Fellowship has plants across the US and around the world. And McDonald himself is embarking on a 40-city tour to teach other churches how to do it the “Harvest way.” So while his influence may not yet be as large as some other church leaders, it is without question, growing exponentially as he continues to do these tours and conferences and whatnot.

      Again, thanks much for the perspective. It always helps …

      P.S. Any chance you’re with a church called Life on the Vine? A friend of mine was talking to me about it recently.

      • Jeff A says:

        Fair enough…his influence is growing, but what percent of Christians in the U.S. and world are actually in HBF churches? Impossible to say, I know. My point was that it’s easy to overstate the influence of the “Harvest way” as Christians in Chicagoland. Still, point taken that I shouldn’t swing the pendulum the other way and understate James’ influence.

        And yes, I am at Life on the Vine…and we actually met back at HBC Gurnee a few years ago. Sorry I have no picture attached to my post to jog your memory.

    • rainbowmn says:

      Interesting perspective, Jeff.
      I wonder, in your opinion, how many need to be crippled before it would matter to you.

      Are simple hundreds and thousands enough?

      It’s called grooming, Jeff. Training people to obey you, to believe you are the only one that really loves them, to ignore the voices of those around you.

      This had nothing to do with whether James has reached the international stage with millions of followers – although he is as big a name as there is in the US right now in the faith community.

      It has to do with protecting the one.

  41. Bleedingknees says:

    I’m starting a blog for all my former friends, customers and employees to meet and take shots at e without accountability or consequences, irrespective of all the energy and sacrifice that went in to doing life together. I’m going to post all my financial dealings on the Internet including my real estate and investments. Then I’m going to expose my wife children and grandchildren to life in the goldfish bowl and gong show. You all need therapy, I guess this is it, your certainly not running the race with endurance! So sad!

    • Just A Little Dumber Now says:

      Bleedingknees?! Seriously!? We are all a little dumber for reading your comment. Thanks for ur contribution.

      • Just a Little Dumber Now …

        While I will always appreciate a well-timed reference to Billy Madison, I would like to suggest that nothing in your comment actually advanced this discussion. While I may not agree with Bleedingknees’ assessment of this blog or the concerns that many have raised through their comments, I do not believe that your statement helps anyone process our concerns regarding the current circumstances at Harvest. In the future, may I be so bold as to ask you to comment in a more constructive manner? I know you may be hurting by what has happened at HBC, but I implore you not to let that be a trap for you to descend into ad hominem attacks.

        Billy Madison: The Ultimate Insult

    • J Crane says:

      Bleedingknees, will you pray for those of us at HBC who remain and endure the hypocritical, self serving use of the Bible while serving and not telling lies to the people we serve at HBC? It is our pastor who has shed ‘accountability or consequences, irrespective of all the energy and sacrifice that went in to “doing life together”.’ THAT phrase only applies if you do life his way.

      I have not seen comments or postings on this site that mention anything of personal attacks on family. Was there an accusation, or were you just inferring?

      • Bleedingknees says:

        Of course! 1 cor 16:13. James 1. Have been praying for you all for many weeks. God has used the ministry of Harvest Bible Chapel to equip our family and many friends for 25 years! Not a perfect church or leader, but a sanctifying work in my life. Look to the Lord!

  42. intheknow says:

    choose to sin, choose to suffer.

  43. Chris Trees says:


    Based upon your comments, I think that it might be still be helpful to respectfully continue to explain the need for transparency at HBC a little more fully.

    If you or I, while in the process of looking for a new job, were diagnosed with having a treatable, but otherwise fatal cancer, we would be faced with something of a dilemma. If we were to immediately seek treatment, our revealed medical condition/history would likely make us a less desirable candidate to many employers. On the other hand, if we elected to keep the disease a secret, and were to forego treatment, we might potentially be more employable in the near term, but our prognosis for any long term employment would be drastically and negatively impacted because our health would deteriorate and we would die.

    The numourous problems at HBC are not unlike this. While exposing the problems there may in the short term be distasteful and even painful, permitting them to go on without at least pointing them out risks greater harm to Christ’s Church, is a sin against the HBC leadership and attendees, and also denies the HBC attendees their God ordained right to make informed choices about where and how and with whom they worship.

    The current, situation at HBC exists today, almost entirely, BECAUSE sinful actions and decisions by the leadership have been kept secret for a very long time, permitting them to get worse and worse, until now they are considered nothing more than “business as usual”.

    HBC has historically proclaimed the necessity of personal transparance and accountability, and many, including myself have been blessed by this lesson. Sadly, the leadership at HBC has not applied this wisdom to themselves corporately, to the harm of themselves and those for whom they are responsible.

    And by the way, there’s nothing wrong with posting executive compensation agreements. Many Christian NFP organizations do so, and even the secular world knows the wisdom of keeping matters of money on the table, above board and in plain site of everyone to reduce the temptation to “cheat”. Strangely, for some reason, many large evangelical churches seem to be one of the notable groups to balk at this practice.

    As many posters here have asserted; instances where these problems were brought to the attention of the elders (and James) have been almost universally ingnored and buried, and those who accepted the responsibility and risks of confronting the problems have far too often been punished, and/or driven out of the congregation. (And yes, I’m one of these and I have seen this up close and personally.)

    This presents individuals who genuinely care for the health and welfare of not only HBC but also the “Church Universal” with a very difficult and painful choice; remain or depart in silence and watch the conditions at HBC (in particular) continue to degererate, or find another venue for bringing these problems to light.

    In Ezekiel chapter 3, God warns that a watchman who is in the position to raise an alarm that could potentially prevent harm to others, and doesn’t act, will be held accountable by God for their inaction. At HBC those who have elected to step forward, whether anonymously or not, are choosing to be obedient to this lesson; not unmindful that throughout Scripture those who have accepted the responsibility of pointing out sin, were seldom if ever commended, but most often were punished and disgraced for their efforts. The history of those who have stepped forward in this manner at HBC testifies that they were seldom if ever thanked for their concerns and warnings, but instead were led away to the catapult.

    While I don’t for a moment believe that many (or any) of us who have posted on this site could say that we have done so without at least some “mixed motives” (most if not all have been hurt or disallusioned to one degree or another); acting in the tradition of the “noble Bereans” and carefully considering and discerning truth from error, isn’t necessarily wrong and neither is raising an alarm to protect the church and others at the risk of personal injury and loss even using a venue like this.

    While we may not all agree on every point, I hope that we can at least agree on this.

    • rainbowmn says:

      Bleeding Knees is one of the faithful that James preys on.
      Her comment from earlier –

      “love your pastor, pray for your elders, follow them, even when they error.”

      is held by many who have been raised up in the faith to believe that some like James are infallible messengers from God.

      Others have expressed similar beliefs.
      Why do you think Jones was able to get 900 thinking adults and children to lay down their lives for him in Jonestown?

      Its the way it works, friend.

    • No Ax, Just Truth says:

      Thank you Chris for expressing the heart of many of us. You are articulate and gracious. I am still clinging to anonymity although I have written and spoke to leadership time and again. I have my reasons for not coming forward here.
      Bleeding Knees: I know “doing life together” is a famous Jamesism. Many of us who are crying out for our church HAVE been doing life together. When you are catapulted it kind of makes you wonder exactly what that phrase means.
      Bob: You said, …”when confronted by something they don’t want to hear, rabbit trail and try to discredit the one who might post an opposing view.” I’m wondering what you confronted us with that we don’t want to hear. I don’t recall you having anything compelling to add that might change my understanding of this situation. Many excellent questions and points have been raised and you have chosen to ignore them. You simply repeat how trustworthy James and the new elders are. “Trust them because I do” Why don’t you present some facts, answer some questions. And really– How do you feel that you have been discredited???? Because it was pointed out that you have indeed benefited financially from your relationship to Harvest?

      • Ryan M. Mahoney says:

        Bob, I’d hate to see you or any HBCers leave. Discussion is good and healthy. Please don’t disengage; I’d love to have a HBC person dialogue about the substance here. Is this an accurate (I believe it is) report about James’ power in the church? Do the present elders know this is James’ view of their role? Are church members okay with this structural change? If so, why? Ect…

  44. Jeremy says:

    This is related, but slightly off current topic. Is anyone familiar with Village Bible Church in Aurora/Sugar Grove and their leadership model?

    They seem to be truly elder led, NO SENIOR PASTOR, with various role-playing elders based on gifting, including teaching.

    They seem to have gone through a thoughtful process of writing several distinctives of their church including one on the role of their elders. Much of it looks to be drawn from John MacArthur’s Answering the Key Questions About Elders – http://www.villagebible.org/mediafiles/distinctiveelders.pdf.

    Some key points I drew from the read:

    1. Elders can be nominated by the Guiding Elders AND members of the church
    2. Nominated Elders are confirmed by a 3/4 vote of the members (note, they do NOT claim congregationalism aside from confirming elders)
    3. Plurality of Elders – “No one elder is to be considered the “first among equals” overall. We believe, rather, that each elder will rise to become “first among equals” in specific areas of giftedness, while others will rise to become “first among equals” in other areas.”
    4. I am not sure about what seems to be two classes of elders – Shepherding Elders that seem to be charged solely with guarding the flock, while the more exclusive Guiding Elders seem to be not only in charge of shepherding, but also all decisions, finances, doctrine, direction/governance and discipline.

    Is anyone familiar with this church, this document, or how this model plays out practically?

  45. J Crane says:

    The goal this summer is to keep a low profile. , HBC leadership will want to:
    1. Ride out the storm by letting a number of people leaving this summer – have we been told to follow “Gamaliel’s advice” in order to yield less dissidents in a few months? The VC tour has begun, and it is bad marketing if your own church has contested issues with VC ideology.
    2. Keep the pulpit from drawing attention to the conflict at HBC – no advertised speaker line up limits blog material and comments after Pastor Jeff’s sermon point (but mainly the ER2 fall out) elicited such a huge response to this blog
    3. Let the dust settle – have commenters been told not to say anything else so that things get quiet? Bob and Bleedingknees, your exit was so hasty and timely.

  46. Waldo says:

    By the way, pulling in “Gamaliel’s advice” is probably not wise. Not everything in scripture is recorded because it is true, it is just what actually happened. According to “Gamaliel’s advice”, we should be applauding the Mormons, the JWs, the Muslims, and Joel Olsteen. Growth and longevity isn’t always good, sometimes it’s the sign of a cancer.

  47. Waldo says:

    Ooops, “because it is true” might have been better worded “because it is advisable”, hopefully it is clear what was intended.

  48. Tom says:

    Let’s be clear, Sick & Tired, most likely is James. Josh, is almost certainly James. and, given his desire for truth, rainbowmn may even be James.

  49. Just for the record, it’s correctly spelled ‘Jodrey’.

  50. Doug Hayes says:

    Wow….all I gotta say is it looks like some ‘splainin’ needs to be done for all of us HBC RM people like me (My name is Doug Hayes…any RM pastor that is reading and wants to call me…you can find my number, I’m sure) that have been sitting in the seats knowing that God will root out evil when it gets in the works. Seems that might be happening…., I think I gotta go find Dave Corning and talk to him. I’d sure like to know more about what “my” leadership has to say about this mess. I hate kool aid.

    And, please….no more hastily called “Sunday evenin’ meetin’s” (no torches or smoke machines required).

    Nice call, Jayson…wondered if the spelling would get corrected. Say hi to your dad for me….

    Sorry, Scott, if my posting didn’t advance the discussion but I keep getting pulled to your blog by my well intentioned son in law so I thought I would send him an indirect message that I am listenin’

    • Treading out the grain says:

      Sorry sir, but you are under the mistaken impression that JM, gives a rip about a few stray sheep. He only cares about one thing: “Are you with me? I need to know that you are with me…heart and soul.”

      You need to get caught up on your reading and viewing:


      Your pastor now fancies himself as a pastor’s pastor. He’s more interested in galavanting around the country teaching other pastors how they should be doing church and attending his pastor-dudes’ conferences, than humbly, faithfully preaching from his pulpit week in and week out, and feeding those that have called Harvest home.. Go ahead, see if you get 40 weekends of LIVE teaching from JM this ministry year. It’s a train wreck. You all deserve better.

  51. intheknow says:

    And that is why there is this blog…the fact that he is “galavanting around the country” trying to teach other pastors how to pastor is why he must be stopped.

    For the thousands of pastors out there that are struggling to get encouragement and support in their small communities…the scorpion comes and offers to meet their needs…only to sting them in the jugular when he is done with them or when they dare to challenge an idea or question an action.

    While boasting the name of Jesus, he leaves a trail of confusion, discouragement & disillusionment. Tragic.

  52. Sky Blue says:

    Is Pastor James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel qualified to be an Elder/Overseer based on scripture?

    Titus 1:7:9 (NASB)
    “For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward.”

    Is James MacDonald above reproach?

    “Not self-willed” – sought and obtained 50% control on board of elders.

    “Not quick-tempered, not pugnacious” – believes those who disagree with him should be catapulted out of the church.

    “Not fond of sordid gain” – owns a $1.9 million luxury home, has numerous streams of ministry income that are not transparently disclosed to donors and has a fully orbed wealth philosophy.

    “Hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout” – has he acted in a lovingly good, sensible and just manner toward other believers in the church, including those on staff? Not according to the testimonies of some.

    “Self-controlled” – see again the catapult solution for those who oppose him.

    “Holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to REFUTE THOSE WHO CONTRADICT”

    – persistently refuses to refute TD Jakes and his heretical Trinity denying modalism and false health & wealth teaching.

    Is God’s Word authoritative in all matters?

    If so, may I ask why James MacDonald still retains his position of leadership in the church, when it seems he flouts all scriptural qualifications for an overseer, rejects numerous entreaties and refuses to repent and seek reconciliation?

    I’m just a little voice, a former HBC’er asking the question.

    • Sky Blue says:

      I would like to correct my above statement to read “flouts many scriptural qualifications”, not all. I apologize for the “all” statement, when clearly not all qualifications were addressed, nor are they all in question, only the ones listed here.

  53. seek truth says:

    More questions by HBC members need to be asked. Awareness raised. How is the business/corporation HBC ran? What is seen and spoken on stage Saturday and Sunday for a few hours may be completely different than how the business is run M-F. Find out. How would people perceive leadership if they knew the truth?

    Those around the CEO are mezmorized by a man, too weak to stand for that which is right in the eyes of Christ. Pastors on staff who are in their 50’s an 60’s who are comfortable in their positions and would never oppose the man in risk of losing their job and the perks that come with it. So who will take a stand?

    Any wise person who has spent any sort of significant time with the man when not on stage can see through the “front”. If only the man could look inward and see where he is now compared to the early days. Maybe wealth and Christian circle fame no longer allows clarity.

    No anger. Sadness.

    -Seek Truth

  54. Believe in God, Believe also in Me. -Jesus says:

    Wow, this whole thing makes me really sad. Regardless of where anyone stands. I can see two sides to every story and I am unsure what to even make of it all but mainly because I know Jesus is probably really saddened by this. Is this what He wants from us as His church, His bride ? 😦 God have mercy on all of us.

    “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 6:5

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