MacDonald’s “confession” includes admission of gambling and TED’s response.

Over the past six weeks, The Elephant’s Debt has been committed to the process of exploring the character of James MacDonald, Senior Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel.  As we have already stated under “The Hope,” it has been our desire from the very beginning for James MacDonald to experience genuine repentance regarding the matters discussed on this website.  After MacDonald provided his statement to the HBC congregation this past Sunday, it would appear that he may have taken a small, initial step down the difficult road of repentance.  Nevertheless, regardless of how one interprets MacDonald’s confession to the congregation of HBC, the matter of elder qualification remains.  Therefore, in this post, we will seek to address both of these two matters, beginning first with the subject of elder qualification.

From the beginning, it has been our contention that Pastor MacDonald has ceased to qualify as an elder based upon the prescriptions laid out by the Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy.

“If someone aspires to the office of elder, he desires a good work.  The elder 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.”

Thus far, our argument has been largely confined to just two of the qualifications for eldership: being above reproach and being a lover of money.  In support of that argument, we have restricted ourselves time and again, in the hopes that by offering one tangible, quantifiable line of evidence, we might convince others that our concerns are not without merit or grounds.  Ultimately, the Elephant’s Debt has exercised a fair measure of restraint in that we have refused to publish many of the other supporting stories that numerous former staff, elders and congregants have brought to our attention.

Nevertheless, for the sake of those that are new to the site, let us briefly summarize our argument to date.

  • James MacDonald bears the lion’s share of the responsibility for accumulating $70 million dollars of debt.  He likewise bears the responsibility for telling the congregation that he would build out under certain terms and then proceeding to build out under very different terms, without correcting or revising the congregation’s expectations.
  • James MacDonald bears the responsibility for insisting upon a 40% (or $100,000) pay raise on the heels of a season that he himself has subsequently characterized as being a season in which the church was in “real danger of going bankrupt.”  While appropriate compensation for a pastor is admittedly subjective, no one could argue that a man living in a $1.9 million dollar home needed a $100,000 raise to adequately provide for his family’s needs, thus raising the issue of being a “lover of money.”
  • James MacDonald bears the responsibility for granting himself half of the power vested in the elder board structure of Harvest Bible Chapel.  While MacDonald maintains that this new structure protects the church in the event of an elder going “sideways,” it fails to answer the larger concern of what happens when MacDonald himself goes “sideways.”
  • James MacDonald bears the responsibility for inaugurating a massive financial fundraising campaign without publicly prioritizing debt-reduction as the most critical element of the campaign.  Furthermore, in presenting the campaign to his congregation, he dared to speak for God by telling them how deeply God wanted them to sacrificially give.
  • James MacDonald bears the responsibility for failing to adequately address the heretical theology of the men he has introduced to his congregation and to the broader evangelical community at large.  T.D. Jakes used well-known, Modalistic language to redefine Trinitarianism and James MacDonald did not explain why this redefinition was heretical and why this matters for the body of Christ.  Finally, he said not one word on Jakes’ well established history of preaching the prosperity gospel, which is built on the backs of the broken.
  • James MacDonald bears the responsibility for gambling in private homes, church offices and casinos after explicitly preaching on the sinful nature of “dishonest gain” through gambling.
  • James MacDonald bears the responsibility for confessing his sins to each and every member of The Void, as well as to many, many others who he has failed to treat with temperance, self-control, respectability, and gentleness.

Every time the leadership of Harvest Bible Chapel has spoken in public, they have either confirmed some of the underlying facts of our argument or they have implicitly admitted the other facts by remaining silent. At this point, it is up to the body of HBC to determine whether the undisputed facts of our argument are sufficient grounds for MacDonald’s disqualification as an elder and teaching pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel.

Over the past few days, numerous readers have approached The Elephant’s Debt, wondering what we thought of MacDonald’s sermon on 18 November 2012.  For those that may be unfamiliar with the sermon in question, we have embedded the audio below and we would advise you to listen to it in its entirety before proceeding further.

“My 5G” by James MacDonald

As you heard in the audio, James MacDonald has confessed to gambling in private and in public.  He now sees that his liberty in Christ in this matter is an offense to some within his own body; and as an elder, he has agreed to lay this down for the sake of his weaker brother.  We are glad to hear that as of Sunday, MacDonald is willing to bring his personal lifestyle on this matter in line with his public admonitions to others.

In addition to confessing his struggles to lay down his personal gambling practices, MacDonald also discussed the fact that he has hurt many people over the years with his “intensity” manifested in hurtful words.  During his confession, he humorously asked his congregation whether anyone was shocked to learn of this. What is important to note here is that MacDonald is essentially admitting to the fact that he is a public figure marked by a contentious spirit and a lack of gentleness and self-control.  All three of these characteristics are highlighted by the Apostle Paul as being disqualifiers for the office of elder.

With regards to both of these issues, MacDonald should be encouraged for taking the appropriate initial steps to publicly confess issues that have harmed the church.  Nevertheless, his confession stopped well short of acknowledging and owning his responsibility pertaining to almost every single core issue (e.g. debt, salary, power, etc…) that we have already summarized above.

As MacDonald himself has taught many times over the years, repentance is not merely a matter of speaking the right words.  Rather, repentance is a willingness to speak the right words coupled with actions in concert with those right words.  Moreover, repentance is not an easy thing because it is not merely a matter of behavior modification, Rather, it is about a fundamental change of the heart.  Only actions over time bear testimony to the genuine change in any human being.  So what might true repentance look like moving forward?  As per his own teachings on the subject, MacDonald might consider these steps:

  • Confess his sin to every member of The Void and others that he has hurt during this season of ministry.  It should be noted that he has already agreed to do this; and if we were members of the congregation, we would hope to receive a final report from the elders on this matter.
  • Publicly acknowledge and explain to his congregation all of the issues raised by this website that he has yet to address.
  • While we agree with MacDonald’s decision to remove any reference to The Elephant Room materials from The Elephant Room, HBC and James MacDonald websites, MacDonald might want to consider taking the additional step of setting aside at least one Sunday to teach on the doctrine of the Trinity, distinguishing it from Modalism, and explaining why this distinction is absolutely critical for the Gospel.
  • Reign in members of his staff, who are publicly disparaging the character of these authors, the former elders and former staff members.
  • Publicly apologize to the leadership of the churches that voluntarily left the Fellowship as well as to the leaders of the church that was kicked out.  These churches all privately brought their concerns to the Fellowship and their voices were not heard.

As Christians, we should all rejoice in every step an individual takes in seeking to confess his or her sins.  To that end, we here at The Elephant’s Debt are encouraged by this initial step taken by MacDonald.  Nevertheless, an individual’s willingness to repent and seek forgiveness for established patterns of sin does not automatically qualify that individual to continue to serve as an elder/pastor.  Moving forward, the decision now rests with the body of Harvest Bible Chapel and the elders that have been appointed to serve as their leaders.

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109 Responses to MacDonald’s “confession” includes admission of gambling and TED’s response.

  1. Bob Arosen says:

    I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving today. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, maybe we can come to an agreement. It is obvious from the several hundred comments here that there is a range of opinions among your readership. It also seems as though people are somewhat entrenched in their positions and nothing written by me or anyone else is going to sway them either way.

    Why don’t we agree that we are going to disagree, and accept that fact. This site was created to educate, enlighten, expose (chose one or all) the public about James and the elders at Harvest. I believe that with email links, Twitter, and word of mouth it is near or at its saturation point. There are few people at Harvest who are not aware of the controversy surrounding their church.

    Some of you left Harvest because of concerns about James and/or the elders. Some of you felt so strongly about these issues you thought it was important to make sure that other attenders knew of your concerns. Mission accomplished. Now you have a decision to make. Can you accept that even after being exposed to all of your concerns, some will decide that staying at Harvest is what is best for their family?

    So here is my Thanksgiving proposal; let’s respect and accept the decisions that individuals make for themselves and their families. We know about the house, we know about the debt, we know about the personal foibles of our pastor, we know the Void, we know about the Elephant Room. Armed with that knowledge some will stay, and some will leave, let’s respect those decisions. I don’t think we need to question anyone’s motives or spiritual maturity. You might think I’m foolish or spiritually blind or many other things, but I hope you are able to accept and respect my decision, as I will for you.

    I do have one request, don’t rabbit trail my comment above. I might have used an incorrect word or phrase, don’t jump all over that. I think you understand my point. Also, every time I comment someone points out that I should not be listened to because I own 16.67% of 2 horses and watch them run at race tracks. Whether you believe that to be sin or not, I don’t think it negates what I proposed above.

  2. Dead Guy says:

    Great job on the website, guys. It’s a start, but this isn’t over. We need you to keep Harvest honest as as it commits to setting things straight.

    The elders are meeting in December. Will James still be an elder after this meeting? We’ll see. Contrary to many on this site, I’d say he’s uniquely qualified to continue as teaching pastor, but I agree that qualified elders should be steering the ship.

  3. Michael says:

    Great to see that like the rest of us, James is learning and growing. Let’s all continue to pray for him and pray for HBC in Chicago and beyond.

    • Ellen says:

      Pray for him, love him (as difficult as he makes it to do, at times) but WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT HIM AS HIS/HER PASTOR/ELDER ???? He’s supposed to be able to help people to greater godliness—how is he demonstrating that? The Apostle Paul told his readers to “imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1) Can anyone honestly say that James MacDonald has set any kind of a godly example for us to follow? It seems that he is setting the example of those Paul and Peter criticized as seeking leadership in the church for worldly gain.

    • C. Curtis says:

      The issue on the table is not whether James MacDonald is saved and is learning and growing like the rest of us. The issue at hand is that James MacDonald does not meet the qualifications of an elder based upon the prescriptions laid out by the Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy. Paul’s letter is clear. James MacDonald does not meet the qualifications of an elder and so needs to be removed from that office. If those of you who are defending him truly do love him then help him be true to Scripture, come along side him, and help restore him. Stop enabling him. And for those of you who think Harvest can’t stand without James MacDonald, you have put your faith in the wrong person.

  4. Anonymous Member of HBC-RM says:

    Has anyone gone to the walk in the word website. If you type in http://www.walkintheword.com it switches to http://www.jamesmacdonald.com There is a big “JM” at the top. I don’t even see the name “Walk in the Word” on the website anymore (at least not directly). Another example about making the ministry all about one man.

    • Anonymous Member of HBC-RM says:

      If he really doesn’t like being in the public eye, probably changing the website to be his name, is not helpful. Again, this seems somewhat hypocritical.

    • Rick says:

      Right you are, the new JM James MacDonald on the left is a new addition to his website. And yes Walk In The Word goes directly to MacDonald. Notice the Israel tour and Mediterranean cruise (comped I am sure).

      The Leopardo endorsement is a major red flag. I guess I would expect that from famous televangelists such as Benny Hinn and the like but not from HBC a conservative church. Question, has there been any work done on James MacDonald’s mansion and who did the work? I really do believe that there is not a camera that James MacDonald would shy away from.

  5. rs says:

    We will all have to face a final judgement with the one who truly is our judge….God and God alone. Whether you agree or disagree with what James does and says his day of reckoning will come just like ours. I agree that James is not perfect, he is held to a higher standard but it is God who judges that measuring rod.

    I for one will use the test of time to discern whether or not the items addressed are showing the fruit of repentence. I will also entrust my faith in the elder board to accomplish their job of keeping the pastor from damaging himself and the church.

    For those who rail against everything that James does look in the mirror and tell me if you are as self righteous as you want him to be in all matters. Man is sinful and man makes mistakes God does not. Therefore as Gamaliel said in scripture (my paraphrase)…if this work is from God you will not stop it, if it is not it will stop. God controls the blessing of Harvest and not any person. If James does not deal with his issues God will address them in His timing and not ours.

    For those who want to continue to claim that a salary makes him a lover of money what is the standard? Does a pastor have to live in an old house drive a rusted out car and never go on a vacation? Is the proper salary $100K, $50K, $1M……salary is subjective and must be seen in context. What does a pastor having the same ministry components (large church, radiio ministry, book authorship, etc) make? Compare John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Hybels, Rick Warren, etc and their total stream of ministry income to James if you want to see if it it is out of line or inconsistent with similar situations. Again, making money is not the sin, what you do with it shows your heart.

    Bob Arosen is corrent, this blog continues to add more questions and “recommendations” to every effort by the elders and James to address issues. Really, James “should” do a message on Modalism? 90% of the church has no idea what Modalism and Trinitarianism is and how they relate to the gospel. A seminary student might but not the congregation. Why is that James’ responsibility to share? Th authors have done their part, they offered evidences of questionable behavior and there was a response. Let the Lord work now in that response and be glad that changes have been made. To constantly drag things along means you will never be satisfied and shows a personal desire of attack no matter what actions transpire.

  6. BUILDING GOD"S Kingdom says:

    Listening to his audio sermont , I did not think that he has repented at all. Just listen to the tone, it is still arrogant, intense, and definitely doesn’t sound like someone who is broken and humbled. But the most telling sign is why he said he repented. I didn’t hear the word GOD convicted me, it’s all about elders, or people. If that’s the case, then it’s all WORDLY sorrow instead of GODly sorrow in 2 COr 7:10.

    I left Harvest because during my questioning of Why Harvest planned to plant 1000 churches ( building James’ Kingdom), and stop supporting Missionaries ( building GOD’s kingdom), THe LORD confirmed that in my quiet time as the message from my quiet time that day was how arrogant King Nebuchadnezzar was humbled for building his own kingdom. Then going to a another church whose pastor was retiring…. the sermont of that pastor said that the most he would remember leaving the ministry was… not that the building was extravagant, and not that there are now thousands of people in the congregation, but it’s the individuals that he prayed for , spent time for.. .building the individuals spiritual lives. That’s what building GOD’s kingdom is like. NOT building the ELGIN building, or RM building.. like the audio sermont was focused about… over budgeting. THat’s what you repented about? The pain of over budgeting ?

    I am sorry, he is not qualified as a pastor or elder. Only GOD knows his heart, but it sounds like he is just a pastor kid growing up in a Christian home who make being a pastor a Profession instead of really giving his life to building GOD’s kingdom.

    So, Harvest.. please wake up and challenge him to step down, stay outside in the parking lot until I agree to step down, and bring Christ into the building. Then the Spirit of the Holy GOD will come and fill that building.

    In the mean while, let’s pray that he would step down because I could only see 3 things happening without the Conggretation forcing him to step down.
    1. This turmoil getting bigger and people will stop giving and leave the church, and weaker Christians turned bitter against GOD, then the church will be bankrupt So, to protect them, James please step down
    2. When the Conggregation stopped giving / leaving, James will dilute the message to bring people in , to taylor the message to their need, and the church become bigger like JOel Olsteen church.

  7. sad says:

    Boy, James is just the gift that keeps on giving.
    Just watched on utube the commercial James did for Leopardo Construction a few months ago.

    Wow. This is wrong on so many levels I can not count them. James is using Harvest, the people at Harvest to endorse a product? What about the construction companies that actually attend Harvest? What about the business they lose because of James endorsement? Did Leopardo treat Harvest a little better because of the public endorsement? Has Leopardo ever given any gift of any kind to Harvest? Has James received any gift of any kind, any help, any service, any material or golf or trip or ANYTHING from anyone having ANYTHING to do with Leopardo?

    You betcha.
    People, you are going to have to take the game to this guy if you want to do this. It has NOTHING to do with the Church of Jesus Christ. James is making fools of every one of you.
    And.
    You are defending him.
    He is SO GOOD.

    • Vin Chalkerton says:

      “sad” is right. “He’s still moving. Break him.” Pathetic. It’s becoming very apparent that many of you do not want to see this man restored, redeemed, or anything of the kind. You despise him, and have for years and years, and you want your moment. You want to see him broken. Failed. Humiliated. It’s sick. This will be my last post here. It’s not deserving of my attention. I utterly CONDEMN the way you are doing this, and I hope the pride welling up in you as you pile on and feed your flesh with this blog leads to conviction.

  8. Jennifer says:

    Just out of curiosity, to those of you defending Pastor James and arguing that he is still fit and Scripturally qualified to be an Elder, would your opinion be different if he was an adulterer?

    I’m not suggesting that he is an adulterer. I’m just trying to understand your position. Is there anything a pastor can do, in your minds, to disqualify himself from the role of Elder/Pastor/Shepherd?

    It seems to me that so many are willing to jump on the matter of adultery and quickly dismiss a pastor over that type of failure, but we struggle to apply God’s Word with equal measure to these character issues. This is especially egregious in light of the qualifications of the Elder in Titus and Timothy. Is this because we see these faults in ourselves and are willing to give the Elder a lot more grace in these character issues?

    • Vin Chalkerton says:

      Yes, it would absolutely be different if he were an adulterer. There are definitely disqualifying behaviors. In the case of adultery, quite aside from your service as an elder, it blows your marriage apart. Everyone… EVERYONE… is being sanctified. No elder steps up to the plate fully mature. Mature enough to qualify as an elder, but certainly not perfect! ALL elders need grace, if they are truly seeking to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the forming/perfecting of godly character.

      Look, there are definite disagreements among Christians about elder qualifications (Assemblies of God, anyone?). Why aren’t these writers beating down the doors of every one of those churches, if this is such a cut and dry matter?

      Positionally, in terms of our sin separating us from a holy God, all sin is the same. Whether you told a minor lie, or you shot a guy in the head, you are not spending eternity with a holy God. That’s why we need Christ.

      But practically, all sins are not the same. If they were, there would have been no “eye for an eye” mandate in the OT, no need for varieties of laws, and only one punishment for every sin: death.

      I am not willing to deal Pastor James vocational/ministerial death because he struggles with anger and gambled. I just do not see those is disqualifying sins on the level of adultery, illegal drug use, heretical doctrine, or rape. I know some of our elders and campus pastors, I am a beneficiary of the ministry of Pastor James, and I frankly do not believe that his sins in this case require more than admission, repentance, a plan for making amends, an agreement to submit, and a pledge not to do certain things again. He’s done that.

      I could go on and on about how blessed I, my wife, and my kids have been as a result of our years at Harvest. And this is not some Joel Osteen cheerleading session. I’m talking rock solid, in the Word, cut down at the knees in my pride, walking with small group friends through the worst of times, seeing victory over sins that plagued me for years, on my face in love with Jesus Christ, hands in the air praising God in thankfulness, doctrinally strong, conservative church.

      Yet we know that Harvest is far (far) from perfect. And so is our pastor. One of the things that has impressed me MOST is the willingness of Pastor James to share his failures openly. Almost weekly! And the things that he shared with the men in confidence at Men at War? I have never heard such honesty and transparency and vulnerability come from a pastor, EVER. EVER. It changed my walk with Christ.

      So I support my church, I support and love my pastor in this tough stretch, I trust my elders, and I think the spirit and attitude of this blog is prideful, not redemptive. I pray we grow and are more useful to God as a result, and if there’s anything else that needs to be dealt with, I trust God to bring it it light.

      • Ellen says:

        You are confusing the issue, Vin. We are not speaking of whether or not personal sin shows a lack of sanctification (and we all have those until we are called home to complete sanctification). We are looking at a lack of integrity that the average person in the pew would exceed. An Elder and/or senior pastor needs to be “above reproach”. The fact that we are even forced to go on an independent website to “reproach” him shows just how he has insulated himself from any accountability for his behavior. Now he has to try to stem the flow of people leaving the church, with his regrets. Regret is NOT repentance. But even if he was totally repentant, it is a fair question to ask if he even qualifies to be in the position anymore? God holds his church leaders to a standard of integrity that causes others to respect their Godly wisdom. Forgive me for saying so but James MacDonald displays a level of foolishness that I think the Lord would chastise. (See Jesus’ mention of “foolishness” as a sin in Mark 7:22.) I find that I can no longer respect his leadership. He should step down. I attend a Harvest Bible Chapel.

      • allegiance2 says:

        Regardless of his openness and transparancy, he has now been the subject of controversy and it affected his message, ministry as evidence by the stopping of preaching the Gospel of John, to explain his walk. In his own word, he needs to catapult himself out of RM campus, just like he said all the other Harvest bible fellowship church that provides distracted needed to be catapulted

        We are interested in hearing the gospel preached, the word of GOD taught, and life changed because of the word of GOD, not because of his transparancy and appearing to be repentant. Yes, GOD changed people’s life because of the MESSAGE, not because of the sinful preacher.

        I don’t see pastor James stepping down voluntarily and I don’t see him doing GODly repentance, You cannot have the elders beat him down / challenge him to repentance, if that’s successful, and this website is successful in bring to light his sin, it’s only going to produce worldy repentance. ONly GOD can do it. Harvest tend to believe that with the threat of expulsion in biblical counseling, and holding people accountable, we can change them. NO, only the outside behavior.

        So, I will challenge the congregation to collect signatures to petition him to step down.

      • GS says:

        Vin~
        I hear the passion you have for your pastor. Loyalty is an element of faithfulness that produces godliness and you are to be commended for this. However a loyalty misplaced is as bad as no loyalty at all. There are at least a half dozen or more issues that have come to light since ER2 that absolutely put James’ leadership in question and have not been addressed by the headship of HBF, in as public a manner as they were executed. People being catapulted, many leaving, MANY confused by what is going on, churches leaving and being asked to leave…
        “If you cannot preach at home because your practice runs counter to your preaching, do not preach at all—for a man has no right to talk and instruct others it he cannot, at least in some measure, live out what he teaches!”
        C.H. Spurgeon

  9. Butnowministry says:

    James is not qualified to be a pastor nor an elder based on the authority of 2 Corinthians 4.2 Our Apostle Paul says” but we have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully ; but by manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the site of God”

    ” because the truth taught is commended by the life!”

  10. sad says:

    Its really amazing to watch this chain develop – thank you, guys for allowing the posts.

    The one thing that is clear is what was clear 20 years ago when we all sat down at James’ kitchen table to plan the very first Harvest service at Rolling Meadows High School.

    James is in total control of his play.
    He knows exactly what he is doing at every step.

    Bob Arosen is right. This is like a barrel of monkeys. What he missed is that the last barrel has always contained simply James.

    There is a reason James has lost almost every leader that has worked alongside of him over these years. If you put all those men in a single room it would be one of the most spiritually powerful groups of men ever assembled.
    All gone.
    They checked out of James’ party.
    Head elder Dave Corning might be the most spiritually discerning man I have ever worked alongside – no man, NO MAN loved James more and did more to cultivate, challenge and protect James over those 20 years.
    Poof. Gone.

    The James MacDonald show, friends never, never, never, never has been about Jesus. It has from that very service we planned 20 years ago always always always been about our friend James.

    Jesus was the worm on the hook – to get you into the show so James could do his stuff.
    If we put together a highlight reel of the James you never saw – the behind the curtain meetings with us all featuring the real James it would empty his big auditoriums. He is crude, shallow, judgmental, manipulative, mean, arrogant, hypocritical, controlling and a user of men for his own gain.
    The funny thing is that we all did – and still – love him in some crazy way. That is how good he is.
    Look at the some of the ridiculous comments that are being made on this blog.

    JAMES IS HELD TO A HIGHER STANDARD.
    Come on. Really? For the matters we are discussing, James is being held to EXACTLY to the same standards all disciples of Jesus are held. But you all bought it because James said it – like everything else you bought from him. The issues have defined James from the beginning – his anger, arrogance, pride, meanness, reckless disregard for others – are baseline spiritual matters.

    JAMES DOESN’T WANT TO BE A PUBLIC FIGURE – DOES IT WITH GREAT RELUCTANCE
    Are you kidding?? Are you kidding????????
    If you want to see what it would really look like to not want to be a public figure, check out Hybels at Willow. Like or hate the guy, it is absolutely true that he wants no part of being a public figure. And yes, Hybels could enjoy that cup of coffee that James misses so much at the Starbucks in Memphis and no one would notice him.
    James, on the other hand has cultivated and has sought to be a public figure from day one. FROM DAY ONE. Everything he has done has been about promoting James – books, radio, internet, public tours, TV, conferences and now films – come on. Wake up.
    And then he plays the messiah card and announces he selflessly gives up his anonymity for the good people of Harvest?
    Wow. Great play if you can get away with it.

    JAMES IS WORTH ALL THE MONEY HE MAKES
    Whew. He is better than I thought if he got you to believe that. If you knew how much money he was really making – and how much he intends to make – you would gag. The fact that you still don’t know should tell you everything.
    James’ great play on this?
    “Kathy and I have just made our largest pledge to Harvest ever.”
    Wow. And some people clapped.
    His shame is that he is telling us – Bible says not to do that. Our shame is that it mattered.

    JAMES HAS HARVEST FINANCIALLY SECURE
    James knows the deal. If he walks, Harvest crashes. There is NO financial foothold at Harvest regarding its debt. It requires your giving every week to meet it obligations. People stop giving, the bills go unpaid.
    This is not a business. Harvest is now beholden to keeping its auditorium full and giving its audiences what they want and what will bring them back – not the building of Christ’s church.

    Man, there are a hundred of these things.
    James is like a good magician. A good magician does his magic in plain sight of his audience. His skill is that he controls where you look, distracting your gaze toward what he wants you to look at instead of the trick right in front of your face.

    Yes, we love James. If he took his act to the marketplace, he would have been blown up – we would have never allowed him to get away with it. There are few places in the marketplace where you can run the table like James has in the church. We enabled this grab for power and fame and fortune.
    You can’t play the “I am God’s man” card out in the world – gets you no privileges.

    At the end of the day, it was never about gambling. Or the debt. Or his money. Or his fame.
    Sorry folks, but only thing that ever really mattered is that James is simply not a nice guy.
    There is no gentleness. No kindness. No forgiving spirit. No patience. No peace. No self control. No love.

    We judge the fruit of his work in the lives of others and it is catastrophic.
    But in James economy, he can abuse thousands because he believes he has helped thousands.

    In Jesus’ economy, the 99 are left to save the one.

    But.
    Sadly.
    James will win because that is what he does.

    • Mary B. says:

      Incredible. So is James MacDonald the man we want as our pastor? Is this the man we want to serve as a role model for our sons? Wake up Harvest!

      • Joe says:

        Apparently, yes. Because the end justifies the means. Because the “good” outweighs the “bad.” Because “everyone sins” so who are you to judge?

      • Rick says:

        Sad – that is some very powerful testimony.

        • RZ says:

          Wow. Powerful and incredibly accurate. I can testify to anyone reading Sads’ statement that it is spot on. Very well said.

    • K. Woodard says:

      So the Harvest Bible Chapels have been built around a man by the name of James MacDonald, an idol. Remove him and rebuild the church around Christ Jesus. There is no need to be concerned that a church built upon an idol might crash and be destroyed if that idol is removed. That would in fact be a great blessing and glorifying to God.

    • Tony says:

      “Everything he has done has been about promoting James – books, radio, internet, public tours, TV, conferences and now films –”

      Every thing you just listed has come from Billy Graham as well…so is he all about himself?

  11. Butnowministry says:

    I was a member of harvest for 8 years. I was a small group leader and a flock leader. I left 3 years ago because harvest it teaching wrong doctrine. Does anyone on this site understand this? This is the problem, not the sin issues that Christ paid for. 1 Corinthians 15.1-4! It is a Gospel issue. This is hard to see because you have been taught the harvest way for years. You need to step out of the mainstream Christianity deception and get back to the blood bought church that Christians stood up against. A simple study of church history will clue you in with what is going on. Step out of your box!

    • Butnowministry says:

      I’m sorry, I said against. Christians stood up for the blood bought church, for the gospel. The gospel is the ONLY power unto salvation. 1 Corinthians 15.1-4! 1Corinthians 1.18, Romans 1.16 KJV .Make sure pastor James knows the gospel. We as Christians cannot assume!! Also pastor James needs to understand, and so do many Christians, church history. This is not being taught in the apostate church. How about a study on the different denominations. Like I said you need to step out of the box! Study to show yourself approved! 2 Timothy 2.15! KJV

  12. Paul says:

    I’ve been a member of HBC Elgin for 7 years. I’ve personally seen the fruits of the ministry at HBC in my family, myself, and friends over my time here. Certainly we all have flaws, and I do not gloss over them, or in any way say JM is a saint. I’ve meet a number of former leaders at HBC who left due to conflict with him.

    As I read this blog, and its clear intent to persecute and humble a man, I am reminded of the hurt and pain felt by those who’ve left the church over the years. The response by the authors of this blog has shown their true heart. PAYBACK!!

    Your words and efforts here are clear, your motives are just as WRONG as the very claims you make against JM. Clearly you want to take the place of GOD, and decide the intent of a man’s heart and his authenticity. SHAMEFUL!!

    Why does James have to do everything exactly as YOU want him to do before you will proclaim him forgiven?

    The sin of this blog and its writers (pride, lashing out from your own hurt to hurt those wh wronged you) is even more offensive than those of JM!! I pray you will repent, but don’t worry I won’t put my own self proclaimed definition of what that repentance will look like. I will let you work that out in fear and trembling before the ALMIGHTY!!

    • Terry says:

      Well said, Paul. While I appreciate this blog opening up my eyes to the issues that I had no knowledge of, the tone and direction of this site has changed into bitterness and hate. They want to see the downfall of James Macdonald. I still have reservations about Harvest especially in the area of money, but I believe they are trying to make amends of the wrongs. Only God can judg people’s hearts. I pray that we will see reconciled relationships of many who are on The Void list as well as the other commenters.

      • Susan Thompson says:

        I can not speak for anyone else who has posted on this site regarding these serious matters. For myself, I can only say that I don’t long to see the downfall of any man or woman of God. But, I do long to see an example of true, genuine, repentance. I want to believe this is real, but sadly, it seems to be more of the same.

        Real repentance must be seen in actions or “fruits.” In this case, it is my firm belief that the level of charges are serious enough to require the Elder board to require Pastor James to step out of the pulpit for an indefinite, extended period of time. During this time Pastor James should receive Biblical counseling in the area of anger management, pride, etc… Additionally, the matter of gambling is serious for any pastor. He quite possibly has become blinded to the reality that he has an addiction and needs help.

        Finally, this is so serious because so many people have been hurt by him over the years. The stories are seemingly unending and always contain the same elements. When you have such a vast number of stories, there is a serious problem. He needs time away so that he can focus on repentance and restoration with as many of these people as he can find. These are the fruits of repentance.

    • Vin Chalkerton says:

      I agree, Paul. Public commentary on the public actions of a church or pastor is one thing. But this is a kangaroo court, and the tone towards a growing, fruitful ministry and its leaders is repugnant to me. Sadly, I doubt anything Harvest does will ever satisfy them. Every pastor that comes to the attention of these graceless, merciless “discernment blogs” and self-appointed crusaders, etc. can count on a steady stream of slander, condemnation, scolding and judging… even Billy Graham back in the day (“He associates with Catholics! He’s ecumenical!”). I guess James MacDonald has joined the ranks. For those hurt or insulted by Pastor James in the past, I do not mean to discount your stories/accounts and do not want to. I have no idea what has been done to try to reconcile that situation. But even if James MacDonald is dragged out of his church and thrown into the street, it will not give you peace or heal you. If that’s what you think you need, you have an idol. Jesus is sufficient.

      • Will says:

        Ryan and Scott,

        Maybe it is time to shut her down. You have gotten some activity from HBC. But the HBC leadership is going to stay to course. I do not agree with their high salaries and such. I wish my tithes were used to really help those in need. But I have no control how they spend it. James MacDonald is their Rainmaker and is here to stay. You exposed the hypocrisy for the HBC body to see. Now it is up to them.

        Bill

    • GS says:

      Paul~
      You make two mistakes in your post.
      First, unlike the authors of this blog, you presume upon the authors motive beyond what they have stated. They have not presumed upon James’ motives. They have outlined a cause and effect relationship between James’ actions / words and its impact on the church as a body – its reach being beyond the walls of HBCRM.

      Second you equate imperfection with unrepentant sin. Scripture very clearly outlines how leaven symbolizes sin and if it were allowed to remain it affects the whole loaf. James, no matter what man deems his ‘other’ worthy attributes to be, is not exempt from being held to account, and set aside as leaven. Living in sin is easy; being righteous is hard. Because of its soft texture, leavened bread is easier to eat than unleavened bread, likewise, going the way of sin (or allowing unrepentant sin) to remain is easier than living righteously (Matt. 7:13-14). Obeying God is difficult even for a pastor, because he still has a carnal nature that wants to sin (Rom 7-14 25).

      Thomas D.- in his reply below rightly assessed the portion of James’ message with respect to his anger. He confessed it and followed with a “but”… Thomas D said “Pastor MacDonald apologized for:
      – Failing to embrace his celebrity status
      – Getting too angry when defending the church
      – Being too generous to people and smothering them with love so that they are uncomfortable
      – growing angry when people don’t keep their word to him

      In the same way, his minimization of gambling by defining it as “playing cards” is very much like, confessing and adding a “but.” (ref. my last post)

      The ongoing question(s) regarding James’ current ability to meet the scriptural standards of eldership are fair. The two items spoken of in this post are simply two areas of question with respect to James’ leadership. Rememeber it is Harvest’s (man’s) policy of pastor/elder for life… not God’s. In the same way they may have been judged worthy of the position according to scripture, so may they be determined to be no longer worthy – until such time that repentance is proved.

      • Sin exalts the self, righteousness builds humility.

    • Butnowministry says:

      The definition of repentance is a change of mind.

    • RZ says:

      Wow Paul. The site is about accountability for a man who has refused it for many years. Not a site for “payback.” If this was a site for “payback” then everything about James would be out in the open, not just the stuff that can be verified in a Biblical manner. By my estimation, based on what I know about James, there is possibly a tenth of the truth out at this point. I am not saying that a tenth of what is out is true, I am saying that only a tenth of the truth regarding James sin is in the open.

      You are not abiding in scripture to state the motives of another as you are doing.

      Nobody is telling James to do “everything exactly as they want him to.” They are holding him accountable to scripture. If you were knowledgeable of scripture you would see that.

      Speaking of repentance. James has spoken a sermon on repentance, and has written quite a bit about it in one of his books. If you look at James own words you would be hard pressed to believe he has genuinely repented. For starters he has only repented of what he got caught for. There is so much more than has been revealed so far. If he truly was repentant he would repent of all. He has also tried to justify and rationalize his sin. Not a sign of true repentance. He has done little of what scripture calls for with true repentance. He is pretending to, but in looking closely at things and referencing scripture you can’t help but to question the nature of James repentance.

      James is a showman. Those who like the show will support him.

  13. GS says:

    I, as one who was catapulted out of a Harvest church (not HBCRM) for questioning the direction that James was leading HBF (ER2, finances, authoritarianism etc), will not doubt the authenticity of James’ measured repentance. That said; it was measured. It also seemed, as a sermon, somewhat narcissistic.

    Temper
    His admissions regarding his temper and hurting words is nothing new, so it would be less likely to rock people back on their spiritual heels. Is it severe enough to disqualify him as an elder? Tough one to assess especially within a culture (evangelically speaking) where perhaps too often the end justifies the means, and too often the things that ought to disqualify us are ignored / minimized because we seem to be doing many other good things.

    ER2
    Wouldn’t James talking to the ‘men of HBCRM’ in a private meeting post ER2 be again a minimization? Everything James did and said pre & post ER2 was in the public domain largely perpetrated by James himself both in the form of marketing and as an offense/defense dialogue in the blogosphere. How is talking to 200 men, in a closed door meeting, who may or may not have been following what was happening, addressing the full impact of the reach his words / choices had. My being stripped of my membership was a direct result of James choices (both in word and action) with respect to ER2 for it caused me to question his leadership. The fact that 3 churches left and one other was kicked out is no small affair and that James talked to 200 men behind closed doors did not help me assess whether my stand for Gospel faithfulness was in error or not.

    Gambling
    Though it was true that his refusal to lay his card playing (a minimization) down for the sake of his congregants was sin, and within the context of the verses he chose, his confession could be taken as repentance. However he couched the card playing, no let’s call it what it was… gambling, as being on par with competitive sports. It is not and James was once again allowed to minimize in order to mitigate. This is at best misleading and is presumptive on the face of it. The fact that he won’t do it again does not address the underlying problems with the action itself. This is where the true repentance and teaching to his congregation would have needed to have taken place.

    When a professional loses at football, a few statistics change, but he still got paid for his efforts. When I lose at a racquetball game, all I have lost is a few pounds. When James won at poker, he won on the backs of others. How is winning at the expense of others an expression of love?

    Any form of gambling has little to do with love for one another but everything to do with love of self and for the organizers, the love of easy money – all at other’s expense! Gambling feeds off our desire to win, and we can’t deny our greed for money or possessions. At the risk of being labeled legalistic (that was an interesting tactic – as if there were a grey area here to be considered), when God and gambling are associated His ability to provide is distorted and we deny Christ’s lordship over all things in our lives. To engage in gambling indicates both a lack of trust in and dissatisfaction with God’s provision (Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:11-12, 4:19; 1 Timothy 6:6; Hebrews 13:5.)

    Though arguments from silence are often hard to make I find no difficulty here… there is no justification for gambling found in scripture, including the practice of casting lots (no fate, chance, or luck is used in the process of casting lots and the use of casting lots was only for determining God’s will and not to gain personal wealth).

    If one’s theology is in keeping with the principal of causality, where all things are caused, then gambling can be seen as dabbling in the occult. When we win or lose, it’s not because of bad luck or good fortune. Unless God would have us win on the backs of others there is only one other cause in force…

    If luck and chance are part of one’s philosophy then the sovereignty of God is no longer able to be part of our theology and we entreat our people to rely on superstition.

    Gambling violates Christian responsibility to the stewardship of time, talents, and treasure, and it violates our stewardship of our relationship with others (taking advantage of hopes, dreams and the lack in their lives).

    Gambling undermines the Biblical economic framework – Work for what you need – Proverbs 10:4-5, 24:33-34, 28:19 / Help others – Proverbs 22:9, 28:27, Ephesians 4:28 / Be content – Philippians 4:12-13, Hebrews 13:5, 1 Timothy 6:10

    There is a wealth of teaching and discipleship opportunities within the scope of this subject. To end this long post, though again, I do not doubt the authenticity of James’ measured repentance, it seemed once again to have been crafted to mitigate the damage and allow the perpetration of the ‘ends justifies the means’ mentality that seems to go hand in hand with today’s brand of ecclesiastical authoritarianism.

    • Tony says:

      “However he couched the card playing, no let’s call it what it was… gambling, as being on par with competitive sports.”
      From a recent court case regarding poker:
      “The influence of skill on the outcome of poker games is far greater than that on the outcomes of the games enumerated in the IGBA’s illustrations of gambling….

      Expert poker players draw on an array of talents, including facility with numbers, knowledge of human psychology, and powers of observation and deception. Players can use these skills to win even if chance has not dealt them the better hand. And as the defendant’s evidence demonstrates, these abilities permit the best poker players to prevail over the less-skilled players over a series of hands…”

      Poker is not gambling. You can keep saying it is but that doesn’t make it true, and you clearly don’t play it enough to know. That said, even if it is gambling…

      “Though arguments from silence are often hard to make I find no difficulty here… there is no justification for gambling found in scripture”

      There is also no justification for participating in the stock market or buying into a softball tournament or watching a movie. On the other hand, there is plenty of justification for drinking wine, yet somehow we find a way to call that a “stumbling block” sin as well.

      “Gambling violates Christian responsibility to the stewardship of time, talents, and treasure.”

      So then you don’t play golf, either?

      • GS says:

        Tony~
        Betting on an outcome is gambling. He played for money… he did not simply play a game of poker (like I do eucher) for fun. I do play golf. I don’t bet on the outcome, putting my the resources God has given me (and my family) at risk, with the expressed hope of taking that which God has provided to others. Re-read my post… I was not talking simply about leisure time.

      • Jennifer says:

        Tony, with continued defense like this, you continue to illustrate for us all just how it is that someone like JM is able to live the way he does as a pastor, and keep his position as a pastor. Sadly, it seems he has an entire church of people like you. Defenders like you and Bob Aroson who apparently is owns professional races horses (gambling industry) trying to convince the rest of us that poker isn’t gambling. Unbelievable.

    • Joe says:

      GS, you have hit the nail on the head. Sadly, many won’t even take the time to think through what you have written here. But, just know that there is at least one other person who agrees with everything you just wrote and appreciates your tone in simply dealing with the facts.

      • Mary B. says:

        GS, there are at least two other people who agree with you. James’ defenders do him no favors. It would be far more loving to remove him from his position and give him the help and support he needs. The man is in trouble.

  14. Gary S. says:

    “Sadly I hold out little hope that James will be truly held accountable for the lives he has damaged. People, the deepest issue isn’t debt or salary or 5G or even Elders although those are issues. The deepest issue is james macdonalds hurtful words, blistering tirades, verbal strip downs, abusive belittling, and explosive assaults on people especially staff who have worked for him. How many men and women do you think have the permanent scars of this treatment? A few? A dozen? Try hundreds over the last 20 years. I know. I’m one. I’m still getting treatment. This he excused this weekend under the banner of “Im intense you know that (lets all chuckle at that); I’ve offended some people”…well, no sir, youve sinned wickedly in this area and your elders haven’t protected those that they should have, and you’ve never really repented of and restored those you have damaged. The staff currently there are all conditioned to do his bidding so that they don’t face the wrath, and they tremble in fear that they might have to. You never know when its going to come. There is nothing more humiliating. Worse, his inner circle have all started imitating him and are rewarded for being like him. Tragic. But sadly, this won’t be dealt with, it can’t. I don’t even know how an elder board would really do that. I mean what do you do with someone like that? Whats most sad is that he doesn’t believe this to be true about himself. He sees himself as a victim. And thats what makes him dangerous. Based on the latest elder statement, they agree with him – he’s the victim. Rubbish. There are victims yes. They just aren’t able to speak up, because the harvest machinery will squash them through intimidation, guilt, embarrassment, threats and all forms of pressure to keep them quiet and/or discredit them. I have one message to those who have ears. Stop it. Stop the bombastic heartless treatment of people (yes, staff); start being ashamed of yourselves and your pastor for allowing and modeling this. Remove people from key positions who aren’t humble and caring and capable with people. Stop justifying your aggression with “we get results”. Elders, stop patting yourself on the backs thinking your actually Eldering by solving this PR crisis and forming new committees; discipline the Sr. Pastor please and let him know what it feels like to be in submission. Pastor James please hold your tongue for once. Repentance starts with you actually believing YOU are the core problem.”

    • Lisa says:

      Yikes! If this is true, then I can see why some are calling for him to step down as a pastor.

      • Mary B. says:

        Gary S.,
        I can feel the pain coming through your words and I agree with every word you wrote. Others have written similar posts elsewhere and I just can’t believe they are all exaggerating. James MacDonald, a pastor who is supposed to care for his congregation, has wounded so many. I am disgusted that he would go for laughs over his “intensity”. He in no way should carry the title of “Pastor”. As James himself would say, “Epic fail.”

    • Sincerely Concerned says:

      Gary S. – well said. You are right on every point. As a former staff person and long term member of Harvest, I have seen these very things you describe. JM’s treatment of staff (and others) is nothing short of abusive. People are intimidated by him so they go along with him because the only other option is to leave…and many of us have. A pastor is called to feed the sheep not use them. I pray that people will see JM’s true colors. Proverbs 22:10, “Drive out the scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease.”

    • Tony says:

      “The staff currently there are all conditioned to do his bidding so that they don’t face the wrath, and they tremble in fear that they might have to.”

      So your problem really isn’t with James as much as it is with the weakness and meekness of the 35 member board and the ignorance, fear, and timidity of the leadership staff. What fools you believe they are, and what confidence you have in this presumption.

    • GMS says:

      Gary, I am sorry for the hurt you were caused. I believe you are 100% Correct on your assessment of James behavior. We were at HBC both Rm and Elgin for over 12 years and I have seen and personally experienced bad behavior on James as well as several others in the lead positions of that church. Just this week twice in one day I had a Pastors Wife be down right nasty and an Elder who was very close to my Husband and I pretend we didn’t exist . These were people we’ve “done life with for years” . The bad behavior may start with JM but it is Epidemic in that church and school. It trickles all the way down to the congregation. Arrogance begets Arrogance.

  15. Steve says:

    Was this a sermon by James MacDonald? If it was, then to my mind all the rest of this hypocrisy is simply a symptom of the root problem: instead of preaching the word of God which is about how Jesus saves us from our sins when we turn to Him in repentance, the whole this was about James Macdonald, the man. Some good, some bad, but still all about him and what he’s done. There was a lot of this sermon that I could critique, but to me that’s all secondary at this point.

  16. H. Wilson says:

    Vin — thanks for your remarks, but YOU are not a pastor or elder. While all Christians should strive to lead holy lives, you and I both understand that pastors are held to a higher standard. Would I care if you drank, watched R rated movies, gambled, etc. Not really. Why? Because you aren’t in the pulpit every Sunday preaching to me about how those activities are destructive in a Christian’s life. See the difference? So, because JM is a pastor, he is held to a higher standard. Doesn’t really matter to me what YOU do, but JM is a pastor, so it DOES matter to the flock he is leading.

    • Tony says:

      What do you mean by a “higher standard”? Either something is wrong or it isn’t. If it’s not wrong to watch an R-rated movie, why would a congregant be allowed to but not a pastor?

      A higher standard means that they are held into stricter account and are corrected and given consequence more swiftly and with more accountability, but that doesn’t mean that certain things are sin for some but not for others.

  17. Butnowministry says:

    Praise the Lord Jesus Christ for paying for our sins on Calvary’s cross. 1 Corinthians 15.1-4 and Christ is not counting one sin against anyone today. 2 Corinthians 5.16-21. And that James and everyone else for that matters is forgiven not by works of righteousness but according to His mercy we are saved! Ephesians 2.8-9, Titus 3.5. I think James and everyone else needs to understand The Gospel of the Grace of God given to Paul according to the Revelation of the Mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ! Then maybe the word will work effectually in those that Christ made righteous by faith , not works!

    • coltenj13 says:

      You do not understand that there are consequences for sin. This is not about being saved. This is about if JM still qualifies to be a pastor. What do you do with the book of James?

      • Butnowministry says:

        You don’t understand the Gospel and neither does most on this site. You also don’t understand the book of James. James 1.1. Most of what is happening to James and harvest is a result of the poor understanding of the bible. Context is most important and understanding who God is talking to and why. Harvest and James and many ministries are reaping a harvest of wrong doctrine. I’m sorry you don’t understand. Everyone on this site is caught up in what they see not what they don’t see. There is something bigger going on here! It has everything to do with how the bible, the gospel, Israel, context is being taught! The bible is a two edged sword that needs a skilled workman to handle, and James is not that man. It is not to be used as a fortune cookie, or a bumper sticker maker . Our Apostle Paul makes it clear in 2 Corinthians 4.2, Romans 1.18, 2 Corinthians 2.17, Colossians 2.8. I’m sorry you don’t see this but you need to look around. The biggest churches are the most apostate. For example the pastor at willow creek a few years ago admitted in the newspaper that he was teaching and doing everything wrong at his church yet people still go. And nothing has changed. Compare the salvation statement of Benni Hinns website to Harvest its the same. I haven’t look at Joel Olsteen or Joyce Meyer but I bet there the same as Hinns. It is sad when big ministries do not know their bible. This is the result.

        • Butnowministry says:

          One last thing there are countless letters from Pastors to James about how many people who come from harvest including and mostly youth sharing their concerns to pastor James on how they don’t understand the gospel. Christs payment for sin. Again most on this site including yourself is not clear about the Gopsel of the Grace of God. I wouldn’t worry about the consequence for sin, I would worry about my understanding of the Gospel. This has eternal consequences. Our sin is paid for once and for all. Do you understand?

  18. Joe says:

    Vin Chalkerton. Obviously you are a believer and can’t see deception when it is staring you in the face. I suggest you go ask these questions.

    1. James, is it true that you were disciplined/confronted/corrected by your Elders about the issue of gambling long before 2010? You said in your message this came up in 2010. Is it true that this has been an issue in your life for many years prior to that? Didn’t the Elder board under Dave Corning also deal with this in your life years and years before 2010 and you said at that time you would stop?

    2. James, in your sermon you said “I played poker in my basement with some friends and ‘in public’ places.” May I ask why you didn’t use the word “casino” but instead chose to carefully say “in public places?” Also, is it true that you played poker in casinos with buy-ins in the $5000-$10,000 range? James, is it true that you have also had a regular habit of gambling with those with whom you golf? Could it be that you do actually have an addiction in this area? Are you receiving counseling for this addiction? Finally, how much money have you lost/won playing poker in casinos?

    Playing poker is not equivalent to drinking a glass of wine after supper. Alcohol actually has some redeeming value health-wise and medicinally as well. Gambling has zero redeeming value. The only way it brings value to you is if you win, and in this case, it does so at the expense of those sitting at the table with you. You get richer off of others getting poorer. So much for “let each esteem others better than themselves.” Additionally, when you buy in to a game at a casino you are giving money to support an industry of corruption that thrives on the dishonesty of the house which has one intent only – taking money from people to enrich themselves. The fact that this mega-pastor didn’t have enough discernment to recognize how corrupt the entire industry is and that his participating in it endorses it, is enough to disqualify him.

    • Angela S says:

      Very good, Joe – thank you!! And don’t forget the hypocrisy – This authors of this site reminded us that James clearly preached against gambling – and in this new “confession” he didn’t say that he was previously wrong about that or that he has changed his mind now. This is a quote from his sermon: “Why, why why all the gambling? Dishonest gain. Trying to make money and looking for an easy way. A shortcut. Now, gambling and lotteries to get rich quick is dishonest. Ephesians 4:28 says, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labour, working with his hands, the thing that is good.” (See Recent Developments 7 November 2012 for link to sermon)

    • Vin Chalkerton says:

      Joe, do you watch movies made or distributed by secular studios?

      • Joe says:

        Partial truths. Half-truths. Shaded facts all for the sake of manipulation. This is exactly what was presented on Sunday by JM. Vin, why don’t you go ask the questions I suggested. And as you do, ask yourself this question, “Was it dishonest of James to lead his people to believe that this gambling matter hasn’t been a big deal to him when he was corrected on this issue by his elders years before 2010?” Does this fact matter to you? Does it matter to you that he has been corrected multiple times over the years and this has remained an area of unrepentance? Does it matter to you that it would still be so if it weren’t brought into the light through this website? That’s right. These guys here at this site who had the courage to do what nobody else would do, and after being maligned over and over again by staff and Elders at this church, finally brought enough heat so that these things had to be dealt with. Why is that?

        What I do or don’t do is absolutely irrelevant to this discussion. I’m not a pastor. I’m not the one up there preaching sermons about gambling and then going on to live an utter life of hypocrisy. Like it or not, and whether it seems fair or not, the Scriptures hold Elders to a higher standard. James 3:1 says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” Now, I didn’t say that, God did. JM is the one who signed up to be a pastor, not me. I’ll be the first to admit that idea scares me to death, but God expects Elders to live it. Live it or get out. Otherwise the world mocks the name of Jesus Christ. The world mocks at stupid Christians who are duped into giving their money so their pastors can live in extravagant houses and make exorbitant salaries.

        This is why Paul said so much about the pastor’s character and quality of his life. God never said one thing about how well the pastor can preach or about how many thousands he can attract to the church on Sundays. Not one time does God make this a qualification. But He said a great deal about his life, his testimony, his family, and his character. 1 Timothy 3:7 says, “He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.” How people can’t see that this situation is so far past violating this verse is beyond me.

        Oh, that’s right. How could I forget? I know how we get past this verse. We get past it by remembering that there is $65 Million in debt, and this is the guy who can bring in the crowds to keep the whole house of cards from crashing down. BTW, this is another reason not to allow crushing debt to happen in your church. Clearly it causes Elders to ignore the clear instruction of God’s Word in order to keep the lights on.

        • Mike Sagan says:

          Well said, Joe.

        • coltenj13 says:

          Well done Joe. Vin we are talking about a pastor. God has different standards for the people that hold a position of a pastor.

        • Angela S says:

          Well said Joe – thank you for being willing to speak the truth!

        • Vin Chalkerton says:

          Pastor James IS held to a different standard. I would venture to say that NONE of you have the accountability measures in place that this man has. He is not perfect (I can say that with confidence because it’s biblical). I for one am glad he does not purport to be. Nor do the elders. Nor do I. I see the fruit in my own life as a result of the ministry of Harvest Bible Chapel/James MacDonald and the weekly admonition to live under the authority of God’s Word. I know what the trinity is. I know where I (and my church) differ from T.D. Jakes. I also see that when I try to post positive remarks to that effect on certain “discernment” blogs, I’m told I have no discernment myself, or that I’m deluded, or that I’m in a cult-like church. It’s insane. I am a rock solid, mature believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in 15 years of walking with Christ in theologically conservative settings, I have never been a part of a church where there were not issues.Sometimes major issues. But unless the issue is off the charts outrageous you work through it. This is just sad. Graceless.

        • Tony says:

          “James 3:1 says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”

          Yes, but that does not mean that certain things are sinful for pastors and not congregants.

          “We get past it by remembering that there is $65 Million in debt.”

          Such a silly argument. My father is $300,000 in debt and his salary is $110,000, and he’s going to have his mortgage paid off in 20 years. Harvest is $60 million in debt, their “salary” is $24 million, and they’re going to have their debt paid off in less than 10 years. Is my father in sin?

    • Tony says:

      “Didn’t the Elder board under Dave Corning also deal with this in your life years and years before 2010 and you said at that time you would stop?”

      How would you know that? Are you implying that he said he would stop and then simply didn’t and the board was just too stupid to know?

      “Finally, how much money have you lost/won playing poker in casinos?”

      Do you also want to know how much money he’s lost in the stock market?

      What’s wrong with being in a casino? What’s wrong with playing poker in a casino?

    • Tony says:

      “Playing poker is not equivalent to drinking a glass of wine after supper. Alcohol actually has some redeeming value health-wise and medicinally as well. Gambling has zero redeeming value.”

      There are people who make their living off of playing poker, who provide for their families, and yes, charities, and yes, church tithing, from their skill at playing poker. You’re saying that they’re living in sin?

      • butnowministry says:

        Every one is living in sin! It is a sin cursed world! And the days àre evil!Ephesians 5.16,Ephesians 2.2,2Corinthians 4.4. CHRIST paid for that sin once and for all! 2 Corinthians 5.16-21. If you believe in that payment then we need to walk circumspectly.Ephesians 5.15. so we can be that ambassador from the third heaven and share the gospel .1 Corinthians 15.1-4. And get people saved. If you think drinking and gambling will be a great witness of the Lord Jesus Christ to share the gospel and get people saved so they don’t go to hell. Then do it. By the way the unsaved give to charities,and tithe and go swimming in the baptistry. You ARE TO be God’s ambassador and makE sure souls are saved and saints are edified.1Timothy 2.4 It seems that your more concerned about your good works. No different then pastor James. Remember it is not about works so no man shall boast! Ephesians 2.8-9, Titus 3.5,Romans 5.15,
        2Timothy 1.9.Romans 5.1-¹3! Do you understand the gospel?

  19. C. Curtis says:

    I am grateful to the authors of this website for their continued courage in bringing these issues into the light despite opposition. And I am not alone in my gratitude. Scott and Ryan: Keep up the good work and don’t back down. The truth will prevail.

  20. Bob Arosen says:

    One of my favorite toys as a child was a barrel that would unscrew and reveal another barrel and then another barrel and then another and another and another until you finally got to the monkey. I think we are seeing that played out here, with the difference here being we will never get to the monkey. I appreciate your comments Vin, but it should be apparent by now, whatever James or the elders do to adress any of these issues, it will not be enough – there will always be another barrel to unscrew.

    I would have thought that the authors of this site would have been thrilled with the changes implemented by the current elders and with James’ message this Sunday. I would have thought their reaction would have been an acknowledgement that their work was not in vain, and we should wait and see the fruit of James’ and the elders’ decisions and intent. Instead, we have another barrel, now James must do this…. I see no end in sight. I think that the majority of concerned but fair minded readers of this site will take James and the elders at their word. As for others, they will always have the, “well, now he has to do this” list that will never end.

    It seems to me as though we have 2 choices, we take James and the elders at their word and wait to see if we see the fruit of their word, or we can question their intent, call it all baloney and keep on the attack. I believe the Biblical mandate is to hold them accountable, not question their motives. Let this breathe, give this a chance to work out. Let the Lord do His work at Harvest and in the lives of those involved.

    It will be interesting in the near future when some of the men listed on The Void sake to have their names removed. I wonder if they will get the same headline update that those who asked to have their name added got.

    • Anonymous Member of HBC-RM says:

      Bob: Would you agree than that if a Harvest plant is removed from the fellowship, that it should get the same headline as the new plants get each week?

      • Tony says:

        Good idea, anonymous. Perhaps the bulletin should list all the people who’ve left the church next to the list of all the new members.

    • H. Wilson says:

      Maybe the reason why there are so many barrels is because JM has HIMSELF created all these barrels (e.g., his salary, him requirement to have the dominant voice in all matters, his house, his gambling, and many more barrels). Pride comes before the fall.

    • Tony says:

      ” Instead, we have another barrel, now James must do this…. I see no end in sight.”

      The reason for that, Bob, is that the authors of this site have accepted as fact many things that aren’t fact, and the only thing that will satisfy them is if James and the elders accept the same things as fact that are accepted by two guys who are basing their entire case on the word of a small percentage of people.

    • concerned attender says:

      Unfortunately I came away last Sunday feeling the elder report/steps were designed as damage control over a very critical situation. I have felt that recent videos and constant use of numbers and “pats” on the back by what “Harvest” is doing is used to manipulate uninformed members and regular attenders to believe everything is good. Remember this church is not JM’s or the elder’s, it is God’s church. Any success there is because of God and nothing else. I also didn’t feel any brokenness coming from JM in his message, I felt like it was coming from a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. I continue to pray for God’s will to be done at Harvest, for a brokeness in JM, true confession and repentance by JM and the entire elder board and to bring qualifications for elders to be in line with the bible, and not by what business expertise they bring to the board. This is not a business, but it is God,s church, JM is not a CEO but a pastor. Make the right decision.

      • GMS says:

        I couldn’t agree more and that is Why it is important for James to remember God will NOT be mocked! This flock is under his care appointed by God and HE will NOT let his name be dragged through the mud. This is not good!

  21. Jeffrey Silva says:

    I think it is great that James MacDonald is working on repentance. One concern that I had is that he mentioned that he would give up gambling because he did not want to cause anyone to stumble. But the issue is really that he preached a sermon against gambling and then went ahead and gambled himself. Maybe it would have been more honest to disclose that fact. I do welcome his decision. It may cause me to rethink about buying lottery tickets.

    Regarding MacDonald’s salary, I would recommend HBC be transparent and disclose this information. There is a church about 5 miles away called Willowcreek Community Church which is 2.5 times larger with 25,000 members. Bill Hybels, the Senior Pastor, salary is about 92K which is much lower than the aforementioned 500K salary for James MacDonald. In any event the HBC Church leaders are free to decide how to distribute it’s tithes and offerings.

    I wish the HBC leaders and church body the best on their journey!

    • Tony says:

      “But the issue is really that he preached a sermon against gambling and then went ahead and gambled himself.”

      No, he didn’t.

      • Anonymous Member of HBC-RM says:

        I guess we have different definitions of what “playing high buy in poker” in casinos is. To me…it IS gambling. It is not an honest way of earning money.

      • RZ says:

        As a former gambler I can confirm that playing poker for money is gambling. It brings the same thrill, risk and emotions. It has the same addictive qualities and destructive outcomes. Yeah some make a living at it, but some make a living in pornography also, doesn’t make it right. Playing cards for money does meet the Websters definition for gambling. Tony, you can say the sky is purple, doesn’t make it so.

  22. Anonymous Member of HBC-RM says:

    I do agree that some good progress was made on Sunday, but I also do feel that many things were left unaddressed.

    -Pastor James only mentioned 29 million dollars over budget for the Elgin campus. This sounds much better than the 65 – 70 million dollar debt. I just felt that the entire truth was not given here. (Also, I felt as if he made a stab at the Crystal Lake Harvest – about how they contributed to the overall debt – kind of blaming them. They are part of the Harvest now and are listening to that sermon. I am not sure that was appropriate.)

    -Also, the video for the 5G still said nothing publicly to the church about using the 5G campaign money for debt reduction. If they are planning on doing that, then it should be made public to the people who are considering making a pledge.

    -Again, no mention of his home or salary.

    -In regard to Church financing, I see Harvest has entered the “movie production”. This can not be cheap. It was stated the actors from Hollywood came for the filming. I am sure it is not top actors, but this equipment, actors, etc. can be very costly. Do we have this money? We talk a lot about Pastor James salary, but what about Jenkin’s salary? I am sure he must have been offered quite a lot of money to be convinced to move from Hollywood to Elgin. Is this the best way to spend our resources?

    -The same language is used in the 5G campaign as the previous campaign. “Plans will only be completed as the money comes in”. It seems from the video, that many, if not all of the projects are underway. Is the money all in for this? Can this be verified that they have only spent the money they have received from the 5G or is the same mistake being made again (spending before money received).

    -Again, no mention of the Elephant Room. No admittance of wrong in this situation at all.

    -No mention of the removal of the 4 churches from the Harvest Fellowship. I think that the church has a right to be made aware of this.

    The thing that concerns me the most, is the statement made (especially from the elders) sound very good. But, will they be carried out. I know that in the past, Pastor James has said (more than once) that the elders wanted him to be more available before/after services. It has usually lasted about 2 weeks. My fear is that is what will happen with these statements. Everything will be fine for a couple of weeks. But, I am not sure they will work for the long season.

    • Vin Chalkerton says:

      Anonymous, MacDonald addressed the Elephant Room issue at length months ago in a meeting with all the men in the whole church. He did explain exactly what he regretted and felt was a mistake and why, exactly what he didn’t regret and why, and exactly how things would be done differently in the future, including the authority of the elders to approve or reject any such plans in the future. People strongly disagree with MacDonald and his decisions about T.D. Jakes, and in their thinking it will not be resolved to satisfaction until he publicly states that he is completely wrong and they are completely right.

      • Missing Harvest says:

        Vin,
        I really wish I could see it your way – the regret you mention must have been about “the blow back” and not the T.D. Jakes decision itself. I mean how else can you explain his attending Jakes’ 35th anniversary red carpet event? For someone who doesn’t like to be a public figure – he choose to attend and be photographed at a very high profile, star studded event rubbing shoulders with Oprah and the like. For me what he said just didn’t ring true. I wish it had.

        • Vin Chalkerton says:

          So now, not only can he not engage in formal public dialogue with Jakes, but he also cannot be seen in public anywhere near him or be friends with him? He can’t associate in any way with the lost or the wrong, even if he is working to pull that individual towards doctrinal orthodoxy? Do any of you have Charismatic friends? Make no mistake – I believe Jakes is wrong on much of his theology – and SO DOES JAMES MACDONALD. You guys act like Pastor James should be some paramount of unassailable perfection unseen since Christ himself. I have news for you all… he’s no different than you. If some of you had to live according to the standard he is held to and the accountability he has in place, not to mention the scrutiny he’s under, you’d lose your minds.

        • Tony says:

          ” For someone who doesn’t like to be a public figure – he choose to attend and be photographed at a very high profile, star studded event rubbing shoulders with Oprah and the like.”

          He was in the same room as Oprah Winfrey? How dare he! Christians are not supposed to get anywhere close to people who aren’t Christians! Yes, Jesus rubbed shoulders with prostitutes and thieves, but I don’t remember anything about rubbing shoulders with preachers he disagreed with or talk show hosts!

    • Tony says:

      “I am sure he must have been offered quite a lot of money to be convinced to move from Hollywood to Elgin. Is this the best way to spend our resources?”

      Sherwood Baptist spent a couple million dollars on Courageous…do you believe that was a bad use of resources?

      • MoneyLover says:

        From imdb.com:

        Courageous (2011)
        Budget: $2,000,000 (estimated)
        Opening Weekend: $9,063,147 (USA) (2 October 2011) (1161 Screens)
        Gross: $34,522,221 (USA) (22 January 2012)

        This is not including DVD sales/rentals.

        I think we can all safely assume why “movie-making” is a goal of the 5G campaign. Of COURSE James/HBC wants to produce a feature length film in 2013…a very nice income stream for him/the church.

        Absolutely sickening.

      • Anonymous Member of HBC-RM says:

        I do have some concerns / conflicting feelings regarding this. I am not sure that a church should spend their resources (money and time) making feature films. I am not saying they shouldn’t…I am just saying I do have some reservations about this. It will involve a lot of money (both expenses and revenue). A church is not a business. It starting to feel like it is.

    • Tony says:

      “-Again, no mention of the Elephant Room. No admittance of wrong in this situation at all.”

      Maybe that’s because he doesn’t believe it was wrong or sinful or worthy of “repentance” to have a televised conversation with other preachers.

      • Anonymous Member of HBC-RM says:

        Then why has Harvest quietly removed all mention of Elephant room from their “store”? Try to buy the DVD now. If they don’t believe it to be wrong, why did they decide to stop sales?

  23. Donn says:

    I agree that it is a good start. Hopefully both what James mentions and what the elders update entails will all comes to fruition. Time will tell whether the repentence is real.

    While there are still ongoing issues, to me, about the sheer size of the ministry, etc., and how effectively a person can actually pastor a group that is so spread out, I am willing to let it continued to play out.

    Now’s the time to be careful for the rest of us. I don’t think it is right for any of us to begin saying what his repentence should look like. His feet being held to the fire, due in large part to this website, I think, have put him back in a better place of hearing from the Lord. Let’s trust the Lord to reveal what James’ repentence needs to look like. It sounds like the rest of the elders are bringing the accountibility back to a much better level. Maybe now James will be free to actually do what he is called to…feed and tend the flock as pastor.

    Donn Fisher

  24. sad says:

    Only in Jamesworld would that message be used in the same sentence as repentance.
    Come on – he duped you two – imagine how thrilled his disciples are.
    It was a nice set up though – comparing himself to Lincoln then confessing his sin was not being GREATER than Lincoln by being perfect in character. Wow.
    But his greatest sin of all? Not owning the responsibilities of being a public figure. Are you kidding?
    You mean not conforming to the image you need your fan base to have of you to keep your brand alive?
    He needed 50 minutes to set the frame around his repentance story so he could emerge as the wounded messiah.
    And you guys bought the whole thing.
    This was pathetic.
    Go sit down, James. Your 15 minutes are up.
    Next time, walk up on that stage, say I am sorry, sell the $2M house you bought with the people’s money, resign from your work and spend the next year getting face to face with the hundreds of people who you have destroyed who are not buying for a minute this garbage and apologize for being a jerk.
    It has nothing to do with being a public person, friend.
    You have been a mean, deceitful, arrogant, prideful and lustful person to thousands for 20 years. Own that for 60 seconds and leave Lincoln out of it.

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Sad
      I haven’t listened to the complete message yet, but I think I’ve heard enough. I came away with the same thinking as you. Comparison to Lincoln was kind of a red flag to me. And I had a problem with him saying he doesn’t like being in the public eye. If that is so, then why did he go on the 40 city Vertical Church tour, in which he is expanding himself to the public across America right, and selling the new book also bringing more attention?
      The big point that seems to be missing I thought is that any Christian, whether a figure like James MacDonald with a lot of publicity and well know or a plain old person like me, we both have a private life that should be clean before God or anyone else. I teach my kids to follow God’s commands when no one is watching and when people are watching. It’s all the same and there should be no private anything that you are allowed to hid no matter who you are.
      He mentions that he and his wife committed to the Five G campaign along with everyone else seemingly implying that this was a big committment for them. Maybe he should not take such a big salary next year and make that known to his congregation – actions speak louder than words.

      • Kay says:

        There are so many issues here, it makes my head spin. It’s hard to know where to begin. First, I am very thankful that this website was put up. I have felt for quite some time that there were serious issues at Harvest, but like so many others, wondered if it was just me.

        The issues raised — debt, an exorbitant salary, gambling (in church offices no less!), lack of transparency (some of which I consider to be lying by omission), James’ bullying, really what is spiritual abuse — it boggles the mind. If it seems like the more that’s peeled away, the more that is found that is questionable in behavior. Most distressing of all is that we are talking about multiple serious issues. It’s not just one area.

        I personally didn’t buy James’ message on November 18. True repentance offers no excuses (I don’t like being a public person, the pressure of the Elgin situation caused me to relapse — on and on). I think rationalization is exactly what James did. There should be no contradiction between our private and public life; that’s what transparency is all about. One of the other posters made reference to motive. Motive is of extreme importance. It is what God will judge us on. The bible has quite a bit to say about debt and for good reason.

        There are disturbing behavior patterns in James’ life and they impact everyone around him. These patterns couldn’t continue without some sort of enabling by at least some of the people whose job it is to hold him accountable. I am particularly disturbed by his habit of not quite telling the whole story and thereby distorting the total truth which really is about manipulating people (bought house in Palatine area, gambled at home and in public places). Please! Why not just say “I’m moving to Inverness.” How about saying those public places he gambled were casinos and Las Vegas? Church offices!!!! Unbelievable! These are deliberate attempts to minimize or mislead. I think he should step away from the pulpit for 9-12 months and spend some significant time alone with God. It’s a real shame because he is a gifted preacher.

        • Tony says:

          “Motive is of extreme importance. It is what God will judge us on.”

          And clearly what everyone here wants to assign and judge him on as well.

        • Chitownshindigger says:

          I was very glad to hear James acknowledge and repent of his sin. His explanation of him not wanting to be a public figure let me have a glimpse into his heart, also what he has to deal with.
          This blog is intended to do one thing, destroy James and the ministry of Harvest. Bloggers are popping up and destroying ministries left and right with half truths and lies and open posts that are unsubstantiated and twist the truth.
          I trust James to fulfill his repentance and the Elders to learn and grow, and we as a Church to get back to what we have been called to do, make disciples.
          I thank God that no one has judged me so harshly when I have failed.
          I will leave with this for all of you who judge so casually, Matthew 7:2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. All you who throw around your judgement so lightly, take heed as your turn is coming, repent.
          Now spew your hate on me, I will not be moved, James is my Pastor and Harvest is my home.

      • H. Wilson says:

        Was anyone else taken back by JM’s continuous reference in his Nov 18 sermon about how popular and important he is? I was struck by the phony remarks about how he can’t go anywhere without someone knowing who he is. Wow. He really thinks he’s a rock star. I would appreciate a LOT more genuine humility from him. A lot.

      • Tony says:

        “Comparison to Lincoln was kind of a red flag to me.”

        He didn’t compare himself to Lincoln. He said he admired him and wanted to learn from him.

    • Lisa says:

      I listened to the rest of the message. One really has to listen to the whole thing. I’m glad James is stepping out and at least confessing these things. That’s a good start and definitely necessary to keep his church intact. Hopefully the pressure of him having to do this will turn things around in a genuine way. Hopefully something is genuine and not a big smoothing over message. I guess only time will tell.

      • Thomas D. says:

        Lisa, I would urge you and anyone else to think about what was said very carefully.
        After admitting gambling (incomplete truth apparently. Seems there is more to this than what was confessed to the church) Pastor MacDonald apologized for:
        – Failing to embrace his celebrity status (gag)
        – Getting too angry when defending the church (wow, what a confession)
        – Being too generous to people and smothering them with love so that they are uncomfortable (wow, really?)
        – growing angry when people don’t keep their word to him (gag)

        Listen to what was said. Each confession made him look like the saint in the story. In the end, you feel sorry for him. It was like the guy in the job interview who is asked, “What are your greatest weaknesses?” He replies, “I work too hard, I care too much, and I push myself too far to get the job done.”

        Yet, the core issue is not dealt with. The core issue is greed. Greed drives gambling. Greed drives demands for huge $1 Million salaries, $2 Million homes, and gambling addictions. This sin must be acknowledged and rooted out, otherwise, it will plunge a man into even deeper sin and perdition. Titus 1:7-9 says “Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, NOT PURSUING DISHONEST GAIN. 8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”

        • Lisa says:

          Yep, it may be just a big smoothing over (at least that’s what I thought in the first half for sure). I don’t attend any of the churches and so I’m just looking at this from the outside. It would be interesting to watch this on video to see the body language also (I listened to audio only).
          I do think that there seem to be a lot of unanswered questions.

        • Tony says:

          “Greed drives demands for huge $1 Million salaries, $2 Million homes, and gambling addictions.”

          How do you know what his salary is or if he has a gambling addiction?

        • Anonymous Member of HBC-RM says:

          I know that in order to make the payments on his mortgage and the property taxes, he would have to be making a certain amount of money. It was an unnecessary purchase. I gives “non-christians” something to point to and say….look at that pastor and where he lives and what he drives…

  25. Vin Chalkerton says:

    Good to see that you guys are happy. That’s what counts. Also glad you guys have MacDonald’s heart, motives and next steps all figured out now. *whew*! Thanks.

    • HarvestBerean says:

      God gave man a mind to reason with. We are instructed to be watchful and sober-minded How else would you qualitfy an elder, if not by the criterion presented in this blog?

      • Vin Chalkerton says:

        I’ve been around the block, and I don’t drink the Kool Aid for anyone, including any church. I’ve started, run, and sold businesses, and know something about people trying to accomplish something more than playing it safe and keeping their soft hands clean.

        Obviously MacDonald WRESTLES with sins in specific areas. He FIGHTS against it. I do not believe he is living a life of rationalization or moral failure. No elder is perfect – if you think they are, you are setting yourself up for one disappointment after another. That is my problem with this particular blog… not that it is entirely untrue, but that it is graceless and purports to know another person’s motives. Every issue is cast in the worst possible light.

        The Debt – Truth? I ADMIRE some ambitiousness in ministry. After years of being in churches that aren’t sure they can keep their modest programs going and have a hissy fit every time the music or carpet color changes, I’m glad to see someone going for broke in the church. Nothing big gets accomplished without risk. The leadership at Harvest got taken to the school of hard knocks, just about driving off the cliff trying to do something big for God, and lived to tell about it. I have no doubt that things got really ugly. People had sharp, tough disagreements. Pressure is hard to deal with, and most people have NEVER had pressure of the kind that leadership team came through to get Harvest from point A to point B. Now they are rock solid financially, accomplishing much for God, and working to be debt free.

        The Power – When people have something to hide, or when they are on the take, they consolidate power in the hands of a confidential few. Permanently. They do NOT expand the number of people in the know and establish a rotation of service. If MacDonald has been so consistently living in failure before his elder board and is trying to hide it, he is going about it ENTIRELY the wrong way. Who comes up with this stuff? EXPANDING the number of people from all the campuses who will see firsthand exactly what is going on is a red flag? Seriously?

        The Salary – Why do you have what you have? Who decides how much to prosper you? Who has to answer for how your money comes in and goes out? James MacDonald has to answer for his use of money. If he’s taking too much, or using it improperly, God will take him to task. Here’s the TRUTH: If James MacDonald had a very nice house in a very safe neighborhood with two cars and cell phones for each family member and plenty of food and a retirement account and a hobby he spent money on and a nice home theatre system and a remodeled basement and a garage full of nice tools and took a vacation every year… if he had all of that and a little more, NONE of you would say a thing. Because THAT’S exactly what many of YOU have. And that’s the basis upon which you are deciding that James MacDonald is greedy… because he has more than YOU. Yet ALL of us are filthy rich compared to most other Christians in the world, who are BEGGING for resources and help. What are you doing with God’s money? A better question is, how much money is MacDonald giving away? Do any of you know? There are houses on my street worth 1.2 million (ironically, one of those families goes to Harvest… I can pass along their names if you want to write a blog about them). Mine’s about a third of that. If MacDonald had a $800,000 house, would he no longer be greedy? $500,000? $300,000? Is a Christian who buys a new car sinning? Was Billy Graham greedy, flying around in a jet and hanging with Presidents? How about Andy Stanley? Francis Chan? Did Jerry Falwell have too much? The simple reason most of us do not have what MacDonald has? NO ONE WOULD PAY IT FOR WHAT WE HAVE TO OFFER. Seriously.

        The Gambling – He probably goes to R rated movies, too. Also heard he drank wine at a wedding and danced. Don’t put those torches out just yet, folks. Much wickedness to drive out of this man before we’re done with him.

        • Anonymous Member of HBC-RM says:

          Vin: Do you think any of the announcements from the elder board or the message last week would have been done without this website?? I do not think so. I think that we would have continued being in the dark on everything. This site has helped to bring issues to the light, and hopefully, will provide greater accountability for Pastor James moving forward.

          I agree, no one (elder or pastor is perfect). But, they are held to a higher standard than us. Also,repentance must be shown/demonstrated by the men who are leading the church. He is a public figure (whether he likes it or not) and a lot of people look towards him for guidance and how to model their life. He needs to keep this in mind.

          The debt: Yes, some is certainly understandable. But, 65 – 70 million? Also, never informing the congregation of this debt? Where is the money coming from to pay off this debt and the huge amount of interest? Us! We should have been told.

          The Power: MacDonald holds a greater amount (I believe 50 percent) while all the other elders combine for 50 percent. Do you not understand how this weakens an individual elders personal voting power?

          Salary: His salary is coming from us. I know of so many people in the church who are struggling or out of work. Then church was in a state of financial instability. Do you really think it was wise for him to demand such a large pay raise at that time? I think his salary is too high for this area and compared to the majority of the members of Harvest. I think it is unnecessary. Also, it is important to remember all the other revenue streams he has.

          I think the issue with the gambling, money, drinking, is that Pastor James himself has preached such strong messages on these issues. He has preached against drinking and gambling. And then for him to be gambling, to me, that seems hypocritical. I do not think it is okay to condemn something to the congregation and then go and participate in it. I hope that I can trust that what he says to us from the pulpit, is also what he actually believes and lives by.

        • Vin Chalkerton says:

          Anonymous, I couldn’t reply to your comment directly, so hopefully you find this. Here are my thoughts on your particular points:

          I frankly do not feel the announcements from the elders were ever necessary at all, except under the current circumstances to address publicly the very public accusations of this website and to reassure the membership that they are indeed doing their job. But I trust the elders to identify issues and exact discipline. Perhaps that is because I have seen it happen in the past, and I feel they are responsive and thorough. Have any of the other elders ever been disciplined or admonished for any reason? Have any of them lapsed into a habit of being chronically late to meetings or using a sarcastic, dismissive tone, for example? Have any of them neglected their wives or responsibilities by golfing too much? If so, does that need to be announced publicly to all campuses? I know of at least one instance where one of the men listed on “The Void” probably violated their employee conduct agreement with Harvest (don’t even ask). Should that have been announced to the congregation? As I understand it, the elders had already addressed the gambling issue, and based on James’s sharing, they are regularly challenging and admonishing him as required. There are infractions of the sort that I think might require a public announcement, but in my view those would be the same infractions that would require dismissal. Marital unfaithfulness, illegal drug use, theft, etc. But blowing your top when the church is facing a 20+ million dollar budget overrun due to your own (and your own elder board’s) errors in judgement? Playing poker and publicly tweeting about it? I think the elders can be trusted to handle that. If not, we need new elders.

          Pastor James is indeed held to a higher standard. I do not observe the same travel rules, etc. I certainly do not have to ask the elders before I buy a house. I have been to a casino within the past year, both in Vegas and locally (I did not gamble there. I personally despise casinos and legalized gambling, although I see nothing wrong with competitive low stakes betting between friends, even if I personally do not do it). No one is riding me about it, even though I openly talk about it to church friends. I doubt anyone would call me a poor role model and an embarrassment to the cause of Christ if I got a tattoo, although some people apparently feel at liberty to say such things about James MacDonald.

          I think the leadership now understands that they should have been more open about the debt, although it has never been a “secret”. The fact remains that the elders decided to take a short cut to save money. It came back to bite them in a horrible way. The worst possible way. I forgive them, and I’m grateful to God that the church survived, stronger then ever and with a healthy fear of debt. I think they learned something. If you don’t forgive them, or if you do not feel they learned anything, you do not have to give another penny to Harvest. Ever. But the fact that the Elgin project was a train wreck is not a secret, either:

          No one had to give to 5G. Especially without asking any questions. I don’t EVER give money just because a pastor says so. (I will remind everyone that the very next week MacDonald said he’d laid it on a little thick and framed all of that up). Folks need to put their big boy pants on and accept some responsibility for their own stewardship and discernment.

          The elders essentially have veto power over much of what MacDonald does. How is that 50/50? What kind of genius sets up a system that divides the senior pastor against the elder board in a 50/50 deadlock? Apparently you don’t think the elders, including men like Rick Donald and Kent Shaw, are too bright.

          James MacDonald cannot just demand a pay raise. Actually he can, but no one has to give it to him. The elders have to approve it. Again, apparently you think guys like Rick Donald and Kent Shaw are doormats. You do realize that James MacDonald can work anywhere? He can go pastor any other church that makes him a better offer? You are right… you are paying competitively to keep one of the best bible teachers in the country on staff at your church. Maybe you should see who signs up to make $150,000 and can draw growing congregations to seven campuses by video. Or maybe you’d like to pay seven excellent teaching pastors $150,000 each.

          You can find blog posts from YEARS ago in which MacDonald lists gambling among discretionary issues like going to the movies or drinking. That’s his view, even if he recognizes the danger of habitual gambling and has preached on it. He says he won’t do it anymore, and I appreciate his decision. What more should he do?

        • Vin Chalkerton says:

          Well, that’s not working. But if you search YouTube for “Leopardo Testimonial – Harvest Bible Chapel”, it’ll come up.

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