David Corning, former 20-year Chairman of the HBC Elder Board speaks publicly for the first time.

Update (18 Sep 2013)Over the course of the past week, as the fallout has continued to reign down upon Harvest Bible Chapel and it’s theologically bankrupt decision to publicly humiliate and directly slander the names of two former elders, more and more people are rising to testify to that which they have seen.  Tonight, as a direct result of Harvest’s decision to continue down this ill-chosen path, Former 20-year Chairman of the HBC Elder Board, David Corning, has elected to release a public statement rising to defend the character of these two elders and detailing his ongoing concerns pertaining to the character and ministry of James MacDonald.

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September 18, 2013

Today is the official twenty-fifth anniversary of Harvest Bible Chapel, a church that Betsy and I poured our lives into for twenty-two years, from the first informational meeting in May 1988. I served as the Elder Board Chairman for twenty-one years as well as on the boards of Walk in the Word and HBF.

As you may or may not know, we left Harvest nearly three years ago. Why would we leave our church home – where we raised our family, when we were not being forced out – unless we did not believe that it was absolutely necessary to do so? At the end of December 2010 we left of our own accord after many troubling years. We had twelve reasons for leaving that I will not disclose here, but I did share most of them in a meeting with James on December 20, 2010, our last day.

In the beginning of Harvest there was solid accountability for James and all the elders. The church seemed headed in the right direction. There were many good years. But over the years, James’ perspectives changed and he began to treat the church as if it belonged to him. This only escalated when the church was given the 600 acres of land in Michigan by the Van Kampens and the Elgin property by the Greens. He assumed Harvest was his and his to control. Harvest became more and more about him and his insatiable drive to expand his influence. The result has been abuse of power, lack of accountability and major financial gain to him.

James has a big issue with submitting to authority. He once said to me, “I have no problem with authority unless I think it’s stupid”. He has a major issue of entitlement. He cannot reveal his salary because it is indefensible. No one could even determine his total combined income from all of the Harvest ministries without seeing his tax returns. He hides his full income because it is beyond explanation to those who are sacrificially paying for it. That is why he cannot even give his elders more than a pie chart for the budget of the church.

Nearly two years before leaving Harvest, in February 2009, I met with James and told him that I had lost confidence in him and his leadership and that I didn’t want to work with him anymore. Immediately after, he began a concerted effort to weaken the elder board. He used degrading statements such as “You guys are useless; I do my best to make you feel like elders”. Solid leaders left the board.

It was at this point of the church history that James assigned a “research committee” outside of the elder board’s authority and knowledge, to significantly restructure the governance of the church. The intended result was to remove the elders from having authority over the direction of the church – giving him more authority than any one man should have. In essence, he already had it. He had a way of working around the elders to accomplish his objectives and announce them as “approved by the elders”. How James imploded the Harvest elder board in 2009 is remarkably similar to how Mark Driscoll imploded his a year earlier.

On August 23, 2009, there was an Elder meeting to which James invited, unannounced and against protocol, several pastoral staff to attend. His goal was to restructure the Board according the results of the “research” which he himself had directed. He wanted “proof” that he needed more control and greater affirmation. Only two elders dissented – myself, and Bill Ciofani. However, the writing was on the wall. I knew immediately that my time was up. I could not serve under such a system where the Senior Pastor has ultimate control with no true checks and balances. This includes control of the money, the staff, and the entire direction of the church.

It was an extremely difficult decision to leave Harvest altogether but over the next several months it became impossible in good conscience to remain. To do so would leave people with the false belief that James was accountable or that we supported the direction he was taking Harvest.

I rotated off the board in November 2009. It was clear to me and I said so, that the church would have to change its Constitution in order to enact James’ new structure. This can only be done with the full understanding and agreement of the congregation. The current Constitution must be shown to the congregation with the proposed changes in red letters. As far as I know that has never occurred, which would mean the church structure has been operating against the Constitution of the church since 2009. When Scott Phelps, an elder, asked to see a copy of the Constitution he was told there wasn’t one by Steve Huston. I carried one to every board meeting I ever attended.

One of the biggest reasons and the final straw for our leaving was James’ harsh and vindictive treatment of people. He assumed power to fire and hire anyone he chose. Several good people were forced out as James and the XLT, under his submission, decided they were “going in a new direction”.  The elder board operates in submission to the XLT even if they don’t realize it. They do not have any real authority to do anything except carry out James’ wishes.

Over the past nearly three years, the full force of James’ wrath has been manifested against me, and Betsy in nearly every possible way (though often cleverly disguised as the decision or action of another and usually executed through a long-time friend or acquaintance who must betray us to prove allegiance to James). He has worked behind the scenes to destroy our reputations, our ministries, even our livelihoods. One of the most perverse and shocking (though lightly veiled) accusations came in a public sermon by James on June 5, 2011, which also aired on Walk in the Word a year later. The Saturday night message was harsher; the Sunday message was edited. We were portrayed as “blaspheming the church and taking advantage”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Our goal was to leave quietly and not cause any division. We fully, but wrongly believed that our friendships and even ministry relationships would continue. People even wrote to us saying as much, until James decided otherwise. There was no issue of sin being called out in us. To the contrary, Rick Donald wrote me and said, he would “never allow anyone to say anything bad about me”. There was no difficulty between us, or any person, except James. That of course, would change rapidly as James mounted charges against us.

In that last meeting, James and I agreed that our differences would remain between us. However, Betsy and I would soon discover that he had set upon a deliberate course to discredit us. What was between James and I, and was to remain as such, became a series of ever-expanding concentric circles of James’ influence of others against us – pastors, staff, flock leaders, friends, even Fellowship churches and leaders of ministries outside of Harvest. James has enlisted the aid of staff, including pastors and elders to slander us, calling us deceptive if we haven’t spoken, or divisive if they believe we have. This lie has been spread not only about us, but about many godly people. Apparently simply to leave Harvest is viewed as “betrayal”.

We sought counsel and were advised not to answer to the slander or engage in dialog with any of these people. We followed this counsel and yet there is a pandemic of strife encircling the globe and dividing even families and close friends – the ultimate result of one man’s actions. Long-time friendships have been utterly decimated.

We did not spread strife or discord. On the contrary, we were painstakingly careful not to. Time and again James used his power and influence to deliberately harm us. The slander continued unabated for over two years. Then suddenly and unannounced, James showed up at my office to “reconcile”. I was not there and am not interested in being maneuvered into “reconciling” with someone so that he can use me in his sermon illustration. James has never repented of nor even acknowledged his sinful actions. This absolution continues to be his stance and that of his elders, made clear by last weekend’s Harvest video. We have forgiven James and the many people he has manipulated against us for his gain and our loss. We are not bitter, just very much aware of the tactics and strategies of James MacDonald.

There has been a revision of history taking place at Harvest. Only one perspective is given and there is no opportunity for those who would refute such things. We have prayed consistently for the Lord’s will to be done. We have never tried to convince anyone to leave Harvest. We have only prayed that people would have eyes to see and ears to hear, being fully convinced in their own minds of the choices they must make; choices for which we must give an account to the Lord someday.

The elder board this past weekend said that they are “completely satisfied” with James’ character. This on-going strife is all a result of this man’s character. James just lost three of his best elders. The men around him are not helping him but hurting him. I have told this to two current elders who have contacted me in the last couple of months.

We have not been divisive or deceptive or ever posted anything before this response. In many ways we feel we should have spoken out earlier but we chose to remain silent out of deference for many good people at Harvest. Now, however, I cannot stand back and see the godly reputations of former elders and friends be destroyed.

We stand behind Scott Phelps, Barry Slabaugh, Dan Marquardt and others who have asked simple questions that elders are required to ask and to be given full and satisfactory answers. The church discipline being done is just wrong. People should not be disciplined over the Internet and they should not be disciplined for something the elders are assuming they will do. In fact, church discipline in no way applies to these men. These actions are the result of James’ continuing pattern of using and abusing people.

So much more could be said. But my purpose here is to support the godly men who have been wrongly disciplined by the church and others who have been wrongfully terminated or forced to leave.

When the church ceases to be about the truth, it ceases to be the church. The Lord will bring truth to light, in His time and in His way. I am fulfilling my duty to warn.

Dave Corning

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147 Responses to David Corning, former 20-year Chairman of the HBC Elder Board speaks publicly for the first time.

  1. C. Walsh says:

    This is what happens when a church is built around a man and the man is not Jesus Christ!

  2. Marie says:

    This is not the first time a pastor or leadership have had their sheep’s clothing removed to reveal the true nature, that of a wolf.

    May the God of all creation protect you and your family, Mr. Corning, as well as those elders who made the conscious decision to leave.

    It is becoming more apparent that God, our Father, is calling His faithful out of the harlot church system and forming His Ekklesia right before our very eyes. May all Praise, Glory, and Honor belong to Him.

  3. none says:

    church family, has it already been 25 years?

    before I say anything, the church is GOD’s church and he will come back for her. HBC is not the only church, please do not lose heart or lose faith in him because of man’s short fallings. I too have fallen short but because of dave’s courage to say something I will say some things that are on my old heart.

    please hear me when I say this. I will not say my name or defend the words I say right now because your friends don’t need it and those who seek to discredit you will not believe it.

    I have been around harvest since day one, just like dave corning. I know by saying something even in the comments of a weblog that people will narrow down who I am. that’s fine, it’s time to stop caring about anything but GOD. think about that… from a baseline understanding of who you are and a baseline understanding of who GOD is. GOD will not be mocked, and as much as I have hated this website from a passer by point of view dave corning has hit the nail on the head and that man has sweat blood for harvest bible chapel (I don’t care what anyone says in refusal). this church was set on a path in 1988 under a certain constitution in accordance with GOD’s word (which hasn’t changed) with specific guidelines as to how to change that constitution should a group of entrusted men (called elders) to be able to change that constitution if errors have been made. This constitution has been thrown out the window so that james mcfraudald (tasteless I know, but im old and have a poor filter) can build his own empire. jamesmacdonald.com? that exists. @jamesmacdonald? certified twitter member, yeah that too. This guy has been parading around under the guise of substantial talents to make 1.5 million dollars a year out of your tithe. that’s right a million and a half! but who cares about money?! when you give to GOD’s church he knows where it’s going and isn’t fooled when fools take those dollars… He is in control of these assets and sees even more then the takers know where they end up. When I was a younger man james stood at the pulpit and told our congregation repeatedly that he would never receive beyond a certain sum as a salary (that number was 350k) yeah we knew that was a big number but we began to see this guy as a celebrity (think marlon brando), sort of an alex rodriguez type of guy. guess what? hes just a guy and the fame and the power and money corrupted an easily corruptible man, is it so incomprehensible? if you’ve ever been to a restaurant with james you can see how he treats anyone he believes is in service to him (examples excluded) imagine working for him. now imagine you went to bible school… you wanted to be a pastor or be involved in ministry (excellent ambitions). you patrol the job market and you are able on some off chance to run into james or his sons (luke or landon) and they like you for whatever reason and james offers you a job. all of a sudden your whole world revolves around macdonalds. you don’t know what’s going on outside of these walls, the macdonalds own you. in order to keep your job you stay loyal to the family that is paying your bills (mob reference?). if you disbelieve this I would encourage you to reach out to dean butters and see how he got his job? or maybe dave Eichmann (father in law to luke). or maybe even to luke or landon themselves and see how they came to be in their undeserved roles (yeah they went to school but show me even one more example of someone who rose that fast in a church this size who wasn’t related to the CEO (pastor… whatever… the lines certainly have been blurred here))? This is a man building himself up, promoting his sons, and shedding accountability to do the latter. Now there’s a guy on this very weblog whose name is “take a breath”… and I think there is a tremendous amount of value in just the name itself. James has had a VERY positive effect in many lives and I cant even count myself out of those numbers. I have spoken to many (not all) of the men who have donated significant amounts of money to his cause. they know he is a flawed man, one told me “yeah james is ok in small doses but I don’t like to spend more then 30 minutes with the guy. hes an excellent teacher and that’s why I give him money”. from a purely external point of view this guy is putting his dollars where he believes he thinks the most lives will be positively effected for Christ and I personally applaud them for that.

    but the church…

    the church is not a business and someone needs to tell james that. (I know I have, but when youre old and not making dollars like you used to james seems to care less and less about your opinion). the long and the short of it is this. james macdonald meets absolutely none of the biblical requirements to be an elder let alone run the elder board. When a constitution is formed for any organization, be it a country or a church that constitution must be followed for changes made or the following is by definition a fraud. this church has lost its way and needs a man like dave corning (not specifically dave) and for james macdonald to step down as pastor. james would be better suited teaching history at a college or writing books and speaking on the radio alone. I hear those pay pretty well.

    james macdonald is not a godly man, do not be deceived. this is my warning.

    an old man.

    rg

  4. Informed and Free says:

    Dave, I am thankful that you stepped forward to share this with us. To all others still at Harvest, please firmly inquire to see Harvest’s Constitution and ask why it is no longer being adhered to. That alone should be a major red flag. I’m thankful that I’ve landed at a church that is transparent and accountable. God is good to heal wounds, and the truth will prevail.

  5. MIkki Peterson says:

    Matt E. Re: “I would caution you all to 1. “not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.” – It has been established that this has been done over and over – but now finish reading the verses in 1 Timothy 5 – for instance “But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that others may take warning.” NIV
    ESV reads, “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all so that the rest may stand in fear.”

  6. Jeff says:

    It appears that being and ex HBC Elder or ex HBC employee is a badge of honor.

    • Jeff's Shadow says:

      Disgruntled leaders seeking a “Badge of honor” might be a derogatory way for you to vent your distaste of the tremendously disturbing data shared here Jeff. But I for one highly doubt that neither you nor I know the depth of quiet psychological pain endured by such individuals over several years who (in their roles as leaders at HBC) had sought not to “fear man” .. (including the Great “JMAC”?) .. but to “fear God only” in their sincere efforts to lead God’s Church in these “Last Days of Human History” along side of James MacDonald.

      James is “suffering” himself Brother Jeff. I suspect that alot of “former elders and HBC leaders” already know that Brother. The best thing for James MacDonald, his family and God’s church right now is for James to “step down and mend” ….. and ALSO to “mend broken relationships” where-ever he is allowed to do that.

      As long as James stays in the pulpit, and in his “Bully Pulpit position” … with little consideration to the tremendous pain his former leaders are suffering with, at his own doing, he is only prolonging the potential healing that (I personally believe) .. our God wants to pour out on him … AND .. the many broken lives impacted by his wrong style of leadership. A leadership style that has NO PLACE in .. “New Covenant… GRACE BASED .. Christ-Centered” Christianity.

      There can be “better days” for Harvest Bible Chapel. It all comes down to one man and his decision … at this 25 year history of Harvest.

      • Jim says:

        @ Jeffs Shadow
        “James is “suffering” himself Brother Jeff”

        I highly doubt doubt that. I believe that James is a sociopath. He has shown no regard for others. Only his own comfort. He claimed in one recent video that “If you know me I am a simple guy. I am regular folk. I am just a blue collar guy.” Really. A simple guy in a 2 million dollar Inverness mansion. Drives a Jaguar and Land Rover. Pulls in how much a year 500K, 700K, a million off the sacrificial offerings. Comped vacations – like the upcoming Walk in the Word Caribbean 2014 cruise.

    • notafan says:

      Actually its a season of healing – bringbthe truth to then light and the land (its people) shall be healed. By your statement it is obvious you are not aware of the need.

  7. Lucy Oceanside says:

    I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that James’ wife attended the Grammys a few months ago, courtesy of tickets that James acquired. If we are talking about “satanic to the core”, that’s the place.

  8. Matt E. says:

    Folks, I know nothing of the accuracy of this letter, I neither know the character of James or of Dave. I would caution you all to 1. “not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.” (Perhaps some that attend HBC have such a luxury, but as a Walk in the Word listener I do not currently.) 2. If James is indeed caught in this terrible sin pray for the man. I do not doubt the possibility of such things, and of course pray for Dave and his family too who according to this article are suffering heart wrenching things also, but God wants restoration and reconciliation. (Btw the article says James sought to “reconcile”, how as a W in the W listener can I know if this was not sincere?) Lets keep the Kingdom of God in focus, and that only Satan wins when the church is divided and vindictive.

    • I encourage you to read more then just this post alone. Even if you read the last couple post you.

    • Healed by Christ says:

      Matt, with all due respect you’re a “day late and a dollar short.” Prior to commenting it might have been helpful if you did know the character of the men involved. The Matt. 18 mandate has been done and none of it was evidentially effective. Please dig deeper into the blog to read the objective facts that have been presented for the past year or so. The facts alone speak to the character that you’re wondering about.

      • Matt E. says:

        My apologies, I did not do due diligence to looking up more facts before posting. I thought I was reading an article (linked from facebook) and did not realize I was on a website dedicated to this issue. I will be praying for all involved.

    • Dear Matt,

      You may be interested to know that The Elephant’s Debt has just restructured The Void. If you turn your attention there, you will see that seven former elders (including David Corning) have made public statements pertaining to their concerns. Additionally, there are a growing number of staff members who have spoken as well. Blessings.

  9. Deborah C. says:

    Dave Corning,
    I prayed that you would come forward and God has answered my prayer. Like so many others have written here, you were my teacher at HBC and I have never forgotten your kind patience with answering my questions and your encouragement to me to grow in Christ. I hope you are encouraged as you read the many comments of appreciation.

    I will continue to pray that the other fine men listed on “The Void” will find the courage to come forth. What has happened at HBC under James MacDonald’s leadership is detestable. Our family finally left after 14 years because we could no longer bear to see our Lord and Savior being eclipsed by The James MacDonald Show. It is as if Christ Jesus became a supporting player in the building of James’ kingdom.

    We will not return to HBC but we have wonderful, deceived friends still there. I know that reading your words will make a difference to them as you continue to be so highly respected.

    Thank you again for coming forward. I am sure it was not easy for you. May God bless you and your family for your integrity and courage.

  10. Living hope says:

    After watching the elder video… I’m sorry but it seems eerily cultish. Scary times we are living in when satan has a hold on the church. So glad my husband and I decided to leave about a year ago. My husband worked on the security team for James and was instructed to keep everyone away from James. That should have been a red flag. His love for others is just not there. I was told by a trustful friend that attends Willow Creek that Bill Hybels meets with anyone who wants to after the services and I was utterly amazed. James never once took the time to shake my husbands hand after sitting in the front row for 3 years ready to take a bullet for the man if need be. I’m sorry but celebrities show more tact than this. It also irked me when I found out that jmac had a makeup artist. Just seems like he is all about putting on a show literally . So my husband and I found a no frills local church. Where the focus is actually on Christ and not all these other distractions. Wake up church satan is having a field day with this . I’m truly concerned about the lack of discernment amongst the members of Harvest.

    • Joshua Clifford Hope says:

      What exactly would you have people at harvest discern? I myself have no allegiance to James or Dave although I had a close relationship with another board member who also left around the same time. If anything I would be inclined to “take the side” of the board member I knew, yet I find all the arguments posted to be issues of growing pains, both for the person as well as the church. I hold nothing against those who’ve left. At the same time, regardless of what’s happening with the man (who is–like you & I–a person in the constant throws of change), I find that the charges are subjective to where you stand on the subject. I find little solid ground to stand on either side, so I choose to grow where I’m planted. Meanwhile I do see signs of the admonishment changing James. He’s given up several things that he would have the freedom to partake in because of his love of the church. So I see signs of movement in the man, but not in the movement against him.
      Does all of that exhibit a lack of discernment? Because to be quite honest I find the willingness to attack the vast masses semi-anonymously disconcerting to say the least. So, I’m trying to consider the weight of the accusation as well as the source. Dave I recognize, “Living hope” should give his/her name or not make such statements.

      • Living hope says:

        We left the church over a year ago. No big wigs here just a family that served in our church. My husband served on the security team and I served on the medical response team at harvest. What would my name even mean to you? Simply stating our experience at Harvest. Discernment regarding theology for one. Stating that God speaks directly to the elders for the church is not biblical. The elders could be unanimously wrong. Jesus is the ultimate authority the church answers too.

      • Despeville says:

        “What exactly would you have people at harvest discern?”

        That they are fed and controlled with a form of Galatian heresy for starters. Take a look at its manifestation:

        link: http://youtu.be/GeAXYNUzzr8

        And its condemnation in the Word of God:

        “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, OR by hearing with faith—just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?”

        Galatians 3:1-6 ESV

        Yes, telling people that if they pay in to the 5G campaign will allow them to “anticipate” blessings and miracles of God is a form teaching works of the law. Pay in to be “blessed”… How is this above any different from this one below?

        • Jen says:

          Wow! Scary video. Glad we left and weren’t subjected to this false teaching by James.

        • Marie says:

          And to think that i used to listen to Mr. MacDonald on what is called “Christian” radio! Another false teacher preaching on “giving” to line his own pockets. May God have mercy on his soul for fleecing the flock. And yes, he will stand before Jesus Christ one day and will be required to give an answer for his words, like the rest of us laity.

      • S. Carter says:

        I would believe with the multitude of former leaders / elders that have gone on record defending someone or shared a concern, that they should seek a meeting with the current elder board to discuss their concerns in person. They should all sign a letter once they organize their concerns and deliver this letter in person to the elder board with as many former leaders that share those concerns attending in person if they can.

        The goal of all of this is to work through the concerns and strive for harmony, unity, and love with God receiving the glory. The reason it should be taken seriously is that scripture says that an elder must be above reproach, and if these former leaders all still share the same concerns, then that implies that the people the concerns are about are no longer above reproach.

        At that point I believe the current elders should be willing to share the outcome of the meeting (not the details) with the members of HBC in hopes to properly lead the flock. How can the members of HBC be properly led when the leaders are under a shadow brought upon by men and women that were formerly highly respected at HBC. That doesn’t mean any concern is valid, nor does it mean any concern can be glossed over. What it means is that as Christians, we should be readily willing to analyze ourselves to see if there is any active area in our lives where we are falling short of God’s desire and therefore strive to do better. It doesn’t mean perfection, it only means a willingness to let God change us.

        I currently serve within Harvest in numerous areas including helping organize things for the sports ministry. My desire is to see God glorified, the church strengthened, men to repent and be restored if they need to be, and this wedge that is being driven into a community of believers to be removed.

        There are several verses that I think apply to this situation:
        James 3:17-18 “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”
        1 Corin. 13-4 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered.it keeps no record of wrongs.”
        Phil 2:2-3 “Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

  11. Michael Loesch says:

    My prayers continue to be with you Dave, Betsy and the rest of the Corning family!

    I too will some day respond to the attacks by James that has left my family in ruin. I will try to describe the pain inflicted on me and my broken family because of James MacDonald!! Saying things like, “you are not welcome here (HBC)! You should move to California! You will never have a ministry here!”

  12. Kevin Horstman says:

    Dave and Betsy,
    I am so relieved to hear the full reason as to why you left. I knew the majority of it, but what I couldn’t understand is why nothing was ever said. I have been a part of your son’s Bible study for going on 5 years now. (and had attended HBC for 15 years prior to leaving 3 years ago) I’ve been blessed to learn from your teaching and vast knowledge of God’s word, rooted deeply in your heart. I’ve seen the heartache and destruction that James and Rick have caused your family, at times through tears during prayer requests. Your letter above does not even begin to shed light on the pain and destruction that James and Rick have caused you and your family. But rather, it further solidifies my beliefs in your character and the truth you graciously and humbly provide.

    Thank you for stepping out and standing up. Even though James and Rick will surely seek to thwart your efforts, I thank you for speaking truth. I pray that others may see that truth and use it to transform His Church, for His glory.

    Kevin

  13. Healed by Christ says:

    My wife and I were members of HBC-RM from 1996-2003. We were schooled in small group leaders training and meticulously taught how to keep our group members accountable (Bible reading, prayer time, not exposing yourself to anything impure, confessing sins to one another, etc). It’s a shame that James does not subscribe to the same strict accountability standards he taught everyone else to abide by.

    From all indications it sounds like James is the same egotistical bully that we commonly hear about in Chicago and Washington DC politics. Scripture has taught us that you reap what you sow (Gal. 6:7, 8).

    By the way, there are other HEALTHY churches out there. Yes, there is life after Harvest!

  14. SLIMJIM says:

    I hope and pray believers online will find this letter that might perhaps defend the name and honor of the two elders who were slandered

  15. Take a Breath says:

    My single biggest concern about the “one guy on lots of screens” model is that it can foster a “follower of a man” phenomenon. I think most of his greatest critics would admit that James is a gifted teacher.

    But he’s a flawed man, as is the pastor of the church you attend (or will attend if you follow the herd). What happens when the flawed person implodes under the weight of his own efforts? Does the church’s “success” depend almost solely on the pulpit? That’s a recipe for disaster but it’s a formula that is repeated in churches far beyond those with the letters HBC on the door.

    “Come to my church, our pastor is awesome.” “Come to our church, you’ll know lots of people.” “Come to our church, the worship is amazing.”

    How about, “Come to my church. The lost are being found. Marriages are being transformed. The community is being changed.”

    If you attend Big Harvest and are thinking about leaving, consider staying. See what God might do with this flawed man (or see what it’s like to be part of a recovery if he steps away).

    If you are convinced that God is leading you to leave, here’s an idea. Stay local. Don’t drive long distances to go to the newest cool place to attend. Don’t try to find a place with the awesome pastor or the most amazing worship. The perfect church (or pastor) is not out there.

    Find a place that needs you to serve. Find a place where you can build up the body instead of just being fed. Find a place that is much more concerned about proclaiming the Kingdom of God in the community than building up it’s own kingdom.

    • Scott Thompson says:

      Yup, indeed. Gone and am doing exactly that, well said. He has lifted us up, prepared us, brought us from glory to glory, not for our fame or credit but all for His. Sow into a local church body with our gifts and the fruit of the Spirit and continue to serve the King of Kings till he calls us home.

    • John says:

      “If you attend Big Harvest and are thinking about leaving, consider staying. See what God might do with this flawed man (or see what it’s like to be part of a recovery if he steps away).”

      The first part of your comment made some good points about the dangers of a church being centered around a single individual.

      But then you made the above statement that goes a long way to saying that people should consider staying for that same guy–in this case James.

      James MacDonald, the flawed man you mentioned, needs to repent by stepping down as an elder at Harvest. He has biblically disqualified himself according to 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1 and has hurt a lot of people as a result (a few of whom we have read about here). It is time to protect the flock of Jesus Christ and stop protecting James MacDonald. I truly believe that Jesus has come to the defense of His flock through Dave, Dan, Scott, Barry, Russ and others and I praise God for it. I am sickened and heartbroken that it had to come to this…

      In the end, this is not about your opinion or my opinion, this is about the Word of God and what it plainly says.

      The most loving and gracious thing we can all do right now is to stand on God’s Word and stay away from our own opinions and not direct people to any form of wisdom or logic that isn’t the Word of God and the God who spoke it.

    • Howard D. Holsapple says:

      I agree with your sentiments and was debating whether to comment or not. My biggest concern is that this is yet another example of the Church becoming more like the world and not the other way around. This behavior actually smacks of Chicago type politics. The fact of the matter is, the “Church” is not a business nor is it intended to be operated like one. James is not the “CEO” and frankly the Senior Pastor is not a biblical concept either. He is also NOT the “first among equals” which I’ve also heard bantered about from other Harvest pastors. My sincere hope is that other Harvest churches do not wind up adopting the same leadership philosophy, although I feel some have, since that is how they were taught. My guess is that, to borrow James’ euphemism, he got “sideways” when he decided he was the one it was all about and it became James’ ministry and his personal “brand”. A gifted orator, though he may, it is NOT his church but the Bride of Christ and His Church. Unfortunately many times churches wind up adopting the Sr. leadership model out of pragmatism when growth (numerical), programs and the almighty dollar become the emphasis and basis for determining success (also not biblical). The term pastor and elder are used interchangeably and are always in plurality. You can’t be one and not the other….scripturally speaking. Having given and served at Harvest better than 6 years of my life, I am indeed saddened, although not totally surprised. I feel even though the attitude shifted gradually, there were telltale signs along the way and I would hope this becomes a case study in seminaries as to how fallen we all can be prone to. Especially those of certain gifts who will not submit to the oversight and consensus of Godly men who are to be appointed as stewards, holding true to doctrine and the spiritual well being of the flock. My prayer is that the remaining elders are men enough to confront the situation head on. I fear until James is ready to give it all up, he will be unreachable and unrepentant. I am anxious to see what God does to redeem this situation and make no mistake about it, He will.

      • Chris Trees says:

        It may be instructive to recall the origin of the title “first among equals”. Caesar Augustus upon assuming the throne of Rome after the death of Julius Caesar, elected to adopt the title “Priceps Senatus” (first among equals) to pacify conservative senators and other politicians who still resented the dissolution of the Roman Republic by Julius Caesar and who had conspired to effect (or at least approved of) his assassination.

        Augustus shrewdly chose to initially use the more humble sounding honorific in place of his other more grandiose official titles; dominus (lord) or basileus (sovereign). Only later after his opponents were neutralized and his power was consolidated and secure did he adopt the praenomen Emperor. Of course, by that time it was too late for his opponents and the Republic never returned.

        To be sure, the transition was relatively gradual, and many Romans applauded the prosperity, entertainment and collective pride that came with the growth of the empire, but still, the end result was that power was no longer shared and tyranny prevailed.

        While this stuff may or may not be interesting on its face, as Howard so kindly pointed out, Harvest is supposed to be a church and not a business or for that matter, an empire.

        Lastly, contrary to the popular myth, a frog is actually too intelligent to stay in the pan as the water temperature rises. Sometimes it seems, people aren’t.

        • Mark Notestine says:

          Excellent observation of how “first among equals” was used for Caesar Augustus. I was going to post the exact same thing until I saw that you did.

          A comparison of James to a Roman emperor is certainly not a parallel that they would want, but their very poor choice of words (“first among equals”) actually encourages the comparison. Very ironic.

      • Despeville says:

        Howard,

        You hit it on the nail. Evangelicalism became like world and is replicating its corporate structures and strategies. Just look at almost every board in almost every church. Who is there? Guys who made it in business. Who run corporate divisions. Why is that? Because of massive confusion and lack of true discernment exemplified in massive conviction that if a guy knows how to run a business he also must know how God’s Kingdom work plus his and his network’s money carries additional attraction… Is this right? Of course not and in fact it is the EXACT OPPOSITE what the Lord taught and teaches now:

        “Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”
        ~ John 18:36 ESV

        “So other last will be first, and the first last.”
        ~ Matthew 20:16 ESV

        This and so much more is lost on so many. Corporate executive or business owner does not automatically qualify for discerning elder. In fact most of the time they not only do not qualify but are disqualified by the mold of business thinking and practices they lived in. Most do not get that and will not get that but this is one of the primary reasons for the contagion eating churches inside out. Case point HBC, its board and what they allow MacDonald to do and get away with while making mindless statements akin to Randy Williams self enchantment.

    • john on island of patmos says:

      Thought provoking post about sticking around for to see what happens rather than pulling rip cord.

      John, this is bigger than just James stepping down. Its an entire house cleaning that will bleed across elders, admin and school.

      Btw, anybody get a robo call from the man himself inviting you to 25th anniversary???

      • Julie Anne says:

        “If you attend Big Harvest and are thinking about leaving, consider staying. See what God might do with this flawed man (or see what it’s like to be part of a recovery if he steps away).”

        I know a lot of wives who stayed in abusive marriages waiting for their husband to change. You must ask yourself: does James MacDonald even admit he has done wrong? If he hasn’t, then what is going to magically happen to make him admit it? He is proud and arrogant and if he were going to change, you would have seen evidence of it by now. He’s had plenty of opportunity with other elders calling him out. But take a look at the video that was posted recently. I have the transcript posted here: http://goo.gl/AApBrv. It appears that he initiated this video process and appointed 4 elders to speak on his behalf. That sure doesn’t sound like someone who thinks he has done anything wrong. He’s using his elders to defend him. This is a concerted effort to make him look good and others bad. Is that how a humble and godly shepherd behaves?

        So not only do you have to wait for your pastor to get a reality check of the sin he is avoiding in his own life, but now you have a group of elders who for some reason aren’t seeing the same things that the previous elders and you are seeing. Why is that? Could they be as blinded as the Chief Wolf?

        What would God want you to do? Support a man who is not humble and is leading people astray and harming the church or vote with your feet saying that you will not support such hypocrisy in the House of the Lord?

        • a thought says:

          Only God can answer the question, “What would God want you to do.” I feel like you are leaving His sovereign power out of the equation with your next sentence, ” Support a man who is not humble…”. We need to seek the Lord and do what He tells us to do. If God happens to say “wait,” we need to trust Him. He is more powerful than this mess and when He is ready, He will act. He may want us at Harvest for what is to come, but then again, He may want us to “vote with our feet.” All I’m saying, is that those still at Harvest need to seek God on this and obey Him.

        • Despeville says:

          “If God happens to say “wait,” we need to trust Him.”

          @ a thought,

          How does He say it outside of the inspired and trustworthy Word of God? Are you getting any extra biblical direct revelations? Because God is speaking surely in His Word about this and it is completely applicable here as in the very context of mentioned covetousness – greed – pleonexia… In the very preceding and qualifying below text verse 5:

          “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”

          Ephesians 5:6-11, ESV

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