Matt Till, former Director of Productions Ministries at HBC Elgin, speaks out for the first time.

Untitled copyOver the past twenty months, as Ryan Mahoney and Scott Bryant have written on the subject of James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel, many of you have asked us what motivated us to write.  Today, we are going to introduce you to the man who was, in many ways, the catalyst that prompted us to explore these issues in greater detail.  Matt Till is Emmy Award winning television producer who left his job in the industry to take a position at Harvest Bible Chapel as the Director of Productions at the Elgin campus.  Over the course of his brief tenure at HBC, Matt was treated so poorly by MacDonald on so many occasions that he ultimately elected to resign his position with no employment opportunities immediately awaiting him.  On the morning of 19 September 2013, Matt Till contacted The Elephant’s Debt, asking to have his name added to “The Void” and informing us that he was preparing a statement.  His statement reads as follows:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

September 19, 2013

For those that need another voice, another testimony, or a trusted friend in ministry to speak out, allow me to be the next.

I do not wish to appeal to the leadership of Harvest Bible Chapel, but to those who previously or currently serve on staff. For those that have spent days and nights questioning your work ethic, value, gifting, calling or perhaps even faith while working for Harvest Bible Chapel – you are not alone. For those that serve on staff under the impression you are giving yourself to a calling, but repeatedly find it shrouded by constant feelings of doubt, anxiety, confusion, rejection or a false sense of acceptance – you are not alone!

I implore you, many who I know personally, do not suppress those feelings of guilt or fear. What you are sensing, feeling and have been questioning is real. Like you, I was once drawn to a seemingly Godly tree that was growing, flourishing and beautiful to the sight. The unfortunate reality about this tree is that you would never know that the fruit is bad and poisonous to the soul from just the looks of it. The only sure test is to eat and discover its true character.

The tree of Harvest Bible Chapel is deceptive, luring in innocent children of God, full of hope and promise to serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords in full devotion. However, once inside and under its shade, your full sense of reasoning becomes distorted and twisted, no longer serving Christ, but Harvest, James MacDonald and its leadership.

The factual and well supported testimonies laid forth on The Elephant’s Debt against your leadership are of great proportion. I pray that you will have ears to hear and the courage to speak out.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, rest in the promise that it’s the Holy Spirit that is “at work in you, both to will and work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Take my word, there is abundant life after Harvest Bible Chapel.

Respectfully Submitted,

Matt Till

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56 Responses to Matt Till, former Director of Productions Ministries at HBC Elgin, speaks out for the first time.

  1. Sad tonight... says:

    …some of the comments are very inappropriate. The only problem with arguing with an “idoit” is you become one. People, keep your comments God honoring and scripturally based, there’s enough there to fill volumes. We don’t need to be sinful in our response, let’s be sure God is honored above all (at least by ED commentors)…

    • Chris Pence says:

      Can you cite examples of what you’ve felt is sinful, please?

      • Caution ahead...lest our 'reporting' become sin says:

        Maybe I’m reading between the lines, but commenters ‘needing’ to report the attendance, ‘needing’ to underscore the drop in offerings, ‘needing’ to say maybe people are voting with their feet? Are people sharing facts or hoping to ‘celebrate’ the breaking of a back? (1 Co 12:12-31) Love is indespensible…we are ‘the body’. And debt to be sure, and change needed too (1 Timothy) there is, beyond one leader and many shortcomings, good work for eternity on the line. Our greater witness, yours and mine for our LORD. So yes, call the local church to higher ground, and yes, call for repentance, but lets ‘all’ be above reproach. (1 Timothy) We can speak the truth in love. (1 Co 13:6) We need not be silent, but we need to also be kneeling in the dirt at the same time (John 8:6).

        Heavenly Father, as we enter into a new week, I pray the conviction of the HS on those who need to be changed comes (us all). Our sin is against you, not just one another. May discontent, and dis-ease be present until we are transformed by your perfection. May truth be raised high, may leaders kneel down, may Christ be in the forefront, may overseers and deacons consider their high calling, may the life of one called to teach and preach be changed by the very words spoken, still changing the lives of people everyday. Christ you will not be mocked, and words do not go out and return void. Remind us before we speak, or write, that the ‘churches’ testimony is marred by both sides. I shall trust you alone LORD, and continue to do the work you have called me to this day. I leave the work here (ED) to those who are compelled to continue to speak. Bless them too, for the reproach and mocking they suffer. We ALL want to serve and glorify you, for you are most glorified when we are most satisfied in YOU! Call us to the higher ground, the place of great glory. Amen

        • job3627 says:

          I really do not think anyone here is celebrating the lack of attendance. I think they are merely taking it as a sign that the message of this website is getting through. The success of truth against lies and deception is always cause for celebration. The vast majority (if not all) of those who comment here are quite saddened by the state of HBC, at this juncture. I join in your prayer that we all maintain a purity of motive under the guidance by the Holy Spirit.

        • Despeville says:

          Dear Caution ahead…

          As long as you remember that visible church is not the same as the actual church redeemed and called out by God which is for the most part invisible and unknown to our creaturely eyes but surely known to God. This is an extremely important in light of mentioned 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 text. None here is celebrating anything for there is nothing to celebrate in this sad situation. Reporting and discussing is not celebrating. It is reporting and discussing and that surely is not “satanic” as deceived elders of HBC were instructed to proclaim.Neither it is “sinful” for the facts and data is documented here… Facts are facts and many of them in themselves are sins bit not discussing them. That is a massive difference.

          As to the breaking of the back. Yes, the Lord ordains it at times according to His purpose and good will. Not only for individuals, societies and nations, but also for churches (Revelation 2:5 for example). God will break a back of anyone and anything that will stand against His Name and Glory no matter how much His Name is asserted. You have no basis to exclude just that in this sorry situation, especially in persistent and stubborn refusal to repent and change by those who are responsible for it. Great wickedness has been done and continues to be done in the name of The Lord and He will not stand for it. And do not confuse personal sin of an average sheep with an institutionalized, systematic and empowered and branded sin of those who suppose to be shepherds of the flock.

  2. Kevin says:

    The Daily Herald estimates the attendance at just over 3,000, and, assuming that’s accurate, then just under 1/3 of the church showed up for the only worship service being held this week. After the events of this week it is not entirely surprising that there was a low turn out, but I did not expect it to be that low. http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20130921/news/709219794/

    • Despeville says:

      “..led the crowd in Christian songs with a rock-star quality as many people reached toward heaven and others swayed to the music…”

      I think this above says a lot… Lets say there was 3500 there. The HBC membership as reported in the same article is 13000 so that means 27% showed up for the 25th anniversary of HBC.

    • Chris says:

      Kevin, that’s a great point and thanks for making it. I remember in 2007 when we did Easter at Sears Centre. That facility seats ~11,000, and I remembered it being almost completely full. (I also remember the following year during a sermon where James openly mocked the people who asked him if we were doing Easter at Sears Centre again; he said no, because we “wouldn’t fit” any more.)

      Googling around, I found this article: http://wwww.worshipfacilities.com/go.php/article/easter_together_at_harvest_bible_chapel?p=7 … which says that the estimate on that Easter 2007 @ Sears, 12,000 people showed up. If that’s true, that means there was a 75% drop in attendance between that event and this 25th anniversary event. Totally agree with you that it’s a shocking drop in number.

      • j Crane says:

        Dudes! Don”t play the numbers game (like HBC). Easter Sunday is NOT like a Saturday September Anniversary Celebration. Think of it as a company picnic (staff and volunteers) that allowed anyone else to come. JamesMacDonald Co., like Osteen and Furtick, will do just fine and get a bail out by wealthy investors. Tragically, it allows the continued excuse and rationalization that they are ‘fruitful’ and ‘blessed’.

  3. Jim says:

    The offering at Harvest Bible Chapel seems to be behind the budget – in the red- quite a bit. Giving is $2 million short this year. The 5G campaign has received $11 million so far of $30 million pledged. Currently the 5G campaign is $9 million behind schedule. I wonder how serious this is financially. Perhaps the congregation is starting to vote with their feet.

    • Tyranny says:

      One only need look at the 2011 to 2012 finance statement provided by the eleders in April of this year to fully underrstand that ‘revenue’ was down by I recall 7.2 mil and expenses (including salary etc.) was UP by 1.? mil – the total ‘bust’ is over 10 mil as reported in that financial statement. Look it up for yourself and then ask how is it that this church will pay down near 60 mil in debt in the time that the elders have outlined?

  4. Deborah C. says:

    Thank you, Matt, and also Trevor, for having the courage to come forward and make a public statement. I continue to pray that the men of The Void as well as others such as yourselves will find the courage to speak out. We have left Harvest but still have friends there who do not believe that they are in fact not loved, but are just being used for the glory of James MacDonald and the building of his empire.

    May God bless both of you for your courage and integrity.

  5. Betty says:

    Here is a book that some people may be interested in, “Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, The: Recognizing and Escaping Spiritual Manipulation and False Spiritual Authority Within the Church” by David Johnson. The author is a long time pastor of a large church.

  6. Canadian says:

    As an outsider in Canada I can only assure you that the Canadian church knows nothing about Elephant Debt. People are giving sacrificially to plant new Churches. The big question that remains unanswered is are Canadian Churches giving money towards the 60 million dollar debt.

    • Jeff says:

      The Canadian Harvest Bible Chapel churches that pay 5% of offerings to the Rollings Meadows campus; which then uses the money in any way Pastor James MacDonald chooses. Be it to pay down the 65 million dollar debt or to pay his HBCF Presidential salary.

    • GBS says:

      Canadian – the Canadian plants are very much aware of what is going on. I was stripped of membership (catapulted) for questioning the events of ER2, and subsequently James’ leadership and influence throughout HBF with respect to his associations and authoritarianism. No one had a conversation with me, nor opened scripture in defense. They simply took away my membership. Several Canadian plants are so integrally tied to ‘the man’ and the resources they enjoy because of the relationship (spinning off James’ influence and power), they would lose too much to overtly question. They also seem to share the same view that James has with respect to ‘speaking for God’ and claim an authority that is not theirs. They actually declare it ‘a burden as they use their God given authority, in taking responsibility for the souls of the saints that God has placed in their hands.’ Though paraphrased slightly, that was a declaration from the chair of the board of the church I was dismissed from. Truly the apple does not fall far from the tree.

    • Jackie Alfirevic says:

      Please share with everyone you know from Harvest Canada. They should be informed.

      • A Canadian says:

        I am a Canadian attending a Harvest Church for many years. Many of us are aware of what is happening and are heartsick. We are asking questions and TRYING to get answers up here. We would like these issues being brought to light by the ED addressed by our own Pastors, but they are swiftly being swept under the carpet. No one will address any of these issues.

    • FMP says:

      @Canadian, rest assured that many in the Canadian fellowship of the HBCs are aware of what is being wrote about, unfortunately no one in leadership will speak publically about the allegations or this web sites existance. All have an very strong ties to James, and defended him after the ER2 debacle. Not to mention the fact that James’ brothers attend HBC churches in Canada, oh what a predicament, dont you think?

      • Sincerely says:

        Oh Canada. Well, perhaps part of your answers come from John MacDonald’s (James’ brother) website? Try going to http://www.paylesstax.ca and see where that gets you. Imagine the creativity you need when you’re $1.9m house has a $1.4m mortgage. Oh wait, probably not much when you have a $1.5m salary and a $100k+ (unaccountable) expense allowance and are entitled to a ministerial housing allowance.

        Perhaps the IRS should be checking into not just James’ returns but all those that are encompassed under the ministries of JMac. Do the elders know just how many staffers are taking advantage of this tax code option vs. how many are truly entitled to take advantage of it? The waters are deep at harvest. Very deep. And it’s unlikely that the “whole truth and nothing but the truth” will ever see the light of day. Ever.

        Canadians, your not any different, and the exchange rate doesn’t even matter on this.

        • HOLD ON THERE says:

          I don’t think there is anything wrong with the fact that James’ brother John is a successful businessman within the financial industry. Of course he is going to use some of his 30+ years in tax law, probably both US and Canadian to advise his brother and leadership on how best to deal with the finances within the church! Isn’t he also a board member of the HBC fellowship? Are we to think that if God has rewarded him well in his business he shouldn’t be entitled to live affluently, he is a very active member of the church and does work on behalf of the fellowship. I would hope so that he also advises his brother James of sound financial advice, but it doesn’t mean that he takes it.

    • Jackie Alfirevic, entangled at HBC since 1992 says:

      Please share this web site with everyone you know from Canadian Harvests. They should have this information.

      • Canada, eh! says:

        I have tried sharing it quietly with a few friends at an HBC plant in Canada, and none wanted to discuss it as they believe that it is mostly bad “gossip”, and we should avoid entagngling ourselves in reading it. No one is saying anything open within a small group setting, for fear of being labelled as a troublemaker. I think the appropriate term would be “head stuck in sand”. I am patiently waiting for some sort of public comment from anyone in our leadership addressing this now unavoidable James situation. But given what I have learned all this time in being at HBC is that, you will be told what you need to know when they determine you need to know, and then how much you should know. I would assume that the same goes with anything to do with church business, i.e, finances, because that is another well guarded secret within the church. So many staff and no idea what most of them do and what kind of salaries are our tithes payng for. I am trusting we are in the hands of Godly men who prayerfully are considering how God would want them to respond to this James situation.

    • job3627 says:

      If they are going to Harvest University, I expect they are. Some or all of the fee, even though it goes to the Fellowship, must end up going to HBC for the use of its facilities. You would also be helping to pay the mortgage on JM’s mansion, if you buy a book by him. Not huge amounts of money individually, but spread over thousands of people, it adds up. There is also the matter of the portion of each Canadian church’s budget that goes to the Fellowship for church planting. Does anyone know how that money is actually being spent or is it as murky as the finances of HBC? “Churches Helping Churches” is another question mark. There was a huge amount of money raised (yes, from the Canadian churches too) for Haitian relief—has there been an accounting for those funds?

      • There has been an audit of CHC, and it can be found on HBC’s site here.

        • Jim says:

          The audit states that “the President of Churches Helping Churches (CHC) is also the CEO of Walk in the Word (WITW)”. CHC paid WITW $26,000 for administrative expenses. Could those expenses include James MacDonald’s salary as CEO of WITW? Also, the Harvest Bible Fellowship contributed $73,000 to CHC. How much of that contribution went to pay James MacDonald, CHC President??? Are you getting the idea how the money moves around within Harvest to dilute the trail. Walk in the Word, Churches Helping Churches, Harvest Bible Chapel, Harvest Bible Fellowship, Harvest Studios, Vertical Church, and Harvest Christian Academy are all under one umbrella with James MacDonald as the President/CEO of each collecting an income from each.

    • Marie says:

      @ Canadian, I would agree that most people that attend Canadian HB Chapels would not be aware of the controversy surrounding James Macdonald or the information documented on this site. (This is hard to believe as a simple Google search will automatically bring up this site, as well as others questioning the ‘goings on’ with James Macdonald.) On the other hand, as recently posted, I highly doubt that the Leadership in all of the Canadian plants is not aware. They were instructed a year ago on what to say in order to defend James and do damage control. When some attendees at one church plant made them aware of this site, they were told that James had repented. We now know that this was not the case. It was a lie. Leadership supported the ‘Vertical Church’ tour last year, they are now promoting the ‘Act like men’ conference and they are continually sending leadership on retreats and down to Chicago for training, conferences, Harvest U, etc. James also shows up in person from time to time for a family chat with leadership. It would appear that the loyalty is to the man. I don’t understand why? They preach against the very things that James has done or continues to do. Apparently, they do not view their support as compromise to God and to His Word. They need to read the following passages prayerfully as God’s Word DOES SPEAK for the LORD to this situation. This is about as serious as serious gets. We would do well to take heed, so read very carefully.
      Matthew 7:15-16 – ‘Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.’
      Matthew 7:22-23 – ‘On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
      Matthew 16:11 -12 – ‘Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
      Acts 20:28-35 – ‘Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
      Romans 16:17-18 – ‘I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.’
      1 Cor. 5:11-13 – ‘But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler – not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. Purge the evil person from among you.’
      As well, for those who need further verification:
      2 Cor. 10:3-6, 2 Cor. 11:3-4, 2 Cor. 11:12-15, Galatians 1:6-10, Galatians 2:11-14, Galatians 6:1-3, Ephesians 4:17:20, Ephesians 5:6-11, Philippians 3:17-19, 1 Timothy 1:18-20, 1 Timothy 3:2-7, 1 Timothy 5:19-20, 1 Timothy 6:3-10, 2 Timothy 2:14-18, 2 Timothy 2:23-26, 2 Timothy 3:12-13, 2 Timothy 4:2-4, Titus 2:11-15, Hebrews 5:11-13, James 1:26, 2 Peter 2:1-3, 2 Peter 2:18-22, 1 John 2:15-19, 1 John 4:1-6, 2 John 7-11.
      There are so many warnings stated in the Holy Word, how can any pastor or elder of Harvest Bible Chapels anywhere in the world ignore these. Should they continue to turn a blind eye to these warnings, it will be to their own detriment. The Lord judges them more harshly, James 3:1!
      You would think that the debacle that was ER2, the resulting fallout with TGC, the admonition of biblically sound church leaders, the attendance and very public photographs of James and Kathy at the 35 year celebration of the heretical ministry of TD Jakes right after the catapulting of a sister church, the incredible amount of info and documentation collected, verified, and posted on this site, the gambling issues, the church split of Harvest Metanoia, and now former Elders speaking out… (whew, run-on sentence, I know) should be enough to have this situation dealt with once and for all, but alas, only silence…
      A year ago at the above mentioned HBC, church governance was addressed from the pulpit, wherein the failures of congregationalism were expounded and the ‘plurality of elders’ was commended. It was explained that the pastor and elders look after all of the affairs of the church. The members and non-members obligation was to trust and submit or if that presented a problem, then attend the church down the road. The problem with the latter choice is that many churches are either closing their doors or adopting many of the latest pragmatic programs to get people to come, or their congregants to stay. Harvest is becoming more entertaining in a worldly way, but the Word is being preached (must discern carefully as sometimes passages get twisted) and I think souls are being saved.
      As far as I know, members only, receive the annual financial status and it is vague. No individual salaries listed and no reporting on what goes back to the Fellowship.
      Many new believers and seekers attend HB chapels in Canada, if they happen to know who James Macdonald is through radio, they would not realize whether or not he is speaking the truth. They also would not understand how any of these issues could possibly affect them…yet!

  7. Bob says:

    My wife and I have made the decision to find a new church home after attending HBC for the past 7 months. I was unaware of all of this controversy until the recent spooky video castigating former elders. I want no part of this. We had just donated to the 5G campaign two weeks earlier. We asked to have that returned so that we could bless a new church home. That request was denied with some claim that “all gifts are unconditional and non-refundable.”

  8. Despeville says:

    “Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves. You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorns or figs from thistles, are they? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree IS NOT ABLE to bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree to bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will recognize them by their fruit.”
    ~ Matthew 7:15 -20

    PAy attention that above there is no room for “mixed fruit”…Yet so many wants to believe that about this man and this Walmart model church.

  9. Take a Breath says:

    I recall a sermon by Pastor James many years ago where a contractor was trying to take advantage of him. When James pushed back, the contractor said, “Hey, I thought you were a pastor!” I seem to recall James’ reply was something along the lines of, “If by Pastor you mean a push over that you can take advantage of, you’re wrong!”

    You didn’t need that story to know that Pastor James has a strong personality. Certainly Paul did more than ruffle feathers in his day. Any of us who have had tough bosses know that their driving personality is not for the faint of heart. The issue is when someone goes over the line of a vigorous debate and it turns personal or disrespectful or degrading. That’s why I read into Matt’s post.

    Ask 10 people what they want out of their pastor and you’ll get widely varying responses. Let’s not minimize the fact they are tough shoes to fill. The challenge for James’ personality (and all of us who share some aspects of it) is the challenge of Galatians 5:16-26. Fits of anger, conceit, and dissension are recurring themes in this blog about James’ dealings with people.

    But I have to say this… I’m not sure all the comments back have exactly smacked of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I just caution us all to consider that our reaction to another person’s sin can easily turn into our own sin.

    This may be uncaring to say so (so much for my fruit of the Spirit), but I’m much less concerned about Pastor James at this point. He’s reaping what he sowed. I’m very much concerned about the Bride of Christ. There is great work going on around the world through churches with the name Harvest on them, maybe because of (but certainly in spite of) the guy who started the Fellowship. There’s not a testimony on this site that makes me question my membership at one of those churches.

    But if we’re not careful, the zeal to see that James gets what’s coming to him can lead to calls to evacuate any church with the Harvest logo. And that, my brothers and sisters, would be a hit to the Body of Christ and the pastors and leaders and servants who are not minions of James but followers of Christ.

    • Despeville says:

      “Ask 10 people what they want out of their pastor and you’ll get widely varying responses. ”

      Then you are asking in wrong place. What 10, 100, or 1000 want does not matter, not a single bit. It only matters what the Scripture says about that and the Scriptures are infallible, authoritative and perspicuous also on this point. i.e. what God wants his shepherds to be like. What He wants is the opposite of veracious wolfs.

  10. Trevor Eldridge says:

    As someone who worked under Matt while he was at Harvest, I can say that he is 100% accurate in what he has said. I was witness to the culture of fear and ‘yes men’ in the Harvest workplace. Having your job, character, and faith questioned on a daily basis by your superiors and to your face will eventually break anyone. With a “conform or die” mentality, the Harvest staff (specifically, the executive, worship, and media departments) becomes a social circle that you spend more time worrying about if you’re in it, than making sure you’re serving Christ to the best of your ability.

    In an environment that demands perfection out of all of its employees and volunteers, you are never without criticisms. In my years in the weekend video ministry and freelancing on various “big church” projects, I’ve learned the goal is not to glorify Christ, but to appease James. Matt and I worked together soon after James had returned from California and that was an exceptionally rough time because the big discussion behind the scenes was about James’ image and branding. Not even joking. That was the goal while working on weekend video packages and service planning. The heat was really on high.

    As a sidebar, some time later, James said in one weekend’s services that he doesn’t consider himself a celebrity, feels weird with the attention, etc… James, I’m speaking directly to you right now. Do not tell me you do not consider yourself a celebrity when I sat in a meeting led by Andi Rozier with a number of elders, pastors, and media/worship team honchos and Andi says, “James wants to be a brand.” You cannot play the “reluctant hero” card and secretly desire to be Walt Disney.

    Anyways, in summary, know that the people of integrity have already left or are leaving Harvest. And those that are still there on staff are the “cool crowd” or those who are suffering slings and arrows because they want to be in the cool crowd or those who just don’t want to be unemployed. However you slice it, the rift between those with Harvest and those opposing is going to continue to grow. There will be more black and white. The grey will disappear. This whole thing is going to get much worse before it gets better. I just thank the guys behind this site for putting forth the first honest effort to stand up against the school yard bully.

    There’s more that I could have said. More than I’ve already wrote here. But that is another story and shall be told another time.

    • LJohnson says:

      “And those that are still there on staff are the “cool crowd” or those who are suffering slings and arrows because they want to be in the cool crowd or those who just don’t want to be unemployed.”

      Just like that, eh?

      I think commenters on this blog need a more plausible narrative for why people continue to serve, worship and work at Harvest besides, “They are deceived. They are blind. They can’t see what’s right in front of them. They have drunk the kool-aid. They don’t care what’s wrong. They are unaware of this blog. They have been seduced/manipulated/suckered by James MacDonald, etc.”

      I would assert that in most cases, if you have concocted a story in which you are smart and others are dumb, you are the hero and someone else is the villain, you are totally innocent and someone else is totally guilty, your motives are pure and someone else is tainted, the story is probably skewed.

      • Despeville says:

        Here is more plausible narrative for you as to why they stay, why they cannot believe any of this. A narrative well known to HBC leadership and counted on and here it is:
        COGNITIVE DISSONANCE.

      • Trevor Eldridge says:

        LJohnson, yes, it is just like that. As Scott said below, there is a rift. Now I’m not trying to paint anything as hero-antihero. Coming from someone who has lived and worked in Hollywood for a few years now, I know a good deal about story structure. Did you catch the literary references in my first comment? I was quite proud of those. But I digress.

        The point is, yes, when getting the story from one side, it is very easy for the storyteller to paint themselves as the hero and the other as an antihero. And I don’t mean to do that. What I mean to do is simply ask why the rift exists in a church workplace? One that staff has put in place and I am recognizing that it exists. Why do I work side by side with the entire worship, media, and executive departments on a number of priority projects and not a single person introduces themselves to me or asks my name? Even though I was there 6 days a week, over 8 hours a day.

        So yes, it’s very easy for me to say “they are meanies because they took the ball and went home.” But LJohnson, they took the ball and went home.

        • j Crane says:

          I agree with Trevor. There are some staff and worship team members and pastors that have simply been ignored and left out of responsibility and meetings. And then they just leave.
          I never understood why the staff would be nervous about not having JM’s favorite soda or not having the branding posters in the right place at the right time. HBC is not a place that I would want to work, or send my wife or children to work. Not a place I would recommend worshipping at or giving to, either.

    • Scott Thompson says:

      As a production volunteer from 2006 – 2013 and not privy to the direct immersive day-to-day experiences Trevor speaks of, it was still evident to me in less intense ways that this mentality was emanating throughout the staff. There was a palpable arrogance and supremacist air floating around which never felt right to me. A separation of volunteers and staff that should not exist in serving Christ, paycheck or not. Of course in reflection I can see I was not in the “cool crowd” so of course the distance was intentional and felt. Other volunteers remarked as well, it was even uncomfortable at times. Now it all makes sense. Thanks Trevor for sharing your experience.

    • Jackie Alfirevic, entangled at HBC since 1992 says:

      Thank you Matt and Trevor.

    • Gabriel Tanase says:

      I also served with Trevor and Scott on the Video ministry and as of last week I sent a letter explaining that I will be taking a break from serving until further notice. I feel that the lack of transparency as well as the serious concerns that Harvest refuses to address is not healthy for the body of Christ.

  11. Jeff says:

    Matt,

    Praise God another former HBC leader gives testimony to the abuse and dysfunction at Harvest Bible Chapel. I predict that James MacDonald’s goal of 1000 Harvest church plants will come to the same conclusion as the 1000 year Reich.

  12. GBS says:

    Matt’s choice of analogy (tree, fruit, health, appearance, poison) is apt. In the Daily Herald coverage of the 25 year celebration Pastor James is [again] quoted as declaring “Healthy things multiply.”

    I have heard it declared by Pastor James and many of its plants (I’ve attended 4) time and again; yet personally I have never understood it. Cancer multiplies, to the point of killing its host. Weeds and thorns multiply, to the point of choking out grass and making a way impassible. Empires have come into being and spread for hundreds of years by way of the sword. How do any of these allude to health?

    Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world today. What aspects of its growth can be attributed to “health?” Muhammad used many ways to spread Islam. These included teaching Islam, reciting the Qur’an, warfare, money and gifts, assassinations, compulsion, torture, removing other religious options and incorporating much of the pre-Islamic religion into Islam. Though clearly Pastor James cannot rightly be compared to Muhammad, there might be some notable similarities…

    • Many were impressed by his teaching…
    • He created a “safe place” (Medinah) from which to rule | surrounding himself with loyalists…
    • Most “battles” were not out of self-defense, but were rather offensive battles whose aim was to spread the religious empire and the rule of Muhammad. Many were tread upon to achieve these goals…
    • It was easy to become Muhammad’s enemy. If you did not acknowledge him as your ruler and prophet then you were his enemy…
    • He regularly came against his own followers in order to strengthen the hold of Islam on the early Muslim community, using fear and intimidation…
    • As Muhammad gained wealth he also used money and gifts to spread Islam…
    • Muhammad needed a lot of money to finance the expansion of his religion and empire. He regularly ‘took’ from his people as well as those he conquered.

    Muhammad made the same claim as Pastor James… “Healthy things multiply.” [Read: Blessed by God] To my mind it is the epitome of hubris. It is time for evangelicalism in general to stop looking for the silver bullet (celebrities to do the work for us | subjective experiences of God) and get back to the basics that informed the Reformation.

    job3627 recently quoted Spurgeon’s “Are We Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats” and though amusement was Spurgeon’s lead in topic, I would use his conclusion to lead in to my final point: “…The need of the hour for today’s ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.”

    Couple this with a few points out of Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation…
    19. That person does not deserve to be called a theologian who looks upon the »invisible« things of God as though they were clearly »perceptible in those things which have actually happened« (Romans 1:20; 1 Corinthians 1:21-25)
    22. That wisdom which sees the invisible things of God in works as perceived by man is completely puffed up, blinded, and hardened.
    Ref: http://bookofconcord.org/heidelberg.php

    Wouldn’t it be just as biblical to take a set of numbers, which we relate to God’s increase due to His pleasure with us, and rather think of them as a test?

    Up until Luther’s disputation the Roman Catholic Church justified themselves by pointing to external, visible signs of success. Such a pragmatic view pervades much of evangelicalism today.

    In thesis #20 Luther declares: “He deserves to be called a theologian, however, who comprehends the visible and manifest things of God seen through suffering and the cross.” I think Luther properly recognizes God’s work as a subverting work, overturning our pride, shaming human wisdom, and in opposition to human expectation.

    Though Matt’s appeal is to the staff of HBC, the responsibility lies with leadership (current & former), staff and adherents to rise up, in love against the hubris that is bringing shame to the church of Jesus Christ. As has been oft cited… God will not be mocked.

  13. Scott Thompson says:

    Love you Matt, and it was always a joy serving with you.
    Thank you for sharing your heart in truth and love.

  14. Sue says:

    Thank you Matt for not remaining silent. As a result, I am able to bear much knowing that other people care enough to risk much for the sake of truth and the church.

  15. Attender on the fence says:

    I am sure in the course of time there would be many more stories of the fear culture that exists in the HBC workplace. As a result, it would appear that allegedly, James is not a nice person in the workplace and is not a good manager of people. I would have to assume there are many people sitting the congregation who are the same thing….one thing on Sunday and something very different thru the week. Where I draw the line is that my pastor should be different than the everyday person in the “pew”. How do I sit under his preaching seeing his hypocrisy? If he were to show any sign of true change I could manage my attendance accordingly as he confesses, repents and is restored, The issue is pride, ego and an “it is all about me” attitude. Has anyone noticed that every time he talks about a past issue it is slanted as “I was right but I handled it wrong”, “I have tried but that person will not talk to me”. In other words, never admitting he has the sin problem but making it look like it is the other individuals fault. These issues are not about the ministry of the church as many lives are being changed and impacted by the word of God but the integrity and appearance of reproach on an elder board and pastor(s).

    Let us also remember, that the debt issue is not just a James issue. It was brought upon the church by a board of elders who signed off on the debt. Once can argue who influenced the decision but it was all the board who agreed to incur the debt. That would include some of the men on the Void who are equally culpable for that error in leadership accountability for the financial integrity of the church. I do not want to see a man destroyed or a church but rather the restoration of a mans ministry after true confession and repentance. The impact of ministry is from the Lord not the man at the top.

    • Jackie Alfirevic says:

      Attender said: ” Has anyone noticed that every time he talks about a past issue it is slanted as “I was right but I handled it wrong”, “I have tried but that person will not talk to me”. In other words, never admitting he has the sin problem but making it look like it is the other individuals fault. “–like how about the entire “My 5 G” message? The pseudo-confession that admitted very little. How easily everyone dismissed the admission that he has been doing ministry with the wrong motivation. What???? Was that not a good enough reason to ask him to step down?

    • Ruth says:

      Attender wrote, “I do not want to see a man destroyed or a church but rather the restoration of a mans ministry after true confession and repentance.”

      I would suggest that it is the Spirit who ministers, not man. And sometimes we are only capable of participating in His work by being broken – having the ‘old man’ destroyed.

      Also, if the ‘church’ in question is a man-made edifice, it is better to allow God to destroy it and build HIS church instead.

      Sometimes it is God’s greatest mercy to allow us to be “destroyed” so that He can resurrect into His Kingdom life.

  16. Carol says:

    Thank you Matt for speaking out. What you said:

    “…constant feelings of doubt, anxiety, confusion, rejection or a false sense of acceptance”

    These are normal reactions from exposure to relentless deception, manipulation and abuse. No one should have to live or work under that kind of oppression; it is anathema to genuine Christian relationships, which should be marked by kindness and brotherly love.

    An environment of fear and trembling within HBC has long been shrewdly cultivated by James MacDonald. But the fear and trembling are for James, and not for the LORD! His defiant attitude of extreme entitlement, at the terrible expense of others, appears to have at long last infected the entire leadership of HBC.

  17. concerned... says:

    Saw this recently in a comment, “A great book for anyone who has been mistreated or misled by people in the church or church leaders is “Soul Survivor” by Philip Yancey. It helped restore my faith in God after I’d been betrayed by a toxic church leader.” Not sure if it’s good or not, but worth the post…

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