One person’s story – Mike Medow’s – rings familiar

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Over the course of the past year, we at TED have met people or received private emails from individuals that shared their story regarding their departure from Harvest Bible Chapel.  And, from time to time, someone will anonymously leave a comment at this site that tell something of their experience and possibly their reasons for leaving HBC. In more recent weeks, these encounters and communications have been on the increase, due – no doubt – to the video HBC chose to post on its website regarding the excommunication of two of its former elders.

Yesterday, one individual, shared his full name and story with us as a comment under the Your Story section.  Since this is the first person to share both their story and full name at this site, we elected to publish it, as it expressed a story we continue to hear again and again. So, you can read Mike Medow’s story below or in the Your Story section.

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My name is Mike Medow, and I attended – and was a member – of Harvest Bible Chapel Rolling Meadows from October 1999 until the summer of 2003.  At that time, my fiancé – now wife – and I chose to shift our attendance and service to the Crystal Lake campus.  We faithfully served at that campus until 2011.

Just to give you a sense of our involvement at HBC, I led two men’s small groups while at Rolling Meadows in the Young Adults and Men’s ministries, respectively. Additionally, I served in the Children’s Ministry (Life Rock) as a teacher at Crystal Lake for roughly seven years. Towards the latter portion of our time at Crystal Lake we served as small group leaders. I was involved, also, to one degree or another in the prayer ministry, monthly breakfasts, and evangelism efforts through HBC.  I also spent roughly two years in a small group with Greg Bradshaw and five or six other families from 2004-2005.

My wife and I were also a part of several other small groups during our time at Harvest, that included men who were flock leaders at Harvest. As a side note, my wife and I were married by Mike Bryant, and we knew him and other elders of Harvest Crystal Lake when the church was a plant of HBC, before running into significant financial troubles over the acquisition of a building and subsequently becoming a satellite of HBC after a financial bailout.  All this to say, we were deeply committed members and servants at HBC, and our decision to leave HBC was not easy or taken lightly.  Here is my open letter to my friends at HBC.

To My Friends at Harvest Crystal Lake and Beyond, I’ve recently begun sharing with others why I/we “really” left Harvest and asking people candidly if they have questions or concerns about the direction Harvest is headed.

In the meantime, I am urging friends we know, as well as the friends we have yet to meet, to prayerfully and carefully read 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 and ask an honest but necessary question, “Has James MacDonald disqualified himself, by virtue of his character and conduct, over the course of many years, from being an elder (teaching pastor)?” And if, according to God’s Word, he has disqualified himself, and is allowed to remain in position of great authority and influence, does that truly bring glory to God? I would like to follow up that question with another – Is the leadership at HBC handling this issue, one that simply will not go away, in such a way that shows a greater concern for “protecting” one man’s declining reputation . . . at the expense of the care, concern and love for the 1000s of sheep that leaders like James are supposed to be shepherding?

Friends, shouldn’t we ask and inquire of God and search His Word to see if it offers wisdom that can answer questions such as these? For if God in His Bible has already spoken on matters similar to these, shouldn’t we expect that His Spirit will guide us into the wisest, and may I suggest, most loving way to deal with a senior pastor seemingly bent on trampling under foot anyone and everyone who stands in opposition to his way? Or, put another way – What should be on full display at the Church for all to see? Should it be the glory and holiness of our God-Man, Jesus the Christ, and His tender-loving care for His Bride… or, should it be the glory and sinfulness of one man and his god?

I know this is a very difficult time for so many, yet I hope and pray we seek the wisdom of God, and not man. People of Harvest, may the Holy Spirit and your conscience given by God, lead you and your families into greener pastures, quieter waters, and ultimately down paths of righteousness. You have been warned.

Signed,
Another voice sounding the alarm for all with eyes to see and ears to hear,

Mike Medow Former Member of HBC 1999 – 2011

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82 Responses to One person’s story – Mike Medow’s – rings familiar

  1. Not understanding this says:

    I got my walk in the word mailing today and in it it mentioned for $50 as a minimum donation, they would send me James’ new book AND a DVD of “The Ride.” It seems like WITW is benefiting from Harvest property. Isn’t Dallas Jenkins paid by Harvest? Can this be done legally? Can someone clear this up

  2. What ostentatious display of wealth? says:

    @PS Rocket–”What ostentatious displays of wealth?” You really need to ask that? Jaguars and Land Rovers, Rolex watches, lavish trips, expensive renovations on a “pastoral retreat center” that he treats as his own? What’s next–a private jet so that he can keep up with Joel Osteen, Franklin Graham and his new best friend, T.D. Jakes?

  3. Oakville Harvest says:

    I’m not an accountant but if the honorarium’s forwarding to a charity is strategically structured then invariably it can be deducted from your taxes…and in Jame’s case, based on a marginal tax rate of approximately 50% that would probably result in him ending up with about half of that money coming back to him.

    • Chris Pence says:

      This assumes he claims it, correct? If not, he won’t see anything.

      I can foresee many critics questioning the genuineness of donating an honorarium to charity and later claiming the deduction. If he does, is this not responsible stewardship given the money he’d receive in return that could be divested into ministry? Or is it more responsible to not claim the deduction and let the money go altogether?

  4. Despeville says:

    “Another voice sounding the alarm for all with eyes to see and ears to hear”

    @Mike,

    Indeed but most do not have that, at least in terms of discernment of what is going on in HBC, mega church movement in general and broad Evangelicalism. This is precisely why power and money crazed Nicolaitans are rulling sheep so ruthlessly while extracting from them money for their exorbitant lifestyles and their ego swelling pet projects.

  5. Canadian says:

    Deeply disapointed to learn that James is taking a honorarium for his participation at the “Act Like Men” conference in Hamilton, Ontario, he told us in a preconference Pastor’s meeting at Compass Point that he would not be accepting an honorarium.

    That said I am very concerned that some of these posts have gone beyond education and have become let’s bash James. Just a thought.

    • Canadian says:

      Canadian,
      I think JM was true to his word, in this instance. He apparently requested that his honorarium for the men’s conference and for his talk at the seminary be donated to Lydia House.

      I don’t really believe that most comments here are directed by a “let’s bash James” attitude. If anything, a lot of the anger and bitterness (understandable in those who have been directly hurt by him) seems to have gone away.

    • Sincerely says:

      @Canadian – I don’t totally disagree with your comment that posts have gone beyond the point of constructive and do agree that they have become, in some instances, JMac bashing and that is wrong.

      BUT, I would caution you on only one thing. And you commented that it is “Deeply disappointing”. James says different things out of each side of his mouth, often. Some say they’re seeing “changes” in him, while others see nothing but the same old James. People say he’s becoming more humble, I ask, so what? He’s more humble now so we should just sweep all other qualifications so clearly laid out in scripture that would tell one that James has clearly disqualified himself?

  6. Raymond says:

    Every second 5 children somewhere in the world die from starvation. This is a fact and it happens every day. 7,200 human lives lost because of not enough to eat. And we in this country who are saved, Sunday after Sunday, flock to church, listen to the sermon, turn our money over to the leaders of the church, then leave feeling good that we are doing our part. The church takes the money and first makes sure those in leadership are paid for their suffering and hard work to bring the Gospel to a church of mostly saved people. ( of course the larger the church the larger the pay, cause it must be harder to write a sermon for 1000′s vs 100′s) Then they make sure that the building itself is comfortable enough to make sure that those that gave last week will return to give again. Then more money is spend on property for a new location, so they can reach mostly saved people with the gospel. They then go build another church, usually within site of another church, but better because it’s new and theirs. The new church is a clone of the mother church and the cycle continues. Last the church sends money to feed the poor. Usually less than 10% of the total given to the church is sent into the mission. Is it just me or does there seem to be an explosion of new churches popping up on ever corner? Why is this so? Is it because we have a shortage of church building to house the masses that want to attend? I think not. Sadly it’s because church is the best gig going. An individual without any formal education can have other people pay for his place of business, draw an income and pay no taxes, have other tax payers support his housing expenses, work in the most modern facility with money supplied by others. And we just keep going and giving, satisfied that we are doing our part. And the children keep dying, 150 died in the time it took me to draft this comment.

    • QPB says:

      Wow Raymond- love this post. I’ve been researching Missional Church and wanted to get one going here in Chicago. Check out http://www.somatacoma.org. There’s a 15 min video on missional church. I’m new to this, but a pastor friend of mine turned me onto this concept. Really puts into action not GOING to church, but BEING the church.

      • Royce says:

        Sorry, but Soma Tacoma, although it is not immediately apparent without some research, is part of the Acts29 Network and its head pastor Jeff Vandersteldt, is a vice president of Acts 29, and he has been a featured speaker at “Boot Camps” featuring James MacDonald and the pantheon of Elephant Room superstars (including close ties with Mark Driscoll and his Mars Hill organization). Perhaps Soma’s pastor will at some point decide to “come out from among them” – but there’s nothing to indicate that has happened.

    • Joe says:

      great post Raymond! Maybe the model is broken. Or maybe there is a false expectation that your church tithes and offerings are going to help the poor, sick, and helpless. Maybe the reality is that you should give a much smaller portion to the church – just sufficient to help pay for reasonable church salaries and property expenses. Then donate the rest to non-profit organizations with a proven track record that can provide resources to the those poor, sick, and hungry.

    • ntfellow says:

      Raymond,

      You make an emotional appeal here, but I think you are throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water. Just because some pastors/churches take advantage of well-meaning Christians does not mean that all do. Most pastors that I know have formal education and sacrifice a great deal to be in ministry. They could be making more money in the world, for much less hassle, and yet they stay true to their calling and serve the Lord. They want to make a difference for Jesus. And, by the way, they pay taxes.

      I would encourage you to think a little more deeply about the subject here. Is the fact that children are dying of starvation around the world due to the planting of new churches? Or are there other factors at work, such as the corruption of those governments, the worldview of the people themselves, their lack of following biblical principles that, if followed, might lead to a more robust economy, etc. (see Grudem & Asmus, The Poverty of Nations)? Should they at least bear some of the responsibility for their own situation? Jesus said that, in this fallen world, we would always have the poor with us, and that our first priority should be giving to him (Mark 14:3-9). Is it the church’s responsibility to eradicate poverty around the world? I do not see that in Scripture. Yes, we are to do good, especially for needy Christians (Gal 6:10). But you will be hard pressed to find verses that talk about giving most of the church’s money to poor unbelievers. We have a Great Commission to fulfill.

      Regarding an “explosion of new churches popping up on every corner,” I wish that were true. The sad fact is that there are about 4,000 new churches planted in the United States every year, but that is offset by about 3,700 church closures. That leaves a net gain of just about 300 churches, which is not enough to keep up with population growth. Thus, the percentage of people who attend church in our country keeps shrinking. Right now it is about 17%. There are about 180 million people in the United States for whom religion plays no significant part in their lives, making the United States the third largest unreached people group in the world, and the largest in the Western Hemisphere. If we are going to reach more people for Christ, we need more churches. And more churches will mean more good works. And more good works will help alleviate the suffering of more needy people. The best thing that could happen in some of these countries where poverty is worst is to plant more churches and to transform the lives of the people, one at a time. If they begin living by biblical principles, and seek change in their governments, it could transform those nations.

      It is tragic that children are dying of starvation. But the answer is not sending all of the church’s money to give them food. If that were done, the churches would not last very long, and then the flow of money would stop, and those folks would be right back where they are. The answer is planting more churches, so more lives can be transformed. And once lives are transformed, governments will be transformed. And then the people might be able to know peace and a measure of prosperity.

      • Despeville says:

        If we are going to reach more people for Christ, we need more churches.”

        ntfellow,

        You will not this above approach in Acts or Early Church, not at all in a sense you are using i.e. buildings for that is also the main point of Raymond. America does not need any more church buildings funded by bank loans as in Harvest case. America needs more truth of the Gospel proclaimed everywhere by fearless sheep and not in specific building by highly overpaid “specialist” who also happens to be the master and not the servant.

        • David W. Jones says:

          I was not talking about buildings, but rather people. But, since you mentioned it, people do need a place to meet. The early church had the temple complex in Jerusalem (until persecution hit, and they had to flee). Paul rented the hall of Tyrannus in Ephesus. Other churches met in the homes of people in the congregation, presumably larger homes. There was cost involved in at least some cases. I am not arguing that we need to have “the latest and greatest.” But there is a certain stability that comes from having your own building. You can do ministry there seven days a week. And it takes a lot of work to set up a rental space each week. You could stay in homes, I suppose, but then you are probably not going to have a church much bigger than twenty-five people. Hard for a pastor to make a living that way. All I’m saying is that some of this stuff (like foregoing church buildings) sounds good in theory, perhaps even compelling. But when you get down to the practical details, it doesn’t work so well.

    • Pastor Paul Holden, Canada says:

      If you check with BILD International (Jim Reed), they have a research paper on the early church’s growth. The model was simple: Home churches with the purpose of evangelizing the lost, edifying the saints, and training them for the work of the ministry. Paul’s strategy was to establish a central church (Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus and Rome) networked with multiple other church plants. The number of churches doubled through conversions, not transfers, every hundred years until 314 AD. That’s when the Church became institutionalized under Emperor Constantine who moved the churches out of homes and into basilicas. The exponential growth of the Church dramatically slowed and has never achieved its original influence.

      • Chris Pence says:

        @Paul Holden

        Thank you for that resource. Look forward to reading it.

      • Cara says:

        How do you figure that the Edict of Milan slowed Christian population growth? My (limited) understanding of history would lead me to exactly the opposite conclusion. I’m curious where you find statistics to back this up. Here’s one dataset I found attributed to a 19th century historian: Number of Christians Through History. This data doesn’t back up your claim. Is this data wrong? Where can I find more accurate data?

    • James says:

      What a tragically weak comment this is. The most disappointing post since last october. Why? Because instead of keeping your critique/complaint squarely on James and the Chicago problem where it belongs, you then attempt to portray every other pastor and church leadership in the same light. And don’t deny that either; your post was designed to make all of us in this country look like we are schemers, who are in it for the money, who are trying to dupe our people, who are “un-educated hucksters”, and who are looking to build an empire. While its true that the issues of power and control evident in Harvest Chicago can be found in other churches in every city in America, lets not go painting all churches with the same brush. I think most readers here can read your comment yet instantly think of several godly pastors with healthy leadership who are fulfilling gospel ministry. I mean really…7200 lives lost every day because of starvation and you want churches to feel bad about paying their pastors? I know, lets just fire all the church staff and sell the building so we can send our money over to World Vision – will that satisfy you? I mean its so compelling – people are dying, how can we pay a pastor, thats so wrong. You note: “And we in this country who are saved, Sunday after Sunday, flock to church, listen to the sermon, turn our money over to the leaders of the church, then leave feeling good that we are doing our part.” Ummm, you really think we in this country are all saved – dude our country is a pagan wasteland of self-idolization and most think they are saved. Wake up. They need faithful gospel-centered churches punching through those lies! Then you say: “listen to the sermon/turn our money over”…if you are describing the act of believers coming to “worship” and “hear proper exposition of the scriptures” you ought to be rejoicing that is happening not slamming it as an embarrassing addiction. When you say “church is the best gig going. An individual without any formal education can have other people pay for his place of business, draw an income and pay no taxes, have other tax payers support his housing expenses, work in the most modern facility”…where do I start. If you are talking only about James and other mega church leaders, I’ll leave this alone. But methinks you are talking about every pastor you can think of. With great restraint I’ll just say you owe pastors in every town in america an apology for your disrespectful, judgmental and harsh evaluation of their sacrifice and toil, attempting to fulfill a ministry that the scriptures consider so important. If you want to clarify by stating that your point was only about Chicago Harvest or only about large church pastors who flaunt their lifestyles and exert power and control, I will accept that as an apology on behalf of many of us avergage-joe/slightly below middle class/reasonably educated pastors who read this and were discouraged.

      • James 4:7 says:

        I tend to agree with you James. I can understand Raymond’s passion and compassion for those who are starving but, it seems to me, that a more dispassionate observer would understand the point that people are starving because of a lack of the light of the gospel–both here and there. I have spoken to missionaries stationed in “third-world countries”. They say that, often, the children go hungry because of the immorality of their parents and that when their parents become believers, it makes a great difference in the lives of those children. I have also spoken to missionaries who are frustrated because there is never enough aid to help those Christian families and this should not be. The New Testament insists that Christians should be helped before others. A broad brush of helping everyone who is hungry simply exhausts the resources of the Church with little to show for it at the end of the day, as someone else has observed. (But paying exorbitant salaries to greedy mega-church pastors ALSO depletes the Church’s resources.)

        • toulaman says:

          @James4:7 16 million American children are going to bed hungry tonight and a Preacher of the Gospel is going to bed in a 2 million dollar house and people defend this. We have to let people die, because we surely don’t want to deplete the resources of the church. Expect this from someone who has never been hungry or ever expected to really be hungry. You do help me understand why the church is in the condition it is in.

      • Raymond says:

        If what I said don’t apply to you and your church, then it don’t apply. But if you think that only Chicago Harvest and other mega churches are feeding their ego and life style off the backs of their congregation, then you are living with your head in the sand. Where in the world did you read that I suggest that every other pastor and church is doing this? Please accept my apology if I have offended you personally but I don’t to those that continue to use the Gospel for power and financial gain.

        And I do agree with you that it’s a tragic comment, as a christian I think it’s a tragedy what is taking place in many of our churches today. And as far as firing all the staff and selling the church buildings, that’s not a bad idea. I think Jesus said the same thing to the rich young ruler, when he asked what he needed to do to gain eternal life. I am sure you are familiar with that story and it’s outcome. He went away saddened because he owned much property.

        A caution for you: When you visit a blog that is here to expose wrong doing in the church, you going to read stuff like this. If it don’t apply to you don’t get so offended.

      • Raymond says:

        What a contrast: Two responses that say what a great comment, I am sure from people that are not pastors and then others that totally disagree, that I would have to guess are Pastors. I have to scratch my head and wonder?

      • Julie Anne says:

        Oh good grief, James, did Raymond hit you in your weak spot? Since I’ve been reporting and discussing church abuses on my blog, I’ve been seeing more and more that what Raymond is saying is very true. Churches seem to be more interested in their image, their programs, than helping their own in real financial ways. It takes a lot of $$ to maintain buildings, staff salaries, frivolous programs, high-tech media endeavors, etc. I don’t see all of this kind of church business model in the bible. Show it to me, James. I dare you.

    • Kevin says:

      In the wilderness of Israel, the Tabernacle was constructed, and the tribes camped around it. Eventually the Temple would be built, with all that was fine and precious to the people. In the exilic period, cut off from the Temple, the Jewish nation developed the practice of building numerous Synagogues as places of corporate worship and ministry. The Historian Josephus writes: “Not once or twice or more frequently did our lawgiver command us to hear the law, but to come together weekly, with the cessation of other work, to hear the law and to learn it accurately.” The Psalmist refers to them as the “places of meeting” (Psalm 74:8). In the time of Christ, meeting in the synagogue was an established practice—one in which Christ participated fully:

      Luke 4:16
      And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.

      Likewise, the apostles would often go to these ‘places of meeting’ to preach the Good News: Acts 13:14-44 ; From the “large, furnished upper room” ( Luke 22:12, Acts 1:13-14)), to the place the apostles and elders came together to look into the matter (Acts 15:6), Christians have not “forsaken the assembling of themselves together” (Hebrews 10:25) and have needed ‘significant places of meeting’ to carry on the work of an established local Body.

      And this is not even to mention how the 12 and Jesus were supported. How they made their living from the Gospel. How this is affirmed and right and good in the NT church.

      The ministry of the church is not just to evangelize, but to disciple. Eph. 4 tells us about the building up of the body, its edification and maturity. We meet to worship, study, fellowship and pray. This has always taken ‘places’ to meet. In warm climates it might be a thatched roof; in cold climates unfortunately, it usually takes significant insulated structures. And of course, to follow the laws of our land, it requires adherence to by-laws and building codes which dictate even how many parking spaces and washrooms must be included! The Lord knows all this and I doubt He would have us beat up ourselves because we need to pay the electric bills for the required elevator for wheel chair access.

      This is just to say, the poor we will always have with us. It can sound spiritual to suggest we all sell our buildings, lay off our trained preachers and teachers, and go out into the world (missional) — we can give so much more money that way to society’s problems! However, we do have a mandate to come together, to remember the Lord, to be edified and glorify the Lord. Family time I suppose, complete with structure, leadership, and even treasuries. No guilt is required if we practice moderation.

  7. Watchman on The Wall says:

    Mike.. Very well stated and a Biblically sound testimony and challenge…More specifically Mike… you said:

    [Quote]:” In the meantime, I am urging friends we know, as well as the friends we have yet to meet, to prayerfully and carefully read 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 and ask an honest but necessary question, “Has James MacDonald disqualified himself, by virtue of his character and conduct, over the course of many years, from being an elder (teaching pastor)?” And if, according to God’s Word, he has disqualified himself, and is allowed to remain in position of great authority and influence, does that truly bring glory to God?” [Unquote]

    Mike …That is the single most important question that needs to asked over and over… All other questions pale in significance and do not rise to the level of importance of Gods’ Standard as written in 1st Timothy Chapter 3, and Titus 1 of GODS PERFECT WORD. These elder qualifications have been established for all eternity.

    Mens’ opinions are like noses……everyone has got one.

    God has NO opinions…only mere men do….God declares HIS Divine Authority.and HIS Church Structure for leadership from before the foundation of the world.and has made it known to protect and guard His children and to keep us from being led astray and to keep His Church pure.

    Men who are by their displays of Un-Biblical character are not Biblical elders or qualified according to GODS WORD are today in positions of power due to one of 4 reasons: (1) ignorance of Gods Word…(2) open neglect of GODS WORD ,,,or (3) timidity of others in leadership positions to uphold Gods WORD for fear of reprisal, or (4) by sinful rationalizations : ie: determining to second guess GODS Timeless standard for leadership qualification in favor of pragmatic results. ( See King Saul )

    As one noted supporter of James has stated… God is Sovereign… to which I reply a hearty “amen”.. But…What that supporter of James has plainly neglected or has missed entirely..is that God is NOT the author of confusion…nor does GOD work contrary to HIS WORD…God never works against Himself… God never ignores His Word, or puts it on “temporary hold” because He has a 21st Century pastor who really can run a seemingly large mega church operation and preach with authority and show evidences that lives are being “radically changed”.

    Incredibly ….The noted supporter of James has “utterly failed” to quote Scripture or reference Scripture as even a reliable guide or Time honored Divine answer , or to even give credence to the key question many have posed of Gods Biblical Qualification for “ALL” elders. ( James included) Most regrettably of all the supporter of James has never once even alluded to the Word of GOD in his many self-styled defenses of James on this website.. That is troubling at best. Revealing at worst.

    James is not a CEO of a rough and tumble corporation.that sought and recruited a pragmatic tough leader with an unflinching vision that “lesser” men just couldn’t hope to grasp as firmly as their fearless and dynamic CEO.

    Rather…James is a the visible and proclaimed elder of Harvest Bible Chapel and as a visible “shepherd” -elder is subject to all of GODS HOLY Standards…in full subjection to The God of The Universe…and HIS WORD. …not to some earthly and worldly corporation and its’ shareholders.

    God has never changed His timeless requirements for James Macdonald as to whether James is qualified as per Gods unchanging Standard . .James has been confronted countless times regarding his lack of accountability and sinful harsh treatment of elders or members who have been seen by James as having crossed or gotten in James’ way or who have sought accountability for the flock of Jesus Christ or that have openly disagreed with James since Harvest began in 1988.

    All who have crossed James or were seen as impediments to James’ singular vision have left,Harvest, been asked to leave Harvest,,are in the process of leaving Harvest , or were catapulted, or bullied, or most grotesquely treated like the recent elders who were smeared via video to the Harvest campuses for refusing to compromise and to be silenced. All this by a historically unaccountable man that seeks to be less than totally transparent with Gods Flock.

    Its GODS MONEY ( by the way). Nothing should be hidden in the household of GOD
    …( Shouldn’t need saying… )

    Elders who are shamefully responsible for episode after episode of sinful intimidation tactics employed to silence elders or members who dare to ask for reasonable transparency and God honoring leadership are by their very actions…DISQUALIFIED.

    Here is the key…God is Sovereign… God Gospel is sovereign..Gods Word is sovereign,,,and it is GOD alone …and The “Power of Gods Gospel” alone that Has “Divine Power” ….not James or James’ preaching style or James’ incredible organizational abilities, God and Gods Gospel is the Power and catalyst and the all powerful Holy Spirit that causes radical change …and causes any sinner to turn from sin and to be drawn toward Jesus Christ alone for Salvation .The messenger is irrelevant. The Message is Divine. God could save and radically change a sinners heart in spite of the abilities of a messenger just by virtue of the fact that GODS Gospel was proclaimed and preached and IT alone is Divinely empowered.

    Bottom line… God needs no man… Man needs GOD.. It is to mens’ open shame that we in The Church tend to forget that and tend to elevate charismatic speakers and celebrity pastors by visible results and forget that all men are forever bound and subject to Gods Word and that all men are mere dust and only vessels for The Kings Hand.

    Be NOT deceived. God is NOT mocked.. For whatsoever a man soweth , That shall he also reap. Galatians 6;7 KJV

    I can hardly wait for James’ next sermon series on Humility.

    Preach to Thyself Preacher …

    The Emperor has no clothes.

    Wake up Harvest…

    • SH says:

      Exactly! Amen to all you stated!

    • Bob Arosen says:

      @ Chris Pence, @Cara W

      Case in point. Why bother?

      Sorry, I’m not sure if this reply is troubling or revealing.

      • Cara says:

        I understand Bob. But if I may try to look at it through your eyes, I might respond to Sir Watchman with something like:

        Mike, you share this core challenge:

        In the meantime, I am urging friends we know, as well as the friends we have yet to meet, to prayerfully and carefully read 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 and ask an honest but necessary question, “Has James MacDonald disqualified himself, by virtue of his character and conduct, over the course of many years, from being an elder (teaching pastor)?” And if, according to God’s Word, he has disqualified himself, and is allowed to remain in position of great authority and influence, does that truly bring glory to God?

        It appears that you conflate God’s Word with your own opinion of whether or not PJ is qualified or not to be an elder. In other words, I believe your core challenge above could be restated (perhaps more precisely) to say:

        In the meantime, I am urging friends we know, as well as the friends we have yet to meet, to prayerfully and carefully read 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 and ask an honest but necessary question, “In your own opinion, Has James MacDonald disqualified himself, by virtue of his character and conduct, over the course of many years, from being an elder (teaching pastor)?” And if, according to In your own opinion, God’s Word, he has disqualified himself, and is allowed to remain in position of great authority and influence contrary to your own opinion, does that truly bring glory to God?

        Of course things brings up a larger question — how do we know if our own opinions about the Scriptures are in line with God’s? I know I’ve changed my opinion about theological matters over the years. Could I change again? It scares me to think that God wants me to conflate my own opinions with His Truth. A few years back I became a virtual disciple of AW Tozer — reading everything I could get my hands on. I’m reminded through this conversation of his quote about preaching the Bible and nothing but the Bible. He shares:

        Now, I suppose more people would like me if I were to declare that I preach the Bible and nothing but the Bible. I attempt to do that, but honesty compels me to say that the best I can do is to preach the Bible as I understand it.

        Isn’t that so true? And if that’s true, doesn’t it humble us to be careful not to conflate our opinions of what God has shared through The Word, with The Word Himself?

        It should make us all nervous if we’re asking people to simply align our theologies with our personal opinions. The reality is that we’ll end up more divided than ever. I can read the same passage as my husband and come to vastly different conclusions as him. Our Bible Study leads to even further differences. If it’s just up to me and my opinion, I don’t think we’re making any progress. Certainly not progress toward the Church Christ prayed for in the 17th chapter of John.

        I don’t have the answer to all that is in debate and dialogue here. But I challenge the idea that my opinion should be conflated with God’s, and that my opinion should lead to further division. I don’t have this all figured out either, but whenever someone wants to elevate my opinion to Scripture, I get nervous. Gosh, I don’t even know my own heart (Proverbs 28:26), let alone God’s.

        Further, I think it’s a little belittling to ask people to go into their closet and ask people to read the Scriptures and ultimately find that your opinion is right. What if they don’t? Does that mean the didn’t read the Scriptures? That the Holy Spirit wasn’t talking to them? Or that they don’t listen to the Holy Spirit? I think there’s another answer — starting with the false dilemma that those that read the 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 and honestly ask the question you propose will come to the same conclusion as you.

        Sincerely,
        Cara

        PS — To Bob, I haven’t attended HBC in over a decade. We moved out of the area a long time ago. I don’t know PJ or any leaders. So I really couldn’t even honestly answer Mike’s core question if I wanted to. I’m interested in the dialogue here as it pertains to the larger picture of Evangelicalism and how we discern orthodoxy from heresy. I don’t have it all figured out, but I question the personal opinion approach that has become so popular in American Evangelicalism. Perhaps I lean too far in the Reformed direction to trust my own opinion more than I can throw it. I don’t know. But at the very least, I think conversations with folks here could lead to meaningful and fruitful dialogue. I hope this helps.

    • Michelle says:

      Amen!!

  8. monax says:

    from A. W. Tozer (bold highlights are mine):

    Reluctant Leaders

    The true and safe leader is likely to be the one who has no desire to lead but is forced into a position of leadership by the inward pressure of the Spirit and the press of the external situation. Such were Moses, David and the Old Testament prophets; and I think there was hardly a great Christian leader from Paul to this present day but was drafted by the Holy Spirit for the task and commissioned by the Lord of the Church to fill a position he had little natural heart for.

    “I believe that it might be accepted as a fairly reliable rule of thumb that the man who is ambitious to lead is disqualified as a leader. The Church of the Firstborn is no place for the demagogue or the petty religious dictator. The true leader will have no wish to lord it over God’s heritage, but will be humble, gentle, self-sacrificing and altogether as ready to follow as to lead when the Spirit makes it plain to him that a wiser and more gifted man than himself has appeared.

    “It is undoubtedly true, as I have said so often, that the church is languishing not for leaders but for the right kind of leaders; for the wrong kind is worse than none at all. Better to stand still than to follow a blind man over a precipice. History will show that the church has prospered most when blessed with strong leaders and suffered the greatest decline when her leaders were weak and time serving. The sheep rarely go much farther than the Shepherd.

    “That is why unqualified democracy is not good for a church unless every voting member is full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. To put the work of the church in the hands of the group is to exchange one leader for many; and if the group is composed of carnal professors it is to exchange one weak leader for a number of bad ones. One hundred blind men cannot see any better than one.”

    Chapt. 41 of The Warfare of the Spirit “Leaders and Followers”

    • James 4:7 says:

      The only point where I would disagree with Tozer is that I believe that the people of God have wisdom (in the form of the Holy Spirit). He dwells among them, when they meet as the church. “Whenever two or more are gathered in my name, there I will be also.”

      • monax says:

        James 4:7, here’s a short something I read recently representative of what I believe to be the biblical model for church leadership. It’s a 50 page booklet by Mark Dever entitled By Whose Authority.

        http://involve.9marks.org/site/DocServer/By_Whose_Authority.pdf

        I do not know Tozer’s full ecclesiology, However, in the quote above he’s speaking against the church being led by an “unqualified democracy.” In any given (and especially healthy) body of Christ we will have within our group certain babes-in-Christ whom—although having access to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to personally guide them—will in their (hopefully temporary) state of spiritual immaturity lack the requisite knowledge of God’s will that comes from a time of being immersed in Scripture. I believe everyone should have a voice. Nevertheless, God has instituted an office of leadership to oversee the corporate process of discerning God’s will for His church. These overseers “must not be recent converts” (1 Timothy 3:6). And discernment comes as we process our decisions in light of the Word of God.

        I sincerely believe, the biblical model of doing church involves a congregational approach with a plurality of elders who are ultimately accountable to the members they serve and stand before on the basis of what has been written in Scripture. Perhaps you’ll agree.

        • James 4:7 says:

          I would whole-heartedly agree, Monax provided the “elders” in question are actually qualified to be elders and fulfilling the obligations of their jobs–which sometimes will mean having to stand in opposition to the pastor (or often, in the case of a very forceful spiritually immature pastor–never mind that he shouldn’t be in his position if he is spiritually immature). A major problem that the Church has always had historically is that there are frequently men in leadership who are not being led by the Holy Spirit, but are, in fact, being led by their own selfish desires. This always spells trouble, but out of that trouble, the true people of God prevail and the Bride is the better for it–no matter how diminutive She becomes (and She does seem to be shrinking in N. America at the moment). But the true Church can be confident that “the gates of hell will not prevail against” Her, no matter how small or lacking in influence She becomes.

    • Ruth says:

      Do you realize that your quote is more supportive of Harvest than going against it?
      Tozer alludes to elders vs. congregational rule and leaders who are not self-appointed. Harvest is elder-led and James was not self-appointed, he was asked to lead that first group of 18 people.

      Finally, “The sheep rarely go much farther than the shepherd.” What does that say about James’ leadership when so many have grown in their walk while there? Hmm…..

      • monax says:

        Ruth, please see if my above comment to James 4:7 (that has as yet to be moderated through) answers where I’m coming from with this Tozer quote.

      • job3627 says:

        I think most here would disagree that HBC is currently “elder-led”. Rather, it has been made pretty clear from all the testimony given here that it falls into the category of what Tozer denounces:
        “…The Church of the Firstborn is no place for the demagogue or the petty religious dictator. The true leader will have no wish to lord it over God’s heritage, but will be humble, gentle, self-sacrificing and altogether as ready to follow as to lead when the Spirit makes it plain to him that a wiser and more gifted man than himself has appeared…”

      • Once upon a time says:

        Ruth, the 18 would never call the present James Mac to be there Pastor. I was there from day one. He’s drunk with power and money, Not even close to what he was.

        • Ruth says:

          Perhaps that’s true. The 18 would also never call Tozer. He was a man with flaws so great that this website would not be big enough to contain them. This article is something I saw awhile back and it really summarizes this issue for me. Find me a pastor who doesn’t have SERIOUS character flaws….I haven’t found one yet. It’s not just that they are sinners…they have serious sin. And Tozer was right up there with them. http://www.challies.com/articles/flawed-heroes-virtuous-villains

          Sometimes we need to take a step back and say “If I were leading this church, what hidden flaws about me would revealed for all to see?”

  9. Michelle says:

    I pray that those who are true followers of Christ, and sense or even know the Spirit is alarming them, will see all the excuses one could give for not following the Spirit, is disobedience and rooted in idolatry. As hard as it is to leave…and I know for I, myself, attended HBC for over a decade, had children involved, and many dear friends, not to mention the heart I had for this ministry because I indeed grew spiritually over the many years under the teaching at HBC. Yet, there came a point which I could no longer silence the Spirit within. I had to inquire, and back then, there was not a website where people were speaking out. Only people leaving in silence. With little or really no clear answers given at all, I went to the Almighty Himself and prayed that He alone would show me what and why I was sensing this need to leave my beloved HBC. He answered quickly. Before all these concerns were even revealed to the extent that they are to date, The Lord revealed to me, in His word, the spirit of idolatry at HBC not just by its leader but by its congregation, including myself. If you read your Bible, you know the warnings The Lord gives in matters of Idolatry. Yes, there is no doubt that there may be “good” going on at HBC, and there are many sincere believers there, and thus the warnings to its leaders and elders are quite scary! BUT is this the criteria The Lord gives for his bride…as long as there is some good? I believe the new word that’s being tossed around is “consumerism”. We must ask ourselves if we have become a consumer? Wanting our needs met at the expense of what is righteous? Do we desire new buildings with comfortable seats, large scale rock bands, state of the art this or that, exclusiveness, social standings, and coffee-bars?? Then we fail to see, The Lord is cleansing his Bride! Stand, men and women of The Lord, for righteousness!! Humbly yet firmly require of your church to stand for righteousness! And if they will not, you must stand for your family and follow Christ! Christ drew crowds…yes he did, but only a few stayed with him and followed HIM where ever he went. There will be cost, sacrifice, even persecution. But let that affirm you! count it all joy! We are called to be strong and courageous! He will meet your needs for a new place of worship, for this is His desire. Trust Him and Worship Him alone!!

    • QPB says:

      I liked this post for sure. I commented about this on the last post, but have a hard time understanding why supporters of HBC/James discuss transparency and talk about change that has happened, without talking about why they needed to change? To me, it’s like saying:
      1) I’m working on being a better friend (1/2 truth)
      Or
      2) I’ve been stealing money from you, I’m sorry to God and you, and will repay what I’ve done.

      You can’t have accountability without transparency and vice-versa.

      Maybe the guy has repented and changed his ways, the problem is, giving generalized comments to the congregation doesn’t tell anyone anything.

  10. monax says:

    Thank you Mike Medow for the Question of Warning every Harvest goer needs to ask: [According to the Word of God] has James MacDonald disqualified himself, by virtue of his character and conduct, over the course of many years, from being an elder (teaching pastor)?

  11. Set Free From HBC says:

    Mike Medow’s story rings true of my own story as a former flock leader, small group leader and volunteer with Bed Rock. Heavily committed people who love and Christ and the church.

    But so many now are disappointed and hurting people who see a pastor who is not willing to repent. I wholly agree that James MacDonald no longer meets the qualifications of an elder and that is the primary reason why I left after 15 years. I would characterize the people I know who have left as: not sour, only sad. Not bitter, only bothered.

    I still talk with many people who remain at Harvest. I’ve told them my own story regarding why I left and encourage them to make their own decision based on Biblical convictions. People who remain at HBC seem to fall into a couple of categories: 1) New people who are truly ignorant of what’s going on; 2) People who know what is going on but choose to ignore the facts and rationalize their decision to stay; and 3) People who know the facts, are in agony, close to the “tipping” point and about to leave.

    Personally knowing some of the staff members and elders who have left, not to mention many former flock members, I see a mass of good people who finally saw the light and had no other choice but to leave. I just scratch my head as to why so many remain.

    • James 4:7 says:

      Yes–it’s your second grouping of people who are a point of concern. They seem to shrug and say, “Well, every pastor has some sin in his life”, ignoring the very public and semi-public nature of his failure to meet the Biblical criteria for his position. Even if he would repent (which there is no sign of him doing–if anything, he is taking an even more defensive posture) he is still disqualified. They seem to think that if he apologizes (and some of them feel that if he stops doing what he’s been doing), that it wipes out what he has done, and he can go forward in his position. Correct me if I am wrong, but I see no Biblical warrant for reinstating an Elder who has disqualified himself–no matter whether he repents or not. He would have to be put in something of a “cage” to make sure that he didn’t abuse his position again. In other words, the trust would be gone and the church would continue to be tainted by his presence at the helm. How would you get principled people to serve under his leadership? Just on a practical level alone, whose interest would it serve to subject him to further temptation–certainly not that of the church or his.

      • I suspect you could find biblical precedent for ministry reinstatement in the story of Paul and John Mark.

        • James 4:7 says:

          BUT, it is important to note that John Mark was not immediately reinstated. Here is a link to a wise, 19th century commentary on the matter of John Mark by Alexander Maclaren: http://christianbookshelf.org/maclaren/expositions_of_holy_scripture_the_acts/john_mark.htm

          Maclaren states: “Let us learn the difference between a weak charity which loves too foolishly, [Barnabus] and therefore too selfishly, to let a man inherit the fruit of his doings, and the large mercy [of Paul] which knows how to take the bitterness out of the chastisement, and yet knows how to chastise.” After John Mark finally proved that he had repented of his earlier dereliction of duty, he was, at the end of his mention in the New Testament, with Paul. The church at Antioch apparently agreed with Paul in his refusal to have John Mark participate in his ministry. For what it’s worth, so do I.

    • PSRocket says:

      In attempt to answer your question, as someone who remains: I read what’s on this website. I read about all the people, I’m sure all really good, godly, Christ-honoring people, who have had conflict with James MacDonald. I get that, I hear that. And I also know that there are really good, godly, Christ-honoring people (including those close to him, and with lots of experience of him) who don’t have conflict with James MacDonald. So…what’s the truth? Both can be true. While I appreciate whistleblowers and those sounding the alarm, I have not personally witnessed James MacDonald doing anything to disqualify himself. Now, I’m not saying that he hasn’t. I’m just saying that I don’t feel called to condemn a person, or called to leave a church, if I have not personally witnessed it AND/OR been affected by it.

      • Set Free From HBC says:

        The problem is anyone who points out problems with MacDonald in a loving and respectful manner are immediately called “divisive” and elders are “condemned” and ridiculed for speaking the truth. Plus, they are subject to a bizarre video shunning. You don’t need to personally witness JMAC’s excesses to sound the alarm for others. That’s all people on this website are doing.

      • Carol says:

        Dear PSRocket – If you saw the video then yes you did personally witness James disqualifying himself. Stop turning a blind eye.

        • PSRocket says:

          I disagree with your assessment that the video disqualifies James. I think the video should never have been put on the Internet, as the intended audience were the members of Harvest. I also think a video was a poor medium to use to communicate what the Elders wanted to communicate. I think Harvest is trying to figure out how to communicate effectively to the entire congregation, and sometimes they mess up. As an example, a little over a year ago, a staff member, a pastor, at Harvest was dismissed from his position (though welcome to continue to attend Harvest) for a moral failing. An elder read a statement on the Rolling Meadows campus. And that statement was posted online, so that other campuses, and those who missed church that week, could be aware. Had there been a video, I think there would be similar criticism as their been about this video. People would say that Harvest was “shaming” the former pastor, and so forth and so on. The point is that those who disagree with the “direction of Harvest” will look at things with that mindset, and filter everything through that POV. So of course they’d see the church discipline as unbiblical. I don’t have a problem with the direction of Harvest, so I see the church discipline as necessary, because continuing to beat your drum of how wrong James is, how wrong the Elder Board is, how wrong Harvest is, IS divisive and it IS destructive. I do not question these former elders’ men’s hearts or their motives. I am sure that they truly believe that what they are doing is godly and necessary. I simply disagree with their point of view.

        • Despeville says:

          ‘The point is that those who disagree with the “direction of Harvest” will look at things with that mindset, and filter everything through that POV. So of course they’d see the church discipline as unbiblical. I don’t have a problem with the direction of Harvest, so I see the church discipline as necessary, ”

          PSRocket,

          How about looking through the Word of God as it was done here many times? Each and every passage these elders asserted for the blasphemous video was completely ripped out of its context, twisted into a pretzel, abused and serve as a political agenda. All of that sprinkled fearlessly with the name of God. Do you have a problem with that? I am afraid you do not because in your POV none of that happened because it could not possibly happen. Right?

      • Raymond says:

        So let me make sure I am understanding what you are sayin. If someone told you a sexual predictor moved next store to you, you would have to see them in the act before you would believe. Seems like a dangerous way to live to me.

        • PSRocket says:

          Raymond, I obviously lacked clarity in my last comment for you to make such an offensive analogy. Let me try again (if the blog owners will approve this comment). I also said that I have not been affected by the alleged horrid character of James MacDonald. People are talking about the “culture of Harvest,” as if it is diabolical in nature, a result of the apparent foul character of James MacDonald. I simply disagree with this. I am experiencing nothing of the sort. On this site, people have mentioned pieces of James’ sermons, and have had a completely different (negative) reaction, than I. So it is possible for a group of people to experience the same situation, and recall it differently and to have different emotional responses to said situation. There are people who have witnessed the same situations as those who are critical of James MacDonald, the exact same meetings, and have drawn non-critical (different) conclusions. I am okay with such differences. Are you?

        • anonymous says:

          @PS Rocket.

          …or anyone at Harvest familiar with the situation.

          Exactly WHAT are the reason(s) for these elders being excommunicated? We need to clear this up. It would be nice to know BIBLICALLY exactly what excommunicable sin they committed to merit expulsion. Were they teaching heretical doctrine? Did they sin sexually? The elder video is vague at best on this subject. I’ll paraphrase it: “these men did something that was not good, and so we are applying biblical discipline to them, oh, and what they did was satanic to the core.”

          Last time I checked the Scripture, raising concerns over another elder’s behavior and character were not even in the ballpark of excomminicable “offenses”. In fact I don’t think they would even qualify as “offenses”. I would argue it qualifies as biblical LOVE for the church and a desire to keep her pure. I have seen many of these elder’s statements and NOWHERE in any one of them did I detect any bitterness. In fact many of them were content to just quietly leave and not say a word to the church. I have seen nothing but godly character in these men as a whole.

          If someone, ANYONE, can produce solid evidence backed up with Scripture as to why these men were summarily executed…er… excommunicated, I will listen.

        • Amanda says:

          I think that a lot of people still at Harvest are hiding behind the, “Well, I have no way of confirming this, so I’ll just believe the best until I see my own proof.” The problem with this thinking is that, in a church of this size there will NEVER be a way for you to truly confirm his character. 90% of the attendees will not have a day by day personal relationship with JMac. When our family left Harvest, instead of getting into the did he or didn’t he game, we said that it was our personal conviction to be a part of a church where we could have more of a personal relationship with the leadership. No one could “convince” us to stay, because they had to admit that you are NOT going to have that at Harvest. Even if you knew one or a couple of the elders really well, that would not accomplish the task of knowing all of the leadership since the number of elder seats they want are growing.

          I know this has probably been stated before, but I don’t think that God intended for one man to be “shepherding” so many sheep. I don’t think it’s possible to know your flock and in JMac’s case, care about the flock when the number of people attending is so huge.

      • Chris Pence says:

        @PSRocket

        I can’t reply to your response to Carol, so I have to do it here.

        The posting of the video was bad. However, let’s not forget the content, which was outrageous and heinous. The elders speak for God? Satanic to the core? I can buy that Harvest meant for the video to reach the congregation at large. I can buy that posting the video in and of itself is not grounds for James’ disqualification. I don’t necessarily agree, but I acknowledge the possibility.

        But the content? There is no way any leader(s) of a church who believes these things should hold office with such skewed doctrine. Any person or group of people who claim to speak for God should not be in leadership. Any person or group of people who put dissenting believers in league with Satan should not be in leadership. That’s flat-out theological error, Scripturally indefensible, and a gross mishandling of position. As an aside, I believe it also speaks to the issues of division of power raised by so many ex-staff.

        If they apologized, perhaps it could be the first step to retaining their offices. The longer they prove unwilling to correct the video’s content and faulty theology thereof, however, the more they disqualify themselves.

  12. Jeff says:

    Just imagine how much could be cleared up if James MacDonald released his last 10 years tax returns.

    • Former HBF member says:

      I think the greater issue is his character, and how he treats people. Not just the money he does/does not make.

    • Your post is one of those that really don’t provide any substance. I appreciate the personal stories that people are sharing and the sound biblical advice given. What I’m having trouble with are comments like these.

    • Sue says:

      Right, the series on money was called “God’s money”. So if the money he spent weeks trying to manipulate out of people is “God’s money”, then the people giving it to “God” should be able to see where it is going, right? After all it is “God’s money”. Does he think he is God? I heard him say during that sermon series “you can fake prayer and Bible study but you can’t fake tithing”, “Get on the fast track to giving like everyone else”. Well if everyone is on the ‘fast’ track to giving, then why the need to talk about it. I have heard him quote Mike Murdock who is the biggest preacher/swindlers of all time. Also, how can someone that has messed up the finances of the church so badly with his gambling ways, portray himself as having it all together with finances and should be teaching everyone else? He would say things like “I have my finances set for the future do you?”, right he does because it is the people that he is talking to that have paid for it! And he was asking for more! He talked about how his son has it all together and made an investment in an ice cream truck and people need to be more like him. If his son was really working full time for the church as he is paid to then it would take many years to make a return on that investment. His son was handed that job and is paid by the people James seemed to be rebuking for not having their finances together.

      It was after this sermon series I realized that something is not just a little wrong, but seriously wrong. I googled James McDonald scandal, not knowing or being told anything by anyone, and I came up with this website. Thankfully the authors have put this site together.

  13. Spurgeon speaks of "silk waistcoats" says:

    Apparently, these messages are finally getting through loud and clear. I noticed that on yesterday’s Vertical Church blog, JM made a point of mentioning that his “honorariums” for his participation at the “Act Like Men” conference in Hamilton, Ont. and his lecture at Heritage Bible College and Seminary would be going to a charity called, Lydia House. (Of course, he also put a plug in for his collaboration with Jerry Jenkins’ new novel at the end of the blog post.) It’s going to take a lot of lipstick and “silk waistcoats”…

    • PSRocket says:

      He’s been donating for quite some time. I guess now he feels he has to broadcast such information? I am actually ambivalent about this. When tempted to defend myself about how much I give, I am reminded that I am to do such things anonymously, and that the only one who I am accountable to is God. But I do understand why he chose to reveal this. So I’m ambivalent. On another note, it gives good worthy exposure to Lydia House.

      • Job3627 says:

        Unfortunately, if anything, it serves to make him look like more of a hypocrite. “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.” (Matthew 6:2 NAS)

        • anonymous says:

          1 Timothy 6:

          These are the things you are to teach and insist on. 3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

          6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

        • PSRocket says:

          @Job3627, look at Jeff’s comment about tax returns (which would show his contributions) above. This is why, no matter what James MacDonald does (or any of us, for that matter), he will always have critics.

        • Ruth says:

          That’s not true. He’s chosen to do this anonymously for many years. But if you go back to the previous post on TED, people were stating that he was making money off the honorariums from Act Like Men and other events. Those who know him (and aren’t out to destroy him) know that just isn’t true-he doesn’t profit from those events.

          But you are asking him to be transparent and honest. So he is.

          If you want really transparency about finances in his life, don’t call him a hypocrite for doing what you asked him to do. The sin is in your heart for asking him to reveal how he gives and how he spends his money. That is not your business, that is between him and God.

        • Jon says:

          But you openly accused him of making large profits from these events!! You paint him into an impossible corner!

        • James 4:7 says:

          @Ruth–It absolutely should concern the church (and even the Church) when a pastor lives like a king off of the contributions of the saints. And by the way, it absolutely should concern the church, when the character of those in leadership does not at all reflect the character required of leaders (by the Lord Himself, in His holy word). Raising the subject of Tozer is a bit of a deflection, on your part. IF Tozer was as deeply flawed as you and Tim Challies suggest (based on a biography) then it is not up to us to pass judgment based on what is essentially hearsay–without corroborating witnesses (which would be quite difficult to find at present). And I say IF, because there are many problems with biographies that are written after the subject has died. If Tozer was as bad as you say, then that was a matter for his church to discipline with the “testimony of 2 or 3 witnesses” . If they did not, then it is a stain on them. But that is what comes of the cult of personality–something that we were thoroughly warned of by the Apostle Paul. (see 1 Corinthians)

      • Kay says:

        It’s good that James’ is donating his honorariums for these events but this doesn’t mitigate his ostentatious displays of wealth, made even worse by doing so during such a severe economic downturn. Without a doubt, members/attendees of Harvest have been affected by this poor economy. James’ displays come off as insensitive and sort of Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake,”

        My husband and I don’t have a substantial emotional investment in Harvest having attended for only 2-1/2 years but we do care about what is happening. My husband in particular loved the Harvest location we attended. I, however, was uncomfortable when i began observing some of James’ behavior (bullying, prideful, temper tantrums, contradictions between what he was saying and how he was behaving, some of his interpretation of scripture). This website merely confirmed much for us. My best friend of 35+ years (who attends Harvest) has basically eliminated me from her life because of my feelings about JMac. By the way, she and her husband will not read this website.

        There is little transparency with James because there are things he doesn’t want known, most likely his full compensation package.

        My heart just breaks for all those who have suffered because of James. Be very careful. In all likelihood he would not even doing as much as he is insofar as (limited) transparency, member Q&A meetings but for the fact that he is truly in jeopardy. My prayers continue for all who are have been or are hurting and for James to truly repent.

        • James 4:7 says:

          I agree with you, Kay. I find this whole mess very discouraging on one level. But the fact that it is now seeing the light of day, will, I pray, ultimately lead to glorifying God.

          @Ruth and others who are close to James MacDonald. We understand that you love him and would suggest that perhaps your love is like that of Barnabus for John Mark (see Alexander Maclaren’s commentary linked above). What is needed here, is a love like the Apostle Paul’s for the good of the Church and ultimately for the good of James himself. No one here is “out to destroy” JMAC. We simply believe that God will be glorified if the present situation is not allowed to continue.

        • PSRocket says:

          What are James’ “ostentatious displays of wealth?” Yes he lives in an expensive house. Knowing the tax code regarding clergy and a housing allowance, I think it’s a smart move, from a financial standpoint. Though, had he known he’d get such backlash from how it appears, he might not have made such a move. But, other than his house, what ostentatious displays of wealth has James made? {{confused}}

        • toulaman says:

          @PS Rocket Are you really confused? Thousands die everyday from lack of food and water and you think it’s a a smart financial move for a man of God to use the tax code to acquire a multi-million dollar home? How do y’all sleep at night? Don’t y’all fear God?

        • Despeville says:

          “My best friend of 35+ years (who attends Harvest) has basically eliminated me from her life because of my feelings about JMac. By the way, she and her husband will not read this website.”

          @Kay,

          I am sorry to hear that. Know that this hurt is to the right cause and truth and your friend one day will thank you and will apologize to you because she is in the Lord after all. On another note, this sad testimony is only a further proof for the cultist nature and attitude that HBC grows, sustains and stains with most of its members.

        • Despeville says:

          @toulaman,

          Thank you for your words. I posted to more or less to that sense but it was not allowed. Is this not amazing? A man who preaches to thousands with income in the vicinity of what he pays in taxes alone on his over-sized house is actually praised by his follower for “smart financial move”… As if that is a valid criteria for a pastor in a decision like that. No wonder almost none of them has any issues whatsoever with their pastor rubbing elbow with prosperity scam vampires parading as shepherds. UNREAL.

        • PSRocket says:

          @toulaman, No, thousands a day don’t die for lack of food. Thousands die every day because of evil. Corrupt governments who abuse their people and choose to cut off access to food and water, simply because they can. This notion that people are starving because I choose to sleep in a bed, with a roof over my head, instead of in a sleeping bag in a tent, or because James decides to live in a big house, is ridiculous. Your correlation is false.

        • toulaman says:

          @psrocket What a classic response when protecting the Anointed. I know what your response would be if Jesus told you to sell all your possessions and give it to the poor. But of course those scriptures are not for our times. By the way, 16 million American children went to bed hungry tonight.

        • Joe says:

          I think it is just really sad and unfortunate. Sad that good meaning congregants like FlockLeader, PSRocket, Bob Arosen not only give their hard earned money to James MacDonald but do so gladly, willingly. And will continue to do so until their last breath. The fact that MacDonald uses those tithes and offerings to enrich himself (yes it IS a character issue) does not even enter in the equation for them. The fact that James MacDonald lives a lavish lifestyle is a clear indication in their eyes that the Lord has blessed him. As James MacDonald says, if you do not have any money to pay for food, rent, medical bills – well it is YOUR fault – it is God’s will since you have not presented your offerings to him. I wish I was making this up but it is straight out of a sermon.
          (PS: I am doing a property search on Luke and Landon MacDonald. It would be interesting to see how the Lord has blessed them.)

  14. anonymous says:

    As a congregant at a Harvest plant, I can say that this is the single most agonizing issue I have ever encountered. My heart bleeds whenever I read the personal testimonies. I cry for my children who are firmly entrenched at Harvest and what leaving would do to them. Not to mention what it would do to my wife and I.

    So many supposedly Godly men and women are ignoring or denying that there is a problem. I know they are reading this blog. Please, stop sweeping this under the rug. Act.

    • Sincerely says:

      @anonymous – Think for a moment what your family that is “entrenched at Harvest” would encounter further if they stay. Perhaps that is a better, more pointed thought? The constant mis-use of funds, and most importantly, example of biblical leadership is off the chart wrong. Is that what you want your family experiencing week in and week out? Not me.

    • Former HBF member says:

      Take heart anonymous! If you do decide to move on, know that God is working throughout the world! And he is working in many other churches as well! One of the concerns I had with the Harvest we attended was the subtle attitude of, “this is the only place that God is working!” Nobody ever actually said it, but it came across in various conversations with various people. It made my heart sad that they didn’t see “other” churches as part of the body of Christ as well. (In one conversation a person stated, “I guess some good can come from that church.”)

      We now attend one of “those” churches, and LOVE that Body of Christ! It is not a showy church, it is smaller, which I love because I know everybody! and it has a heart for the lost and is actively involved in missions in various ways.

      It is sad and hard to move on though. I would encourage you if you are at a Harvest plant to talk to the leadership though, and see where they stand on this whole issue. (I know, easier said than done!) Ultimately, seek the LORD’s guidance thru prayer with your wife!

    • HBC Davenport says:

      There is a need to address references in these threads regarding whether Harvest plants are impacted by what is being discussed here. While I cannot comment on all plants, it is important to identify that the HBC Davenport plant is in many ways a mirror image of what is being revealed on this site. I saw many of the same signs early on, but unfortunately chose to largely ignore them. Namely, the hand-picked form of government, an emphasis on money, numbers, image, perfection, and senior leadership control that is not to be questioned. In the last few years those have all taken a deeper hold, generating a culture of fear, lack of disclosure, information “spin”, isolation of senior leadership, and a building expansion being undertaken with little regard for congregational support. As a result the church has experienced “resignations” by Deacons, support staff, two pastors within six months, and the departure of a number of faithful, long-term parishioners… some of whom were harshly treated for questioning “authority”.

      It wasn’t until I came across this site that the parallels became clear. This website confirms and clearly indicates to me that there is a definite influence on at least some of the plants, if not a strategy or formula that is defined by James and executed by the local work…down to the overused and now hollow “You are loved” benediction. And if there is indeed a percentage of the local budget that is funneled to HBC Fellowship, then the tithes of those at the plants are in fact supporting what is currently transpiring in and through the leadership at Rolling Meadows.

      As has been mentioned in other threads on this site, a needed step in addressing this at a plant level is to effectively separate from the Harvest association in order to break the pattern being modeled and followed, and to disassociate the local name and financial support from the happenings in Rolling Meadows. This will take humility by board leadership, acknowledgement of the need for change, and the conviction and fortitude to act upon it. Without a change in leadership I question whether that is feasibly possible at HBC Davenport. I want to thank the authors of this site for their courage in bringing these issues out into the open, and alerting those beyond the walls of Rolling Meadows as to why our Harvest plant(s) functions as it does.

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