Over the past several months, numerous reports have circulated back to The Elephant’s Debt alleging that James MacDonald and the leadership of Harvest Bible Chapel were blaming the former leaders of Harvest for the financial crisis that has threatened to overwhelm the church. But unfortunately, in most cases, these alleged remarks were not being offered in front of the church congregation as a whole; and thus there was little that we could report.
But now, as of last Sunday (16 June 2013), the situation seems to have changed. In his sermon entitled Who Needs a Resurrection?, James MacDonald has offered the following remarks, which can be found at the 22:10 mark.
“In 1990, I saw this church lose 40% of its members and nearly collapse when it had hardly begun. In 2000, I saw this church divided by evil divisive people and felt devastated personally by false accusation. In 2007 I saw this church almost bankrupted by people I should have been watching and leaders that wouldn’t act. And in every one of those situations, where it seemed its gone, its done, its finished, its over, the living Christ brought His resurrection power to bear upon that situation …”
What is interesting to note in these public comments is that MacDonald places the blame for the failure in leadership that lead to the financial crisis entirely upon the shoulders of “people [he] should have been watching” and “leaders that wouldn’t act.” In other words, MacDonald completely absolves himself of any public responsibility for the failures in discernment, wisdom and leadership, which lead to the current and ongoing financial crisis.
Moreover, what needs to be noted is that only a few men within Harvest would have possessed the institutional authority to govern in such a manner as to significantly impact the financial stability of HBC. So the question that demands to be asked is this: which of these men is MacDonald blaming for this failure of leadership?
Bear in mind that all of these men continue to play significant leadership roles both within their respective churches, ministries, places of business and communities. In many instances, these are fellow elders and pastors in the Church. If they failed as shepherds of the Church then nothing short of discipline is in order, and rather than invoking their failure to make your rhetorical point in a sermon, you should first privately confront them and ask their new churches to assist you in seeking appropriate discipline of these individuals for their failure. Only, after that process yields no results should you publicly warn the body of Christ about their rogue style of leadership, and then you must name them along with their sin so that the body may be properly warned. If MacDonald has not followed through on this course of action, which he clearly has not, could it be that his story holds no water? And if that is the case – if he is spinning a yarn from the pulpit – than the reputations of all of these men are needlessly being put at risk, as MacDonald continues to make nebulous assertions about “leaders that wouldn’t act” and “people [he] should have been watching.”
In addition to this, it should also be noted that during the season in which these decisions were being made, the elder board consisted of approximately ten men, four or five of whom are still on the elder board. If the failure of leadership was not MacDonald’s, but the elder board’s, then how is it that five of these elders remain on the board? In order for the board to govern, they would have at least needed a majority vote, would they not? And if that is the case, would prudence not dictate that these men step down in favor of more conservative, fiscally responsible leaders?
At this point, if you’re beginning to wonder about the veracity of MacDonald’s story, you are not alone. Would he truly have us believe that he lacked the institutional authority or the bully pulpit from which he could have restrained these rogue agents of HBC? This is story that is clearly meant to exonerate MacDonald in the public eye; and it’s a story that is ultimately untenable.
David Corning, Dr. Joseph Stowell, Joe Stowell Jr, Ron Allchin, Sam Jindoyan and Darryl Rice are all well-regarded men; and any comments that are made that might cause people to question their reputations should not be accepted lightly by the congregation of Harvest Bible Chapel or by the broader church community that is following these affairs.
So, James MacDonald, it’s time to show your hand. Which of these men are you trying to implicate and why are you trying to implicate them?