Fred Agase, a former HBC Elder, left the elder board and left Harvest Bible Chapel in the spring of 2013

Update (7 Oct 2013)Early in 2013, Fred Agase, apparently requested to rotate off the elder board at Harvest Bible Chapel.  We should be clear that it is church policy that elders serve for three year terms; and that the system is designed in such a way that on any given year,  small numbers of elders rotate off even as others rotate on.  In Agase’s case, it might have appeared that this is exactly what happened.  But when he resigned on 1 January 2013, HBC had already requested that he serve two more years as an elder.  So clearly, reality runs contrary to the public appearance.

For many years, Fred Agase and his family were a well-integrated part of Harvest Bible Chapel.  So, if Fred Agase simply cycled off the elder board for personal reasons, one would expect that he and his family would still be worshiping at the church every weekend.  Instead, according to our sources, Mr. Agase is now worshiping at another local church that is independent of the Harvest Bible Fellowship.

Moreover, according to our sources, when Mr. Agase elected to finish out his term on the elder board, he made the request with a growing internal sense of frustration related to James MacDonald and the issues raised by The Elephant’s Debt.

When The Elephant’s Debt reached out to Mr. Agase earlier this morning, he confirmed the basic facts of our account, and added the following:

At no time during my service on the elder board did I raise these concerns with my fellow elders.  So this will come as a surprise to them.

Like many other former elders before him, Mr. Agase reportedly attempted to remain in the church as a regular congregant, until such time that he could no longer worship there in good conscience.  According to our sources, Mr. Agase and his wife last attended Harvest Bible Chapel on Easter 2013, when MacDonald began a troubling and divisive series on money.

What is important to note, once again, is that Harvest Bible Chapel continues to claim that the elder board is unified.  But this claim of unity, which is used as a rhetorical point to counter the issues raised by The Elephant’s Debt, is a false claim.  At present, at least four of the men who signed HBC’s October 2012 Elder Update (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5) have resigned from the elder board, raising the question as to how many other former elders and staff members have left quietly, but not in unity.


50 thoughts on “Fred Agase, a former HBC Elder, left the elder board and left Harvest Bible Chapel in the spring of 2013

  1. Former HBF member October 8, 2013 — 7:27 am

    I always find it disconcerting when people write: “loyal to HBC.” I thought we were supposed to be loyal to GOD and GOD alone.

    1. I understand what you’re saying, and when push comes to shove God must reign supreme, but there’s nothing in Scripture to suggest it’s not okay to be loyal to people and institutions behind God. Obviously, those loyal to HBC seem to do so with a clear conscience and having reconciled, one way or another, the charges against it.

  2. I recently read through the all the links on this website again, because it’s been awhile. After reading this most recent post, comments and specifically THE HOPE section of TED, I started to ask myself, “where is this going?” Is it gaining steam? Or is it like someone who’s disgruntled with the government throwing eggs at the Whitehouse outside the gates? Are we as believers from (current or former) HBC supposed to just take care of “our own” and get out of this place, not worrying about the big picture? Or is this a call for greater change within the whole church community that won’t stop? I guess only God knows.
    I yearn for transparency so desperately, but believe the chances of that from HBC are beyond slim. Personally, I don’t understand posts about how James has changed for the positive. Changed from what, to what? Its hard to believe change when there’s no recognition of what you’re turning from. If I tell you, “I’ve turned a new leaf”, wouldn’t you want to know if it’s from telling white lies or axe murdering? The back story is imperative to understand the change, if there is any. But I’m thinking, we’ll never really know.

    1. @QPB,

      It is both. There is far too many MacDonalds out there. Far too many abused. Far too much greed dressed up as piety. Far too much money scammed thanks to abuse of The Word. Far too many complacent , corporate trained “elders” whose perceived qualifications result from what they have accomplished in and through the world. Far too much biblical illiteracy cheered as wisdom. Far too many goats posing as sheep. The katharsis has begun.

      “But if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear such a name. For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God? And if the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the ungodly and sinners? So then let those who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator as they do good.”

      ~ 1 Peter 4:16-19 NET

  3. @Chris Pence

    Always happy to reply to someone who posts under their name. I am somewhat confused, it seems as though you feel that I somehow owe an HBC explanation for every charge leveled on this site. I don’t.

    I first posted on the Blood Stained Ink site, and then here, thinking that there would be a somewhat civil discussion with reasoned give and take. Once I discovered that wasn’t going to happen, I periodically posted my thoughts to a “Breaking News” post just to give a different perspective. James and Rick are not the one dimensional monsters that they are often portrayed as here, and I attempted to offer some balance, I have no interest in attempting to dialog with a group that gang tackles anyone not toeing the site party line, but has no problem with someone calling James a sociopath.

    I would imagine that some who read this site know me, and you know that while I am an idiot, I’m not a complete idiot. I don’t have rose colored blinkers on – sorry for the horse racing metaphor, I know that disqualifies me for many of you. My freshman year at Moody, my floor was a hotbed for baptist hating Calvinists. They worked me over pretty good, and I left there with a firm belief in the sovereignty of God. That is my bottom line, God is in control, and is God working at Harvest? I’m not talking about numbers at the service or cars in the parking lot, but lives radically changed – and that’s still happening at Harvest.

    I am of the opinion that HBC and all that it encompasses is God’s work. God has taken James’ spiritual and entrepreneurial gifts, along with the dedicated congregation that gave and worked, to make Harvest what it is. If James has disqualified himself, God will take care of that. If God wants James there, no web site, blog, or Tweet will take him down.

    1. Ex - Member of HBC-RM October 8, 2013 — 12:53 am


      I have appreciated all of your well thought comments over the past 1.5 – 2 years now (between the Blood Stained Ink site and this site). You have often offered a differing opinion.

      I remember your pic being shown during a Rick Donald sermon. I guess you deserve the recognition in front of the 13,000 for your undying support of HBC.

      (How would you have felt – if instead of your picture being shown in a positive way and praised by Donald, you would have been cast in a shameful light as the honest and faithful elders a few weeks ago.)

      I would ask your honest opinion in one area. What about all the hurt Harvest is causing. I know you have to know about it. The countless employees and volunteers who have bee fired/catapulted or not welcomed back. The serious “hurt” that HBC and James MacDonald are causing is a serious problem.

      In the most sincere way I can ask it, how can you stand for an organization that has hurt and caused serious personal pain to so many people (some mentioned here and some not mentioned on this site).

      Are theses people your friends / acquaintances?

      Are they not your friends?

    2. @Bob

      When I was at Moody, most of the Calvinists I knew WERE the Baptists. So, progress?

      I appreciate your response. And I appreciate even more the opportunity to understand your views. It goes a long way to putting your presence on this site into a clearer context.

      My main complaint with your replies is the repeated refrain along the lines of, “We choose to attend Harvest, you choose not to attend, let these issues rest.” As I pointed out in response to your comment on a previous update (forgive me, but I can’t remember which one at the moment), I asked why you continued bringing up your church attendance as a trump card for dismissing the legitimate issues and news raised by Scott and Ryan. In my latest comment (to which I believe the above is your response), I was making reference to that same idea, i.e. you drop in and remind us that you and others have chosen to attend HBC and que sera, sera. This time, you (rightly) called out a commenter for suggesting you used a pseudonym. No gripe from me. Unfortunately, it still struck me as another leapfrog over the meat of the post.

      I don’t expect everyone to respond pro or con to everything posted here, but when someone beats the same drum long enough, and that drum is discordant with the issues at hand, I cry foul. Pitiable Flock Leader raised a similar point about choice of attendance as a balm in his “satire.” Perhaps, in your mind, the choice to attend Harvest leads to a satisfaction of the issues on this site or is the end result of such. If so, you don’t appear to have clearly communicated it.

      I understand the nature of internet discussions can be frustrating; until TED, I barely commented on anything. Like any passionate group of people, Christians can let their zealotry override their sense of decorum, devolving into hyperbole. As a pro-HBC voice, I sincerely do want to know how you see and/or defend the actions of HBC or James as the issues are raised. The elder video? The rash of ex-elders and ex-staff? To me, these are things that cannot be blithely dismissed, as it appears HBC is doing. It would have been great to hear a cogent defense (assuming your position was pro-HBC). The best at this are Scott and Ryan themselves; unfortunately for us, they wouldn’t see their families if they responded to even half of the comments.

      One last thing, if you’ll humor me: I’ve read many on this site who believe God will take James out of office for his behavior. It’s only a matter of time, they say, and indeed even now God is working to purge his Bride.

      Likewise, throughout my Christian life I have heard the view espoused, like yours, that no person doing what God wants him to do can be removed. If God is for our pastor, who can be against him?

      Both stances are indefensible, Scripturally and anecdotally. Plenty of very harmful, poisonous people throughout history have pastored churches or engaged in missions and lived long, prosperous lives. Plenty of very good men (and women!) have been run out of office by the pride of wicked staff and attendees. The bad pastors have seen their churches produce good, and the good pastors have seen their churches stagnate and fail to achieve true community. Not even James MacDonald believes in a fixed “dot” will, as evidenced by his sermon series in the summer of 2005 (one that did a lot of radical good in my life, and I’m a vocal MacDonald critic!). It is possible–probable, even–for the character of James MacDonald to be reproachable, his conduct (public and private) reprehensible, and for his church(es) to see people renewed in Christ and touch people’s lives. The eye is not the litmus test for God’s favor.

  4. Tom, thank you for speaking about other HBF churches and the differences they hold from the Rolling Meadows’ campus. I am wondering if you find it difficult to be tied to the church financially (5% “tithes”) as well as any advertisement or shared material you may have for the main campus (ie. Harvest University, Act Like Men conference, shared media, JM’s suggestions for how the elder board should be weighted, etc). Although many of James’ teachings are very solid, there are some very serious concerns raised in this forum. Do you feel there should be any accountability/questioning from the HBF churches about those issues raised in TED? Please know that I am asking in a very sincere way, not a challenging one.

  5. Pitiable Flock Leader October 7, 2013 — 4:48 pm

    I would like to challenge any notion that The Elephant’s Debt is a journalistic, unbiased, transparent, or open source of information about Harvest Bible Chapel or James MacDonald. For the past year I have posted on the site under various aliases, and not all of those replies made it past the authors to the view of the public. At one point I began making screen captures of the posts, because it became obvious that, if my experience was at all common, many balancing comments favorable to HBC were never seeing the light of day.

    The authors have stated a few times some evolving criteria for which replies get posted and which do not. Based on my own experience, I don’t buy it. First, comments hostile to Harvest that are wildly speculative about the motives of people, posts that call people at Harvest derogatory or insulting names, and posts that make unsubstantiated claims seem to appear on the site with some regularity. Posts of mine which push back hard against the “official narrative” of TED, but in far more diplomatic terms, have not been approved.

    I am making no pretense of being unbiased myself. I love Harvest as a church and as a movement of churches, I love James MacDonald and other staff at Harvest as my pastors and elders. I strongly disapprove of The Elephant’s Debt as a highly curated presentation of only bad news which will post nothing new for weeks in an effort to ignore every single bit of positivity and balance. In my view that is manipulative, particularly when the authors of the blog are accusing Harvest of being selective in what information they share.

    There are biblical ways to address the issues that concern the authors of TED. Creating a public blog that presents only the worst news, and allowing anonymous gossip and accusations on that blog is NOT one of them. As much as I love and respect some of the men who have deliberately affiliated themselves with the site, I am disappointed in that decision and in the way they have in some cases chosen to express their viewpoint.

    I feel free to make these statements anonymously, because I am not accusing anyone of anything. I’m sharing my own first hand experience, and my own personal opinion about a public forum. While I doubt there would be any adverse result if I used my name, I am somewhat alarmed at TED’s willingness to share anecdotal derogatory information about people and to cultivate emotional duress through selective presentation of information and what I consider to be unverified gossip. In short, I would not trust these men with my name or any personal information, and to me that is highly disturbing.

    The authors of TED decide when comments on a particular matter are closed. I would simply suggest that if I or anyone else posts intelligent balancing feedback favorable to Harvest or their staff in the future, it should be posted. They already neglect to present the full range of news pertaining to their concerns (no significant mention of Harvest’s decision to join the ECFA and what the implications of that are, for instance). Do they need to control the range of conversation as well?

    Harvest has never claimed that none of the information is true. On the contrary, they have responded to some of it in very substantial ways, and made those responses and their willingness to consider the criticism a matter of public record.

    1. Including this post, we have put up 20 of your comments under 7 of your pseudonyms, including but not limited to: Pitiable Flock Leader, Flock Leader Speaks Out for the First Time, LJohnson, Big Talker Hiding Behind a Fake Name (that’s biblical?), Knight Light, Vin Chalkerton. To suggest that we are one sided in what we allow in the comments is simply untrue, and there are more “pro-TED” comments that have been deleted than “pro-HBC” comments. If you find the comment section too frustrating then you do have the option of either not reading this site, not reading the comments or not posting comments.

      As for the “good” news regarding HBC, we don’t feel any need to tell the “good” news of HBC here because HBC has any number of large megaphones that tens of thousands, if not millions on the radio, can listen to at any time. If we are imbalanced then HBC is too. We are but two nobodies with a small voice in the corner of the internet trying to tell a story that is not being told else where. Complaining that we don’t help HBC broadcast what it feels like is good news is a bit like complaining the David dared to pick up 5 stones instead of one in his confrontation of Goliath; the complaint is missing the larger picture.

      As far as discussing the ECFA endorsement, HBC has done quite the job of selling its point of view on its website, through its Sunday announcements, Sunday sermons, emails to the congregation and Q & A sessions. How is mentioning it here helpful or hurtful? Honestly, we have not mentioned it here in a post (although we have mentioned it in a comment) because the ECFA is not directly relevant to what we have raised here. An ECFA audit and approval are designed to work for the institution and not the people of the institution, and it only will detect unethical or illegal usage of funds or a present, precarious financial standing. We have never suggested that HBC has engaged in that kind of behavior or was presently in a precarious financial situation, although that could change.

      We have, however, raised a smaller point regarding transparency, and, it is possible, that some additional transparency might occur regarding MacDonald’s massive compensation package. But if you read the ECFA material and the proposed changes to the HBC constitution it is not at all obvious how that might shake out next year. As they say, the Devil is in the details, so whether it will be good news on the issue of transparency remains to be determined.

      Moreover, our site is not about money at all; it is about the character of MacDonald, and money was the easiest vehicle to tell that story. It was a way of disclosing the abuse of his public office without referring to the dozens upon dozens of personal narratives of many people that have encountered and suffered under the tragic choices of James MacDonald which they have shared with us in private. Although, a little bit of that element is beginning to enter into the discussion as former elders and staff people speak out. In our minds, it was easier to point to the issue of character through the issue of money as it is more objective than personal narratives.

      To be fair to your point, it possible we waiver on what is approved one day and not the next. Possibly. Frankly, we don’t like the comment section overall. But, enough people have told us in one way or another how it was beneficial to them, and so, for now, we keep comments open on a new post for a short time. Is everyone happy about how we operate the comments? No. Can we change that. No. Does that change any of the substance that is offered in the content we write or that others write when they speak up? No.

      Please know, that we bear no ill-will to folks like yourself that just don’t see it the way we, and a growing number of others, do. We took the project on because of people like you. We sacrificed more than you will know to tell this story, and we have not personally benefited from telling it. If anything, our accounts, of all types, are drained because of it. If nothing else, I hope that you could recognize that, at a minimum, we are sincere in our belief and that the task we have taken on is a helpful one. While we disagree over the basic facts and interpretation of those facts, we do pray for your well being in all ways. Peace be with you.

      1. Ryan and Scott,

        I really hope you guys are ok. I cannot image the flak you are getting because of TED. I cannot imagine what James MacDonald is doing behind the scenes to thwart you.

        Peace Always

        1. Amen and Amen. You are on my regular prayer list.

        2. MacDonald is already under God’s discipline and it will be fully expanded too given his pride, greed and ruthless actions. They are becoming more foolish by the week and that is a sure sign of what is being done here. Major katharsis is already on the way for that is what will take to stop the proud no matter pious talk for the show. Be of good cheer and let us all pray for God’s blessing on you and His might protection of you against those who cannot repent and are bent by their pride in servitude of their swollen egos.

      2. Ex - Member of HBC-RM October 8, 2013 — 1:04 am

        Scott and Ryan.

        Thank you! You have shown us that there is “life after Harvest” and have helped us locate a new church family which is helping in our recovery from HBC.

        Thanks for all you do…..

    2. @ PitiableFlockLeader

      I am quite surprised that you or any other current Harvest Bible Chapel member posts comments here when your Senior Pastor has EXPLICITLY told you not to even view this site.

    3. It’s interesting that you mention that you saved screen captures to verify what you tried to post here. It’s interesting because I was having to do similar things when HBC was posting and removing the elder statements (prior to reposting them, and then again removing some). I was printing financial documents before they were taken down. I was printing things in case I needed to “prove” something they said (like the debt will be paid off by 2020) at a later date in case the payoff shifted. After the video, I wanted a way to document it so I could have proof of what was said. It didn’t take long after the video for me to realize that what I was doing was just sad. If I can’t TRUST (I am not talking about submitting or honoring) my church leaders then it was time to go. I have. I am sad and broken. But Jesus is my Lord and Him only do I serve! And He will heal us.

    4. Haven't I Seen You Around These Parts Before? October 7, 2013 — 5:38 pm

      Pitiable – James MacDonald has a platform, which he uses to announce his own greatness and the greatness of Harvest on a weekly basis. He has a radio ministry. He has a book ministry. He has a conference ministry. And he’s even looking to get into television and films. So believe me when I say that he is at no great loss for venues from which he can announce how amazing Harvest is to the watching world. Do you really need to read about his greatness here?

      But more to the point, why is your comment sitting here in broad daylight if the authors never post your comments? I, for one, know that I have seen your name around here on more than one occasion. So perhaps they’re not posting all of your comments because you keep beating the same dead horse.

      If you want to be heard more often, perhaps you could try this. Ask yourself why many of the men that you “love and respect” all saw fit to “deliberately affiliate themselves with this site?” And when you have come up with your answer, post it here and have an honest conversation about the subject.

      1. Pitiable Flock Leader October 7, 2013 — 5:58 pm

        Re: “But more to the point, why is your comment sitting here in broad daylight if the authors never post your comments?” I can’t say. You’d have to ask the authors. But it might be reasonable to suggest that it is because I have made it plain I am documenting my rejected posts and have suggested a willingness to publish them myself to keep things on the up and up.

        Please note that I did not say or suggest that they “never” post any of my remarks. That would be untrue, and I tried to be precise in what I said. I have been more emotional in some past posts, and usually regret it. As the authors have noted, it’s their forum and no one has to like their choices, which I recognize. But if I read a newspaper article that is highly critical of a politician, only to find that major information to the contrary has not been mentioned (regardless of the reason), the bottom line is that I have not been presented with an accurate story.

        If I make an accusation against another person, the burden is on me to be perfectly honest in my portrayal, not on the recipient of the info to do their homework in order to balance out my own selective editing, which I have based on what I suspect my subject’s relative advantages might be.

        1. PFL… How did you come to a place of taking on the responsibility of arbitrating the Blogosphere on behalf of HBC? Is blackmail a “biblical” tool to accomplish this? Naturally, we all know that the authors of TED did not post your submission out of fear. Is it an elevated view of self that somehow believes that you wield such power? Do you really believe that, should your rejected posts be seen, that we would all recoil in horror and cast aside what is plain to our eyes and been both a physical (it happened to us) and a visceral part of our experience with Pastor James, HBF and HBC?

        2. You seem to demand more from the authors of a website than you do from your own church leaders. Do you feel the elder updates are fair, balanced, and tell the whole story? How about the question/answer session where members asked James questions that had been approved beforehand? What about the ridiculous elder video…that sure seemed biased, to say the least.

          I would hope to have a higher standard for a church than a website, personally.

        3. Ex - Member of HBC-RM October 8, 2013 — 1:09 am

          Do you think Harvest and James MacDonald have presented you with an “accurate story”?

          The question I always ask myself…what if the elephantsdebt had never happened? Ask yourself this same question. James has “control of the pulpit” and has hurt many people.

    5. I’m all for good news from Harvest. When will our senior pastor disclose a line item budget so the congregation can know where the money is going to?

      1. Jackie Alfirevic October 7, 2013 — 6:21 pm

        Agreed. This point must be kept at the forefront as well.

      2. Ex - Member of HBC-RM October 8, 2013 — 1:12 am

        Amen. How can @ECFA give accreditation when HBC won’t give a line by line budget to their elders (let alone their sheep).

        IF YOU ARE A ‘SHEEP’ – please hear the end of last week’s sermon = “Don’t Think”. That is insulting to me.

    6. PFL,
      While I cannot defend TED, I do defend the folks who have posted their painful and difficult stories here, some of whom I know personally. I have also shared my experiences which in many ways parallel and concur with several of the posts found here. I also share in your position that HBC staff (Meadows was my campus for 8+ yrs.) has demonstrated great leadership and modeled Christ in many ways during those years to me and my wife.

      That said, here’s the rub and I believe in part where TED may be coming from.
      Read their statement on “The Hope” above.

      I saw and sensed for several years first hand as a ministry volunteer and faithful congregant the arrogance of the Senior Pastor. I’ll spare the litany of examples as others have aptly covered a wide array of those here all ready. Bottom line, you cannot continue to parade this attitude and behavior without consequence, yet that is precisely what has and continues to be so. Paramount is the continuation to hold the position of Senior Pastor. This is the issue. The man is clearly, has clearly, and God help him will unfortunately likely continue to demonstrate clearly that this behavior disqualifies him to be elder/senior pastor. Those who are supposed to be monitoring and correcting such issues are thrown under the bus if they attempt to do their job. Again, arrogant, unbiblical, not humble, not modeling Christ, and so forth. The recent events earlier this year with the three men who collectively stepped down and the theologically bankrupt retaliation video that followed weeks later; not to mention the flight of 90% of the original elders “godly men” years ago, (see The Void above), underscores more profoundly than anyone could ever author the issues which persist and desperately need to change. HBC leadership needs to pray, supplicate, search the Scriptures and come to the biblical conclusion to go in the other direction, AKA repentance.

      I think one reason so many are invested in this is due to the issues you point out, as the Holy Spirit has and continues to work powerfully even through the dishonorable vessels @HBC. But look at Pharaoh. Unfortunately those of us who have been exposed to the hypocrisy, dichotomy, and painful treatment by leadership long for Christ’s bride to be cleansed and glorify God in Spirit and Truth. God will do it, He is faithful and will not be mocked nor let his children be put to shame. Lord help us to stay out of the way and wait on You to act in this life or in the life to come. Yes we are all sinners and there are no perfect people or churches, absolutely. But many are being led astray through lies and deception and that makes many of us rightfully angry. We have of course sinned ourselves by letting our anger get the better of us at times, I confess, God please forgive a sinner and his anger and create a new heart in me. The fact remains despite each of our transgressions that the shepherd is supposed to be kept in check by the elders to honor Christ’s bride.

      So, while this site may have missed the mark on some occasions I believe there are those of us that feel a greater sense of bringing glory to God through the bold proclamation of truth in sharing and placing these experiences into the light. The ultimate goal is that truth will trump lies, light will overcome darkness, hearts will be convicted by His Spirit, Christ will be glorified and Satan’s lies will be replaced with Truth and Light. In Christ’s unmatched name, Amen.

      1. Well said. That is my prayer also.

        1. Dear PFL,

          I am a vocal critic of James MacDonald. His behavior and fleecing of the flock makes my blood boil.

          I wish you could see the list of MY posts that have been rejected by the authors of this blog. I have put them through much headache with many ill-advised comments and they have rightly never allowed them to see the light of day. If they deleted these, I can only imagine the REAMS of comments that have been deleted from commenters on both sides of this fence.

          This works both ways. As far as I can tell the authors of this blog are as balanced and fair as anyone can be. No axe to grind. Which makes me admire their courage all the more.

          We would all welcome seeing your comments that were “denied”. Please, post them somewhere and put the link on here. I suspect they were no different in tone from mine.

    7. Doesn’t godly character in a pastor matter to you, Pitiable Flock Leader? The clear teaching of Scripture is that men of excellent character be chosen to lead the flock–surely you must admit that? The fact remains that you could randomly select any man from the pews at HBC, and that he would likely have better character than the man who presumes to teach them. The Lord can SPEAK through a donkey, if He so chooses–but He has laid down qualifying criteria for those who would lead us. James MacDonald does not qualify.

      1. Pitiable Flock Leader October 7, 2013 — 9:30 pm

        Of course it does. I have spent time under the teaching of several pastors, and all have been reproachable on some level, at least in the eyes of some. Sometimes it was because they were strong leaders who were actually willing to draw a line with someone or fire someone, which meant a minority of the church would invariably be furious. Sometimes they were kind of passive. It always amazed me that men I felt were excellent (if imperfect) shepherds sometime drove other congregants crazy. James MacDonald is a handful, I’m sure. But he’s also the most transparent pastor I’ve ever had as it relates to his faults, both in the pulpit and in other settings. Way ahead of me at first, let me tell you.

        1. “But he’s also the most transparent pastor ”
          ~ Pitiable

          Please stop kidding around. It is not a time for this. MacDonald is SO transparent that he would rather see 1000 people leave than him disclosing his true income. Do you ever read yourself?

        2. Ex - Member of HBC-RM October 8, 2013 — 1:17 am

          Have you had the “opportunity” to interact with him personally or just from his “stories” during his sermons.

          There is a difference….

        3. Pitiable Flock Leader,

          It is interesting that you noted that James MacDonald’s transparency about his “faults” was “Way ahead of me at first…” Shouldn’t a pastor/elder have GODLY CHARACTER and SPIRITUAL MATURITY that is “way ahead” of the other congregants? Didn’t the Apostle Paul request that believers, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.”? Calling these character deficiencies of JM’s “faults” minimizes the very serious discrepancy between the qualities we are to look for in our leaders and what JM actually displays. I recognize that you are very fond of him–as many are–but that doesn’t mean that you should follow him as your leader. A pastor should NOT function as a “negative example” to his congregants.

    8. I, for one, appreciate your contributions. I haven’t attended Harvest for a decade, but I still have dear friends who affiliated with HBC or HBF. I know there’s always more to the story that we hear here, but I can also appreciate the pain that many here express. People are messy. I get it.

      I think this site is providing a place for struggling current or ex-HBCers to find words and compassion to some of their experiences. But I agree with you that it can sometimes feel like a forum for speculation and gossip. I’m sure the moderators are doing their best to figure it out. But for what it’s worth, I know I’d appreciate more thoughtful insight into how faithful HBCers approach these topics (financial accountability, elder authority and qualifications, submission, forgiveness, patience and love).

      The way I see it, there are faithful, thoughtful HBCers who have thought through the charges brought up here and remain faithful to HBC. I think their voice is underrepresented. I’d love to hear how you and others like you think through the issues and events brought up here.

      I think this is important because there is a much larger, silent group of HBC-member lurkers who are wrestling through these issues. If HBC and PJ are above reproach in these issues, I have to think these lurkers would greatly benefit from the perspective you bring.

      Of course, there’s lots of emotion flying around. It can’t be easy to read this stuff. But I think it could be worth the effort if you believe HBC to be a great place to learn to love and serve The Lord more deeply. Go chase those sheep!

      Quick side note to TED: what’s with the Pachyderm Productions quip at the end of the last post? It makes all this out to be a big joke. Is this what you’re looking to communicate? I don’t get it.

      1. Former HBF member October 7, 2013 — 9:24 pm

        Well… the lurkers aren’t supposed to be lurking. Cause then they would be rebelling against the direction of the elders.

    9. Scott and Ryan’s response says it best, so I won’t belabor their points.

      To echo what some others have said, please link to your disallowed comments. I’m curious to know how you defend something so heinous and unbiblical as the elder video, not to mention how there isn’t one comment left by you evidencing serious consideration of the ex-elders and staff speaking against Harvest.

      Regarding this comment: “I feel free to make these statements anonymously, because I am not accusing anyone of anything.”

      And yet, in a weak attempt at satire under the anonymous name Pitiable Flock Leader, you say this: “As with others who have shared their stories here, I will somehow manage to share several paragraphs of another man’s faults while neglecting to mention any of my own embarrassing failures and sins. I am praying for Harvest, even as I rip them to shreds in a one-sided echo chamber and sling mud on a public blog.”

      All of which came after this username: “Big Talker Hiding Behind a Fake Name (that’s biblical?).”

      Somehow, your sarcasm doesn’t warrant the same scrutiny and call for transparency you apply to others who, it should be noted, you are in fact accusing. Even when someone like James 4:7 gives his opinions respectfully and with Scriptural basis in response to a fellow commenter’s question, you resort to sarcasm and dismissal. Support of James and HBC is fine, but it’s your blatant contradictions that show it doesn’t matter what anyone says or how they say it because you’re simply out to shoot down your church’s critics.

    10. “In my view that is manipulative, particularly when the authors of the blog are accusing Harvest of being selective in what information they share.”
      ~ Pitiable


      “I feel free to make these statements anonymously, because I am not accusing anyone of anything.”
      ~ Pitiable

      🙂 Really, could you please make up your mind? Or this kind inconsistency and double speak is the norm?

      ” I would simply suggest that if I or anyone else posts intelligent balancing feedback favorable to Harvest or their staff in the future, it should be posted.”
      ~ Pitiable

      Gee, thanks for sharing. In other words trying to extend the fiefdom and control? 🙂

    11. Ex - Member of HBC-RM October 8, 2013 — 12:57 am

      @pitable I wish I would have captured screen shots of my posts that were not posted.

      Trust me, they were not in support of HBC. But they were not posted. I think they authors do an excellent job of discerning the posts that have no factual basis and the posts that are based only on emotion.

      I think, you would notice, if all posts were allowed, many more posts in support of the authors and fewer in support of HBC.

  6. TED says, “…it is church policy that elders serve for three year terms; and that the system is designed in such a way that on any given year, a small numbers of elders rotate off even as others rotate on.”
    BUT – Not so for Mr. Rick Donald or Mr. James MacDonald. Is there a problem there?.

    1. heh… remember the model. The “plants” are the same as well. The only “elder” that serves continously is the “senior” pastor.

      1. ..and apparently the assistant senior pastor in this case. Very convenient.

      2. anonymous you are incorrect. I don’t know where you are getting your information, but not all of the Harvest plants work that way. I know, because I am speaking from first hand experience.

        1. That’s encouraging to hear Tom. The issue is influence and distribution of godly Scriptural wisdom in order to lead the flock in a theologically sound doctrine and approach to ministry I believe. There appears to be some conflict of interest when a member remains for decades and/or refuses to come under the authority of those members entrusted with such responsibility. I have not served as an elder but have spoken with those who are or have. Perhaps I have the wrong view although I think I’m pretty close.

        2. Great Tom, I rejoice to hear that. In my particular plant and others however things are a copy of the mother ship.

        3. Just a follow up to add…
          In discussing what is going on at Harvest Bible Chapel in the Chicago area, I believe it is important to differentiate between the campuses under the direct influence and oversight of James MacDonald (and his elder team) and the churches around the world that have been planted out of Harvest Bible Fellowship. It is not correct to assume that all Harvest plants are carbon copies of Harvest Chicago.

          I know a few of the pastors and elders of a few of those church plants… they are faithful men caring for the flock. I believe them to be good men. Men of integrity. This “guilt by association” that splatters on them and brings into question THEIR integrity is part of the price I guess they must pay for their continued association.

          The issues are serious. And I believe that prayerful consideration in how we might say things in a more accurate way would be very helpful.

        4. Ex - Member of HBC-RM October 8, 2013 — 1:22 am

          @Tom Why are these church plants not courageous enough to make a stand against the “mothership” as four other HBC plants have done??

  7. I’m confused…Mr. Agase denies raising any concerns to the elders, and is no longer attending HBC? Are those the undisputed facts?

    1. TED asserted the following facts: (1) Agase rotated of the elder board when he could have continued to serve, (2) Agase had concerns pertaining to MacDonald and HBC, and (3) Agase ceased attending HBC on Easter Sunday.

      As per our standard practice in similar situations, we contacted Mr. Agase and informed him that we had posted an article pertaining to his departure. Mr. Agase confirmed the facts that we asserted and informed us that he has not made his concerns known to the other elders at the time of his departure.

  8. James MacDonald is again asking the congregation to give their unquestioning support to the Elders. See the latest HBC weekend message Oct. 5-6 @ 45 minutes. Do not question, do not think, no critical thought here, just follow and obey. Taking the sheep to the slaughter house.

  9. My understanding is that tom barber is no longer an elder either. Is that correct? Can anyone verify?

    1. While it is clear from Dan Marquardt’s resignation letter that Tom Barber did, in fact, resign from the HBC elder board, his letter also makes it clear that he rescinded his resignation and continued to serve. We are, at present, unaware of any subsequent resignations that you may be referring to in your question. Can you clarify?

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