HBF Audit, MacDonald’s Character and a Little Matter Called “Hush Money”

24 October 2017 Update copyIn our previous post, regarding HBC Elder discipline of James MacDonald following questions over the management of Harvest Bible Fellowship funds, we stated that we would unpack the details of this audit process and the questions raised by the HBF leadership.  Since that post HBF has rebranded, and it is now known as Great Commission Collective (GCC). The authors of TED have debated how best to tell this story. In short, rather than have us tell you the story and interpret the facts for you, we have decided that the story is best understood from someone who was “in the room” during this process. Here is his testimony … with our standard set of questions.

A brief bit of background and context for the letter. The author is David Wisen, Teaching Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel Spring Lake, MI. More significantly, he is part of the Van Kampen family through marriage, and he was President of Van Kampen Asset Management Co., a multi-million dollar organization, founded by his father-in-law, Robert Van Kampen.

As you may recall, the Van Kampen family have been substantial contributors to James MacDonald’s ministry from the wealth they built through their real estate business. Their contributions have been worth tens of millions of dollars, including the donation of the Camp Harvest and its facilities. Therefore, Wisen is not merely a former HBF (GCC) pastor.  He is a singular source of extraordinary wealth that James has used to bolster his empire.

To be clear, we have no reason to believe that Wisen speaks for the whole of the former HBF/GCC, which we understand has its own governing board. Moreover, we have no idea where he will stand tomorrow on the very matters that are in question in the letter that follows.  Should he, or other GCC pastors elect to “reconcile,” such “reconciliation” would require a detailed accounting for how these matters are no longer a concern to the public.  In other words, a mere photo-op on Instagram will not suffice. Furthermore, what is plain to us from HBC sources is this: certain pastors of GCC churches remain “loyal” to James MacDonald, while other GCC pastors seemingly share Wisen’s criticisms. So, here is the letter sent by Wisen to fellow pastors of the GCC, and this letter, according to our source, has been distributed to several key individuals in HBC leadership.

Wisen Letter Annotated JPG (page 1)

Wisen Letter Annotated JPG (page 2)Wisen Letter Annotated JPG (page 3)

Wisen Letter Annotated JPG (page 4)Wisen Letter Annotated JPG (page 5)


243 thoughts on “HBF Audit, MacDonald’s Character and a Little Matter Called “Hush Money”

  1. I left a HBC up here in Canada, three years ago because I can somewhat (albeit not completely) relate to the “Mafia” comment, but I did have other concerns. What stood out to me most is what I could only describe as an undercurrent of control which was stifling, along with a misplaced loyalty to MacDonald even up here in the north country—placed high above the truth, just about drove me off the deep end. I was never a MacD fan and I didn’t care about purchasing his study resources, ever or promoting him in any way whatsoever.

    I just learned today the HBC I attended is now leaving HBCF and joining the GC Collective. Can someone please explain to me exactly what this is supposed to mean? Are these GCCs just disguising themselves to distance from any association with MacD, or are they a completely separate entity apart from HBCF and MacD?

    So sad to read all the pain here. Let’s remember God is sovereign and he is still on the throne—co trash to what MacD might believe.

    1. The last part of my past sentence above has an autofill error and should read –

      “Contrary to what McD might believe.”

    2. A Small Harvest Church Member December 4, 2017 — 11:49 am

      The Great Commission Collective, or GCC for short is the Harvest Bible Fellowship reconstituted as supposedly an independent entity from Harvest Bible Chapel. They are run by a board rather than an individual. I’m paraphrasing a quote from the Dallas information session where one of the board members said ‘GCC is what Harvest Bible Fellowship should have been’. As seen by some of the documentation on this site, they have not been giving any funding from the old Harvest Bible Fellowship or Harvest Bible Chapel proper, but seem to have gotten some kind of angel investment in order to have the Dallas gathering and pay the current staff. They are basically using most of the Harvest Bible Fellowship by-laws for governance. It is also my understanding that you do not need to be a Harvest Church or be affiliated with Harvest Bible Chapel in any way to ‘sign-up’ to be a GCC church. Personally, I am skeptical of the whole kettle of fish. I believe them when they say that they have no financial or organizational ties to James MacDonald, but many remained involved in the Harvest Bible Fellowship despite this – going on 7 years – slow motion train wreck of James MacDonald, that I personally don’t trust their discernment to not be taken in by another ‘cult of personality’ should it arise.

      1. I totally hear you, brother. I’ve no interest to resurrect a relationship with them regardless of what they call themselves. My guess is the same old same old undercurrent of control will be there just as much as it was before—it’s all they know, after all, and when you read their statement and setup, it appears to be almost a carbon copy of what MacD had at HBCF.

  2. Hi Everyone!

    Current members: Last night, after much anguish over many months, we submitted our member resignation, with reasons, to Elders and our campus pastor. We had engaged them in various conversations and attended & posed questions at two Congregational Meetings. During our decade-plus tenure, we have been well-apprised of every criticism and change (however subtle), but chose to stay for the people and because we believed & hoped (falsely) that our campus would become a plant. This website’s information aside, there is much that is problematic about what is and has happened based on the Elder Updates and responses at Congregational Meetings alone.

    We have told staff and friends at Harvest about our resignation and that we will gladly share our reasons and/or our letter them. We are grieved to leave but are not ashamed–nor do we think that it’s right or “Biblical” to not tell people that you’ve served with and love why you are leaving a church.

    In our brief letter, we made straightforward statements about why we are resigning memberships–the primary reasons being related to governance, lack of member voice, the senior pastor’s use of Scripture, stewardship of finances, and the handling of the HBF dissolution. Our leaders, including our campus Elders, have been kind listening to us & respecting our decision despite our disagreements. Thank you, Lord, for that!

    Like others, I do believe that action can provoke changes at HBC. But, in the current structures and considering our desire to be truthful & loving, there are only so many options. To our knowledge, we are the second longer-time serving members at our campus to leave recently, although there may be others. (It’s hard to know with three services over two days and when people are discouraged from the pulpit and elsewhere to avoid taking with one another about the church or the leaders.)

    It hurt, but I had to let go of my pride & arrogance in thinking that we alone could change hearts and minds. God WILL do it…in His time and in His way. There’s 99% chance that it will not be in the ways I’m hoping for. (Admittedly, I may be hoping for the wrong things.) In the meantime, we are “releasing” our minds, emotions, and spirits by choosing not be at a church where we can longer submit to the authority or teaching.

    I urge members who are leaving to let your pastors know first, then to submit their reasons in writing to the Elder Board, and also to let others know that they have resigned membership. Leaving without telling or anyone, without saying why, or without saying the real reasons (e.g., “we feel like God is calling us to…”) isn’t helpful, or truthful, or loving. If there is a significant decline in attendance or giving attributable to members’ dissatisfaction with events and decisions, it’s better that it can be explicitly linked rather than left to guesswork or excuses. Stay away from citing things that you might “know” but are hearsay. If you must elaborate or support your reasons, stick to citing communications from the church that you’ve read, your own interactions, your own conversations & experiences in meetings, and your own perspective in “the pews” listening to the messages.

    For those who are staying, we pray that you will not be bitter toward those who have accessed the same information, discerned it for themselves, and see it differently. I pray that we will be as gracious to you.

    Finally, people who know me/us may be critical that I posted in at all on this website and in this Comments section. But consider this: TED is not some e-tabloid with no credibility whatsoever. The site “lives on” because there is no voice for the HBC member. No forum or mechanism for ongoing feedback & input. Only periodic changes to “ask questions” at large group meetings as leaders try to react to and manage a crisis. So, that’s something for current and future members & leaders to consider, if they’re reading this. May God forgive me if my heart is the wrong place and I have sinned.

    Looking forward to Christ’s return, and to the “new Earth,” when church will be perfect. 🙂

    1. May God provide a cone of protection over your Family and their relationships as you continue your walk with The Lord!

    2. Thank you for sharing, Jessica! You are NOT alone in this!

    3. This is exactly the type of action needed! Thanking God for the courage Jessica (and family) are displaying! More membership resignations please. Let’s get more post like these! Keep them coming…

    4. This is a very thoughtful post which obviously came after much prayer. We left 4 years ago and left silently. We left for reasons that this site has addressed, but in conjunction with personal interactions some in my family had with both James and Luke. We should have left sooner but we were hopeful that we would see true repentance. We didn’t. We probably should have said something to those people, leaders and staff, that we personally interacted with on a regular basis, but we didn’t. The truth is I think we were afraid to find out how far down the chain the sickness went. I wanted to keep the notion that it was only a few and the others were kept in the dark. I know now that isn’t the case. I know God alone can fix the mess. I will pray. For those of you thinking of leaving, I am grateful to God for leading us to a new church home and he will lead you too.

      1. Praying thousands more can say “AMEN” to what you’ve written and that Harvest’s doors will one day very soon close “for business”. I say this knowing these thousands will be far better off fellowshiping elsewhere.

    5. Amen for this! I would add that any staff leaving should follow the same path. The constant “messaging” that is actually just covering up thw truth, is part of why the problems persist. I agree that it is in fact wrong to not be truthful about why you left. The people in power play the “division” card against anyone who speaks truth. Time for God’s people to be bold with truth and Love.

  3. While standing during the service may be effective, I can understand why some (for various reasons) people don’t want to do it. My suggestion is to get together with several of your Harvest friends, the more the better, and en masse go together and visit another church. Work toward as a group moving to a new church. This accomplishes a couple of things. 1) you will be able to study and worship with the brothers in Christ you already know 2) your children will be able to continue their current church friendships because their fiends will be at a new church 3) reducing weekly attendance from 10,000 to 5,000 will get the attention of the rest of the church body and maybe, just maybe, the Elders. The drop in tithes will get their attention (Harvest can not afford to have people that tithe leave en masse).

    1. Well put. Unfortunately the few folks I’ve ever heard from have seemingly the silliest of excuses for staying. I’ll never forget about a year or two ago when I ran into some people I knew who spoke of friends of theirs who were staying, “They’re in too deep.” — What? I thought to myself, “What is this, the mafia?!?” Well after knowing what I now know about the MacDonald family, one would have to conclude that Harvest is run far more like the mafia than a church. Funny how truth is stranger than fiction. Still praying, one day soon the doors of Harvest will no longer be open and people subject to such scorn and abuse by some ‘self-proclaimed leaders’ bent on making a living out of making a mockery of our Living God. May we all be reminded, “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord.”

  4. Anyone up for standing in silence through the entire service on Sunday?

    Meet in the lobby. Pray on The Armor of God. And Stand.

    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

    I’m 100% serious.

    1. I haven’t been to a service at Harvest since I left six years ago… but I can’t help but be intrigued by your idea. You’ve piqued my interest. Will noodle over it some and may join you on Sunday. Will keep a pulse on things and see if others are interested as well.

      If people continue to turn up the heat on MacDonald, Donald, and Harvest’s ‘yes-men’, It may be just enough to send ‘em all north of the border, the Canadian border, that is.

    2. honestly, someone just needs to print out flyers promoting this website and hand them out as people walk in, or put them on cars.

      1. I nominate Stuart! 🙂

        Mike and I will be standing in the 4th row while Stuart covers cars in the lot.

        Still 100% serious

      2. There is a billboard on 53. Rent it. Split the bill. On it will say “theelephantsdebt.com”.

        1. Little known fact
          Security is not allowed to touch us.

          Only the officers on duty can.

          Im not real easy to move anyways.

          Bible says stand with the belt of truth fastened. I say stand for truth. The Spirit may just show up ..

        2. Superb idea and brilliant tool to “Stand.”

      3. Great idea! It is needed! Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. That is why people feel captive, his spirit is not in leadership. This is a sign of the times on deceiving God’s people.

    3. So, let me get this straight….On all campuses (or just RM) this Sunday 11/19 after the worship set is done and the announcements start, we stay standing up. Then security comes and gets us, escorts out of the building (granted they are reading this right now). There has to be a LARGE amount of people to be in on this to be effective. And someone recording this to document the actions. How will this be effective and change James actions?

      1. It won’t…it will only convince people even more that the detractors are ill-motived people trying to interfere with the church experience, sow division, and negatively impact people’s desires to just worship the Lord on Sunday morning. It will cause them to tune out the site’s message even more.

        1. Maybe…

          Maybe not…

          This site is important.

          But Its this type of thinking that has reduced all of these like minded biblical men to blogosphere pen pals.

          Who cares what others do? Im talking about excersizing our faith in the real world.

          You say it wont work. I say it doesnt matter.

          God will work in his time and until he does we should be doing more than chatting about it..

          If youre not suggesting some kind of action…stand down and let those who are interested make their own decisions.

          Im tired of hearing what won’t work from those who won’t act.

        2. I agree with Tony. It’s becoming more and more clear to me that something is severely wrong with James. Something demonic has a hold on him and those closest to him. We need to simply leave and pray. Though my flesh likes the idea, I don’t see it as a biblical response. Look at what Paul says in Philippians 1:15-18 and 1 Corinthians 3:13-15. I don’t see Paul telling us to protest. He names names (1 Tim 1:20), but doesn’t call us to stay in a bankrupt church. In Romans 16:17-19 Paul talks about avoiding such puffed up men within the church. I think that means leaving a church that has gone “sideways”. The naive will remain, but itching ears will always continue listening to those who sooth their ears. Let Jesus judge Harvest, not us. Our faith needs to be strong enough that we trust Him to do it. He did with Mars Hill.

        3. It’s the difference between taking your business elsewhere (and telling why you’re doing it) and standing in the middle of the business and bothering the other customers. There’s simply no need or call to try to interfere with their experience. Tell the leaders why you’re leaving, make it formal with a letter, don’t shy away from telling your friends why you’re leaving, and leave with grace and maturity.

    4. I used to go to a Harvest Bible Chapel church in NC which my family and I Ieft in June of last year. Some of the reasons were due to the churches lack of reverence, prayer grossly poor Elder leadership, one of the elders came from Chicago and was/is very good friends with Macdonald.
      That being said may I encourage you NOT to stand during the service in silence as a form of protest!! The church service is to be kept for the Glory and Worship of God and not for man. By standing in silence as a form of protest i feel you are robbing God of His glory and putting it elsewhere. As RC Sproul once said regarding entering into worship that we “have lost sight of the threshold and have begun to fail to make a transition on Sunday mornings from the secular to the sacred, from the common to the uncommon and from the profane to the Holy” By doing as you are suggesting you keep yourself and the service as common, profane and secular instead of crossing the threshold to worship God.
      I totally agree that the goings on in Chicago and HBC there seem to be in a shambles under the “leadership” of Macdonald and the elders there. If the church I had attended is any indication of what was/is going on up there the mantle of pastorship that Macdonald holds should be stripped from him due to the low views of God.
      My prayer is that they all repent and seek His face again.
      I would suggest a “protest” after the service and not before or during so as not to take the focus off worshipping God.

      1. I agree. The best way to protest is with your feet and pocketbook by finding a new church. Things will not change at Harvest. I know it will be hard because of relationships you have with others at HBC. At a new church you can form new relationships in a much healthier place. As the prior post put it so eloquently “I’m following Jesus…No turning back no turning back”.

      2. My corporate Worship ends when the false prophet / disqualified Elder begins to preach.

        ” By doing as you are suggesting you keep yourself and the service as common, profane and secular instead of crossing the threshold to worship God.

        Is listening to a false prophet / disqualified Elder sacred worship in your book?

        As RC Sproul once said regarding entering into worship that we “have lost sight of the threshold and have begun to fail to make a transition on Sunday mornings from the secular to the sacred, from the common to the uncommon and from the profane to the Holy”

        This statement describes the condition Harvest was in when it was hijacked by our current leadership. Not my misunderstanding of the sacred nature by which we are called to worship God.

        Appreciate you Brothers…agreement or not..

      3. Noble intentions and prayers as well as pious thoughts. I wanted to make two points here.

        First, God must be worshipped in spirit and TRUTH (John 4:24). Do you really think that is happening at HBC with MacDonald and his pawns lying, deceiving, manipulating their audiences every Sunday and between for their material and power gain? Nope, God is already robbed of his Glory at HBC and repeatedly. In fact, God is mocked there all the time and all who come to HBC for these sad exercises are participating in this mockery some consciously and most unconsciously but participating they do no matter the facade of holiness, piousness, and nobleness. It is all thin veneer able to deceive from afar but not from up close.

        Second, It was a high time and years ago to realize and understand that MacDonald and his sycophant drones will not repent. Will not admit their egregious, greedy wickedness. Will not apologize. Will not amend. Will not ask for forgiveness scores of people they hurt and thousands they robbed. Therefore they will not seek the face of the true God. Instead, these impostors and hired slaves of a wicked man have been and will go on from bad to worse deceiving and while being deceived. Lying and while being lied to. Manipulating while being manipulated. Devouring while being devoured. Until the day when there will be nothing and none left.

        1. ” It was a high time and years ago to realize and understand that MacDonald and his sycophant drones will not repent. Will not admit their egregious, greedy wickedness. Will not apologize. Will not amend. Will not ask for forgiveness scores of people they hurt and thousands they robbed. ”

          Agreed. So release them to God.

    5. Do you want to be effective or do you want to just make a point? Disrupting a worship service has the same negative and distracting effect as kneeling during the anthem and actually hurts the cause. You want change? Continue to inform people you talk to and ask them questions that they need to answer. As the Bible says, “Questions prick the conscience.”

      1. Disrupting worship = Not Good / Not suggested

        We will all be standing for worship.!

        Disrupting a false prophet unfit to lead that practices deception and drives a self serving narative from the pulpit = Honoring God

        1. Then I would suggest confronting Macdonald personally after the service. I agree he is unfit to lead from what I have read here, heard him “preach” regarding “catapulting members” who disagree with him and via my interactions and dealings with an elder who is friends with him. But please dont do it during the service.
          You feel you may be “free” to do so during a service to disrupt him BUT in this case what about those who are weaker in the faith you may be hurting?? I agree he would need to be confronted BUT in a way that wouldnt cause others to stumble. Please do it after.

        2. Your right about disrupting the service. It will backfire. Keeping informing the sheep!

        3. Concreteforeman,

          I appreciate what you are trying to do, and you seem to be a man of action. As in, there is no sense in complaining if you are not going to do something about it.

          I left Harvest sometime ago and will not be returning. I have found some common ground with people on this site, and it has helped me to deal with bitterness and quite honestly betrayal. I get angry that I spent 10+ years serving the Lord at Harvest (not all to waste) only to find leadership had manipulated me in some ways… There is a sense of betrayal when you sacrifice (above your tithe) for 5G and find that their is little accountability for how those funds were spent.

          But, I need to move on. Now I am more cautious about where I go to worship. I am tentative to get involved because I don’t want to be manipulated again. And that is a shame.

          I guess I am asking what your end game is here? Do you hope for a better Harvest tomorrow? Do you think the ousting of James will bring Harvest to a better place? Or would Harvest completely crumble if James were no longer there? And if it did crumble, what would happen to the many good people there that have been manipulated like me? Who will care for them?

          I am not telling you what to do… I am just asking what the ultimate goal is and where this ends.

          For me, I am content moving on and warning people if they ask my opinion or pointing them to this site.

          I can do everything that I can to convince people that they are not in a good or healthy place, but if they don’t believe the same, it will fall on dead ears.

          I do feel bad for people that just have no idea what is going on behind the scenes. I worry about new believers that may not be strong in their faith and that this kind of revelation about their pastor could rock their faith.

          It is all very sad. I will continue to pray for all of you that remain at Harvest that God would somehow be glorified in how all of this ends.

          But I need to move on, I have physically, but I need to move on from the feelings of bitterness and betrayal.

          Best wishes to all of you. This is my last response on this blog.

      2. I agree about not protesting during the service at Harvest. However, I do appreciate the courage that would take to physically stand against the leadership that is choosing to ignore their congregants’ repeated calls for action. I just don’t think it’s the right place to do so.

        I also wanted to take this opportunity to say something about Luke and Landon MacDonald. A recent post stated something to the effect that they lacked pastoral abilities. I started attending Harvest in 1996, so I’ve watched from a distance those two grow up in the church as they served the church, tirelessly – and I mean tirelessly – working with the student ministry. I’ve also watched them grow in their preaching abilities during weekend services at Rolling Meadows. They work hard. I can’t speak to their interpersonal skills outside of what I’ve witnessed during my daughter’s years in the jr. high and high school ministry, but I do feel the need to defend them and their pastoral abilities, care for the students, and, for Landon, his abilities working social media.

        Additionally, I was BLESSED by the worship at Harvest for years. Many, many unbelievably talented people in the worship ministry who write songs that focus our hearts and make them bow (to God, not them) when we sing along or listen to them worship.

        I no longer attend Harvest as of this summer. I had to walk away. I miss the old Harvest and how it used to be.

        1. While they may be able to engage people from a stage, run a successful social media campaign, make people laugh, or make people feel loved (“feel” is intentional, because I believe it’s all a manipulation tactic) that is NO EXCUSE for how they actually treat people behind closed doors. As a former volunteer, I’ve personally heard them talk trash about former employees or volunteers behind their backs. They use crude humor and talking bad about other people for their own personal gain. This isn’t just a Luke & Landon problem… it’s a problem with a lot of the leadership who are close to James. It’s the “boys club”. And to be “in the club”, you have to play along – otherwise you’re not in the club anymore.

          As far as I’m concerned, It doesn’t matter how talented or gifted you are – you never treat people as “less-than”. You don’t make fun of former employees. You don’t make fun of volunteers for your own personal gain. That shows an extreme lack of integrity and character. What is sad is that a lot of people around them just go along with it and “laugh it off”, just to be in their favor. It’s the classic bully in a school playground scenario. I’m glad this site is taking a stand against those bullies.

  5. Four years later James (I can’t put the title “pastor” in front of his name anymore, does not fit his role) has not changed at all, grabbing what’s not rightfully his and laughing at the people he is taking it from.

  6. Wow. I’m not sure how I didn’t know this website existed. Glad people are finally speaking up about this. I’ve seen all of this coming for years.

    Harvest is primarily led by a few fame-hungry posers who want so badly to fit in with the “cool-kids” of evangelicalism. Just watch how they are like MAGNETS to anything or anyone who is famous or has any sort of influence. At all costs, they will fly-in whoever they need to so that they are recognized as being affiliated with them. But in reality, they almost have to because HBC is a revolving door for anyone with REAL talent. Do we even go through a list of the number of staff, pastors and worship leaders who aren’t even around anymore?? Isn’t that a red flag to anyone else? Good people stick around healthy places. Harvest is not healthy, and can’t keep good talent / good people around very long. Sadly, anyone who has been there long-term is only there because they have 1 trait in common – being “yes men” and defending HBC at all costs. What that leaves HBC with is a bunch of mediocre pastors and worship leaders who are self-consumed, not talented, and not honorable. Look at almost any other ministry their size and you’ll see that the same people stick around for years…And they definitely don’t have websites like this about them. The very fact that this website exists says a lot about HBC compared to other churches.

    James has disqualified himself over and over again, but truthfully, the MacDonald boys (Luke & Landon) wouldn’t have jobs if it weren’t for him. They aren’t pastoral, and treat everyone else like garbage. The stories I’ve heard from volunteers would make anyone cringe. HBC would be even more of a disaster if they were in charge. (Which maybe they already are?)

    It’s all about image with HBC. If it will help make them look more important or famous, then they attach themselves to it. If you look at their track record – it’s pretty clear: The Elephants Room, Mark Driscoll, Steven Furtick, Heather Headley, Levi Lusko, Julianna Zobrist (cubs wife), Paul Baloche (worship guy), Kirk Cameron, Ben Carson, Mr. T, Anyone remember that youtube sensation from the phillipines?,
    on and on…. why any of these people would even associate themselves with HBC is embarrassing for them. I think deep down people know that something is fishy about HBC, but they choose to overlook it for personal gain. But we know that God is not mocked and they will reap every bit that they have sowed.

    I moved to Arizona this summer and I’m happy to say that I no longer attend HBC and will be telling as many people in Chicago as I can about this website and the truth about HBC so they are not deceived by the manipulation tactics of the entire MacDonald family.

    Elders – do something about this!!!!!!!!!

    1. JT – It’s actually really funny you say this because one of my old roommates is on the Passion tour – which made a tour stop at Harvest in Rolling Meadows yesterday. Apparently the band and crew were freaked out a bit by how the Vertical Worship (Vertical Church Band) people were “hovering” around them all day. They said it was super weird.

  7. So the Elders job at hbc is to protect the church and James, so states the by laws.
    And at act like men James says your pastor should be defended like you would your wife.
    Why then is he attacking the GCC pastors?
    Are they not due the same as he? Why is there no one to hold him to the same standard he expects of those around him?
    Hypocrites are leading hbc.

    1. What Pastor James isn’t understanding is that while we should come to the defense of any brother or sister when he or she is wrongly or unjustly treated or accused, the difference here is that HE is being rightly accused. Scripture doesn’t call us to cover up or blindly defend.

      And no, Men, your pastor and your wife aren’t on the same level. Sheesh

    2. “…at act like men James says your pastor should be defended like you would your wife.”

      Did MacDonald really say that? This is probably more of a rhetorical question because this type of nefarious shenanigan of manipulation is totally like him and of him. If anyone of these men did not register anything off at HBC before this lie of MacDonald should be a red flag the size of the football field waving them off to the exit from this cult of personality parading as Church of Jesus Christ.

      1. Yes – this actually happened. I attended an Act Like Men night a few months ago where James made one of the men stand up and said “If I started insulting your wife, how long would it take for you to take me down?”. He was using it as an example of people insulting and questioning his church (HBC), and how he’s not okay with.

    3. I also found it odd that they were attacking GCC pastors. These GCC pastors were some of the closest people to James from what I can tell…

      From the most recent elder update, we see the following:

      “More recently, GCC communicated in writing to all HBF Pastors that they have no ongoing relationship with us at any level. “There has not been, and will not be, any exchange of money between GC Collective and Harvest Bible Chapel/Harvest Bible Fellowship. … Furthermore, it should be clear that there are no organizational ties between GC Collective and James MacDonald or HBC Chicago.””

      What this says to me is that although GCC was probably entitled to money (because these former HBF churches actually paid their 5%), they would rather forget any money due them (1.8m or 2.5m) and break all association with James MacDonald or HBC Chicago.

      That is very telling that GCC doesn’t want any connection.

      Furthermore, if Wisen (who I assume is with GCC) was / is associated / related with Van Kampen Funds, and doesn’t want to have anything to do with HBC Chicago after all that family has given to James (Camp, $, Etc), that is a huge loss for HBC Chicago financially. After all the $ mistakes Harvest has made, it has always seemed like this was the donor / family that came to bail them out.

      And HBC Chicago may disagree with GCC interpretation, but shouldn’t HBC Chicago want to go totally above board and account for every penny ever given to them and show that they have been faithful stewards of money given to them? Instead they want to play accounting games and rationalize why they are “entitled” to do whatever they want.

      You know what else irritates me. A recent tweet from a sermon from James saying get rid of the crutches in your house… caffeine, drugs, alcohol, etc…

      Then I hear the reason he needs the bigger house, pool, privacy, it so he can deal with the incredible pressures of being a pastor. Well, those are YOUR crutches James. You may not have a caffeine addiction, or alcohol, or drugs, but you do have an addiction to power, privacy and probably more.

  8. A Fool for Christ who won’t be fooled by wolves in sheep’s clothing November 15, 2017 — 4:35 pm

    It’s time for men of God to band together and build a large catapult, stick it in the parking lot, and launch James MacDonald, Rick Donald, campus pastors, and others on the XLT a very long way. Hmm… XLT… doesn’t that stand for “extraordinary lying thugs”?!?

    No believer in Christ wants to avenge these “so-called” leaders wrongdoing. Yet I also happen to believe that no true follower of Christ wants to see clowns like these hijack a church for even a second, let alone for nearly three decades now.

    May God continue to use people of courage to speak out and bring the darkness into light.

  9. Ashamed to say I once was an avid supporter of James MacDonald November 14, 2017 — 6:00 pm

    How many fiascos can one man at one church be responsible for before people say enough is enough?!? Has James MacDonald not dragged Christ’s name through the mud enough times?!? Have Rick Donald and the others in the good ‘ol boys club not made it clear enough their unwavering allegiance to James over Jesus?!? Have the spineless campus pastors not shown they care more about protecting their senior pastor than “the least of these” and the folks in their flock?!? Have small group leaders not proven they’re more interested in listening to people who don’t know and love them than the people who do?

    Here’s another question. I’m not sure what made me think of this… but does anyone else out there recall just how stubborn and senseless James was over keeping the stone fountain monument up at Rolling Meadows roughly a decade ago? How ridiculous was that?! I came across an email I sent to James after the thing was finally taken apart and taken down. I’m certain my letter was one of many, many pleas that fell on deaf ears for a very long time. Here was my letter:

    Dear James,

    I was very pleased to hear the fountain monument was taken down at the Rolling Meadows campus this past weekend. I know this was a source of frustration for many in the church for some time and I would like to say thank you for finally taking the steps to remove this stumbling block. It was ugly, it resembled a Mayan temple, and the stubbornness that allowed it to stand for such a long time was a travesty. Simply put, if I walked into your home, I wouldn’t expect to find paintings or artwork that resembled occultic symbols or pagan objects of worship, so why in the world would our church, or Jesus Christ’s home proudly display such things? I pray that the leadership at Harvest will demonstrate increasing humility in the future and the courage to do the right thing as was done in this case.
    Just another painful reminder how utterly irrational and absurd James MacDonald is. Friends, please continue to do whatever it takes to keep the heat on… on James MacDonald, his family, his confidant and partner in crime, Rick Donald, the other goons on the XLT, the spineless campus pastors, and the like. If Harvest wants to play by the rules and abide by the law, then maybe it’s time for law enforcement or the feds to poke around just to be sure they’re doing their part. And if Harvest is intent on spin, perhaps the media could do a story on how much the MacDonald family has been “blessed” with such material wealth. That would be interesting. Or maybe it’s time for James MacDonald to be confronted by a group of godly and vocal men in a very public way and display. Just thinking.

    1. “Or maybe it’s time for James MacDonald to be confronted by a group of godly and vocal men in a very public way and display. Just thinking.”

      Yes, but too many have been tricked into thinking that this would not be a Christian approach. What we need is a combo of Jesus publicly turning over the tables and Nathan confronting David. #youaretheman

      1. Not all are silent at Harvest.

        Not all care about the stated norms regarding how Christians should communicate concern in the current season.

        Im aware of at least 1 that took an alternate path recently..

        James and Leadership were called out via mass email to every staff member with an available email address..

        The person that called him out was announced in Niles to be factious and sewing discord for not including his name on the email calling for explaination and accounting that was sent out. His name was not announced.

        Interestingly, the member that sent the letter had already revealed himself to Pastor Acres by the time this anouncement was made and stated that Acres should feel free to share his name to anyone interested including and especially James himself.

        That member was called in to speak with Jeff Donaldson and 1 other Brother.

        No discipline was delivered.

        James was made unavailable for comment.

        The table didnt flip but its been bumped out of its place just enough to prove it moves..

        Harvest Staff, Pastors, XLT, EC, and all the Elders have all been served notice. That my friends is a fact.

        1. I was referring to current leaders (pastors, Elders, et al), not to members.

        2. I got you “Anon” . Just thought it was worth sharing that little story given the alternative approach and the attempt to walk the charges against James out directly among those who support him.

          I think….The only way The Elders will ever turn and stand for what’s right is if the court of public opinion turns first.

          Sad to say but it would appear that it’s the congregation that needs to lead the Elders in this case.

          It would seem…Only once the attendance drops and/or the the whole story is accurately conveyed in a public manner will the Elders finally spine up and resist.

          At the end of the day, all Churchs are Congregational. The Power rests in The Body. If as a group Harvest’s Membership decides to do as Jesus teaches and cut off “our hand” it will be done.

        3. “That member was called in to speak with Jeff Donaldson and 1 other Brother.

          No discipline was delivered.

          James was made unavailable for comment.”

          What was the response of Donaldson and the other brother to the situation and the comments made?

    2. “How many fiascos can one man at one church be responsible for before people say enough is enough?!?“

      This is a good question, and it makes me think of a parallel with why women would stay in a relationship with an abusive husband? There are a lot of reasons why women stay, while everyone around them is telling then to “get out, get out now!”

      I have so many good friends at Harvest that are in leadership, and I ask “why do they stay?”

      I know many of these people and they have a strong heart for the Lord, and for the people in their campus church.

      They care about their flock, their livelihood. They are trying to hold this “ship” together because they care and don’t want to see years of hard work thrown away.

      I respect guys like Acres, Bradshaw, etc…

      But at some point the only thing that will stop the abuse is the “spouse” leaving the relationship.

      It is very sad for those that care, for the families and kids, etc…

      I know this is a bit of a ramble, but it really is disappointing to see this pattern of abuse continue.

  10. Let me help you understand hbc leadership. James had the term Elder Board redifined at Harvest.
    It doesn’t mean All the Elders.
    It means the xlt, james and three non vocational elders from the executive committee.
    So the majority is xlt and they have final authority on all matters.
    Harvest is not Elder lead in anything but in symantics.
    The term Elder board really means xlt or staff board.
    Read the bylaws, it’s all there.
    The rest of the Elders are cheerleaders with no governance authority.
    So your hope that the Elders would wake up and fix this mess is a pipe dream.
    Only the Lord can step in and expose this darkness.
    James is accountable to no one, it’s his church and he does what he wants when he wants.
    The only thing you have is to stop attending and giving, sad but true, it’s run as a family business and they only respect numbers.
    The church has been hijacked, please come Lord and rescue it!

    1. Very well stated.

    2. I found the date and e-mail when this happened. October 15, 2013.

      Members of Harvest Bible Chapel,

      To serve our growing church family more effectively, since 2010 a larger Elder board has been providing increased congregational care and a broader acumen for decision making. Since the March 2013 retreat and in response to Dr. Gene Getz’s recommendation, we became convinced that a smaller team within the Elder board was the most effective way to support and hold our Senior Staff accountable. In our September meeting, the entire board approved the change to our structure in concept, and we now appeal to our congregation regarding the needed change to our constitution. We are asking the membership of Harvest to give feedback in writing to the proposed constitutional change during the month of October.

      We propose replacing the first sentence under Church Government Structure in the constitution.

      The sentence currently states: “All elders will have equal authority and responsibility.”

      In its place would be the sentence: “All Elders have equal responsibility; but the Elder Leadership team, composed of no fewer than five non-vocational Elders, chosen by the entire Elder board, has final authority in all matters relating to the church, including compensation, buying or selling property, and accountability of Senior Staff.”

      If you wish to provide feedback or comments to the elders regarding the proposed language change, click here.

      The Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel


      So yes, Harvest is not run by 30-50 elders, but rather the smaller elder group, the XLT.

      1. This email redefining elder structure is roughly a month after the following e-mail was sent to small group leaders that were dealing with a LOT of small group members questioning why they disciplined the 3 elders and called them satanic to the core.
        Dear Small Group Leaders and Disciple Makers:

        We want to thank you for your support of the difficult action of church discipline undertaken by our Elders this past weekend.

        Please review our website under Church Government to better understand our long-standing policy on the importance of church discipline under biblical Eldership. Such steps are taken only as a last resort course of action to maintain the order God commands in His church. This is especially true where leaders are causing division. See 1 Timothy 5:20, Titus 3:9-11.

        Please prayerfully understand that the Elders have acted in agreement and after many months of patience and long-suffering with these men. No act of church discipline should be undertaken where the goal is not repentance and restoration (Galatians 6:1-2). Be assured that we are in prayer that these men would at the very least repent of their refusal to come under the Elder board’s consensus. Even if they remain convinced of their viewpoint they were sinful to reject the Elder’s decisions and should have accepted that without seeking to rally people to a viewpoint we see as in error and very destructive.

        Please take some time to review the relevant biblical texts. Keep in mind our common commitment from the Leader Training Night in August regarding criticism that flows from outside our church. We are asking you to focus your ministry on small group discipleship and exclude from all conversations content that is relative to the Elder governance of our church. We view questions about church governance as necessary and welcomed but ask you to direct them to the monthly Members’ Meetings or to the offer of a 7 day response directly from an Elder when a letter is written and mailed to the church office in care of Robert Jones, Elder Board Chairman of Harvest Bible Chapel. It is not your responsibility to bring your people to a place of acceptance regarding necessary actions you have no knowledge of or part in.

        Warmly in Christ our Savior,

        Pastor Rick
        It took until September 2014 (A full year) for Harvest to repent of unbiblical discipline of former elders. While they publicly repented, they did not reverse the change on church elder structure.


        1. Lastly, I could go on all night with this stuff, let’s discuss the following statement about asking questions during membership meetings:
          “We view questions about church governance as necessary and welcomed but ask you to direct them to the monthly Members’ Meetings”
          This was perhaps one of the most nauseating meetings of my life… James Macdonald would come with elders to each of the campuses to answer any questions that anyone had.

          You would think that you could just walk up to a microphone and ask a question, but this was not the case. They asked you to write your questions on an index card, and Trei Tatum would review your question before you could ask it. I never asked a question, but witnessed several people turning in their card and then being told they could not ask that question. It was the strangest evening.

          Combine that with 9pm “Act Like Men” meetings where men were not permitted to have their cell phone out because they might record something that James didn’t want to be shared.

          Crazy, crazy cult-like actions. No transparency. Controlling the message. Instilling fear in anyone that asks questions that they might be excommunicated or labeled as “satanic to the core.”

          This was in 2013… Now, in 2017, we see the same thing repeated in the last elser update… It was HBF pastors/elders that were the problem (just like phelps, slabaugh (sp?) and marquardt) that brought “intolerable opression” to James.

      2. Well they changed the structure again from a smaller group of elder appointed executive Elders to an even smaller group of three elders and adding the XLT and the senior pastor.
        The old fox guarding the hen house analogy.

        1. Can some please show me the date when the members of the church voted to change the church governance to the existing elder arrangement? Without this vote by the membership, the constitution was not changed and the current operating scheme is not valid. Would this not be a violation of law for a non-profit? Maybe I have this all wrong and the church constitution can be freely changed but I don’t think so.

        2. To Confused:

          The congregation never really voted.

          Here is James Macdonald’s view on congregationalism:

          Click to access congregational-government-is-from-satan.pdf

          He later apologized for this, but also said elder rule is from Satan too:


          Bottom line is that no form of church government that disagrees with him is acceptable to him.

          He should take his own advice from his second blog and get humble real fast…

        3. FACTCHECKER2K17 is on it! So thankful for all the posts that work towards unpacking this from 2k17 and the rest!

          As much as the current season pains me… Man! am I learning alot. Talk about real life application of our faith.

          Realizing that the Church you attend “our middle name is Bible” isn’t submitting to Biblical governance standards. #Foundational # Authoritybandit # Giveusthekeysback

          Diving deep into scripture for reproof as so often suggested by our Pastor. Finding legitimate areas where our current model doesn’t square with God’s Word. Seeking answers from Elders and Leadership. Getting Sugar Coated stock responses. Diving deep into bylaws to try to understand if there is anything else that can be done. Learning the Elders are sworn to support the SENIOR PASTOR IN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE.!?

          Attached a link to an interesting article making a case for Scripture based evidence of Congregational Authority below.

          I don’t know who makes a better case for it. The Author or Harvest’s track record under JMAC.

          ” It’s not the authority to lead, per se, it’s the authority to VETO bad leadership.”


          I ask you James MacDonald… LOOK UP HERE!…

          Turn to Psalm 11:3 ..Let me here those Bible pages turning. Are you there yet! Are ya?

          If the foundations are destroyed what can the righteous do?

          2 years on Foundations right?

          The Lord placed that Scripture on your heart did he? It weighed heavy enough to focus two years on it did it?

          Maybe He’s not done teaching YOU. Maybe this verse has a meaning in your life you are yet to come to grips with…specifically through these very words. Ever consider that? Cross your mind?

          He knows James! He knows. And so do many of us. It’s time to let go Brother!

          Praise The Lord..My God protects me even when I don’t know what it is I need protection from!

    3. At the Elgin congregational meeting a month ago, they said HBC is “staff led, elder governed”…clearly it’s not.

      1. Upon establishing and registering a non-profit with the Secretary of State articles of governance would have been submitted in the application. I am assuming that the original articles included congregational membership voting. If this orginazation changed the governance it would have to be approved by the members. Should someone hijack the organization it would be fraud, especially if the intended goal was to drain financial resources. Given there were several members involved, it would be conspiracy to commit fraud. I get that James may have opinions but he must operate within the confines of the law. What am I missing here?

        1. Only thing I’d say is missing is “proof” that it was originally filed as congregational.

        2. To my knowledge, HBC never had congregational voting. But someone can correct me. TED has the 2008 Constitution here: https://theelephantsdebt.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/hbc-constitution.pdf

          According to the opening lines, the first Constitution was ratified in April, 1991.

      2. What they said at that meeting could be construed as technically true, since day-to-day operations are under the purview of the Executive Leadership Team. That group is now Scott Milholland, Jeff Donaldson, Trei Tatum, Luke MacDonald, Janine Nelson, Landon MacDonald, Mohan Zachariah, Jeff Sharda, and Dave Learned. The governance is by the Elder Executive Committee, which is (I believe, right now) Pastor James, Pastor Rick, Steve Huston, Randy Williams, and Jeff Smith. The rest of the Elders do NOT have authority to govern under the current by-laws–which most people don’t understand, because they haven’t read the by-laws.

        This structure is problematic for many reasons, but the bottom line is that in PRACTICE, HBC is effectively governed by one man: James MacDonald. If you don’t like that, and you’re an Elder or on staff, you’re fired, dismissed, or “called” elsewhere. There is NO voice or protection for the members whatsoever in this system. As numerous people have testified on this website and to us personally, the lies continue, Pastor James has been allowed to be in control and out of control, and none of the 30 or so current Elders are acting like men.

        Still, as Factchecker has pointed out, the changes to church governance have not been sudden. They’ve been incremental and somewhat off the radar of the average congregant. When the Elders “asked” for feedback on the governance changes, we had serious questions–not only about that change but about other parts of the revised by-laws. Unfortunately, at the time, we were overburdened in our professional lives and didn’t have the brain space to write and send inquiries & feedback that we knew would be ignored. We should have left then. So, shame on us, I suppose.

        People who attended any or all of Congregational Meetings over the past month and are even a little bit “up to speed” KNOW that the leadership has lied and conveyed half-truths. We would love to #takebackthekeys as has been suggested. But there’s no way for members to rally and “storm the castle,” as it were. Many of the recently-departed leaders want to (understandably) protect their identities or their after-Harvest jobs, OR were themselves complicit/complacent and are therefore not in the position to speak up.

        As for current leaders–they KNOW and/or CHOOSE to “not know”. Ultimately, this is what has pushed us out. We can’t go to church every week and either sit under the teaching of a man we consider to be a false teacher. We can’t see our campus pastors and Elders and KNOW that they KNOW and are CHOOSING TO DO NOTHING–AND ARE HAPPY WITH THEMSELVES AND THEIR DECISIONS, according to the October update. Our public school boards do more to protect taxpayers than 95% of HBC Elders past & present have done to protect the flock over the past 15+ years. 😦

        So, sadly but necessarily, we’re taking our time, treasure, and talents elsewhere.

        1. BOOM!

          Our Family is headed down the same path.

          The Cross Before Us…..James behind us….. No turning back. No turning back.

          The final piece I struggle with is this. The Lord has allowed James to do these things. The Lord has allowed this site to exist. The Lord has allowed like minds to come together in His Great Name. The Lord has made things plain to see for those of us that congregate here. The Lord has blessed those of us who “get it” with the gifts necessary to “get it”.

          Now what do I / we do?

          I understand the need to Pastor my household meaning it’s time to move my Family elsewhere. They are my 1st ministry. I’ve already apologized to each of them for allowing us to fall victim to a false prophet for the couple years that I’ve led them to Harvest.

          I still feel as though The Lord commands more. Not out of my own vengeance but for the protection of others. There are calls away from false prophets and false gods all throughout the NT. Call it sheep dog syndrome. Is anyone else struggling in this way?

          Christ is enough for me.

    4. Speaking of “hush money” and elders being powerless… When people resign from another local “Harvest” the leadership (staff) forces the person to sign a letter saying they won’t say anything negative about the church (usually meaning “don’t talk to anyone about how dusfunctional and abusive we are”) or they will not pay them their last two weeks. Then when leadership tells the church they subtly make the person who left look like they had a spiritual crisis, or were confused… This can be easily documented. There’s probably 12 – 15 people who have resigned or been squeezed out in the last few years. The pastor there has been well taught by James. He has been confronted by the elders and these things continue. As already pointed out by people on this thread, the Elders have little to no authority, they are paper tigers. Their only recourse is to resign and there is a long list elders who have done so.

  11. if one wants to understand the insatiable need for money and power just look at the audited 2016 financial statements – it is all there for public consumption:

    $ 46.4MM of debt as of 12/31/16 with annual interest of approx. $2.6MM dollars

    When they sold Aurora (according to note #9 in the audit document) HBC received $4MM in cash and $11.6MM in TV broadcast fee waivers. Who sells an asset so they can be on TV instead of paying down the debt? The easy answer is someone who wanted to be on TV hoping to increase his brand and financial reach. That $11.6MM is approximately 25% of their debt that could have been taken away saving them an ongoing $400-500K in annual interest.

    We spent 12 years at HBC and hit our final moment in 2013 with JM’s antics with Mark Driscoll when they “crashed” John MacArthur’s Strange Fire Conference. Our only hope is that God will chastise and judge the way His ministry has been mishandled and used for personal gain. Our other hope is for complete repentance and restoration for all those involved.

    1. Also, can any of the “elders” explain to the congregation what Kathy MacDonald does for WITW that can justify a 6 figure salary? Do they even know?

      1. Nepotism runs deep. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know how deep and how wide it really Is? Who remembers when James first stood before the congregation and claimed that he was developing “streams of income” because the church his father (grandfather?) ministered at did not support him financially in his later years? He did one of those “turn to your neighbor” and say we agree that James should not be put into that position. James told us that he and Kathy decided long ago that they would never benefit financially from Harvest!!! What he did not say was that the streams of income all originated from Harvest or were supported financially by Harvest. He has been collecting multiple salaries for years folks! Re-read what Dave Corning said! I was questioning this all 12 years ago!! Just look at the WITW tax info from back then.

        1. No Longer Attending November 14, 2017 — 12:02 pm

          Does James still claim that he is not profiting from Harvest? I also remember James saying that he and Kathy plan to give more money back to Harvest than they have ever made. At the time I thought it was a noble goal, but now that I know about his salary I am not sure how it is anything other than deliberate deceit.

      2. I would expect you would hear crickets. It’s all about keeping it all in the family. The congregation probably doesn’t know and if they do they do not care. The elders worship MacDonald and obviously delegate all power to him. So it goes. Any men of character that did speak up were fired or quit due to the futility of trying to promote positive change. Still cannot get over the shear hypocrisy of MacDonald during the Act Like Men conference crashing the Strange Fire conference to promote Driscoll’s books. Did they ever apologize.

        There are plenty of bible believing churches out there without all of the drama. My recommendation for your spiritual health is to seek a new house of worship.

        1. I am just wondering, does anyone at Harvest Bible Chapel have the authority to say to James McDonald, “you no longer have a pulpit here”. If so, who has that type of authority? If James McDonald ever left, either willingly or was told to leave, I can only imagine that attendance and giving would plummet. In that case I suspect it would be extremely difficult to pay down that massive debt. If the elders do in fact have the authority to dismiss James, I wonder if they would be hesitant to do so knowing the financial turmoil that would result. If Harvest Bible Chapel (Elgin) goes belly up, like Mark Driscoll’s church did, who would be responsible for all of the debt that has been incurred in the last 10 or more years?

          I left HBC about 5 years ago and found a Christ exalting, Word proclaiming church that has a very humble yet strong God-fearing pastor. It took me almost a year to realize how oppressive and personality driven HBC really was. I would never ever go back.

      3. Where does it say Kathy gets a six figure salary from WITW?

        1. No Longer Attending November 13, 2017 — 12:57 pm

          I would like to know this too, although it is not really surprising. Kathy’s name has not come up much here, and I have always wondered if she is a victim of her circumstances or a swindler.

          I wonder if Harvest would have to file bankruptcy. That would make the news…

  12. They announced a new elder update during service today. Insanely long. A lot of things in this update bothered me. Curious to hear everyone’s thoughts…

    1. Long, defensive, little humility, no ownership or responsibility for anything that has transpired. It’s unfortunate, but the Elders clearly think that HBC is all about them and their clouded vision. They have forgotten about the Congregants and have basically said, “Here’s what we did, we’re not disclosing details, we’re really happy with ourselves & how our systems are working, and if you don’t like it it’s because you don’t ‘get’ how we do things.”

      The Elders, led (bossed) by Pastor James, have worked hard to shield leaders and themselves from criticism. But who was/is protecting the members? Who cares about their voice? No one. Those who have stood up in the past have left or were fired/ excommunicated. HBC has become the MacDonald family business, aided and abetted by a band of Elders who are trapped in groupthink.

      After over a decade of faithful attendance and service, we’re drawing the line now and taking our family & our tithe elsewhere. We attended another church this morning and will be resigning our HBC membership. Sad, but we’re hoping others will see through the obfuscation and follow suit. We are open to returning if there is confession and changes to the church’s faulty governance.

      God will take care of this in His time, but He doesn’t ask that we all stick around to watch from up close.

      1. Was Involved at the Harvest Circus Years Ago November 12, 2017 — 3:46 pm

        May 10,000 others at Harvest begin to demonstrate a fraction of the discernment you are showing. But sadly, if people there have not stormed the pulpit yet or ran out the back door by now, it leads me to think Harvest has become just another mega church filled with false converts incapable of distinguishing truth from error, and good from evil.

        1. More people should also read this report, linked in Footnote 1 of the October Elder Update.

          Click to access Elder-Renewal-Executive-Summary-8.23.09.pdf

          There is MUCH to be concerned about there. And much that corroborates the testimony of former Elders, including Dave Corning on this website.

          Note, too, that it was a 20+ page report, but only a few pages have been excerpted and posted.

        2. Re: Footnote 1 of the October Elder Update
          Honest question. Should a wife of an employee be considered a “congregant” on a task force?
          Honest question 2. Does there seem to be ANY mechanism for bringing concerns if the non vocational elder must show support in both public AND private?
          I guess these are the kinds of documents someone should ask to see before they attend a church for 5 years.
          Praying for all of the leaders and hoping they can reach a point of real humility.

        3. Kristi–1) No, she should not. 2) Based on my reading of this and of the current by-laws, no.

          Of particular concern in the recommendations are recs 1, 2, 3b, 3d, 5, and 6.

          It’s also odd that this report is a footnote to a statement about “best practice approach for a large organization.” First, there are many approaches that for large organizations that are an ill-fit for a church. Second, nothing in the document that was posted indicates that there was a thorough and substantive review of best practices. Third, this isn’t the report. It’s the first page of a summary report and one Appendix.

          Plenty of people would have asked for these if they knew they existed AND would be provided. Unfortunately, church members can’t cite FOIA and there’s no way that this report would have been provided upon request.

          If anyone who was attending in 2009 recalls this being made available to Congregants, please correct me.

        4. Confirmation that Harvest is not interested in congregational input and sees equal influence among Elders as a threat.

          Add to this that the bylaws note “relational chemistry” with James as a pre req to being elected to the EC.

          Look up relational chemistry. What a joke.

          All protecting The Unsciptural Dictator James as he bounces from prostituting scripture for his gain to hiding behind corporate best practices and highly paid accounting services.

      2. May I ask what church? looking too.

  13. In my opinion, until attendance (i.e. giving) drops dramatically, the con will continue, abuse will abound, the Savior slandered, the fleece flocked, masses mislead, the body bamboozled, and judgment of James jelled. People, it may be hard, but consider encouraging everyone you know who are still at Harvest to follow this website, “The Elephant’s Debt”. And if people squawk, let it be known how troubling it is if they’re unwilling to take an honest look at what’s going on at Harvest.

    Consider too praying that campus pastors will realize and recognize just how much influence they have with folks at their own campus. Pray for men like Greg Bradshaw, Jeff Donaldson, Kurt Gebhards, Craig Steiner, Mohan Zachariah, and the like; pray these men would be more loyal to Jesus Christ than to James MacDonald and that they would take a stand for righteousness rather than ruthlessness. It will cost them their jobs, but may also jettison their own judgment. For they too will be held accountable as accomplices in duping, deceiving, and dishonestly dealing with disciples and devotees. Time will make all things plain.

    1. The problem with hoping that the campus pastors will step up is the assumption that they “care”. They are invested and in some cases just as two faced as the man they follow. Harvest follows the jedi mind trick shown in the movies “nothing to see here, move along”. Accountability will never exist as long as they emulate the one in charge and believe it does not need to happen.

      1. 🙂 Funny about your Star Wars reference…I’ve been thinking of the scene in A New Hope where Han and Luke are saving Princess Leia and Han blurts into the comms channel: “Everything’s normal…we had a slight weapons malfunction…we’re all fine here now…how are you?” That’s basically the Elder Update.

  14. Sadly, things aren’t much different at the affiliated church in our area. Only about 6 elders for 3,000 people and 3 of the 6 are on the payroll. Seems like weak governance in any organization and can easily lead to problems. You can’t question the senior pastor about anything, especially accountability and transparency, or you will likely regret it. Yet they seem to think it is ok to criticize any other evangelical church in the area that is not part of the Fellowship. Strong teaching at times but pride and pressure tactics behind the scenes hurt the Christian family / community and they don’t even see it – or perhaps don’t seem to care ??? Sad.

  15. I attended HBC with my family for 2 years – but it didn’t take long to see right through the leadership manipulation tactics and abuse of the pulpit. James has a constant desire for more fame and power. This desire is never quenched and he’ll do anything for more fame – at all costs.

    The last straw for us was hearing actual stories from current STAFF (I’m surprised they haven’t quit yet) about how manipulative the leadership is. The common theme is no surprise – James has anger, money, fame and power problems. It’s all about the MacDonald family. Does that honestly surprise anyone? Why people still attend there after the details on this website is beyond me. My family and I left because we couldn’t drink the HBC “kool-aid” any longer. I’ve heard stories of James blowing up at people and purposely humiliating them in front of their peers and other church members to make a point. Does a PASTOR do that? Really? Also – what happened to down-sizing and living simply? Instead, he starts building a mansion in secrecy? Current staff at HBC – why are you defending James? Why? Do you really think he has your best interest in mind? Really?

    Sadly, it all trickles down from the top. Many of the pastors and leadership – Luke MacDonald, Mo Z, Fred Adams, Andi Rozier, act the same way or do EVERYTHING they can to cover things up and make it seem like it’s OUR problem for asking questions. There is a mentality that it’s the “Harvest way” or no way. Such pride. I’m sure that if they were really honest with themselves, they would know deep down that what they are doing is wrong. I think they are all just too far into it to make a change at this point. HBC is in constant search for more fame and notoriety. Just take a quick scan through their social feeds – whether it’s Walk In the Word, HBC or Vertical Church Band. It’s pretty obvious that they are very full of themselves. I actually believe it’s more about the fame than it is money.

    Anyways – I’m glad this site is still going because I think it’s important that people begin to know and understand what is actually going on at Harvest. If you listen to the sermons, you’ll never know exactly what’s going on (even though it’s obviously clear that they are using the pulpit to manipulate and address issues). I hope there is a way to let more members know about this site.

    Do yourself a favor and find another church in the Chicago-land area. There are MANY of them – and they don’t have websites like this because there is no need. They are God-honoring, loving and HUMBLE churches. We attend Willow Creek and love it.

    1. Same thing happens at the Harvest we attended.

      In the last 5 years there has been no less than 10 key staff people who have come and gone. Some of those people moved here from out of state only to leave discouraged and frustrated.

      It’s always followed by the same general message “they weren’t a good fit, they were the problem, they are ‘called’ to something new.”

      Apparently the elders don’t even ask the staff why they are leaving. Just pretend whatever they are told is the truth.

      You would think the elders would feel a sense of responsibility. It makes you wonder if they even know what the Biblical roll and responsibility of an elder is.

    2. josh – i agree with you that something seems very off. i once heard andi and some other members of “vertical church band” speak at a conference and my entire team thought they come across as very full of themselves and self-serving. seems like it’s a church culture problem.

    3. Josh,

      His desire for fame is totally connected to money. I was at Harvest from the first day. Eventually served on staff. (SoulCare) for four years. So I know James personally. He is despicable and completely dishonorable! I witnessed his parading many on staff to the point of tears. I left with the same abuse!


      1. Mike,

        Thank you for speaking up. More people who know James and know him well need to expose this man. While I cannot say I was at Harvest since Day One, nor do I know James MacDonald personally as you do, there are far, far too many people of honorable character who, like you, can attest he is a despicable man who should be given no honor or place to serve (or should I say, “be served”) in the church.

        1. Just curious what work you did on Macs Inverness home. HVAC, electrical, plumbing, painting? Are you a contractor and did Harvest pay you for the work? Couldn’t you put a lien on MacDonalds house since he did not pay you?

        2. David,
          I painted his family values on there stairwell. Which starts with (Family First) a bit ironic. Payment was never discussed. I was just told to go over and do the work I think by Sherry Smith. She chose the font. It took all day. I knew this was not Kosher due to the fact people’s tithes were being used. My charges for this artistic work would have been one thousand dollars for Labor and materials.


        3. Mike,

          I can see how a Harvest employee would feel pressure to do work in their Senior Pastor’s house. This seems like a real ethics issue and the church should have had processes in place to prevent this type of behavior. It was MacDonald’s multi-million dollar home. MacDonald was pulling in over 500K a year or more (who knows?) so he certainly could afford to pay for the job.


        4. David,
          There was a trip to Italy that the hole family went on to the sum of 15k that the Church paid. An HBC employee / Elder told him in a loud discussion this was wrong and he should pay it back. James did and this individual later list his job.


        5. I am fairly certain that the employee and/or elder that confronted James MacDonald about the use of church funds to take his family to Italy was Gordon Zwirkoski, and he is running a church consulting business called 5 Stone Churches.


        6. Josh,

          Check out the “void” I’m there, and have spoken out. I worked in three of his homes for no charge, and was totally humiliated in front of his wife on the last house when payment was due. Then later while on staff I was called to his house during my work day to work on his Inverness home. I was not compensated because I was on the Harvest clock.

  16. So in the new Elder report, the guys at the GCC, who had to pick up the pieces when James had his temper tantrum and quit the whole organization
    and because of that he was reprimanded and Fred Adams fired, are now the bad guys.
    Yes they are the wrong ones who tried to get a confidentiality agreement tied to paying back misspent money, which they agreed to pay back in the first place.
    This the most upside down comedy of errors I’ve ever seen.
    You tell a group of senior pastors to go get screwed, then you quit hbf, pull the funding, fire the innocent employees, get called out for not paying your share, then get caught playing games with the money, and then to top it off in the name of being above reproach blame the guys who are picking up the pieces and trying to keep the peace and require that they say nothing about what you tried to pull over their eyes.
    This is pure evil and we see right through your spin attempts.

    1. Was a Member at Two Harvest Campuses. No More. November 11, 2017 — 9:11 am

      Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

    2. Wow! Nice summary.

    3. This is the most simple and accurate summary of the last 5+ months…

    1. A similar thought crossed my mind.

  17. The October Harvest Elder statement is out. Anyone hoping for a change in the elders or leadership will be disappointed.

  18. There seems to be a cycle which continues to play at HBC. Leaders are called out (with evidence). Handful of people speak out. Former members testify. Church members agree but justify their silence because their “growing” in the Lord. Leaders wait for the exodus, then the calm. Leaders continue their lavish lifestyle. Repeat in 3 years.

    What will it take for church members to realize YOU are the ones enabling this lifestyle that James MacDonald lives out? If the cycle continues, is James MacDonald at fault at that point?


    Rules for Radicals

    Saul Alinsky Rule #13

    Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

    I am the new target
    My emails have been blocked
    I have been labeled personally responsible for sewing division.
    Staff has been warned not to associate with me.
    Announced at the Open Meeting in Niles.

    Sunday Morning should be interesting.

    God Bless

    1. 12 years at Harvest was 12 years too long November 8, 2017 — 5:09 pm

      Ah…. The controlling of the minds of the masses continues. Sounding more and more cult-like every day. I wonder what the boys on the executive leadership team have schemed… I mean planned next? Perhaps serving up a little Kool-Aid with communion might be coming to a Harvest near you?!? Oops. How silly of me?! Harvest has run out of Kool-Aid. Do any of the campus pastors have an in with Pepsi or Gatorade?

    2. Still Recovering November 8, 2017 — 7:50 pm

      Unfortunately not surprised at all..it’s happened to many!

    3. Maybe it’s time someone introduced courtesy of a lawyer the legal term slander and defamation of character to these men and corporate/spiritual entity; they continually speak and act without fear of accountability or hint of shame.

  20. I’ve written emails and let Bott Radio Network and other Christian Radio know of these developments as well as linked to this page. I encourage everyone else here to do the same, why should MacDonald have a national platform when he is clearly in violation of God’s Word and likely even the law?

    1. Ditto! Yet I don’t think Moody Radio and network cares. They still play MacDonald even though they have been informed and link to this site and all its intelligence provided…

      1. A Small Harvest Church Member November 8, 2017 — 11:20 am

        I don’t think Moody Radio is particular discerning. They forced a radio interviewer to apologize to Mark Driscoll when she first brought up his plagiarism throughout several of his books. Moody seems concerned more with ad revenue than discernment. These goings on with Harvest (James) and the behavior of Moody during that particular episode continue to reinforce the “Hollywood” stereotype of Christian leaders and ministries simply being conduits to fleece simple minded adherents of money. I hate when these episodes fill the ammunition stores of those who want to portray Christians and Christianity in the worst light possible.

      2. Pastors on Moody slend a lot of money to be on the radio. It costs money to build their brand, or as they say “get the Word out”.

  21. Where do we go from here? I’m sure HBC leadership reads the Elephants Debt. What action are we (current and past Harvest members) asking them to take – and quickly? As has been pointed out in a number of posts through the years, there are thousands of Harvest attenders who love God and His Word, serve the church body, and contribute to God’s kingdom throughout the world via HBF in monetary and serving ways. I would absolutely hate to see Harvest (the good, godly work of Harvest) destroyed because – as it appears – the leadership is protecting and allowing ungodly behavior. Harvest: speak up. What do we want from the leadership?

    1. We need to pray for more elders to see what’s happening and pray for James to be humbled by God, and continue to speak truth when we can (in love, not anger), and if they refuse to change, we need to humbly walk away. How long we wait has to be an individual decision. There are a few elders who get it and are battling whether they stay and speak truth, or just leave and not take on the burden. I got saved through Harvest nearly 2 decades ago, and I’ve been actively involved in various areas of the church for a long time. I was at odds with the direction James took us back in 2012-2013, and despite believing everything I’ve read on this site and saw myself, I stayed, hoping for repentance and change. I thought that may have happened, but I was wrong. I don’t know how much longer I can wait, and although we have started visiting other churches, we are still waiting and watching. I’m grieved beyond belief and so is my family. There are a lot of good churches out there, but I really love the community at Harvest – those who have left understand that this is really the reason we stay so long. Unfortunately I think Harvest is closer to a full collapse than repentance, but all things are possible with God. As unlikely as it is from a human perspective, I’m praying for true repentance from all of the church leaders, and true transparency. If the do, we will witness an amazing work of the Holy Spirit that will have unimaginable effects throughout the Church. If not, we bring our families somewhere else to worship and serve.

      1. I hear what you’re saying about “speak the truth in love,” but I don’t think that means that we can’t be or express anger in doing so. Jesus responded perfectly (in truth, with love) to the moneychangers in the temple, and he was pretty angry. I think if more people would take a truthful, direct approach (which can be loving) to confronting the Elders and leaders, we might see some action.

        1. Every Elder, Leader, Pastor, and Staff Member with a public email address has received formal notice of specific charges regarding potential deceptive practices. Line by line acounting for tax years 2015 thru 2017 on all expeditures and transfers over $1000 to include all entities under the HBC Parent Company has been requested. 38 emails were sent in all. This approach was taken after face to face discussions with SG Leaders, Pastors, Elders, and with The XLT were deemed not fully transparent. Additionally, recent ALM messages were seen as laced with skullduggery prompting a wide reaching approach to inform as many of those who work for HBC as quickly as possible.

    2. I think they should put into practice what they proclaim to believe.

      Transparent confession where there is sin.

      Restoration where they have done damage.

      Systemic changes that confirm they are baring the fruits of repentance.

      We aren’t talking about character flaws in good men. We are talking about systematic and consistent behavior that seeks to control, through manipulation and intimidation.

      I believe if some of these pastors came clean the consequence would be the loss of people’s trust and possibly the loss of their ministries.

      1. Agreed, but if these men are true pastors, being led by the Holy Spirit, they will come clean and stand up for righteousness and for the glory of the name of Jesus, regardless of the consequences, instead of tarnishing the name of Christ by enabling ungodly behavior. I’m so overwhelmed with grief even writing this. We’ll find out which side the pastors and other leaders are on soon I think. It’s very likely more are about to resign or get fired.

        1. Agree, 100%. On top of this, it’s unreal and unthinkable how the members at Harvest can’t see they are enabling ungodly behavior by supporting the leadership of Harvest through their attendance, tithes, and so much more. I’m disgusted how people who name the name of Christ can continue to defend a chronic user and abuser of people. Enough is enough. Find fellowship elsewhere. You might be shocked to discover there are heathy, vibrant, bible-believing churches all over Chicagoland.

  22. The partner of a thief hates his own life; he hears the curse, but discloses nothing.
    Proverbs 29:24 ESV

  23. This kind of stuff goes on at some other Harvests or churches by other names that are affiliated. Sadly it’s in the DNA. If T.E.D. did some basic interviews of former staff at other churches they would hear similar stories of lying, manipulation, intimidation, and zero accountability. The connection to James would be proportionate to the behaviors of these pastors.

    Control the message, build the image, and manipulate your way to success. Do it while you use spiritual language.

    2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

    Praying the Lord allows everything to be uncovered so the Gospel can be represented well. Praying the people in these churches will discern the constant staff transitions followed by similar messaging and attempts to move on as fast as possible.

    1. What It Looks Like November 5, 2017 — 12:16 pm

      Wonder if anyone else will add their name to “The Void”?

  24. Was a Member since 1999 November 4, 2017 — 10:45 am

    I don’t know what all the fuss is all about. James MacDonald is absolutely positively qualified… perhaps as a racketeer or a thug skilled in leading a mob or a syndicate.

    Seriously, folks? What could James possibly have to hide from his congregation at Harvest?

    So the church is a few million bucks in debt… more than it was last year… and the year before… and the year before that… and the year before that… and . . .

    So some of the church’s members’ tithes were given to the newest church Mark Driscoll happens to pastor. How could that possibly trouble anyone? Just because their friends shouldn’t be cause for concern now should it?

    Okay. So a few elders and leaders may have left Harvest over the last several years with little or no explanation why they left. What’s the big deal? Okay. So what if it was a few dozen. We’re not talking a few hundred, are we?!?

    Why should anyone fuss over a grown man who gets into an argument here and a little spat there? Friends come and go, right?

    Why should it ruffle anyone’s feathers when their senior pastor has said he wished that his elders’ favorite verse is Titus 3:10 (Reject a factious man after the second admonition)?!? That shouldn’t strike anyone as odd, should it?

    So the pastor likes to gamble and play poker for large sums of money. What’s the big deal?

    Is there anything wrong with Mr. MacDonald affirming T.D. Jakes as a brother in Christ despite his heretical take on the tri-unity of God and prosperity teaching among other things?

    Why should anyone raise an eyebrow if James decides to buy a mansion, sell a mansion, and buy another mansion? Whose business is it anyways?

    Aren’t unpaid volunteers being just a wee bit overly sensitive when their senior pastor berates them and makes them feel unappreciated? Whose church is it anyways?

    And what’s the problem with a senior pastor who couldn’t care less over losing a few sheep in his flock?

    But I do suppose people should lose sheep… I mean sleep… when their beloved pastor’s image has been tarnished due to things beyond his control, a lifestyle he doesn’t live, or because people who listen to him on the radio a thousand miles away think so highly of him.

    Now that’s worth losing sleep over.

    1. You say…”so a few elders and leaders have left Harvest over the past few years with little or no explanation”. What AMAZES ME is the testimony of Dave Corning elder board chairman for 20 YEARS (quoted below) and people still support James and Harvest. THIS TESTIMONY SHOULD HAVE ROCKED HARVEST TO ITS FOUNDATION. Read these words again….
      “….In the beginning of Harvest there was solid accountability for James and all the elders. The church seemed headed in the right direction. There were many good years. But over the years, James’ perspectives changed and he began to treat the church as if it belonged to him. This only escalated when the church was given the 600 acres of land in Michigan by the Van Kampens and the Elgin property by the Greens. He assumed Harvest was his and his to control. Harvest became more and more about him and his insatiable drive to expand his influence. The result has been abuse of power, lack of accountability and major financial gain to him.

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

      1. MacDonald is nothing else but glorified scam artist. Most will not see it because he is very skilled with puting up a spiritual veil over their eyes.

      2. I agree with your point about Dave Corning, that is a very disturbing testimony of what happened to him and how he was treated.
        If someone put together a timeline of all these people of their issues and when they left, it would be overwhelming. Why do these same issues and problems keep coming up for years? If all of these leaders were who they claimed to be, there would not be such massive damage left behind.
        Those leaders who remain all cover each other. You can never go to another leader and express any concern about anything,
        It all boils.down to the money they are all making, period. There are many great Godly people who serve and attend here.
        I pray they see what is going on like many others who have left.

    2. Very funny! Very sad!! Very true!!!

  25. Hush money is not always in the form of extra money. At HBC when you leave employment you sign a form that says if you speak ill of HBC you may forfeit what you received (i.e. severance, etc) when you left employment there. The TED authors have seen the document to which I speak – it exists. so, when you leave you are held hostage to not say a word against the HBC ministry. That is probably the reason you have not heard from a lot of those who have left the church over the years.

    1. What a shame, and corporate like debased threat tactic by church claiminng to be of Christ and for Christ. What a shemful disgrace but this lines up with tactics of greedy bully at the pulpit.

    2. Wow. I’m not surprised to hear this. Is that highy unusual or a fairly typical practice of organizations? Of businesses? Churches? Is Harvest is sounding more and more cult-like to anyone else? Disgusting. If that’s the kind of game MacDonald wants to play, maybe it is time for someone to blow the whistle. Can’t imagine they would welcome any more bad PR, let alone want the feds or law enforcement to start poking around.

      1. Many of the new church plants are starting to use the Vertical Church name.

        1. True. And some former HBC’s are rebranding as Vertical Church. Harvest Bible Chapel West Minneapolis is now Vertical Church (Maple Grove, MN). I was part of the core team and an elder there in 2008 and our family left I. 2014. We had enough of the spiritual abuse by leadership. I am praying for repentance and forgiveness of all involved. And for healing of all who have been hurt. God is good and is still sovereign. As was often quoted at Harvest, “Truth and Time walk hand in hand.” Keep praying!

    3. I can confirm this happens at other Harvests or other named churhes. The staff that were squeezed out were given documents to sign saying they would lose severence if they spoke about it. Very mob like but not very Jesus like. Its control through fear. I wonder of any if those who were pressured into signing these letters might pass the document along. You know what would atop this kind of behavior in its tracks, public exposure.

  26. Very sad to see that the next generation (Luke Macdonald) has chosen the sin(s) of his father. It seems Luke has full disclosure of what his father does since Luke is mentioned in the Wisen letter. I had served with Luke (in his early years) before, and I could already have seen the very similar demeanor and attitude James modeled for his family. Sin doesn’t happen overnight. I wonder if Landon also is in the “know” of how his father deals with relationships and money. Sin runs deep when it’s generational.

  27. I can’t speak directly to Sexual assault charges.

    I agree that All Assault charges require faces.

    Faces are hard to find in a culture of fear.

    Some of us are working to remove the fear and create a safe place for real conversation. That is where my focus will remain.

    There is a such thing as spiritual assault that seems to be a constant theme on this site. Many examples have been given via post, letter, blog, and the like.

    I will pray with, stand with, and support any victim of abuse that comes forward to publicly or privately address their burden. Until then this is a site full of big words with little action and while many may be true, without action they are merely wasted thoughts.

    Impartially Praying for action that brings truth.

    Leaving Cyber Space for awhile. Going back to pursuing change in reality. Still available at 500yearoldnails@gmail.com.

    God is Good! Do something about it!

    1. The word was harassment not assault. Big difference.

  28. “WHY NO ONE CONNECTED TO THIS CHURCH is stepping up to seek truth and justice concerning the allegations of sexual harassment that have swirled around James FOR YEARS?!?!!?”

    I left Harvest for multiple reasons, including many discussed on this site, but I was very tied in to Harvest at all levels. I’m opposed to James’s leadership, but the comment above is appalling and reckless.

    I challenge you to name one allegation of sexual harassment. Name ONE rumor that has “swirled around.” Harvest has an extremely strict policy about this kind of thing, and James is never even alone with women ever.

    1. Well said Tony, I have attended Harvest for a long time and have seen and heard many negative things regarding James MacDonald, but never even a hint of sexual impropriety. I would urge the site administrators to remove Diana’s comments and let’s stick to the facts.

      1. Truth2Light, are you saying that because you didn’t hear of something happening, that it didn’t happen? That kind of thinking is EXACTLY how systemic abuse allows to go on unchecked; and it’s appalling that the church could be a haven for systemic abuse of any kind. Given your comment, were I a woman who had experienced unwanted contact of a sexual nature from any man in this church, I would be very hesitant to speak up about it knowing it was unsafe to do so. In short, I’d encourage you to be more fair minded in your judgements.

        If you’d like facts, years ago, a guy who worked at Harvest sent a letter to the ENTIRE church (have you been attending so long you received it and perhaps remember it? Perhaps someone else on this thread remembers?) In the letter, he detailed his concerns (many of which have been discussed here at TED over the years)–concerns about abuse of power, misuse of church funds and….wait for it…inappropriate contact James had with at least one woman, maybe more. So, when I made my original comment, it was in reference to this letter that the entire congregation of HBC had received which discussed such concerns. I wouldn’t call my comment a “silly lie”. The veracity of this man’s letter in regards to his concerns remains to be seen (except for those areas which many of us have already been found to be true). My hope that is if there are current or former HBC women who did experience this, that they would feel free to come out of the shadows to speak the truth, and find healing and justice. Of course, my greater desire is that these allegations would be found to be just that. But, as we’ve seen play out elsewhere in our country it takes just one brave soul to turn the tide, but if we cannot create a safe space for people to come forward, chances are we will never get to the bottom of it.

  29. Harvest, why in the world would you want a harsh, power-hungry, egotistical, deceiver, swindler, and idolater leading the church you call home? Wake up campus pastors and elders before you will be held doubly accountable for misleading others into thinking it is right in silencing and shaming folks for simply asking questions, seeking truth, and wanting God’s glory to be on full display for all to see. Your silence and defense of James MacDonald is not noble, nor wise or godly. Instead, it speaks volumes where your allegiance truly lies. People, sound the alarm, do what’s right, and flee Harvest before your conscience becomes so seared that you’re no longer able to discern right from wrong, truth from error, and good from evil.

  30. It’s time we open up a new conversation about HBC and our former pastor, James MacDonald. So far, the conversations on this site have been limited to the subject of money with mostly men commenting. But the problems with HBC go far beyond money and they have affected the women of HBC. Now that sexual harassment is on the forefront of our country’s civic consciousness thanks to the Hollywood cesspool, what has really angered me lately is WHY NO ONE CONNECTED TO THIS CHURCH is stepping up to seek truth and justice concerning the allegations of sexual harassment that have swirled around James FOR YEARS?!?!!? Forget Hollywood! We have our own cesspool to clean out and our silence perpetuates the problem! Just the mere hint of sexual impropriety in the church should never be whispered, yet it HAS. And it has not been dealt with satisfactorily, if at all! I’d like to see the women of HBC who have been subjected and humiliated by this man, or any man in the church, pull the moxie out of their purses and speak up–for ourselves, for truth, for our daughters. I’ve heard the stories. I know the pain of sexual abuse and harassment in my own life. And I want to create a different world for my children. We need to face that fact that sexual harassment happens/happened at HBC and we need to put an END to it! Ladies, it’s time we speak truth to power in this church with our own stories of #metoo.

    1. “WHY NO ONE CONNECTED TO THIS CHURCH is stepping up to seek truth and justice concerning the allegations of sexual harassment that have swirled around James FOR YEARS”
      1st time I have heard of this topic. MacDonald has said on many occasions that he wrote his PhD dissertation on Men’s Sexual Sins. Also he said he took many steps to prevent even the appearance of it.

    2. Diana, we’ve been at HBC awhile and have followed much of what has happened, including lawsuits. This is the first I’m hearing about anything related to sexual harassment. If there are actual accounts of this occurring, especially (but not only) with the senior pastor, then let them come into the light. I understand that recent disclosures in Hollywood have created a context for this; still, such allegations are serious and should be raised by women who have experienced this firsthand at HBC, if they have.

      1. The whispers of theses allegations have been in background the entire time at HBC. However, let’s let the victims dictate the timing…

        1. That may be, but “whispers of allegations” and a plethora of anecdotes aren’t all that compelling. Women and men have to stand up and speak out.

    3. Name one rumor or allegation. Even without naming names you won’t be able to think of one allegation. There are plenty of bad things to bring up on this site without bringing up immature and silly lies.

  31. At some point, sooner than later, his long-standing cronies from the good ‘ol boys club need to go as much as “Old” MacDonald does. His accomplices, Rick Donald, Fred Adams, along with a few others, including all of the campus pastors who are in cahoots with MacDonald need to hear from as many folks who are willing to sound the alarm. Unfortunately, some of these very well paid campus pastors know they will be out of a job with little chance of being hired elsewhere after their tenure at Harvest. Where else could spineless men like Jeff Donaldson and the like find work making a fraction of what they make now?!? Maybe it’s time for the Stowells to come forward and share why the entire family uprooted and left Harvest in a very short span of time. For if they did, many more would surely leave. In the meantime, I suppose Mr. MacDonald will go on and continue to rehash old sermons and old books he’s written (with help), play the victim card, and be an embarrassment and a shame to the body of Christ. Pathetic.

    1. Has no one noticed that Fred Adams is MIA? He “resigned” a couple months ago. However, HBC Leadership and Elders have kept this from the congregation. Hmmm, I wonder why? How’s that for transparency? …Trust us!!!

      Wake up sheep.

      1. There is a new person in that position, which was announced via video. Also, leadership team addressed a direct question about Fred at a recent Congregational Meeting. They said he’s still with HBC but is taking some time off and will come back to a different (but not yet created) position. So, on this score, I would say that while most people don’t know that, it has been addressed in one forum.

        1. …And you bought into this explanation? Keep following blind sheep. Praying for all of you.

      2. He is still on the website, but his email goes to me@mail.com

        I guess someone has to be the fall guy… couldn’t be the guy that Wisen says is “controlling the narrative.”

        1. Real action is coming.

      3. I didn’t give my thoughts on the explanation; only reporting a case of where an explanation was given when I was there. Be nice. 🙂

      4. Wow! Amazing how many people have left in the last few years!

        1. It has always been like that. At least since I first went there in 2000. It’s a revolving door with a core of devotees. Ain’t gonna change until Big Jimbo is investigated by the IRS or gubment.

        2. AS he should be and long time ago. Someone has to tip IRS.

      5. More breaking news…
        Dallas Jenkins announced on facebook yesterday that he has resigned from HBC. That brings the tally of EXECUTIVE leaders who have resigned in 2017 to 6. In other words, 50% of the EXECUTIVE staff members under James MacDonald have resigned in 2017.
        Here is the list of those who have jumped off of the sinking ship:
        1. Dean Butters, Executive Pastor of Business Operations
        2. Bill Molinari, HBF Executive (resigned before James’ HBF meltdown)
        3. Garrett Higbee, Executive Director of Soul Care and “Chief Health Officer”
        4. Kent Shaw, HBF Executive Director Harvest Bible Fellowship (resigned before James’ HBF meltdown)
        5. Fred Adams, Executive Business Pastor and CFO
        6. Dallas Jenkins, Executive Director of Vertical Church Media
        WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? I don’t know all of these men, but I know enough about this group to understand that much of the integrity in leadership has left the building.

        This group remains as executive “leaders”:
        1. Rick Donald
        2. Scott Millholland
        3. Janine Nelson
        4. Luke MacDonald
        5. Jeff Donaldson
        6. Trei Tatum
        This is a group who has demonstrated that they will defend James MacDonald without question and make enemies of all who question anything about him.

        Other notable departures from HBC leadership:
        Dan Plantz – long time Pastor of student ministry, children’s ministry and the camp.
        Jim Rowan – former Elder and staff Director of security
        Earl Seals – Elder and big time financial contributor
        Has anyone heard from any of these people? They all seemingly left quietly (more hush money?)
        How do the elders or other staff members explain this mass exodus?

        1. Agreed that this mass exodus (in the past year and over the past 15 years) alone is grounds for even the staunchest HBC-supporters to raise questions.

          Re: Dallas Jenkins…someone asked about him at the RM Congregational Meeting in October. It was explained the movie didn’t do well and that he didn’t see additional opportunities here, but had been offered a different opportunity focused on making short films. (Like the ones we see on Good Friday, Christmas–which are spectacular, by the way.)

          Re: Dan Plantz…there was an announcement via video about a new Camp director months ago (6 months maybe?). When asked, a campus leader said Dan was no longer at the camp or at Harvest.

          Re: Fred Adams…he’s on a break, they said. So, if he’s now gone, that’s new news.

          Re: current XLT observation…three members have “Donald” in their last names. 🙂

          Many men (and women) in leadership have chosen to leave quietly over the years for their own sake and that of their family. That hush money was involved is hugely speculative.

        2. Remember the movie, Titanic? When the people with inside knowledge, power, and money knew the ship was sinking, they all got out and hopped on the lifeboats.

          They left the “common” people and even had them locked in the body of the ship to drown in the aftermath.

          The insiders are getting out because they know something the rest of us don’t.

          I don’t think you need the gift of discernment to figure this out. It is clear to everyone watching from the outside.

        3. What It Looks Like November 2, 2017 — 11:36 am

          I don’t think hush money was involved in any of these particular individuals leaving.
          Looks to me like this is headed to where HBC is going to go the way of Mars Hill or be reconstituted in some form or fashion (maybe under the GCC?) and JM and perhaps the core will re-brand under the Walk in the Word and Vertical Church monikers.

        4. I am fairly certain that Earl Seals is now on the board of the Great Commission Collective.

        5. FormerStaffMember December 4, 2017 — 12:33 am

          Hush money comes in multiple forms. The most common and likely is the “sign this confidentiality agreement so we can give you severance pay”

    2. That’s the problem. Too many evangelical leaders refuse to actually be the true leaders when it comes to confronting this systematic abuse and point blank, systematic thievery that runs rampant and rabid at HBC. Follow the money and it will all point to MacDonald and his corporate cronies.

  32. In re-reading Pastor Wisen’s summary, a little bullet point near the end is haunting me:
    “James is at the helm. He is controlling the narrative. He is negotiating the deal. He is the victim rather than the cause, the offended rather than the offender.”
    It made me think back to the last Act Like Men night at Harvest when James told us that this has been the “most devastating season of ministry he has ever had” and that he “broke down crying in the elders meeting telling them he couldn’t keep going to meetings where he was constantly under suspicion and scrutiny.” This seems to be his M.O., HE causes a major problem and if there are consequences, he plays the victim card: everyone is unfair to him, nobody understands the real truth, spiritual warfare, etc.
    PLEASE THINK ABOUT THIS: WHY is he constantly under suspicion and scrutiny in elder meetings? Isn’t it because he is doing suspicious things?
    This guy is sick and manipulative, “the victim rather than the cause, the offended rather than the offender…”

  33. 56.. The treasure of the church is not sufficiently known about among the followers of Christ.

    Line by line accounting of all expenditures for all entities directly or indirectly supported by the tithe is required.

    Full dusclousure of any Elders or Elders Family with interests in “vendors” accepting Church payments for services rendered is also required.

    Contracing Christian vendors is ok.. Paying over market value is not.. These dealings must be open.

    Let The Holy Spirit blow the smoke as far as the east is from the west. Let the mirriors be turned upon those who have fallen away. That they may see their sin reflected back upon themselves and repent. Let The light of Christ break through the clouds..penetrate the darkness..light the corners of every closet and hidden place..

    Let the truth be known and Gods Will be done.

    In Jesus name


    Agree? Many others do! Find us here

  34. An Attempt to Distill

    Here are the most problematic issues that the letter raises, from my perspective:

    1. Auditors from HBF conducted a surface-level analysis of HBCs and HBFs audit financial reports. Those auditors didn’t conduct a full audit themselves and didn’t have access to a range of documents or “the books” to verify information in the reports. I gather that the auditors were there on behalf of the former-HBF (NewCo, now GCC) group. Anecdotally, Mr. Wisen says those auditors had concerns about stewardship within HBF based on what they did see.

    2. There are questions and disagreement over contributions to HBF from HBC-Elgin (which I gather includes all the 7-campuses) versus other HBF churches. Apparently, HBC-Elgin did not meet the contribution standard that was set for all churches in the Fellowship. The men representing HBC-Elgin gave vague and various explanations for this. In general, this part of Mr. Wisen’s account also speaks to mismanagement of funds within or related HBF.

    3. There was highly questionable discretionary spending within HBF. For example, when he was President of HBF, Pastor James wrote a check to Trinity Church (Mark Driscoll’s church) for $50,000 from HBF. (This alone is problematic, from my perspective; HBF was a church-planting arm for HBC. It was not a para-church organization for general church planting.) Mark Driscoll is a controversial figure who was dismissed from his own multi-campus church. It goes without saying that many people would not want their money given to him. When questioned about this, Mr. Wisen and his team were told that the money was taken from a donation made by an outside group of men that call themselves the 40 Mighty Men. The group is not a business entity; it’s a private group of wealthy men who pool their money to donate money to various church planting efforts—not just HBF. Mr. Wisen—a very wealthy man and teaching pastor of HBC-Spring Lake–is/was a part of that group. He points out that defending the contribution by saying it was from money from the 40MM group is faulty for at least two reasons: (a) HBF wrote the check, not 40MM (which doesn’t write checks as an entity); (b) the group was told that they would decide how the money would be spent within HBF, but were not asked. There is more information about another matter regarding discretionary spending within HBF that is hard to tease out without background knowledge. The thrust of it is that spending within HBF raises serious questions about how funds were managed, and by whom.

    4. There was unethical conduct by Pastor James and Jeff Smith (HBC Elder and Treasurer) regarding payment of funds to the former HBF (now GCC). People can read the back-and-forth in the letter, but my read is that initially the men representing HBF/GCC were not asking for any kind of financial restitution from HBC-Elgin. Funds that were restricted and belonged to the new organization were given to them. It’s unclear who or what exactly initiated, but it seems that then an additional “settlement” amount was up for negotiation as a way of bringing closure to all other financial matters, known and unknown. Pastor James was no longer President of HBF and had been instructed (by the Elders?) to not be involved with financial matter regarding HBF/GCC. Through a series of exchanges (see letter) Mr. Wisen says that Jeff Smith, acting as the emissary for Pastor James, tried to offer an amount beyond what Mr. Wisen has proposed as fair that included a “hush clause”. That is, HBF/GCC would receive $x million, in payments, contingent on GCC agreeing to prevent its members from publically attacking HBC-Elgin or its leaders. There are several conversations about payment contingent on ensuring GCC members are silent, with Mr. Smith saying that Mr. Wisen is effectively negotiating with Pastor Hames, and that the offered amount will only be paid if GCC agrees to keep its members silent. On 10/14/17 (Mr. Wisen’s letter has a typo with 8/14/17), at Vertical Church Conference, Pastor James says that there in an agreement in principle that goes beyond what GCC had proposed, and that the “above and beyond” amount is a “show of support” for GCC.

    5. GCC accepted some amount of $x million, but the amount and “contingencies” (if any) are not clear in the letter. Mr. Wisen only says, “I have serious reservations we will ever get paid what has been promised. A future comment or circumstance will serve as justification for them failing to do what they said they would do. A formal contract is pointless—contracts are only as good as the honor of the men who make them.” I infer from this statement that there was no agreement to a hush clause.

    Finally, throughout the letter and then more explicitly at the end, Mr. Wisen’s account and conclusions provide additional support for what this blog as well as what many past and current members of Harvest already know: That HBC is controlled by Pastor James, not by Elders, and that his decisions and behavior are not that of a man who is qualified to be an Elder or Senior Pastor. Confession and repentance and forgiveness are possible (with God, ALL things are possible!), but unlikely in what Harvest has become.

    Praying that the truth, whatever it is, will come into the light for ALL to see clearly so that God may be glorified and relationships restored.

    1. P.S. Re: 40MM–I misspoke when I said that they contribute to church planting outside of HBF. That’s not clear from the letter. Just want to make clear that I don’t know the group but I do know of groups like it and am making inferences based on that knowledge and what the letter seems to imply. Thanks.

    2. Nice synthesis Ann.
      I will add one additional troubling takeaway:
      As long as I can remember, Harvest Bible Chapel’s “missions department” has been HBF and WITW. As a congregation, we were led to believe that 10% of our tithes went toward missions (5% to HBF, 5% to WITW.) In fact, for the big year-end giving push last year, we were even told that a portion of the year-end giving was going toward additional church planting. This report reveals deceit on several fronts
      1) The amount of money we believed was going toward missions was reduced without communication to the congregation. (Although, Fred Adams[HBC CFO] apparently “aspired” to give the full 5% – is that a joke?)
      2) Of the $5.1 million that was given to church planting from 2012-2016, $4.9 million was taken back by HBC for “shared services.” I understand this to mean that they technically gave that money to missions/church planting on paper, then made a decision to take nearly all of it back for HBC Elgin for the services that the Elgin staff provided.
      3) If HBF was $270,000 in the red last year, how did our year end giving go toward “additional” church planting?
      My questions:
      – Who is making these spending decisions? According to this report, the finances of linked entities[HBF,WITW, HCA?] are “controlled and directed by a small circle of individuals.”
      -Why aren’t HBF, WITW and HCA audited annually? They are all listed on the ECFA website but only HBC[the parent] has an audit attached http://www.ecfa.org/MemberProfile.aspx?ID=35101 . It seems as though the spending is completely unchecked in these entities, even though they are listed under the HBC parent organization (is the parent organization audit a screen for these?) We are talking about $10’s of millions of dollars being spent by a small group of individuals with no audit, no transparency, and no oversight in place.

      I agree with others that this may be a legal issue, and at the very least an IRS issue. I can’t say that if I had tens of millions of dollars at my unchecked discretion I would do things perfectly, but the church should be protecting the Lord’s money with appropriate checks and balances so that no person is put in that position of temptation.

      1. God Will Prevail November 2, 2017 — 3:11 pm

        When all the entities roll up into the parent entity, you may only see the parent entity’s audit. The auditors I am sure audited all entities, and even audited the flow of money from HBF, HCA, WITW, but because HBC is the parent entity, that is the entity that holds the audit documents. This is all legal and proper from an accounting perspective, especially if they all hold the same EIN (tax exemption number), which I believe they do.

        A typical accounting auditor only performs limited statistical transactional samples of data because no auditor could not possibly audit every single transaction that occurs for any given entity. As long as those samples of data have all the corroborating proof for making a particular accounting entry, the auditor will document this in his/her work papers and move on. The auditors mentioned by David Wisen were reviewing the work of the previous auditors (so theirs was an even smaller scope in knowledge and review), and areas of concern that were noted in the footnotes of the audit report. The larger concern (as outlined in the letter) is that the secondary “audit” that was done was unable to be properly conducted. When no supporting documentation is produced, a true audit cannot be performed. For an entity the size of Harvest, the auditors would need be there for several weeks at a minimum, not just a day.

        That being said, an auditor would note an “area of concern” if a transaction was performed between 2 entities that while it is legal, it would concern those “investors” (or in this case, parishners) who give to it. For example, the $500K that was given to HBC by HBF might be listed as a concern if 1) The auditors actually found the transaction during their audit (remember, they only look at a sample of transactions), and 2) If the HBF bylaws stated that the board must approve all monies (or monies over a certain dollar amount) that are transferred out and 3) The HBF Board minutes did not show the approval of that $500K transfer. So, while the actual accounting may have followed generally accepted accounting principals (GAAP) and had existing backup (legal), the lack of board approval would indicate a “concern.” Make sense?

        1. Yes, that makes sense and I appreciate your thorough explanation. However it seems more likely that the auditors simply looked at bottom line credits and debits from the ancillary entities and since they reconciled, they did not dig any deeper. Any real scrutiny would have revealed the large debits to Mark Driscoll ($50,000), systems upgrades $500,000) and the millions paid back to HBC Elgin for “shared services”.
          My main point was that “missions” money was claimed to have been paid to hbf but was actually taken back by HBC Elgin.
          It is also noteworthy that Capin Crause did not even notate those large debits from the HBF ledger. I am not an accountant, and you seem to be, but these are very large nunbers which (to my reading) did not make it into their report.

        2. God Will Prevail November 4, 2017 — 7:44 am

          One other thing…I 100% agree with you on the shared services. It looks like semantics to me…giving $5.1M to HBF and receiving $4.9M back. Any good auditor would find that extremely curious and would expand the scope of their audit to do additional testing on the shared services account…and if backup could not be provided, the scope would increase even further. However, we have no idea if that happened because the secondary audit was unable to be performed for the purpose of this letter.

          I believe the reason the second audit was unable to obtain documentation is because it would have brought to light misbehavior by James (not necessarily illegal transactions, but not obtaining the proper board authorization to do the things he did) and some overly generous estimations of what things actually cost to run HBF. So, since the shared services account most likely would have given James some very bad PR (which is obviously a huge concern of his), the staff hedged. The person on “vacation” probably was told to stay home because they could have helped the secondary auditors. And since Fred is on hiatus (or whatever is going on there), conviently no one was avalible to help. All game play. If that all had occurred during the primary audit, the accounting firm would not have (or should not have) certified their financials. I’m very curious as to why the secondary auditors did not go back a second day….or week until they obtained the information they required.

          Sadly, there is little doubt that James is still involved in the finances, and he feels he can use and spend the money in whatever way he feels appropriate. That should never be the case in a church…that is why the elders are there…as a check and balance. However, the elders clearly don’t even know what is going on in their own church let alone hold James in check.

      2. God Will Prevail November 3, 2017 — 8:37 pm

        Yes, you are correct, I am an accountant. For an organization that receives roughly $25M annually (backing into that number from the 5% in the letter), a $50K transaction will not necessarily be noticed or found in the sample of transactions they audit. However, most likely a $500k transaction would be.

        I did not gather from the letter that the $500k wasn’t shown on the HBF books, rather, it was not disclosed to the HBF board. While it may seem like semantics to everyone else, it is a big difference from an accounting principles perspective. Again, I would be surprised if the auditors hid anything. They could lose their CPA license and their livelyhood. They are governed by Sarbanes Oxley after Enron. They could be jailed.

        Again, if you made a legal transaction, that is fine from an audit perspective. But you will see in the footnotes the concern because the auditors would note if they found that the board did not know about the transaction.

        That being said, I would pay more close attention to the footnotes on the financials if you can get a hold of them…they at times are more telling than the financials…like in this case. I think that is why David Wisen mentioned that the secondary audit wanted to review the “concerns” of the primary audit.

        You are correct in that ancillary organizations do not take nearly the amount of notice or time of auditors. Again, this is industry standard due to size and scope of an audit.

        Please know and understand that I am just trying to help folks understand the letter. I left years ago after being there almost 20 years in leadership. I am not at all defending…simply wanting folks to understand that the audit sounds rather standard to me. Auditors will not care about the politics between organizations. They simply are there to assure that things are accounted for according to GAAP, and according to board bylaws. They do not involve themselves in all the rest of it. They are required by law to be an objective third party.

        1. Can you interpret this note from the HBF Financials?
          “During the six month period and year ended June 30, 2017 and December 31, 2016, HBF allocated $263,211 and $1,005,004, respectively, for church planting to Harvest Bible Chapel Rolling Meadows of the $2,690,200 raised by Harvest Bible Chapel Rolling Meadows for HBF’s church plant acceleration efforts.”

    3. “NewCo”/GCC has NOT accepted any funds from HBC. Zero. There are no organizational ties between HBC and GCC.
      Totally new thing.

  35. I just read this and several of your other articles about James for the first time last night. I’m sick about it and having a very hard time rectifying the unwavering Biblical teaching I haven’t been able to find at another church with these allegations. It feels like my whole world is shaken and my faith is challenged. I’m 29 — almost as old as harvest to the month. I’ve attended and financially supported Harvest for about a third of my life. I feel like I won’t ever be the same after this.

    1. Rachel,

      Believe us when we say, there is life after Harvest. And if you have trouble believing that, we could put you in contact with any number of men or women who could help you walk through this season.

      You do not have to surrender what you call “unwavering Biblical teaching.” But what you may have to do is commit yourself to a season of thinking deeply about the Church and what makes a church healthy versus sick or even corrupt.

      Let us know if you’d like us to put you in touch with some folks that could help you during this season of life.

      1. Thank you. I think I accidentally let James and his teaching take on the role of a Godly father in my life when it should’ve been Jesus. Hard lesson learned.

        1. Dear Rachel,

          I’m old enough to you mother *smile* and I want to extend the warmest cyber (((((HUG)))) your way. Your words break my heart as I and my family (children your age and a bit younger) have been exactly where you are upon learning these things. Our story was a bit more personal in its “interaction” with certain leadership, but we too know the profound sense of betrayal and abject sadness of recognizing what was preached without apology not aligning with said truth nor trickling down to those in leadership position within Harvest.

          I understand.

          I’ll encourage you in the same manner I have my children: do whatever you must to not allow bitterness to take root toward Jesus. Ask questions, even when it makes others uncomfortable. Admit and speak the truth of What Is (not what we wish it was or some sort of couching it to make it more palatable to others). And feel every bit of it as you make your way through these and countless other legitimate revelations that really aren’t all that surprising when you break down behaviors, quotes, history, and testimonies of others who have worked and served at Harvest.

          While your soul may be scorched (for a season), know that Jesus Christ is at work in the middle of it all FOR His glory and purposes. Even when it doesn’t look like it. Or, feel like it.

          Much love from a ED friend who’ll be praying for you.

        2. Thank you. If you (or anyone) have any recommendations for other online pastors I can check out as I work to find a new church, I’d appreciate it. (I’m located in Los Angeles now, and have just been tuning into Harvest live).

        3. Try Holy Trinity Church in Costa Mesa, CA. Ancient liturgy is better than the bright lights of the Sunday morning rock show that seems to attract the wrong crowd.

        4. Matt Chandler, Andy Stanley, David Platt are ones I really like to listen to and would recommend.

    2. Sweet Rachel, I can add my encouragement to you here and joyfully testify that there is beautiful, blessed (in the Biblical sense of that word ;)), FULL life, and healthy, wonderful, Biblically-sound churches awaiting you. They might look a little different from Harvest, and in time you will find that that could be a good thing. 🙂 I’ve learned in the past few years that “growth” (ie. numbers) does not necessarily equal health in a church -FRUIT does. Fruit as in the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Look for a church whose pastor(s) and people are growing in these fruits, and plant yourself alongside them! I’ve also learned that eloquent, excellent communication skills are not necessarily an indication of the Holy Spirit working through a teacher. 🙂 Although there are a great many Spirit-filled, godly Bible teachers who are also gifted communicators….I’ll still take a humble shepherd teacher over a smooth communicator any day. God loves you and cares about you -ask Him for guidance as you search for a church that honors and loves Him and His Word, and look, as the Elephants Debt gentlemen have suggested, for a church that’s living out what the Bible teaches a church should. Hugs sister.

  36. I think many of us are having difficulty figuring out what to look at; Maybe you should highlight some of the major issues this letter bring up in more posts… tease this thing out??

    1. Mike,

      Look at Ann F’s posts and Truth2life posts…I have a financial background, and they both are right on the money…with the exception (in my opinion with only the letter to go on) that neither the government or IRS will come after them. HBC, HCA, HBF, WITW all are part of the same entity, and all probably have the same tax exemption number. That being said, from an accounting perspective, moving money freely between entities isn’t illegal as long as there is a paper trail. I am sure there is a paper trail…but because it was going to bring to light all of JMac’s nonsense, the accounting team hedged and didn’t dare show the auditors anything of substance.

      Shady, improper, and will be possibly included in an auditor’s footnotes? Yes, but only because the transfer of monies were never approved by all the proper governing bodies. If this was a publicly traded corporation, yes…the government would be much more inclined to get involved. Or, if their activities were deemed to be used for a personal purpose, or covering up a for-profit purpose.

      Hope that helps,

  37. A Small Harvest Church Member October 27, 2017 — 7:46 am

    Can someone clarify something? What is the 40 Mighty Men? Was this a fundraising drive? The read I get from this email is that it’s actually a group of individuals. Are they people within HBC? outside of HBC?

  38. First let it be know for those who choose to read this post that our family attended Hbc rm before there was Elgin before there were any church plants. We got married at the RM campus, made many friends and have been grieved by what has happened.

    Second, we left Harvest as a family about 5 years ago. The reason we left as two fold. The first was all the rules and regulations that was put on “being a Christ follower.” While Christian disciplines are important, the pressure to perform them was immense and could lead to people pleasing. The other reason we left is because of my own idolatry. I was involved in ministry and wanted to aspire higher in the order of importance. I wanted to be part of the “in crowd.” The “work for Christ” ethos transformed into I am working to promote Christ and me! I mention the last part to say that I have seen many people make complaints against HBC and JMAC (and there are legitimate reasons for that) but yet fail to address why they are angry (see James 4:1-4).

    There is no perfect church. I knew long before the ED about James, the debt, the house, the salary, the fountain (remember that) and understood that no church was perfect. So what do I choose to put up with? In the church we attend now there are things I don’t agree with, but we go to that church to minister, to worship, to learn. Amongst all the other sinners like me.

    After we left, I did quite a bit of soul searching and healing (yes I was pushed around and aside by The Harvest structure, but I can only take responsibility for me). Am I there yet, not quite, I still have my authoritarian radar up (I could say arrogance, but that would assign heart motives rather than fruit inspection).

    Is James sideways? I do not know his heart, but look at the fruit. Is there an abuse of power by James and the inactive elder board. I would probably say yes. Do those things need to be addressed, absolutely!

    I do appreciate ED for making these truths transparent, for they need to be to honor the name of Christ in the world of unbelievers, and in the sight of the congregation.

  39. Leaving an otherwise good place built with tithes of Christian Families in The Name of Jesus Christ is not the only option!

    Many narratives on this site continue to suggest that those of us that don’t leave are somehow responsible for the alleged sin of a current pastor or group of elders.

    For some the call may be to leave and find fellowship elsewhere and I respect that.

    What I don’t understand is why so many believe leaving is the only Godly option. So much so that they cast stones at those of us who stay put.

    Has it ever occurred to those of you that departed that some of us may be called to stay? To fight lies with truth from within? To shine the Light of Christ as darkness creeps in? To walk with those who have not yet grown to a level of understanding regarding the current charges against HBC’s governance? To take what rightfully belongs to Christ back from whatever forces of darkness are currently attacking. To be there for any of our Brothers who repent from wrongdoing as the Truth comes out?

    Jesus Cleanses the Temple
    Mathew 21 12-13
    12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

    Jesus cleanses the Temple.. IN THE TEMPLE..

    I for 1 consider this the example we are to look to in times of accusations of ungodly stewardship.

    Support Your Local Table Flipper.

    1. Can you give an example of how you have fought the lies with truth and have had any success or seen any of the Brothers mentioned in ED repent and acknowledge truth?

      1. I would like to know the answer to this question as well…been there tried that

        1. As many have for several years with the same results.

    2. Jim, as longtime members who still attend and tithe, we are with you on this. It’s the Church of Jesus Christ–not James MacDonald–and the church “belongs” to all of us who go there. We have chosen stay through all the craziness because we believe it can change from within. BUT that will only happen if members rally together and confront the Elder Board (which doesn’t seem to actually be running the church) about the contents of this letter.

      The table that needs to be flipped is large, heavy, and long. A couple people can’t do it alone.

      1. Do you mean like the elders who were run out of the church when they had questions about finances and power?

        1. Unfortunately, too few people have read the church by-laws. More people should. They would realize that HBC runs the way it does under by-laws that are seriously flawed. At the same time, there’s enough in the Elder Updates alone to suggest that a number of by-laws have been violated.

          Click to access bylaws.pdf

    3. It would be encouraging to see some of the leaders who remain there flip tables and bring about change. We cheer you on! We felt the same way for a long time before we finally left several years ago. As we learned more and more at that time about the abuse of power/ finances and the deceitfulness, we spoke to our lower level leadership about our concerns and were reprimanded for asking questions. We prayed earnestly for our elders to have the courage to stand up to James. And some did! Go back into the archives and read about it if you are not already aware of what happened.


      After seeing these men accused of being “satanic” and publically excommunicated from the church, we knew that the extent of James’ power was even greater than we realized. As members of the church, we also knew that we were willingly submitting ourselves to a leader who we no longer believed was biblically qualified (1 Tim. 3:1-7). And we believed that as members the only way our voices against this misuse of power and money would be even slightly heard was to remove ourselves and our tithe from the church. It was our hope at that time that other leaders would speak in whatever ways they could as well, flipping tables, until James was either removed or resigned, publically exhibiting repentance. And we hoped that after this happened, we might even be able to return. Although now, in my opinion, it would need to be not just James who repents or leaves, but also the many others who have knowingly enabled him all these many years.

      One of the reasons we stayed as long as we did is that we would go to church, look around, and see so many other godly friends who we respected still there. This made us question ourselves a little — “these friends are still here; maybe things are not as bad as they appear.” Of course, those godly, respectable people very well could have been looking at us there and thinking the same thing.

      To understand the difficulty many face who continue to attend Harvest, you have to understand the dynamics. Many there are deeply connected — they are members of the church, which gives them a significant discount in tuition at the Christian school. And quite a few are also employed by the church in one way or another. This means that Harvest is their church, children’s school, children’s youth group, sports’ teams, and their source of income. If they leave the church, they can no longer afford to have their children in the school. If they leave the church, they can no longer be employed as a teacher (since at least at the time we were there, all staff members including those at the school were required to also be members of the church). In other words, leaving the church may also mean losing the benefits of Christian education and employment for many, which as you can imagine also means losing your (and your children’s) core group of friends and possibly even your family’s reputation. It is a life-changing and difficult decision! We understand that because we went through it and found Christ to be completely sufficient and to provide for our family in every way.

      Many seem to feel that the benefits they receive outweigh the scandal they endure. Or they think that by protecting James, they are somehow protecting the church/ people. However, I believe it is exactly the opposite. We will all ultimately be held accountable for our part, whether called to stay and fight or convicted to leave.

    4. Some of us have been asking ALL the questions. From discussions within our small groups to one on one with small group leaders to calls with small group coaches to discussions with Pastors, to discussions with Elders, to public questions and encouragement/warning at congregational meetings.

      There is a movement towards a culture of transparency that is beginning to mobilize. We are putting emphasis on guarding our hearts against making absolute judgments. We are focusing on tearing down any culture of fear that exists by asking questions. It’s rooted in scripture.

      2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

      7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

      The word fear in the original text “deilias” suggests “a spirit of cowardice” or ” a lack of bravery in a battle” IE A soldier abandoning his Brothers in a Battle.

      Let there me no doubt. A battle is being waged for Christ’s Church. Any internal resistance to seeking the truth once our eyes are upon this is clearly not Spirit led.

      This is not only true at HBC. Church’s everywhere are under attack. Sometimes from their own Leadership..Other times from outsiders seeking to tear down what The Lord has built for reasons outside of what The Bible teaches.

      In this case charges have been and continue to be made against the Pastor and Elders. Scripture is clear!

      1 Timothy 5 : 19 -22
      Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. 21In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. 22Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.

      Through Prayer, I am led to focus on “21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality”.

      If we 1st seek the Lord and are obedient to this Charge we must request for an accounting of the Books in regards to the “settlement” Hush clause or not. We must do it in the NAME OF JESUS. Not assuming James or the Fellowship is right or wrong. Simply..Impartially..Demanding accountability from our Elders for the good of Christ’s Church.

      In a season where a Pastor has admitted to stepping outside his authority and been “disciplined” by the Elders and has been “removed” from day to day oversight and has declared that the Fellowship “took and took and took” suggesting HBF was a drain on HBC’s resources. First we must take him at his word and go straight to Prayer. We must also remain watchful as ever for his protection and the protection of Christ’s Church.

      In this season of heightened intentional Prayer and watchfulness a decision negotiated by Pastor James to offer ANY settlement to HBF is cause for question as it does not align with all that has been communicated by Leadership in recent months. Our Pastor knows scripture. Our Elders know scripture. They should be expecting the question and be prepared to answer honestly and transparently.

      Harvest’s books are often noted as receiving very high marks at audit which should be good news for those in leadership and for those who tithe. All previous communication points the the answer and clarity being available .

      If anyone at Harvest currently feels the spirit leading them to ask questions about governance or stewardship, WE MUST; as charged in the presence of God, Christ Jesus, and the elect angels 1 Tim 5: 21, and in the spirit of The Great Commandment impartially and fearlessly ask those involved directly.

      Love James
      Love The Church
      Love The Fellowship
      Follow Jesus

      This. Is what we do.

      1. Jim, we’ve been doing the things that you are doing, but the problem is that members don’t have any way of banding together and addressing the Elder board. HBC promotes asking questions to individuals, etc., but this allows leaders to “divide and conquer,” obfuscate, distract, dilute, and so forth. Members who question feel alone, because the leaders use Scripture to make people think that we are sinful if we talk to one another about the business and governance of the church.

        I disagree that we need to be “ever-watchful for Pastor James’ protection.” The evidence over many years–including in this letter–suggests that Pastor James and the Elders are interested primarily in protecting Pastor James when he has clearly disqualified himself from the pulpit. MANY people have been praying and asking questions for a long time. I understand why people choose to leave after spinning their wheels and being shut down at every turn. Who is protecting the members and their tithes?

        Yes, the leaders know Scripture, as do members. But too often, both parties use Scripture to block or hedge more direct discussion and questions. What’s transpired at Harvest would be shameful in any organization, let alone a church.

        1. Stay with me….

          I didn’t arrive here without much prayer and study.

          In order to question from a place of impartiality, I feel it necessary to “care” for James and The Elders regardless of the appearance of their current “heart condition”. Furthermore, James has been additive to my walk with Christ as has HBC, Elders and all. I refuse to lose sight of that after all, Christ lived a perfect life for me, died for me, saved me, and pursued me despite my disgusting sinful ways. I feel that I must model this less I be put to shame.

          It’s not easy for me to leave room for God’s wrath. It is easy ..for me..to take the position I believe is right in the name of the Lord and try to come down upon a sinner. I’ve learned that doing so is a fruit of faithlessness that I needed to root out of my life. Christ is my Righteousness. I must seek his way in everything.

          Mathew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

          It’s clear that many have attempted to exercise concern and call for accountability over the years. My initial worldly reaction to what I have been seeing is to assume what seems to be clear and move to a Me vs James mentality. It feels as if Im on the right side because so many have suggested I am and my spirit compass seems to confirm it.

          Problem is, scripture calls for an impartial approach when bringing charges against Elders.

          I am 100 % for getting like minds together. A week after James preached so transparently about his newfound understanding of what it means to come to Christ and trust in him alone for rest seems like God’s perfect timing. The Lord has seemingly softened his heart. Other Godly men have revealed new charges. The time is upon us. Lets not judge the Pastor’s motives. Let’s not covet the “gotcha moment”. Let’s ask the simple question in a manner that it must be answered and let the Lord lead from there.

          I’ve set up an email address. If you attend Harvest and are interested in getting together to address the issues of the current season please reach out. If the email address doesn’t speak to you google Oct 31st 1517 and have a read.

          Good Christians have been asking hard questions for a long time..


          Hope to hear from those of you that are interested in taking our concerns to leadership.

        2. Emailing you now, brother. 🙂

      2. “Love James
        Love The Church
        Love The Fellowship
        Follow Jesus”

        quite interesting priorities. Instead my list would be
        “Love God
        Love My Wife
        Love The Church
        Love The Fellowship
        Follow Jesus”

        1. Context is important Brother.

          My point was that impartiallity is required.

          Had this been a discussion about priorities you would have a fair point.

          It was not.

        2. Matthew 22:37
          And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

          I think many at Harvest look up to James MacDonald as their God.

      3. God Will Prevail November 4, 2017 — 1:58 pm

        I agree with David. That stood out to me as well. James topped Jim’s list. Jim…please take a pause and truly consider why James tooped your list…just to yourself. This sort of thing is a phenom at HBC, and you are not alone and you may not even realize how or why you were doing it. It is the indoctrination…and it creeps up on you slowly…and you don’t even realize you are doing it.


        I was at Harvest for a very long time…almost 20 years. After leaving, I feel like I’m being de-programmed as if I was in a cult. Before you stop reading my post, please…hear me out…

        1 Peter 5:2-4. “Feed the flock of God which is among you taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” (KJV)

        A pastor is a supposed to:

        1) Feed the flock:
        I’m sorry, but the sermon I heard online on the first week of October was all about James…all about defending his bad behavior. All the arguments about “I stay for the teaching” are gone (in my opinion) because that was nothing but a man defending his actions…and using scripture and “great teachers” of history to do it. Another message I listened to earlier in the year from Luke was health and wealth gospel…I got 15 minutes in and couldn’t take it anymore. Is this truly sound teaching to you?

        2) Love the flock:
        How has James loved the flock? This bothered me for years. Why can people not just go up to him and talk with him? I have been to other mega churches and the preachers encourage people to come talk with them. Yet, very early on (when we were still just one campus in RM) James had “body guards” who prevent him from talking with the common man. Ask yourself…is that right for a shepherd? Is that how our Father in heaven is toward us? Jesus encouraged ALL to come to him. Christ is our example…would you say that James emulates that in any level? If so, I would honestly love to know…because I never saw this character trait in James.

        3) Lead the flock by example:
        Perhaps you can argue he is leading…but when you look at Paul, Paul continually asks people to lead by his example. I’m sorry, but no one should emulate James, wouldn’t you agree? Bully, skirting the rules, indimidating people into submission, shady dealings with money, etc. Regardless of how good the teaching (which I call suspect), no one should follow his example.

        4) Tend to the flock:
        In all my years at HBC, James pushed this responsibility onto others. I should have known better, but honestly, I was a babe in Christ when I arrived…so I didn’t know better. James rarely interacted with the common man, and those whom he deemed worthy were mostly weathly. (James 1) Then, when I did recognize this was not okay, I was too comfortable to leave. Then, I was fearful. Why on earth should I have fear of leaving when the pastor’s job is to tend to me? Seriously…think about that for a moment.

        I didn’t realize until I left what an idol Harvest had become…the big, famous church with all the resources, and the big, fancy school with the preacher who was known world-wide until I left. How would my children love God if they didn’t have a huge, fancy program with their own worship team and own pastor and message? This question sounds comical to me now, but it was a very real concern to us at the time. I can assure you, my family is thriving at a healthy, small church where the Bible is preached without agenda. I am so much happier. I am less stressed out…not having to worry about all the politics, agendas, and requirements, So, while I was desperately hanging on to all the things I felt I needed, I wasn’t putting my faith in God to carry me where I knew I needed to go.

        That being said, It took me and my husband much too long to come to the realization we needed to leave. I am deeply ashamed of this. We wished we had left 5 years prior. Even in the midst of our pain and suffering as we left (we were in senior leadership, had kids in the school, my husband interacted with James regularly…so we felt like our whole world was being ripped away), we never once regretted our decision. Ask yourself…Why, when we had been so connected, so involved, so crucial to the machine, did we leave without regret? And, why this is a common theme among so many?

        Jim, I say this all in love. I really do. I wouldn’t wish what we went through on our worst enemy. I have walked in your shoes.

        Ultimately, I want others to see the truth in these pages. It is all correct? Nope. But, step back and think about what qualifies as a pastor, an elder board, a church. From what you have seen and experienced, does Harvest meet all (or even one) of that criterion? I would venture to guess no. And the old adage that HBC loves to say, “there is no perfect church” is true. I too am at an imperfect church…HOWEVER, the major difference is that I know the Elders are holding the pastor in check. I know that the pastor is humble and will greet any single person who wants to talk with him. And I know that the pastor loves and tends to his flock…as the Bible requires. And my children are thriving.

        Ask more of your church. Trust God. He will not fail you. I guarantee it.

        1. Thanks for taking the time.

          I dont take offense to your response in anyway.

          I will repeat. Context is important.

          James will not tell me what I think nor will a stranger on TED. James is not my God. He is a man as am I.

          We seem to be in agreement that James needs to be addressed. I’ve been sharing some of what Im learning as I prepare myself to bring charges against Harvest Elders.

          I understand that many have tried. Many feel abused. Many were hurt. Many lost friends. Many reputations suffered.

          Your stories from the past, while appreciated, dont excuse inaction on my part.

          My overall point is simple.

          I love James as I love you stranger. Because Im called to. It is only from this heart condition that my charges will come with the full weight of the Lord behind them.

          If some want to pick my words apart so be it.

          Its Just more practice for me.

          Warnings are appreciated as well. Here is the one that matters.
          Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.
          1 Timothy 5:19‭-‬21 ESV

          And another…

          Hear the word of the Lord , you who tremble at his word: “Your brothers who hate you and cast you out for my name’s sake have said, ‘Let the Lord be glorified, that we may see your joy’; but it is they who shall be put to shame.
          Isaiah 66:5 ESV

          Bottom lines…

          I cannot hate in the name of The Lord.
          I cannot prejudge.
          I cannot be partial.
          As charged in front of God, Christ Jesus, and the elect angels
          I must bring charges from an loving impartial place.

          Hope thats black and white and ends the need to debate the “telling” order of my list that I have now explained twice.

          Debate the scripture if you are so inclined.

          God Bless

        2. So true. It’s sad to hear how anyone today could honestly say the teaching at Harvest is what is keeping them there these days. It’s more evidence of just how duped people at Harvest are.

        3. God Will Prevail November 5, 2017 — 1:56 am


          It sounds like you know what God has for you. You acknowledge what James is doing. So…will you leave or stay? That is the hard question.

          As I said before, I stayed 5 years too long…because I was talked out of leaving by the leadership (in services, by pastors, to myself):
          “There is no perfect church.”
          “People need you.”
          “If I stay, I can still do good.”
          “My flock/small group leaders need me.”
          “This church may not be perfect, but at least it is still preaching the gospel.”
          “I can make changes from the inside.”
          “While the leadership might not be what I agree with, there is still good happening at the lower levels.”
          “Look at the growth…God must be in this.”
          “God is still opening doors.”
          “I can still do good.”

          While I couldnt see it then, I plainly see it now…all of these statements were manipulation (and many of them lies)…using elements of truth to make me stay. It was the tiny elements of truth that kept us there way too long…and kept me in a prison of irrational fear.

          And, to speak to your scripture…to criticize elders and needing 2 or 3 witnesses. We had a HOST of witnesses when we left. It wasn’t hard to find. The sheer fact that this site exists…from people who are telling you that they were there for many, many years and what they saw…former elders even…doesn’t that tell you something? Look around. There is no blog on Christ Community or Willow. And if you want to say this is Satan attacking? Yes, he would love nothing more than to see another of God’s churches fall…but is Harvest truly even God’s church anymore? Or is it James’ church…and James’ kingdom? The fact that all I was hearing in small groups was , “James said” or “James’ sermon” or “James believes” as opposed to “God says” or “Christ taught” should have been a major warning sign to me. The fact that at times in the history of HBC, small groups were suddenly relegated to “only sermon notes” when James was going through yet again another “season of persecution” should have been a giant red flag that made me run away. The fact that HBC required “official” small groups, and didn’t encourage any small groups that weren’t “sanctioned” by the church should have been suspect…because they assumed that any small groups outside of HBC couldn’t possibly be a good thing should have had me up in arms. If you are involved at all, and I believe you are, I know you are hearing and experiencing these same things. They should be incredibly alarming to you. The issue is, that when I was there, I was so numb to these warning signs…because of all the manipulation. Now, the longer I am gone, I cannot believe how it took me so long to see it for what it was. But, I was duped. I was in the center of the culture that was telling me one thing while the Holy Spirit was telling me something else. The influence by so many was too strong, and I didn’t see it for what it was.

          I will pray for you Jim. If you confront James, I know first hand how impossibly hard that will be. I do not know what God is calling you to do, but to preservere in a toxic environment is an extremely hard road. And, in my opinion, to stay is to continue to allow James to continue to hurt, bully and manipulate others. The only way James will hear the message is if he is left with absolutely nothing.

        4. The Lords gifts and the path He has seen fit for me have prepared me for this day.

          Prayers that I may reflect Christ in my actions are coveted.

          I am not in leadership
          I do not head up a small group
          My kids go to public schools
          Not a single source of income is based on a relationship at Harvest.

          I have served but stepped away due to what Ive seen
          I left both my small groups for 2 months to reflect, worship, and learn elsewhere.

          The Lord has led me back. Not because I missed my friends, Not because I need James. Not because Im under a trance.

          Because The Lord asks more of me in this season. Because I am who he made me to be and because he led me here. I thank all on this site for sharing with me. Your Prayers are a source of power. Sounds like I need as much as I can get.

          Praying on Gods Armor.

          God Bless

  40. Where there is smoke, there is fire. There has been smoke for years coming out of here. This is so sad to be happening in God’s house. Why has there been such a mass exodus out of here of leaders? Because there is something rotten and my prayer is Olympus will fall. May God expose the whole truth. Every time there has been these issues over the years, interesting the leaders there don’t want to talk about it.
    Usually because people are trying to cover something up. I guess this is a sign of the times of false preachers! Woe unto them!

  41. You can only hide your sin for so long… eventually, the truth comes out.

    The very idea of “hush money” is so contrary to 1 John 1:9. If this was any other member/pastor of the church (ie. adultery), the member/pastor would be disciplined in front of the congregation, and be either removed from the fellowship or from leadership.

    Based on this letter, there appears to be an attempt to “cover up” what happened between HBC and HBF. This letter is so alarming, in the sense that there appears to be issues of fraud and deception regarding the financial dealings within the church, that it may even be illegal.

    There will continue to be a lot of back and forth, spin, etc… The only way that the truth will come out is with an independent forensic audit, and if warranted, reporting to the FBI for fraud investigation.

  42. The bribes, the broken promises, the witnesses . . . the homes, the cars, the fractured relationships, the witnesses . . . the club memberships, the flashy jewelry, the angry outbursts, the gambling, the witnesses . . . the tattoos, the questionable associations, the bizarre behavior, the threats, the sloppy preaching and quasi-prosperity teaching, the witnesses . . . the family antics, the endless relational tombstones, the lies, the politics, the salary, the debt, the witnesses . . . the berating of unpaid church volunteers, the hostile church takeovers, the dressing down his employees and colleagues, the cover ups and spin, the poor teaching, the harassing and bullying, the rebellious spirit, the witnesses . . . . . . .

    People of Harvest,
    Awake from your slumber. Arise and go find fellowship with your friends elsewhere. Jesus is not amused by all of this. Men, stop acting like little girls and be done with complicity. Stand with and for Christ. Your stance with and for James MacDonald is akin to standing idly by, watching and concealing years and years of wicked abuse by one family against another family member… or should I say dozens, if not hundreds of family members, as that figure is probably far more accurate. Stop listening to the spin from your elders at Harvest. The vast majority of posts and comments on the Elephant’s Debt site have been written with much restraint. Most assuredly, what you are reading on this site are very tempered accounts of all that is going on and wrong at Harvest… and that what is truly going on behind the scenes is actually much worse. Time will make all things plain.

    To my brothers and sisters in Christ at Harvest, choose to stay, choose to conceal and give your stamp of approval and blessing on one egomaniac’s unquenchable thirst for power. The choice is yours. Choose wisely.

    1. Follower of Jesus, not James October 25, 2017 — 6:05 pm

      Well said. God will NOT be mocked.

    2. Ouch! “…stop acting like little girls…” does not sit well, and moreso with Mark Driscoll’s behavior noted below. In their innocence, young girls (like young boys) can be very capable of clearly seeing and then SAYING something about wrong-doing. In respect to those girls, hope you find a better analogy.

      1. Agreed! Perhaps numbskulls, nitwits, or nincompoops would better suffice.

        1. Thanks, Mike.

  43. There was no acceptance of the offer as it was tied to a gag order. That was totallly unacceptable to the GCC Pastors.
    To date hbc has paid nothing back and has no intention of doing so, despite James saying several times publicly that he was going to do it.
    The 40 mighty men were a private group of Godly men who chose to use their wealth to further the Kindom and church planting efforts.
    Since learning of how their finances were used, against what was told to them, many have renounced their participation and have severed ties with hbc.

    1. Thanks. I agree with your reading of the situation (as described in the letter). The gag order contingency wasn’t a part of the suggested $1.8 million. It was part of the deal proposed by James via Jeff Smith (“We’ll give you more than that if you keep quiet.” Thank you for info on the 40 Mighty Men. I wasn’t questioning their intentions and my sense was that it was a group of godly, wealthy men who are dedicated to serving the Kingdom with their wealth. I’m grateful that many have spoken up against the mismanagement of their funds.

    2. Thank you for the clarity!

      1. In the letter, “40MM”.

  44. You should be aware that Mr Wisen did not want this posted or shared outside of those who received it initially.
    He is a man of high integrity and has always conducted himself to the standard of “beyond reproach.”
    In this case he was trying to settle a very ugly situation that he had no hand in creating.

    1. Thanks. Just curious: Is 40MM a private group of individuals?

    2. Thanks Spudman!

      For the record.

      I am not questioning Mr. Wisen’s character or integrity and believe he had the best of intentions based on the letter posted with or without his consent.

      I am questioning whether the new entity collectively accepted the “more than fair hush money settlement” suggested by JAMES “The Man who’s integrity is constantly in question” or the amount initially deemed fair “by those within the new entity who constantly question JAMES integrity.

      James accused Mr. Wisen of extortion at a 1.8 million dollar offer and then within a matter of days offered to settle at an amount almost 40% higher with 1 “noted” Non Negotiable? AKA Keep your mouths shut money!

      #SpiritCompassExplosion #ChurchGangsta #anofferyoushouldrefuse

      The letter then stops short of saying that the “HUSH” was agreed upon but gives no indication that it was resisted after it was reportedly introduced by James. It does mention James announced the was an offer agreed to in principle that went above and beyond.

      Did the New Entity accept James “Hush” offer or their own “Fair” offer? It’s not clear and it matters.

      If James offer was accepted it appears that 700k was a deemed a “Fair” offer for silence.

      Sadly, this may not have been the intention but if accepted it was the result.

      I think it’s a fair question that doesn’t suggest anything immediate about The Author as I have to believe these issues are being handled by a plurality of Godly Men.

      1. There are many concerning issues in this letter, including those you’re asking about. I can’t quite follow the part about HBF giving money to Mark Driscoll’s church (with money given to HBF by a group of individuals?), but if money was given by HBF to Trinity Church, as a tithing/giving member, I have a serious problem with that. Since when did HBF give money to other churches? Maybe I’m missing something…

        1. This matter was briefly addressed in an HBC Elder Update of 9/1/17 and in the attached “Audit” report. The “audit” report stated,

          “During the year ended June 30, 2017, HBF gave a gift towards Trinity Church building fund. This gift of $50,000 was fully reimbursed by the Harvest Bible Chapel Rolling Meadows blessing account.”

          To be clear, James MacDonald wrote the check as President of HBF and traveled to see his old friend in Arizona. He gave Mark Driscoll money from HBF accounts that had been raised for HBF church planting purposes.  This is a diversion of resources.

          Ironically, Mark Driscoll was forced to resign from his multi-campus, multi-state, evangelical megachurch for numerous offenses, not the least of which was diverting funds raised for Third World children into the megachurch’s general fund.  Driscoll is well known for saying such things as:

          1.  Wives are “penis homes.”

          2.  Certain pastors as “pussified” Christian leaders

          3.  Adam “was cursed for listening to his wife and every man since has had to sit quietly by and watch a nation of men be raised by bitter, penis envying, burned feministed, single mothers.”

          This, good members of Harvest, is the kind of man that your Senior Pastor, James MacDonald, decided to bless with $50,000 of your hard earned tithe money.  The question this raises, of course, is this: if James MacDonald felt free to divert $50,000 to a cause such as this, how else has he spent congregants’ tithe monies?   Does this help explain the $573,000 of unaccounted funds missing from HBF?

          For a fuller account of Driscoll, see the most recent article about Driscoll here in the Washington Post.


        2. Thanks for directing me to that part of the audit report. I had missed that.

          We know Mark Driscoll and his history well, but your summary and links may be helpful to others.

          There is no chance that any tithing/giving member would ever think that his/her money should or would go to a non-Harvest church without clear notice or a defensible purpose (i.e., helping a church in disaster relief), let alone to Mark Driscoll’s church.

  45. This is concerning from a number of perspectives. My main question right now: Does David Wisen know that this was posted publicly?

  46. Thank you for this.

    Let’s call it what it is. Any money paid to encourage another to keep their mouth shut is a Bribe plain and simple. No cute term “Hush” changes that. If accurate this charge is disgusting and I will leave room for Gods Wrath and be sure it is coming.


    This letter suggests Newco was offered the settlement they requested “1.8mil” and in addition a large bribe “700k” to censor your congregations. Did you accept the initially requested “fair” amount or the entire amount including the “bribe” money?

    If the entire amount….Why did you accept the $700,000 in bribe money? How does that square with scripture?

    Exodus 23:8
    You shall not take a bribe. For a bribe blinds the clear sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.

    Here then we see the meaning of the word righteousness. It implies the active as well as the passive obedience of The Lord Jesus Christ. We generally, when talking of the merits of Christ only mention the later,-His death; whereas, the former, – His life and active obedience, is equally necessary. Christ is not such as a Saviour as becomes us unless we join both together. Christ not only suffered, but obeyed for, or instead of , poor sinners “like me”. And both of these jointly make up that complete righteousness, which is to be imputed to us.

    G Whitfield

    Praying that all of us..starting with me.. put obedience first as we continue to sort through the current season. Praise to the Lord for the example of a perfect life lived by Christ in our place. Thanks for The Bible as the source of Truth in every situation.

    1. No, the GCC (“Newco,” former HBF) HAS NOT accepted any kind of “gag order.”

  47. Reblogged this on Truth2Freedom's Blog.

  48. The Capin Crouse audit is apparently not worth the paper it is written on. Perhaps there needs to be a forensic audit performed with one of the big audit houses such as Price Waterhouse. I would think that the congregation would want full assurances that their tithes and offerings are being used wisely.

  49. “Contracts are only as good as the honor of the men who make them.” This can also be seen in the promise to the congregation to be debt free by 2020 (or 2023 with no annual increase in giving). Last year the payment toward principal on the debt should have been 4.9 million (on the 2023 timetable). The actual debt reduction according to the ECFA website was 1.7 million. The 2015 payment was supposed to be 4.6 million but the actual principal reduction was only $243,263.
    I had a sick feeling when this timetable was given to the congregation. It seemed it was a bone, thrown to quiet the uproar, with the hopes by 2020 nobody would even remember the promise. Well, I remember. I haven’t attended Harvest for 4 years now. I had hoped I would be wrong, but I kept that timetable because there should be accountability in the church of Christ. It is time for the leadership of Harvest to search themselves and Act Like Men.

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