One Member’s Resignation

Update 11:17:17Our most recent post regarding the David Wisen letter elicited a comment from a reader that struck us as a wise and grace filled response the the MacDonald crisis that we thought it was worth putting up as an independent post, as opposed to letting it languish among hundreds of other comments.

We receive emails from members inquiring about steps forward after reading this site, and this letter she wrote seems to strike the right tone that it should serve as a model to those asking, “what now?”

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 we 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 happening 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 with 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 in listening to us and have respected 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 a 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 you have resigned membership. Leaving without telling 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 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 chances 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 in posting here.

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


60 thoughts on “One Member’s Resignation

  1. Stick to the facts? You all have been running from the facts for two decades. There are hundreds of us out here who have been behind James’ curtain at one time or another since day one. The things he says behind your backs and the things he believes are vile and disgusting. The whole Harvest community has been his plaything since day one. James feeds on stealing the power of others.

    The worst part is that he has been planning his next move for years when he steps away and he will go on bigger and more disgusting than ever.

    But in all of it, please pay him no respect. You may love him as a brother, but the lives he has destroyed are in the thousands.

  2. HBC is Manipulative December 5, 2017 — 9:42 am

    I used to be a weekend production volunteer, and I’ll just say that everything trickles from the top down. The leaders of the worship ministry are James’ minions and pawns and emulate the same manipulation tactics as their senior pastor. Andi Rozier is a snake and cannot be trusted. Neither of the MacDonald boys can be trusted. The campus pastors defend James at all costs. The elders have ZERO power. The XLT leaders are getting their wallets filled to the brim by James…. and James has a nice new mansion to enjoy from everyone’s tithe money. They are angry, manipulative people – who HATE that they aren’t a “bigger deal” in the church world. They want so badly to be famous, known and important. They know they don’t measure up, so they are angry. Harvest constantly makes everything sound like things are great, and that their ministry is better than anyone elses ministry. To make themselves appear bigger, they push other people down. This won’t last long – people have seen their true colors and can see through the lies and manipulation. It’s only a matter of time. The ripple effects of their bad reputations stretch far and wide.

    1. There isn’t much that contains more hubris than assigning motive and judging hearts. Stick to the facts, please.

  3. Beware The Muzzle December 5, 2017 — 9:05 am

    James is a Prideful, Power Hungry, Bully or a Man surrounded by enablers. The enablers are surrounded with decent Christians trying to make a difference by training disciples for Christ. The sheep below leadership are indoctrinated to fear asking any questions of the Church. When this works it creates a submissive man, not to Christ but to the toxic leadership of the Church.

    When it doesn’t work it creates me!

    Here’s a list for you James

    The 4 categories of people at HBC

    Supreme Leader
    Charmed Enabling Blind
    Men&Women of God doing good work under a false flag
    Abused Confused Scared Sheep

    My heart is for categories 3 and 4.

    What makes this such a difficult situation is the heart of category 3 for category 4.

    This machine abuses the very people that “need” disciple training creating a perverted dynamic. As the fearful confused sheep adhere to the training of good men of God (under a false flag) they are rewarded with invites to leadership courses and fellowship opportunities. Those that show skill at raising scared sheep into workers that abide in Harvest’s vision become coaches and are further indoctrinated as they approach the level of “Charmed Enabling Blind”. The position of Elder isn’t far off. Add some Cash or a Financial Background with access to it and now you’re fast tracking.

    Contrast with Christ

    Omnino Amare = Entirely Love

    I was reminded of this quote by a dear Brother that I consider one of the Godly men still at Harvest stuck between category 2 and 3.

    Well then, I will tell you. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I myself have founded great empires; but upon what did these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions will die for Him. . . . I think I understand something of human nature; and I tell you, all these were men, and I am a man; none else is like Him: Jesus Christ was more than a man. . . . I have inspired multitudes with such an enthusiastic devotion that they would have died for me . . . but to do this is was necessary that I should be visibly present with the electric influence of my looks, my words, of my voice. When I saw men and spoke to them, I lightened up the flame of self-devotion in their hearts. . . . Christ alone has succeeded in so raising the mind of man toward the unseen, that it becomes insensible to the barriers of time and space. Across a chasm of eighteen hundred years, Jesus Christ makes a demand which is beyond all others difficult to satisfy; He asks for that which a philosopher may often seek in vain at the hands of his friends, or a father of his children, or a bride of her spouse, or a man of his brother. He asks for the human heart; He will have it entirely to Himself. He demands it unconditionally; and forthwith His demand is granted. Wonderful! In defiance of time and space, the soul of man, with all its powers and faculties, becomes an annexation to the empire of Christ. All who sincerely believe in Him, experience that remarkable, supernatural love toward Him. This phenomenon is unaccountable; it is altogether beyond the scope of man’s creative powers. Time, the great destroyer, is powerless to extinguish this sacred flame; time can neither exhaust its strength nor put a limit to its range. This is it, which strikes me most; I have often thought of it. This it is which proves to me quite convincingly the Divinity of Jesus Christ.


    For whatever reason God has allowed each of us to fall victim to James toxic leadership.

    Its hard to understand why The Lord continues to allow so many to follow him and trust in Harvest over God Himself.

    For me I’m certain it was a lesson about where I put my faith. I am thankful that he has shown me his favor and opened my eyes.

    I will not be silenced as I believe that my path led me through Harvest for the very reason of naming the lie. God will insert the Truth! Watch closely Brothers and Sisters. It’s already happening. Every time James opens his mouth.

    The abrasive angry cynical language and attempts to control with deception and fear. God is allowing it all to flow freely from J Mac’s mouth.

    Praise God for The Life of Christ! Without it we would not know the difference.

  4. What in heavens name is that slop? Those with the gifts of administration and running things, the gifts of putting things in order and executing and implementing plans and doing things right are lame?

    This man is an embarrassment to everything thinking Christian.

  5. View this past weekend’s sermon here — I also downloaded it in case they remove it entirely.

    1. Also, for what it’s worth… I went back in to download a lower res version of the file. The first version I downloaded (at 720p at 9:58 pm) is titled “Why A Vision – HBC Version v2.mp4” — the second version I downloaded (at 360p at 10:06 pm) is titled “Why A Vision – FINAL CORRECTED VERSION HBC.mp4”. However, both appear to be the same length and random checks at different times throughout the videos appear to be the same as well. Also, tried downloading at 720p again and the title is the same as the latter.

      1. It appears to be back up on HBC web site here

  6. James the last few months:
    This church planting thing is so hard on me, it took so much out of me to be so smart and do all the amazing things I did to plant all these churches and figure out how to spend all the money on my whims and good times. I had to quit Harvest bible fellowship it’s hard to be the smartest guy doing all the work of planting churches, we’re gonna do something different that is easier on me and where people can’t question my amazing leadership and spending habits.
    Yesterday: God’s called us to plant churches and not Little ones either, no more small churches only big ones with big budgets! We’re gonna start a new thing and plant churches and since we have no more fellowship pastors who know what they’re doing we’ll use our campus pastors who can teach other pastors what to do when people ask questions.
    And I’ll be back in charge and no one will tell me what to do!!!!!!
    No questions!

  7. This is nothing more than repackaging
    an old idea.
    In the former Harvest fellowship James had everything a church planter could have been blessed with, until he got caught playing games with all the money in the fund.
    He used the fellowship fund like his piggy bank and tried his best to keep it quiet.
    However the Lord had another thing for him, to expose what sinful things he was up to, his anger got so out of control he actually quit one of the most amazing fellowships of church planters in exsistence.
    When these other senior pastors exposed the truth did James humble himself and make it right? Of course not!
    Twist the story and make himself the victim, it’s worked so well previously.
    James is a master at twisting and manipulating the story so that he becomes the victim.
    He has no other way to play it. What humble himself and admit he was dipping into fellowship funds for golfing and hunting trips, no I’m the victim here.
    Admit that he used the fellowship money for pet projects at his new mansion, no way I’m the victim here.
    God is not mocked, your sin will find you out.
    Wake up people the truth is before you!
    James is repackaging what he had before and selling it right back to you.
    He tells you to honor your leaders and then secretly he tears down the senior pastors who called out his sin.
    Jesus called out the hypocrites of his day as we should call out this brood of vipers today.
    Run as fast as you can from this hypocrite.

    1. There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both.
      Job 9 33

  8. I read this comment by a fellow saint regarding pastors and visioncasting:

    Once a pastor claims to have direct revelation from God as to the direction of a local church, he puts himself, his motives and his objectives beyond all question. This places the pastor in a position of “Unquestionable Leader” rather than humble servant and “Shepherd”. So, in plain language, vision casting pastors have set themselves up in the EXACT same position as the the Roman Catholic Church has set their pope. They speak for God and are not to be doubted nor questioned. This is a comparison most modern pastors would recoil from, but to those in the pews there is no substantive difference.

    The sad part of all of this is that most of those folks attending Purpose-Driven churches are completely unaware that their pastor holds to the vision-casting beliefs and method. As I see it, the modern-day professing church has rejected one pope so that instead we can have thousands of them. This whole idea of leadership and direction is completely opposite what is laid out in Scripture.

    Wake up, Harvest, wake up.

  9. Ummm…. did anyone hear the sermon this weekend? Harvest is a cult. Everything about them screams “cult”.
    Are people blind?? Seriously???

    James is a total lunatic.

    1. I watched the message. I have been quite critical of JMac and Harvest (justifiably so, I think) as I have been a frequent flyer (contributor) on this blog. With that said, interestingly enough, I felt like what he said this weekend actually made a lot of sense and seemed on the up and up. In my estimation, his message did not scream, “Cult! Cult!”… Having said that, I do think Harvest’s leadership does exhibit some cult-like tendencies… so I am not completely disagreeing with you by any means.

      What was it in particular that bothered you most about this weekend’s message?

      1. God Will Prevail December 5, 2017 — 8:32 am


        To me, a person who has not been at HBC for years, this was like a full-on assault, full of spin and conjecture. The logic was so confusing and circular, I had a hard time following it when you took it at face value. However, the spin was readily apparent and easier to follow than the actual message.

        Here are just a few of the major issues with this service…and they all have to do with 2 topics: Don’t ask questions and give your money to us.

        1) I have never heard that Proverbs 29:18 is the most misquoted verse in all the Bible. I have never had it ever even had that verse mentioned to me (I have been a Christian for 40 years) let alone misquoted. He does this for affect…like he wants you to think he is trying to right a wrong, when in reality, he is going to misuse the verse himself. Telling people that finishing their basements is unrestrained folly when he himself has built a mansion? Wow. The hypocrisy is staggering. And, to be clear, there is nothing wrong or foolish with finishing your basement if you have the means and funds to do so. SPIN: Whatever special project you had planned this year with the money you have saved, give it to Harvest. We will use it for God…you will waste it. And, go check James’ Twitter feed…he posted a video of himself prancing around like one of these wasteful people (presumably all the clueless members who cannot think for themselves).

        2) The business of the church isn’t the business of the church. The business of the church is boring…I feel sorry for those people even though I am grateful for them. And there is thousands of wonderful people who don’t ask questions and 10 cantankerous people who are just unhappy. SPIN: Don’t ask any questions, it’s not your business. Be a good little soldier and work for Harvest, we aren’t interested in you thinking for yourself. We aren’t interested in what you have to say. And if you do insist on thinking for yourself we will label you cantankerous and negative. QUESTION: If the business is so boring, why can’t everyone know about it? If it is so ordinary, why can’t they ask questions?

        3) Small group isn’t the place to ask questions. And, we are a church of small groups. So…if we are a church of small groups, doesn’t it make sense that small groups would be appropriate for questions? I was a small group and flock leader there for 15 years…and questions were encouraged. Now the philosophy has changed…why? SPIN: If you ask pastors, they can give you non-answers and tell you it isn’t your business. If you talk with your small group leaders, you might learn too much about what we are really doing, and become a cantankerous person. You just shouldn’t ask questions.

        4) The Maybe Nots…Harvest isn’t a place to have your questions answered. Or your needs met. (Do you see a theme arising here?) SPIN: Yet another way to tell the members not to ask questions and to mind their own business. Yet another way to tell the members while putting a godly spin on it why they should never question authority.

        5) The Mission of the Church isn’t Missions. The Mission of missions is the church. The Great Commission is the church. Matthew 28:19 says to go out into all the world and make disciples of all nations. Should this be an extension of the church? Yes. However, it does not need to be limited to church planting. SPIN: Give your money to Harvest. (Again, see a theme?) We will know what to do with it. Don’t give your money to ahospital or Christian colleges, or other Christian entities, etc. That is not what God wants you to do. God wants you to give the money to the church. And you belong to our church. So you give your money to us.

        The references he used through out the sermon were bizarre, mocking and not even close to on point:
        1) The puppy pillow ministry. SPIN: Don’t come to us with your ministry ideas. They will be stupid, and will not be as important as our ministry.
        2) Jefferies being compared to fathering lots of church plants all over the world? I do not understand the correlation in the least. And in one sermon, he said he wasn’t like him. (Uh, why would you say that if you weren’t paranoid about being a cult leader yourself?) SPIN: I am not a cult leader.

        There is SO much more I could list off and say, but do not have the time, and do not feel it is necessary. If this summary doesn’t grab your attention and give you concern, then I do not feel more examples will change your mind.

        I pray for Harvest to open their eyes. It is amazing to me that when people’s eyes finally are open how they can see all of this so plainly…things they once defended fiercely suddenly are abhorrent and vile. Please…all who read this blog, pray for God’s wisdom, pray for discernment…and then be brave to go where God leads. It is hard, but you will not regret it!

        1. God Will Prevail December 5, 2017 — 8:39 am

          Here is the Tweet I was referring to…just who is he mocking exactly?

        2. Just listened to the message and agree with your insightful analysis. Yes, there’s more that’s troubling, but these “highlights” should be sufficient for setting off alarms, even for those prone to giving the benefit of the doubt.

          How can Elders–thinking especially of the newer ones at our former campus–hear this and do nothing?

          Ultimately, God will prevail. Right now, I’m unclear about His purpose in letting this continue.

      2. Someone showed me the sermon, and the main thing that concerned me was the blatant point that the reason Harvest left the Fellowship was that they were doing all the multiplying (like a sick Mormon cult leader hoarding all the wives and children), and most of the churches weren’t effective or accomplishing much (1s and 2s, he called them), so Harvest was going to focus on the good ones. They left out the fact that Harvest didn’t plant a church in its first 15 years either.

    2. Beware The Muzzle December 4, 2017 — 12:37 pm

      James Mac says..

      “Don’t ask questions “about our Church” in small group?”

      So when 2 or 3 of us come together in the name of Christ, with Christ in our midst, questions about the fruits of the leadership and governance entrusted with His Church are off limits?


      No Pastor, Elder, Coach, or SG Leader can silence a Member questioning leadership when it is believed that bad fruits are at hand. Even without bad fruits, the small group is a safe place for questions of any kind between brothers in Christ.

      These are not just words my friends.

      Now the ability to openly engage in conversation over concerns with our closest Brothers is under attack.

      Case and Point

      Last night I witnessed a Brother / Leader / Member be threatened with Church discipline by a “SG coach” if he did not stop texting an alternative viewpoint.

      It took place between individual texts and a SG group text because one brother pointed another brother towards TED for another perspective after Yesterday’s sermon left the brother sad and confused.

      The Brother that was threatened rebuked the leaders for their unbiblical attempt to “Hush” a member and stated his intention to leave HBC effective immediately.

      Watchful Christians don’t stand for “Hush Money” and we definitely won’t stand for the Hush from a False Prophet in the pulpit either.

      Praise God for this brothers discernment and faithfulness.


      Omnino Amare

      1. One thing interesting that MacDonald said during the message was:
        “The business of the church is NOT the business of the church.”

        Is that biblical???

        1. David,
          You are totally right in your post! Don’t ask!! Intimatition!! But what is far worse is his anger and screaming at the sheep. Why? Controll! And believe me his personal life does not match his pulpit life. And there is the matter of a new way of Church plants. Just a way to get a new bunch of plants to give money back. Because the HBF walk away leaving him.

    3. We were going to watch it, and it was posted online earlier today, but it looks like it has been taken down. If anyone finds it, please reply. Thanks!

      The SG curriculum is posted at the link below, with the Sermon “Notes & Quotes.”

      Click to access PC_WhyAVision_rev2.pdf

      Proverbs 29:18 is a widely misinterpreted verse, and people often forget to read and speak to the whole thing. I can’t tell all of what Pastor James said based on the SG curriculum, but the question on number 3, page 1 suggests that the verse was perhaps being applied to the concept of church unity…which is beyond the scope and intent of the verse.

      In the SG curriculum, the first question under Assess gives me pause–as do the 5 Maybe Nots–in light of recent events at HBC. The “marks of a healthy small group” are also strangely legalistic and would make me very uneasy were I a SG leader or member.

      I also see Pastor James’ mantra, “The business of the church is not the business of the church. The business of the church is ministry.” He is using the terms “business” and “church” in three different ways. This makes the phrasing “catchy” but exposes the logical & practical flaws.

      Decoded, this says, “The [way that a church entity is run administratively, including its finances] is not the [rightful concern] of [people/members who attend and give]. The [God-given purpose] of the [church universal] is ministry.”

      The second sentence is true, if incomplete, but doesn’t follow from the first one. In fact, agreement that Church must minister should make congregants MORE interested in having knowledge of and confidence in how their particular church is managed.

      It seems that HBC is continuing in its pattern of telling members to serve, disciple, and tithe, but to ask no real questions or expect transparent answers regarding church “business.”

      1. Cantankerous Man with Questions December 4, 2017 — 8:47 pm

        I watched. He was loud, and seemed angry.

        He said Harvest is not about a quantity of disciples but about quality of discipleship.

        He then went through the quantities:
        – 3 million listen to walk in the word
        – 200 church plants
        – 3 meetings for questions from only 150 people
        – and a cantankerous 10 (meaning irritating people who ask tough questions)

        Using the pulpit to discuss future vision? Or using pulpit to defend the “business” of the church.

        They also asked for some year end giving goal of 4.1 million. (Trei and Luke). Not sure what for as the stream disconnected for a bit.

        Plenty of people still in the seats, applauding, laughing…

        1. Disturbed Afresh December 4, 2017 — 9:35 pm

          Since video was pulled:
          My notes from service yesterday:

          HBC is $4M behind on giving and expecting that December will make up shortage. To Help us WORSHIP the King this season, there was a special envelope distributed “Gift to our King”. Each person (not family) should give in that envelope and bring it to the front of the church during Christmas Eve Service.

          >>WOW no pressure…(in light of circumstances – this is uncomfortable)<>Wonder which King he is referring to?<>Is he blaming HBF for the “sick cultist” following he created and still demands?<>Just ignore the man behind the curtain…The Great Oz…<<

        2. (Previous post attempt was corrupted html..I’ll try again):
          My notes from service yesterday:

          HBC is $4M behind on giving and expecting that December will make up shortage. To Help us WORSHIP the King this season, there was a special envelope distributed “Gift to our King”. Each person (not family) should give in that envelope and bring it to the front of the church during Christmas Eve Service.

          ** WOW no pressure…(in light of circumstances – this is uncomfortable)

          Sermon Topic: Vision for HBC – where are we going and how to get there…
          1) Goal: Glorify God thru fulfilling the Great Commission
          How: Make Disciples (happening well thru small groups at HBC)
          Plant Churches (the King tells us to multiply…)

          ** Wonder which King is he referring to?

          2) We will continue to plant churches (but method changing).
          a) Our Past Model of Church Planting resulted in a Monopoly and a “sick Cultic culture”
          HBC mothership responsible for hundreds of infant churches with many demands that stretched resources too thin.

          ** Is he blaming HBF for the sick cult following he created and still demands??

          b) Only a few of the hundreds of plants are themselves church planters…
          So HBC will focus on working with and building up these church planting churches.
          HBC will ONLY invest in those churches that are themselves multiplying.

          3) HBC is not perfect – And despite a few complainers, you should NOT expect HBC these:
          5 Maybe Nots:
          * my comfort protected
          * all my questions answered
          * my expectations met
          * my needs met
          * my pet ministry a priority

          “The Business of the church (JMAC), is NOT the business of the Church(Sheep).”
          (…the Church should focus on making disciples…)

          “If you are fed the word, feel loved, have great worship.. Take Care to keep that..”

          ** Just ignore the man behind the curtain…The Great Oz.

      2. View this past weekend’s sermon here —

        1. Thanks!

          Disturbed Afresh—As someone who was involved in leading classes thru the stewardship ministry at our campus, I am deeply saddened by that approach to year-end giving. 😦

  10. Anyone attend(ing) the service tonight? The church-wide email said,”Pastor James will be preaching and presenting a fresh vision for the direction and future of our church.”

    Wondering what on earth that is all about…

    1. Read Matthew 23. God’s wants us to be warned of this hypocrisy.

  11. Delusional. That’s all I can say about the MacDonald family. Completely delusional. Full of themselves and manipulative.

  12. There are Churches in the immediate area that seemingly understand Biblical governance and allow for Members to aide in holding leadership accountable by governing through election of Elders and Affirmation of Elder Leadership.

    Here is some verbiage I found from a local Gospel centered Church’s Constitution

    Under Christ this congregation is governed by its members. Therefore, it is the privilege and responsibility of members to attend all members’ meetings and vote on the election of officers, on decisions regarding membership status, and on the annual budget.

    An elder’s term of office may be terminated by resignation or by dismissal. Any two members with reason to believe that an elder should be dismissed should express such concern to the elders and, if need be, to the congregation. Any such action shall be done in accordance with the instructions of our Lord in Matthew 18:15–17 and I Timothy 5:17–21. Any of the elders may be dismissed by a two-thirds vote of the members at any members’ meeting of the church.

    For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.
    Mathew 18: 20

    I believe this is where every new Church “starts”.

    2 or 3 “members” of The Body of Christ together in the presence of Christ, for the Glory of God.

    The Church does not start with Elders, Pastors, Leaders. It starts with members who then go forth and elect Elders which call a Pastor or “Teacher.”

    Seems pretty simple to me and sure enough, as displayed at the top of this post, there are Churches out there that leave governance where it started and where it belongs. With the Members.

    I’m no theologian. No Bible College Grad. Perhaps there is a more educated man or woman out there that can shoot holes in my understanding. James Mac has refused to engage on this topic. Anyone else care to take a stab at it?

    Let me share a take away regarding my own faithlessness.

    I recently found that Churches with much less “stuff” than Harvest can be much more spiritually refreshing as they drive a deeper dependence on The Word of God.

    Don’t get me wrong, VCB is awesome and there is no apology needed for being talented.

    My Worship, however, should not be hung up on what “I” like about a worship band, what pleases my ear, what visually engages me, the personality of the preacher. Not in the least.

    Sadly, I can see now, that I have at times fallen into idolatry of my former mega Church. Focusing on how much I “like” the “things” they offer. The “brand” of worship they inspire. The word of the man who heads it all. In this Idolatry I fear at times I’ve been less than watchful and more likely to overlook departure from Biblical leadership

    This revelation has caused me to Imagine HBC without all the “things.”

    To ask myself, would removing the band, the video boards, the building, the “experience”…

    Would it hinder my worship?
    Would it change my perceived ability to encounter God?
    Would it make me less likely to get into The Word?
    Less likely to serve The God that has sacrificed so much?

    If you answered Yes to any of these questions (as I did) let me implore you as a brother to step away for a Weekend and pop into a Gospel centered, smaller, less worldly Church. Let The Gospel alone wash over you as you worship and learn. See if the lens you view HBC through changes. You may be surprised.

    For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.
    Mathew 18: 20

    This is as perfect and complete picture as I’ve found of the Church. Pray for a season of refocusing on what matters.

    The Birth, Life, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Emmanuel !!

    Who needs so much debt laden stuff when Christ is among us?!

    Omnino Amare

    1. What church is that?? I’d love for this site to post good church recommendations in this area.

      1. I’ve been following these posts for some time now and have wanted to recommend our church but have felt somewhat uncomfortable (as if I’m promoting my choice as best). But, I really believe you will not find better preaching or more soulful worship. Before I give my reasons, though, I want to also suggest Village Church (Bartlett) and The Orchard (Barrington/Arlington Heights) as being strong, biblical churches.

        My church is Westminster Presbyterian Church (next door neighbor to Harvest in Elgin). Before the word Presbyterian scares you off, let me note that a significant percentage of church members are not Presbyterian, but would find themselves at home with church doctrine and teaching (except infant baptism). The church is evangelical and reformed (salvation is by faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone, to the glory of God alone and scripture is the only sure authority on matters of faith and practice).

        The church is experiencing a season of growth under their new Senior Pastor (as of August 2017) Doug O’Donnell. At his installation service, Kent Hughes (author of Disciplines of a Godly Man) told the congregation that God had richly blessed the church by giving them Doug. He is the author of several bible commentaries and children’s books (, he regularly trains pastors on how to handle and preach God’s Word ( and he is passionate about helping people understand and apply God’s Word to their lives.

        In September the church hired a new Director of Music, Stephen Lynerd, who artfully blends a variety of music genres in his choices for Sunday worship with the goal of stirring hearts and minds to love and worship God. There is a sense of expectation each week as we (the congregation) encounter new songs and old in fresh ways. My children LOVE it and the older members of the congregation do too.

        The church also just hired a new Children’s Church Coordinator (a former Harvest Kids employee) to lead a special time for children during the sermon that teaches the same content as the sermon in a kid-friendly way. There are also kid’s bulletins for children who remain in the service and listen to the sermon. I love that the church encourages children to participate in the service and learn to listen to God’s Word preached.

        In the last couple months, the Youth Group has grown from a handful of kids to thirty, and new kids are coming every week. The Women’s Bible Studies which meet on Tuesday mornings and Wednesday evenings just finished Jen Wilkin’s 1 Peter study and will begin a study on the Psalms in January–there were close to 50 women participating. And finally, the church is hiring a new Director of Discipleship to begin early in 2018. The church is eager to obey Christ’s command to make disciples.

        Can you tell I’m excited about my church? I encourage you to listen to a couple of sermons online ( and come visit sometime soon. While it is still a relatively small church, it is growing every week with people hungry for God’s Word.

    2. Omnino, you are right on about the basis of a church. I’ll offer that the gifts passages in 1 Cor 12-14 should be viewed in light of the way leadership and congregants should relate to one another. If the pastor or elder cannot allow themselves to be edified by your spiritual gift as a congregant, then that is a red flag on how they view their authority as placing them on a higher plane. They are in need of ministry by all the gifts just as much as anybody else. Arguing that a pastor can only find accountability within those identified as leaders shortchanges other mature believers from using their gifts, seperates pastors from being grounded in the real world going on in congregants lives, and is too easy for a pastor to conceal areas in their soul in need of change by being able to quietly remove their accountability partner even if they are an elder (which I know has occurred in an HBC).

  13. For those who know something is wrong and yet continue to stay (and worse yet DEFEND) what is happening, you are at least partly responsible for this continuing. You must bring change or leave.

    Some have asked, “when should I leave?” and I quote Wayne Grudem when he said something to the effect of: “it’s time to leave when you know something is fundamentally wrong and you know your chances of changing it are near zero”.

    Those of you who continue to give money to this false prophet need to open your eyes. The qualifications for elders appears in 1 Timothy 3: 2-6. Does James MacDonald meet those qualifications? If not, you need to ask yourself the question Wayne Grudem asks. In my case, I determined that he is disqualied and has been for YEARS. God gave us the verses in 1 Timothy (and others like them) to protect His Church from people like James MacDonald.

    He’s far worse than a guy like Joel Osteen because Joel Osteen is obvious….he’s a wolf in wolf’s clothing if you will. James MacDonald is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and that elder board is a puppet show…

  14. Congregants need to be warned about Harvest Bible Chapel. It is a family-run cult that needs to be exposed. James is an angry and prideful man who shouldn’t be in the pulpit. The problem is that having James removed and then Luke (his son) taking over doesn’t exactly solve the problem. The stories I’ve heard about Luke are enough to make you think he may be even worse – outward disrespect for others, lack of integrity, manipulating others to get what he wants, and anger outbursts. What we see now through TED is both of their bad reputations are catching up to them. “You reap what you sow”.

    It’s sad to see the constant spin that HBC puts on situations to deflect their own sin. They use the pulpit to manipulate people. It’s time for the “Elders” to step up and do their job. Protecting James doesn’t help. Who is in for starting a petition to vote the Elders out? Maybe that will get the congregation’s (and elders) attention.

    1. Petition. Build a Catapult. Put up a Billboard. Sound the Alarm. Vote with your Feet and Pocketbook. Whatever it takes. God Himself did some radical things when things were radically wrong in times past. Think Ananias and Sapphira. The money changers. Those who partook in the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner… Just to name a few examples in the Church. How many more examples could we find before the New Covenant?! Just because someone happens to be the senior pastor of a large church is no reason to hold him any less accountable for his actions. If anthying, doesn’t the Bible teach he should be held to a much higher standard than others?!? Now we could debate if we leave catapults and petitions entirely up to the Lord. But there should be no debate whatsoever that James MacDonald and his accomplices and enablers (i.e. Rick Donald, Jeff Donaldson, Donald Duck… oops. Scratch Donald… Duck, that is) have disqualified themselves from eldership in the church.

      Wake up Harvest. It’s time to make a stand for Jesus over James.

    2. Hi Tyler! An online petition could be effective, but the goal of “voting Elders out” is not possible because members aren’t involved in putting Elders “in”—even in a small way.

      According to the current By-Laws (2015):

      “The [Elder Board] Nominating Committee shall nominate as potential Elders men who are Members and meet the criteria set forth in these Bylaws, and whom they otherwise deem qualified. In addition, per these Bylaws, the Executive Committee will maintain a Nominating Committee to recommend to the Elder Board suitable Elder Board nominees for final approval of Elder Board membership.”

      Contrast with the “old” process, as outlined in the 2008 Constitution, which did incorporate members:

      “When the need arises for additional Elders, a nominee will be recommended by the existing Board of Elders. In keeping with the clear biblical injunctions regarding authority structures within the church only men will be considered for the office of elder. An in-depth interview will ensue to determine if the nominee is biblically qualified. The congregation will then be reminded of the biblical requirement for Elders and given 30 days to speak personally with the nominee if they are aware of any disqualifying characteristics. If the matter remains unresolved, the nominee or church member should approach the Board of Elders and request that their name be withdrawn from consideration.”

      If the Elders do still solicit feedback from members who have concerns about Elder nominees (e.g., via the “screen” announcements before/after the service), then someone can correct me about what has been happening in practice. I don’t recall seeing such a request for at least a few years, and we only resigned a week ago.

      The current Elder Qualifications also speak to the challenge of focusing a petition on Elder removal per se.

      “Qualifications [2015 by-laws]. An Elder must exemplify the qualifications for an elder set out in Titus 1:6-9, that he be above reproach, able to teach, husband to one wife, not addicted to wine, temperate, not antagonistic, prudent, un-contentious, respectable, free from the love of money, hospitable, able to manage his own household, and not a new convert. Elders shall conform to these and other Scriptural principles in their public and private lives. In addition to these Scriptural qualifications, the Elder Board may at any time create, alter, amend, or remove other qualifications except those listed in the Scriptures. In keeping with Scripture’s clear teaching regarding the exercising of authority within the church, only men will be considered for the office of Elder.”

      So, the current by-laws give room for “additional” criteria that are subject to Elder Board discretion and need not be transparent or subject to a formal change in the bylaws. (FYI, Elder Qualifications under the 2008 Constitution listed only those from Titus.)

      This year, an Elder told us that Elder selection at HBC prioritizes men who have certain kinds of jobs/professions (e.g., business, finance). That raises many questions and issues, but “jives” with recommendations in the 2009 “Elder Renewal” report that HBC provided this month in the footnotes to the Elder Update: The contents of that summary also suggest that willingness to protect the Senior Pastor in public or private is another discretionary criterion for Elder nomination.

      The bottom line is this: Based on what is permitted by the by-laws, there’s no reason to believe that Elders who are pressured to step down–or emboldened to speak out–would be replaced with men who would make everything “right.” It’s the Elder Board Nominating Committee that is in charge of choosing the candidates, and the Elder Board only that approves new Elders – though it’s not clear in the by-laws exactly how that happens.

      A petition that includes a call for the removal of the Senior Pastor by citing violations under one or more by-laws under which he can be removed may have a decent chance of being acted on, if clearly-written and if signed by enough current members. See 8.04 on page 22 (Side note: By my reading, it appears to be more difficult to remove the Senior Pastor than it is to remove an Elder or member.) But note that the Senior Pastor can only be removed by “unanimous recommendation of the Executive Committee and by the consensus of the Elder Board.” Since the Elder Board has effectively said in their update that they are satisfied with everything right now, there would have to be hundreds, if not thousands, of names — including names of well-respected, well-known members who have a longer record of service and tithing.

      It goes without saying, but former members of a church aren’t in the position to call for change via petition. At this point, we are merely prayerful onlookers who have already “spoken” by leaving, with or without formally resigning membership.

      Still, I suppose someone could create a different kind of online “petition” where people who were once HBC members “go” to sign as those who left HBC due to issues related to governance & stewardship (for example). So, similar to The Witnesses list on TED, but names only and inclusive of members who weren’t Elders or employees. That wouldn’t hold water with current HBC Elders. Rather, it would be an appeal to current members that reminds them of—or alerts them to—those who left for certain kinds of reasons. One challenge of that approach is that many former members likely don’t want to return to the past and have moved on to membership in other churches.

      Hope that helps, Tyler. My apologies for the length of this response. If I thought we knew each other, I would have emailed you directly. 🙂 Take care.

      1. A Couple True Facts

        In my recent discussion with Jeff Donaldson he used the term “lifetime appointment” to describe Rick Donald’s and J Mac’s standing at HBC.

        In the same discussion it was stated that HBC would “never” share salary info.

        As a side note..That statement was unprovoked as I “never” referenced salary info prior to Jeff’s statement. Guess he just felt compelled to make that clear…

        Ask him about it. He assured me repeatedly that he was a man of integrity and that he demanded it of the Church.

        Jeff also said he was available and happy to answer any members questions.

        Judge Justly Brothers and Sisters

        Omnino Amare!

        1. “Lifetime appointment” is nowhere in the by-laws, as you know, but they do say, “The Senior Pastor shall hold office until he resigns or is removed pursuant to Section 8.04(b).”

        2. For clarification purposes…:-)

          The “true facts” are that the above statements were made by Jeff D.

          They were made to me face to face in the presence of another Brother of Jeff’s choice.

          I cannot confirm the truthfulness and accuracy of Jeff’s words.

          He is open for questions. Hope others are fearless in asking him the tough ones!

          Scripture drives me but I also like the occasional quote…

          A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.

          John Calvin

          A little group of willful men, representing no opinion but their own, have rendered the great government of the United States helpless and contemptible.

          Woodrow Wilson.

          “Know your Master and beware the muzzle of self-willful Men.”

          James Engleman II

          Omnino Amare!

  15. I am grateful for the courageous actions that this family took in publicly and graciously speaking up as they left Harvest — thank you! It takes faith and sacrifice to leave the many benefits that Harvest gives, as you have. For many of us, these have included friendships, a large, beautiful facility like most churches/schools cannot afford (made possible by the sacrificial giving of many who are no longer there), a well-known pastor and worship leaders, affordable Christian education (membership discount), Christian workplace and co-workers, and on and on. Unfortunately many decide that they are somehow sacrificing by staying. I have heard reasoning like — I will sacrifice to endure the scandal and stay so that my family can enjoy these “spiritual” benefits. Or I will endure the scandal to stay so that I can keep protecting/serving the people there to whom I minister. I believe this is backwards reasoning…

    I also appreciate how this person mentions that this website is not an unvalidated e-tabloid. Instead it is filled with well-documented, courageous reports of witnesses who have spoken out about what they have seen and experienced, many of whom have suffered greatly for it. When we were there, it was considered scandalous to read or talk about what is on this website. Or to question authority. It has been documented here how others have lost their ministries and/or jobs for this kind of questioning in the past.

    I have hoped and prayed for change since we left many years ago, however, I honestly do not feel it will happen until James is somehow exposed and evicted along with those in leadership positions who have enabled him all these years. Otherwise the seats left empty there by the sacrificial courage of many will just once again be refilled with other people who do not know what all has happened.

    I know that the Mars Hill church shared many, many similarities to what is happening at Harvest; perhaps there is something to be learned from looking into the methods used in that case to finally hold James’ close friend Mark Driscoll accountable for his actions. Christians often have difficulty taking action against a pastor, however, the Bible has very strong words to say about “false prophets” and how the church must protect itself from them. It is also clear how Jesus felt about those seeking to take financial advantage of those coming to worship at the temple (Mt. 21:12-13) and about church leaders who misuse their position and power (Mt 23).

    I do not understand why those who have recently left and seen the abuse of power and finances are not willing to speak up about it publicly. I know other courageous leaders have in the past and are included here on this website. Some suggested that recent people who have left would lose severance pay if they spoke out but still… the church needs you to take a stand and protect God’s flock! I encourage you to trust that He will provide the finances that you need while you obey Him. Why the desire to be so quiet and not stir up anything if a false prophet is truly in leadership there?

    At the very least, if illegal activity has occurred, then those with the proof and information should let the appropriate authorities know. THIS is protecting the church. Protecting James is not.

    1. A Former Member of HBC Who Saw and Experienced Way Too Much Nonsense November 22, 2017 — 1:54 pm

      I couldn’t agree more. Well said.

  16. There are great Churches that provide healing.

  17. I attended HCB mother church (RM) for several years, then HBC Naperville for at least 4 then returned to RM for a few more. Then when TED hit and I got hints of some of the financial improprieties that were going on I had to reevaluate. The biggest reason for my departure was when I had found out that Elders (!!!!!!!!) on the elder board were unable to get financial information in detail. That is preposterous. I could not believe my eyes and ears that this could be true. Let alone me giving of my money to the Church and not being able to know exactly what it is used for. Regardless I still love Jesus and His word , in another Church but when I came across this site being active again, I am so disillusioned with the “business” of the Church. I barely want to attend anymore let alone give my money. I am trying not to lose hope in the Church but it’s hard.

    1. Harvest Naperville now “High Point” is a smaller version of Rolling meadows. The toxic staff culture, the constant manipulation and intimidation is unbelievable. There is a long list of good pastors and staff who have left and are serving at different churches. The story is always something that makes the pastor or staff member who left the confused party that is questioning God’s call. The elders are too afraid to hold the pastor accountable. At one point the E.D. had speculated that the pastor changed the church name so he could leave the corruption of James but the truth is, he wants to build his own empire and the name did not allow for that. I would not be surprised if the people who have been on the inside start a similar web site exposing the stuff that goes on behind the scenes.

  18. There is a nerve being struck here. Although I don’t think the problem is a lack of listening forums. In fact in the HBC model, they are all around. They are called small groups and how those ears make their way to leadership. I remember many times where I heard from the pastor I was ministering with, something I didn’t recall sharing with him. Small groups are used at all levels to provide perspective on what is going on in the lives of Harvest families (many times unsuspectingly thru the teenagers). I’m not saying a church should be a place where family secrets should run wild. However, the problem is how these messages going upward are interpreted and responded to. In my experience at HBC, there is no ability to allow differing viewpoints (on core gospel principles) or dissent without some sort of action (like being sent to another ministry). These sort of responses give one wonder on whether HBC believes in the redemption of believers thru repentance and faith.

  19. Handed my ALM Vest, Security Shirt, VCB hat to Pastor Rick before 0900 service.

    Said all that I had to say.

    Listened to responses


    Told him I loved him and the others. Told him I would be praying for them.. Told him I was hopeful he would pray for me.

    Shook Hands.

    Left with my Bible..

    Turning the page!

    1. Praying for you as God leads you to a new church home.

    2. That’s very interesting, as you were someone who was supportive over the last month or two, and you were supportive during the Elgin members’ meeting.

      1. What changed your mind?
      2. What were Pastor Rick’s responses to you?

      1. After speaking to every level of Leadership short of James combined with an in depth review of the most recent Elders report and after much Prayer I will sum it up like this.

        I don’t trust James and I don’t trust Harvest’s governace model.

        I have come to these conclusions and submit the following as my final statement regarding James and Leadership.

        Fear is not a fruit of The Spirit.

        Truth is non negotiable.

        The Lord’s money belongs to Christ who’s example of the perfect life was equal parts Truth and Grace.

        Harvest has stood firm as not willing to open their books and display the truth regarding stewardship of The Lord’s money during a season of questionable decision making and secretive multimillion dollar settlement offers.

        Fear of Truth by Leadership regarding stewardship does not model trust in The Lord.

        I judge it as a bad fruit. The motive / root can be debated but frankly it is not my concern.

        Rationalizations have been made at every level.

        Congregants have a voice but there is no mechanism by which they can demand transparency. This was affirmed in the 2009 Elders restructuring “task force” report tagged to recent update.

        While James is “human too” Truth is a Major that any Pastor “being honest” would not debate.

        Attempts to surpress Truth by the men entrusted with what has been such an amazing disciple making / church planting oraganization can not be tolerated.

        I have not been perfect in my handling of this. I have sought forgivness where I have fallen short.

        I am leaning on The Lord and moving forward intent on channeling all my energy towards serving Christ at new Church.

        James Macdonald has not been available or interested in my requests to discuss hence my decision to resign through Rick face to face, in The Lords House, on The Lord’s day, before Worship began.

        I told Rick and Ill say it here. I will continue to Pray for James, Rick, and all of Leadership. I Love them as Brothers and Lord help me I always will.

        Psalm 119 : 135,136

        Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes.
        My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.

        In Christ


        1. Very well said, everything you’re saying is accurate.

          “I judge it as a bad fruit. The motive / root can be debated but frankly it is not my concern.”

          Correct. And that’s one of the main problems of this site, people spend a lot of time judging the motive and root, things that aren’t provable, and the discussion of which often descends into gossip and falsehoods. Wish people would stick to the facts.

        2. What did Pastor Rick say in response, how did he disagree?

        3. He said he thought they had answered the questions.

          I said Yes. I remember one of your answers clearly. You told us how there was alot of discussion internally about what the church “put out.” That it was tough because releasing every detail was not in the best interest of the Church. Not every Member “cared” about the details.

          I pointed to the questions regarding shared expenses and the tactical preaching at ALM and tried to convey my position that not releasing those numbers constitued fear and showed a lack of trust in The Lord.

          He said he disagreed.

          Bottom line.

          Rick and I Disagree.

          Ill say this to you. You mentioned you were very close to Leadership.

          Please understand that the anger felt through these posts comes from people that have been mislead, lied to, taken for granted, and run over by The Harvest that all of them Loved and trusted at one time or another. While it is fair to point out the “problem” with gossip based posts, Id be mindful of the hurt these people are dealing with.

          Healing looks different for everyone You and I included. Raw reaction in a season of false prophecy and deception can be messy.

          There needs to be a double measure of Grace for that.


        4. I HAVE been close to those in leadership, I haven’t been deeply involved in over a year. What I’m saying is that the phrases “you’re doing this because” or “they just want this or that” are always dangerous and never helpful.

    3. James,
      Sorry for what you are having to deal with. Praying for you and all others that have been duped.

  20. Thank you for sharing. If you would feel comfortable I know that I would appreciate being able to read your letter.

  21. Indeed, this is a helpful, edifying, wise, and grace-filled response. Thank you for sharing it as you did.

  22. Thank you for your post here. My family and I were at a Harvest church in NC for about 7-8 years. We were life group leaders for 6-7 of those years as well. We too did the same thing when we left. We contacted the leadership with our concerns, which i wont air out here, and were able to sit down with a few elders to discuss them. No real resolution for us was made and we had decided to leave that church. We didnt leave till the life group sessions were done for the year since we were allowed to veer away from the sermon based questions other life groups had. We led our group in Steve Lawson’s THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD from Ligonier. We wanted to be able to minister to the life group till we left. The last meeting we told them we were leaving with some of our concerns but at the same time letting them know there were deeper reasons we would only go into if we were specifically asked. We were blessed to have a more spiritually mature group and all have subsequently left, except one couple, for different churches. Others we knew in church we didnt mention the reasons we were leaving unless we were asked.
    Before we made the announcement to our friends and life group we met with the pastor, who has also since left, and told him why we were leaving. (He also followed up with us to make sure we doing well–as he did with others he had spoken to…a true shepherd and friend and brother in Christ) We also sent a letter to the elders that we were leaving and some reasons why and offered to have further discussion as to why we were leaving. No surprise to us none of them followed up!!

    Your letter was a true blessing to read and most definitely displays an attitude of grace, love and humility!! Thank you for the beautiful letter and for taking the time to write it and share it with us!!! You are so correct that the leaders should know WHY one leaves since it may draw them to repentance and to them bringing forth its fruits in their ministry.

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