HBC Chairman of the Executive Elder Committee Resigns in Protest

Update (5 December 2017)As you may recall, on October 24th, The Elephant’s Debt published a letter by David Wisen.  In that piece, we explained to our readers that David Wisen is the Teaching Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel Springlake in Michigan; and more importantly, that he was the President of the Van Kampen Asset Management Company.  In other words, David Wisen is a wealthy man, who has donated tens of millions of dollars to Harvest Bible Chapel over the many years.  Perhaps most significant of all, during the Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC) / Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF, now GCC) turmoil dating to the summer of 2016, Mr. Wisen was hand-picked by James MacDonald as the Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF) representative who James wanted to oversee the audit of the HBF funds.  In other words, Mr. Wisen was no stranger to James MacDonald.  Rather, he was a close ally for many years and James trusted him to fairly review the the financial records in question.  In the aftermath of the audit, Mr. Wisen penned a scathing letter that culminated by calling the very character of James MacDonald into question.

In response to the now-publicized Wisen letter, Harvest Bible Chapel issued an elder update on 9 November 2017.  Unlike previous updates, which often had a clinical/institutional tone, this update read as a rambling, disjointed, emotional response to the Wisen disclosure.  In addition to characterizing the GCC leaders as being “fundamentally flawed” in their thinking, the letter goes on to suggest that these leaders are obstinate (“unwilling to yield to better information”), unreasonable, and looking to “discredit [HBC] before the HBF pastors.” A number of sources have now come forward to acknowledge that the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel did not write this elder update, but rather James MacDonald himself is responsible for the content of this message.

Ironically, in the section of the elder update regarding “Lessons About Governance,” James wrote the following:

More specifically, those outside our governance with no view of its mutuality can assume, based upon their observation of our capable staff, that accountability to our Board must be weak. Yet when accountability is properly understood, not as protection against error or a plan to assure that mistakes are never made, but as a system through which staff regularly answer to Elder authority for their decisions, it begins to make sense.

As one might expect, the publication of this Elder Update was not met with indifference.  Indeed, sources now confirm that in the aftermath of James’ decision to publish  the update without elder input, Randy Williams, the Chairman of the Executive Elder Committee, resigned his position in protest.

Two things need to be noted at this point.  First, the resignation of Mr. Williams is not an isolated affair.  In the previous six months, several major leaders have all left HBC under varying circumstances including:

Dallas Jenkins (Executive Director Vertical Church Media),
Bill Molinari (Director of Operations HBF),
Jim Rowan (Elder and Head of Security),
Earl Seals (Elder and “Mighty Man”),
Dan Plantz (Director of Camp Harvest)

Fred Adams (Chief Financial Officer),
Kevn Dekker (Campus Pastor and Pastor of Adult Ministry) and
Dean Butters (Executive Director of Business Operations)

The second, and perhaps more pressing issue is this.  It is important to understand that there are two components to the Harvest Elder Board.  The larger component is referred to as the governing elders.  This is a group of men who wield little power and possess little information.  The second, smaller and more vital component of the board is called the Executive Elder Committee.  This more intimate group of men are the ones who allegedly are empowered to oversee the staff Executive Leadership Team.  Randy Williams was the Chairman of this smaller and more trusted group of men; and, according to our sources, he resigned, in part, because he did not know that this update was being written, let alone published.

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106 Responses to HBC Chairman of the Executive Elder Committee Resigns in Protest

  1. Never Again says:

    Based on item 3 in the December Elder Update, are you certain Randy Williams has resigned?
    It reads: “Pastor James and Randy Williams were asked by the EC to research together and write a document memorializing the lessons learned by our leadership in 2017, related to the dissolution of our governance of Harvest Bible Fellowship. The development of this document was reported to the Elder Board in our November meeting and promised again while together this week. Once approved by the entire EC, they will present their document to the full Elder Board for review and discussion at the January meeting.”

    Also, it appears the November Elder update is no longer posted.

    • On December 8, 2017, HBC released an Elder Update in which they listed several men who were cycling off the Elder Board. Randy Williams’ name was NOT listed, therefore his resignation as chairman cannot be read as merely a routine rotation off of the Board. Under point three of the Update, James tries to play a clever game with words, as he often does. Randy Williams is listed along side of James MacDonald as having worked (past tense) on a project in November. After that opening sentence, all proper nouns disappear, and the subject of the remaining sentences do not necessarily point towards Randy Williams, in an attempt to suggest that Randy is still on the Board. IF Randy Williams had not in fact resigned, it is immensely difficult to believe that this most recent Elder Update would not have directly denied this allegation. The fact that the Update does not address it leaves us confident in our sources.

      Because of the quality of the three sources that independently prompted this post, TED remains confident that Randy has in fact resigned in protest. However, if these three sources can be proved unreliable through Randy Williams’ direct testimony we will gladly retract the article.

      The situation at HBC has always been highly fluid, and the limited number of stories we have been able to share has always been hampered by men and women in leadership who have been willing to speak “off the record” but rarely “on the record.” This makes it very difficult for the authors of TED to point to the validity of our sources without betraying their confidence. Rest assured that based upon these “off the record” discussions with current and former HBC leadership, the situation with James MacDonald is far worse than we have been able to report.

      The November Update remains posted, but it is listed as the October Update. When you open the October Update the date listed at the top is November.

  2. Saw the seeds of this in the early 90s says:

    People should not resign in protest. That plays into James’ hands. He will weather it and move on with new, wide-eyed people. Despite his teaching skills, he needs to be removed and replaced. Leadership needs to stay put and do that.

    • chuck pearson says:

      J Mac is not to have any role of leadership in the church, or any teaching ministry within it. He is not to be recognized as being a believer; his deeds declare that he is not what he professes to be.

      “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 18:15-18 RSV)
      As we go through these words together let us remember that these are the words of Jesus, and, as such, they cannot be ignored. He is the Lord of the church, the Head of the body, and, as such, is dealing here with the procedure for handling unjudged sin in our midst. (Matthew 18:15-18)

      But if the offender continues in sin, and resists all pleas, Jesus sets out a final and fourth step which must be taken: “If he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” In the culture of that day that was equivalent to saying that he was an unbeliever, not a Christian at all; that he had, by his deeds, declared himself not to be truly a believer, a genuine, submitted believer in the Lord. What is suggested here is that the whole congregation look upon the individual differently. This does not require any kind of punishment. There are no penalties assessed. There is no attempt to humiliate the individual. The congregation begins to regard him as an unbeliever. In his letter to Titus, Paul refers to certain men, of whom he says,

      Their very minds and consciences are corrupted. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their deeds… (Titus 1:15-16)
      If one has resisted the attempts of many to bring him to a knowledge of truth, then this is the condition into which he has allowed himself to fall. He is to be treated, therefore, as we would treat any unbeliever in our midst — with courtesy, yet with sorrow for the sin and the hurt he is bringing on himself, but with hope for his ultimate redemption.

      He is not to have any role of leadership in the church, or any teaching ministry within it. He is not to be recognized as being a believer; his deeds declare that he is not what he professes to be.

      Finally as ‘saw the seeds of this in the early 90’s points out this is not the first time j mac has tried to resist the church structure as laid out in the New testament. All that is different now is that j mac has perfected taking control in stead of leaving.

      I say the real ‘children of God’ if they can’t remove this sinner from their pulpit let along their midst, then, while j mac is busy focusing on making more LLC structures by diverting donations to profit his buddies & his secular empire, the best thing to do is leave him, in mass. At least the real children of God are not responsible for the growing elephants debt. Let j mac figure out how to pay for his debt with another secular scheme. He may only decide to repent when he see’s his FICO score threatened, in which case it will just be another in a long list of phony repentances.

      Wouldn’t you rather worship God in a vacant warehouse with fellow children of God than in a previous warehouse( rolling meadows) turned into a cushy recording studio trap, for the monetary benefit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

  3. Someone on the inside... says:

    Ron Zappia is currently the Senior Pastor at Highpoint Church in Naperville. He is JM right hand man and thus, practices the same corruption, mistreats employees, lies to congregates, and abuses people until they fold out of fear. For those of you dissappointed by what the outcome has been with James…encourage those to speak out. Watch Highpoint Church closely over the next few months. Former employees (+25) are banning together to expose what has gone on there. Once the proof comes out and certain documents are brought to light, there won’t be any other option for Ron and the EXP to be accountable.

  4. Jessica says:

    Congregants & Members of HBC North Shore —

    As you know, the building at 1731 Deerfield Road was purchased and is owned by an LLC (Harvest Bible Chapel North Shore, LLC). The church uses tithes to make monthly lease payments to this LLC. HBC is the Class A member of this LLC, but the LLC owns the building.

    I implore you to ask your leaders to disclose any conflicts of interest regarding this LLC. Specifically, ask if any Elders from either your campus or other campuses are Class B members of this LLC and are profiting from the lease payments. The church Treasurer should be able to provide an honest yes or no answer to this question.

    Accountability for wise stewardship is critical in any healthy, Elder-governed church. For tithing members in particular, this means that the business of your church is your business, despite what you’ve been told. If you inquire about Elder membership in the LLC and are deflected or told that it’s private information, then you should be concerned.

    HBC Staff or Elders, past or present—

    If you know that one or more Elders is or was an investor in this LLC, I humbly ask that you do what is right and disclose that information to the Congregation, so that each family might judge for themselves if they are comfortable with their tithes to going the LLC and/or with those men holding office in the church.

    I am no longer an HBC member and have no special interest, grudge, or anything to gain in these matters. My heart is for the people of this church and for Jesus Christ. Pastor James’ messages on repentance helped save our marriage years ago. It gave us no joy to leave, and it gives me no joy to write this now.

    If I am wrong and the church is able to provide evidence to convince inquiring Congregants that there is no conflict, then I am grateful to those that took the time to find out “for sure.”

    Praying for wisdom, discernment, and courage to speak the truth in love in all things.

    • Despeville says:

      This is absolutely sickening if true and my gut intuition and past experience with schemes and tactics of MacDonald and HBC, in general, tell me that it is very likely true. If so this is a systematic scam and institutionalized fleecing of the flock for the financial benefit of those who suppose to protect it. A scheme like this is not even on the level of ravenous wolves because that would be insulting to wolves. Rather, this would be on the level of leeches sucking the life out of the congregation and doing it in secret and thanks to imposed ignorance on those whose money they are after. Revolting but lets wait to see if someone can confirm it,

      • Jessica says:

        Despeville–

        There is a very good reason that I’m asking people to ask if Elders are LLC members.

        That reason aside, we were recently told that it’s common knowledge that some of the LLC members/attenders are also members of the church. While not illegal, of course—and perhaps encouraged among some circles–that would seem to present other potential conflicts of interest for the church, including challenges in & questions of power, control, and treatment.

        Speaking for myself, I would have a very difficult time worshipping alongside brothers & sisters to whom I’m paying rent because they partly own our building–especially when there are plenty of churches that own their buildings outright or that pay leases to entities or buildings not owned by church members. And I don’t think that makes me jealous or ungrateful or ungodly–or unique. It’s that I want the finances of my church to be above reproach in every regard. I want what is WISEST, versus what’s permissible, easy, or convenient.

        But maybe the people at the North Shore campus are completely fine with this arrangement and are cursing my name right now. Maybe that set-up is more common in American churches than I know. I’m no expert in church finance, so I could be speaking out of sheer ignorance.

        In any case, I think everyone can agree that if an Elder is or was an investor in the North Shore LLC (or in the Aurora LLC, for that matter), that that fact should be disclosed.

        If no Elders are financially invested in these LLCs, then thank God my information is mistaken. People can decide for themselves whether they are okay with not knowing who the investors were or are, OR (if they do know or think they know) with purposing in their own hearts & minds that they are grateful to be in & worshipping in their building, regardless of who is receiving the lease payment. I can give them grace, respect their decision, and go to dinner with them in peace. 🙂

        • Cantankerous Man with Questions says:

          Jessica,
          I like you thinking here, and I think it is reasonable to expect disclosure and transparency. I would think that many people would think it is okay to have these LLC’s and financial backing, as long as it is disclosed and there are safeguards against the elders / members from profiting or having a conflict of interest.

          What I would like to discuss is the bigger picture, not just LLC’s, etc, but the need for any non-profit / church / etc, to be transparent and have safeguards in place.

          Let me start with a basic phrase that I learned from a book while I was at Harvest, “If you take care of the way things appear, you take care of how they really are.” You see a number of Christians that establish boundaries in their marriage, or in youth work, so that they are never accused of wrongdoing. This is why a Harvest Kids worker should never be alone with a student in a classroom. It is not that they would actually do something wrong, but it takes away any appearance of wrongdoing or prevents any accusation. It is a good principle to follow!

          Now, let’s translate this to the “business” of the church. The same should apply regarding a churches finances. Harvest, even if everything they have done is above board, has at the very least an APPEARANCE problem. And this problem has appeared more than once. Track with me…

          2013
          Even if it is okay for a pastor to live in a 2 million dollar home… There is still an appearance that he has used church funds or resources in an improper way, especially as the church is deeply in debt. “But James has made a lot of money off of books, or real estate, or whatever…” Then DISCLOSE it, so that you don’t have an appearance problem.

          James is shown to have a documented 5 figure gambling winnings. Even if he has the freedom to do so, gambling winnings in the 5 figure amount give an appearance of misuse of church funds. (Other staff had this appearance also)

          Add on to this, that it has been documented that salaries will not be shared, or line item budgets are not even known to most of the elders. Why not? This is an appearance that there is something out of line that people should not be aware of. Remember when James told one of the pastors (documented) that he would lose a thousand members before he would share his salary.

          2013 – 2016
          The elders have established structures to take care of appearances… EFCA review, James moves into a smaller home (not because he has to, but to take care of appearances), James commits to not gambling (for the sake of the weaker brother). The remaining congregation is appeased that James has learned this lesson.

          2017
          James, unknown to membership of Harvest or leadership, decides to build a new mansion… If not an issue, then DISCLOSE it. When I already felt in my Spirit that something wasn’t right with James, I spoke to my campus pastor when leaving Harvest. My campus pastor defended James, saying, “He is all about the Gospel, it is his life mission, he has sacrificed everything and downsized his home, just to show people that his priorities are right.” This was in June… Meaning, my campus pastor didn’t even know that James wasn’t living in the $600,000 home anymore…

          Then Harvest Elgin has the issues with HBF, largely issues of non-disclosure, no transparency.

          “If you take care of how things appear, you take care of how they really are.”

          I looked up where this quote came from, it is from Jerry Jenkins book, Hedges – Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It.

          Maybe there could be a volume 2, Hedges – Loving Your Church Enough to Protect It.

        • Concreteforeman says:

          Per cyberdrive, HBC “mothership” is the managing partner of HBC Northshore LLC.

          We know there are additional members “investors”.

          We know that the lease is net/net. From what I gather the owners/investors are not paying property taxes. Instead property taxes are passed through to the tenant “HBC Members”. Nice for the investors!

          Double net lease
          In a double net lease (Net-Net or NN), the lessee or tenant is responsible for property tax and building insurance. The lessor or landlord is responsible for any expenses incurred for structural repairs and common area maintenance.

          On multiple occasions HBC has purchased shares back from investors. Perhaps on resignation of Membership?

          40 Mighty Men…Elders…Members within the financial services industry are all potential investors in my mind.

        • Numbers Man says:

          I would also like to know if these LLC’s are set up as a 501C3 charitable entity. IRS rules stipulate that if so they may need to file Unrelated Business Income Taxes if indeed they are in the business of renting property and not a charitable purpose. Any income over $1,000 needs to be filed on form 990-T and taxes remitted for any 501C3 organization that has income outside of their stated purpose. An example is a youth baseball league. They are tax exempt and the money they take in from fees are not income. However, the money they make at the Concession stand is income and subject to the Unrelated Business Income filing.

          I assume these are all under the umbrella of HBC but not being a lawyer (although I am an accountant) I don’t know how they are legally set up or intertwined and therefore don’t know their filing status.

        • Jessica says:

          The audits say, “The LLC is not a taxpaying entity for federal income tax purposes, and thus no income tax expense has been recorded in the consolidated statements. Income of the LLC is passed through to its members.” Sec. of State says it’s a Domestic LLC.

          Here’s the bottom line for anyone at Harvest:

          The Deerfield Road and Aurora campus building are each owned by a different LLC. HBC is a member of both. Each LLC has other investors who also receive pass-thru income from the net-net leases. These members/investors could be individuals, entities, or other LLCs, if I’m not mistaken. According to the 2016 audit notes, the Aurora LLC has more members than the North Shore LLC. Both LLCs raised similar amounts of capital (~$4 million).

          Does it matter who these investors are? HBC would say no, because “the business of the church isn’t the business of the church.” I say yes. But their names don’t matter as much as their “positions” relative to the church. Are any members? On staff? Elders?

          HBC would be wise to take care of appearances by disclosing whether these investors are “inside” or outside of the church. They can do this without disclosing names.

          For those investors who are “inside” the church, HBC should at least provide assurances that Elders, including the Senior Pastor and church Treasurer, are not in any way profiting from these LLCs. If they are profiting, and the church believes there’s nothing wrong with that, then a rationale is warranted. Maybe this is a new and innovative real estate model for churches that Pastor James is piloting, with input & guidance from the many businessmen who are on the elder Board?

          I regret that we didn’t “see” this issue prior to resigning membership, in time to ask at the Congregational Meetings. We saw some things related to it, but not the LLC issue specifically.

          At this time of year, and after months of controversy already, people might not have the mental energy to care or question. And I’m doubtful (but hopeful) that those who could confirm or disconfirm via TED or elsewhere will do so.

          Glad we know who owns the building of the church that we attend now. 🙂

  5. Ismellarat says:

    Let me sum up this assignment that James and Randy are working on.
    Things I Learned over the summer by Pastor James;
    1. Don’t tell a group of senior pastors to get fu&&ed.
    2. Don’t quit a fellowship with really good pastors who are doing as they have been called to do.
    3.Don’t fire a bunch of innocent employees with no notice or reason because you are mad and want to be vindictive.
    4. Don’t misuse the funds that other churches have been sacrificing to send you.
    5. When caught misusing funds say you’re sorry and put the money back.
    6. Don’t violate the IRS tax rules.
    7. Don’t fire Fred and blame stuff on him.
    8. Don’t tell the EC chairman that you won’t meet with him and want to fire all the Elders.
    9. Don’t blame the guys who called out your sin for your sin.
    10. Don’t build a church and expect your sons to take over when you screw it up.
    Any thing I forgot Randy?

  6. ConcreteForeman says:

    Can TED reconfirm the news of Randy Williams Resignation in light of the most recent Elders Report?

    3. Pastor James and Randy Williams were asked by the EC to research together and write a document memorializing the lessons learned by our leadership in 2017, related to the dissolution of our governance of Harvest Bible Fellowship. The development of this document was reported to the Elder Board in our November meeting and promised again while together this week. Once approved by the entire EC, they will present their document to the full Elder Board for review and discussion at the January meeting.

    • On December 8, 2017, HBC released an Elder Update in which they listed several men who were cycling off the Elder Board. Randy Williams’ name was NOT listed, therefore his resignation as chairman cannot be read as merely a routine rotation off of the Board. Under point three of the Update, James tries to play a clever game with words, as he often does. Randy Williams is listed along side of James MacDonald as having worked (past tense) on a project in November. After that opening sentence, all proper nouns disappear, and the subject of the remaining sentences do not necessarily point towards Randy Williams, in an attempt to suggest that Randy is still on the Board. IF Randy Williams had not in fact resigned, it is immensely difficult to believe that this most recent Elder Update would not have directly denied this allegation. The fact that the Update does not address it leaves us confident in our sources.

      Because of the quality of the three sources that independently prompted this post, TED remains confident that Randy has in fact resigned in protest. However, if these three sources can be proved unreliable through Randy Williams’ direct testimony we will gladly retract the article.

      The situation at HBC has always been highly fluid, and the limited number of stories we have been able to share has always been hampered by men and women in leadership who have been willing to speak “off the record” but rarely “on the record.” This makes it very difficult for the authors of TED to point to the validity of our sources without betraying their confidence. Rest assured that based upon these “off the record” discussions with current and former HBC leadership, the situation with James MacDonald is far worse than we have been able to report.

      • Former Guy from the Inside of the MacDonald Mafia says:

        You are safe with your reporting that Randy Williams did indeed resign from the Executive Committee in protest.

      • Kristi says:

        7 are listed as rotating off, but 8 have been nominated.
        Not proof- but lends credibility

        • Jessica says:

          Hi Kristi. I noticed that too, but then thought I remembered hearing there were 8 new candidates for Eldership over a month ago. Unfortunately, I don’t remember where or how – from an HBC communication or at a Congregational Meeting, maybe? Still, as you say, there may or may not be relationship between the number rotating off and the number rotating in. The by-laws don’t specify a set number.

          I’m still unclear about whether Mr. Williams resigned from the Executive Committee only (if we assume that he did) and is still on the Elder Board, and/or if he is still attending Harvest.

          Also, I didn’t know that Robert Jones was on the Executive Committee. He’s not listed as a member on the Harvest Elders page, but neither are Pastors James and Rick, and both are EC members.

          Can someone confirm that Mr. Jones was a member of the EC? Thanks!

  7. Chris Cartney says:

    Why is Jim Rowan listed as elder that left the Harvest? He is not a listed elder/leader, but he has much to apologize for and repent of, if indeed he has left Harvest. Isn’t he still supporting Niles and using this post to discredit the entire website? He has been complicit AND an taken an active role in bullying and manipulating the Harvest and MacDonald sin.

    • Tired of HBC hypocrisy says:

      Typical HBC deflecting and lack of ownership/accountability. Always take the focus off of James, he is the victim. Maybe James should do as he has preached and honestly repent and humble himself to the many he has offended. Chris I do not know where you are getting you information from, but those of us who have known Mr. Rowan for years call you out for your allegations against him. They are just out and out fabricated untrue lies!

    • Jessica says:

      Hi Chris. Jim Rowan resigned his membership and position as Director of Security several months ago. We were members and attended at Niles until a few weeks ago. He is not still attending or supporting (and I’m unclear by what “supporting” means). If you have his contact info, I’m sure you could reach out to him, if are things from the past or present you’d like to discuss or ask. I can’t speak to his interaction with this site, or what he thinks of this current post. (And I’m not at all speaking for Jim–just trying to clarify for you & others based on what I know.) Take care, brother. 🙂

    • Jessica says:

      Sorry, one more point: At HBC, if men have served as Elders but have rotated off the Elder Board proper, they are still called Elders. This is true in practice and stated in the By-Laws: “Men may be recognized as Elders within the Church but participation in Church governance shall normally be restricted to Elders currently serving a term on the Elder Board.” (7.01) Thanks.

  8. Follower of Christ only says:

    I have had reason to be on campus since we stopped attending church services few months ago. I am so angry at James for what he has done with what was entrusted to him by the Lord. I pray daily for him and for the people still part of the church. I trust God for He will not be mocked but it seems that James just keeps digging his heels in and refuses to repent or even acknowledge a problem. It angers me because so many people I care about still attend. How can this all be stopped?

  9. pasquale presto says:

    Some day, in the near future, a real brother in Christ will ask another real brother in Christ a fair question: ‘what happened to Harvest bible chapel, in that it no longer exists?

    Answer: I’ll tell you brother what happened to Harvest bible chapel. j. Macdonald is what happened to it.
    He single handedly ran it into the ground and then he stepped on it!
    That’s what happened.

  10. current HBC staff member says:

    Remember Mark Driscoll? Here’s how they took care of that situation:

    http://wp.production.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/files/2014/08/Cover-letter-charges-Mars-Hill.pdf

    Dear Elders (former and past) of HBC. Can you write a letter like this? We need to take a stand against James MacDonald.

    Also, this article is interesting in showing the timeline of events. Maybe something similar needs to happen with HBC.
    https://www.christianheadlines.com/news/5-things-christians-need-to-know-about-the-mark-driscoll-scandals.html

    • Bob says:

      If you are on staff, you may recall that three elders were ex-communicated via video after they wrote a letter with other former elders (8 in total, if memory serves), and this letter listed areas of character concern. JM thought the three (then current elders) were going to release that statement. They did not and were disciplined, in part, over this misunderstanding. The elders and some staff believed all would be well.

      Perhaps this pre-dates your employment, but an early incarnation of the elders had a massive confrontation with JM over his character issues. They left, and JM remains.

      So, why not, as a current staff member, bring your iPhone into one of JM’s famous meetings and record his infamous tirades? Then head to a public library, create an anonymous blog, and post the contents of the audio.

      • James Engleman says:

        Is the same Bobby Boy that called me a wolf in sheeps clothing now suggesting someone make secret recording of James and the publically post it like a revenge porn video?

        Whos the Wolf now?

      • Former Guy from the Inside of the MacDonald Mafia says:

        If you haven’t worked at Harvest Bible Chapel, you have NO IDEA, how difficult it is to stand up to James. And when you do “disagree” with him openly, you are attacked by everyone! Even if you are an “insider”, you can not speak the truth. No one is allowed to tell the Emperor that he is in fact naked. And for those that did speak the truth, it was only a matter of time, until leadership no longer had “confidence” in your abilities to lead. Your days were numbered. No one has survived and spoken the truth at Harvest Bible Chapel.

        • James Engleman says:

          What stops you from sharing your name? All of you for that matter?

          I’ve already been attacked on here by an anon stranger so I understand the territory but I still feel the need to ask…

          What is everyone afraid of that they are willing to discuss, warn, reveal, but not use your own names?

          I’ve posted plenty under aliases too so I’ve fallen victim to a spirit of fear just like the rest.

          Prayerfully, I feel we should be honest about who we are when seeking the truth about others.

          Would Christ Hide behind an Alias? Can we be part of God’s Will when hiding behind a false name?

        • Ken Paulsen says:

          This is not much different from the other HBC church plants. I was part of a plant and former elder at HBC-West Minneapolis (Vertical Church West Minneapolis/Maple Grove), and this culture is very familiar there…at least when our family left in 2014. Continue to pray for all involved. Repentance, forgiveness, restoration, the Holy Spirit to work, and God to be glorified. God is still good. I still serve Jesus. There is life after HBC/Vertical Church, or whatever the current name is.

        • M says:

          Absolutely no surprise here.
          Yet this makes me even angrier
          how these spineless men are given any honor whatsoever. The Harvest leadership team, campus pastors. elders, and defenders of James MacDonald are a bunch of pigeons if you ask me.

    • No Longer Attending says:

      That’s great but you do realize Driscoll’s new ministry is up and running? As long as gullible people with their heads planted in the sand exist, there will be “ministry” opportunities for manipulative and deceitful men.

      • Jessica says:

        Yes, and unfortunately, Harvest Bible Fellowship wrote Mark Driscoll’s new church (Trinity Church) a check this year for $50,000. 😦

      • Cantankerous Man with Questions says:

        I had the same thought. A lot of us on this site have moved on, but care about the people that remain at Harvest that may not know what is going on. We care, ultimately, that the Gospel is accurately represented, and want James to repent and step down.

        But then what? What happens to all the people? The ministries? The school? How will young believers respond?

        Watching how the Driscoll thing went down, James will just end up somewhere else, and maybe Driscoll will give him a $50k check next time…

        Even if he were to move on, will he take all he has “earned?” His personal comfort will not be hindered at all.

        I also thought about what someone else posted about going to Daily Herald or Tribune… but worry about how this will all reflect on the church (the real church) as a whole…

        There is really no good result to all of this, and it is very sad. Especially considering all the good that many of us experienced for 5, 10, 15, 20 years.

  11. concreteforeman says:

    Let’s keep following the money.

    Interesting that a non member with only 3 visits pops up calls out TED right as we are engaging on the topic of LLCs that are profiting from HBC through net net leases on buildings HBC will never own. #ontoyou

    Look up here everyone… Attacks on the validity of TED are only intended to fire us up and change the subject.

    Cmon Church…Say it! “Dont Change The Subject”

    Tony Jordan,

    Were you around for the formation of LLCs?

  12. Reasonable Reader says:

    I’ve attended this church 3 times over 10 years, but I have no personal insight into its inner workings, other than through hearsay. Clearly, others do, but I don’t think that most of these TED posts advance an argument. In a legal court or church disciplinary hearing, our allegations must be substantiated and void of personal bias.  No matter how convinced or emotionally-invested we were, evidence is what matters. In a spirit of Christian fairness, can TED provide factual clarity on the following statements for the benefit of the readers, for this particular TED entry (the same applies to all your entries)? 

    “he was a close ally for many years” – A court would say that when allies break company, that does not qualify one ally as the go-to, airtight source for another’s actions or character.  Why here?

    “penned a scathing letter” – It raised concerns about the process and lack of accountability.  Did TED substantiate its content with your own audit, or did you assume the entire content was accurate?  If the letter got it right, can you provide biblical evidence of wrong-doing? “Scathing” is an emotional word, not a measurable one.

    “this update read as a rambling, disjointed, emotional response” – Please clarify with a grammatical comparison of the Nov 9 update with others, by an expert on writing styles.  Second, how does its supposed lack of literary style advance your argument?

    “the letter goes on to suggest that these leaders are obstinate” – Why does a negative opinion of another person or group indicate a character issue?  We all know people that, rightly or wrongly, are considered obstinate.

    “A number of sources have now come forward” – reference your ghostly source.

    “James wrote the following” – this is assuming your sources are correct.  You drew a conclusion earlier without evidence and now assume it for this point. Do you have an eye-witness, and if so, is it morally wrong for James to write it, or does it just violate your preference?

    “sources now confirm that in the aftermath” – again, quote your ghostly sources.

    “This is a group of men who wield little power and possess little information” – subjective statement, and if it is true, (a) why do you think it is immoral, even if you don’t agree with it, and (b) what studies have you done to objectify this statement?

    “Randy Williams was the Chairman of this smaller and more trusted group of men; and, according to our sources, he resigned,” – Can you provide proof of his resignation and the reasons why he resigned?

    I’m not planning on making it a habit to visit this site, because I question how ethical, wise, & moral it is to use a venue like this, but if you choose to continue, you need better evidence, and less of a personal tone, otherwise, this reads like a tabloid.

    • Concreteforeman says:

      Bless your heart

    • You’re Kidding, Right? says:

      Perhaps if these anonymous sources would muster the courage to speak without the protection of anonymity this site would read differently. If memory serves only one former elder, pastor or staff person has given detailed explanation for their reasons for giving a harsh assessment of JM’s character. It was Dave Corning. Have you read his testimony?

      Perhaps if JM wasn’t so good at selecting weak men with which to surround himself then we’d all be having a different discussion. Perhaps if Joe Stowell wasn’t too busy passively aggressively talking about JM’s character in a book on leadership and spoke public ally and frankly about his assessment of his character we’d be having a different discussion.

      I don’t like this site. But it seems a necessary evil. Pray that good men and women develop courage.

    • Tony Jordan says:

      Randy Williams hasn’t resigned. When Harvest points out that the site is full of lies so none of it should be taken seriously, they’ll have evidence.

    • David says:

      This site is not a court of law. The folks here for most part I imagine are not lawyers. But this place provides a venue for many current and former Harvest congregants to share info and experiences. You couldn’t do in it a small group. You would have to have your head buried in the sand if you think nothing is amiss at Harvest Bible Chapel.

    • Despeville says:

      @ “Reasonable” Reader,

      “In a legal court or church disciplinary hearing, our allegations must be substantiated and void of personal bias.”
      RR

      You are committing the logical fallacy known as a category error. This website is not the court and neither is the office or home where you penned your illogical response. Furthermore, you are not a lawyer, at least not in that court and neither are you truly reasonable as we shall see.

      “A court would say that when allies break company, that does not qualify one ally as the go-to, airtight source for another’s actions or character. Why here?”
      RR

      You do not know what this imaginary court would say and you are conjuring things up. This is a logical fallacy known as red herring and straw man fallacy. There are plenty of cases where the courts used testimonies under oath of not only former allies but even current or former spouses. This clearly shows you are not reasonable and that you are making things up.

      “Did TED substantiate its content with your own audit, or did you assume the entire content was accurate? If the letter got it right, can you provide biblical evidence of wrong-doing? ”
      RR

      Just because you can write down an unreasonable demand that does not mean it can be fulfilled. This is another straw man fallacy. Anybody who is reasonable knows that the audit you demand is impossible for TED to conduct, at least thus far and every Christian and nonbeliever too knows that misusing and stealing funds given for different purpose is counter biblical and wrong. This clearly shows you are not reasonable and that you are making things up.

      “Please clarify with a grammatical comparison of the Nov 9 update with others, by an expert on writing styles. Second, how does its supposed lack of literary style advance your argument?”
      RR

      This is plain evasion and playing semantics, nothing but red herring fallacy. Second, that lack of style points to an emotionally charged response which further points the reader to the state of mind of the authors or author of the update. This clearly shows you are not reasonable and that you are making things up.

      “Why does a negative opinion of another person or group indicate a character issue? We all know people that, rightly or wrongly, are considered obstinate.”
      RR

      Without any context, it would not. Here we have plenty of context to draw upon which does point to malicious, subjective reaction on the part the authors or author of this update. Again you are peddling a straw man and red herring here and your reference to “we all know” is nothing else but another logical fallacy known as Argumentum ad Populum or Bandwagon Fallacy just because we all know something about other people that does not remove the point made here. This clearly shows you are not reasonable and that you are making things up.

      “… – reference your ghostly source.”
      RR

      They don’t have to. This is not a court yet. Not a trial yet and you are not a judge. Those sources might have asked to stay anonymous or could possibly be hurt by MacDonald and his goons if revealed. By making this type of demand you clearly show you are not reasonable and that you are making things up.

      “… this is assuming your sources are correct. You drew a conclusion earlier without evidence and now assume it for this point. Do you have an eye-witness, and if so, is it morally wrong for James to write it, or does it just violate your preference?”
      RR

      Same cuts your way. We have to assume that YOUR SOURCES (?) would be correct. Furthermore, we have to assume that somehow your conclusion about TED conclusion is actually correct. So do you actually have an eye-witness that the update was written solely by elders and without any input whatsoever by James MacDonald? If no then we have to believe your word over the word of TED. And why would we do that given that you supposedly “…attended this church 3 times over 10 years”? This is another logical fallacy of special pleading. Furthermore, it is obviously wrong, deceptive and nefariously scheming to for MacDonald to write such an update but have it sign as “The Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel” as we can see here: http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/2017/11/09/elder-update-october-2017/
      This clearly shows you are not reasonable and that you are making things up.

      “…again, quote your ghostly sources.”
      RR

      Again, as above.

      “…subjective statement, and if it is true, (a) why do you think it is immoral, even if you don’t agree with it, and (b) what studies have you done to objectify this statement?”
      RR

      Is it? Is so whose statement about that is MORE subjective a person who “…attended this church 3 times over 10 years” or TED who has far more personal and ONGOING information about inner and outer workings of HBC and its leadership? Again, red herring fallacy and strawman too. Studies? And what studies you CAN present otherwise? Again this is an illogical fallacy of mala fides and form of sophism deception. This clearly shows you are not reasonable and that you are making things up.

      “… – Can you provide proof of his resignation and the reasons why he resigned?”
      RR

      In time your demand might be fulfilled but providing given that HBC is ruled by fear, intimidation, and secrecy is not easy nor instantaneous which again points for irrational nature of your demand and to the fact that as presented here your demand is simply a red herring fallacy.

      “I’m not planning on making it a habit to visit this site, because I question how ethical, wise, & moral it is to use a venue like this, but if you choose to continue, you need better evidence, and less of a personal tone, otherwise, this reads like a tabloid.”
      RR

      Somehow I don’t buy it. I personally think that you are in fact visiting this website frequently and will continue to visit and post most likely under different monickers. You can question it all you want. You do have the right to do so as others have right to question the other way but if you want anyone to take your opinions seriously you actually have to be reasonable and logical which you are not despite claiming that for yourself… Q.E.D.

  13. Epaenetus says:

    Does this mean that Administrative Leadership for WITW got paid over $560,000 for 2017!? I don’t understand. Can anyone make heads or tails on this Annual Financial Summary? For the “Available for Ministry Expansion ” line, isn’t that how much is missing (from the Wisen letter)?
    https://jamesmacdonald.com/fye17/

    Just listened to the last sermon. Couldn’t get through the whole thing. 20 minutes into the sermon – just shouts “CULT”!

    • concreteforeman says:

      Here’s what I came up with on the back of a napkin. What can I say, Pie Charts make me hungry..

      There is an ECFA Financial Integrity stamp under the words “unaudited financial”
      So warm and fuzzy.

      By rounding %s it is understandable that this is not intended to be exact.

      That said…

      Total income through donations sales and support USA and Canada $9,037,000.

      21% or $1,897,770 of which was tagged “Foundation and Church Support”.
      What makes up “Foundations and Church Support”? If this is HBF and HBC this would indicated that while Harvest sits behind on the tithe, James moved money above and beyond what’s needed to WITW.

      7% or $632,590 of which was paid in Admin fees.
      Who makes up Admin Leadership? They got paid!

      6% or $542,220 of which is available for expansion.
      The Church is behind but James MacDonald’s WITW is ahead?

      Airtime and Production came in at 40%. A cost of $3,614,800.
      Wasn’t there a recent deal that included airtime considerations for WITW as payment?
      I’m certain there was. Perhaps in a building sale..? Was it Aurora?

      Have there been surpluses in the past?
      Where is the info regarding the cash value of WITW from past surpluses?

      Can the world of TED help me out with some of these questions?

      • Epaenetus says:

        Back in 2009, Ms. Nelson collected a compensation in the amount $185,122 as the Director of Walk in the Word. If Janine Nelson is part of the XLT and still with WITW, can you just imagine what she gets now!!?? She is definitely worshiping James (or the $$) and not God. Ms. Nelson is just as bad as James.
        https://theelephantsdebt.com/the-5g-campaign/

        • David says:

          Here is Ms. Nelson’s portfolio from the HBC site,
          “I serve as the Executive Communications Director. I lead Walk in the Word, Media Communications, production of the weekend services, HarvestSongs, and Harvest Studios. I also serve on the Executive Leadership Team.”

          So yes I would imagine she has multiple income streams from Harvest. Interesting rise from someone with and HR background…

    • Former Guy from the Inside of the MacDonald Mafia says:

      Kathy MacDonald takes a $100K a year salary from Walk in the Word.

  14. Kristi says:

    The wording sure doesn’t make it sound like James wrote it.
    “In hearing him share, it was apparent to all the miraculous things the Lord has accomplished in the time since our last meeting, and how our Pastor has modeled intentional personal reflection.”
    And then there is this.
    “Regarding the matter of staff accountability, the Elders and the Executive Committee are alert and fully engaged. We are not in any respect unhappy or frustrated with the submission of our senior leadership to Board authority. ”
    If James wrote this (or wrote through someone other than an elder), then much of the content is strange and misleading. (Common synonyms for mislead are: deceive, delude, misinform, hoodwink, victimize, or lie).
    If I was still attending- that would give me pause.

    • Rusty Nail says:

      So you read that several people have confirmed that James wrote this Elder update, and that the Chairman of the Elder Executive Team, Randy Williams resigned over James posting this update, however you have a hard time believing it.
      I don’t, its as believable as anything else this loose cannon has done.
      Wake up and realize that James is not himself and needs serious Long term care to address his sinful patterns.

      • Anne says:

        I think Kristi caught that (since she said IF she was still attending, the update would “give her pause”… due to its blatant lies). Rather than questioning this post, her comment seems to just reiterate how conniving James is. More than just taking over the update, his wording impersonates other members of the church with the sole purpose of manipulation.
        In line with past behavior? Sadly. Believable level of arrogance? Unfortunately. Confirmed by several “sources”? Sure.
        I, however, do appreciate the way she doesn’t assume his sole authorship. I believe he likely did it, have no reason to doubt those posting on this blog (I clearly trust it enough to be reading it 5 years after leaving the church.), but would like to avoid completely rooting my feelings in second-hand knowledge. I don’t know if this type of evidence will convince anyone hanging onto Harvest this late in the game to “wake up”.
        A stronger message? I have had enough personal experiences with James/his sons/Harvest staff, as most of us have, that SHOULD embarrass Harvest attendees to hear about their pastors. Personal testimonies and documented problems might change hearts.
        The stongest message? The third member of the trinity moving in the hearts of the specific Harvest attendees/members/staff for whom we pray. This is what we hold onto. It’s pretty much the spirit’s job to change hearts. This is our solace.

    • God Will Prevail says:

      Kristi,

      I went to HBC for almost 20 years…and it sounds just like him to me. I know this is all opinion and conjecture, but it has the same rhythm and cadence of his typical “family chats” James use to give us…and that now (hindsight is 20/20) I feel so duped by. He used to bring an elder onto the stage to say those very same things that the November Elder Update said: how James has repented, or how James has been working hard, or how James has tried for reconciliation but the other party won’t yield…and my very favorite (not) and his well-worn statement…that James is being held fully accountable by the elder board.

      I found the whole update so sad and embarrassing…I honestly couldn’t get through it all…I was embarrassed for the pastor I once knew and loved. He was so self-congratulatory…the elders were so blessed by him…the elders learned so much from him…my heart aches and my stomach churns reading all of that. It shows that he truly has gone off the deep end and he has lost all touch on reality. Even if he had not written the update…it is totally unbelievable and ridiculous. He has been doing all kinds of terrible things this year…and the elder board is still looking at him with admiration and can’t wait to hear what he has to say? It just doesn’t make logical sense.

      And yet again, HBC has pulled something down that is being openly discussed here. What does that tell anyone who is still attending, confused, and concerned?

      Please, blog readers…if you are still there…follow the quiet voice that is speaking to you. Don’t let the people at Harvest lie to you and make you believe it’s about you…that you are being ungodly and untrusting by leaving. Please don’t believe the lie that you don’t need to voice your concerns. Don’t believe the lie that you should not ask questions.

      Ask yourself…did Jesus encourage questions? Did Jesus silence his disciples? If we are to emulate Christ, how is James emulating Christ? Even a little bit? From where I stand, he is an unqualified elder. I am basing my opinion on the Bible…nothing else. What are you basing your opinion on?

      Know that I am not judging…we too stayed far too long and were defeated when we left. We really wished we left much sooner…and didn’t realize until we left what an idol a big church with all the trimmings had become to us. I am asking questions to help bring you clarity.

      I very much care for anyone still there who wants to leave. If you have questions…ask me and I will do my best to respond and answer questions. I am praying for you more than you know.

      • Kristi says:

        I guess I wasn’t clear. I was trying to point out that the wording is such that nobody would think James wrote it. Therefore if he did write it (which I have no personal knowledge of but don’t find hard to believe) it is clearly deception aimed at the congregation.
        I left Harvest four years ago after the excommunication fiasco.
        Sorry I wasn’t clearer.

  15. A Mini James has emerged and he’s the worst kept secret. says:

    Unfortunately, the sadness that is happening at Rolling Meadows is happening at Highpoint Church in Naperville (formerly known as Harvest Naperville). Ron Zappia has misused church funds to further his radio ministry and using “missions” as a means to justify it. However, when special offerings are takin at the church the congregation is under the impression that the offering is going towards a mission in the community, but what happens is, most of that money is spent towards Highpoint Ministries (Ron’s radio ministry). In fact, some of James MacDonald’s “missing money” was given to Ron Zappia as a way to help further Ron’s agenda. In my opinion, Ron Zappia is the most dangerous man behind a pulpit.

    Ron also used blackmail as a way for “employees to leave whitely.” Threatening severance packages to be revoked if the employee doesn’t say exactly what is asked, regardless for the reasons for leaving. There are a laundry list of employees who have documentation of such exchanges, so what does one do with that?

    • Clarifying says:

      Wait, so you are saying Ron Zappia used money that was designated for “church planting” given by churches to HBF and spent it on his radio ministry?

      Or are you saying he asked his church for “missions” money and spent it on his radio ministry?

      Or are you saying both are true?

  16. Sad in Rolling Meadows says:

    What will it take to expose all that has happened since 2012 to the thousands who have no idea what is happening? A tip to the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald, and the Courier News?

    • Former 12-year Member of Harvest says:

      I’m sure the media would have a field day doing some kind of expose on all of this. Oh, how perfect! James MacDonald loves to be in the spotlight! Does anyone else out there agree that Mr. MacDonald might even enjoy the attention people in news trucks with cameras poking around his home and church would bring? Oh, wait. Aren’t numbers really important to James? There’s his golf handicap, his bankroll, his poker winnings, the number of folks he’s stepped on or run over to satiate his own desires and get what he wants… to name just a few things. What do you think? I’m thinking that James may actually get excited about the prospect of the feds taking a closer look at the books. With that said, I still have to wonder if a few well chosen, truthful worlds from more people like the Stowell’s would be just the kind of recognition James MacDonald would find flattering… and may be enough to convince people, once and for all to flee Harvest and find fellowship elsewhere… even if it means a spouse is going to have to find a new job or your children are going to have to find a new Christian school to attend.

      • Not A Fan says:

        The Stowells don’t have the stomach to speak out. Papa Stowell had his funding for Cornerstone “threatened” by J Mac and his Van Kampen moneyman to stay quiet.

        • Despeville says:

          Indeed and in fact none else from Moody Churcj ever spoke about MacDonald’s shenanigans including his embrace and support for modalist heretic and serial fleecer TD Jokes, ooops TD Jakes.

        • chuck pearson says:

          “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth ‘.Rev 3:16 ESV.
          He who does not stand up to, and speak out against an evil, being performed, but just sits there and rationalizes why they will not take a position, are as guilty as the perpetrator of the evil. Get out of the Sodom and Gomorrah swamp this wolf in sheep’s clothing is continuing to build. his actions speak for themselves! his motives are meaningless, his actions are everything we need to know about him.
          STAND UP FOR JESUS AND THE WORD OF GOD.IF YOU ARE A REAL ‘CHILD OF GOD’ YOU HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT INDWELLING YOU AND HE WILL GIVE YOU ALL THE WISDOM YOU NEED.
          IF YOU ARE MERELY A ‘PROFESSOR’ THAT YOU BELIEVE BUT AREN’T REALLY SAVED AND NOT A CHILD OF GOD YOU WILL BE CONFUSED BECAUSE YOU ARE STILL LOST IN YOUR SINS.

          ESV Psalm 106:39
          ‘Thus they became unclean by their acts, and played the whore in their deeds.’

          Maybe God is using this McDonald scandal to separate the tares from the wheat by removing all his children from james macdonald who is not qualified to be a preacher or teacher anymore.
          If you want to stay (because you like the buildings) the only way to speak his language is to raise a lot of money and pay him off to get him out. Maybe offer him the use of a plane too!

        • mike--former member of 20 yrs in these two churches says:

          Chuck, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if you’re onto something. In the last days, professing Christians will not be exempt from trials of all kinds. The Bible makes clear on this, despite what some best-selling authors teach and have made millions on. Sadly, many people’s faith will be found wanting, making plain they were never truly born again. When faced with trials and tribulation, temptation and persecution, true followers of Christ will cling to the Savior; while imitators, counterfeiters, deceivers and deceived, and those who ultimately were more interested in the gifts than in the Giver of the gifts, they will continue in their folly and worldly ways… and in doing so, will pierce themselves through with many sorrows.

          Equally sad, Harvest isn’t the only mega church in town where people of faith are being tested to see where their true allegiance lies. Across town, God’s word is played loose and fast with, the ingenuity of man is more celebrated than the power of the Spirit, and the Gospel has been so compromised that it’s barely, if at all recognizable any longer. Scores of people are being baptized in both of these churches and their testimony goes something like this:

          “Jesus is better than beer”
          “Jesus can improve my flight”
          “Jesus can fill a void in my life”
          “Jesus is the great example”

          Or…

          “My sister and I used to fight a lot, but now we get along better”

          Huh? When people cannot stand up and shout from the mountaintops that God has saved them from their sins and rescued them from Hell; how He has freely given His Spirit and promised everlasting life both now and forever more, and so much more, something is very wrong.

          God will have none of this nonsense.

          Until these two churches once again begin to preach and proclaim Christ alone; and the power of the Spirit to grant a sinner everlasting life and raise ‘em from the dead, then we are going to continue to see an explosion of false converts among the thousands who are comfortably finding “fellowship” in places like these.

          Those who know the Lord and are known by Him; those who know and revere God’s Word; those who cherish God’s Gospel, and those who are led by God’s Spirit want nothing to do with the works of darkness and are fleeing churches such as these to find fellowship elsewhere.

          I fear in just a few short years, both of these widely known churches will be a shell or a shadow of what they once were. (Truth be told, they already are). False converts will fill the pews, or should I say cushy seats at these churches while born again believers in Christ will find God faithful and their all in all in churches they once scarcely gave a second thought to or imagined walking through the doors of one day.

          When Christ returns or God calls you home, will you be found faithful or lukewarm?
          Flee saints, flee.

        • concreteforeman says:

          Need a story investigated? Contact the ABC7 I-Team – ABC 7 Chicago
          abc7chicago.com/need-a-story-investigated-contact-the-abc7-i-team/1519522/
          Also, you may contact investigative reporter Chuck Goudie at iteam@abc.com, at Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ChuckGoudieABC7ITeam and on Twitter at @chuckgoudieabc7. The I-Team news hotline is: (312)750-7TIP.

          Has it come to this?

  17. Despeville says:

    “Scott Phelps and Barry Slabaugh have been notified that they are under church discipline and no longer welcomed in our church until they repent. A copy of our board resolution regarding their conduct was given to them personally, and can be seen online under Elder Updates. Please pray for their repentance and victory over persistent spirit of superiority and self-righteousness”

    Randy Williams
    In 2013 HBC excommunication video

    Looks like MacDonald’s 2013 inquisitor in the end succumbed himself to “persistent spirit of superiority and self-righteousness” At least that’s how the melting MacDonald’s soldiers can call this resignation plus of course that he was “called” somewhere else. They will fit the spin according to the audience but Randy Williams one of the 2013 four horsemen of ignorance should never ever be allowed in any position of leadership.

  18. Dan McGhee says:

    Looking at the ongoing scandal at Harvest, I thank the Lord that our Elders had enough wisdom back in 2012 to see the truth regarding James MacDonald. It was very difficult for us at the time, but I am glad to say that we were the first church to ever leave HBF. What is happening here is the result of the fact that the root is rotten. We saw it years ago and realized that we must separate ourselves from it (https://theelephantsdebt.com/the-next-step/).

    • William says:

      Athletes know that “playing not to lose” is not a winning strategy and Harvest knows that staying on offense is the best defense! As HBF loses more churches, Harvest decided to label them 1’s, 2’s, 3’s and 4’s with the end game being 20 “mega churches”, Harvest “wins” because it looks like these 1’s and 2’s didn’t leave but rather that they were eliminated!

      • God Will Prevail says:

        Wow William,

        I was too busy with my senses being offended that James was categorizing the churches as a 1, 2, 3, or 4 (with of course his being the “only 5”) that I missed that spin. You are so right! Label some churches as poor and unworthy, so when they leave, he can say he was separating the wheat from the chaff. He looks superior, when in reality his churches are leaving HIM.

        My husband and I said many, many times (starting at least 10+ years ago) that James missed his calling for being in marketing. It’s sad he is basically marketing his church and doing damage control in a manner similar to a large corporation. So very sad.

  19. God's people says:

    Does anyone see the parallel between James and his buddy Mark Driscoll? They seem to have many of the same problems. Go to http://www.driscollcontroversy.com And you will see the similar problems. Maybe James needs these complaints to be exposed further, like the news, so he can not cover his lies anymore. He is a master of deceit. Too bad he does not use his gifts the way God intended.

  20. Cantankerous Man with Questions says:

    Interesting that Randy Williams is now the one protesting the leadership of James Macdonald, when he was one of the four elders in the excommunication video:

    https://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2013/09/17/learn-and-discern-harvest-bible-chapel-church-discipline-and-excommunication/

    As it turns out, after all these years, Marquardt, Slaubaugh, and Phelps were the only elders that were not puppets of James MacDonald.

    Do you ever wonder what it would look like if Harvest actually listened to these three men back in 2013?

    • Dan says:

      I don’t know what he’s upset about now because it was widely known among HBC insiders that James himself wrote the script that these bobbleheads read to the church that day. James fed it to them, and like good little obedient boys, they read it.

      Everyone one of them ought to have resigned for such an egregious action. Yet, even after James feigned “apology” these pathetic cowards remained as Elders.

  21. Mike Medow says:

    To the Faithful at Harvest,

    Tough, honest questions. With each passing month you remain in fellowship at Harvest, are you really doing what’s best for your families? Do you think God is impressed by your stubborn resolve to stay and, in effect, enable an abusive pastor and his henchmen? As time goes by, are you proud of your unwavering allegiance to manipulative and deceptive leaders who have not your best interest in mind, but instead the interest of one who has no interest in your well-being?

    Do you have the courage to confront an abusive senior pastor and/or your campus pastor? If not, do you have enough sense to walk away and find fellowship elsewhere? (Don’t worry; there are plenty of churches out there where God is being glorified, God’s Word is being revered, and God’s Gospel is being faithfully proclaimed and preached, week in and week out). If you’re waiting for your friends to leave too, don’t. If they have half as much sense as you, they too will one day figure out for themselves just how foolish it was to stay at Harvest while Christ’s Name was mocked time and time again by a senior pastor (and his fellow accomplices) who have no fear of the Lord or love for you.

    Sounding the alarm for anyone with ears to hear.

  22. David says:

    I would have thought that the Elder Update would have been initially written possibly the Executive Elder Board Secretary or designated Elder. Here I guess MacDonald chose to do the draft. My expectation is that the draft update would then go through a review and sign-off process with feedback from all of the Elders.

    This is consistent behavior with MacDonald. He receives criticism, takes it personally, gets very angry, then lashes out in a fit of rage. Case in point was the excommunication of the 3 satanic Elders. The pettiness reflects badly on both MacDonald and Harvest. How long will Harvest put up with it? Maybe the majority of the congregation is not even aware of it.

  23. Bob says:

    Anybody surprised?

  24. banderson61 says:

    why is Fred Adams (Chief Financial Officer), still listed on the website? when did he leave ?

    • Cantankerous Man with Questions says:

      Maybe the person that updates the website quit also?

    • Former Guy from the Inside of the MacDonald Mafia says:

      Fred is still “working” for the church through a certain amount of time. It was supposed to be through the end of the year, but no longer was going to “office” in Elgin. James, Scott Millholland, and Luke MacDonald desperately want to keep Fred on staff because he knows EVERYTHING when it comes to the financial improprieties that have occurred over the last 10 years. Sadly, the pressure of the debt, HBF Financial audit, and pending litigation was too much for Fred who resigned this summer. It has been kept a secret for months.

      • Jessica says:

        We tried to get a straight answer about Fred Adams before we resigned membership. The account that XLT leaders gave was that Fred is on a vacation, taking some time off until the end of the year—and that he was still employed by Harvest but would be back in a new, yet-to-be-defined role. At the RM Meeting, an XLT member added that Fred never really liked being in the CFO role—a concerning statement by itself for any tithing congregant.

        We then heard accounts from various sources that conflicted with leaders’ version, each saying they knew the real story. “Former Guy’s” version is a mash-up of those other accounts we’ve heard.

        Leaders were insistent with us that Fred was not fired and that he would be back.

        It would be helpful to know the truth.

        Still very much praying for Harvest…

      • Friend of Mine says:

        Hey Johnny Inside Guy…

        Define / unpack “pending litigation” for the rest of us if you don’t mind.

        Has the SBC been approached on any of this? I’m surprised affiliate organizations are still willing to interact with HBC. Is there more that can be done to inform those who continue to “play” with James?

        Friends of mine tell me the James is not vulnerable from within but that as the truth becomes more and more public that outside organizations some of which Harvest depends on may begin to shy away.

        Friends of mine also tell me that stopping the flow of money from the heavy hitters is the fastest way to squeeze a storybook gangster into the witness protection program.

        How much public info is there regarding the big players at the table? Do these big players still feel comfortable as known contributors with all that is going on?

        If a Wisen had no access I question if any of the big dogs do.

        Can we find a heavy hitter of integrity willing to demand transparency?

        Find the money. Stop the Flow. James will go.

        • Jessica says:

          According to the 2016 audit, both North Shore and Aurora are/were LLCs with Class B members (6 for NS and 9 for Aurora respectively) who made capital contributions in 2015 (NS) and 2016. In 2016, “HBC purchased two of the Class B members’ interests totaling $200,000.” I don’t think Class B members of LLCs are a matter of public record in IL, but someone else can correct me.

        • Concreteforeman says:

          LLCs with Class B Owners under HBCs Tax ID?

          I wonder if those LLCs profit off the congregation and in turn provide ROI to the investors?

        • Jessica says:

          No, not under HBCs tax IDs. According to the 2016 audit notes, two LLCs were formed in 2015 and 2016 respectively for the purpose of acquiring, owning, and leasing property. For both LLCs, the auditors said, “The LLC is not a taxpaying entity for federal income tax purposes, and thus no income tax expense has been recorded in the consolidated statements. Income of the LLC is passed through to its members.” (I take “members” here to means Class A and Class B members of the LLC.)

          I’m not an expert in this arena. Readers who are, please speak up. 🙂 I’m referring to it because of question of whose money/contributions might “speak” the loudest at HBC. But the Class B Members in the HBC North Shore LLC and HBC Aurora LCC may or may not be/have been people who attend HBC (i.e., could be outside investors).

          See page 5 here – http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/HBC-2016-Financial-Statements-Final.pdf

          I’m also just now realizing that these audits are “consolidated”. Again, bottom of page 5: “Intercompany transactions and balances have been eliminated for consolidated financial statement purposes”.

          Wish we’ve would’ve been paying attention to that when we were members.

        • ConcreteForeman says:

          The goal of both of these LLC’s is to create ROI for the Investors.

          Since James sits in control of the “tenant” HBC he can dictate the the ROI on the front side by setting the monthly payment that HBC agrees to pay.

          The North Shore contract is signed as a 4 year lease. This means that 1,128,000 is guaranteed over 4 years. Should the investors choose to sell at the 4 year mark they will have recouped 25% of there initial investment and whatever appreciation is realized given market conditions.

          The Church, based on the stated investment, stands to own less than 18% equity unless a higher percentage was negotiated due to HBC providing the Tenant.

          Since we don’t know who the “members” are I’ll ask this……

          If James is an Investor how is there not a clear conflict of interest that needs to be investigated.

          My guess is James is The A member purchasing his shares with money he made as the Pastor of HBC and that Church Ownership plus James Ownership equals 51%

          Just a guess … Just a guess …

          Control Feels AMAZING!!!!!

        • Jessica says:

          Another question I now have related to this is whether any of the Elders are/were Class B Members in the HBC North Shore LLC. Wouldn’t that create some conflicts of interest as well, at least from the Congregant perspective?

          I’m seeing more clearly why Pastor James is insisting that “The business of the church is not the business of the church.”

          And I’m truly thankful that our tithes & offerings are no longer supporting this “business.”

        • Jessica says:

          Sorry, one more thing about the HBC North Shore LLC. The March 28, 2015 Elder Update says “A group of leaders within our church formed an LLC…” — which doesn’t say much.

          “As an addition to our final year of the 5G Campaign, our North Shore campus pledged 1.6 million in 2015, beyond their normal giving to the general fund, to purchase a permanent church home. A group of leaders within our church formed an LLC to purchase this permanent home for our North Shore Campus. The church will lease the building from the LLC for five years for a net – net amount only slightly above our current lease payment for a “Sunday morning only” facility in Winnetka. The building is located at 1731 Deerfield Road, Highland Park, IL 60035. Please rejoice with us in this exciting provision of a home for our North Shore Harvest family. The next facility acquisition priority is Aurora; please join us in prayer for that need.”

          The fault is our own, but we (mis)interpreted this to mean that the church was purchasing the building, even if under some kind of real estate LLC. (Forgive my ignorance on these matters, truly!) Am I understanding all of this correctly — that HBC North Shore is a “company” owned in part by HBC as well as by individuals? Is it typical for churches/church building to be owned in part by individuals, either within or outside the church? I’m genuinely wondering. Please correct any misunderstandings I’m having. Thank you!

        • Cantankerous Man with Questions says:

          There is this guy on twitter that seems to have some info… not sure what it means, but maybe someone can look into the LLC he references, SUSTEND, LLC.

        • Jessica says:

          Thanks. Sustend LLC appears to be the name for Pastor James’ personal LLC/corporation. (No problem there with having one, especially for tax & other purposes. He’s an author and has other sources of income.)

          The more challenging information on the state’s File Detail Report is that Christopher Nudo is the Agent. Mr. Nudo is a lawyer on staff at HBC. By title, the Senior Director of Plan Giving Ministry & Legal Services.

          Someone with expertise can speak to whether that is legally okay. But as an ethical matter, employing a lawyer on staff at your church and for your personal business seems problematic.

  25. James Engleman says:

    Thankful another brother was willing to name the lie.

    Brothers at Harvest.

    Stop rationalizing. Start looking for a new Church home.

    Biblical Love demonstrated by Christ’s perfect life is both Truth and Grace…

    Enabling a deceptive pastor (allowing the lies) cannot be explained as grace.

    Grace is coming along side James with forgiveness if and when he repents.

    Everyday you support this great deceiver is a day you choose to stand at odds with God.

    Praying for all my Brothers at Harvest

    • Mike M. says:

      I couldn’t agree more. Well put.

    • Bob says:

      Remember that James Engleman is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Do not meet with him if he offers.

      • James Engleman says:

        Do we know one another Bob?

        I know HBC Leadership is of that opinion.

        Are u as well?

        If so…why?

        • Amy says:

          It’s possible that “Bob” is either James or one of his minions. Sadly, he/they have been known to take that kind of PR tactic in the past.

        • James Engleman says:

          Thanks for that Amy.

          By sending a written demand via group email for a revealing of the financials to every Elder, Pastor, and Director I knew slander was coming. I judged it most important to make certain that a clear recap of bad fruits was delivered to all that support James and that accountability/transparency were demanded in a direct way.

          I hope to hear something of substance from Bobby Boy but Im not holding my breath.

          God Bless

      • Jackie Alfirevic left years ago SMH says:

        Bob, If you are going to make such claims about someone else posting then reveal who you are, explain your view, and stand by your words. I think everyone should start using their name when they post because we should not fear man but God alone. My claims on this site are all true experiences I have had at HBC Rolling Meadows. I have nothing to hide.

        • James Engleman says:

          AMEN!

          My Character is sinful in nature. I don’t always think the right thoughts, use the right words, or take the right action. This whole process has taught me that there is alot of work to be done in my own faith. Watching James struggle with The Lord is a front row seat to what it looks like, in me, when I refuse to surrender those most difficult areas of my sin nature.

          Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing I am Not.

          I’d prefer this description and since Bobby Boy has “choppered out of the jungle” I’ll correct him in his absence .

          Remember that James Engleman is a fallen sinful man, disgusted by his own sin, trying to live in Christ more and in himself less while leading his family away from a deceptive pastor. Pray for him. Reach out to him if you find yourself in need of support. He is a Brother in Christ.

          Now back to the issues at hand!

  26. monax says:

    “Be watchful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceptions based on the tradition of men and the elemental spirits of the world, and not based on Christ” (Col. 2:8).

    Christ, in no uncertain terms, explicitly forbade such a system of governing authority for His Body that James MacDonald and the Harvest Bible churches have set up. If interested, I’ve laid the crux of this reality out here: ἡγέομαι (hēgéomai) – a New Testament word study

  27. Epaenetus says:

    No elders listed anymore. They all had pics and names at one point.
    http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/our-elders/

    • In the past, HBC listed the elders by name and by picture. While the pictures have been removed, the elder list is still available. Go to harvestbible.org. Click the “About” tab. Click the “Our Elders” tab from the dropdown menu. On the new screen, scroll to the bottom and you will find the list of men serving as elders.

  28. Jessica says:

    At the Niles Congregational Meeting, Luke said openly that he (Luke) was working on the writing of the October Elder Update. Eventual or actual authorship aside, for us Luke’s statement at the meeting raised the question, “Why is someone who isn’t an Elder working on the Elder Update?”

    • chuck pearson says:

      remember the adage: What a tangled web they start to weave when first they practice to deceive! Luke is still learning the art of weaving from his birth father. eventually he will lie better than the old man!

      • Jessica says:

        Hi Chuck. Allow me to clarify: I’m not accusing Luke of lying. I’m saying that a open statement was made at at Congregational Meeting that an Elder Update was being written and that Luke was involved in the writing of it.

        I’m not sure how the idea of Mr. Williams not knowing that an update was being written “squares” with Luke telling 30+ people at Niles that an update was being written. In other words, it apparently wasn’t a secret. Maybe TED–or Mr. Williams himself, preferably–can clarify? Thanks!

        • Anon says:

          There is a difference between “knowing something is being written” and actually reading, shaping, and approving that written piece prior to its publication in the name of the elders.

        • Jessica says:

          Hi Anon. Yes, I agree that there is a difference.

          I was responding to the explicit content of the TED update, which reads “… according to our sources, [Randy Williams] resigned, in part, because he did not know that this update was being written, let alone published.”

          I’m trying to reconcile the part about Mr. Williams, Elder Board Chairman, not knowing the an Elder update was being written when Luke MacDonald shared openly at the Niles meeting on the evening of November 7 that one was being written and that he (Luke) was involved in working on it.

          The Update was dated November 9 and–if I remember correctly–posted online by November 10, although it may have been the night before (someone else might recall).

          Maybe Mr. Williams found out on the day of or after the Niles meeting that an Update was being written? Or shortly before, when it was already “in motion” and disagreed about the content?

          I’m also not clear on when exactly Mr. Williams resigned his position as Chairman, if he’s still an Elder, or if he still attends HBC. (Again, just basing my questions on what the TED update says and doesn’t say.)

          Thanks.

        • Beware The Muzzle says:

          “A number of sources have now come forward to acknowledge that the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel did not write this elder update, but rather James MacDonald himself is responsible for the content of this message.”

          I read this as Luke “Not an Elder” physically wrote the update with input from his dad making his dad “responsible” for it’s content.

          “Indeed, sources now confirm that in the aftermath of James’ decision to publish the update without elder input,”

          From this statement I can infer that James “launched” the final draft without final approval.

          Again, James overstepping his authority with no regard for consensus. Par for the course.

          It should be noted:
          The time between James transgressions is shrinking.
          The time it takes for him to repent is growing.

          James needs help! He is a man at odds with the very things he teaches and The Lord is now allowing it to transpire in a very public way.

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