Former HBC Elder, Fred Agase, Makes a Statement

update button 21 jan 2019Five years ago, on the 7th of October 2013, The Elephant’s Debt reported that Fred Agase, an Elder at Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC), had rotated off the Elder board and had left the church with an “internal sense of frustration.”  When we reported this at the time, Mr. Agase offered a very brief statement confirming our account, which you can read here.

Earlier today, Mr. Agase appeared on our blog again. This time, he offered a far more robust statement in the comment section of the blog.  We are re-posting his statement here:

I came across a very eye opening article, that is so relevant to the huge debacle at HBC Chicago. It was published by The Wartburg Watch (editor’s note – The Brook Network published the article) , written by Mel Lawrenz, who is writing about the recent crisis at Willow Creek Church, South Barrington. The article is titled: The Willow Creek Crisis- A Time of Reckoning for All Leaders.

As a former elder at the HBC Elgin campus, and 14 years of attending Harvest, ( I left right after Easter Sunday service in 2013, which to me was the height of the arrogance spewed by James), I can emphatically say that every “Untruth” written about in this article is spot on. The article describes to the letter, what’s been happening at HBC, and why!

I want to be quick to note, that just like Matt Stowell had indicated in his recent post, I became part of the problem! Instead of speaking up when I felt I should have, I remained silent, something that gnaws at me til this day! In 2010, I had become part of the ‘facade’ elder board. The radio personality Mancow said it best recently, on his radio show, that elders are a bunch of ‘a– kissers’, and that there is no elder board, James IS the elder board! You can listen to radio radio talk show yourself, posted very recently under his name on this website.

If you get a chance, I would urge you to read this article, that outlines and describes seven “Untruths”, that many Christian leaders promote, and rule the church accordingly, to the detriment of the sheep, who in most if not all cases, are clueless.

I had mentioned in my recent FB post, that nothing, short of what Willow Creek church did, will fix the problem at HBC Chicago campuses, or any other HBC that is being run the same way. The entre leadership, from top to bottom, the entire elder board, and all campus pastors who are in James hip pocket, need to resign and leave, permanently, and let the people have a fresh start!

In his statement, Mr. Agase refers to a statement he made on his Facebook wall on the 20th of January 2019.  That statement, which covers very similar ground, is still worth reading as he highlights certain “Untruths” (see the article) that he must believe are particularly relevant to this situation:

In view of the big mess that harvest bible ( or should I say Sergeant) chapel is mired in, here are seven ‘UNTRUTHS’ that are widely passed on in Christian leadership circles, that so aptly apply to what is taking place at harvest. You can look these up on (editor’s note – the list is embedded in the articleby Mel Larenz at –  https://wp.me/p55nMr-35F) The Wartburg Watch website, the article titled ‘The Willow Creek Crisis – Time of Reckoning for All Leaders- Opinion by Mel Lawrenz.

1. Crises need to be “handled.”
2. The only way God works is through leaders.
3. People are means to an end.
4. Vision is the highest form of leadership.
5. Image is everything.
6. Leaders are above the rules.
7. The local church is the hope of the world.

What is telling is # 6. “People would be shocked how many Christian leaders preach about humility, kindness, and respect, and behind the scenes mistreat, abuse, and shame ordinary people.

My question to harvest: does this sound familiar?

Here is what ‘untruth’ #1 says in part: When a church is in a true crisis, its leaders should not go running to a PR firm, its lawyers, and its communications experts to figure out a path forward.

My question to harvest, does the lawsuit against the Elephants Debt authors, their wives, and Julie Roys, sound familiar?

The article closes with this:

“Leaders and consultants are surely hard at work crafting the best possible words to “handle” the situation. What would be helpful to hear is this: This is a time of reckoning for us all. We ask God to humble us. We repent of leadership arrogance. We need fresh starts.”

Willow Creek church in south Barrington had the guts to start fresh, when “handling” their situation failed. It is high time for the arrogant leadership at harvest, from top to bottom, including the ‘facade’ elder board, to follow suit, to step down and leave, and allow the people to have a fresh start!

As always, we are grateful to those that have the courage and the strength of character to speak up.

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18 Responses to Former HBC Elder, Fred Agase, Makes a Statement

  1. xwing says:

    I still think the biggest issue at harvest is where the authority is vested. James makes it clear that he thinks it is soley in the elders. I think it is clear in the bible that it is in the congregation and elders combined.

    Dont think you will see much change at harvest until this changes.

    It is going to be corrupt leadership and leaders who are tone deaf to what is actually going on in the church. Right now the elders are totally insulated from the rest of the church and are prone to big errors becssue of it.

  2. xwing says:

    Anyone who goes to harvest and who gives money to the church is condoning what has happened and supports the current leadership.

    This video from 2013 or whatever is shocking.

    https://archive.org/details/JamesMacDonaldHarvastBibleChapel

    After watching this I am not surprised by anything else that happens at that church.

  3. carolineafischer says:

    I 100% agree. There’s a danger in laying all the blame on James, because the entire staff leadership and elder board is corrupted. They are complicit in abuse of power, they are cowardly in the face of danger and wrongdoing, and they are deceitful deceitful men.

    • Karl says:

      I agree. The only reason that James could do any of the things he was able to was because the leadership enabled him to, and even supported him. We left HBC because of issues we had with the elders and with our campus pastor. I never even looked at this blog until after we left and one of the leaders told me that things were getting much better with James and that he was making restitution with those he had hurt. I looked on line to verify what he told me. Needless to say..,

  4. Scott T. says:

    You cannot serve the throne when you’re on it.

  5. Angie Walters says:

    Thank you for your courage to share Fred! I pray more and more pastors and elders come forward.

  6. cindycurtis says:

    Thank you, Fred, for speaking up, brother.

  7. keelankaiser says:

    A good word of additional context, thanks. “Yo, this isn’t a democracy,” probably one of the most memorable lines from the stage. Followed by a defiant act like men chest thrust, and then applause from the audience. I wouldn’t look for any resignations any time soon though. Who would resign from within a structure that has no accountability? Who would they send their resignation letter to? Ha, no, it isn’t going to end like that I don’t think. Seats looked filled to me this past Sunday. It isn’t like most of this stuff isn’t already known, and yet people still attend and still write their tithes. My opinion is people stay for the fellowship and look past the other stuff. Right or wrong. Right (submit yourself to authority) or Wrong (call out deceit and abuse).

    • NeverRegrettedLeaving says:

      “seats looked full to me this past Sunday”. Which campus and service?

        • JJ says:

          The Elgin Campus is down to 2 services now. And someone online said they closed off the back section (maybe to push the crowd in closer?).

          From the video of Landon’s sermon, the RM campus looked empty. Hopefully people are indeed voting with their feet.

        • Amy Moore says:

          One of the specialties of crisis manager Lawrence Swicegood is managing appearances. To cover up drops in attendance, seats will be removed if possible. Sections will be closed off. Ushers will try to push people in together tightly into the space that is on screen. Careful cropping used by Tech Arts with the other techniques can make a church that’s less than 50% full look almost at capacity. You should notice wider panning when members are standing. It’s much more difficult to identify empty seats when folks are standing.

          I watched the service this weekend. TA cropped so tightly you couldn’t even see the front row until 31 min into the sermon. In that quick scene it appeared that the front 5 rows had about 30% vacancy and those would be areas that staff and ushers would be packing in for the cameras. But row 6? I only saw 2 heads in that entire row. No rows were visible further back. That’s an indicator that the appearance of vacant seats is being professionally managed which means there’s an attendance issue.

          I sincerely hope that readers might consider taking a few surreptitious pics & posting them here or on social media to show what’s really going on in row 6 to the back of the auditorium.

        • The Least Of These says:

          I know both people who posted those. They are old pics because the back bowl is blocked off by back curtains. And the last time I was there at the main service. 9am Sunday, the front section was barely half way full. I was shocked, yet not.

      • Michael says:

        The seats were as full as normal Sunday morning in Aurora, and there was a snow storm this weekend, which likely accounts for a drop in attendance.

  8. Jackie Alfirevic says:

    Fred,
    Thank you for your confession and for your indictment of James, the elders, and leaders. Keep it coming former (and present) elders. Time for truth telling.

  9. BJW says:

    1. Crises need to be “handled.”
    2. The only way God works is through leaders.
    3. People are means to an end.
    4. Vision is the highest form of leadership.
    5. Image is everything.
    6. Leaders are above the rules.
    7. The local church is the hope of the world.

    Help Wanted!

    We need brothers and sisters that have been described as a hard to handle crisis with leadership qualities and a vision to be used by God for His Glory, created in His image, following His rules “not perfectly” but intentionally.

    Join with us by putting all your hope in Jesus and standing against the schemes of James Macdonald’s Harvest Bible Corp.

    Willing to train.

  10. Jessica H says:

    Bam. Fred Agase hits the nail on the head. No mincing of words and no question about what he means or is calling on HBC to do. Thank you, Fred.

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