Five 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.