HBC Fort Wayne Calls Out MacDonald’s Character and HBC Chicago Elders’ Discernment

update button 28 jan 2019Today Harvest Bible Chapel of Fort Wayne, Indiana released a statement in which it announced that they would be going through a long and expensive process to change their name to distance themselves from their planting church, HBC in Chicago. They have been an autonomous church since 2013, and they are electing to join the GCC.

Regarding the situation with James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel, Chicago:

The elders of Harvest Fort Wayne are greatly saddened by failures that have occurred in our planting church, Harvest Bible Chapel, Chicago. Harvest Bible Fellowship under the direction of HBC Chicago, planted our church in 2012. Their support, as well as Pastor James’, was invaluable to us. As of late there has a risen significant concerns about James MacDonald’s character and leadership. Though we associated with James in the past, what has recently come to light has revealed a self-driven ministry motivation that we can no longer support in any way. We feel the elders at Harvest Chicago have handled the situation poorly showing a lack of wisdom and discernment.

Our church has been an autonomous local church since September of 2013 taking no governance from HBC Chicago or giving any governance to them. Further, we have not been associated with HBC Chicago since June of 2017. The only continued connection is in the fact that we still share the name. In order to further distance ourselves from Harvest Chicago, the elders have decided to pursue a name change. This is a lengthy and costly process, but necessary as we seek to position ourselves to be most effective at making disciples for God’s glory.

Further, we are excited to partner with the Great Commission Collective and we stand behind a statement they released recently about this situation in Chicago:

In light of the Harvest Bible Chapel Elder Update today regarding James MacDonald, we want to make our stance clear both to our member churches and to the larger Christian community. What is needed in the situation at hand is true, heartfelt repentance by James and for the Elders at Harvest to fulfill their biblical responsibility. We hope that a long-term, indefinite sabbatical will help this to occur but believe it is only possible if the plan described is completely void of manipulation and avoidance.

In keeping with our past private statements to Harvest’s leadership and to our pastors – The primary issue is not reconciliation or peacemaking, it is repentance. A peacemaking process, while helpful for personal and relational reconciliation, is not the approach to address failed governance, biblical disqualification, and a toxic leadership environment.

Our hope and prayer is that the HBC Elders will shepherd James toward the proper care of his soul and a genuine repentance evidenced in the months to come. We will continue to pray for all involved.

Please let us know if there are any questions we can answer. Also, please cry out to God for all involved. We want nothing more than repentance and a return to Christ-focused ministry for all churches.


26 thoughts on “HBC Fort Wayne Calls Out MacDonald’s Character and HBC Chicago Elders’ Discernment

  1. My family and I originally attended one of the core HBC’s in Illinois and then attended HBC Philadelphia when we moved to that area. We can attest that HBC Philadelphia, though a much smaller version, runs the same as the main campuses led by Pastor James. There was one Sunday in 2014 or 2015, when HBC Philadelphia pastor stood in front of the congregation and announced they were ex-communicating two members from the church. The pastor urged that the congregation not speak to these individuals outside of church. It was also announced that the reasoning for this was because the individuals were going through the membership process and they were not in agreement with some things at Harvest and thus were not aloud to become members of the church.

    I haven’t been to any other harvest branch besides the above mentioned but there were similar tendencies and characteristics that were of the main campus.

  2. This story has been so oddly fascinating to watch. On the one hand, I want to check my sinful impulse to take delight in the downfall of another person. On the other hand, it has a) the demented appeal of watching a car crash in slow motion b) the satisfaction of what seems to be a wolf-in-sheeps-clothing being revealed for his/their true nature.

    It’s odd. I listen to Moody Radio fairly regularly and honestly, without knowing anything about James Macdonald, simply the tenor of his voice and his delivery always rubbed me the wrong way. It was as though even if the words he spoke were absolutely truthful, something in the way he spoke them did not seem in the spirit of God. He sounded angry, brittle, macho. Not there is never a place for bold-preaching, but the fruits of the spirit (such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self control) didn’t seem to be there.

    I would always find myself sort of bristling when he would come on the radio, and being tempted to judge or criticize, I would just decide to change the station. But it is interesting now to see that very likely, my intuition, or the spirit’s intuition in me, was not wrong. Not all that long ago, Pastor James called into Karl and Crew (the morning show on moody) and he basically said, “my wife and I are out here at this little highway roadside dinner, because we want people to know were just normal people, living normal lives. Something to that effect.”. Now, again, I don’t want to judge too harshly or severely, but even in that phone-call on the radio, I *felt* a sense of duplicity and manipulation. I really did. So all of this unfolding has been interesting to see.

    I think all people (I think of our current President), but especially professing Christians, would do well to really consider the words of Christ in Luke 12:3 :

    “What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.”

  3. GCC Church Member January 29, 2019 — 8:25 am

    It’s really alarming seeing the accusations of the same culture being present at other GCC churches that are changing their identity. I’m part of a GCC member church that has not done so yet. It was never really made clear why we went to GCC and is even more cloudy because we are still called HBC, use the chevron, 4 pillars, etc. Do you think our leadership has a responsibility to be transparent with members about what happened, how they did or did not stand up to Pastor James, what safety checks are in place with leadership and finances locally to prevent the same abuses, offer a safe way for people who may have been hurt to reach out, and then explain why new identity is helpful and not a coverup? What should these GCC pastors be doing besides just using a new name and logo to actually strengthen and build up the church? We have some tremendous paid staff and volunteer leaders and I personally don’t want to see us become a Mars Hill that shuts down because of someone else’s lack of true repentance. Thanks.

    1. I am in a GCC church that is still called Harvest. It turns out that our name will be changing soon. I met with a few elders to discuss my concerns and I was very thankful for the time that they took in answering – and for the answers themselves. I am very confident of our church and the leadership.

  4. I have a question. Those independent churches that became part of the HBC network, what was their reason for doing so. Thank you in advance.

  5. Can we PLEASE look at the real monster here? It isn’t James, per say, but the machine, the governing structure, the training of all Harvest leaders, elders and pastors, which includes every single HBC plant and now GCC church and those leaders? This site has blown the whistle, Julie Roys has lit the stage, now shine light on the system that is not changing; the elders, the leadership, the structure and Harvest brand culture of abuse both verbal, spiritual and financial. Even if James hid quietly for 20 years starting tomorrow, the problem still remains—- the elders in quantity and quality are not able to correct this pattern of abuse locally in Chicago or across the Harvest scope. Everyone affected should be calling for yes, renaming the Harvest churches, but more importantly REMOVING THE STRUCTURE OF GOVERNANCE, then disassociating with anything affiliated with any MacDonald, Luke and Landon included and anyone who was trained through HBFellowship at their local harvest church. For heaven’s sake, James’ 2 sons are paid staff and in leadership positions that have a large say in what happens to ol’ dad. How is that healthy leadership? But every Harvest church has been trained in managing the people especially the people who question or oppose:
    shut them up, shoot them down, slander them and destroy them, redirect, divert, flash a sign and read a script, but never apologize, never back down, just have an elder puppet read a statement. Its garbage and destructive.

    Remove the system of leadership across the hbc landscape, all 180 churches, and in many cases the pastors and elders who have taken in the style and structure James established that has allowed such grievances of late so each congregation can be shepherded properly, with gentleness and healing and a guiding hand not a tyrant with a microphone.

    The WORST thing that can happen now is for James to relocate, Chicago to shuffle people in leadership and every Harvest change its name but KEEP the structure that is so destructive!!!!!!

    Allow for congregational voting!!!
    Show actual numbers at every congregational business meeting!!!!!
    Have more than 3 elders, not hand picked by the pastor!!!!!
    Stop with the manipulative management of people!!!! Backstabbing. Slandering. Lying. Humiliating in public. Looking for yes men.

    maybe then these churches might resemble the body of Christ, but keeping the style and structure of running things they learned from James and his weak elders and changing names is nothing but a scam and trying to save face when the animal is the same.

    I agree that every single leader, pastor, elder, anyone associated with Harvest in any capacity needs to repent, and it needs to be publicly, for duping their congregations, across the 180 churches right before each church hands over the running and governance to a group of men nominated by their members to establish biblical bylaws and reveal a full financial statement.

    So glad we are gone, but we grieve for the many who will fall prey to the tricks lying in wait; changing a name and pretending everything is better. I pray God protects his people and opens their eyes too. So thankful he did for us after 7 years.

    1. You obviously don’t know how the HBC church plants operate and their relationship to HBC Chicago. ALL HBC plants with the exception of the Chicagoland and Naples campuses are AUTONOMOUS, local bodies of believers. None of them even have a direct relationship with Chicago anymore and there is no money going back to them or MacDonald. Each plant is now either part of the Vertical Church Network or Great Commission Collective, neither of which are governed by Chicago or MacDonald.

      And to assume that all the plants have the same leadership style as James is naive and ill-informed. Have you ever been to ANY of the other HBC plants? There are great churches out there with solid teaching and healthy growth and discipleship. My plant is nothing but healthy and I’ve never experienced abuses there as you have so carelessly implied.

      And to the congregational voting comment, nowhere in scripture does it support a voting church governance structure. There are, however, multiple scriptures that support elder-led. Church was never meant to be a democracy.

      1. Response to Shaking My Head,

        The GCC Board Chairman is the Davenport Harvest pastor. The same abuses have happened there. Maybe it is time for us to come forward with our very personal experiences.

        I am shaking my head at your arrogance. Your comment sounds very familiar as a pastor of Harvest.

        Are you a GCC Board member?

        1. I’m sorry you found my comments arrogant. I think it’s more arrogant to assume all HBC plants have bullies for pastors, abuse their congregations and are not transparent. I am not a HBC Pastor, nor on the GCC board but I attend a wonderful local church in which I have never experienced these allegations. Even in the slightest. Assuming all churches that share the HBC name or model are guilty of James’ or HBC Chicago’s shortcomings is not healthy. I cannot speak to the Davenport situation, but making blanket statements about a church you know nothing about is more arrogant than my comments.

      2. Former downstate member January 29, 2019 — 8:54 am

        I, for one, know how the HBC church plants operate and their relationship to HBC Chicago. My husband and I were the first two to contact Gordon about planting a church downstate in 2006. It was a pleasure working with Gordon Zwirkoski and David Corning. They are top notch. James always came across as arrogant and he wasn’t approachable.
        I know about the governing philosophy within HBC. I can’t speak about all HBC churches but the few I know anything about are run the same as James MacDonald’s cult. They have taken on the same methods and structure. In our case the man who called himself pastor was/is a bully, arrogant, had only yes men as elders, didn’t allow questions or differences of opinion, talked badly about members he didn’t like, only wanted his tribe, kept finances secret from members, had no transparency, etc. He asked us why we just didn’t leave when we went to him PRIVATELY about a sin we witnessed in him. I told him he was not my King, Jesus was and I was not there for him but to serve my King Jesus! We truly wanted to help the man and make the church better. Then after a year of being gone, he had an elder, (whom we had been friends with for 30 years…well we thought he was a friend) stand up during a WORSHIP SERVICE and slander us, saying we were divisive, troublemakers, liars, and don’t associate with us. It is the same DNA that came out of Chicago HBC as if they trained those methods at Harvest U. And when we went to the “pastor” asking him to try to help a nephew and wife who were struggling in their marriage and attending the church, he told us they were not his problem. NICE!! What a shepherd! They can change their name but as long as the same people run the church there it will not be any different.
        BTW, with our saga, several reconciliation attempts from us have been ignored. God used the situation and pain all or our good and His glory, we are grateful for it all and we have forgiven. That doesn’t negate the SINS and no repentance. The mess with James has brought all the memories back and I am sorry for all the people who have been hurt by HBC SINS and shenanigans. It all sounds very familiar and personal. May God be glorified through it all! He is the King, no pastor!

      3. Harvest churches are autonomous yes, but they are replicas of the mother ship. That’s the whole point of “the brand”. So we were told by Harvest elders in our town. The brand included the logo, the four slogans on the wall, the launch team, heavy handed fund raising, clapping for the offering, overly loud band and even the amorphous third person “you are loved” tagline at the end of every service. McDonalds mass produces hamburgers. JMcDonald mass produced churches.

        And yes, given what I saw (and what I’ve read from others over the last year) the lead pastors at these Harvest churches produced many of the same problems in their churches as JMac including personality cult of the pastor and pushing out anyone who dared ask hard questions. At our Harvest they had members sign their names next to how much they would give to the building fund IN PUBLIC in front of everyone else. Talk about a violation of Jesus command to let our giving be done in secret.

        I would also point out that New Testament churches primarily met in houses not in huge multi million dollar buildings. So it seems a bit self-serving to focus on how scripture supports elder led groups (rather than democratic congregational models) all the while going into huge debt to fund buildings which the Bible never commands. If strict adherence to the New Testament church is going to be your model then you need to apply all aspects of it.

      4. We were part of a plant, helped it start from a core group into a Harvest launch, with Gordon. We worked with other churches that were plants, to see what it took. We visited other plants, attended Harvest U, attended training for small group leaders, men’s and women’s conferences, were in ministry and small groups from before day one of launching. When they needed a person to fill a hand picked spot and we asked questions that’s when all the leadership control became most obvious. So yes, we do know how hbc runs. We also know that money did go to the fellowship and no longer does to the GCC. The problem is not only the money connection to the former HBF, but the style of leadership. And it is not only my opinion. Read all over this site to see that many others have experienced this abuse through their leaders who were also either close to James or connected through their associations and hbc.

        When we confronted our elders about large sums of money, budgets, campaigns for money and simply a written budget they use, they responded 4 times in various ways that they ould consider letting us know details of the budget, there was no need to divulge that info to givers, there was no legal obligation to share it, that we were in a bad place to even ask, that if we couldnt trust them with our money, we couldn’t trust them with our souls (to which we agreed) and that it showed grave distrust of them as leaders to ask for any financial accountability, that most people dont really care and when given a simple answer like a pie chart people start to ask questions and want more info or just toss the info aside and finally, their accountant said they have no obligation as a 501c3 to share it, which I believe is illegal.

        While the money is an issue,even if none is going to the GCC, the way things are handled is the same in many cases.

        Even the worship service is operated with control behind it. While at a training for such, the worship pastor comme Ted that if any song went from one chord to another through procession and got louder at the same time, it didnt matter what the lyrics were, everyone raised their hands from the emotional pull of the music volume and lighting. I doubted it, but watched. For several weeks hearing harvest approved music I saw this was true. Harvest has a system of grading and organizing music to this end as well. 1-5 every song is scored and then pulled into the order of service
        accordingly. Not that this is totally wrong or sinful but it shows that every hbc church has a system in place that is easily duplicated even down to what song in the service at what time. So I believe the leadership is structures with even stronger influence that has proven harmful, as this site and its commentors prove.
        Another example, a church where the pastor was a staffer at Harvest, not even preaching pastor, but on staff in the mother ship, left because he saw how people were manipulated and James’ attitude. Several former harvest families asked this man to be their pastor. They set up a non hbc church. However,, due to their being trained in the abusive and manipulative ways of controlling people, their own members endured the same types of control, manipulation, shunning, etc. The name does not matter to the people being hurt. My original post States the style of managing people is the harm. There may be some good men who had no idea, that is rare and I bit naive for them to be as leaders in an association, but as you can see throughout this site especially recently that many people whomever crossed paths with James saw these control issues and lack of good character. Those breaks in character were taught in the fellowship and at harvest u, at pastors retreats, as already mentioned here such as the poolside chat where James told the pastors present that he was changing the eldership structure and why.

        I had the misfortune of meeting James briefly at Harvest U. He passed through our group of people knowing he could not walk around and immediately cut down an elder with a sharp quip about his failures. Public humiliation unneeded. His comments were not endearing but offensive and snarky, no kindness, gentleness, encouragement. But like a rock star, with us as groupies, which we were. I was not impressed and saddened that others had to deal with that all the time.

        One need not read this opinion to see that the DNA or leadership is fraught with problems across the hbc board of 180 churches. It is already shared here from all those who are in the statements or who have left comments about how their experience at a hbc church has hurt them. I’ve read them. It is devastating to see others who have been hurt by the style and structure hbc has set in place. The reason both Mars Hill and Harvest did and are collapsing is because they both relinquished their power to one man through structure. They wanted to be a brand, a franchise to duplicate with ease and in that franchise plan they set up each church with the same mentality and structure as big harvest, one pastor, a couple men as elders who could be easily moved or intimidated to go along, and leave the people with snippets of what’s going on. The churches who have more godly men than James in leadership, I hope they restructure their system of accountability to protect themselves against pride and their congregation against abuse. But the franchise model established should be acknowledged and reformed.

        To anyone who is wondering what to do while they are still at a Harevst type church, the first thing is to pray, a lot, as a couple and family for things to be obvious. Then request financial statements, a budget or something allowed through 501ce reporting to givers. If there is humility, agreement and general compliance then ask for the bylaws. Read them if actually given to you. See how decisions are made. If it states by consensus and with requiring only a minimum of 3 elders, 1 being the pastor, then the structure is the same and the governance is vulnerable to abuse from the pastor as he holds the power.
        Ask lots of probing questions about why does the church do it this way to see if they skirt the issues or if they openly share. Secrecy is not healthy in this situation.

      5. I would have to respectfully disagree with you regarding the Vertical Chirch network and their relationship to MacDonald. Luke MacDonald is one of the leaders and their Executive Director is a close personal friend of MacDonald. MacDonald, James and Luke, have also been involved in live stream teaching for the Vertical Church Network. Even though it is based in NC out of a Harvest Church I went to for several years it still has strong ties to Chicago and MacDonald

    2. Thank you! Harvest Davenport has been run the same way. Members have walked out with years of abuse and damage. Many of us still working tirelessly on restoring our faith and trust. Some struggling to ever walk in another church. It has taken my husband and I 8 years to be able to sit in a church without walking out at some point from some form of post traumatic trigger.

      The chairman of the GCC Board is the pastor of Davenport Harvest.

    3. For me, it’s a both/and. The structure of governance has always been carefully crafted to protect the authorities. If HBC ever goes against the ecclesiology of its theological tribe (of which I’m no longer a part) and goes to congregational voting, I’ll eat my hat. But even within their structuring of elder-led congregations, they make subtle power moves that other elder-led congregations do not. And don’t even get me started on HBC’s mantra that when the elder board makes a decision, the elders “speak for God”.

      But for everyone who wants to criticize Eyes Opened about making assumptions of other HBC plants, I have no doubt that some of them operate lovingly. The issue is that there is, and always has been, a distinct “James way” of doing ministry, preaching, leadership, etc. And all of the HBC planters that did a residency at HBC in the Chicago suburbs watched James up close, or where trained in the “James way”. There are stories out there from Harvests all over the continent (just see this comments section), and nowhere near James MacDonald, of people being treated terribly by HBC leadership, in eerily similar ways to tragic stories coming out of HBC Chicago.

      Planters are taught to preach like James, lead like James, and manage conflict like James. In 3.5 years of attending Harvest RM from 2007-2010, I saw too many other preachers act and sound like a James clone in the pulpit. The only ones who didn’t were ones who had much more subdued personalities. There is a “James way”, and it has reproduced itself in a lot of other churches. Obviously, not every church, because some leaders still have integrity.

      But this problem is deep, in my opinion. It’s structure, and also a philosophy of leadership that does not remotely resemble Jesus and his words in Matthew 20:25-28.

  6. You’re exactly right “it’s so obvious”. The head Pastor Jamie Hart and Associate Pastor Adam Boylan were fully aware of James MacDonald’s sinful actions years before this announcement. I was the first to bring this to their attention years ago and ultimately our church split in January 2015 over these very matters. My wife and I were a part of the initial core church planting team in 2012 of the Harvest Bible Chapel in Fort Wayne, and quickly became some of the first small group leaders of this new plant. To prepare for our roles, we attended the Faith Biblical Counseling seminar in Lafayette, IN in 2013 where we met a fellow attendee. She noticed my Harvest shirt and through our conversation, I learned about James Macdonald and the Elephant’s Debt. I did research and discovered many serious accusations against James MacDonald. I brought my concerns (including gambling, abusiveness, mishandling of finances, failure to disclose finances, etc.) to Pastor Hart and his wife the following week at a private lunch. Jamie was defensive of MacDonald and insisted that we had nothing to worry about and how the accusations were nothing but lies and a smear campaign against James. He spoke of how he personally and intimately knew MacDonald himself and how he was of great integrity, a good person, and a solid Christian. I left the meeting having doubts in Pastor Hart’s view of MacDonald, but chose to submit to his leadership and continue to plant and grow the church. We continued as small group leaders and was in good standing as members. In 2014, I learned that James MacDonald had sold a building for 40-60 million to TBN. I witnessed him online fellowshipping and partnering with heretics and false teachers in the building used by TBN. When I discovered the incriminating video, I sent it to an elder of Harvest Bible Chapel Fort Wayne asking him how is it acceptable for our church to be associated with this person who is partnering and validating an organization with false doctrine? At this point, we had 5 elders (Jamie Hart, Adam Boylan, Cameron Fry, Brian Haas, and Erv Kitner). They all watched the video and afterwards they were split in whether we should continue to be a Harvest Bible Chapel Church or be totally autonomous. The 5 elders then had a private meeting with James MacDonald himself through video chat. Still afterwards, Jamie and Adam defended James shady behaviors like Jamie had in the previous year. (Issues of his money mishandling, abusiveness, the Elephant’s Debt resurfaced but now these concerns were brought before all the elders not just Jamie.) The two elders excused MacDonald, even though these old accusations now included this new partnership which was appearing to be a progression of sin and the pushing of boundaries of what MacDonald could get away with. I then met with Adam and Jamie individually with the undeniable evidence and the many accusations and backed my concerns with scripture, but they ignored the numerous facts and boasted him as a great leader. They condescendingly told me that I didn’t have the ability to understand scripture because I didn’t have a MDiv like they did and how they got paid to study the bible. They also told me that I was just the same as MacDonald because I let my daughter watch Disney movies that promoted homosexuality, and that was the same as James selling the building to TBN. I resigned my membership and position as a small group leader informing my group of my concerns with MacDonald and reason for abrupt departure. Afterwards, Jamie and Adam publicly shamed me, accusing me of sowing discord and being divisive because I shared the video with an elder and discussion with small group. They told others how no one should listen to me and how I would have a problem attending another church because I had a problem with authority. However, after the elders had their discussion with James MacDonald, 2 elders resigned immediately, and multiple small group leaders and congregation families chose to split because Jamie and Adam refused to listen to the fact s of James character and ministry. It was truly a divided church. My family and I now have been attending another church for 4 years in good standing and I asked my current elder for permission to this reply. I am not looking for reconciliation from HBCFW but I am looking for genuine repentance from leadership for their lack of wisdom and discernment and for following a man instead of Christ and allowing such harm to come to their flock. This is not vindication, but God’s promise to bring things to the light and now Harvest Bible Chapel Fort Wayne’s leadership is exposed and their hiding behind ignorance and blame of others instead of owning the fact that they were indeed the cause of the
    split and discord. So they need to take the log out of their eyes before calling for MacDonald to take out his speck(s).

    1. What building did MacDonald sell to TBN for 40-60Million??

      1. 2880 vision court Aurora Illinois is the address of the building. Just do a google search and you will find information on it.

        1. Also it is more accurate to say that James donated the building to TBN for air time and time slots.

  7. Honestly, I am tired of all these rehearsed and polished statements from pastors and leaders of Harvest churches. Calling the Elders out for lack of wisdom and discernment? I am sorry but that doesn’t begin to identify with the actions of these people. They have destroyed families, damaged peoples faith and testimony as their own children watch. They have stolen peoples savings, college accounts and inheritances. They have lied and cheated people. Since when do we describe any of this as “lack of wisdom and discernment”? That is not what God would define it as. This shows me that all of you Harvest leaders writing these statements either just don’t get it, or you knew about it and did nothing.

    Changing the name of your church does nothing for your character when you keep yourself tied to that GCC Board. Let’s get real. Who is on that Board? They are men who have been in the presence of James for many years. The men who were hand picked by him to start the church planting. I don’t buy for one second these men didn’t know what was going on. The GCC Board and all the Harvest Elders are either cowards or they are just like James. Discernment and wisdom is understanding the GCC Board made a statement to distance themselves from James ONLY WHEN THE CRAP WAS HITTING THE FAN at the last hour. This was an attempt to save themselves by throwing James under the bus.

    Maybe it’s time for TED to give the floor to the actual victims of abuses by the whole Harvest organization? These fluffy statements mean nothing to us who are working to restore our faith, trust, and families.

    1. I agree with what you’re saying here. As much as I appreciate the HBC Fort Wayne statement for it’s clear denouncement of what is occurring NOW (albeit without the word “sin”) a huge reason that James MacDonald has caused–and is still causing–so much damage is because he wasn’t stopped by men who were in the to stop him. Not just 1 man, or 8 men, or even 30 men. But probably 100s of men. We know that a good number tried. We know that others were guilty of wrongdoing or complicity themselves. We know that many were controlled by pride and self-interest.

      TED has given the floor to actual victims of abuses. (Many men who have spoken up by name WERE abused by James in multiple ways.) One ongoing challenge is that so few people who have been abused (directly or indirectly) are willing to come forward by name. At this stage especially, anonymous accounts don’t have much weight. We need more REAL-TIME witnesses (like Mancow Muller) to come forward with their stories.

      1. You are right, we have been afraid to come forward and share. The loud silence of our efforts have left us defeated and we have been put in our place. We are bitter and unforgiving. That is what they all say. The same thing you have all experienced.

        TED and a handful of Believers have courageously stepped up to expose the abuse at such a personal and emotional cost to yourselves and your families. You have stayed the course for the name and reputation of Christ.

        Thank you all for being obedient to God for truth. There is no way any of us with compassion and love for others would desire to expose any of this. There is grief in bringing out the sins of men we have loved. It’s why so many of us silently walk away.

        Pray for those of us who have been called to obedience in this area. I am resisting out of fear as I am sure many of us are.

        1. I appreciate your honestly. I’m praying for you and others in similar situations. God sees all of this, and I am continuing to ask Him to reveal the full truth, compel confession & repentance, and force resignations. This is far from over.

  8. Don Ferris:
    I have had the same sorts of thoughts. I began at Harvest as a seminary intern in 1990, and the seeds of the things everyone is talking about were evident back then. When I began my internship, I was immediately concerned by the tense culture that existed in the church office because of James. For a while, I tried to explain it away as merely a type-A personality and thought there must be something wrong with me. I did eventually talk to James a couple of times about my concerns during my four years there, but he did not seem to receive it.
    I never took my concerns to the elders, but I did become a deacon at some point and saw the same sort of attitude from James in the board meetings, at first, trying to explain it away. I also saw him once instructing us on how we needed to present a budget matter to the congregation—a presentation that sounded to me like it was going to be deceptive, and I cautioned him that we needed to be careful that we did not make the congregation think they were approving one thing when they were actually approving something else. When he replied to me that that was exactly what we were doing, no one else on the board stepped up to confront that, including some who are celebrated on this blog for leaving Harvest and coming forward here. I was quite mousey back in those days, and when I found myself all alone, I just kept quiet. That would not happen today.
    Some years later, I ran into James at a pastors’ conference in California. He invited me to air any concerns I might have about him, and I began with, “I just don’t trust you, James.” We went on to talk about the issues we had talked about in the past, which he treated as old news that had been dealt with and then told me it was not like I was so perfect that I should accuse him. As the conversation continued, one of the men who had been in that board meeting, whom I had thought of as a friend, and who has made statements on this blog, who was with James at the pastors’ conference, interrupted me to question my own ministry.
    I don’t mention any of the names of those who have since come forth, for the things they have said about James and the culture at Harvest are accurate; I don’t want to distract from that (which is not to say, Don, that I think you are wrong to mention names). Also, I have always found these people to be generally godly men. But I do sometimes find myself back in that board meeting in my mind, wondering why no one else stepped up. I believe it is good that they eventually left and spoke up, even if it took some of them 12 or 15 years to do so.

  9. Why have they not been “associated with” Harvest Chicago since June, 2017 but only “as of late” have there been significant concerns? hmmm… Please GCC churches–stop acting like you are mortified by James MacDonald’s behavior. You’ve known it and have ignored it until the point in time when it was going to affect your bottom line. Just be honest and stop acting as though this is new news to you.

  10. Hi Ryan and Scott,

    Thanks again for your important ministry to the Church -at-large.   You are in our prayers often.

    I am struck by the lack of confessing from the many elders along the way, who are crying out because they’ve been victims, but who were in many ways complicit in the abuse of others, as well as  in collusion with James, until he turned on them.   Scott McKnight’s piece on the fact that James, or Bill H, or other abusers of power couldn’t be where they are without a culture of leaders and congregations that colluded.

    I went back to TED to see Jim Jodrey’s and Dave Corning’s out of curiosity – mainly because of a post someone made of needed the old godly leaders like Dave and Jim to oversee this mess.  I made me choke, because of their outrage, when I confronted James and the elders, back in 1994, and the very same treatment, Dave writes about happening to him, he actually participated in that very behavior of harm, slander, and bullying towards me.  I see a lot of leaders saying that James some how got off track, or drifted into this destructive behavior.   Charlotte and I both saw it when we were hired -it was pretty obvious.  And the elders at that time admitted as much when they hired me.  It seems to me that it was there from the beginning, because I think James has always been the same from the stories he and others have told about him and his character.

    I am impressed, that these elders, like Corning and Jodrey, are calling James out, but again, to my knowledge they’ve never fully confessed their sin.  To date, I have never heard from Dave or Jim, or the other elders after the harm they caused us and others during my brief time at the Mother Ship.  I do think if there is going to be a true and complete restoration of the Harvest Church (es) there needs to be a complete repentance and confession from all who were involved.    I am also stunned that both Corning and Jodrey moved on (as victims) to other ministries.  Interesting. I would think their hearts would be breaking with the heart of God for the evil perpetuated under their leadership.

    Just some thoughts – thanks for letting me air them with you.


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