A Tale of Two Statements: Rick Korte, Harvest 2020, and Dan George, HBC Elder, Resign

Rick Korte recorded a statement which was email to HBC congregants before the weekend service, in part, because HBC released it to the Chicago Tribune in response to questions for an upcoming article. It will also be made available online. In the meantime, the video can be viewed in its entirety here.

Korte stated that the Harvest 2020 has “come to the conclusion of its tasks and many of us are rolling off of 2020.” He said he would remain available as a consultant if needed, and he stated that he was “awaiting the current elders to ask if they want me to take on any additional tasks.” This team was just announced only 35 days ago, and it was charged with several significant tasks including financial accountability, structural changes to HBC (including alteration of the by-laws), and overseeing a “reconciliation” process.

Korte indicated that one of the tasks was to find a new COO and a Senior Pastor. He stated that process is well underway, and he believes the new elder board will have several candidates from which to chose. He indicated that the new elder board will be making the final choice as to the new COO and Senior Pastor.

He also stated that new candidates are being vetted for the new elder board, and he indicated that congregants will be very interested to see how these elder candidates will be voted upon. Is this a reference to a possible congregational vote?

Korte also discussed a new structure for HBC. When speaking about the coming structural changes, he stated that the “best seasons HBC ever had was when pastors reported to a pastor.” I suspect many former HBC pastor’s would disagree. Nevertheless, the new structure will involve having “business” staff reporting to a COO, and pastors will report to the Senior Pastor.

As to reconciliation, he stated that the reconciliation process was fully in the hands of Greg Bradshaw. He noted that reconciliation was not merely for those who were hurt and are now outside of HBC, but it is for HBC staff and congregants. And, as it relates to communication, he suggested that the control over communication was no longer with Harvest 2020 but is in the hands of HBC staff. The two new sources of HBC communication will be the elders and the CLT staff. He assured HBC that they would be so transparent that we would all say, “enough is enough.” Also, he concluded his optimistic remarks by encouraging HBC congregants to “trust in the church leadership team.”

However, can we be confident that this is really “Mission Accomplished?”

Providing a very different assessment of HBC leadership, Dan George resigned today effective 20 March 2019, and his letter sounds a more somber note for HBC. Notably Dan stated,

The elder board at Harvest continues to be controlled by former executive committee members . . . these men should resign immediately and make room for change.

What is interesting is that he sent his resignation letter to Julie Roys who was able to announce and publish the resignation letter before HBC could make the announcement. This move alone may suggest a lack of confidence in the Harvest 2020 team or the CLT to properly handle and communicate his resignation and concerns to the congregation of HBC. His letter can be read in full here.

Also notable in his statement was the fact that he called out the former EC members who still serve on the current elder board. He stated,

If the workings and culture of the Harvest elder board does not radically change, our church will not be able to rid itself of the old sinful, secretive, siloed, controlling culture.

Additionally, he confirmed that the elders were still not listening to the HBC congregants and their concerns. A 30+ member group of congregants at HBC – who meet often and have regular contact with the HBC Elders – wrote recommendations to the elders, and the HBC Elders have yet to discuss those concerns. Moreover, many have not even read the recommendations.

Also, Dan George confirmed that several former elders and leaders (Scott Phelps, Dan Marquardt, Barry Slabaugh, and Dan Tolbertt) offered their services to help consult and guide HBC through this crises at no cost. But, instead of ushering in voices that would have had legitimacy in the HBC world, the HBC “leaders” chose to hire the very controversial Lawrence Swicegood from the Gateway “Church.” This is the multi-million dollar corporate “church” that helped fund the disgraced “pastor” Mark Driscoll in his efforts to plant a new operation in Arizona. The “pastor” of Gateway was at one time on the board of Driscoll’s operation.

Questions remain.

  • Has anything truly changed?
  • Does this sound like “Mission Accomplished?”
  • Who is in truly in control of HBC, and can they be trusted?
  • Is this organization more transparent because it values honesty with the congregation?
  • Is this organization trustworthy in all they report to the people who so sacrificially give?
  • Will there be a full accounting of the HBC finances, beyond the highly glossed yearly audit?
  • Will they reconcile with former staff, elders, and congregants?

UPDATE: An hour after this posted I noticed HBC had removed Dan George as an elder on their website, but they have not posted his resignation letter. So much for your predictions of our cries of “enough is enough” to your new found transparency, Rick Korte.


17 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Statements: Rick Korte, Harvest 2020, and Dan George, HBC Elder, Resign

  1. Joe Ex Member Who Would Come Back If It Was Done Correctly March 22, 2019 — 11:17 am

    They just. Don’t. Get it.

    I felt like I was on a Corporate America video conference call, complete with the brand logo on the wall behind him that visually represents the darkness. I was waiting for the typical corporate language of “synergy” or “win-win” or “let’s take that offline”. THIS IS A CHURCH…NOT A COMPANY. AND UNTIL THAT CHANGES, NOTHING WILL CHANGE!!

    I know TONS of men and women who have given their lives to tirelessly serve this church through the last two decades. NOT ONE OF THEM has been considered for eldership or have a say in the goings on of the church moving forward. NOT ONE. The mold continues….if you’re a successful-in-business white male you’re considered. Not that it’s a competition, but I know some guys that RUN CIRCLES around every single elder and leader on those lists when it comes to integrity and humility. But they sit quietly in the crowd and are never a part of what they should be a part of because they don’t fit the mold. Who creates these teams? Who selected Korte as the voice of the congregation, even though he’s only been at the church for a very short time compared to many godly men who have been there for a much longer time? I appreciate his heart and he seems like a godly man, but he’s a businessman and running the church like a business and not a church, continuing on with the large-scale Harvest model.

    Newsflash elders and leaders: THE MEGACHURCH MODEL DOES NOT WORK. It has good intentions. It’s heart is in right place. But as we’ve seen time and time again, too many people slip through the cracks. 5, 6, 7 attempts by people just to join a small group! The shepherd is unable to even know who his sheep are, let alone care for them. Church was not intended for video feeds and million dollar corporate budgets and hipster worship leaders with smoke and laser shows. Some Sundays I feel like walking up to the stage and handing everyone a $20 and saying “thanks for the entertainment. You are awesome live”.

    Break up the assets, sell them and put the money towards the debt. Re-brand and never say the word Harvest again. Take whatever’s left and make small individual churches out the remains.

    And there are still leaders that need to go.

    The American Evangelical church is at a tipping point. We either stop with the coffee shops, the aesthetics, the unapproachable celebrity pastors and the rock star “worship” teams, or HE will stop them for us…as evidenced by Harvest Bible Chapel.

    Matt Redman shares it so perfectly in one of his songs…”You will not. Share your glory. With Another”. Amen to that.

    1. Debra Szemplinski March 22, 2019 — 4:18 pm

      Joe, with the exception of the ‘white male’ remark, I don’t think I’ve seen a better assessment and plan. You’re right. 30+ years of experimentation has rendered some predictable results: failure. The American Evangelical scene has long been regarded as Theologic Theater: not a pulpit – a stage, not a lecturn – a light show, not a sermon – a hybrid of stand-up comedy and mellow drama. But like any product or service, their is a life- cycle. And the world watches yet another corp. church circle the drain of history. Again, you’re right. They. Just. Don’t. Get it.

  2. Mega dollars spent on state of the art live/ video recording/ transmitting equipment between 8+locations already having sim-o-cast many, many self serving messages at the drop/passing of the hat but they refuse to conduct so-called elder meeting in front of what they always liked to refer to as the ‘harvest family.’ Giant screen TV’s everywhere with mega seating capacity for the rank and tithers but see and hear in real time, god forbid!
    You really want to fix this total breakdown of trust?

    Stop handing out like candy, the title ‘pastor’ to inflate ego’s into overlooking/enforcing un-biblical
    orders.

    Go and beg the two excommunicated godly men/elders to come back and pick up where they were forced out.

    Also put the Naples Pastor back in his position and remove all of those florida jmac elders and pastor trolls.

    Also beg Dave Corning to come back.

    Then and only then will the ;harvest family’ start to believe in the process of restoring. (trust but verify).

    Remember God is in the business of ‘Restoring.’

    1. Uh, the Naples pastor has already started his own new church!

  3. It’s literally shocking that they STILL DON’T GET IT. HOW CAN THEY NOT GET IT?

    What is there left that needs to be said? What has to happen before they get it?

    Stop the secrecy. All MacDonald lackeys resign. Open the books. Move to a biblical model of governance and accountability. Confess everything and cry out to God and the congregants you failed for forgiveness. Make restitution for those you harassed and abused.

    Instead, they want to save their power structure, save the veil of secrecy, keep past sins from coming to light. keep themselves in their powerful perches and keep the money rolling in to their pockets.

    It’s time for everyone to leave. Either they no longer have eyes to see, or they refuse to. Either way, leave them to argue over scraps in their empty building. There are thousands of churches where you can go to find Christ’s love working out in the Body, and where church is about Jesus, not about the sergeant stripes.

    Shake the dust off your feet.

  4. heart-breaking….
    For a moment I thought I was redirected to Apple’s website and I was watching Tim Cook give a vibrant
    report on Apple.
    I wonder, after how many members does a church become a corporation?

    I heard nothing about prayer, fasting and humility in action….
    There is no other redemptive path…..

    Nevertheless, considering world events in conjunction with the manifestation of the church of Ephesus right before our eyes….the Day is closer than we though.

    Keep praying, we need godly pastors, not COOs and CEOs.

  5. Business speak tally:
    HR
    Org Chart
    Operational Structure
    Elder Board Structure
    Benchmarking
    Nominees
    Mega churches
    Mark Comm

    Jesus speak tally:
    0

    Doesn’t sound like a promising mindset for a church. Eyes on Jesus!

  6. Mission accomplished in 35 days what sin and deceit took 30+ years to flourish and bloom at HBC? The 2020 team are tremendous miracle workers. Now if they can touch the offering baskets to make the $42M debt disappear, JMac and his disciples are truly deserving of halos and wings. (tangerines with KFC)

  7. Pretty soon no one will be left at the church. Hopefully, someone will start realizing this is God’s house not the elders/CCO/2020 church.

  8. Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.

  9. And please Mr. Korte get Rid of that insulting cultish Sargent stripe logo your standing in front of in the video,it represents JAMES MCDONALD!!!!! AND HIS CORRUPT REGIME!!!! which the more you speak the more it looks like your a part of.

  10. Former HBC Staff Member March 21, 2019 — 8:33 pm

    The problem is that I don’t think HBC themselves even realize the number of people they deeply hurt by their fear and manipulation tactics. Not only by James MacDonald himself, but other leaders who are STILL on staff.

    My question is – how does someone get on this “reconciliation list”? Is there a sign-up form somewhere?

    The people of HBC have no idea how deep and wide the pain goes. They have a lot more cleaning-house to do for this to become a healthy culture.

  11. Wow!!! Rick korte I just watched your video that’s posted on this blog….I’m almost speechless ,my next Question is this and I’m totally serious …..Do the people on the 20/20 team and the interim elder team have any Biblical knowledge at all??? Really I’m not kidding, everything we need to know about how the CHURCH operates is in the Bible..Why are these people trying to reinvent the CHURCH, and when I say CHURCH I mean Christ’s CHURCH… It was never set up as a corporate structure…the reason being ,because the CHURCH isn’t a corparation it’s the Body of Christ…we’ve already been down that road… your trying to put a tuxedo on a corpse , it looks a little better but its still DEAD…we’ve got to stop this nonsense…and your response about transparency is insulting. your either transparent or your not, transparency in this situation means HONESTY so what your “Communicating” is “we’re not being totally Honest now but just wait and see we will be later” sorry but I’m not buying it…try reading 1st Corinthians chapter 12:12-31 and all of chapter 13.

  12. You stated, “can WE be confident…”
    Not “WE” but “US”. You are not part of US.
    Go away and leave US alone.

    1. The author is a very much part of “us.” These truths hurt but he reports truth because Harvest has failed to. Even today, I believe what TED has said more than HBC .

    2. Would you say “go away” to kids, who like me, grew up at Harvest, consider it their “home church” but now feel forced to worship elsewhere because they can’t trust the leadership or their pastors? Many people would love to be at Harvest, a church we were discipled and grew in, but our conscience will not allow us to worship at a Harvest church while being lied to by those preaching and leading. Telling us to go away, because we still care about reforming the corruption in our home church, is short-sighted. Do only those who attend weekly have a voice or opinion? Harvest would have many return to their church family if they were trusted in their leadership and motives again. If the current Harvest leadership wants to know more of the whole truth, would they not conduct a thorough investigation into what has transpired? Even now, a credible elder has accused the other sitting elders of a cover-up. For the sake of Christ’s church, Harvest needs to be biblical and investigate the allegations and qualification of the elders. Anythings less will result in disaster.

  13. So, dare I say.. JMac in the house, nothing changes but some names & faces.
    I pray I’m wrong, forgive the cynicism.

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