What Rick Korte Didn’t Tell You Last Night

Last night HBC emailed a recorded statement by Rick Korte announcing his resignation, as well as other members, from the Harvest 2020 team. He optimistically announced serval accomplishments, one of which was a financial update. The only news regarding the financial review he offered at that time was that Harvest 2020 turned over the review to an “independent group.”

Recall, Harvest 2020 provided an initial roadmap for the financial review process on 24 February 2019. Almost four weeks ago they stated the following.

In an effort to verify that our church’s finances are and have been ‘above reproach,’ we are hiring an additional independent accounting group to conduct a thorough financial review beginning in the coming weeks. The financial review will determine if there was any information that was not included in our annual audits. This will also include an extensive review of expenses involving our former Senior Pastor’s office.

Then on 10 March 2019 Harvest 2020 had this announcement.

This week, one of our team’s volunteer advisors, Jon Vesely, agreed to lead a team of independent advisors to work with Plante Moran, a certified CPA firm, to conduct a thorough, comprehensive review of the past financial affairs of our church. The focus of this team will be to provide clarity surrounding the general concerns and questions our congregants have expressed. Because of Jon’s independence from Harvest, we believe he is the best person to lead this effort. 

In his closing remarks, remember, Rick Korte assured us all that we would cry “enough is enough” with regards to the amount of communication that will be forthcoming from the elders and staff leadership. He also concluded his optimistic remarks by encouraging HBC congregants to “trust in the church leadership team.” Well, not 24 hours after making these remarks I’m crying, “not enough, not enough!’

What HBC “leadership” and Rick Korte did not tell the congregation is that the process for conducting a financial review has stalled. They failed to be transparent with the congregation and inform them that Jon Vesley is no longer part of the process. More importantly, they failed to mention that Plante Moran, the CPA firm, is no longer interested in conducting the review for HBC. Now this raises two main issues: transparency and concern regarding financial integrity.

Let us not forget Dan George’s warning in his elder resignation letter from yesterday. 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…The elder board at Harvest continues to be controlled by former executive committee members . . . these men should resign immediately and make room for change.

It appears that Dan George’s foreboding was a potentially more honest assessment than Rick Korte’s rosey-eyed call for trust in the new leadership. Why is it less than 24 hours after Korte’s announcement about HBC’s trustworthy new leadership and commitment to transparent communication is this blog, yet again, telling HBC congregants relevant information with respect to their finances and church life?

Just as important, what does it mean for HBC that Vesley is no longer part of the review process, if he is “the best person to lead this effort?”

  • Why is he no longer there to lead the oversight team?
  • And, why was there no statement by Rick Korte or John Vesley announcing his departure from the financial review team and his reasoning?

What does it mean that Plante Moran is no longer interested in this review project?

  • Did HBC refuse to engage their services because of concern regarding costs?
  • Did Plante Moran refuse to engage in this project because of the controversial and electric mainstream and social media attention to this case?
  • Did Plante Moran refuse to engage in this project because they did not feel comfortable with the transparency of the HBC leadership and their access to financial data?
  • Did Plante Moran refuse to engage in this project because, as can happen, the firm did not want to review an organization that could potentially be under review by a regulatory body?
  • Whatever the answer is, why did HBC refuse to be transparent with the congregation as they were announcing a new leadership structure and their deep commitment to transparent communication?
  • Rick, we aren’t saying “enough is enough” yet.

14 thoughts on “What Rick Korte Didn’t Tell You Last Night

  1. Everybody is still falling for the spiritual head fake. All these false prophets that have been removed (By GOD) are just symptoms of the REAL problem. FALSE teaching, FALSE doctrine is the foundational problem. God always starts with the head before he starts dealing with the body. In the household, it’s the husband who gets dealt with more severely, in the church it’s the pastor’s elders teachers bishops in the church, owners in

    business, the president of a country, and so on. The greatest sin is these so-called leaders have imposed these false doctrines upon the sheep to a level that they read and study the bible thru the lenses of how they have been taught. People teach in the manner they have been taught. If your taught you can’t live above sin then you won’t, if you are taught to raise your hand and parrot a few words then you think you’re on the road to salvation, but you’re not. Ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:7). These so-called churches that are lined up with Ceasar (501-C), seminary (cemetery) taught teachers are the blind leading the blind. These institutions are just country clubs (fee’s included). Jesus teaches Kingdom, not building.

    The Gospel is filled with, vivid parables, all about the Kingdom of God. They were Jesus’ central teaching. But this kingdom He speaks about is not a where but a when. It is the state of the world when people acknowledge God; when God is honored and worshipped and respected—the Kingdom is present. Throughout the Gospels, you can find Jesus teaching on the characteristics of His Kingdom people as they reflect the character of God in the world. The Church was never about brick and mortar. It was always greater than that. It was about a way of being in the world.

    Jesus tells Peter he (Jesus) is the rock of the Church. He affirms His disciple Peter’s faith and character and says that he (Jesus) will be the foundation of the Kingdom community as it grows. Jesus isn’t hiring Peter—a fisherman by trade—as a subcontractor to erect a building with a steeple. He only notes Peter’s devotion and tells him to continue the Kingdom work he’d already begun. He is to steward the people of God: no building campaign, no weekly services.

    People are the building blocks. Jesus feeds the 5,000. A crowd has been listening to Jesus teach on a remote hillside, and the nearest Chick-Fil-A is still 2,000 years away. The gathering there is a mix of the invested, the curious and the skeptical. No sanctuary only Jesus speaking about God in real-time and then sharing a meal with those gathered on the hillside. That would be the model throughout the New Testament: Gather. Eat. Share. Remember me. Live. The book of Hebrews says that we don’t need a middle man. Writing to Jewish believers in Jesus, the author makes it clear that a human high priest is no longer needed as a liaison between ourselves and God—that God was not encountered only in the temple.

    The priest, rabbi, minister or pastor is not magic. They can be helpful, but they’re not essential and they’re not supernatural. And yes, because of this, you can have access to God wherever you are—no matter how modest or ordinary the surroundings might be. The Church grows without a building campaign. The early believers were essentially in-house churches, where immediate family, extended family, and friends were already living in deep, meaningful community together. They didn’t have to rent out space and a sound system and start service planning. They were already living life together organically and so they didn’t need to create a destination to foster community. These groups absorbed the new converts, but there is no evidence of the healthy evolution of these communities into organized churches. The only mention we have is in the book of Revelation, where large, opulent churches are being chastised for their corruption and apathy. Most of Pauls letter’s to the Churches was to correct them.

    Jesus says where two or three are gathered He is present. Two or three—not 40 or 150 or 1,000. Not an auditorium with a speaker, a band and dozens of rows of chairs. This is Emmanuel “God with us.” Jesus never promises that with size or organization that there would be more of His presence. He didn’t leave building instructions or establish an organizational structure or provide a template. He affirmed that his people and his presence were the only necessary ingredients. They would come to the table together, and He would take a seat there with them. Your kitchen table, a bench at the park, a coffee shop. He is present there.

    The Apostle Paul tells us we are the Temple. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes to tell Christians in that city that God’s presence is not just above and around them but within them. They are the very “Body of Christ” on earth, they are the “temple of the Holy Spirit”—living, breathing sanctuaries. The idea of them needing to visit a specific place to have proximity to God was ludicrous. They were the place. They needed only to go inward. This is the heart of the Church then. It still is; not where they gather, but as they gather. Jesus tells the disciples to remember Him. At their final meal before His death, Jesus offers bread and wine as a symbol of his coming sacrifice. He then asks them to remember him when they break bread together in the future. He is not telling them to establish a weekly worship service or to create a rigid law or to institute a sacrament. He is commanding them not to forget Him; to live together and to eat and to remember. No sanctuary is necessary for this. This is a fully portable experience.

    The truth is Jesus was teaching something very different from what the word “church” means to us today. We’ve grown up in the building and the system and the tradition, so we believe that this is the Church. But the Church as a place you visit for an hour on Sunday where God shows up, or where community can solely be found—simply isn’t Biblical.

  2. When you read through the collection of resignation letters from the ‘disgraced pastors and elders’ one can only be forced to wrestle with their lack of heartfelt repentance. They all separately and together are sorry that they cannot continue to serve, serve who (themselves), to what, to a little more just deserts.

    Funny, but I don’t see their (forced resignations) as a sign of reward and blessing from God, as they seem to!

    I do see and am perplexed how amidst 1000’s of God’s children CINO”S (christians in name only) seem to rise to the leadership positions!

    Then again the bible is replete with phony believers!

  3. It is all f##ed up. Not sure if I should stay in an organized church. Can’t trust them with the money. Are there churches out there with some ethics? That use the tithes honorably? I don’t expect the pastor to be poor – but the shit that has gone on at Harvest & Willowcreek is crazy. They think nothing of flying folks to distant locales. Expensive junkets. African safaris. I saw another post where MacDonald + other pastors are cavorting in Cabo San Lucas with magician Rick Wilcox. Who paid Rick’s fee? Getting turned off to organized religion. Or just give the church a small amount just to help keep the lights on since they cannot be trusted to handle millions in donations. Money corrupts. Then the congregation is merely an ATM.

    1. I have attended both churches. Now I don’t even want to walk into any church.
      God is spring cleaning, big time! I agree with your post 100%.

  4. I would like to hear from JMac’s protege Ron Zappia. I started asking questions of Naperville and got the run around during the height of Elephant debt a few years ago. I never got a straight answer. I heard elders meetings were about protecting the pastor not about shepherding the flock. Giving away that awful Vertical Church book (how much did that cost?). Pushing constantly for money.. money and more money. I remember when he talked about support HBC during the height of Elephant Debt with no thought of actually standing up for what the word of God said about Pastors and their character. He was supporting his friend. Now they are becoming a mini HBC goggling up other churches. Wow.. What must God think.. I can’t stand this organization.. HBC.. Highpoint.. Its all about the money and idolizing a man. – of course.. the brand must go on.

  5. The BIG lie continues at Harvestgate: “Follow the Money”
    FBI & IRS: Please, please, please
    investigate these bandits.

  6. First of all, thank you TED for your apparent tireless effort and work to expose the rampant darkness that HBC leadership shrouded in.

    It is sad for me to say this: I believe that it is next to impossible to ‘drain’ the Evangelical Industrial Complex! This is all about money and was never about Christ and His gospel. Like Dr. Abujamra had recently stated, why haven’t any of ‘big’ pastors said anything about HBC or Willow Creek for that matter? Because we are witnessing the Evangelical ‘club’ pastors protecting their own!

    No amount of pressure will force HBC leadership to come totally clean with where all the money went! This whole debacle, starting with the ‘firing’ of James, the resignations of the boys, the ‘stepping away’ of JD and RD, and all the ‘other’ big hitters that ‘served’ HBC, all of that has been so well orchestrated by the powers that be, all of us regular Joe’s are left barking up the wrong tree, seeking and wishing that justice would be realized!

    We all know the millions of congregants hard earned money went towards filling the pocket, set up retirement accounts, go towards hush money and severance packages, LLCs, and the rest. Does anyone really think that the current ‘trusted’ HBC leadership will ever disclose exactly how much money was collected, where and how it was spent, and to whom it was paid and how much?

    This industrial Complex and the Evangelical ‘pastors club’ is bigger than you and me! The amount of money that is made in the name of Christ Jesus is staggering and the ‘system’ is deeply entrenched and is on auto pilot, the money just keeps rolling in regardless of how many thousands of people like you and me get hurt or can have a crisis of faith as a result of betrayal and disillusionment!

    Unless somehow, and through a miracle, the Feds or the States Attorney get involved, all those who laughing their way to the bank, would have gone scott free, and the average people of HBC are left holding the bag, and the rest of us just continuing to hope that justice will be done!

    1. Fred- Where do you go to church now? I am looking for a new church. Thanks.

  7. These questions posted here by TED are the obvious ones that should have been answered in the wake of the change in personal and should have been addressed. That there are going to be many bumps is a given, and is not necessarily a reflection on the transition team. Bad news, trouble, and disappointment is going to part of a long process. Just give it with no apologies necessary. There are those who will step down and there are those who will choose to not be involved. Just remember to rejoice and be thankful when there IS good news and don’t act high and mighty. No one is without guilt.

  8. TED continues to shed light on the deceit propagated in darkness. HBC family, “enough is enough”. Give your tithes and offering to other Christian organizations until the “new” leadership gets their act straight and tells the truth. If they are dishonest with a little, they will be dishonest with much. Until then, they cannot be trusted using the JMAC’s accounting policy and procedures. The names and faces have changed but the lies, deceit, sin and foolishness continues on.

  9. JEFF RICHARDSON March 22, 2019 — 5:22 pm

    Rick Korte actually used the term “marcomm” (marKeating communication)
    when referencing communication with the Body of Christ. I think he inadvertently communicated Harvest 2020’s position and attitude for the “butts in the seats” crtotal clear.

  10. Transparency should not be hard unless you have something to hide.

  11. Again, thank you for being the true source of information for all things HBC.

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