Garrett Higbee and HBC’s Continued Failed Leadership

We have read them several times over the years. We have all scratched our heads, and, at times, wondered aloud, “is that the whole story?” Yes, I’m speaking of those now gag-inducing resignation letters HBC puts up on its site.

Why do they do that? Because years ago this blog began taking note of senior staff and elders who left without a word. It looked horrible. We knew it, and HBC knew it. Well, MacDonald has never met a problem he didn’t at least try to solve with money.

Introducing the NDA (Non-disclosure Agreement) and a pocketful of money, not just for your silence, but for a glowing testimonial on your way out. Unfortunately for Higbee, who is by no means the lone nor the worst example, we now have several pieces of evidence that we can look at together side by side. Let’s begin with this resignation letter he wrote.

So, Higbee moved to Indiana to be closer to family, and he is fond of James MacDonald. “No issues to report here TED!” However, The Wartburg Watch yesterday published a letter Higbee wrote to the elder board in January 2019 to have MacDonald removed as Senior Pastor. Let’s take a look at the rest of the story, shall we? Click here to give it a read, and note the difference.

Some of us are more visual creatures, so let me make the point more succinctly and visually.

For years people have assumed that I was angry or hurt by James MacDonald. As I watched him dissolve into a raging mess in the pulpit in the fall of 2009 I didn’t know what was wrong, but it was clear to me something had dramatically changed. I was not privy to any insider stories or behind-the-scene glances. Nor, did I possess a Psy.D. from the Virginia Consortium for Professional Psychology. I just saw a man who yelled more and more loudly the less he knew what he was talking about. Our family left, and did so without a ruckus.

It was only two years later when one former elder and staff member started privately emailing me the real story. Scott Bryant and I began talking with other former staff and elders and documenting their stories. After many of these conversations, I was enraged. Not so much at MacDonald, all though there were moments aimed toward him. My rage was for all the so-called “leaders” who left, knowing extensive details, and said not a word of warning to all the rest of the suckers handing over our time and money to this diseased, rotting institution. Some of them still owe an apology to the people and a work of love to fix it.

If you hear rage on Twitter, if you are offended by someone’s comment that is over the line, pause just for a moment, and ask yourself something. Ask yourself, “Why is this person so angry?” And, then reflect back on all these men and women who had not one ounce of courage or concern for the people. The people who made HBC worth saving. People who just love Jesus and one another. How dare you. How dare you just leave and and sing MacDonald’s praises out the door. How dare you go on to pretend to be a leader in other “ministries.” We can’t trust you. We can’t trust these polished, smiling videos HBC continues to produce telling us all is well. All is far from well.

Moments after posting this piece HBC Elders posted an update regarding the Dan George resignation letter. Thanks for making my point better than I could. All is not well. Read it here.

27 thoughts on “Garrett Higbee and HBC’s Continued Failed Leadership

  1. It’s time for everyone to leave. It has become abundantly clear that the MacDonald corruption that has afflicted Harvest is incurable. The sycophants and lackeys that are running the elder board, or those trying to protect their power or cover for past misdeeds, take your pick – these still are in control at Harvest.

    This former church cannot he changed from the inside by membership so it’s time to walk. Go find a new Bible believing teaching and living church.

    Harvest is an ornate sepulcher full of dead men’s bones.

  2. I don’t believe TED or Julie Roys are posting out of hate for these individuals, but out of love for God’s people.

    Could you imagine how different Harvest Bible Chapel might have been, had Garrett Higbee done precisely what TED has doing? What if Garrett had called out James MacDonald? What if he warned others? How many hundreds and thousands of people would have been spared heartache?

    It serves nobody to allow these men to continue to deceive the church. Enough damage has been done. We need elders and pastors who say the same things no matter the audience – whether behind closed doors, or from the pulpit. Men who are courageous enough to confront sin, and humble enough to endure hardship for the sake of God’s Kingdom.

    I am deeply grateful for those who love the church enough to protect it from men, who would use the church, to advance their personal kingdom at the expense of the sheep.

  3. It sounds to me like James wrote the letter from HBC that they just posted March 23, 2019. Almost eerily like him. I thank Garrett Higbee for sending in his letter of how he saw things at Harvest. It helps me piece together this massive puzzle of witnesses of what has been going on. I feel really bad for him and others who tried to sincerely help James and speak the truth but their input was not accepted and surrounded by fear and intimidation. I completely understand why he wrote one letter to James in a certain light and one revealing his true feelings. It also is evidence Rick and other pastors practiced Willful blindness to their own destruction. How sad and frightful it is to witness a hard heart of a Senior pastor who preached God’s word and received a doctorate in this area of study. He is fully aware of what God’s word says and deliberately does not obey it. I hope and pray James will really make a change before that opportunity is over. I suspect we are witnessing one who has blasphemed the holy spirit beyond the point of no return. This should scare all who know the truth as this is the only offense not forgiven in this world or the one to come. I pray God will continue to heal, protect and guide his Real church in these last days.

  4. Wow. I choose to not live a life of hate, picking the scabs every day of past injuries done to me in order to keep the fires of my infections of hatred, retribution and loathing alive. Spiritually, you people are all sick.

    I prefer Jesus live within me.

    1. Mary said ….. “Spiritually, you people are sick”

      My Dear Mary,

      Please explain yourself and your comments if you would.
      One could conclude (by your comments) that you are harboring “hate” and “retribution” and “loathing”.
      If true, that would make you a hypocrite .. would it not?
      Not accusing you of being such. But by your comments you have just (in your own mind) “implicated” (whether intentionally or not) everyone on this blog. And that, without actually “knowing” the “motives” behind every post here. And BTW .. “JESUS lives within every True Believer”. Those who speak out against
      abuse and injustices (of His sheep) .. coming from so called “Christian Leadership” who are tasked with
      “Shepherding them” .. (NOT “abusing” them) are not simply “sinning”. Please take more time and read
      thoroughly His Word as to what constitutes “spirituality” (in JESUS). He Himself was “castigated” for ..
      “speaking out” against the false teaching and “religious abuse” coming from false teachers in His day.

      No ? You beg to differ?

    2. Nice attempt trying to marginalize people by calling them names and then hiding behind the cloak of piety at the end!

    3. Mary you must know a different Jesus than the Real One. The one who came to die for his church. He does not stand for imposters in his church and takes all of this very seriously. If you can’t handle the truth, sorry. But it needs to be told and it is very ugly. Maybe it’s best for you to quit reading about various testimonies of elders and people who really had insight as to what has been going on. Do not encourage others to walk in darkness and ignore facts as has been done for so long at HBC. If this was 2 years after the facts, you would have a point. But all truth must be told for healing to begin and this has been going on for decades.
      This truth will set God’s people free!

    4. Mary,
      I respectfully disagree about your view necessity of “picking at scabs” and equating the collaboration here to hate. Sometimes, things have to get worse before they get better. My life experience and growth has come from the concept of not being able to heal (or grow) from the things that one does not name (or understand for that matter). If someone doesn’t see, and accept, they are being passive-aggressive in a relationship, they certainly can’t begin to change that behavior. Similarly, if someone has been subject to trauma and spiritual abuse, they have to start by naming it is such in order to heal. Using terms such as “covered in love” and suggesting that the mere discussion of one’s pain, confusion, and sense of profound betrayal is tantamount to an unrighteous rebellion, does NOT help people work through their hurts and disillusionment.
      What you have here is a group of people that have been subject to the controlling forces of a cult for more than a decade. They’ve entered into church services for years observing a “You Are Loved” sign, while feeling anything but. Their voices have been suppressed for years. They’ve been subject to leaders who have programmed them to believe they are insignificant, without a voice, and have absolutely no right to expect transparency. As we’re reading story after story about dissenting views are met with a punitive response, it’s easy to how anyone would feel unsafe in the sanctuary of their church. Somehow, people (such as yourself) are surprised that others are now voicing their frustrations, pain, anger, contempt, and ongoing questions in a public forum.
      As for the continued focus on James, I’m surprised more die-hard supports haven’t pulled the “Dog returning to it’s vomit”, or “remove the log from your eye…” verses to subvert the chatter we see in the blogosphere. The about it, the Elders initially fired James for effectively being an insensitive a**hole, but as people continue to ask more questions and reporters (like Julie Roys) explain more we’re seeing more evidence of (what appears to be) criminal financial activity. So, if these scabs are not picked at, thereby revealing the REAL underlying problems that allowed this to happen to begin with, things will not get better in or out of HBC.. At the same time, many of those affected are predictably going to have an ongoing dialogue about how they deconstruct and (hopefully) restore their faith. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, and (in my humble opinion) there isn’t anything inherently or evil about it. But then again, I’m sure many consider me (and my viewpoints) spiritually sick. Not all of us will agree I guess.

  5. In response to the individual (above) who identifies them-self as “Concerned”.
    Let me counter with this … Ready ? …

    Ryan, THANK YOU for continuing to “speak out” and “warn”.

    Question .. Do you get your share of “Christian hate email” especially from current HBC congregants (and leaders) who refuse to face the truth of the debacle at HBC ?

    For what its worth, from the perspective of my wife and I, this is NOT a “gossip blog”. NOR a “disgruntled dissenter” spouting off. It IS (in our view) a Biblical “prophetic ministry”. In spite of so many warnings in Scripture about “False Prophets”, “False Teachers”, “False Leaders”, “Wolves” etc. … yet many in the Body of Christ in and outside of HBC continue to support the sinking, HBC dysfunctional ship in ignorance and sometimes to their own harm from such sinful (false) leaders. Such as been the case before on MANY occasions at HBC.

    Its interesting you noticed a negative turn in James and HBC around 2009. We did too.
    And my wife and I left HBC in 2011. We left later than we probably should have. For us, the “red flags” had been there for several years before. Much of those flags had to do w/ James MacDonald’s behavior, and his ABUSE of staff and HBC members. Some had to do w/ the “culture of fear” he was clearly and strategically cultivating there (from the top). Also the environment of “Control” and a “Performance Spirit” at work there (eg. “Worship”, “Walk”, “Work” and so forth :o( ). And some had to do w/ other factors.

    Bottom Line .. we left knowing that HBC was (even then) on a path of “self destruction”. To that end, I reached out to James MacDonald before departing and (after laying out our serious observations and concerns to him in a letter), I challenged him to a private meeting. As I informed him, I honestly
    wanted to hear “his side” of things. And likewise, (at that time) he needed to hear our serious concerns, our care and concern for him, his family, and his ministry (we had been there since 1997 and knew him a bit personally as well). Sadly, I never was granted that meeting. James never responded.

    Likewise, even then (before departing in 2011), we had met w/ Garrett Higbee (whom I studied under for several years in the Soul Care ministry). We articulated to Garrett our deep concerns about the path we saw James (and sadly) Harvest on. I can tell you honestly that Garrett listened and showed grace. And I believe that Garrett already saw himself at least some of the sinful problems we were pointing out (even back then). But he chose to stay. We don’t know why. We can “suspect” why he did, and “speculate”. In the end, God knows the “heart” and “motives”. We don’t. That said, obviously, there is now a “credibility” problem for Garrett. I am not defending Garrett’s decision to stay in the “HBC mess” (nor his alleged “looking the other way” when repeated allegations of “Spiritual Abuse” keep coming in from behind the scenes.

    All in all, .. We believe the Body of Christ (especially those still at HBC) needs to seriously come to grips w/ the problem of “Spiritual Abuse” and the “Mega-church”, “Celebrity Pastor” Syndrome we feel is plaguing American churches today. Denying it won’t make it go away. Putting on the “positive spin” from within such churches only sets oneself up for potential credibility problems down the road.

    Listen Please …
    – JESUS and His heart for His church is NOT the problem here. He warned us “wolves” will come.
    – The Bible (the WORD of God is NOT the problem here). IT warns false prophets and false leaders will come.
    – Church Leadership around a “Charismatic” Point Leader (Like MacDonald) are (alone) NOT the only problem here. They certainly are “responsible” (before God), and they may speak up, speak out, and then be “ostracized” (as 3 HBC Elders were). Two of which are friends of mine.
    – ALL of US (leaders and members) need to beware when we see “repeated” abuse from leadership time and again and “speak up” when we do.

    There are still many “healthy” church families where the “Grace”, “Love” and “Truth” of JESUS are not only preached and taught”, but “Exemplified” in Body Life. Unfortunately (in my view) for Harvest, that type of “life” won’t be happening any time soon at least until those who remain there face some serious
    demons that too often are hiding behind “positive spin” (sorry).

    My wife and I hope the lessons of failure at HBC, Willow Creek and elsewhere will “WAKE UP” Christ’s Body to these dangers. Rather than cause some people to rebel and walk away from Jesus altogether (to their own demise).

    1. Amen Tom. Thank you

  6. TBD continues to shine light in the dark crevices of HBC. Sad to see these leaders allow this mentally ill man to succeed in his own mind. Rather than help him, they assisted him for 30+ years to abuse others. Now that he had been caught and fired, they are trying to protect and distance themselves from JMac. These guys make Pilate look like a saint.

  7. Greg Bradshaw, Tommy Creutz, Eddie Hoagland and Todd Rukes are all on the leadership team? Seriously?
    These men have been on staff at harvest for years and have all been in roles that operate in close proximity to the MacDonald’s. They are guilty by association. They went along with crude humor, jokes, abuse, mocking of former staff, manipulation and fear tactics that the MacDonald’s started. These men are all guilty of going along with it and never saying anything. They should NOT be on the leadership team and cannot be trusted. What a total joke.

    1. Agree. Even Beth, who continually posted love Luke, appreciate james, etc….on and on egnosium….

  8. Higbee, a DOCTOR of PSYCHOLOGY, in his 2017 resignation letter, sings the praises of the Harvest Cult of Personality and pays homage to its leader JMAC. As things started to get a little surreal, Higbee finds the need to distance himself from the Corporation here:

    After all, he does have a business to protect. Now that the information surfacing on Harvest Inc. is detestable, criminal, and reprehensible, he has to have even more distance from the band of sargent striped oppressors so that he can protect his brand and his viability within the EIC and so we get this latest manipulation.

    A DOCTOR of PSYCHOLOGY with 30 years experience, 8 of those years working in the inner sanctum of the corporation couldn’t figure out what a sociopath was if it bit him in the behind. I always wondered why there was all of that emotionalism in the music, the measured pauses in the services, and that great commercial at the end, “You Are Loved.”

    I may have found out.

    Should have read, “your MONEY is loved.”

  9. The tone of this blog and its twitter account has changed dramatically in recent weeks (can’t be a coincidence that that seems to be since Scott signed off). Seems to be more just angry ranting than actual constructive reporting of what’s going on.

    1. The truth never was a welcome commodity at the Harvest Bible Corporation.

    2. Concern, please read TBD with an open mind and don’t read between the lines. It can be very taxing (April 15th deadline) THD is providing news and reports of the shenanigans behind HBC closed doors. Angry rants are those who make ridiculous and incoherent comments. These are the bloggers who don’t use their name and had Ken Singer help them get into Pre-School.

    3. Concerned,

      I am more concerned over people who are not expressing righteous anger over what has become of Harvest Bible Chapel.

      Should we sit idle and not warn others and expose works of darkness?

      Hatred is not necessarily the opposite of love. Because we love therefore we must hate; and hate the things the Lord hates.

      Because I love Jesus, therefore I must despise what He despises.

      I am far more concerned over people who aren’t concerned about these matters much like I would be over someone who doesn’t seem to be bothered by the slaughtering of tens of millions of unborn babies in mothers’ bodies all across America since 1973.

      When Jesus saw what was going on in the temple of God in His day, he didn’t turn a blind eye to what was going on, but rather He overturned the tables and drove out all who were making it into a den of thieves.

      Concerned, if you think it’s unlike Jesus and His followers to express righteous anger over the things that anger the Lord, perhaps you need to be more acquainted with what God says in his Word.

      Revelation 19:11-16

      I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

      (Revelation 19:11-16)

  10. When they had brought them outside, one said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.” Genesis 19:17

    God is telling all his children to flee this insane asylum……….
    Or you will be swept away by it!

    1. Yes! God did not save the temple but knocked it down to the very last brick.

      So what is it that the children of God are trying to save? Surely now that God has made his dwelling in us we are sinfully mistaken for worrying about preserving the puny junk properties (buried in UN-biblical debt)
      that we had no part in.

      Let God finish destroying them! He’s going to anyway. Better by far to meet in houses like 2000 yrs ago.

      Why would the same people who have been and continue to be spit upon, feel pressure to preserve the very spitters.

      Let them and their LLC ownership members use their ‘cunning ways’ to figure out how to save their secular fannies! The children of God have nothing in common with these people! Apparently it’s much easier to cure cancer than get rid of these wolfs.

      “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15

      Matthew 18:20 (ASV) For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

      Everything will be better by far than what we have now! EVERYTHING!

      We didn’t create the debt and we are not responsible for it. Let the so called pastors and so called elders and so call mighty men give back all their ill gotten gain.

      I’ll bet you little r donald. is out there planning a repentance auction on his ‘Hog bike’ so he can give the proceeds back to his former place of business.

  11. Ryan, l wrote a post earlier today that looked at this issue from another angle. I looked at the hyper masculine culture at Harvest that was pushed. The teaching laid out in the “Act Like Men” conferences. All this teaching about how a man leads, how he is counter cultural, how he is bold, responsible for his family, etc… When you look at the Harvest scandal the question l ask is what happened? From the late 1990’s until 2018 where were the men? Think of all the elders, pastors, guys in the worship program, Vertical Films, Walk in the Word and all stayed silent.

    The story of Harvest is one of enabling.

  12. no longer at harvest March 23, 2019 — 7:11 pm

    can anyone explain the rings that all of the pastors wore. even our campus pastor started wearing one about 2 years ago…. my husband started calling it the “Secret Decoder Ring” once we noticed our campus pastor wearing it, we started becoming uneasy with Harvest – felt very uncomfortable

    1. Ya know I’ll never forget the first time jmac was talking (formerly called preaching) and I said to my wife ‘what is that on his thumb?’ She said it was a thumb ring!

      Now I know it was a lot more than that……it was a mentally ill man’s devolving into mental illness/madness!

      The rings explain a lot……..the unkempt goatee, the tattoos, the big hog motorcycle, the blaring music,
      the biker leather vests….on and on and on……the mad man has continually played a game with ‘the sheep’
      laughing all the time as a private form of ‘self entertainment.’

      Even explains the garbage vertical insignia he put up and pushes……he’s made harvest into a loony bin and he’s still roaming around looking for God’s children to devour.

  13. How dare HBC attack Dan George? The culture hasn’t changed one bit. Pointing fingers at others just like James would. I am disappointed as a congregant.

  14. Just a lowly person that used to attend but woke up March 23, 2019 — 5:33 pm

    “How dare you just leave and and sing MacDonald’s praises out the door.” THIS! This is still happening. What are you afraid of? I think of Josh’s video, the silence from Joe Stowell Sr. and what about Ron Zappia? Fear of man is what this is and not fear of God.
    HBC Members, Dan George’s letter made it abundently clear that the leaders that are currently in power have NO interest in your concerns and continue to lie and decieve.
    STOP TITHING AND PUSH BACK! IF YOU HAVE TO LEAVE THEN DO SO. Yes, there is life out there without Harvest.
    James is still profiting financially from Harvest and has already launched his new network of churches. Wake up church wake up Ministry Leaders. Call a sin a sin!

  15. completely agree. The word Abdicate comes to mind.
    fail to fulfill or undertake (a responsibility or duty).
    People in positions of leadership, authority, even elder-ship who have just left silently or singing the praises of JM. Leaving the mess to everyone that as you said, just wanted to love and serve Jesus.
    THIS: How dare you go on to pretend to be a leader in other “ministries.” How dare they leave without standing before the church and making clear the truth?

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