James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel: On an Alleged NDA , On MacDonald Family Salaries and a Call for MacDonald to Step Down by a Former Member

“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their ending!” J. R. R. Tolkien link

I believe that James MacDonald and HBC should never have sued the thoughtful people at the Elephant’s Debt and their wives and Julie Roys. This action appears to have caused a number of folks to take a hard look at the ministry.

I’m currently cooking up a storm for tomorrow. My adult children want handmade pierogis and other Russian dishes (My dad was part of a Russian immigrant family.) along with the turkey and ham. So, this post is going to be short.

Non disclosure agreement

I believe that the following is the NDA used by HBC. It was sent to me by a person who shall remain anonymous. If I’m in error, please notify me. As a nurse, I’m well aware of HIPPA regulations. These essentially mean that a health care professional will not discuss the name of the person they are treating nor share any other information regarding their treatment. In fact, I believe The Gospel Coalition erred when they posted the reflections of a nurse who cared for a mass murderer.

In churches, people expect to be able to confidentially meet with the pastoral staff. Those discussions are covered under pastoral privilege. No one who works for a church should ever blab about someone seeking counsel. So, for this instance, an NDA is appropriate.

However, should a church coerce a person to keep their mouth shut when they leave their job when it comes to observations about how the pastors and church do business? That raises a red flag for me but maybe I’m wrong. It seems to me this agreement might be misused to *keep secrets* about non-criminal misconduct. I say non-criminal since everyone should report criminal behavior, right?

Pastor James MacDonald and family salaries?

Wondering Eagle has posted some alleged salaries of the family while also mentioning something called a black budget. He claims that these alleged salaries are from 2015 and were given to him by a private source. Can anyone confirm this information with documentation? Also, can anyone confirm the existence of an alleged black budget? A black budget is usually thought of as a secret fund for secret expenses. Do churches routinely keep black budgets?

  1. James MacDonald made $400K to $600K. In addition there was a travel and entertainment budget for James MacDonald that was $80K to $100K.
  2. Luke MacDonald made $200K and was on the XLT
  3. Landon MacDonald made $100K. The reason why Landon’s salary and Luke’s were different is because Luke was not on the XLT team yet. At the time he was the youth pastor.
  4. Abby MacDonald made $60K part time and worked only two days a week. I believe Abby worked in HR at Harvest Bible Chapel.
  5. Kathy MacDonald is James MacDonald’s wife. Kathy worked in a part time capacity and made $100K

So over the timespan of the 2015 timeframe the MacDonald clan made over a $1,000,000.

Former member of HBC’s security team makes a “Statement on HBC” calling for the resignation of James MacDonald.

Now this is putting your money where your mouth is. I appreciates his willingness to speak out.

James MacDonald and HBC: Please drop the lawsuit!


Comments

James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel: On an Alleged NDA , On MacDonald Family Salaries and a Call for MacDonald to Step Down by a Former Member — 259 Comments

  1. Lawsuits against those ready to speak out.

    James and Harvest being given platforms like Christianity Today.

    Yet 1000s of families whos kids may have had contact with the the arrested youth pastor still in the dark.

    Christian Leaders Needed! Your silence is deafening.

    ENOUGH is Enough. See you at The Churchtoo Conference!

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  2. That might be the salaries that come direct from HBC and/or it might be a combo from HBC and Walk in the Word. If it’s not a combo, Luke and Landon almost certainly bring in more than that through work with Vertical Worship (which Luke manages) and Walk in the Word TV (which Landon hosts).

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  3. In my opinion, James MacDonald is a charlatan. Any ‘pastor’ of an allegedly Christian church who pulls down a 6-figure salary is a unChristian charlatan. As well as an absurdity and an obscenity.

    But at the end of the day, as long as credulous Christians are willing to show up at ‘churches’ like Harvest and tithe like ATM’s, people like JM will make pots of money. It’s nothing to do with Christianity.

    In my opinion.

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  4. This is the first NDA I’ve seen, but it looks like a weird casserole of legal boilerplate and the casting of spells via invocation of Bible verses. What kind of church requires the returning of drawings and models (paragraph 2.3), and in the next paragraph cites I Corinthians and Matthew? Do they have an architectural vision so grandiose that they think the receptionist will steal the blueprints?

    Paragraph 4 is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma:

    “Publication. If at any time during or after Employee’s term, their name or picture, is displayed in any public forum, including but not limited to blogs, websites, social media sites, all forms of digital expression, and any form of print material in which is in violation and/or breach of this Agreement, Employee write one letter to the publishing site to have their name, removed. If additional measures are necessary, Employee agrees to grant to HBC the right to intercede on Employees behalf to have their name removed.”

    The grammar and punctuation alone need Superfund cleanup monies, but what on earth are they talking about? Maybe they are trying to prevent disgruntled (ex-)employees from going public, but this does not even stipulate that the employee himself posted the name or image. Is HBC afraid of showing up in the local paper? If the name and photo of an ex-employee is published in a hard-cover textbook in the year 2040, can the church have the name removed (but not the picture)?

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  5. Very powerfull video…
    A NDA is, to me, a fundamental violation of any Christian organization… a NDA, by definition, is designed to cover light and truth from “getting out”….

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  6. My heart and prayers go out to the guy on this video. He does for sure have a target on his back. I lived the HBC experience until it almost killed me. I know what they are capable of. Praying for him and all the others that are bravely standing against this mess. May God protect you from these wolves. I admire your courage and willingness to stand toe to toe with these people. You’re in my prayers!

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  7. roebuck: Any ‘pastor’ of an allegedly Christian church who pulls down a 6-figure salary is a unChristian charlatan.

    In corporate America, CEO’s who grow the business earn 6+ figure salaries. Mega-church America has followed the same scheme … the more nickels and noses a “pastor” attracts, the more money he makes – rivaling the salaries of business leaders. IMO, this should not be so … I don’t find that church model in Scripture and don’t feel we need to adjust things just because it is the 21st century. There is a lot of hype about being servant-leaders, but I don’t see many of those from my vantage point. Fact is if you took away their mega-salaries and mansions, not many of them would want to preach any longer.

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  8. Max: In corporate America, CEO’s who grow the business earn 6+ figure salaries.Mega-church America has followed the same scheme … the more nickels and noses a “pastor” attracts, the more money he makes – rivaling the salaries of business leaders.IMO, this should not be so … I don’t find that church model in Scripture and don’t feel we need to adjust things just because it is the 21st century.There is a lot of hype about being servant-leaders, but I don’t see many of those from my vantage point.Fact is if you took away their mega-salaries and mansions, not many of them would want to preach any longer.

    Perhaps these entities simply are businesses, with only a tangential relationship or similarity to the forms of social organization described in the New Testament.

    IMO there’s a lot of magical thinking going on, along the lines of “we’re growing, so God evidently approves. Don’t oppose us, or you’ll be opposing God.”

    I imagine that the conquering armies of Islam thought much the same in the 6th century.

    While one wants to affirm that the Spirit is mightier than the arm of the flesh, there is quite a lot that flesh can accomplish in its own strength.

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  9. Paragraph 3 is interesting. It seems that you can’t sue, even if your civil rights have been violated. You must go to “Christian” arbitration. Not sure what the Dept of Labor would think about such a clause… but then this is a church and it’s above the laws of mere men.

    Paragraph 2.1 is sweet too. Not only are you forbidden to reveal anything that might seem negative about HBC (like maybe a youth pastor allegedly abusing kids, or maybe an alleged drop in attendance or giving), but you also must keep the very existence of the NDA a secret. Starting to sound like the Mormons and their secret temple rituals.

    Does anyone know if HBC has issued holy underwear to their top tithers?

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  10. I can’t imagine Jesus having anything to do with NDAs, covering up child abuse, using religion to amass wealth, suing people who tell the truth, or any other of this garbage.

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  11. We can fairly assume that most of the megas function with this sort of NDA, which is what keeps their ‘secrets’ from spilling out like a flood. And the ignorant masses, assuming that all must be well or ‘someone would talk’ do not even know the NDA’s exist. I would suggest we need to educate the public to be aware of these NDA’s, and to demand that their churches disclose whether or not they compel their employees to abide by such. And refuse to attend such that call themselves churches, but are not.

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  12. TS00,

    It is one thing to insist that personal information concerning church members be granted the privilege of privacy. It is my guess that most view that as a given. It is quite another thing to demand that employees not expose what they perceive as corruption, abusive behavior or other questionable conduct that casts doubt as to the sincerity or character of leaders within the church, or questionable financial practices.

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  13. Looking at that lawsuit, one has to wonder how much of the New Testament church’s activities may have been unauthorized for release under the NDA featured here. How many times did Paul name names without apparent “gentleness”, including Peter and Barnabas (with whom he had a sharp disagreement per Acts 15 with many names cited)? Was the tone of what John said about Diotrphes — again, a name named — “impartial”? What about Luke through the book of Acts? Their proof-texting is contemptible.

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  14. TS00: A church’s good reputation should be based upon behavior that is above reproach, not fear of lawsuits.

    A church NDA is intended to intimidate staff. They are used by narcissist leaders in the Christian Industrial Complex to control and manipulate. I doubt that most are legally enforceable.

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  15. Samuel Conner: Perhaps these entities simply are businesses, with only a tangential relationship or similarity to the forms of social organization described in the New Testament.

    Certainly! The early church would not recognize today’s Christian Industrial Complex as The Church.

    Samuel Conner: IMO there’s a lot of magical thinking going on, along the lines of “we’re growing, so God evidently approves. Don’t oppose us, or you’ll be opposing God.”

    Every ‘Christian’ cult leader has made such claims. Truth is, many of these mega-churches would not exist if it wasn’t for the cool band. Take the Vertical Church Band away from HBC and the numbers would drop drastically. The God of Entertainment is on the throne in the Christian Industrial Complex.

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  16. Max: Vertical Church Band

    I wonder what sort of contract MacDonald has with HBC’s Vertical Church Band? His future ‘ministry’ depends on “Vertical Church.” The VCB is a critical part of that; take it away and Vertical Church becomes horizontal. I suspect the band and its members are so contractually linked to MacDonald that they can’t walk away very easily.

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  17. It has been reported that some1, other than Harvest contacted DCFS in June.

    It has been reported that the June call led to the arrest.

    The individual that made the call can prove it. DCFS sends a letter with it’s findings directly to the person that reports it.

    What are the chances that the individual responsible for blowing the whistle on Sex Abuse Cover is staying silent while he or she navigates the legal ramification of an Harvest NDA?

    I’m not a betting man but I know a “sure thing” when I see one.

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  18. This will hit the news just like Willow Creek. When it becomes public it will hurt attendance. When it hurts attendance money will stop coming in. When money stops coming in all of this will change. This scandal will not withstand public scrutiny. The world gets it better than the church.

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  19. If your church employer has to rely on a written non-disclosure agreement to keep adverse information from spilling out, you need to get out! I work for an evil too big to fail employer and the information I work with is deemed “confidential” as it involves the inner technical workings of my employer. But I’ve never signed an NDA in the 20 years I’ve worked for the bank. I just know you don’t air our problems to the general public. And it’s not like we’re not regulated–we are–and the regulators have no problem asking us for more information. (Trust me, they are all up in our business because it involves Other People’s Money.)

    Maybe that’s the solution. Maybe, like non-church non-profit entities, churches taking in more than X amount of money a year should file a Form 990. We know that Form 990s are powerful–that’s why entities like the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Focus on the Family have converted over to “churches,” so they don’t have to file them. Shame on them!

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  20. Max: In corporate America, CEO’s who grow the business earn 6+ figure salaries. Mega-church America has followed the same scheme …

    One of the side effects being the CEO/Pastor becomes very very rich while the employees/pew warmers stay poor. In corporate America, the gap between rich boss and poor workers’ pay has exceeded those of the Roman Empire and most all Third World countries. And the Giga-church world (where Mega-church is too small for Pastor/Apostle’s ego) is trying to exceed that.

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  21. Abigail: This will hit the news just like Willow Creek.

    Unless JMac & HBC have enough influence to kill any story that could come out.
    It’s happened before, to the point of where it’s becoming Normal in the GCB world; how many Friends in High Places (editors, media owners, DA’s, cops) are members of HBC and Armorbearers for JMac?

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  22. James: It has been reported that some1, other than Harvest contacted DCFS in June.

    It has been reported that the June call led to the arrest.

    Not surprising the call came from outside Harvest.
    Nobody inside Harvest would squeal.
    One Hand Washes the Other when Doing The LOOOOORD’s Work.

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  23. James:
    NDA to Silence former staff

    Lawsuit to Silence vocal members and media.

    Pastor Child Sex Crime in the news.

    It’s a church.
    So what else is new?

    Where are the authorities?

    Members of HBC Armorbearing for PASTOR JMac?

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  24. Friend: This is the first NDA I’ve seen, but it looks like a weird casserole of legal boilerplate and the casting of spells via invocation of Bible verses.

    In both Appalachian and Pennsylvania Dutch lore, Witch-men/Hexerai extort money and goods from people by threatening to put Hexes on them. “Let the Sorcerer by the proper Invocation send his Familiar Spirit to bring destruction upon his enemies…”

    What kind of church requires the returning of drawings and models (paragraph 2.3), and in the next paragraph cites I Corinthians and Matthew? Do they have an architectural vision so grandiose that they think the receptionist will steal the blueprints?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germania_(city)#/media/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_146III-373,_Modell_der_Neugestaltung_Berlins_(%22Germania%22).jpg ?

    ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germania_(city) )

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  25. Harvest grew very large before VCB existed. They had a regular worship team, led by worship pastors like Matt Westerholm and Matt Stowell.

    If you look at the VCB roster from their first album until now, almost everyone is different. Perhaps only Andi Rozier remains.

    Just FYI.

    Max: I wonder what sort of contract MacDonald has with HBC’s Vertical Church Band?His future ‘ministry’ depends on “Vertical Church.”The VCB is a critical part of that; take it away and Vertical Church becomes horizontal.I suspect the band and its members are so contractually linked to MacDonald that they can’t walk away very easily.

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  26. james: It may be what the world has come to accept as a church but it is not a church of Jesus Christ.

    Understood, but a few concerns come to mind. Say it looks like a church but I think it isn’t one: what should I do? If people are in peril, is it enough for me to say this church is false, and my church is a real one?

    Also, if there are sincere Christians trapped or fooled into membership of such a place, do they constitute a church, regardless of crooked leaders?

    Of course, informing ourselves right here is a step in the right direction… But it seems to me that we don’t have effective ways to help the world identity healthy churches.

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  27. james: It’s not a church… Anyone that considers it such is under the same spell as the members..just a weaker version.

    It may be what the world has come to accept as a church but it is not a church of Jesus Christ.

    Semantics, perhaps. I tend to not conflate The Church with The Body of Christ. Nothing that The Church turns into much surprises me, because it is nothing but a decoy, distraction and imitation of the true Body of believers, who are called to a life of humble service and self sacrifice. When will we learn that the great Deceiver always offers up a distorted, destructive imitation of that which God creates for good?

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  28. Friend: Understood, but a few concerns come to mind. Say it looks like a church but I think it isn’t one: what should I do? If people are in peril, is it enough for me to say this church is false, and my church is a real one?

    Also, if there are sincere Christians trapped or fooled into membership of such a place, do they constitute a church, regardless of crooked leaders?

    Of course, informing ourselves right here is a step in the right direction… But it seems to me that we don’t have effective ways to help the world identity healthy churches.

    I grapple with this ceaselessly. It does seem to me that God is exposing in an unmistakable manner that The Church is no place for his people. I know that’s a bit much for most, and I did not arrive at such a belief lightly or easily; but that’s sort of where I find myself. Let us know if you arrive at any good answers.

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  29. TS00: It does seem to me that God is exposing in an unmistakable manner that The Church is no place for his people. I know that’s a bit much for most, and I did not arrive at such a belief lightly or easily; but that’s sort of where I find myself. Let us know if you arrive at any good answers.

    We seem to find ourselves in a very similar place :0

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  30. TS00,

    The Body of Christ(THE CHURCH ) would meet in peoples homes not multi million dollar buildings, the people all participated in the meeting all of them using the gifts God gave them to build one another up no overhead no money to be paid out get Gods work done the only time money was involved was if someone in the body needed help….not to pay for the Pastors Jet set lifestyle.

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  31. TS00,

    The Body of Christ(THE CHURCH ) would meet in peoples homes not multi million dollar buildings, the people all participated in the meeting all of them using the gifts God gave them to build one another up no overhead no money to be paid out get Gods work done the only time money was involved was if someone in the body needed help….not to pay for the Pastors Jet set lifestyle.
    TS00,

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  32. TS00: any good answers.

    I don’t know how applicable my answers are, but in case this helps, here goes. I lead by example, attending a fairly healthy church with educated and prayerful clergy, open decision-making processes, and orderly leadership turnover. My involvement is limited because of volunteer burnout and lingering skepticism.

    I question and challenge clergy and lay folks, and observe that things do improve. A church that ignores or disciplines members for offering ideas, or exploring different beliefs, is not healthy.

    As a kid in a more fundy congregation, I was trained to talk all happy about church, invite people to attend, and proselytize. Now I assume that most Americans have heard of church. If the topic comes up, I describe church as I would other human-led institutions.

    Church does not have to be intense or all-encompassing; those things are fine, but constant excitement can be used to lure people in and cover up weaknesses. Church should be a place of depth in worship, help for one another, and commitment to relieve poverty and suffering in the neighborhood and the world. If that last part is not happening, there’s a problem.

    I’d love to know how other people would describe a healthy church.

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  33. From my experience…

    Good
    Elder Led. Member Affirmed.
    Gospel Centered Worship.
    Scriptural messages. What does God say
    Communion every Sunday
    Debt Free
    Transparent
    Missional

    Bad
    Pastor led
    Minimized elder influence
    Topical “What does pastor say God says about what pastor wants to talk about”
    Communion when pastor says so
    Debt laden
    Closed financials. Predators hidden..
    Brand building.

    Yes. I went to Harvest

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  34. Friend: Church does not have to be intense or all-encompassing; t

    Have you read the Gospels? Church had better be intense, or something. Church is not a club that you join for the benefits.

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  35. James,

    Hello, I’m wondering where you heard that it was someone outside of Harvest that reported the abuse? I have been following the HBC train wreck pretty diligently since they filed the suit against TED & Julie Roys, but I’ve only just learned of this report within the last week. Any info would be much appreciated!

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  36. roebuck: Have you read the Gospels? Church had better be intense, or something. Church is not a club that you join for the benefits.

    I don’t know how to respond to assumptions that strike me as unkind. A blessed night to all on TWW.

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  37. roebuck,

    I agree that 6 figures is a little much for a pastor, but I’d imagine most ‘mega churches’ today pay the same or close to it to retain pastors in their respective cities.

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  38. I heard all of the defenses for the ‘safety’ in the ‘plurality of elders’. Then watched it explode. Elders cans so easily be manipulated into unwitting yes-men by a clever, manipulative pastor, and never even know that they are such. These pages are replete with these stories, and there are, doubtless, many more that could be told.

    If there was such a thing as a healthy church, it would not have anyone claiming to be ‘in authority’. Jesus made it quite clear that those serving as shepherds within his body were not to be like the rulers of gentile institutions, who lord it over others, but to be self-sacrificing servants of all. Meet me at the door and ask me how you can serve me, don’t stand over me and tell me what to believe.

    There is, in my opinion, no biblical precedent for pastors, or professional teachers. I am not arrogant, and find much wisdom and insight in the thoughts of men and women of all stripes; even those with which I disagree. But I have no intention of allowing one person to stand up and proclaim their personal (or institutional) opinions and interpretations as if they were authoritative and my mind was forbidden to question them. I am more than willing to be challenged and encouraged by the stories, questions, experiences and suggestions of other believers, but I will not be browbeaten or manipulated by charismatic wordsmiths. Just as I have refused to open my mind to the brainwashing of the television all of my life, I refuse to ever again open my mind to the brainwashing of some so-called religious authority on a platform. Sit with me, dialogue with me, discuss scripture with me, challenge my beliefs, but don’t stand before me and say ‘I speak for God’.

    Perhaps I am cynical, but it would take some convincing to persuade me that ‘healthy church’ is not an oxymoron. But I would love to discover and be involved in a healthy body of believers.

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  39. TS00: There is, in my opinion, no biblical precedent for pastors, or professional teachers</blockblockquote

    To be more specific… There is no biblical precedent for people with the gift of pastor or teacher or apostle or any other spiritual gift being the lead CEO of any gathering of New Testament worshippers called Christians. God does give such gifts to people but they are given for building up and encouraging others. Not so someone can rule, or be the person week after week to tell a group of believers what the bible says, or be a CEO. Commenter Keller is right, simple church which meets in homes where everyone participates and tithes needy (and missions) looks a whole lot more like New Testament church to me. Our family has participated in simple churches for 20 years now. Never going back under the leadership of a pastor centric church.

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  40. Oops. Below are my comments based on T000’s thoughts :

    To be more specific… There is no biblical precedent for people with the gift of pastor or teacher or apostle or any other spiritual gift being the lead CEO of any gathering of New Testament worshippers called Christians. God does give such gifts to people but they are given for building up and encouraging others. Not so someone can rule, or be the person week after week to tell a group of believers what the bible says, or be a CEO. Commenter Keller is right, simple church which meets in homes where everyone participates and tithes needy (and missions) looks a whole lot more like New Testament church to me. Our family has participated in simple churches for 20 years now. Never going back under the leadership of a pastor centric church.

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  41. Former Harvest Guy: Harvest grew very large before VCB existed. They had a regular worship team, led by worship pastors like Matt Westerholm and Matt Stowell.

    Honestly, what percentage of HBC membership do you figure were primarily attracted to MacDonald’s “ministry” because he provided entertaining music?

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  42. TS00: Perhaps I am cynical, but it would take some convincing to persuade me that ‘healthy church’ is not an oxymoron. But I would love to discover and be involved in a healthy body of believers.

    If enough of The Church would get cynical enough with the church, perhaps believers could find a genuine ecclesia in their area – the real deal gathering of the Body of Christ. One that doesn’t exalt men, but Christ … where the mission is the Great Commission, rather than getting in the pockets of members … where the pew is just as important as the pulpit … where believers are mobilized and released by church leaders to fulfill their giftings, rather than being controlled by them … where ALL believers are treated equally, regardless of race, class, or gender. Yep, it would be great to see a healthy church … in the meantime, I’ll just be the Church to those around me.

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  43. Anonymous,

    Does anyone see an issue with the direction of the responses here?

    A specific charge has been brought against a specific church with a public statement…

    Yet we, myself included, are back to chatting about big picture church theory.

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  44. james: back to chatting about big picture church theory

    IMO, it’s a healthy exercise for believers to be chatting about what has happened to the institutional church at large … there are some folks on TWW who remember when The Church was the real deal, who caught a glimpse of what it should and could be. Over the past 20+ years, a counterfeit church has taken root in America … new believers have not known anything else. If we lose sight of the genuine, the counterfeit will continue to dominate doing church in America. This is not an hypothesis or conspiracy theory; when you compare the 21st century church in America with the model for doing Church recorded in the New Testament, there is little resemblance.

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  45. james,
    The big picture IS the problem….do think Harvest is the only “church ” with these kind of problems. …Greg Laurie,Franklin Grahm ,Steven Fertick, T.D Jakes James mcdonald ,even Billy Graham the list goes on. ….are all muti millionaires, This is what most people think the body of Christ looks like,and they would be wrong…its time for THE BODY OF CHRIST to contend for the faith and take the percicution we have been promised….and that goes for me as well…..you cant serve both God and money,and neither can Harvest Bible Chapel or any other 501c3.

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  46. Got All That, Brothers.

    I guess I just need help with Harvest. My path led me there. I am responsible for what I have seen first hand with regards to Abuse cover up. I will look elsewhere.. Peace and Love

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  47. When the rescue squad sees a burning car, do the chat about the safety feature flaws or discuss a safer way to layout and intersection?

    Only if they are willing to let the victims die.

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  48. Each Sunday afternoon I watch the replay of South Main Baptist Church in Houston on my computer. Good preaching and music. No screen, no drums, no praise band and they actually use hymnals. My kind of church!

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  49. Don’t forget if you are born again, a true believer,that YOU along with all other true believers ARE the church. And we can be confident of this…that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

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  50. Black budgets can come in the form of many line items. Quid pro quod under donations (such as cars and furniture). Housing allowances that arelegslly untaxable, budgeting for books up to obscene amounts like $10,000 a year, meal/entertainment budgets,travel.
    Whether or not HBC employed an actual Black Budget or inflated legitimate categories, I don’t know. But many churches have a defacto slush fund for pastors to spends lots of other peoples money and not their own.

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  51. james: I guess I just need help with Harvest.

    The first step is to leave, James … then pray that God will direct your next step. The problems with leadership at HBC are manifest – it’s not a healthy place to be. I realize that you have a “church” connection there, that you have formed relationships with folks, that you may have even grown some spiritually. But, after a while, all organizations take on the personality of its leadership … you don’t want the JMac personna embedded in your spirit. Pray.

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  52. james: When the rescue squad sees a burning car …

    Welcome to TWW, James … it is your rescue squad if you listen carefully. Many have experienced what you have, they have been victims of church abuse in one form or another … none are willing to let other victims die.

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  53. Max:
    it is your rescue squad if you listen carefully. Many have experienced what you have, they have been victims of church abuse in one form or another … none are willing to let other victims die.

    Amen.

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  54. You are the surgeon generals warning. Important none the less. I don’t begrudge you but Im looking for 1st Responders, Special forces, Marines, and Field Medics.

    So hard to find..It blows my mind..

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  55. james: Im looking for 1st Responders, Special forces, Marines, and Field Medics

    Given the situation at hand, those would have to be other HBC members. All we outsiders can do is speak of the experiences we had and offer counsel on how we responded. Among those who make comments here are victims of abuse who stood against leaders of their churches, as well as fellow church members who came alongside them to share that stand. TWW and commenters are doing their part to inform and warn. The “Special Forces” you need at HBC to deal with the leadership must come from within the army there, some courageous souls to do the right thing as hard as it is.

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  56. Your answer sickens me.

    Child Sex Abuse Cover Up cant be addressed outside of a local church led by disqualified leaders. Thats what u are going with?

    I hope to God you speak for yourself, max

    Christs Church Universal MUST ACT

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  57. james,

    Here’s the deal, james. Any individual could come along and attempt to rile up people on this board, even try to incite them to some sort of group ‘action’. You appear to frequently make such clarion calls. I would point to ancient history to suggest that is exactly how the ‘opposition’ has often been taken down. Mild-mannered, god-fearing Anabaptists, Montanists and others were, IMO, infiltrated by provocateurs who incited radical ideas and/or actions. This provided justification for demonizing, then murdering as dangerous heretics, those who dissented from the parties in power. One might ask if the same might have been done in other settings, say with Communists and other more recent ‘anarchists’. Who is to know for sure?

    You must do as you are led to do, but it makes me more than a little uncomfortable when you continue to rabble rouse, post calls to hazy action and start calling ‘chicken’ when people do not respond as you wish. This is not a brewing ground for dangerous anarchists (unless you define using your free power of volition to walk away from evil as ‘anarchy’); but wouldn’t it be convenient for some to be able to make that charge?

    If you have pertinent information, make it public. If you have documentation of crimes committed, report them to the police. If you wish to start a forum for ex-HBCers to compare notes, that is pretty much what TED is all about. Such ‘action’ does not require a committee of thugs. Many here will lend their encouragement, advice and support to those who seek to take a stand against any sort of abuse or evil in their midst, but it is unlikely that a roving band of rebels will arise, or that such a thing would be productive. Many of us have done what small steps we can to take a stand in our own situations, and will continue to lend our support to those in our circle who we know and can assist.

    What exactly are you claiming to be looking for? You keep talking about taking a stand – why not just do it? And I believe I can speak for most Wartburgers when I encourage you to remain within the bounds of civil discourse and law.

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  58. TS00,

    What sort of radical action do you see suggested on these pages? Why such dangerous ideas as ‘Don’t give your money to organizations who will not be held financially accountable’! Or, how about ‘Refuse to be intimidated into into condemning victims for divorcing abusive spouses’, or ‘Don’t hesitate to report alleged abusers to the proper civil authorities even when your ‘ruling elders’ choose not to.’? Here’s a scary idea: ‘Be willing to challenge your elders with detailed questions about their use of money and authority.’ Or how about ‘Don’t applaud ‘dear leaders’ who have confessed to sexually abusing others.’?

    That’s the sort of rabble-rousing you can expect to find at TWW.

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  59. James MacDonald made $400K to $600K. In addition there was a travel and entertainment budget for James MacDonald that was $80K to $100K.
    Luke MacDonald made $200K and was on the XLT
    Landon MacDonald made $100K. The reason why Landon’s salary and Luke’s were different is because Luke was not on the XLT team yet. At the time he was the youth pastor.
    Abby MacDonald made $60K part time and worked only two days a week. I believe Abby worked in HR at Harvest Bible Chapel.
    Kathy MacDonald is James MacDonald’s wife. Kathy worked in a part time capacity and made $100K

    To me this sounds like it is a family business rather than a church. Put a lot of his family including his wife on payroll and then claim it is a church. It wouldn’t surprise me if all parties also have generous expense accounts. Having family on staff really helps solidify and make James MacDonald even more unassailable. I would always be leery of a church where a lot of the leaders are related.

    From what I understand pastoral income can be quite deceptive and be effectively higher than it appears. This is due to both the expense accounts some pastors get plus that clergy in the US are allowed to claim a large percent of their income for housing tax free.

    I though say that in some situations I don’t have an issue with pastors making a low six figure salary when they are in a community with a high cost of living and if a lot of the church members have an income in that range.

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  60. Steve240: To me this sounds like it is a family business rather than a church.

    These churches could teach “Keep It All in the Family” to Saudi Royals.

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  61. Steve240: From what I understand pastoral income can be quite deceptive and be effectively higher than it appears. This is due to both the expense accounts some pastors get plus that clergy in the US are allowed to claim a large percent of their income for housing tax free.

    Let’s suppose, for a moment, that all that stuff in the gospel accounts is true; and specifically, the stuff that Jesus of Nazareth is quoted as saying. That would mean that these people already have all the reward they’re going to get from their religion. It would also mean they’ve squandered something vastly more valuable in a life after this one.

    That same carpenter from Nazareth stated that the path to life is steep and narrow-gated and few find it. In my experience, religion doesn’t make it any less steep nor widen the gate. Many christians are actually atheists when you look at what they really ask for out of life.

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  62. james:
    Your answer sickens me.

    Child Sex Abuse Cover Up cant be addressed outside of a local church led by disqualified leaders.Thats what u are going with?

    I hope to God you speak for yourself, max

    Christs Church Universal MUST ACT

    James, you misunderstood what I said. While the “universal” church is concerned about what has transpired at HBC, the “local” church must act. TWW and commenters are voices from the church at large which have joined you to inform and warn. If there has been child abuse and cover-up, the proper authorities need to be involved. If that is not happening, concerned members of HBC need to be pressing the issue.

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  63. james: My path led me there. I am responsible for what I have seen…

    Sounds like your path must share some responsibility if it led you there. Doesn’t it have any ideas?

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  64. Don’t be surprised at what is Happening in the so called “church “….when i realized what was happening at Harvest Bible Chapel I left but i didn’t abandon the body of Christ although I don’t attend Harvest I still meet with many people who do on a weekly basis. ..as they hear what God’s word really says HE (God ) promps them to do whats right, we’re called to tell the truth only God can change a man’s heart .that takes all the pressure off of me.remember what Jesus said to Peter. ..if you love me care for my Lambs..let’s care for them!!!

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  65. I’m saddened and deeply disturbed. I’ve been going to harvest for 13 years. Baptized there, serve, and am currently a small group leader. It’s hard to ignore all this information and I know we cannot turn a blind eye anymore. It makes me so angry to have the church asking to give more during this closer campaign and having friends in the church who have sacrificed to stay home with their children whose spouses make half of what the Macdonald sons make willing to tithe more. Why in the world is Luke Macdonald making 200,000?! It is starting to feel more like a family business and less like a church. How are they able to live such lavish lifestyles and how are all of them able to go vacationing as a large family together literally almost every month. Even the vertical church sign has me disgusted. Why not the cross? It has become a symbol that the church obsessed over with JM getting a tattoo of it (and others that followed his lead), placing it on shirts, every piece of paper. My campus has been handing out stickers for people to place on their cars. It’s nauseating!

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  66. Nick Bulbeck,

    My path led me here as well. Strike 2.

    Damn you, path.

    I’m a Dad. My son was at those camps along with 1000s of others kids.

    Paxton Singer sexually exploited 3 boys that they know of.

    Harvest still hasnt informed the community.

    I dont expect everyone to step up for these children but this isnt about speaking truth over coffee. It’s about shutting down an organization in the neighborhood that covers for CHILD SEX PREDATORS.

    Open recruiting continues

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  67. Imagine that…a member of the Evangelical Industrial Complex having a Logo…..Businesses have Logo’s not The Body of Christ…..wake up from your slumber “Church” before HE removes your lamp stand…Love Jesus not organizations that are perisites on His body.

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  68. Max: Honestly, what percentage of HBC membership do you figure were primarily attracted to MacDonald’s “ministry” because he provided entertaining music?

    Good evening,

    I didn’t know what had happened to Matt Westerholm, but I looked him up on the Bethlehem Baptist website, and that is in fact the same guy. His song ‘The First Place’ has been very meaningful for me.

    As to your question about how many people were attracted to Harvest because of the band, here’s what I can tell you. After Harvest was planted, it grew to about 500 people in five years (according to what I’ve heard James share). That would be 1993. I’m not sure how or when the church grew in the 90’s, but by 2000, the church was meeting in the Rolling Meadows location only with an attendance of 6000-8000. At that point, Harvest began starting new church plants and new campuses of the original Harvest. The difference was that the plants had senior pastors preaching weekly while the campuses did video simulcasts of James preaching. Until the Naples campus, all the campuses were in the Chicago area. I would guess that the church was already running well over 10,000 people before VCB released an album. So yes, I would attribute much of Harvest’s growth to James’ exceptional preaching.

    Vertical Church Band (now Vertical Worship) released their first album in 2012. The two ‘big names’ on that album were Meredith Andrews and Heather Headley. Both have moved on, as far as I know. Heather Headley had already moved due to career opportunities, I believe, but was a special guest at some events and appeared on the album.

    Anyway, I hope this is helpful. I’m mainly just trying to provide facts and context. I’m no longer associated with Harvest, but that church was instrumental in my spiritual growth. I experienced some wonderful things at Harvest, and I saw a few things that deeply concerned me. I would caution anyone against either idolizing Harvest or demonizing it. Like many things in life, the truth about Harvest is nuanced. The truth about James is nuanced.

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  69. Sickofthesecrets: Even the vertical church sign has me disgusted. Why not the cross?

    New Calvinist pastors generally do not display the Cross in their churches … at least that’s the case in the New Calvinist church plants in my area. I suppose, given their aberrant theology, that they can’t make sense of the Cross.

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  70. Former Harvest Guy: Like many things in life, the truth about Harvest is nuanced. The truth about James is nuanced.

    I was young and now am old. One thing I’ve learned in my long Christian journey, is that truth is eventually revealed. Mis-truth, half-truth, and nuanced-truth always bow before Truth at the end of the day. “Truth is unkillable” (Balthasar Hubmaier). I’ve said enough about my observations of JM and HBC … I’ll leave this conversation and wait for Truth to expose that which is contrary to God’s will for His Church.

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  71. Max: the Cross

    Several long-established Christian traditions do not display crosses or other iconography. One reason is to prevent idolatry. This is not my tradition, but it has legitimacy in context.

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  72. TS00: What exactly are you claiming to be looking for? You keep talking about taking a stand – why not just do it? And I believe I can speak for most Wartburgers when I encourage you to remain within the bounds of civil discourse and law.

    James can speak for himself, but I would suggest that he get himself free and de-programmed from Harvest Bible Chapel.

    Not an easy thing to do, and I know from experience, because I allowed myself to be held captive by the Calvary Chapel cult here in Southern Cal. It (the cult) becomes your whole life and keeps you (generic you) from ‘getting a life’.

    All the people you call ‘friends’ and who you need for an identity are in the cult and you are insulated from uncertainty. Who wants to leave such a wooly-cotton-cocoon of secure outcomes?

    It’s scary but it can be done and it’s well worth it.
    Like one of Emma Lazarus’s huddled masses, you learn to breathe free.

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  73. There is a very large cross in the Niles campus. However, the vertical church sign has become the symbol of HBC. I wouldn’t be surprised if they do end up replacing that cross with the new symbol. They have it stamped everywhere else. It’s just sad. Why do we need a new symbol to represent the church. Instead of stamping this vertical church symbol on clothes, cars, papers, and skin why can’t we just use the cross.

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  74. Friend,

    james,

    Blogs exist to spread ideas and information. Feel free to encourage other Harvest members to study this, and other blogs to obtain information they are not getting from the pulpit. Again, if you, being near the situation, have actionable information, I encourage you to take action. It only takes one. Others, on the outside, will continue to do what they can to more widely circulate information and concerns that otherwise might not be widely known.

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  75. TS00,

    What a great study course of study.

    Special thanks to T-Soo for the ongoing reminder of the flaws in my approach.

    Have a nice weekend u Info Spreading Idea Machine.

    Here’s an Idea…Some info you can spread

    Stand Against Those Who Cover UP Sex Crime Against Children.

    Start with Harvest Chicago.

    Peace

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  76. Friend: do not display crosses or other iconography. One reason is to prevent idolatry

    In the case of New Calvinism, the Cross doesn’t fit with the tenets of reformed theology … a “gospel” that does not present the Cross of Christ to ALL people. Idolatry?! The new reformers darn near idolize Calvin … even New Calvinist icons like Piper are semi-worshiped. Yep, there are plenty of idols in those ranks without worrying about the Cross distracting them.

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  77. SiteSeer:
    I can’t imagine Jesus having anything to do with NDAs, covering up child abuse, using religion to amass wealth, suing people who tell the truth, or any other of this garbage.

    I’ve heard not all of them are like this, but I have yet to see it for myself. I suspect the entire design of church in America is built around self enrichment, I’ve been with a church long enough to see it go from a seemingly-ok home bible study to a business. The whole transition can take as little as 5 years, fast enough for it to be jarring.

    I’m at the point where if it has a collection plate, a mortgage, a stage or a clergy I’m giving it a hard pass. Christianity in America can only be redeemed in service and sacrifice. Nothing in the walls of a so-called church can remedy the issue.

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  78. Max: In the case of New Calvinism, the Cross doesn’t fit with the tenets of reformed theology … a “gospel” that does not present the Cross of Christ to ALL people.

    A previous incarnation of The Gospel According to Calvin — New England Puritanism — was obsessed with Observing Leviticus to the Letter like some sort of secondhand Hasidim writing their own Talmud as they went. (Besides turning their entire society into Book of Joshua: The Live Role-Playing Game.) And like a lot of fanboys, they ended up fanboying the WORST aspects of their Source.)

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  79. Sickofthesecrets: There is a very large cross in the Niles campus. However, the vertical church sign has become the symbol of HBC. I wouldn’t be surprised if they do end up replacing that cross with the new symbol. They have it stamped everywhere else.

    Including on their foreheads and right hands?

    P.S. Just what IS the “vertical church symbol”?

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  80. Mike:
    Sickofthesecrets,

    So why in the world would you continue going to Harvest?!?

    Fear of Hell?
    As in “There Can Be No Salvation Outside of Harvest”?
    (In my area, Calvary Chapel copped the same attitude.)

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  81. Max: New Calvinist pastors generally do not display the Cross in their churches … at least that’s the case in the New Calvinist church plants in my area.I suppose, given their aberrant theology, that they can’t make sense of the Cross.

    What symbol (or symbols) do they use instead?

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  82. james,

    As a kid, I had an experience somewhat like what is alleged at HBC. My assailant left the church youth program, but to this day I do not know why. I never told my parents or friends what happened to me. In adulthood I gradually figured it out and sought care.

    Belonging to a different church helps my faith, but I do not view church membership as a requirement. In exchange for freedom to worship, I work to keep my church safe for children and adults. Alas there are no guarantees, but there are good practices. There are also signals to observe and interpret. TWW has taught me much about abusive churches. My attempts to help have annoyed a few people. So be it.

    Commenters here sometimes indulge in tangents, but the tangents help to inform. Are church logos too worldly? Bands: good or bad? How about the use of the cross as a symbol? And yes, sometimes we want a break, and start talking about food or sports.

    I would advise any concerned parent to organize: speak up within the church, and apply public pressure. Seek out a “secular” Ph.D. psychologist, experienced with treating child sexual abuse, to determine how to raise the topic with children. Prayer helps, if only because it gives parents a chance to offload horrendous feelings and start to restore order. Personally, I find that it does a great deal more.

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  83. Headless Unicorn Guy: Fear of Hell?
    As in “There Can Be No Salvation Outside of Harvest”?
    (In my area, Calvary Chapel copped the same attitude.)

    Both are fear-based religions no matter how much they try to claim that what they sell is a ‘relationship’ with Jesus.

    One of their favorite sales pitches (close on the heels of the love-bombing) is that Jesus ‘talked more about hell than he did heaven’.

    So what are the huddled masses to do? How can I know that I’m ‘saved’ and won’t wind up in the lake of fire along with the beast and the false prophet?

    Your butt in a seat and forking over 10 percent of your income (whether you can afford it or not) is a good start, and from there, docile servitude will ensure you ‘heaven’.

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  84. james: Please keep talking about Harvest Bible Chapel covering up CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION..

    I’ll be fine. The children? We will see.

    Since you are close to the Harvest cover-up, may I suggest you take the story to the local news outlets and see if they will get information out so other parents can be informed, since Harvest won’t get the info out to all affected.

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  85. james: Please keep talking about Harvest Bible Chapel covering up CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION..

    I’ll be fine. The children? We will see.

    Seriously James?
    If you know of kids who are being sexually abused and or enduring horrific beatings, DO THE RIGHT THING and go to the cops NOW.

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  86. You’ll never believe this, but Lesley didn’t know why the cricketing terms “googly” and “silly mid on” are NOT funny, but the malapropism “a wobbly wicket” IS funny (the correct term is “a sticky wicket”, as all self-respecting Wartburgers will be aware).

    How we laughed!

    IHTIH

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  87. Re: NDAs

    Ultimately, they will fail!

    Luke 12:1-3
    “In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

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  88. Sickofthesecrets,

    Yes, Niles has a cross in the sanctuary and on the building itself. The one on the building was put there by the previous church.

    The chapel on the Rolling Meadows campus is also topped with a cross. Can’t speak to other campuses.

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  89. Headless Unicorn Guy: P.S. Just what IS the “vertical church symbol”?

    I dared to search for Vertical Church websites. It seems to be the symbol ^ inside a square, but there are variations, and the search results were mixed in with ads for window blinds.

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  90. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    Absolutely not. And that’s actually offensive to assume all that attend are ignorant of the Bible and worship Harvest and don’t truly understand salvation. And if you are just mocking that’s not loving. I do not fear Harvest nor have I feared leaving. I’ve been going for 13 years but I started as a 14 year old. Not as an adult. When everything happened in 2012/2013 I wasn’t as involved nor was I fully aware of what was going on. Neither were my parents who were attending but also weren’t fully aware of the situation. It’s very easy to not understand what’s going on in a large church especially when they attempt to make the problem seem like it’s no big deal. Believe it or not a lot of people I know that attend really didn’t understand to the full extent of what has been going on until recently. We are in the process of leaving.

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  91. Friend: Vertical Church

    Hell-low! I’ve noticed “vertical” has 1 dimension but 2 directions. One points downward to me! And I approve of sooooo much they’re up to (or down with).
    Ravenously,
    Uncle Stan

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  92. Toiler,

    “I lived the HBC experience until it almost killed me. I know what they are capable of.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++

    In the interest of transparency and light, would you be willing to tell your story? Perhaps TWW is the forum to do so.

    The standards for conduct amongst professional christians are so unbelievably low — their fan-bases overwhelmingly do not care.

    perhaps the general public will care and hold christians accountable.

    if christians must be shamed into insisting on what is honest and integrous and noncompromising, then so be it.

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  93. I just sent letter to HBC leadership re non-notification of parents (I’m one of them) about sexploitation issue challenging them to do the right thing and take steps to notify all parents even now. Ispired by video above. Copied my letter to a public figure who might hold them accountable.

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  94. JDV,

    “How many times did Paul name names without apparent “gentleness”, including Peter and Barnabas (with whom he had a sharp disagreement per Acts 15 with many names cited)? Was the tone of what John said about Diotrphes — again, a name named — “impartial”?”
    +++++++++++++++++++

    “gentleness”…. it’s gotten all out of proportion.

    i was talking with a pastor and made a sarcastic attempt at humor — he looked like he had just been punched.

    same when i’ve been direct and matter of fact.

    the responses shocked me — my comments would have been completely innocuous in any other environment.

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  95. Sickofthesecrets,

    So sorry that a church you loved has changed! God is the one who is opening your eyes! It happened to me years ago in a church I served heavily in for 10 years. It was painful to leave but so liberating in my relationship with Jesus!! I would never go back and am so grateful to the wonderful relationship I have with God now from getting out from under a man plan of church!

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  96. james,

    “Gospel Centered Worship”
    +++++++++++

    what is Gospel-centered worship?

    in my experience, “Gospel-centered” is the new “biblical”.

    “biblical” has ceased to mean anything at all — thousands of christian groups all competing with each other, all insisting their way is the “biblical” one.

    obviously, they can’t all be right. it’s finally starting to dawn on them.

    enter “Gospel-centered”.

    it is the new strategy in the christian marketplace of ideas. “My biblical is Gospel-centered and yours isn’t — so i win.”

    The church i grew up in has new leadership. Their sign and logo now say “a Gospel church” after the church’s name.

    …as if the church under previous leadership as well as all the other churches in town are clueless as to what the gospel is.

    so, James, now that i’ve strafed the area with my views, would you be willing to describe what you mean by “Gospel-Centered worship”?

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  97. Chad,

    “I agree that 6 figures is a little much for a pastor, but I’d imagine most ‘mega churches’ today pay the same or close to it to retain pastors in their respective cities.”
    +++++++++++++++++

    so?

    the sooner the ‘mega church’ model implodes en toto the better.

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  98. Friend,

    It was not meant to be unkind – it was a rhetorical question. Don’t take it so personally. And since there is no way to deal with passive-aggressive flounces, I guess we’re even. Happy Holidays!

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  99. roebuck: It was not meant to be unkind – it was a rhetorical question. Don’t take it so personally. And since there is no way to deal with passive-aggressive flounces, I guess we’re even. Happy Holidays!

    Thanks for clarifying. No problem. It’s hard to convey tone in comments, and I’m impressed that I managed to “flounce.” 😉

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  100. Friend: Thanks for clarifying. No problem. It’s hard to convey tone in comments, and I’m impressed that I managed to “flounce.”

    It is VERY hard to convey tone, or any kind of nuance, in comments. I’ve been around this forum for years, so I tend to imagine that most folks understand my ‘voice’, and that isn’t really fair.

    Very smooth flounce, BTW 🙂 It’s a great word, flounce, ain’t it?

    Anyway, you’re a good sport for replying so good-naturedly, and I do wish you Happy Holidays. OK, I really mean Merry Christmas! Thanks for engaging…

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  101. elastigirl,

    I suppose this would qualify as an example IMHO

    Im sure it will get picked apart and thats ok.

    I once was lost in darkest night
    Yet thought I knew the way
    The sin that promised joy and life
    Had led me to the grave
    I had no hope that You would own
    A rebel to Your will
    And if You had not loved me first
    I would refuse You still

    But as I ran my hell-bound race
    Indifferent to the cost
    You looked upon my helpless state
    And led me to the cross
    And I beheld God’s love displayed
    You suffered in my place
    You bore the wrath reserved for me
    Now all I know is grace

    Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
    Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

    Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
    And live so all might see
    The strength to follow Your commands
    Could never come from me
    O Father, use my ransomed life
    In any way You choose
    And let my song forever be
    My only boast is You

    Fire away….

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  102. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    Well help me out, cause they just seem like pointless rabble rousing to me. Endless calls saying ‘Who’s with me?’ and ‘Let’s go’. Is this like the ‘Let’s roll’ of the guy leading the charge to take on the 9/11 hijackers? Is there a sign up to picket at the church, or maybe a march on D.C.? I’m just not getting what this guy is asking of people. If he has organized a march or a sit-in, I have not seen the details presented. Maybe I missed it.

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  103. So. Here comes a bunch of judgement based on a song I shared that I have no connection to other than the fact that I consider it gospel centered?

    Or you really do understand me?

    T SOO. Lets Roll..

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  104. elastigirl: the sooner the ‘mega church’ model implodes en toto the better.

    And even if they don’t implode in a relatively near time-scale, they’ll dry up and blow away like so many Walmart bags snarled up in chain-link fences because they were never designed to be sustainable in the first place.

    Non-sustainability in a context of economics is the American way.

    It’s what we’ve always been.

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  105. james: Here comes a bunch of judgement

    Your anger is more than understandable, but is it helping the children of HBC when you direct it at a bunch of abuse survivors who believe the allegations?

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  106. Jmac is running a cult, plain and simple, listen to his messages, trust us don’t ask questions, give and do what I say. People who talk about us are bad.
    PS those salary numbers are way off, it’s much higher than quoted.
    Jmac made 650 in 2010
    Luke is at least 350
    Landon 250
    Abby 175
    Kmac 200
    Plus personal expensenses and bonuses of 6 figures.
    All the XLT are way up there too.
    Jet setting world traveling fine dining and top tier shopping. Give more! No questions!

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  107. I’m not mad at anyone here.

    I’m just pushing this sad story anywhere possible. James has leveraged every media connection he has to create diversions. Im taking on the monster.

    TWW has posted on James and Harvest.

    That’s the only reason I’m here.

    I had no social media presence until this May when I realized the depth of Harvest’s Child Abuse cover up.

    Perhaps it shows.

    Im not mad at anyone here abuse survivor or not.

    For The Record
    Ive been to Elgin PD
    Ive been to Rolling Meadows PD
    Ive met with Kane County SWAT team members.
    I’ve contacted the IRS

    These conversations are all ongoing.

    I only went public as a last resort once it was clear Julie Roys and World fell victim to the BS lawsuit.

    I don’t need a pat on the back.
    I don’t need to be recognized.
    I don’t need to be talked about.
    I don’t even need to be liked.

    I just need as many people as possible talking about the problems at Harvest.

    The culture of fear and Silence has been broken once again.

    James is fighting harder than ever to regain control thru fear of legal action and sadly its working with some.

    Im not going to cave.

    I realize Harvest is just one battle in the war but we are closer than ever on this front.

    Anything anyone here does to keep the discussion going is appreciated.

    That’s it

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  108. james,

    Still toying with me and others. Why?

    If you are recruiting for a militant uprising, you need to come out and say so. I suspect you will find few takers here. Jesus could have called forth an army of angels and taken out the enemy in a snap, if militarism was his agenda; but it was not.

    If you are looking for support, encouragement, advice and prayer, as you seek to be true to your individual calling, you have come to a pretty good place. I have no axe to grind. But why the taunts, the elusiveness and the games? I am simply trying to understand what you are all about, why you keep recruiting for an undefined agenda.

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  109. TS00,

    Btw, my last response was written before your post above it appeared. At least you finally came forth with a little information. Hazy, ill defined agendas and radical, emotional calls to unnamed action are eerily similar to what many of us reject in the spiritually abusive individuals and institutions discussed here. My former pastor was deeply into ‘militant’ christianity, without ever defining exactly what that meant and to what he was ‘leading’ his recruits. I remain uncomfortable with such talk.

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  110. james: You are the surgeon generals warning. Important none the less. I don’t begrudge you but Im looking for 1st Responders, Special forces, Marines, and Field Medics.

    So hard to find..It blows my mind..

    james: Have a nice weekend u Info Spreading Idea Machine.

    james: I just need as many people as possible talking about the problems at Harvest.

    Note that this is radically different from former comments, which bashed people for merely ‘talking’ and not taking (undescribed) action. Comments such as:

    james: Please keep talking about Harvest Bible Chapel covering up CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION..

    I’ll be fine. The children? We will see.

    Some serious disconnect here.

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  111. james: I just need as many people as possible talking about the problems at Harvest.

    That is a vast departure from other comments you have made, bashing people for merely ‘talking’ and insisting that you need ‘1st responders, Special Forces, marines, etc.’

    Perhaps you could clarify?

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  112. james: Anything anyone here does to keep the discussion going is appreciated.

    That’s it

    Thanks for this explanation. I pray that you and all who are affected by wrongs at HBC will have a peaceful night.

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  113. TS00,

    Oh Yes. Im still looking for action figures but as you have pointed out, this is an idea sharing platform.

    If anyone has influence they can leverage or contacts that would be helpful, please send them my way.

    As far as bashing, I don’t feel as though I’ve been outside the lines when compared to others on this site. It was not my intention to offend. I have my own style of banter which may be more effective in person yet even still an aquired taste.

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  114. james,

    I was not offended by your comments, simply confused. You appear ready to moderate your tone, but your former comments include:

    “Does anyone see an issue with the direction of the responses here?
    A specific charge has been brought against a specific church with a public statement…
    Yet we, myself included, are back to chatting about big picture church theory.”

    “When the rescue squad sees a burning car, do the chat about the safety feature flaws or discuss a safer way to layout and intersection?
    Only if they are willing to let the victims die.”

    “You are the surgeon generals warning. Important none the less. I don’t begrudge you but Im looking for 1st Responders, Special forces, Marines, and Field Medics.
    So hard to find..It blows my mind..”

    “Your answer sickens me.
    Child Sex Abuse Cover Up cant be addressed outside of a local church led by disqualified leaders. Thats what u are going with?
    I hope to God you speak for yourself, max
    Christs Church Universal MUST ACT”

    “I dont expect everyone to step up for these children but this isnt about speaking truth over coffee. It’s about shutting down an organization in the neighborhood that covers for CHILD SEX PREDATORS.
    Open recruiting continues”

    “Please keep talking about Harvest Bible Chapel covering up CHILD SEXUAL EXPLOITATION..
    I’ll be fine. The children? We will see.”

    “What a great study course of study.
    Special thanks to T-Soo for the ongoing reminder of the flaws in my approach.
    Have a nice weekend u Info Spreading Idea Machine.
    Here’s an Idea…Some info you can spread
    Stand Against Those Who Cover UP Sex Crime Against Children.
    Start with Harvest Chicago.
    Peace”

    “So. Here comes a bunch of judgement based on a song I shared that I have no connection to other than the fact that I consider it gospel centered?
    Or you really do understand me?
    TSOO. Lets Roll..”

    These comments do not strike me as simply asking for people to spread the word, as those here are apt to do, but appear antagonistic, taunting and incendiary. I suspect I might be forgiven for being confused and concerned about your posts. I have been misled in the past, and am particularly uncomfortable when others appear to be manipulative, elusive and unclear about their goals, whether in a church or any other setting.

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  115. My ‘point’ is to do the very things that are necessary to avoid allowing myself, or others from being misled, deceived, steamrolled or in any other manner manipulated by people with unknown agendas. That entails asking pertinent questions of others who jump, shout and call for action such as:

    What is your agenda?
    What exactly are you asking of others, and why?
    What is your goal, and your plan for reaching it?
    Why are you criticizing, condemning, etc. others for not unquestioningly jumping onto your bandwagon, when you have not even explained where this bandwagon is going or why?

    The very same types of behavior we have seen from the likes of James MacDonald, you appear to emulate. Urgent appeals to perform, name calling and incendiary emotional language are the tools of trade for manipulators, and you appear all to ready to employ them.

    My point is, simply, to call it out when someone repeatedly posts in a manner that is not respectful, or that appears somewhat manipulative. I hope that you would appreciate my concern for others, and attempts to clarify murky goals and methods, as that is often what we here are up against.

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  116. james,

    those are very nice lyrics.

    i can think of many songs that also have meaningful lyrics, expressing different ideas in different ways. i wonder if those would quality as “Gospel-centered”.

    what is “Gospel-centered”?

    is something unacceptable if it is not “Gospel-centered”? is beauty and goodness for their own sakes (minus any theological articulation or allusion) not acceptable?

    i’ve seen “Gospel-centered” wielded as a weapon to undercut those seen as opponents.

    i’ve seen “Gospel-centered” used to grab power by dividing people, deliberately creating in-groups of “winners” and out-groups of “losers” that we are supposed to be afraid of and reject.

    i’ve seen it used as a marketing tool to persuade ‘giving units’ to ‘buy in’ to the program and give their money.

    no one’s been able to tell me what the word actually means (because most people simply parrot the word rather than having any awareness of what they mean by it — that is, if they’re not using it as a functional tool/weapon).

    james, i don’t think you are parroting “Gospel-centered” or using it in these deceptive and manipulative ways. so to me this is a good opportunity to find out what at least one person means by it.

    can you explain to me what “Gospel-centered” means?

    are things that don’t qualify as “Gospel-centered” considered bad, wrong, unacceptable, dangerous, etc?

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  117. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    I actually find this offensive. Not all who go to HBC are ignorant of the Bible or salvation. I have never been scared nor am I currently scared to leave. HBC has many problems but I have never heard anyone tell me or others that if I were to leave this specific church my salvation would be in jeapordy. Nor do I know anyone who feels that way. I’m not sure if this comment was serious or just mocking. Believe it or not many who attend did not really understand the full extent of what has been going on until recently. I have been going to Harvest for 13 years but I started off as a 14 year old not an adult. When everything happened in 2012/2013 with TED I was freshly out of college, not as involved, and clueless as to what was going on because I would just attend the service and leave. My parents who also attended unfortunately didn’t really understand what was going on either. It’s pretty easy for that to happen in a big church and when everyone downplays the situation. We are in the process of leaving.

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  118. james:
    Gospel Centered Worship.

    Because you are new here, I’ll explain what you don’t see in this comment, and with the worship song you posted.

    New Calvinism, a theology which Harvest claims to follow, and Sovereign Grace, are both considered here to be abusive and cult-like. Most of us here come out of abusive churches and/or denominations. The flagship church of Sovereign Grace switched sides to New Calvinism, resulting in their connection.

    In New Calvinism, “Gospel” means determinist hypercalvinism, not Jesus’ message. Properly, the word “gospel” is not capitalized, New Calvinists use the capital letter to indicate their theology. Jesus is extremely minimized in New Calvinism. The main goal of New Calvinism is to separate out an elite group of (usually very well-paid) pastors and elders, and indoctrinate others to obey their absolute rule and pay for them. They try to argue in their theology that pastors/elders have the authority of God to all others on earth and anyone not obeying that authority will not be elected/saved and they have the ability to say who is in and who is out (which is a key sign of a cult). All of their theology was developed to support the very worldly motives of power and greed.

    I think you may not even realize that you have adopted a lot of culture from Harvest not even knowing what it means, like capitalizing gospel. The song was alright, but these churches often use worship music to manipulate the emotions of listeners leading up to the sermon. I actually took a class in doing just that at a New Calvinist seminary.

    The thing you have to realize is that it’s very likely Harvest will not get better. We’ve seen this happen here over and over. It’s a cult of personality and nepotism. When the personality leaves or gets arrested, it usually falls apart. It’s often much better for the health of individuals in that church to leave the church instead of trying to stay and fix it. Leaving actually harms these churches quite a bit, more than people think. Macdonald has even stated outright this in his ridiculous lawsuit.

    With as much central power as most New Calvinist pastors have over their churches, they usually can’t be changed unless the whole congregation works together to oust the pastor and family, and this is still likely to fail unless there’s a crime involved. That can mean getting the pastor arrested, and we’ve seen a number of those. Once New Calvinist pastors feel invincible, they tend to do illegal things. It’s up to the local congregation to handle reporting to the police and calling for the resignation. That means you. Us talking about it will get the word out, but it’s up to the local congregation to initiate change.

    When there’s things like child abuse happening, it’s very likely that unless the pastor is the abuser and is arrested and convicted, they will continue to hide other abuse incidents and abusers unless the pastor is brought down by the many other reasons we’ve been discussing here. You trying to stop that conversion is counterproductive to your own goal.

    I agree with the others that you seem to have adopted abusive language and beliefs. This could be because that’s what your church has been teaching. I will promise you, you won’t find people who will blindly follow orders or do what you want here. We recognize that as authoritarian abusive behavior and we won’t follow. People come here from abusive churches and try to use the same abusive behaviors their churches use on them, and we are quite adept at identifying those behaviors. Many of us do a number of things to combat abusive churches aside from just commenting here, but what we do is our choice. We answer to God alone, not you or anybody else.

    See the signs of an abusive or unsafe leader and the people who follow them:
    https://culteducation.com/warningsigns.html

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  119. ishy:
    They try to argue in their theology that pastors/elders have the authority of God to all others on earth and anyone not obeying that authority will not be elected/saved and they have the ability to say who is in and who is out (which is a key sign of a cult). All of their theology was developed to support the very worldly motives of power and greed.
    https://culteducation.com/warningsigns.html

    I have never, not even once, ever been taught that at Harvest. I have never been told that James or any of the elders have authority to say whose in or out. Or that salvation is in their hands. I have been taught that there are clear signs that can show that someone is not saved (by their fruits) but never have I been taught that they get to decide who is or isn’t. Like I said in my previous post, no one I know is scared to leave the church because they think they will not be saved if they do. Majority of people I know who haven’t left is because they are comfortable. They raised their kids there, formed relationships, serve, etc. Once again, I’m coming to learn that harvest has a lot of problems. James Macdonald is the biggest one and needs to be removed. However, Harvest is not what you are claiming it to be in this quote.

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  120. ishy:
    I wish I could work 2 days a week for $60K!

    Become a mega church pastor. However you may face a severe judgement when you face Jesus Christ. This is why I stopped going to church. The Apostle Paul worked day and night with his own hands so as not to burden anyone. He would have no sympathy for crooks like Piper, McDonald or Thom Rainer who complain of burn out, want to take money from the people and don’t want to visit them.

    Sorry if this sounds harsh but I was told by a pastor that I should be willing to pay life down for the Gospel. Technically he is right but these pastors don’t practice what they preach!

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  121. TS00: Hazy, ill defined agendas and radical, emotional calls to unnamed action

    In the church of my youth, I felt safe because I felt saved. That feeling of safety always demanded more, though. Youth ministers taught us that our parents were not saved, that they went to church for ominous “social reasons.” My parents’ resistance to my proselytizing terrified me. Youth ministers warned us about demon possession. We might be saved, but how did we know there weren’t demons left over inside from our pre-salvation lives, when we might have listened to the wrong music? Meanwhile, there was sexual abuse by one or more youth leaders, but nobody talked. What we talked and sang and heard about was sin, sin, sin, and love, love, love. The “most serious Christians” were at church three or four times a week, and with our church friends daily.

    This is why I say that church does not need to be intense or all-encompassing. I look for bland things, such as background checks performed by an organization outside the church, and published budgets with a full congregational vote. Office doors with little glass windows in them, just like out in “the world.”

    On TWW I don’t proclaim specific beliefs or practices, because there is a broad and beautiful range. Some churches have gorgeous choral music, some have instrumental music, some have silence. Instead of saying “music: good” or “music: bad,” we should educate our God-given brains to evaluate a church’s use of music, and teachings about music. I will go way out on a limb to say that demon possession should never be a topic at youth group.

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  122. My husband and I were appalled when our church tolerated a known sexual abuser in our congregation. We could not wrap our minds around this. What I want to convey to James is that the people who leave when there is a sexual abuser cover up are the ones you want to get to know!!! The people troubled by MacDonald will be good possible friends. You are NOT alone.

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  123. Sickofthesecrets:

    It may be that Macdonald has found that being too blunt about those beliefs keeps people from coming to Harvest. As he’s made quite clear in his lawsuit, numbers are very important to him.

    However, these are the beliefs of the Gospel Coalition which he once was a member. According to Macdonald, he didn’t leave TGC due to theological differences, but personal ones.

    Authoritarian beliefs of HBC are in their membership covenant. For example, “To pursue unity in the body of Christ and submit to the leadership of the church by cooperating, praying, and following direction as the flock is shepherded according to Scripture”. This was the ultimate point of the member commitment section.

    Or what about this passage in the Vertical Groups covenant: “In order to protect this community, I will avoid both speaking or listening to unhealthy criticism of others and solve conflict biblically. Specifically, I will be discrete in my communication, correct slander and gossip immediately, and speak directly with those involved.

    Most of my New Calvinist friends never even realize that their pastor preaches on the OT and on the letters of Paul, but rarely to never on the life and ministry of Jesus. They might mention Jesus, but they don’t preach what He said. Jesus’ words tend to be in direct contradiction to the megachurch pastor lifestyle they espouse and want members to support.

    Let me put these covenant points out to the others — authoritarian or no?

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  124. Abigail: My husband and I were appalled when our church tolerated a known sexual abuser in our congregation. We could not wrap our minds around this.

    I’ll wager that had he (even if unmarried) been caught doing the hanky-panky with another church member (also unmarried) his own age or older, they’d have run him out on a rail.

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  125. ishy: …The thing you have to realize is that it’s very likely Harvest will not get better. We’ve seen this happen here over and over. It’s a cult of personality and nepotism. When the personality leaves or gets arrested, it usually falls apart…

    As witness the rapid disintegration of Mars Hill once they finally stood up to Driskle. He ran away, and the people he abandoned fell over without being knocked.

    There’s a strange thing about para-church groups (or “churches”, as they are known nowadays) that are led by proverbial wolves. Well, there are many strange things TBH, but one of them is the passionate insistence of the prey/sheep that the wolves are not wolves but wonderful godly men who lovejesus. The sheep unshakeably believe that the wolves ledThemToJesus and have been powerfullyUsedByGod, and that they (the sheep) owe the wolves a debt of gratitude and love because they have beenBlessedByHisTeaching. When the reality is much more likely that any surviving sheep are a living fulfilment of the promise, attributed to Jesus, that his followers would pick up snakes and drink deadly poison without being harmed by either.

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  126. Nick Bulbeck: [Driskle] ran away, and the people he abandoned fell over without being knocked.

    Saying that, I must concede the following point.

    Warren Throckmorton reports that many ex-Martians walked away from any kind of faith. But it may be that some who remained banded together, jettisoned Driskle’s nonsense and quietly got on with loving one another and being salt and light, without fuss or glory-seeking. They would still vanish from the international radar, but for good reasons.

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  127. Nick Bulbeck,
    I wonder how many end up in another cult of personality thinking that one will be different?

    Had a number of friends in abusive churches leave and immediately seek out another charismatic leader’s megachurch. They never seem to see that drive for popularity is causing the problems of greed and abuse they keep running away from.

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  128. ishy: I wonder how many end up in another cult of personality thinking that one will be different?

    Had a number of friends in abusive churches leave and immediately seek out another charismatic leader’s megachurch.

    I suppose it’s hard for some folks to settle for less, even though less is better in most cases. Dropping from mega to mini may be too humiliating, even though a small church pastor who loves God and the people he ministers to might be the perfect place for them to migrate to. IMO, most mega-members are attracted not only to cult personality but cult peripherals like the cool band, coffee lounge, and “community.”

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  129. Max: IMO, most mega-members are attracted not only to cult personality but cult peripherals like the cool band, coffee lounge, and “community.”

    Oh “community” my arse!
    When they’re down on their luck and get thrashed by life’s Wheel of Ka, those so called ‘friends’ are nowhere to be found.

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  130. Max,

    Only time I was ever in a Harvest Bible Chapel was for a wedding. No one attending was from the church, and we all felt as if we were in an oversized coffee house with a stage. It would be kinda tough for most to go from something so ‘cool’ to the little church on the corner with the hard wooden pews and out-of-tune piano. After a few years at Willow Creek, my in-laws had a difficult time ever being happy, even at a smaller mega-church. They would never go back to the little Baptist Church they raised their family in, and I was married in, even though they deeply felt the loss of their life-long friends. Funny, though – they asked to have their funerals at the little Baptist Church, and those who came were mostly the old friends.

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  131. Max: New Calvinist pastors generally do not display the Cross in their churches … at least that’s the case in the New Calvinist church plants in my area.I suppose, given their aberrant theology, that they can’t make sense of the Cross.

    Not always true. Village Church is New Calvinist and has a large cross on its platform.

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  132. Mark R: Village Church is New Calvinist and has a large cross on its platform.

    As soon as it gets out that Matt Chandler put up a cross, all the young reformers will go get one … they idolize the guy. They may not talk much about Jesus, but they sure do love to drop Chandler’s name.

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  133. TS00: they asked to have their funerals at the little Baptist Church, and those who came were mostly the old friends

    Life has a way of bringing you full circle. I’ve been here and there in my long Christian journey, but often reflect on my first church experience as the best, it was so genuine … Lord knows I’ve observed enough counterfeit along the way! This 21st century church ain’t all that!

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  134. TS00,

    I went from mega to mini. I suppose I am different purely because as a single woman, most megas have nothing for me and are quite outright about it. There were constant messages that single people were unwanted, even though we make up half of the population. Singles were not welcome at womens ministry events, which were always marriage/children themed and during the daytime when singles worked.

    I can’t say that what they offered was all that much to married couples either. Plenty for kids, sure, but very little for adults. It did have the “cool” factor and the famous pastor factor, but they hired outsiders for every job in the church except greeters. There were very few areas to volunteer.

    Small groups felt apart constantly because the pastoral staff just hurriedly filled leader positions instead of looking for the right people. There were pockets of good people in small groups, but it was the small group that made it work, not the church. Small groups were mostly on their own once they got started.

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  135. james: If anyone has influence they can leverage or contacts that would be helpful, please send them my way.

    James,
    You may want to write to Jimmy Hinton, whose website is jimmyhinton.org.

    He’s experienced at this sort of thing. He had to report his own father (who was a pastor) for child sexual abuse.

    Maybe he has some help or can give good consultation on how to keep things moving forward.

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  136. Ex Harvest: Which campus do you attend?

    Is it true that some of the Harvest “campuses” beamed James MacDonald in for sermons rather than letting their own pastors get a word from the Lord themselves?

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  137. Max: Is it true that some of the Harvest “campuses” beamed James MacDonald in for sermons rather than letting their own pastors get a word from the Lord themselves?

    This is becoming de riguer in the MegaGigaChurch scene.
    Mars Hill Seattle used to be famous for it.
    It’s called “Big Brother’s Face Ten Meters Tall on All Telescreens”.

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  138. Sickofthesecrets: Why not the cross? It has become a symbol that the church obsessed over with JM getting a tattoo of it (and others that followed his lead), placing it on shirts, every piece of paper. My campus has been handing out stickers for people to place on their cars. It’s nauseating!

    Why not the cross?
    Good question.

    As it is (my opinion), HBC’s logo has all the earmarks of a tribal phallic symbol; complete with a military chevron.

    It has none of the geometric sophistication and beauty of say the ancient Celtic crosses and trinity knots.

    Oh well, to each his own I guess, whatever floats yer’ boat.

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  139. Max,

    Yes. But first….

    The multi-site model (as practiced) is dependent on “the one” preacher. Not sure of the first church do it, but my family attended Willow Creek when I was in middle school. We drove quite a ways to get there (about 45-50 minutes), as did others. Viewing positively, what Willow did was to bring the teaching of Bill Hybels on Sunday morning closer to where people lived so that they wouldn’t have to trek to Willow.

    The worst thing that could’ve happened to HBC was getting the Elgin campus “given” to them. They should have simply moved to that campus OR “planted” an HBC there with a different pastor. We all know the story of what happened in the building/remodeling of that campus (see Elephant’s Debt). The Niles campus was added (allegedly) when a group of folks from a “dying” church approached HBC. Early on, the idea was that Niles would not being with the main campuses (and J-Mac) forever. It would “plant.” Note that the Niles building was owned, not mortgage, and given to HBC. With the debt mess, HBC took out a loan against the property. (Again, see TED.) The adding of campuses is (in my opinion) less about bringing the gospel to Chicagoland than it is about getting more tithes and managing the debt.

    So, with the 8 campuses (one is now in Naples, FL), soon to be 9, J-Mac’s preaching is beamed (live or recorded) to each campus. Sometimes, another preacher (Luke Mac., a guest speaker) is also beamed to all campuses. Other times, each campus might have a different preaches–usually one of the campus pastors–but the message has been collaboratively prepared, with J-Mac, if I’m not mistaken.

    One other note: when the campus pastor role was created, it was really more of a campus manager than anything else. These weren’t (and aren’t) men who are necessarily skilled or trained expositors of the Word in the best sense. They may be capable speakers, but that doesn’t mean they are gifted or qualified teachers. Consistent with how leaders like J-Mac work, everyone “under” him is under-qualified for the role of preacher.

    Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think any of the campus pastors are seminary-trained. The MacDonald sons are not for sure, nor is Mo Zachariah or Jeff Donaldson.

    The dangerous part of the multi-site mega that it makes the church all about the “magnetic” pastor (who is usually the founding pastor as well).

    My prediction is that the model will not survive a generation.

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  140. Max,

    The idea you’re missing is that the ability to beam the messenger is the REASON for campuses in the multi-site mega mode. Otherwise, they would and should be plants.

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  141. Ex Harvest: My prediction is that the model will not survive a generation.

    The model is as American as apple pie and Gordon Gekko.
    But yeah, you’re right, it will not survive because it’s not sustainable.

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  142. Ex Harvest,

    That’s actually very common in megachurches. Either you need charisma or nepotism, but education certainly doesn’t seem to be important.

    Goed right along with all those celebrity pasrors claiming to have doctorates when the doctorates are honorary.

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  143. Muff Potter: Why not the cross?
    Good question.

    As it is (my opinion), HBC’s logo has all the earmarks of a tribal phallic symbol; complete with a military chevron.

    I’m not real big on symbols myself, and would have no problem with avoiding icons of any type, but it is certainly interesting that the cross is apparently not sufficient for the likes of Hybels and MacDonald, and other celebrity pastors. And my first impression upon viewing the Vertical Church logo was the same as yours. I was stunned.

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  144. Ex Harvest: The idea you’re missing is that the ability to beam the messenger is the REASON for campuses in the multi-site mega mode. Otherwise, they would and should be plants.

    Ahhh … and Brother MacDonald would not be idolized if his cyber presence didn’t show up each Sunday, as he reaches through the big screen to get his hand in the pockets of his followers. Sure sounds like a God-thing to me (not).

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  145. TS00: interesting that the cross is apparently not sufficient for the likes of Hybels and MacDonald, and other celebrity pastors

    IMO, they don’t want to look at the Cross each Sunday … it might convict them that they have cut Jesus out of their model for doing church. Hybels said the Cross discouraged seekers from trying church, too intimidating … others worldwide are drawn to where it is lifted up.

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  146. Ex Harvest: The dangerous part of the multi-site mega that it makes the church all about the “magnetic” pastor (who is usually the founding pastor as well).

    Which of course is a major characteristic of a cult.

    Ex Harvest: My prediction is that the model will not survive a generation.

    Cults seldom make it past a single generation. Once the “magnetic” leader passes from the scene, his ‘ministry’ dies and his flock is scattered. “If their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail” (Acts 5:38).

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  147. Max: others worldwide are drawn to where it is lifted up.

    Have you ever noticed that the universal epithet used to convey incredulity is Jesus Christ?
    It’s never Muhammed, Gautama, Sidhartha, or Aquaman…

    “…And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”

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  148. Max: Cults seldom make it past a single generation. Once the “magnetic” leader passes from the scene, his ‘ministry’ dies and his flock is scattered.

    Few Joseph Smiths are followed by a Brigham Young who can reorganize their one-man show into a self-sustaining system.

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  149. Muff Potter: Have you ever noticed that the universal epithet used to convey incredulity is Jesus Christ?
    It’s never Muhammed, Gautama, Sidhartha, or Aquaman…

    Which might be an artifact of our culture being immersed in Christian culture for so long.

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  150. TS00: And my first impression upon viewing the Vertical Church logo was the same as yours. I was stunned.

    Finally did a search on “vertical church logo”.

    It’s a buck sergeant’s chevrons with a spike on top.
    Points your gaze Up, but to what?

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  151. elastigirl,

    For me…..

    The sin of our flesh
    The need for a Savior
    The gift of Jesus Christ
    The grace we did not earn
    The salvation found in him

    I find worship that conveys the gospel from sinful wayward son or daughter to saint redeemed by the blood of Christ to be most profitable.

    A preaching to ourselves.. Saying the same as Christ. Singing it to him in gratitude.

    For me…The gospel itself cannot be over studied, over thought, over acknowldged, over sung, over stated, over preached, over done.

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  152. ishy,

    Thanks for the labels and assumptions.

    I prefer to be known as one that has a problem with abusers, enablers, and struggles with how to respond but refuses to look the other way.

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  153. Ex Harvest: when the campus pastor role was created, it was really more of a campus manager than anything else. These weren’t (and aren’t) men who are necessarily skilled or trained expositors of the Word in the best sense

    Then it is not appropriate to give them the title of “Pastor.” As specified in Scripture, a pastor must be able to teach sound doctrine (Titus 1:9, 1 Timothy 3:2). Campus Manager would be a better fit since HBC is more of a business than a ministry, with MacDonald as CEO. Even if the Campus “Pastor” did preach, there are many of us who question that the tenets of New Calvinism qualify as sound doctrine, so that would disqualify him as well for the sacred office of Pastor.

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  154. james,
    Funny how you’ve made assumptions about us all along and seem to have no problem with that. Nor have you answered the numerous requests from people here on what exactly you want everyone to do. You don’t engage anyone in real discussion, just make vague demands and personal insults.

    I’m just going to assume you are a troll from now on.

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  155. james: I prefer to be known as one that has a problem with abusers, enablers, and struggles with how to respond but refuses to look the other way.

    There’s nothing wrong with struggling how to respond. It’s quite normal to try several things that achieve practically nothing, because you only find out by trying. The only thing you really shouldn’t be doing is banging on, like the People’s Front of Judea, about how much more you care than others when you haven’t actually tried anything.

    Please include a link to your own blog in the Website field before you next hit Post Comment.

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  156. Dee

    Thank you for reporting on James and posting the call for resignation.

    Wart Nation

    I did not go public with calls for James Macdonalds resignation for my own pleasure or to establish my name in anyway.

    I did so to warn the community I live in.

    Given James social media reach, I judge it as important to call for action on every available stage.

    IE In Feb. 30 churchs are sending students to Vertical Student Conference.

    The action I request is not specific.

    I don’t pretend to know any of you. I do know that each of you has your own capacity and sphere of influence.

    My prayer is that some of you would here my plea, consider what’s been reported and consider “acting” however you are capable.

    My snarky responses have rubbed a few the wrong way and I apologize. Banter, which I am guilty of, is not helpful on such a sensitive subject.

    Specifically, I apologize for allowing even the appearance of evil. God knows my heart in this.

    I realize some may continue to speak out against my style and seek to correct mr..But please don’t miss the reason the conversation is taking place.

    CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE IS BEING COVERED UP AT HARVEST.

    IT NEEDS TO END.

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  157. ishy,

    Agreed. Later moderation does not negate former bullying, naming and shaming. I’ve seen that tactic TOO MANY TIMES. If James is sincere, I wish him all the best in his newly stated goal of exposing child sexual abuse at Harvest. I’m afraid he’s sent off too many alarm bells to easily convince me of his sincerity. I would suggest that he align himself with those who have long been calling out JMac and Harvest, such as those who have published statements at TED and locals who have commented here. No need to reinvent the wheel.

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  158. james,

    “For me…The gospel itself cannot be over studied, over thought, over acknowldged, over sung, over stated, over preached, over done.”
    ++++++++++++++

    Thanks, James, for your reply.

    those are good descriptions of the gospel as in the bridge between us and God.

    to me, only singing about the bridge is simply stating the same thing over and over. there’s plenty of life experience impacted by crossing the bridge — i’d argue that equally worth singing about is what happens as a result: the pleasure of connecting with God, hearing from God, comfort from God, healing from God,…

    would these not qualify as Gospel-centered? just curious.

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  159. elastigirl,

    I think that’s fair. I’ve been in churches where the worship focuses heavily on salvation for fails to address the corruption of the heart and all but leaves recognition of our need for The Savior in the past.

    I’ve been at churches that have adopted modern music and “pop” christian rock where some Sundays you won’t here the name Jesus once.

    For me, Gospel Centered means that all the worship flows to and from the good news as noted in my previous post. It’s not that other experiential aspects of our faith cannot be included. They can. I just find the most stirring part of my worship to be the acknowledgement of God’s immeasurable grace as evidenced in Christ’s sacrifice for us. So much of what makes God’s grace immeasurable is our standing as enemies of God prior to receiving salvation.

    I need the constant reminder of who I was in order to continue in ongoing repentance which I feel is an important aspect of sanctification.

    I must allow the Spirit to ever convict me. Singing of the “whole” Gospel helps as I believe it is an act of confession or “saying the same” as Christ to Christ.

    I don’t know about you. For me humility requires a “right size” view of what I deserved vs what Christ gave for/to me.

    To sum it up.

    I prefer music and readings of the Gospel to start, dead center, and to end my worship. I don’t run from songs that “witness” as to what Christ has done in others. I just think the self preaching and proclaiming of the Gospel itself should be the anchor of a time dedicated to praising God.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts and appreciate the conversation

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  160. James,

    “I’d love to hear your thoughts and appreciate the conversation”
    +++++++++++++

    wow, i don’t hear that actually articulated in so many words… maybe ever!

    OK!

    Your mention, “So much of what makes God’s grace immeasurable is our standing as enemies of God prior to receiving salvation.

    I need the constant reminder of who I was in order to continue in ongoing repentance which I feel is an important aspect of sanctification.

    –the way i see it, human beings are magnificent. the deposit of God makes it so, whether anyone realizes it or not.

    the time i fainted on the street of a big world city in the so-called “bad part of town”, the next thing i know i’m seated on the curb and complete strangers are caring for me, wrapping their coat around me, getting me water, anything i could possibly need. amazing kindness.

    i was so proud of my fellow human beings, so proud to be human myself right then.

    i can think of so many other examples of selflessness and kindness from my fellow human beings, for no reason other than compassion and kindness naturally springing up. people of various religious/spiritual convictions (christian, jewish, mormon, muslim, buddhist, hindu, wiccan, etc), or none at all.

    i think you sell yourself and your fellows far short. i think it’s a mistake to only see doctrine colors. doctrine explains things, but not without much hyperbole to get a point across.
    —————–

    you mention, “I must allow the Spirit to ever convict me. Singing of the “whole” Gospel helps as I believe it is an act of confession or “saying the same” as Christ to Christ.

    what is this partial gospel you imply?

    what are all these horrible sins you ever need to be convicted of? a jealous feeling? a motive that was less than pure? feeling impatient? a tone of voice that wasn’t gentle? a longing for justice for victims and against perpetrators?

    i simply don’t believe things like these are sins. Jesus was impatient at times. he certainly wasn’t the tone police. he wanted justice for victims and against perpetrators.

    God fully understands what we’re dealing with, with human emotions, nature, and nurture. i don’t think God is a stern task master in the sky, a pedantic control freak, an angry deity whose wrath is barely held back by “grace”.

    i don’t think God is hard to please.

    i think God takes great delight in us. i think Go enthusiastically enjoys being our partner in whatever it is we’re doing. doing it together, our ideas and skill and expertise joined with God’s. our voice joined with God’s voice. Our hand joined with God’s hand. i think it is fun for God, so to speak.

    i simply don’t believe we are these awful, horrible creatures. i don’t think God sees us that way. i see too many wonderful and magnificent things in human beings everywhere… if i can see them, God can certainly see them.

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  161. Consider this.

    It sounds like you consider yourself and others in partnership with God.

    I consider him my master. The one whom without, I would cease to exist. The one who despite my failures, loved me and you so much that he sent his only son to be born in a stable, take the posture of the least amoung us, to serve those who sinned against him, to live a perfect life, suffer and die a horrific death only to be resurected in victory of sin and death.

    Why would God send his son into the world as a baby born among the horses and allow him to be persecuted and sacrificed on the cross if he was easy to please and just wanted to “work” with each of us to do good?

    The whole Gospel requires an understanding of why we needed to be saved in the 1st place

    IMHO

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  162. James you posted here early on and have IMO just been plain argumentative and acting as if you have a superior understanding of the Gospel. Simple question-are you a troll?

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  163. james,

    “Why would God send his son into the world as a baby born among the horses and allow him to be persecuted and sacrificed on the cross if he was easy to please and just wanted to “work” with each of us to do good?”
    +++++++++++++++++

    ok, shall we just sing about the Gospel all day and tickle God’s ears with adoration?

    how about being productive?

    across the bridge that God built is a restored relationship in which we can know God as a person and, indeed, work together.

    you say, “if he…just just wanted to work with us”, like it’s some silly & trifling idea.

    not only is it an honor on a cosmic magnitude, it is the most practical and productive thing a person of faith can do:

    putting faith to action to change the world through God’s power. that is, if one believes God interacts with human beings and is in the habit of working through them with his explosive dunamis power.

    John 15:4-5 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

    Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

    …and power to find cures for diseases (for medical scientists).

    power to ease world hunger (for those with those kinds of skills).

    power to find solutions to problems that plague society and the world, and power to negotiate them into realized implementation (for those with those kinds of skills).

    …or power to bring positive change to one’s community.

    power to be wise and patient as a parent.

    power to pray for those in need.

    power to make music that changes the environment and living beings.

    power to collect coats, blankets, and socks and distribute them to people who are desperately cold.

    power to do all of these things **exponentially and miraculously well**.

    our skills and ability with God’s supernatural ability.
    .
    .
    .
    but, nah, God couldn’t possibly be interested in that.

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  164. I most def agree that god works through us and in us.

    Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
    James 1:17

    I thought we were discussing Gospel Centered Worship and our thoughts on what it meant.

    Appreciate ya

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  165. elastigirl: but, nah, God couldn’t possibly be interested in that.

    In some circles?

    No, he hasn’t the remotest interest in all of that.

    In some circles, god is theeeee…. ultimate cosmic narcissist.

    His only interest is in how he can aggrandize his glory.

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  166. james,

    “I thought we were discussing Gospel Centered Worship and our thoughts on what it meant.”
    ++++++++++++++

    well, it morphed into God and us partnering together. and God essentially as loving father rather than angry deity, and us as magnificent skillfully wrought creations rather than wretched worms.

    i think my argument above about supernatural productivity is Everclear Gospel-centered.

    and i hope this is the last time i ever use this Double Points Center-Square bull$h|t bingo-the-christian-edition word.

    and i appreciate you as well.

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  167. “Is this not the fast [worship] that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh [brothers]?”

    Ah, but they delight to draw near to God, and sing loud songs and whoop and dance, and throw around all sorts of God talk. That, or so the Institutional Church of today tells us, is what ‘worship’ is, and is all that God wants from us. Oh, and to give them our money so they can take care of all the other stuff. Of course, most don’t know about their million dollar mansions and jet set lifestyles – they thought that money was actually going to the needy.

    Ah, but they have a heckuva ‘worship’ band. I think I’ll get a tattoo.

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  168. Pingback: Wednesday Connect | Thinking Out Loud

  169. James and HBC make me sick. I cannot believe how much I used to adore him when I went there. I thought his preaching was top notch. Then feminism (jezebel, satanism) crept in along with being a rich mega church pastor (greed). It’s happening in just about every church. Such a shame. I hope he continues to be exposed for the wolf that he has become. I hope he looses his entire ministry because of his false allegations against TED and Roys. He says that he’s being “harassed” and painting him in a “false light”. No James they paint you in a true light. And Harvest cannot: “conduct the business of the church, and (they defendant’s) threaten its ability to raise the funds necessary to conduct that business” seriously??? Well maybe if you and your pathetic staff didn’t all make in excess of large 6 figure incomes, you wouldn’t have this problem. And maybe if you quit building empires unto yourself you wouldn’t run into these problems. You make everyone sick. How did this happen to you? There is no harassment or defamation toward you. It’s the other way around. You’re such a big cry bully.

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  170. And Janine Nelson and her big ol salary!!! As of 2009 $185K for running Walk in the Word “ministry”
    From the elephantsdebt.com. “the salary”
    What is fascinating to observe is that Pastor James MacDonald is not alone in collecting a large salary from the people of Harvest. While we have no documents at the present time to show the current salary of the top leadership (Rick Donald, Kent Shaw, Fred Adams, Luke MacDonald, etc.), we do have a recent document regarding the salary of Janine Nelson, Director of Walk in the Word, a ministry of Harvest Bible Chapel. In 2009, Ms. Nelson collected a compensation in the amount $185,122. Is it reasonable to assume other more senior members of the organization are paid more?

    Which one of these well paid individuals is going to ask Pastor James MacDonald hard questions about his compensation, and are all the Elders aware of his compensation package?

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  171. It also shows how Moody Bible Institute, which always bills itself as “the name you can trust”, is a joke. Why on earth does WMBI continue allowing James MacDonald to preach on the air waves? Moody continues to be one of MacDonald’s enablers by keeping this ungodly man on their station.

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  172. Ron: Moody continues to be one of MacDonald’s enablers by keeping this ungodly man on their station.

    Along with TBN and the Southern Baptist Convention.

    “James MacDonald will bring an encouraging, inspiring, and equipping message to pastors at the 2019 Pastors’ Conference. The theme is “Kingdom Character.”
    https://jamesmacdonald.com/events/sbc-pastors-conference/

    Kingdom Character?!! The SBC in the past has not been too excited about Christians suing other Christians … at least the “old” SBC wasn’t; not much telling what the “new” SBC under New Calvinist leadership will allow in the years ahead.

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  173. Someone should warn that pastor down in Naples, james dont like him and is telling his minions he’ll be gone soon. Be careful when you let a wolf into your flock, he will slowly turn people against you, get their allegiance and next thing you know you and the wife will be getting flowers in front of your congregation as you exit.

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  174. So, assuming JMac is not naive or stupid – and, for all of his faults, I do not believe he can be said to be either – he knew full well that the sort of financial and other documents requested by Roys in Discovery would be requested. Which begs the question – What is he really up to?

    Of course, if you believe he is an honest, God-fearing pastor just serving the Lord, I have a few bridges to Nowhere you might be interested in. For the rest of us, is it too big of a leap to wonder if a man who has heaped up vast wealth on the backs of his sheep, abused anyone who attempted to stand in his way, etc. would, at the end of his charade, sink the very ship he sailed to personal wealth upon? What if the ultimate goal of these wolves’ – and whomever they truly serve – is to bring down what is left of the Church they have desecrated, disillusion millions of believers and discredit the name of God to all the world? Just a thought.

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  175. Ron: It also shows how Moody Bible Institute, which always bills itself as “the name you can trust”, is a joke. Why on earth does WMBI continue allowing James MacDonald to preach on the air waves? Moody continues to be one of MacDonald’s enablers by keeping this ungodly man on their station.

    I hate to have to be the one to suggest that, just as in the big, bad secular world, the important institutions and influential thought leaders serve the machine. That does not mean always wittingly, or that all involved fully understand what’s up. The organization always functions on a ‘need to know’ basis, and unsuspecting, well-meaning persons are especially helpful to carry off its mission.

    If a Willow Creek or a Harvest is started and run by corrupt false teachers, does that mean that all ever employed or in attendance were fakes? No; many serve the organization, believing in its mission, overlooking the ‘issues’ and ignoring the red flags. ‘Nobody’s perfect’, and we all deserve ‘grace’, right? This is the way things work in a world besieged by a fierce, clever enemy, and the honest ‘nice guys’ often refuse to believe it. Many will even be thrown under the bus as scapegoats. Folks, we are in a mighty battle, and the sooner we wake up and realize this, the sooner we will stop being surprised at the state of the Institutional Church, which is NOT the Body of Christ.

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  176. TS00: the Institutional Church, which is NOT the Body of Christ

    It would have to shed several pounds before that happened! The Church is embedded in the church in most places, but the counterfeit often has a bigger presence than the genuine. Jesus came to redeem and work through individuals, not institutions. The institution we call “church” is OK if it is reaching lost folks for Christ, discipling and growing them in the Word, equipping them to do the work of the ministry, and engaging them to fulfill the Great Commission together. Anything less than that is doing church without God.

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  177. Did not anyone notice that the Vertical Church symbol is modified sergeant stripes? And no MacDonald – James, Luke, nor Landon served a day in the military. And James MacDonald was certainly all for the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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  178. David,

    The symbol has nothing to do with the military nor has anyone made the claim it’s linked in any way to the military so I don’t see why they had to have served in the military.

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  179. David,

    Yes and so did my father and brother. Regardless, they do not claim it has anything to do with the military. So just because it resembles it does not mean that should not be their symbol because none of them have served. Many symbols resemble other symbols and don’t necessarily have anything to do with it. So, no it doesn’t have anything to do with the military because it’s not the exact same symbol and no one has made the claim that it is linked to the military.

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  180. A church with a logo…A CHURCH WITH A LOGO!!! That’s all anyone needs to hear…Does the Body of Christ (the real Church) have a logo???? NO!!! Businesses have Logos. this isn’t about whether or not this is an insult to people who served in the military or not, it’s an insult to all real believers… .J mac has made merchandise of The body of Christ….You can’t serve both God and Money,Which one do you think J mac and his henchmen really serve??? I have never read in the scriptures anything about “vertical church” that’s Jmacs Deal not Gods.

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  181. If you take a look at the closer campaign website, you will see all the upgrades they want to do. Nearly every picture has that logo on a wall. They want to place that logo outside a few of the church buildings and a few rooms within the church. It is creepy flipping through the pictures and seeing that logo pasted onto walls over and over again. It definitely makes it look like a cult and I would find myself feeling uncomfortable inviting people to church and having to explain why that logo rather than a cross is on the walls

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  182. mitch,
    I assume this doesnt include his speaking fees when he’s not at Harvest, and his royalties from Book sales, as well as Conferences he attends, and being on Sabatical 2-3 months during the summer.

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  183. I understand being cynical about spending and false witnesses in the churches. I’m just not sure how this blog adds anything good to the situation. Is gossip and speculation showing character? Just wondering?

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  184. Sandy Reyes: I understand being cynical about spending and false witnesses in the churches. I’m just not sure how this blog adds anything good to the situation. Is gossip and speculation showing character? Just wondering?

    You should be ashamed of yourself. Decent people are being harmed by your pastor and you calm it gossip? You need to spend some time reading about Jesus. Imagine how He would have responded unless WWJD means What Would James Do? It is people like you that allow this sort of ridiculous situation to continue.

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  185. This isn’t gossip Jmac and Harvest Bible chapel are suing 5 Christian individuals and the Evangelical Christian credit union. are these people and organizations not Christian??? The Bible clearly says that its better to be defrauded than to take another believer to court.. you have to do some serious Scripture twisting to make the Bible say its o.k to sue other Christians. Read the Feb 2014 Elder report, where the elders say that Jmac has voluntarily downsized his life style and salary and moved into a smaller home in S.Elgin,that he considers it a small price for the unity of the body…then He quietly moves to another mansion bigger than the one he downsized from. when I asked Elder Steve Huston about this he said “haven’t you ever changed your mind?” Jmac also gave word of faith heretic and motalist T.D Jake’s his stamp of approval which is in violation of 2nd John…these are Facts not gossip.

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  186. Dee and Dan are right. An ungodly pastor like MacDonald has to be held accountable and removed from the pulpit. And the reply from Steve Huston in his defense of MacDonald, is absolutely ridiculous. Is every leader or Elder at Harvest that clueless?

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  187. I just finished reading Julie Roy’s article about Jmac and Harvest Bible chapel and among all of the rotten and sleazy things that have happened at Harvest Bible chapel over the years one thing in the article stood out to me, it was what Pastor Jeff Donaldson said in regards to how Harvest Bible chapel delt with pastor R.T Maldaners resignation from Harvest…He defended Harvests actions in how they delt with pastor Maldaner, even though They expeled pastor Maldaners Children from Harvest academy ,although they had done nothing wrong except to be pastor Maldaners Children. the topper to me was when pastor Maldaner was asked to sign a 50 mile noncompete agreement, which he refused to sign, Harvest Executive Ministry pastor Jeff Donaldson said most Harvest pastors sign one….Can you believe that, a 50 mile noncompete agreement!!! What is this THE MAFIA??? Is Chicago James McDonalds territory? What happens when a “Harvest pastor” doesn’t sign the noncompete agreement…Does he fallout of favor with “Don Guido McDonald ” and end up getting fitted with concrete shoes and sent to the deep end of James McDonalds pool??? “NO ONE MUSCLES IN ON MCDONALD’S TERRITORY SEE!!! IF ANYONE WANTS THE GOSPEL IN THE CHICAGOLAND AREA THEY GET IT FROM HARVEST OR THEY DONT GET IT AT ALL NYAH!

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