ECFA Finally Suspends Harvest Bible Chapel’s Accreditation

By Julie Roys

The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) has suspended Harvest Bible Chapel‘s accreditation following my report last week about gross misappropriation of church funds to support James MacDonald‘s lavish lifestyle. Also last week, I confronted the ECFA for continuing to accredit Harvest despite my repeated appeals over several months to ECFA to investigate financial impropriety at the church. 

On Friday, the ECFA released a statement announcing that Harvest may no longer represent that it is an ECFA member or display ECFA’s membership seal. The ECFA also said that because of new information, it has “concerns” that the church may be “in serious violation” of four of ECFA’s Seven Standards.

It’s stunning to me that it has taken this long for the ECFA to act. For example, in December, I reported that Harvest had used funds donated to Walk in the Word, MacDonald’s broadcast ministry, to pay for a deer herd at Camp Harvest in Michigan. This, despite the fact that MacDonald had claimed in a video formerly posted to the Walk in the Word website that “every dollar” donors give to Walk in the Word “goes directly into buying the airtime to get out the good news of Jesus Christ.” This was a blatant violation of ECFA Standard 7.2, which states: “Statements made about the use of gifts by an organization in its charitable gift appeals must be honored.” 

“The fact that ECFA didn’t discover these violations itself is bad enough. But the fact that the group failed to act even after I reported these glaring violations is inexcusable.”

Similarly, in February, I reported an admission by MacDonald that Harvest had taken $300,000-$350,000 more per year than “was reasonable” from Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF), the church’s former church planting network, to reimburse the church for alleged “shared services.”  I also reported MacDonald’s admission that Harvest had “used HBF money that was designated to cash flow other things.”

The fact that ECFA didn’t discover these violations itself is bad enough. But the fact that the group failed to act even after I reported these glaring violations is inexcusable. What it took to finally force the group’s hand was my report that MacDonald had funded African safaris, Florida vacations, and other luxury purchases with church funds. And even then, it took nearly a week for the group to act! 

Given this stunning example of ECFA’s failure, I can’t imagine how anyone could put any trust in the group’s ability to hold any church or ministry “accountable” as it claims. ECFA President Dan Busby has a lot of explaining to do. I am still waiting for a response from Busby to my request for an interview. 

Below is the ECFA’s complete statement about Harvest Bible Chapel, as well as its Seven Standards.

Statement From ECFA President Dan Busby

Regarding Harvest Bible Chapel Accreditation Status

“Based on information received March 11, ECFA’s board of directors has suspended Harvest Bible Chapel’s membership effective March 14, 2019.

“On November 28, 2018, ECFA opened a formal investigation of Harvest Bible Chapel to review their compliance of ECFA’s Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship. During a site visit to the church in December, we thoroughly examined the information made available to us and believed the church was in compliance with our standards.

“Given the emergence of new information, we have concerns the church may be in serious violation of ECFA Standards 2, 3, 4, and 6. During the indefinite suspension, the church may not represent that they are an ECFA member or display ECFA’s membership seal. The investigation has been and will remain ongoing during the suspension as we work to determine whether Harvest Bible Chapel should be terminated, advised of the steps necessary to come into full compliance or whether they are in fact in compliance with our standards and should, therefore, be restored to full membership.”


ECFA’s Seven Standards

Standard 1 – Doctrinal Issues – Every organization shall subscribe to a written statement of faith clearly affirming a commitment to the evangelical Christian faith or shall otherwise demonstrate such commitment, and shall operate in accordance with biblical truths and practices.
Standard 2 – Governance – Every organization shall be governed by a responsible board of not less than five individuals, a majority of whom shall be independent, who shall meet at least semiannually to establish policy and review its accomplishments.
Standard 3 – Financial Oversight – Every organization shall prepare complete and accurate financial statements. The board or a committee consisting of a majority of independent members shall approve the engagement of an independent certified public accountant, review the annual financial statements, and maintain appropriate communication with the independent certified public accountant. The board shall be apprised of any material weaknesses in internal control or other significant risks.
Standard 4 – Use of Resources and Compliance with Laws – Every organization shall exercise the appropriate management and controls necessary to provide reasonable assurance that all of the organization’s operations are carried out and resources are used in a responsible manner and in conformity with applicable laws and regulations, such conformity taking into account biblical mandates.
Standard 5 – Transparency – Every organization shall provide a copy of its current financial statements upon written request and shall provide other disclosures as the law may require. The financial statements required to comply with Standard 3 must be disclosed under this standard. An organization must provide a report, upon written request, including financial information on any specific project for which it has sought or is seeking gifts.
Standard 6 – Compensation-Setting and Related-Party Transactions – Every organization shall set compensation of its top leader and address related-party transactions in a manner that demonstrates integrity and propriety in conformity with ECFA’s Policy for Excellence in Compensation-Setting and Related-Party Transactions.
Standard 7 – Stewardship of Charitable Gifts –
7.1 Truthfulness in Communications. In securing charitable gifts, all representations of fact, descriptions of the financial condition of the organization, or narratives about events must be current, complete, and accurate. References to past activities or events must be appropriately dated. There must be no material omissions or exaggerations of fact, use of misleading photographs, or any other communication which would tend to create a false impression or misunderstanding.
7.2 Giver Expectations and Intent. Statements made about the use of gifts by an organization in its charitable gift appeals must be honored. A giver’s intent relates both to what was communicated in the appeal and to any instructions accompanying the gift, if accepted by the organization. Appeals for charitable gifts must not create unrealistic expectations of what a gift will actually accomplish.
7.3 Charitable Gift Communication. Every organization shall provide givers appropriate and timely gift acknowledgments.
7.4 Acting in the Best Interest of Givers. When dealing with persons regarding commitments on major gifts, an organization’s representatives must seek to guide
and advise givers to adequately consider their broad interests. An organization must make every effort to avoid knowingly accepting a gift from, or entering into a contract with, a giver that would place a hardship on the giver or place the giver’s future well-being in jeopardy.
7.5 Percentage Compensation for Securing Charitable Gifts. An organization may not base compensation of outside stewardship resource consultants or its own staff directly or indirectly on a percentage of charitable contributions raised.



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86 thoughts on “ECFA Finally Suspends Harvest Bible Chapel’s Accreditation”

  1. I’ve never been that impressed by the ECFA. They have great standards, but it takes forever for them to discredit a ministry that is not following them.

  2. I believe that The ECFA is just another part of the Evangelical Industrial Complex….If they couldn’t see that Harvest Bible chapel is corrupt from Jmac to the XLT to the elders and many of the Yes men pastors ,then they didn’t want to….and I’m not happy about that …….many people make decisions about giving based on what the ECFA says ,or should I say…..used to make decisions based on what the ECFA says … it true that if The EFCA gives a church their stamp of approval the church pays the EFCA to be a member in good standing???

    1. Stanley Niziolek

      I will still stand by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Pastors and churches might do wrong but please don’t look to men but look to Jesus Christ

  3. Thanks to Julie in helping the ECFA do their job that they forgot back in November 2018. They allowed HBC with three more months of financial deceit with their stamp of approval. Glad to see the membership withhold their tithes with offering down 40 percent and $600K deficits in January and February. Trust that the leadership will evaluate where they can reduce the budget and debt. Also legal action should be taken against JMac and others to recover any monies that were illegally allocated. Do it soon before personal funds are transfer to offshore and Cayman bank accounts.

    1. Gjac

      Do you think that the ECFA really even wants to “do their job?” It seems like the ECFA is basically content to take money and exist and stamp approval for various groups and not be proactive.

  4. Amanda is correct, JMac’s personal website has link to WITW, HBC and ECFA. Can someone inform ECFA immediately of this discrepancy and deceit before he cheats anymore people.

  5. Dan Keller said: “…The ECFA is just another part of the Evangelical Industrial Complex…”

    Totally agree with that opinion.

    My thinking has really changed over the last few years, and I keep going back to the simple way church was done in the New Testament. Small, local groups of believers who gathered together to praise God, learn the scriptures, pray and help one another as needs arose. They had supportive relationships with other small congregations. They settled their differences with wisdom and kindness, as they waited expectantly for the return of Jesus Christ.

    Now in horror, I see that today’s “church”, at least in America, has turned into a giant devouring, money-making business machine, plague with every kind of dishonesty, greed and abuse. Large ministries and mega-churches are formal business structures with their own leaders and staff, people whose level of integrity (or gross lack thereof) are virtually unknown to contributors. The leaders are only known by their carefully crafted persona on stage, radio, TV or promotional materials.

    And then we have the ECFA, an example of a completely superfluous “ministry” organization that takes fees from other wealth producing professional “ministries” to endorse them. What would Jesus say about that? I’m being completely sincere. I think he would be very angry that his followers are sold the idea that they need to have a 3rd party endorsement (paid) in order to feel unjustifiably confident in sending money to other mega-ministries (paid) out of which a number of unidentified wolves get their wealth (paid), leaving unmet the genuine needs of the poor and hurting. Something is very, very wrong.

    When I attended HBC, I gave above and beyond a tithe. How much of that money went to serving real needs, I don’t know? I assume most was squandered. As a result, I will never tithe again. In fact, I’ve stopped believing in the concept of “tithe”. It is used to manipulate Christians. Now, I buy groceries and personal need items for a few special people. I give smaller cash gifts to small specific causes. That’s it.

    1. You are right SOJ, tithing is an OT law meant for the nation of Israel. We are to give from our hearts whatever we purpose not under compulsion. I fully believe it’s used in some churches as a guilt trip, it was at Harvest, to insure a steady, healthy cash flow. Supporting some giant organization where you cant even get a look at the budget is insane. If you want to give 10% or 50% totally up to you. iMac frequently told us, I wouldn’t want to be caught with Gods money at years end, as if it was a curse. And that you have never given an offering if you haven’t completed your tithes, oh and it must be off the gross. Total deception and manipulation.

  6. Song of Joy….I totally agree with you I will NEVER Tithe again either …after taking time to study the scriptures I believe the Tithe is an old Testament way of providing for the priesthood, because the levitical priests had no income……so if the Tithe is for today where are the Priests??? Where is the store house to store the tithe??? Is it all stored in Jmacs 10 car garage? Every mega church pastor is a multi millionaire two weeks ago Dave stone preached at Harvest , He’s scheduled to speak there again soon….Hes worth over 40 million dollars..what a scam.Greg laurie, Franklin Graham,Dave Stone,Jmacs good buddies Mark Driscol,Steven Fertic and Levi Lusko, the list goes on…..all of them MULTI MILLIONAIRES……….I should have known this along time ago, we are warned about these kind of sleazebags /Heritics all through the Bible,New and old testaments alike…I Just didn’t want to believe it…..We all need to be Bereans….Now I am.

  7. Song of Joy is Right Nowhere in the Bible do we read about the Church meeting in big “Church Buildings”, but we read about small gatherings in people’s homes….I’ve been meeting with a group of about 14 people in my home and my Friend Paul’s home for almost 2 years…no staff , no maintenance people, no overhead, and no ONE LEADER pontificating to the masses …but instead all of us go through the scriptures together all of us keep each other accountable for our walk with Christ, we all have opportunities to use the Gifts That God has given us to serve in the Body of Christ, instead of watching one guy use his gift every Sunday…and best of all….all of us are growing in wisdom and maturity, and it hasn’t cost us a dime.

    1. I remember when I was a member of Harvest and participating in a small group how one week a change was made harvest wide where all small groups had to follow a weekly topic schedule imposed by the top (james) mind and conversation control. The group meetings would begin with a topical instruction video from headquarters for that week. Guess they were afraid we would think for ourselves. We all obeyed like lemmings.

      God thank you for rescuing us from these UNREPENTANT CINO’s……CHRISTIANS IN NAME ONLY.

      Now Lakewood bible chapel is turning their pulpit over to a MacDonald son this Sunday. This is who the leader of that church thinks he needs to expose his members to? Lunch to follow…..main course is crow!

      “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

    2. Thank you Song of Joy! , Thank you Dan! I am sensing VICTORY!!! IF we can tell just one more of God’s lambs the truth found in HIS Word concerning what true GATHERINGS look like and the edification and exhortation they can offer each and every one that will seek the TRUTH……
      This is what I have shared elsewhere:

      HEY, HEY, HEY !!! Don’t bring God into this! THIS WAS and IS a MAN – MADE WORLDLY SYSTEM FASHIONED AFTER A BUSINESS MODEL using the Gospel and HIS HOLY NAME (taking the name of the Lord in vain) as your product. Marketing of said product was done through some Sunday meetings, conferences, books, coffee bars, “schools” etc etc etc etc and etc. WE WERE ALL DUPED … WAKE UP!!! GET OUT and RUN FAR, FAR AWAY INTO THE ARMS OF OUR SAVIOR and GREAT SHEPHERD!
      Do you really want to have satan laughing at you and our LORD? DO NOT GIVE ONE MORE DOLLAR TO THE DECEPTION , GOD is absolutely NOT in the SYSTEM, GET OUT QUICKLY BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE…… say it isn’t so… IT IS! STUDY FOR YOURSELF and RUN!

      WAKE UP!! YOU ARE DECEIVED anywhere in the country that this is going on , GET OUT AND RUN FOR YOUR ETERNAL LIVES if you still can………..

      THERE IS ONLY ONE NAME ( that means ONE name ONLY) and ONE GREAT SHEPHERD , OH and by the way … we get a NEW NAME and we are to sing a NEW SONG , so don’t let anyone or thing try and hang a name on you , but you are BELIEVERS and even perhaps the ELECT which comes by OBEDIENCE starting with coming OUT and being separate then obeying HIS commandments which shows that you love HIM! Which means you love one another………….

      Somebody please gather HIS dear sheep and put them in warm kind gentle homes perhaps in groups of 15 or less and learn or re learn about the Great Shepherd and HIS WORDS and ways. Find a man or lady that truly loves and cares to be a facilitator and let the sheep exhort one another and glorify their Lord and Master, EVERY JOINT SUPPLYING , no big shots, preferring one another, study HIS WORD, Know the TRUTH , it makes you free and Thank God every moment because you escaped the greatest deception perpetrated upon HIS people and those that would like to be HIS, to this moment….

      “We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren 1 John 3:14
      “Who is my Brethren ? They which do the will of my Father” Mat 12:48-50

      With much love

  8. The huge loan that HBC had taken should have been a red flag apparent to all. In my family, we were “allowed” to take out loans for 2 things 1) education and 2) home ownership. Everything else needed to be delayed until money was saved. As a young adult, I often struggled, but on the tail end of my life, that sort of stewardship of life’s gifts has paid off. The “church” needs to do that.
    Dan Keller, I do love the small group idea… be honest, for a few decades in my life, I fell away from the church because I didn’t “fit”. The MegaChurch(tm) complex would seem to have truly lost its way but the majority of people don’t recognize it. They get lost in in the loud music and lights and fog machines.

  9. Susan Vonder Heide

    So true that “they get lost in the loud music and lights and fog machines.” The widespread indifference to or hostility toward people who are not fans of the “loud music and lights and fog machines” culture is not Christian.

      1. Susan Vonder Heide

        No, Fabio, I think that loud music in church is fine if people like it. What I strongly object to is the mentality that says that, even though a service is provided every Sunday for people who like that sort of thing, it also has to be forced on people at the other service at the church (this happens chronically at a very large very famous Evangelical church that I know well). This shows more regard for amplified guitar noise than it does for people.

    1. Fabio, it ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT work both ways, you are deceived , where in the pure Word of God does it say to look like the world? IT DOES NOT , what it does say is to be separate and come out.
      The World System Business Machine of today is deceiving you and millions of others truly worshipping the wrong entity if one would COME OUT, BE SEPARATE , then one one could see and hear clearly and be obedient to HIS truth. If one remains in the system one is lost through one’s own disobedience of the truth…….THY WORD O GOD IS TRUTH

  10. Jennifer Fredericksen

    This is disgusting! Every single Christian organization connected to Harvest Bible Chapels should be investigated. Corruption, kickbacks, blackmail, who knows what else, needs to be called out.

    PEOPLE! We now need someone to oversee and investigate the “Christian” organization who is supposed to oversee and investigate our churches!

    The ECFA should be reported to the FBI and IRS. And the President needs to be fired and his financials should be investigated.

    I am in a serious crisis of faith in the church. It’s not simply because of scam James and others pulled as much as it is the silence of the churches and Christian organizations. They sin in silence until they are caught. And the others stay silent (Moody) as cowards to afraid to speak against it.

    The church is in a crisis and everyone better get on board with calling this sin out or risk judgement. Allowing false witness of Christ is a big deal.

    Keep digging Julie Roys. This is an assignment bigger than you but God has you on it for a purpose. He will protect you and guide you as He has done. Praying for your strength and courage to stay in His obedience. It is difficult as a woman to bring forth truth against men. I stand with you!

    1. “Every single Christian organization connected to Harvest Bible Chapels should be investigated.”

      Agree- this should include those churches that have remained part of the vertical network that were following the Harvest Franchise recipe – these churches have much to hide – US and Canada – there is much to uncover Julie keep digging.

  11. Franklin graham is a very corrupt man
    I know tge graham family
    Franklin very corrupt but good at faking out christians that r pure stupid

    1. I can’t speak to Franklin Grahams corruption but I would like to make people aware that the operation Christmas Child shoe box project is a money wasting scheme which does not further the gospel. Why? Because unless those boxes go to refugees or those in a war zone (and most don’t) the kids receiving them are way too sophisticated for cheap trinkets or combs and pencils which they already have. Kids receive mittens and hats too irregardless of whether or not it’s even cold where they live. I have observed first hand that kids receiving these boxes aren’t interested in what was in them. They threw away the tracts, left behind the trinkets and did not pay attention to the gospel presentation given from the stage (before receiving their boxes).

      Please think carefully before participating in that “ministry” ever again. It makes You feel good, but aside from wasting a lot of time and money those boxes perpetuate the notion that being a Christian is about getting and giving stuff. if you want to make a real difference invest in workers overseas whom you know personally. People who transform communities through discipleship.

  12. Franklin graham is as corrupt as tge come
    1,000,000 $ in salary per year
    Give me a break
    Money loving SOB

    1. Totally agree. Franklin Graham , who people constantly praise, is as greedy as all the other ‘preachers’ out there. Why does he need a salary of one million dollars to preach the gospel. I wonder if he would be as willing to serve God if his salary was ‘only’ $100,000? I seriously doubt it.

      1. It is ONLY suppose to be zero , that’s nothing , 0 , other than that one is deceived of the truth
        FREELY you have received (eternal life maybe?) FREELY give , perhaps your body as a living sacrifice , which is only your reasonable service , all scripture, do the homework , save your soul by being obedient, lose your soul by being disobedient, quite simple really!

  13. I understand the justifiable anger about the corruption at Harvest. However, I am also concerned about some people’s response of cynicism to the Church as a whole and to the idea of being less generous as they once were out of fear of being scammed. “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:17) The most important times to remember this verse is while we are navigating through our biggest problems, when we are especially tempted to walk by sight.

    Many people attend whichever church they attend because they found a place where they thought they could get the most out of it. For those of you who are looking for a new church, please consider looking for a place where you can give the most to it. Part of how Jesus discipled the twelve was that he gave them something to do. Robert Coleman wrote very well about this in some of his books. You can also look for this yourselves when you read the gospels.

    The church where you might be the most fruitful could be a church that has a lot of problems, a small church, a house church, a new church plant, etc.

    Jesus selected people who were notable for being ordinary and unimpressive in talent. The work of God in their lives is what made them grow. Talent is overrated in the kingdom of God.

  14. I believe every now “autonomous” church that was originally trained and planted by Harvest Bible Fellowship should make its line by line financials completely transparent, immediately! This includes all Great Commission Collective churches whose pastors knew James personally.

    It’s not enough to point the finger at James demanding he repent. Stop hiding behind the talking point of “we’re autonomous.” You have the DNA of Harvest Bible Chapel leadership style and some of you knew Pastor James was a problem for YEARS, yet you kept promoting him and his events to your flocks under your care!

    Don’t you realize we have the internet? We can see the various GCC churches rushing to change their names… using some of the same talking points! Why didn’t you distance yourself from James years ago?

    You can no longer rely on the ECFA stamp on your website and vague year-end budget reports. You are not running large for-profit corporations, so you don’t get to make access to financials and information about leadership structure impossible or difficult to get. This is not your kingdom.

    And the recent GCC trip to Dominican Republic last month is super troubling. Yes, you prayed and worshiped, but then there are dozens of pictures of enjoying yourselves in a tropical paradise. No one has any idea how that trip was paid for. Did it come from tithes from our churches to GCC like it’s a vacation club? Who knows? The optics and timing show you are completely tone-deaf or worse, don’t care. As Pastor James is taken down for things like his spending, you appear to do the very same things!

    Now some of us wonder about which leaders have credit cards? How are they used? When we see leadership going out to eat together or taking day trips or whatever, don’t you think we’re a little concerned?

    It’s time for all churches with former HBF association to prove they are “above reproach.”

  15. Christ was full of grace and full of truth. All I have seen modeled on this blog is a lench mob out for blood. God says vengeance is His. There is nothing christian about this. Actually it’s kinda scary how obsessed you are and gleeful at this bodys destruction.

    1. Sounds like you’re one of the minority still wanting to keep your head in the sand and pretend it will all just go away, Annette.

      HBC DESTOYED ITSELF–from the inside, not any outside force.

      1. ACTUALLY ANNETTE IT’S KINDA SCARY HOW YOU THINK and the lack of understanding of the truth of HIS WORD , YIKES!
        Your quotes are amazingly “christian” (small c like you wrote) weak and “slippery”, sounds good but not the whole truth now is it?

    2. P.S.—-And you’ve missed a LOT of the New Testament, Annette, if you think Jesus was ONLY “grace and truth.”

  16. The temptations related to money, sex, and power are endemic to megachurches. And the allure of temptation and sin is not eliminated in microchurches for the simple reason that we are all human. What seems to be muted in contemporary versions of the gospel is the call to “stop sinning” (John 5:14; 1 Corinthians 15:34 NIV). An overemphasis on the grace of forgiveness and a neglect of any mention of the grace of transformation and deliverance from sin is bearing bad fruit.

  17. It may not be wise to invite Governmrnt to be involved in these situations. Reputable audit companies can be used. Secular agencies often lacks integrity themselves, they may exercise excessive or unfair control over churches if it sets a wrong example.

    Christians should police ourselves effectively and churches with such bad financial management should stop operations and pay back what they owe.

    God will not be mocked, and those who teach or lead will be judged even more severely.

    In case of sexual abuse of children, then law enforcement should be involved.

    1. I am not a fan of government interference. However, THIS whole situation has happened because Christians policed themselves with zero accountablitly or integrity. I have a healthy fear of God and the IRS as a business owner. These Christians in charge, had zero fear of God and understood they had no accountability to the IRS.

      James M all his elders, and many of his fellowship pastors have committed fraud against church members. This is criminal. If the church wasn’t exempt, some of these people would be criminally prosecuted.

  18. We continue to see that “big church” causes big problems. For anyone saying,
    It’s time to forgive leaders and move on,” you’d never say to your doctor “I’m glad you got that cancerous spot, let’s not worry about monitoring the rest of my body for signs of cancer.” Many people have been seriously wounded and I’m afraid more people are still being hurt and deceived.

    Today’s vlog by ProChurchTools reports that digital giving platforms for churches are taking 2-5% of every tithe ABOVE what they charge for the service. They estimate that is $30 million a year in extra revenue sharing fees being taken from money we are giving for God’s purposes. What kind of sick, money grabbing culture have we allowed “big church” to create?

    God, please lead us through reform, not for vengeance, but so our churches we may worship You in Spirit and Truth.

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