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ARC Megachurch Platforming James MacDonald extrae videos de sermones después del cargo de asalto

Por Julie Roys
macdonald visconti
Now that James MacDonald has been charged with felony assault and battery, a sermon where Generation Church pastor Ryan Visconti defended MacDonald has disappeared. (Video screengrab)

The Association of Related Churches (ARC) megachurch that’s been platforming disgraced megachurch pastor James MacDonald has quietly scrubbed MacDonald’s videos from its site now that MacDonald has been charged with felony assault and battery.

El miércoles, El Informe Roys (TRR) broke the story that authorities in California had charged MacDonald with two felonies after he allegedly attacked a 59-year-old woman, resulting in “serious injuries.”

On Thursday, we noticed that videos of MacDonald’s sermons had disappeared from the website of Generation Church, an ARC megachurch in Phoenix that had been platforming MacDonald since last year. ARC is one of the largest church planting organizations in North America and has been plagued with scandals involving its pastors for several years.

A screenshot from an archived wepage from Generation’s site shows MacDonald used to be one of several preachers featured at the website.

James MacDonald Generation Church
An archived webpage from Generation Church’s website shows James MacDonald as one of several speakers.

However, now MacDonald’s name is gone, as are the videos of his sermons.

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Generation Church
Generation Church’s website no longer lists James MacDonald as a speaker. (screenshot)

TRR reached out to Generation Church Lead Pastor Ryan Visconti for comment about the disappearing videos but he did not respond.

James MacDonald Generation Church
James MacDonald’s sermon on stealing has been removed from the Generation Church’s website. (Source: Video Screengrab)

For more than a year, Visconti has been an outspoken supporter of MacDonald, despite the scandal that led Chicago-area megachurch, Harvest Bible Chapel, to fire and then formally disqualify MacDonald.

Como TRR has documented in numerous articles, MacDonald has been accused by dozens of former Harvest staff and elders of intimidaciónabuso espiritual, y mala conducta financiera

Yet when introducing MacDonald to his congregation last year, Visconti called MacDonald “a godly man” and “a great example of what it looks like to live like Jesus.”

Then on March 12, 2023, Visconti preached a sermon, claiming that MacDonald had lost his megachurch because liars had “murdered” his reputation. Visconti further urged people not to listen to “bloggers” and “angry mobs on Twitter.” And he warned them, “When you repeat an accusation, you are joining hands with (the devil) and slandering the saints.”

Video of that sermon, entitled, “You Shall Not Bear False Witness,” has since been removed from Generation Church’s website.

Generation Church Ryan Visconti
A screenshot of Generation Church’s webpage shows the video of Ryan Visconti’s sermon on bearing false witness is no longer available.

Most audio versions of the sermon have also been pulled from online, as well. However, TRR was able to find the sermon audio at a website called “Listen Notes.”

In the sermon, Visconti states, “But he, James, was falsely accused of things he didn’t do. And that led to him being unjustly fired, and his reputation murdered, with his corpse dragged through the street and many of the same people he led to Christ spitting on the body. This caused indescribable pain for him and his family.”

In the sermon, Visconti specifically addresses a finding by third parties commissioned by Harvest to conduct a financial review in 2019. The review found that MacDonald had misspent millions in church funds. And it specifically noted that he had spent $170,851 of funds given to his broadcast ministry on hunting expenses.

According to Visconti, these expenses were justified.

“The full story is he did this with the church elders’ approval, to business leaders from the church on fundraising, hunting trips. And over that time period, those church leaders gave, those business leaders gave to the ministry $8.4 million. . . . Do you think that that was overall a good thing for the church? Right? I think so.”

Visconti also claims that the elders at Harvest “conspired with their attorney to defame (MacDonald).” He adds that a judge confirmed this conspiracy in a ruling last year.

The reference is to a ruling in a lawsuit filed by MacDonald against the parties hired by Harvest to conduct its 2019 financial review: Chicago Attorney Sally Wagenmaker, her firm, Wagenmaker and Oberly (W&O), and several accountants. The lawsuit accuses the defendants of engaging in a “smear campaign” against MacDonald.

The lawsuit is ongoing. But last year, the judge ruled that W&O must produce communications related to advice that W&O had provided to Harvest. W&O has appealed the ruling and the court has not yet ruled on that appeal. So, Visconti’s retelling is only partially accurate.

Visconti further argues that congregants should not “even entertain an accusation, except on the evidence of two or three witnesses,” citing 1 Timothy 5:19. Yet he later warns that even multiple people can lie and gives as an example those who bore false witness against Jesus. He concludes that unless “you’re specifically appointed to a position of accountability” like a church board, “We’ve got to say, ‘I don’t even want to hear it.’”

It is unclear at this time whether James MacDonald will continue his relationship with Generation Church. Though his sermons have been removed from the church’s website, some remain posted at the church’s YouTube channel at time of publishing.

MacDonald is scheduled to appear for a readiness hearing regarding the assault and battery charges on June 14 in San Diego County, California.  A preliminary hearing is set for July 6.

Visconti’s Full Sermon, “You Shall Not Bear False Witness”:

Julie Roys es una reportera de investigación veterana y fundadora de The Roys Report. Anteriormente, también presentó un programa de entrevistas nacional en Moody Radio Network, llamado Up for Debate, y ha trabajado como reportera de televisión para una filial de CBS. Sus artículos han aparecido en numerosas publicaciones periódicas. 



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39 Respuestas

  1. I never understood the purpose in disqualifying James MacDonald. He proves time and time again that it means absolutely nothing in the body of Christ. He just continues to trudge ahead with preaching, teaching and being invited to speak. I met him just one time in a volunteer meeting and his countenance was unsettling. Where is the discernment? Good on ARC to finally wake up and see they were foolish to provide a platform for this man. Prayers continue for a genuine repentance and the same level of accountability James demanded from everyone but himself.

    1. I’m not sure ARC has woke up by any means. What I see, is a typical mega church quietly doing whatever they can to erase a scandal. Then follow the motto of, don’t talk about what we don’t have.

      1. Precisely! Both MacDonald and Visconti, among way too many others, are not biblical pastors at all. They are CEO’s of religious corporations.

        Christ’s ekklēsia has been broken since the earliest proto-catholics and has been highjacked by “church”. There will never be less apostasy, only more.

  2. WOW! What a guy! Someone I used to look up too, someone I trusted, someone I used to ride motorcycle group with! What a total disappointment, to God and the congregation.

  3. And the brood of vipers defend each other and call what is true as lies and what are actually lies they claim as truth. Jesus is not in or for our celebrity preachers. Everything He did is the exact opposite of what they do.

  4. Unless I am completely mistaken I do not remember Ryan Visconti ever being an attender/member of Harvest Bible Chapel. The point I’m trying to make is if he was not at Harvest Bible when all the trouble with James was occurring how can he make a statement that James has been wrongfully attacked and maligned by his former church? Making statements when he has no first hand knowledge of the situation at hand with James McDonald, other than what James has told him makes Mr. Visconti a false witness, don’t you think?

    1. I agree. What is really funny with Macdonald and Driscoll is how much they change their tune on doctrinal issue. Correct me if i am wrong but Harvest website clearly states this is not a charismatic church, they would only have males as elders and pastors which is the total opposite of the Ryan Visconti church

  5. It’s interesting that we never here James McDonalds side. Where he actually owns many of his faults. And explains his burn out and struggles. Indie Thinker on YouTube has a good interview with James McDonald.
    30 years of amazing ministry destroyed with his use of words but never actual actions. We see David murder his commander to cover up him getting his wife pregnant. That would an actual reason to fire him and send him to jail.

    James is still a good man with lots of faults but certainly gifted by the Lord to preach… not run a multimillion dollar corporate church.

    I am guessing that this event that happened is not what it seems. Innocent until proven guilty. Hoping we find it was self defense. Or maybe he did loose it. Either way we wait and see.

    The pressure and loss he has had must be great. I hope someday he can be full restored in a healthy way.

    1. Todd, I think you’re missing the point here. I was at Harvest Bible when James was there as lead pastor. And I can tell you that in the days leading up to his removal, the congregation was flooded with information from the church governess about his aberrant, narcissistic, highly abusive and even violent behavior, most of it going on behind the scenes and hidden from the congregation’s knowledge. Personally I don’t care how good of a preacher he was and how many people came to saving faith in the Lord as a result of his ministry because that is not the point. The point is just this. It is my firm belief that James McDonald and men like him i.e. John MacArthur, do not belong in the pulpit. You cannot be, again you simply cannot be a pastor/teacher of God’s word and do it like a wolf on Wall Street, ready to devour anybody that gets in your way. And that is exactly what James McDonald did at Harvest Bible Chapel and assuredly, the American evangelical conveyor belt turns a blind eye to all of this. For my part, I feel very badly for his family. What must they have endured over the years?

    2. “Indie Thinker on YouTube has a good interview with James McDonald.”

      Is that interview around the 1 hour mark, that Indie Thinker ask JMD directly if he personally considers himself disqualified from ministry? And JMD gives a word salad answer, not answering the question? Then Indie Thinker, to his credit, asks JMD the same question and JMD acknowledges he did not answer it the1st time and states, I will give a direct answer now and repeats the same exercise? That interview is a perfect example of how to manipulate, employ DARVOS, and not take responsibility for anything.

      Have you read his twitter feed over the past 5 years? Nothing he preaches is evident in it.

      His preaching, if you can call it that, (I have a lot of experience watching his sermons in one of his Home Church Network groups) are full of him talking about himself (I, me, my), what high ranking people/celebrities he hangs out with, doing advertising segments on books or music to buy, full of cognitive dissonance, mind control techniques, out right contradicting what he says from one sentence from the next, asking people how much of God’s money is in their houses (while not addressing his own lavish lifestyle) when asking for money, bragging about his $80,000 500 hp truck he just bought, using traumatic imagery during sermons, yelling at the congregation if they do not like what he is saying too bad they consented to it, having the congregation come down to the stage and bow before him while he stands above them.

      You know a person by how they act, not what they say.

    3. He’s been charged with two felonies. If he doesn’t plea bargain a lesser charge, he’ll get his day in court, as every accused person should.

      1. If he pleas, the AG is going to require a guilty plea, and I do not believe JMD is capable of doing that, but they might allow a plea of “no contest” if he can pay a high enough fine.
        His lawyer has already laid out the groundwork for a “he was concerned for the woman’s condition, he was rushing to help her, tripped/stumbled into her, which caused them to fall to the ground, he landed on her, and that caused her injuries.” The more likely scenario is he pays off the woman (which would give us the answer to what happened), and I do not know if the prosecutor can go to trial w/o the victim’s testimony, but felonies fall under a different set of rules, than misdemeanors.
        If he is innocent, I pray he gets his day in court, a fair trial, and the full truth is revealed. I do not like the man, or what he does to those that still support him, but he is entitled to the same innocent until found guilty standard we all are.

        1. I hope he gets a day in court with all the civil rights – confront your accuser, question witnesses, jury of your peers – of any American, innocent or guilty.

          Generally, a person cannot buy his way out of a criminal charge. The state, not the victim, is the party opposing the defendant. Bribing witnesses, including the victim, would be another felony.

          1. Cynthia W,

            I am confusing an “out of court settlement” in a civil case, with a criminal case. Thank you for the correction.

            I am curious though, what would happen if the victim refuses to testify against him. Could/would the prosecutor use only witness testimony, or what the victim said in her statement to the police, to try the case?

          1. Don J,

            I am giving my theory, of his defense strategy, based on his attorneys statement:

            “MacDonald’s attorney, Michael Pancer, said in a statement to The Roys Report (TRR), “James MacDonald has never, nor would ever, intentionally harm another human being. The charges as written are not accurate as to what took place. We believe the evidence will show Dr. MacDonald’s intent and conduct was neither malicious, nor correctly assigned, in the charges filed.”

            The statement:

            ““James MacDonald has never, nor would ever, intentionally harm another human being. The charges as written are not accurate as to what took place. We believe the evidence will show Dr. MacDonald’s intent and conduct was neither malicious, nor correctly assigned, …””

            Indicates to me that they will say that:

            “JMD was so concerned over the woman’s condition after the fender bender, that he rushed to her aid, stumbled/tripped, fell into her and they fell to the ground causing her injuries. After the bystanders came to the woman’s aide, he saw his vehicle had rolled backwards, striking another vehicle and was trying to reposition the truck for safety reasons, not run away. And the bystanders misinterpreted his actions intentions.”

        2. “I am curious though, what would happen if the victim refuses to testify against him. Could/would the prosecutor use only witness testimony, or what the victim said in her statement to the police, to try the case?”

          A criminal prosecution can proceed without testimony from the victim. Whether the prosecutor would continue the case, in that situation, depends on the strength of the other witnesses’ testimony and their willingness to proceed.

          Because the defense attorney can’t cross-examine someone who doesn’t testify at the trial, the victim’s previous statement, even given under oath, would not be admissible. That’s why so many cases are dropped if the victim declines to testify.

          Medical records might be admissible, in conjunction with the testimony of witnesses. It depends on a lot of factors, including the specifics of California’s medical-privacy statutes.

    4. “It’s interesting that we never hear James McDonalds side”

      Sure we do. It’s easy enough to look at his twitter account, blog posts, sermons, and so forth from the last few years. When you do that, you’ll notice that he has never owned up to the *specific* reprehensible actions and words of his that are well-attested by various people. 

      Vague statements like “I’ve struggled with anger issues in the past” are not even close to sufficient – especially considering that in the next breath, he accuses the leadership at Harvest of making everything up in some mustache-twirling plot against him. That demonstrates that he has not actually been humbled. He shows all the signs of being a manipulative narcissist who is primarily concerned with his own ego, wealth, and resources. He plays the victim, makes some vague superficial utterances of repentance, and then he packs up the show and moves to a different town where can swindle some new folks with his snake oil. It’s a tale as old as time. Don’t be fooled by it.

      Unfortunately for our old pal James, violent outbursts over a parking spot are not good for snake oil sales. So it looks like he’s going to have to endure another hiatus before he can find a new town to bring his show to. 

  6. It looks like the bromance between Visconti and MacDonald has cooled off due to the news of MacDonald’s charge of felony assault in the “parking rage” incident in San Diego last month.

    Visconti admired him from afar for so long and looked up to him, and then got to know him after finding out MacDonald was at his church. Okaaaayyyy. But in between all those years, did he miss MacDonald’s repeated, reprehensible, vicious and downright disgusting name calling and social media attacks against Julie Roys personally? And MacDonald carried on so for a while. because Julie Roys had the audacity to continue report on his many scandals with his former church, the elders, Mancow Muller, and MacDonalds various lawsuits. She even reached out to him for comment. That’s called professionalism in journalism.

    And regarding Visconti’s high praise for MacDonald as a pastor? He seems to falsely equate “reinvention and rebranding” with “repentance and restoration”. MacDonald is an absolute bully and unfit for ministry.

  7. I wonder if the congregants at Mr. Visconti’s church have listened to his views on the proper use of contributions. He seems to have God and Mammon really mixed up.

    1. Karla, do you say that with a biblical sense of conviction? Or is that thrown as a jab at some of the folks who’ve posted on here about the hurt and pain suffered at the accord of James McDonald. I spent over a year counseling an ex-worship leader who was basically destroyed by the McDonald family. He was bullied, demeaned, called horrible names, harrassed, threatened all by the main man JMac and his two sons.

      I’m not sure what you’re agreeing with but I would advise knowing the fullness of the evil of the man and his family before you agree with anything.

      1. Glenn G,

        The people I know, that are still supporting JMD, do not/will not look at anything that contradicts their pov of him. The mental gymnastics/cognitive dissonance they go through to defend him, is not only painful to watch, but they do not see that their friends are only concerned with their well being and not trying to attack/judge them, just show them the truth. They do not understand that he treats those that have something of value to him (usually money or influence), very differently than those that do not, or those that he views as beneath him.
        They get a taste from time to time when they step out of line, but they will excuse this as he is under stress. You cannot approach them with any evidence of his true face, even when it comes from the horses mouth through his twitter/interviews/actions towards them, without an emotional outburst and the defense that he has been through enough.

  8. The celebrities that visit churches and get paid a pile of money also make money off books with their names on the covers, true? Anyone out there reading this ever wonder how many of these celebrities actually wrote the books?

    Years ago I found websites about the scandal of Christian ghostwriting. This appears to be a lucrative field. You can read about famous Christians whose ghostwriters’ names never appeared in the books these adored Christians “wrote.” If you do a search for “Christian ghostwriters,” you’ll find folks you can contact to write a book for you. Faking a book isn’t just for the famous anymore! And just think how valuable a book ghostwritten for James MacDonald would be if both MacDonald’s and the ghostwriter’s signatures were on the inside front cover, especially if there was proof that Hinn and the ghostwriter had both really signed! The mind boggles.

    So the scoundrels we read about here – did they really write the books that the adoring admirers at these big churches buy when they make their personal appearances? It’s all part of a racket, isn’t it? How about that? The two meanings for the word “racket” can be happening at the same place (a church) at the same time.

    What an age we live in.

  9. Many years ago there was a man in New York City, Anthony Scotto, on trial for racketeering. The Village Voice published an article, The Men Who Sold Scotto about all the local media pundits who were supporting him and criticizing the prosecution. The Voice said fortunately the people on the jury were listening to the evidence, and not these pundits, and convicted him. Truth and evidence matter. Too many times I have heard Christian leaders telling people to ignore what you read and see, with no facts.

  10. NOT shocked AT ALL. I reached out to that pastor Ryan Visconti when I saw they were new to my home state of AZ. I was excited to see what looked like a vibrant new church changing lives. Then he posted a very disturbing set of things on IG so I wrote him about it, asked questions and he immediately berated me and others who had commented. I quickly blocked him and thought good grief, what arrogance. So, this pastor Ryan is of the same narcisstic type that this other idiot is. Wake up church.

  11. Are you sure this Generation Church is part of the ARC? i don’t see this on their websites but i know for sure this church pastored by Ryan Visconti is part of the Assemblies of God

    1. Andy Wood’s former church, Echo Church, is a Southern Baptist Church and an ARC church. It’s crazy since SBC is not charismatic and ARC is. But ARC is more about megachurch methodology than doctine.

      1. Julie, I knew I’d come back to listen again to Visconti’s (RV’s) sermon on the 9th Commandment. So problematic. Then it struck me: “How can a video series on the Ten Commandments deal with only nine of them?” (referring to the video having been made “private” on Generation Church’s website. I figured they just deleted the entire series.) WRONG. Visconti’s new and improved truth about the 9th commandment is back up and running on Generation Church’s website. https://generation.church/sermons/you-shall-not-bear-false-witness-ten-commandments/

        What appeared at 14:05 to 21:20 in the original podcast is cut.In those 7:15 missing minutes RV sang MacDonald’s (JM’s) praises in building both HBC and his Walk in the Word ministry; that JM’s reputation was “murdered” because “believers allowed it” asks the rhetorical question of whether JM’s work makes him a target of the Devil? RV gave financial details about the HBC ministry and dono contributions that he could only only have gotten straight from JM.

        What remains about JM is brief and towards the end of the sermon. It highlights that JM was falsely accused. Visconti segues, “Jesus dealt with this, too. (Being falsely accused). This juxtaposition of MacDonald and Jesus was a bridge too far. That said, Christ died for all our sins, yours, mine and James MacDonald’s and the whole world’s. So yeah, “Jesus dealt with this, too.” The real truth, not emphasized in your sermon but included as a comparison? The whole reason Jesus came and lived and died among us was: To. Deal. With.This.Too.

        1. “This juxtaposition of MacDonald and Jesus was a bridge too far.”

          JMD would make comparisons between his situation at HBC and Judas betraying Jesus. There are more examples of this tactic, from his weekly prayer emails, he would send out to those participating in his home church network.

          “James MacDonald

          Blast from past – Judas Iscariot recently contacted @reachJulieRoys – claiming Jesus wasteful w money, looked other way on extravagant perfume usage, expensive meals, too much wine, small inner circle, frequent parties. Former “staff” resigning, many calling for his removal.”

          1. Andrew, Just getting back here now. I have a difficult time understanding how so many could be taken in for so long, and especially still supporting his returning to the pulpit now, lauding him. The tactics MacDonald employs are not the tools Christ counsels his followers to use. They are not modeled upon Christ’s actions. Rather, they are the tools employed by the Devil himself. James MacDonald is all about worldly success, worldly appearances, worldly goods and commodities. One cannot serve God and serve the world at the same time. Weaponizing God’s commandments and Christ’s teachings is especially pernicious. Minimizing MacDonald’s repeated and continued actions and tactics as “errors” or “mistakes” or “none of us is perfect” is plain minimizing responsibility that leadership confers. These are tactics used against the faithful and this is wrong and should be called out and voted on. Vote with your dollars. Do not support this. Vote with your feet. Do not provide an audience to this garbage.

            MacDonald a very small, small man for all his hubris and bluster. And no, “false witness” did not do that to him, to his reputation, to his church, to his family, to his livelihood, to his finances. He’s a classic bully using classic schoolyard bullying tactics. These things only work with the bystanders either assisting the bully, and even cheering him on (as Visconti and others are doing) or by doing nothing and providing a willing audience receptive to watching the bully play out his drama victimizing others.

            MacDonald? Unfit. For. Pastoral. Leadership.

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