Former Harvest Employees Say James MacDonald Lived Large on Church’s Dime

By Julie Roys

In 2015, James MacDonald went on a worldwide missions trip that was so stressful, he needed a safari in South Africa to help him recover from it. At least, that’s what MacDonald, the recently-fired founder of Harvest Bible Chapel, claimed to justify the church paying for the safari for him and two others, according to his bodyguard at the time, Jacob Ross.

But that’s not all.

In a letter Ross submitted to Harvest leadership in late January and was recently leaked to me, Ross writes that MacDonald wasn’t satisfied with his initial budget of $5,000 for the safari. “James decided he wanted to shoot a high value animal,” Ross writes, “a sable to be specific, which cost $15,000 to $20,000.”

So, Ross writes that MacDonald called Fred Adams, former Harvest CFO, and got him to wire additional money from the church to the safari company, “citing his stress from the trip and need for a relaxing vacation doing something he enjoyed.”

“’James decided he wanted to shoot a high value animal . . . a sable to be specific, which cost $15,000 to $20,000.’ So, Ross writes that MacDonald called Fred Adams, former Harvest CFO, and got him to wire additional money from the church.”

Ross also writes that on the same missions trip, Harvest paid for a three- to four-day stay at a resort in the Dominican Republic for MacDonald, Ross, and Harvest Executive Pastor Jeff Donaldson. (Both Donaldson and Ross had also joined MacDonald on the safari.)

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Not only did Harvest pay for the three men, Ross wrote, the church also paid for their wives to fly out and join them. “Again, James justified this expense as the result of the extreme stress he was under on the trip.”

These are just two of numerous incidents in Ross’ letter, showing that MacDonald lived large on the church’s dime. Plus, Ross is not the only former Harvest employee alleging these things. A letter by another former employee alleges that while Harvest was imposing “austerity measures” like removing the coffee and water dispensers, MacDonald was remodeling his office for $150,000 and authorizing a $40,000 fence for a whitetail trophy deer herd at Camp Harvest.  

These expenditures were in addition to MacDonald’s salary, which the church continues to keep private. However, Dave Corning, a founding elder who chaired the elder board for 21 years, told me that in 2009, MacDonald was making a combined $550,000 from both the church and Walk in the Word, MacDonald’s broadcast ministry.

Six Devastating Letters Sent to Elders, but Suppressed

Ross’ letter was one of six letters by former and present staff that were presented to Harvest elders about five weeks ago, according to Elder Dan George and former Elder Mike Dunwoody.

These letters are devastating, documenting scores of incidents where MacDonald mocked, threatened, and belittled staff, contractors, and other Christian leaders; lied and reneged on promises; raged at those around him; and prospered financially at the church’s expense. I reached out to the church and MacDonald for comment about these letters, but they did not respond.

“Dunwoody and George said when the elder board met on February 5th, Harvest Assistant Senior Pastor Rick Donald . . . adamantly opposed releasing the letters. So they were withheld.”

I have read all six of the letters, though only five were given to me to publish. I am releasing information today from two of them, which relate to finances—Ross’ letter and a letter by Dean Butters, former executive director of business operations at Harvest. Both Ross and Butters authenticated their letters with me but declined to comment due to non-disclosure agreements.

Dunwoody and George said these six letters were key in the board’s decision to fire MacDonald. (The final straw was MacDonald’s vile recorded comments that were aired on Mancow Muller’s Chicago radio show.)

But Dunwoody and George added that the full board almost didn’t get to see the letters. They said most of the letters initially were sent to Campus Pastor Greg Bradshaw, who had been asked by the board to review the letters with three other elders. Dunwoody and George said when the elder board met on February 5th, Harvest Assistant Senior Pastor Rick Donald, who was on the board at the time but has since stepped down, adamantly opposed releasing the letters to the board. So they were withheld. I reached out to Donald for comment, but he did not respond.

However, George said he was able to obtain all the letters independently soon after that meeting. And on February 7th, George and several elders met with MacDonald at Harvest’s Elgin campus. And at that meeting, George said he presented the letters to the group, and MacDonald argued that the letters should not go to the elders. Instead, MacDonald said they should go to Crossroads Resolution Group, the company Harvest had hired to manage their “reconciliation process” with aggrieved parties.

George said Donald and Elder Steve Huston, who chaired the elder executive committee before it was dissolved, argued strongly in favor of MacDonald’s suggestion.

Despite their wishes, George distributed the letters to the other elders—the last of them going to the board on February 12th, the same day MacDonald was fired.

More Evidence MacDonald Spent Church’s Money for Lavish Lifestyle

Like Ross, Butters’ letter documents numerous incidents where MacDonald spent the church’s money to support his lavish lifestyle. And apparently, MacDonald’s African safari was not an isolated incident. Butters writes that MacDonald “led various hunting trips throughout the U.S. and Africa for his friends and couched them as a business expense.”

Butters also said that when MacDonald moved from his Inverness home to his Elgin home, the church paid $50,000 to move and store his personal possessions. Butters added that MacDonald also donated a broken hot tub to the church that cost more to fix than to replace. Yet according to Butters, MacDonald took an $8,000 tax write-off for the donation.

Butters letter also reveals that MacDonald and other executives at Harvest were given bonuses when the church hit certain “revenue target(s).” He adds that one year, someone manipulated the books, attributing income from Camp Harvest to the general fund so church executives would qualify for bonuses.

Butters also writes that MacDonald:

  • Bought more than $500 in cigars with church funds

  • Tipped a waitress $400 with church funds

  • Spent more than $50,000 of church money on his camp site the first year of “Act Like Men Palooza.”

  • Demanded that fiber optic cable be installed at Camp Harvest so the internet service would be faster, costing $20,000 per month on a three-year contract.

  • Demanded that the church pay to repair his truck after he scraped and dented it on one of the columns in the Elgin church parking garage, blaming security for “setting the cones up wrong.”

  • Demanded that his office be remodeled in 2013 for about $150,000, while all senior and middle management, and their direct reports, took a 10-percent pay cut. The church had also removed coffee/water for employees as “austerity measures” due to low giving. (Ross also writes about the remodel, noting that many expenses “exceeded reasonable,” including Ross’ “custom built in hardwood desk that cost several thousand dollars.”)

  • During the same time period, the church bought fencing for the new deer herd at Camp Harvest for over $40,000.


Harvest’s “Black Budget” & “Executive Checkbook”

It’s not clear how the church justified paying for MacDonald’s lavish personal expenses, or how these expenses were budgeted. I sent emails this week to the elder board, as well as Harvest CFO Jeff Sharda, but no one responded.

However, as I reported earlier in WORLD Magazine, two former Harvest executives said the church hid about 20-percent of its budget from all but top church staffers and the executive committee (EC). Both said this so-called “black budget” was controlled by Fred Adams.

Also, this week, Bill Sperling—a former member of the EC and a current elder and church treasurer—gave some insight to MacDonald’s spending at a question and answer meeting. According to Sperling, the church maintained an “executive checkbook” that amounted to one-percent of the annual income of the church—about $250,000. Sperling admitted that this “checkbook” was “too liberal” and “not dotting i’s and crossing t’s.” He added that members of the former executive committee knew about this checkbook, as well as the auditors. (Capin Crouse conducts annual audits of Harvest.)

“According to Sperling, the church maintained an ‘executive checkbook’ that amounted to one-percent of the annual income of the church—about $250,000. . . . He added that members of the former executive committee knew about this checkbook, as well as the auditors.”

Four of the five members of the former executive committee remain on Harvest’s elder board. They are Bill Sperling, Steve Huston, Jeff Smith, and Sam Booras. Former EC member Ron Duitsman resigned in February.

Sperling’s account seems consistent with what Ross wrote in his letter. Ross said that MacDonald had a church credit card “that was given outside of normal church protocol—set up directly through Fred (Adams).” Ross said he and MacDonald’s former assistant, Chiquita Brown, were also issued credit cards tied to that account.

Ross said he was instructed to put “anything related to James on James’ card.” At the end of each month, Ross said he would give the card statements directly to Adams with descriptions of each charge. Ross said these monthly charges were “regularly in excess of $10,000,” and occasionally as high as “$20,000 to over $30,000.”

Ross said in 2015, MacDonald instructed him to book a vacation at a resort in Naples, Florida, for MacDonald and his wife, Kathy, and to charge it to his church-issued credit card. Ross said MacDonald authorized him to spend “whatever was necessary.” Ross added, “(MacDonald) told me he’d call Fred and his friends on the elder board to justify the expense as necessary due to the tough year he had and the toll it took on him.” Ross said the vacation cost more than $20,000.

According to Rusty Leonard of the watchdog group, Ministry Watch, using church funds for personal use normally qualifies as embezzlement. However, if MacDonald’s spending was approved by the executive committee, it’s not legally embezzlement because the board gave MacDonald the cover he needed to take the money.

However, Leonard said he suspects the IRS might view some of MacDonald’s expenditures as income. So, if MacDonald didn’t pay tax on that income, it could be considered tax evasion.

Ross & Butters Break Silence Due to Hope for Change

Ross said he left his position after continued berating by MacDonald, calling him “stupid,” “incompetent,” “worthless,” and “of no use to him,” proved too much. Ross said he remained silent until now because of a mixture of fear and a desire to not “harm my church.”

He said he finally broke his silence because he believed the vast majority of staff, elders, and members of Harvest are “not privy to many of the situations” he highlighted in his letter. Ross added, “Those who are seeking to make the correct decision regarding the future of Harvest Bible Chapel simply can’t without the correct information.”

Similarly, Butters writes that he left the church because his “ability to continue believing the best about (the leaders over him) diminished.” He added that the “things I was seeing with my eyes, hearing with my ears, and feeling in my soul became more convincing than the narrative that was continually being spun.”

Butters said he wrote his letter “with the hope that it will help to prevent others from being spiritually manipulated and brutalized by James MacDonald and others at Harvest Bible Chapel who carry out his commands.”



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139 thoughts on “Former Harvest Employees Say James MacDonald Lived Large on Church’s Dime”

  1. As someone who has been a member and has served at Harvest (both meadows and niles campus) for 15 years, I am so absolutely disgusted by all this. Disgusted by James but ultimately all the leaders who turned a blind eye to what was going on. We trusted this church and the leaders to use the money we worked so hard for to glorify and honor God. How can you say you didn’t know he was living this extravagant lifestyle. No one knew? Everyone is surprised? Rick Donald, his right hand man, was shocked and confused? Steve Houston claims he tried their best and just didn’t know? Give me a break! How did those in the EC have no idea what was going on? They are all liars. All need to leave including my campus pastor Mo. You may have admitted you had fear of man but how can any true Christian witness all this and not be disgusted? Not demand change or if you were that fearful then why did you not just leave? The money was that good? Being acknowledged by King James was worth it? We will be withholding all of our tithes and leaving soon. So absolutely disgusted.

    1. Jackie, I know everyone is sick to their stomach today at what we are now seeing but nearly 2000 people left the church in 2012 and 2013 and it’s hard for me to now hear members say they weren’t aware of the problems.

      Thousands left. Not one. Not five. Not 100. Thousands.

      With all due respect, I’m not one of those people that subscribes to the idea that the congregation was innocent. In fact, I think—aside from new believers and kids—I think the congregation was complicit.

      They shunned those who left. They no longer called us or invited us or texted us or had coffee with us.

      Without everyone staying after it was clear that the church had fallen, this could have never happened.

      It is for this reason, that Harvest must be closed. I am of the opinion that it go into bankruptcy within 60-90 days, but even if it were able to financially survive? It should be closed. The entire leadership structure was as a filthy rag (Ezekiel 36) and all other “leaders” at Harveat that might replace them? They are complicit in this and so their wrong is equal to everyone else’s.

      I was shocked ANY of my friends at the time stayed back in 2012. How could they? Well they all stayed using the church’s reasoning. One might say the congregation was deceived but I say, not unless they wanted to be. Not unless they stopped listening because those that left all left letters and texts and phone messages and warnings and pleas…

      And our “friends” rejected those warnings and rejected us. Instead they tithed into the very system that was day by destroying families and good people. Trying to ruin people’s reputations.

      There is no one who can now lead this church. And because the entire church WAS built around one guy….this whole thing is coming a tumbling down as we speak. I give it 60-90 more days before it is closed.

      And it won’t be because of my text today…it will be because God provides 6 to 10 years of warning Harvest and it would not heed those warnings.

      All James had to do…ALL he and Rick Donald and Jeff Donaldson and I could go on and on and on…ALL they had to do was have a truly broken heart before the Lord…and turn back to him. But they didn’t and they won’t. Maybe they now can’t.

      Either way. God does not need Harvest and I’m thinking God loves the people of Harvest in such an amazing way that He is going to close Harvest forever as a beacon of what NOT to do in HIS church.

      1. Understandable sentiments in light of everything that’s happened.

        Also, note:
        2012-2019…7 years.
        7 is seen as a number of completion. Seems like God gave Harvest 7 years to repent and now they are “harvesting” what they sowed. Pun intended.

        And Ezekiel 36…This is in the context of Ez 34-37 where God admonishes the fat sheep (Israel’s religious leaders) for getting fat at the expense (pun intended) of the weaker sheep. Plus, the vision of the Valley of the dry bones is there.

        He can resurrect His True Church out of HBC. Note, I didn’t say Harvest. The faithful He will restore. The faithless will be like chaff. God will rebuild the faithful into what He wants.


      2. I agree completely! It is an Infected with Evil beyond my comprehension. It is time for God to bring down this modern Sodom and Gomorrah for it’s great wickedness. I am grieved this has happened but God wants his sheep away from these horrible leaders. Remember Lot’s Wife!

      3. You are soooooo correct. This cancer has metastasized from the very top down into the rows where the members are. I believe God is showing all are responsible and all need to repent. God’s word on how to deal with what has happened and continues to happen has been and continues to be ignored!
        Any assets of Harvest deserve to be treated like a type of Sodom and Gomorrah. The members need to be disbursed out into God honoring churches to testify to what happened here so that it may never happen again.

        Perhaps the only way now to get a fair accounting of the (stuff) that remains is through an action called
        ‘Involuntary Bankruptcy’ to stop the current elders from further thievery?

        If one listens to the Q and A session you will get sick to your stomach.

  2. Ex HBF senior pastor

    If you want to know what stressed was after that worldwide ‘missions’ trip for a month, visiting at least 4 countries, you should ask the men who went with James. Like the video team or Kirk V. They were the ones who needed a vacation after that trip. They were ripped, shamed, attacked constantly on the trip by king James for any and every reason. Guys who videoed said if the people of Harvest saw what they saw, not one of them would stay in the church. James was abusive to everyone around him, nothing changed over the years, he just – at times – found a way to keep it quiet, suppress the victims and witnesses.

    How any man can spend what he spent as he spent it – church money, every dollar, donated by a faithful follower of Christ, donated as an act of worship to their God, not so a god-in-his-own-mind dictator could use it like he did. Shameful in every way and sinful i every way. He and every member of his family treated that church like their own private family business, sucking money out of it non-stop and the elders all allowed it to happen and key senior staff – Rick, Jeff, etc., knew about it all, profited by it themselves (ask Rick about his Harley), and enjoyed the sinful use of church funds.

    They all should be fired, as Luke and Landon should have been! And a proper 3rd party should review years of financials and go after that family to return the money they bilked Harvest of.

  3. What is Jeff Donald still doing there? Really?! Pretending everything is ok, pretending he wasn’t involved. Honestly Harvest won’t change if they don’t leave. Why doesn’t he step out and become a regular member without privileges?

  4. Hate to ask the obvious, but has anyone called the IRS hotline? They can’t act on news stories. They need a complaint filed.

    1. I believe someone did file the actual official paperwork requesting a review. Surprised no mention of an investigation yet.

  5. Absolutely disgusted with James but equally disgusted with the leadership. How can these men stand in front of the church and claim with crocodile tears that they just didnt know it was that bad, they let it get out of hand, etc? What true Christian can look at the lavish lifestyle and extravagant spending using the tither’s money and even dare to justify it as they did for all these years? 20,000 for a vacation for him and Kathy? 150,000 to remodel an office?! I can spend a quarter of that remodeling my whole house! Are you kidding me? Steve resigning yesterday was a joke. If he truly felt repentant, if he truly believes he did something wrong and sinned, and most importantly IF he truly loved God and His church, he should have resigned a few weeks, months, or years ago. He only resigned yesterday after this article came out. He got caught and knows theres no spin that will make it look good. The apostle Paul tried not to be a burden on the church all the while he suffered for preaching the gospel. Yet King James’ stress from his extravagant lifestyle was so great that he justified a safari trip. I cannot believe the man who would stand in front of his congregation and preach about sacrificial giving even when it hurts was the same man who was taking that hard earned money and using it for his own personal gain. Shame on you “pastor” James and shame on Rick, Jeff, Mo, the elders, the EC and all others in his circle who HAD to have at least a glimpse, and most likely way more, of this life style. Tears after being caught and confessions of fear of man is not good enough. Every single one of these “men” need to be held responsible.

  6. Any man who feels the need to shoot/pose with a bear is certainly deficient in other parts of his manhood.
    I was considering worshipping at Harvest in naperville several years ago. However i was warned away by some wise counselors.
    The Bible talks about sheep and goats. I believe the church needs to become more diligent in sorting them out, especially at the leadership level. Then perhaps they will repent. If not, that is their choice. The sheep need more protection!

  7. When many leading people left the church, they left resignation letters that described a desire to move on, not a problem with fear culture, or miss behavior. These letters need to be looked at and held to account.

    With the apparently rampant gross misuse of funds, those who have done this, must be held to account. Perhaps this must be done by legal charges. The misused funds should be recovered and used to pay debts and help the church.

  8. During James MacDonald Texas Hold ‘Em days I would not be surprised if he used the Executive Checkbook for gambling. Audit if he had any Vegas junket’s with Jerry or Dallas Jenkins. Fred Adams would have approved the expenditures.

  9. I feel physically sick reading this. James (and all who knew and allowed it) , do you realize many people who gave from their hearts to God live on less than half of what your office remodel cost? We work hard day in and day out paying bill after bill after bill for basic things and ….

    I’m without words.

    Anyone who remains and gives while knowing this is foolish.

  10. Rendered speechless for the depth of deception and any congregant who still would walk through the doors at any campus. Who is still putting their head in the sand and fingers in their ears and turning a blind eye?

    ““Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
    ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:6‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

    Where are JMac’s wife and kids et al? All complicit! Living in the shadows certainly. Or retiring off of the milk and honey given to HBC and WITW in trust? Those funds were to grow the ministries to reach the lost etc. Are they sitting around a campfire somewhere musing on how they all had it good once?
    How they built up treasures here on the earth where moth and rust destroy… may God have mercy!
    The heaviness of spiritual abuse is unfathomable. You can open up all the books you want (which I’m sure most have been destroyed), but more information won’t fix this broken record! Praying you cling to Our God and Father.

  11. Carlito’s way out of Harvest

    Why are people still attending this Church? Do you actually think that it can be turned around with the spineless leadership left behind? Speak up! Vote them out with your wallets!

      1. Concerned: God is not too small to fix Harvest. But why would he?

        Unlike people who care about earthly buildings and human associations, God could care less. His clear mission from Genesis to Revelation is to advance His Kingdom reign and rule by calling people from every tongue, tribe and nation into personal relationship with himself as disciples. Jesus commissioned his followers to go make disciples, not church associations or physical buildings. Along the way if some of us form associations that enable us to better carry out God’s mission fine. However our church should never be a “brand”. Jesus alone is the “brand”- the only person worth obeying, His the only Kingdom worth building and fighting for. Placed next to Him the Harvest brand is nothing. Let it go. Put your energy and time into walking with Jesus today and making a disciple. These two things last for eternity.


    1. Let’s see what happens when school is out. There are many who have ties bound to serve for discounted tuition too at the school. Many of these people are programmed like a faulty computer to believe the remaining swindlers because that is all they know. Do they honestly seek the Real Shepherds voice? He is speaking people of God. Some seem to take it personally for some reason. There are many great people I have met there. The leaders are evil and you must flee!

  12. As a newer member, I would like to add my comment to what is happening. My wife and I left a church where the Pastor was doing the same things James MacDonald is accused of doing. If James is guilty of all these accusations, then he should be held accountable. So should anyone else who knew but did not say anything. I am in no way agreeing with anything that was done. I believe that we are living in the day where our sin is going to be revealed. 1 Peter 4:17, “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God.” In reading the comments from current and former members, I sense that there is a lot of anger, frustration and unforgiveness. I understand that, but my question is this. Where is mercy? Are we not sinners saved by the Grace of God? Is there any among us without sin? We need to listen to the Words of Jesus in John 8:1-12. Vs 7, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” We are talking about a brother who has fallen into sin. I believe as his brother in Christ, we should follow what the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 6:1,”Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” My prayer is that we would pray for James, the elders and any others who did not stand up and confront this sooner. What has happened is over, let us practice what our Lord Jesus Christ has taught us from His Word and pray for healing and restoration of all who were involved.

    1. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Jude 1:4 NKJV

      2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 2 Timothy 4:2-4 NKJV

      14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. 2 Cor 11:14-16 NKJV

      It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:31 NKJV


    2. Jeff, this is not a brother who fell into sin. This is a leader, and leaders are judged differently. “Not many of you should become teachers my fellow believers because we who teach will be judged more strictly. ” (James 3:1). Ezekiel 34, especially verse 10 gravely warns shepherds who devour the sheep.

      You say what has happened is over? Not yet because you see Jeff this situation is a holy crucible in which men are being tested by God. The outcome determines eternal destinies.

      Anyone who really loves James and his complicit elders prays for God to keep shining the light on their sin until there is true brokenness and real repentance. Evidenced by public confession of specifics even if that means jail. Better that than face Jesus saying, “Away from me I never knew you. “

      1. “Anyone who really loves James and his complicit elders prays for God to keep shining the light on their sin until there is true brokenness and real repentance. Evidenced by public confession of specifics even if that means jail. Better that than face Jesus saying, “Away from me I never knew you.


  13. Mishael Barrios

    Talk about opening a sewer!!!!. No one likes the smell, but it has to be aired out. The Bride of Christ is supposed to give the Ancient of Days a sweet aroma. And Harvest’s is not it. If the IRS were to DIVE IN as Muller has on the “Russian Collusion” investigation, it is possible some people at Harvest could go to jail.
    Thank you Julie for a superb job!!!
    Keep defending the Faith (Jude 3)
    My prayers are with you!!
    In Messiah’s Grip,

  14. Watching this Harvest story unfold from the sidelines, it quite scary to see to see how highly intelligent adults can be compelled act against their better judgment and betray their personal conscience.   Be it a multi-level marketing scheme being shut down by a federal lawsuit, or the legal conviction of a spiritual leader stealing funds from a so-called “ministry”, people will often ask themselves how anyone could fall for such a scam.   I imagine many of us often think “Wow…I sure wouldn’t have been duped.  I can see right through that tele-evangelist”.   Somehow, here we are reading stories from Julie Roys (and many others) revealing abuse, deceit, theft, misogyny, intimidation, pedophilia and just overall betrayal of trust at Harvest at a very large scale. 

    Take the church element out of this for just a moment and consider the Milgram experiment from the 1960s.   Henry Milgram setup a series of tests to show just how far people would go in order to obey the directions of authority figures, especially when pushed to do something that is wrong.   His experiment showed that a surprisingly high number of people would choose to administer a painful shock (or so they thought) to another test subject when confronted with the decision to (1) obey an authority figure or (2) hurt an innocent stranger.   The research considered a diverse set of backgrounds (i.e. education, work experience, family background, etc.…), yet the outcomes were pretty consistent.   It’s a scary to think just how vulnerable all we are to the influence of authority figures, especially ones that do not act in our best interest.

    Now come back to Harvest.   The leadership team is comprised of elders who are presumably all college educated, are highly articulate, are emotionally intelligent, and have the ability to make considerate and informed decisions.  Much of the leadership team has had access to all the information that has recently come to light through social media.   They have access to the collective knowledge of modern leadership practices.   They’ve had the opportunity to collect feedback from “the flock” and observe the overall culture at Harvest for years.  Each of the leaders has an awareness of how financial records are disclosed (and not disclosed).    They have the ability to observe whether or not everyone is authentically respected and given a voice.  In spite of having access to all of this information for years, church leaders are only now coming forth with the epiphany that something is wrong.   How does this happen?

    My guess (this is just conjecture on my part) is it comes down to a matter of what is important.   For one reason or another, the leaders in place today were not moved to act.  If the financial mismanagement, and suspected embezzlement, was a cause for concern they would have acted earlier because it’s the right thing to do.   If the lack of transparency bothered them enough, they would have acted sooner (and some did).  If they felt strongly about the abuse of power that came with the TED lawsuit, they could have immediately and publicly resign their post in protest.  They had the chance.  When they are compelled to act only when an outside agency publicly reveals the injustices, it’s hard to believe true contrition has taken place.   There may be regret, but that’s quite different from contrition and repentance.   The careful parsing of words that I see (and this is just my opinion) seem to reflect a dislike, or sadness, for the current set of conditions but not an actual demonstration of remorse demonstrated by actions to do whatever is required to make things right. In fairness, I don’t know if would have acted differently if I were in a position of leadership and subject to the same controlling forces.  The point here is we are not dealing with bad people here.   The question is what controlling forces compelled them to consistently make bad decisions?    The next question is (for whatever church one may attend) what controls can be put in place to prevent a culture of control and corruption?    To start, the collective voice of social media and the persistence of reporters like Julie Roys is a good start.

      1. The question is what controlling forces compelled them to consistently make bad decisions? The next question is (for whatever church one may attend) what controls can be put in place to prevent a culture of control and corruption?

        Tony really?? THEY ARE CALLED satanic FORCES …. and these people that are called Elders are not Biblical Elders just as any pastor at Harvest that has ever taken even a dollar in payment FOR ANYTHING is not a pastor , THEY ARE ALL HIRELINGS IN A SYSTEM THAT HAS DUPED MOST ALL OF US. WE WERE TOLD CLEARLY BY OUR FATHER To “COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM AND BE YE SEPARATE …. but not enough know HIM or listen to HIM and now we all have another big mess that got on us ….. yuck …… did you know that God will even help situations like this out by putting a stumbling block in the way of the DISOBEDIENT (never mind outright evil)

  15. Susan Vonder Heide

    I tend to be a little suspicious when a church puts excessive emphasis on getting donations. Sure, churches need money and sure people should be generous but telling people that they have to give the exact percentage that the Old Testament required and that they have to give it to them rather than dividing it among a number of Christian churches and charitable organizations raises red flags.

  16. I am appealing to everyone at Harvest —The elders, the members of the 2020 team, pastors, paid staff, church members and attenders:

    Does James MacDonald sound like someone who’s been born again and is a new creation in Christ? As I’ve contended for some time now, James MacDonald found a vehicle, religion and the gospel, to feed his insatiable desire for money, power, significance, and more. For James MacDonald, it was never ever about Christ, only himself. And if you think I’m way off base, over 2,000 years ago, the people nearest to Judas in his day had no idea he was an impostor either.

    Why can’t some (most?) people at Harvest understand this? Leaders, your failure to recognize this and publicly acknowledge this is only causing added hurt and confusion in the body of Christ.

    Leaders at Harvest, if you were to recognize this and publicly acknowledge this, you would go a long way toward easing the hurt and clearing up confusion at Harvest Bible Chapel, and in the larger body of Christ.

    Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for you to be far less concerned about the name of Harvest Bible Chapel and your desire to keep a sinking ship afloat; but for the good of those in your fellowship and for the greater good of those in Christendom, make it widely known that James MacDonald found a vehicle, the gospel, to feed his insatiable desire for money, power, significance, and more. I repeat, for MacDonald, it was never ever about Christ, only himself.

    As chilling as that sounds, I fear many others who have been complicit in all of this mess or who are responsible to one degree or another for allowing MacDonald to run roughshod over anyone and everyone who stood in opposition to him have, in doing so, seared their consciences and are no longer able to know right from wrong, good from evil, truth from error, and do what’s right.

    Mike Medow
    Former HBC Member (1999-2011)

    1. Mike Medow I’m glad someone is saying this, I have been wondering if James was truly saved. Your description seems spot in given all that has come to light.

  17. When I first read this sordid tale one sentence in particular jumped out at me. JMac called Fred Adams, former Harvest CFO and got him to wire additional money from the church to the safari company,

    “citing his stress from the trip and need for a relaxing vacation doing something he enjoyed.”

    Then I looked at the pictures.

    Killing God’s beautiful defenseless creatures with a sardonic smile.

    For sport…

    Something that was relaxing and enjoyable to him. Think about that.

  18. The stench of JMac and all his cronies (whether they be the XLT, the elders, site pastors, and his sycophants) just keeps getting worse.

    I really hope JMac and all his cronies end up being criminally charged and made do the perp walk.

    But in any case, God’s justice will ultimately prevail and these wolves will meet their fate (as is ordained, see Jude 1:4).

  19. Ex Harvest since 2013

    I am sure the church would also like to know who funded the Vertical Church tour james took that ended with the entire XLT and their families being flown to Alaska for a “retreat”. Who paid for that? who paid for the bus that James used? who paid for the back and forth airline trios? I doubt the publisher did.

  20. And to think of all of the people that donated food, school supplies and Christmas gifts for the less fortunate when the money was being wasted on these and other trips.

  21. The fear is countless campuses across the Nation that are not telling their congregants,,, fear of giving to drop? This is a cult like atmosphere if I ever studied one. Pray that God will clean all this up and quickly.

  22. Another thing I want to see is that NONE of the elders, XLT, site pastors, staff and all co-conspirators who keep this fraud going either through their willful actions or by their sins of omission (not doing the right thing) ever be allowed in a position of leadership or trust ever again in any church.

    They were supposed to take care of the sheep, but instead they are nothing but hirelings.

    With luck, social media and the blogosphere will keep tabs on all these people and politely let future churches and congregations know what they did.

    Now some people may say that is too harsh. But let me give you examples from the secular world.

    In the military, officers like the CO of a ship, may delegate authority, but they can never delegate responsibility. A navy ship collides with a freighter, even if the CO is asleep, the CO is permanently beached and his career is over.

    A guy embezzles money from a bank. He may do his time and is fully repentant, but he will never be allowed to work in a financial institution again unless he is the janitor.

    But why is with all these crooks in the church, we want to hold them to lesser standard that the world?

    To all you HBC elders who have since repented and resigned and apologized, that’s great to hear your confession. But if you are truly repentant, you should accept without qualm or complaint that you are not qualified to be an elder ever again and never aspire to that again.

    Remember, the Son of Sam found Christ and every time he has a chance for parole, he refuses and accepts that he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

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