Harvest Bible Chapel Elder Dan George today became the first leader at the church to publicly confess for his role in allowing and perpetrating sin at the church. This is such a heartening first step and I forgive Dan for any sin committed against me. I appreciate his willingness to step off the board as soon as a replacement can be found. George posted this letter on Facebook and it is reprinted here with his permission:
My wife and I have called Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago our home church for 23+ years. We have seen God do great things in and through Harvest in that time. We have served as small group leaders and coaches and continue to do so. We have been blessed to invest in many couples through newly married small groups. We have led mission trips to help sister churches in Romania, Moldova, and Haiti. We enjoy it all and count it as service to our Lord Jesus. This statement is about my service as an elder at Harvest Bible Chapel. This statement is a personal statement, not a statement on behalf of anyone. It is not a statement on behalf of the church.
I served as an elder on the larger elder board from 2010 through 2015 (i.e., two consecutive 3-year terms before a mandatory roll-off). I was off the board for the three years between December 2015 and late December 2018. I rejoined the board in late December. Up until a few weeks ago, I counted it a privilege to have served as an elder at Harvest Bible Chapel, a church God has used to multiply believers, multiply leaders, and multiply churches. But information that has come to light recently has made me rethink my involvement. There have been many tearful and sleepless nights, much prayer, and conversations with my wife and dear brothers in Christ. I have seen my sin and must repent. I am convicted to act on that now.
3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah (Psalm 32:3-5)
- I apologize for not listening to those who tried to bring issues to light. I should have made it easier for brothers and sisters who called Harvest home to come to me. Please forgive me.
- I apologize for vilifying people outside Harvest who tried to bring issues to light. Please forgive me.
- I apologize for agreeing to place three of my fellow elders – i.e., Dan Marquardt, Scott Phelps, and Barry Slabaugh, who are all godly men – under church discipline and excommunicating them in 2013 when they raised concerns. (Dan/Scott/Barry – Please forgive me. I look forward to a time, hopefully soon, when I can sit with you and express this in person.)
- I apologize for signing a statement of “unconditional support” for our former senior pastor in December. I was wrong. Harvest congregation – Please forgive me for causing confusion.
(I could do my best to unconditionally love someone – i.e., Harvest’s 5th pillar. But I cannot pledge unconditional support of anyone.)
- I apologize for not holding our former senior pastor accountable for his actions. I apologize for being OK with a structure that did not allow the visibility needed for real accountability. (I could tell you all about the structure and the part it played. That may be another statement for another time.) As I have said to many of you in person recently, I am so sorry. Please forgive me.
I am sorry for the way I have handled my duty as an elder. As soon as men are identified to serve as the new elders to lead our church forward and we can conduct the needed transition, I will roll off the board. For now, I want to help our church rebuild. I believe we have taken some solid steps in that direction over the last few weeks, including reducing the board from 30+ to 9, getting outside help, and other steps. However, it is not enough. There is more work to do. More changes are needed and are needed soon. If our congregation will allow me, I desire to help redirect and change Harvest, to position us completely back toward Jesus Christ alone. I pray as the Third Day song, “Lead us back where we belong.”
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I am speaking only for myself. I am speaking differently than some others. I may be speaking sooner than some others. But I remain hopeful others will follow. That is between them and God. In the end, I am convicted to act in repentance now. I am hopeful my doing so will help break down the old Harvest culture and start to move us to a new, open, honest, gracious, forgiving, loving culture in the first year of what I pray will be a newly revived church.
O, Lord, we desperately need your help! Have mercy on us.
100 thoughts on “Harvest Elder Dan George Offers Public Confession”
I would STRONGLY CAUTION any rush to accept this at face value (Harvest elders are masters of deception, if not outright criminals), or a rush to dismiss this out of hand (we follow Christ). The Official 2019 Harvest Apology Parade has begun, wisdom and prudence are much needed!
Wow the guy bares his heart and people pile on. How very sad. Forgive others as Christ has forgiven you. I gave money too but to ask for it back is just wrong. God saw your heart when you gave and He will be the one to judge or restore as He sees fit. Many churches were started and built by Harvest and still will be used for Gods glory. Many lives were saved here and worldwide too. So all money was not in vain. Step back, act like believers, let God judge by His methods/in His time, and let’s not look like worldly folks but let us reflect what Jesus Christ would long to see in us.
This huge step of repentance was refreshing to me and I hope others will follow suit.
Robert. I so agree. Well said. I’m saddened by seeing those who have been saved by grace not extend any at all.
If they don’t confess and speak out in humility they are kicked for that. If they do, they are kicked as well. Very sad to see this. We are to be unlike the world. This man can’t single handedly turn it all around in one night. I’m grateful for his step.
Julie- I appreciate your gracious tone in this update. Thank you.
Good afternoon Robert,
The biggest thing I found missing in his repentance is his worshiping the Golden Calf of (fame, fortune, James MacDonald …fill in the blank). It certainly wasn’t Jesus or God and it happened for years and he (among others) were a pillars of the Alter of the Golden Calf.
I think you mixing up forgiveness and repentance. As an Elder he has responsibility for everything HBC says while he is that position – period. Repentance without actions is just hollow words. What happens in this blog is nothing – repeat nothing – like the excommunication he supported. He has a rocky road to travel that he made himself. While I rejoice that he has started his journey, it is far from over.
Responsibility comes with the position and there are years of backlog to undo. He has to stand up and Julie was correct in investigating HBC. That James MacDonald was incorrect in saying there is a Biblical reason to sue people in court. There is a long list of specific things that as his time as Elder he needs to stand up this is wrong.
This is a hard time for HBC members and it should be an uncomfortable time for Christians. There are a lot of people who will most likely loose their spiritual home and have nothing but bitterness to show for all the money and time they sacrificed. He was part of the problem and it is his Christian duty to take a few hard knocks. It might keep people from turning away from Jesus completely.
I agree.This elder comes forward with an apology now after getting his hand caught in the cookie jar.Its pretty safe to come out with an apology now while everyone is turning against mac and his crimes are exposed.Does anyone really think Dan George would have had the guts to come out before any of these stories broke?
If My wife and I leave Harvest it will be more about the meanness and vitreall and anger and hate I see from members and former members of Harvest Bible Chapel and less about the past transgressions of the leadership! It’s starting to become over the top sickening!
It’s so disheartening, Ken. I agree. People are ruthless and mean in these posts and it’s hard to reconcile these comments with Christians.
To be clear: We should always forgive, but …
Forgiveness is not the issue at hand here.
Forgiving someone does not mean that trust has been restored (trust is rebuilt, over time, through confession, forgiveness and thorough repentance).
Forgiveness can and should always happen with or without confession or repentance.
Forgiveness is not deserved, trust is deserved (i.e. “trustWORTHY”).
Forgiving someone does not mean that reconciliation has taken place.
Forgiving someone does not mean there are not a lot of problems to worked on, and to be worked out.
Speaking to more potential problems, or expressing concerns about unresolved problems, etc does not mean people have a “critical spirit,” or are being unloving, unChristian, or ruthless, mean, “Haters,” etc.
Wanting more information, confessions, repentance, etc is very wise, loving, and Christlike–particularly when it comes to helping people heal and preventing further abuse and damage.
Settling for less-than full confession/repentance can be very unloving and unChristian, and often enables sin and abuse.
Greetings Ken & Mark,
Please take a few minutes to read Julie’s blog entry ‘Tranlslations’. You both seem to be using a very similar technique. These people aren’t Christians because … (And we are to take your word for it and that you have been perfect examples of the Christian life).
Also if hearing about HBC and related problems upset you, then why are you reading Julie’s blog and the comments?
Please understand that this is a very hard and difficult time for many people. I fell that they should be upset and angry. There is a very real possibility that HBC will be bankrupt in the near future and a lot of people will be spiritually homeless.
It is not because people weren’t Christian, it was because James MacDonald and his team didn’t do the other six days of work than are needed to run a church. Running projects & keeping to budgets, doing HR and working with other churches you are associated wth is not fun, glamorous or quick. But it keeps the church out of blogs like this one.
Please don’t make make a number’s argument about how James packed them in. He is loosing them because they don’t trust him or the HBC staff and they are angry.
Question: If Jesus showed up with a wip of cords at HBC – Who would he clean out?
Yes, for sure!
Forgiveness from a vertical perspective takes time and sets the heart and mindset on a journey of healing. I think it rather trite to for me to espouse immediate forgiveness to someone whose decisions did not affect me personally. God knew that horizontal forgiveness ultimately culminates in healing which binds the seeds of bitterness that can take hold but this takes time. I appreciate Mr George’s confession and I refuse to allow myself to be cynical as to his sincerity; however, I am a little perplexed at his requesting to help “redirect and change Harvest”. It is way too soon to allow anyone who held a place of leadership at Harvest to be placed back into a leadership position or a position to discuss redirection. I appreciate all the service and investment of time that he has posted but “the information that has come to light recently” was I believe perhaps the same information that led to his admitting he did not listen to those that attempted to enlighten him, for his self admission of “vilifying” people who attempted to enlighten him, played a role in the excommunication of “godly men” who attempted to enlighten, and signed an “unconditional support” to a man in power that chose darkness. There were numerous red flags along the way and it is up to the individual to either be the shepherd that guides the flock from danger or be the sheep that blindly follows. I believe Harvest would be better served by new leadership in entirety and those that served should count it a privilege and humbly capitulate to what God is calling them to do going forward. I counsel others whom have been accused of or found themselves in egodystonic situations that now begins their journey of self reflection with ongoing counseling to ascertain how they arrived at their current predicament.
Excellent point, Ex-Harvest #21,355.
Yes! They are following the cash cow! Why don’t they apologize by paying everyone back their money and taking a vow of poverty until every penny is returned!
Dan, thanks for your courage and spiritual maturity for confession and forgiveness in taking responsibility for your actions and in action. Now if you can get JMac to come out from hiding, pastoral staff, XLT and elders to do the same, it is the first step in the right direction. Second is to open the books for all to see the expenditures and debt the church is in. Third is to rid the 20 percentage hidden budget policy. Lastly like WCCC for the entire Senior pastoral staff to resign. You trust in God to lead HBC without you and calling for another position if He deem fit.
Jessica Hockett wrote: ” We spoke directly with the author of another letter (not among those 6) that shared information about James asking someone about a crime James was thinking about committing.”
This shocks me!!!!! I would hope that the author of that letter would consider their responsibility to speak with the local police about what they know (of the alleged situation). A police report should be filed at the very least, IF there is a witness or proof that James MacDonald appeared to be inquiring or soliciting help with how to commit a CRIME.
We have all seen shows like Dateline and 20/20. If these shows teach us anything about crime in general, it’s that folks need to speak up if they become aware crimes are being considered or planned, so that disaster can be averted and victims protected. My personal opinion is that anybody who is making an effort to inquire about committing a crime is a lot more likely to do it at some point, even if they didn’t follow through in that particular instance.
I hope so too.
I commend you for stepping up so quickly and confessing your part in this tragedy at Harvest. I’m certain it has been excruciatingly difficult.
When my husband was removed from his Elder position for insubordination, it was as if we dropped off the face of the planet wrt ‘friendships’ with others in the church (Including your family). It was before the excommunication of “the big three,” and only one person from church (actually, one of the 3) bothered contacting us to ask what had happened.
I do not wish for you the anguish and pain that comes from such separation, I pray that the congregation will come to forgive you and realize you were trying to do what you truly believed was the right thing.
For those who are quick to criticize Dan’s apology, please realize how incredibly gifted James MacDonald is in manipulation and charm. Few discerned his motives, those who did were removed and therefore unable to influence him, or other leaders. Up until the end, my husband had thought he could reason with James. It was not until we were on the ‘other side’ of James that we realized how strong a hold he had on others, and the meanness in his spirit.
Russ is now with the Lord and free from all of this. I know he would ask for forgiveness for those stepping up to admit their sins.
Only God knows the hearts of all men.
1 Kings 8:39
This is something to note and describes a typical narcissist. They can manipulate.
Also removing an elder from a position for “insubordination” apparently was effective in intimidating other elders from even thinking about speaking up.
Why didn’t anyone question James MacDonald bringing his 2 sons on?
Steve, l assume this was going to be a family business for L&L to take over once daddy retires emeritus with his golden parachute. MacDonald and Sons dba HBC.
Nepotism is part of the Harvest cult recipe. Take a look at the website of other Harvest churches in both US and Canada, and notice the staff members and connect the dots.
Gini please accept my heartfelt condolences for your loss. I also pray for you you will forgive me if my posts hurt you in any way. May God Bless you my sister in Christ.
Thank you for your kind words and prayers. There has been much hurt experienced by so many, I pray we all will be forgiving to anyone sincerely asking. I pray for you to be blessed as well.
Sorry to hear about Russ. During my short attendance at Rolling Meadows he was ALWAYS a true example of Christ. Whether he knew it or not his example was a great reason I pursued a relationship with Christ. Looking forward to thanking him in person one day.
Thank you, Chris. Russ led me to Christ, and daily was my example. I appreciate your comments, he would have been deeply blessed to have known of his impact. Heaven will be a glorious reunion!
Gini: You have made a crucial point that many don’t realize about James: that he is incredibly gifted in manipulation and charm. He knows how to use that to turn the tables on those who express concerns to him about himself. He can have you leaving such a meeting feeling like your pride has led you to confront him (I know of what I speak!). He talks out of both sides of his mouth. You can see and hear things that concern you, and then you hear him talk about worship and devotion to Jesus with such a sincere-sounding voice that you are left wondering if you misunderstood the bad things you thought you saw and heard. And then, you see scores of people going forward in services, often in tears (at least we did in the early 90s), and you begin second guessing yourself, thinking “I must have it all wrong about this guy.” Meanwhile, the church just keeps growing. He uses all of that to manipulate and charm. Perhaps even some elders fell for it.
It would be interesting for an explanation to come out to explain what was the reason for these elders failing to do their job and hold James MacDonald accountable.
– Were these leaders (or most of them) in cahoots with James MacDonald perhaps also profiting here?
– Did these leaders have too much awe of MacDonald’s “authority” that they didn’t discipline him or ask questions they should have.
– Were they so arrogant in their assumption of having it right? One example was claiming questioning elder’s decisions was “Satanic to the core.”
– Group think and confirmation bias.
– Since MacDonald had such great messages and perhaps “results” the “end justifies the means thinking?”
– James MacDonald was the product they sold and were mesmerized by his messages. They though no way could a man who had such a speaking gift possibly be so corrupt and wicked.
– These elders coveted their position so much that they weren’t willing to speak up and jeopardize their position?
I am sure it wasn’t just one cause but more a combination and could different with each elder.
Also it may be God’s will for HBC to implode.
Good afternoon Steve,
I hope you and your family are not amount the walking wounded. There are a lot.
There is no real mystery about HBC. As a entity with property – a church has to follow rules like the rest of us. It is where the spiritual meets the material after a fashion. The Executive Commitee is responsible for the health of the material entity. And that is where James MacDonald & team failed spectacularly. There is another 6 days of hard boring work to do: Budgets and planing, HR issue, working with associated churches, It is a long thankless list and running a church is a lot more that packing the pews on a Sunday.
I feel strongly that churches have the responsibility to prove to the members that the money they were trusted to collect was spent wisely and well. The debt load that HBC is carrying has been well known for years. Look at the TED website. HBC won’t collapse because James MacDonald left . It will collapse because James MacDonald and this executive team lost the confidence of the members. Members are voting with their feet and by closing their wallets.
Let’s say james has NPD. narcissistic personality disorder. We don’t know. Luke and Landon should have spoken up. Certainly all 3 can’t NPD have. Every campus pastor needs to go. Every elder at all levels need to go. Anyone in leadership who failed to act needs to go. A full Financial accounting of the last 25 years needs to happen. If there has been criminal activity law enforcement needs to be called and action taken. All of these positions needs to be filled by people above reproach
Standing for the [email protected] no one with any common sense can argue with that…..Things like the debacle at Harvest Bible chapel happen when men and women Fear man more than God…..and that’s exactly what happened with the GUTLESS Elders, The XLT and many of the Pastors and leaders at Harvest.
While I am happy to see that Dan has penned his open letter I am saddened at the lengths it took for something to convict him enough to do it.
My heart is broken over the sin and the continued need to somehow protect the brand name of Harvest. At this point the sermon series should be not about how David weathered a storm it should be on Nathan confronting Davis about his sin revealing the consequences of that sin and seeing a repentant king lower himself before the Lord. The next one should be on Achan whose sin caused the Israelites to suffer defeat at Ai and only when it was confronted by Joshua and the Nation of Israel and he confessed and once again, suffered the consequences of that sin and Israel moved forward.
The bible is full of the stories of confronting sin, admitting sin, turning aside from the sin recognizing there is still a consequence for those actions. I continue to see the leadership act like they can avoid the chastisement and consequence the Lord will bring for the sinful actions if they follow the public relations plan.
My prayer is that all the elders will not only say “I am sorry” but actually confess in the conviction of their sin. The church deserves total transparency no matter how ugly it may be – the past is over and the truth is out. There is no need to bury anything from anyone.
Only by open confession and showing their sin as Achan showed the Nation the devoted things he took from Jericho can the church move forward. Acting like the Catholic Church and trying to minimize the impact to save face is not the right approach. Look at how the tried to keep the brand afloat and how are they doing today?
Trust is a two way street – the congregation will trust your decision making when you show them you can be trusted with that power. The people who put the church in this place should not be the ones to fix it. They lost that trust.
Dan, I hope that what you said is the start of your healing. However, as someone who has been working through the hurt that our family received at HBC for the past 5 years forgive me for not being overly excited by an admission that comes when the cat is way out of the bag. I can only hope that your fellow elders will confess, repent and eventually be forgiven by those they have trampled through the years.
God is not judging and tearing down Harvest because of poor stupid decisions and manipulations by Macdonald, and his clan. That’s just the fruit of their blatant mishandling of God’s word. He’s judging Harvest and ALL the other big and small “so-called” church institutions who are deeply rooted in false doctrine. These are false prophets and teachers spreading damnable heresies, who cannot cease from sin that 2 Peter chapter 2 talks about. Big churches falling get big attention. God is warning these false teachers and followers.
There’s a reason that Willow, Harvest, Mars Hill, and many other corporate business’s cloaking as churches are falling… FALSE DOCTRINE! Revelation 18:4, And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, MY PEOPLE, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. That verse is talking TO THE CHURCH. Get out of these man made institutions that only parrot what they learned from other parrots for seminary school. Most of their damnable doctrine is a USA cultural thing. Try to find a sermon or message that’s older than 150-200 years on the some of the doctrine thats being spewed from the pulpit today.
Run as fast as you can from these fake institutions, and get out of all your study books and reading material from these false teachers who are fallible and subject to error, and stay in your Bible exclusively. The word of God will equip you in EVERYTHING and lack’s NOTHING! Start spending a crazy amount of time in God’s word and presence and he will lead you to “real” believers and fellowship the way scripture describes it.
You really hit it out of the park! Harvest was built around the talents of James MacDonald, a man and not Jesus Christ! Game over! I’ve read through these responses and it’s clear to me that there are many lost souls at Harvest! They were sold on the music, the spectacle of the weekly services, and mostly MacDonald’s take on Christianity.
I’m saddened by the acknowledgment of MacDonald’s skills of manipulation! I went there several times and new it was nothing other than showmanship. You’re right, get out your bible and read! Soak in the spirit of Jesus and listen to him. It’s Jesus we worship not James Macdonald…
Brother Dave go sit down and stop with the I’s
When you start saying Lord willing then maybe you can open your mouth
Until then be quiet and go sit at the brook and let the birds feed you
Your motives are self serving you are still in the flesh which is what most leaders are
Go take a time out
Tyranny feeds on lies…
No one on earth can say whether Dan is legitimate other than Dan. Nothing that you can do now Dan will truly determine the content of your character like revealing everything you know and opening the books. You should be leading the charge to make sure that every dishonest detail is disclosed. It may be hard and you may be intimidated, but God will be with you. Do it Brother!
I believe we’ve already seen the true content of James’ character, he’s gone, not a word. I think that is proof positive that he is not legit.
Why wouldn’t you fight with everything in your being to save the ministry that you shepherded for 30 years unless you were getting out of Dodge to save your own hide? I know he was fired but wouldn’t you think he would still care what happens to the Harvest Family that he helped to build up? Was there no real Love, no genuine friendships, no care at all? Wouldn’t you say something?
Now his BFF Rick has jumped the sinking ship as well. Going down to be the Sr. Pastor in Naples?? Perhaps he’s just getting out of Dodge before high noon as well. So sad.
I would agree those are really important Facts I have noticed. What is also sad are the people left who really don’t want to know the truth. They want to believe those who were close to James who remain really care for them and God’s church. I find that hard to believe. The love of money is really the Root of this evil. Jesus said the hired hand cares not for the sheep. Case and Point here!
unfortunately money, or the lack thereof, drives behaviour, I wonder if the remaining congregants stopped supporting the church financially until a forensic audit was started how fast would leadership move…
I just tried HBC Naples website, and got a white page…..
I appreciate the effort. My question is towards the future. The future of the churches in Chicago and the future of the other churches of the Great Commission Collective organization. Will the same models and influence of leadership become apparent there, something we have already experienced in a limited sense? Will transparency, openness and truth win the day? Will church members be “rehired” versus being “fired” , as per Jonathan Leeman’s title?
“I’m sorry” Is not repentance but just acknowledgement of a wrong that he partook of. Hopefully over time it will be proven that indeed it was the 1st step to true repentance and restitution made to everyone who was steam rolled by this leadership.
As a Pastor it is stunning to me that people don’t look to the Chief Shepherd alone but bow the knee to public opinion, politics, and power other than the Lord’s… smh
An individual apology is fine, but woefully insufficient.
Real repentance looks like this, and I’m directing this to all of the HBC elder board and former executive committee:
Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” Luke 19:8 (NASB)
DEFRAUDED ANYONE OF ANYTHING
Zaccheus admits it’s possible that he defrauded others and he offers to make restitution.
He isn’t waiting for the people he cheated to beg Jesus to make Zaccheus do the right thing.
My tithes and offerings to HBC were sacrificially given and intended to advance the gospel and help needy people. *IF* my gifts were diverted and squandered for greedy or nefarious purposes due to the weaknesses, failures or sins of the leadership, then I have been defrauded, along with everyone else who donated to HBC. The hurting people who would have received ministering from those funds, funds that were allegedly misused and diverted… they too were defrauded. Don’t you HBC leaders care what the Lord Jesus Christ thinks about defrauding people?
Elders and ex-leaders, if you have any serious intention of repenting of your failures, one form of restitution should look like this: Pay for an independent, exhaustive, forensic audit of HBC financial dealings for the last 15 or 20 years. As far back as you could go. As complete as possible. And publish the real truth no matter how ugly. That is, if you really want to make amends.
Well put, Song of Joy.
Great point. Because the Institutional Church operates as a business enterprise I believe they should be required to be at least as transparent financially as Corporate America. Had HBC been required to file the same types of quarterly reports that XYZ Inc. must file by law all of this junk would have been exposed 10 years ago. All the elders know about these requirements and as investors they would never buy a stock in a company where Financial Data is hidden!! Just trust us! Yeah, right! In most mega churches try asking for a line- item budget, just try. You will find out immediately that YOU are a problem. Of course the Ekkelsia was never meant to be a business to begin with but this is America (Babylon the Great.). Follow the money in the Institutional Church in America and you will find out how every decision is ultimately made. God help us all. I see the whips, Do you?
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