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Reporting the Truth.
Restoring the Church.

James MacDonald Preaching at ARC Megachurch in Arizona

By Julie Roys
James MacDonald Generation Church
On December 19, 2022, James MacDonald preaches at Generation Church in Mesa, Arizona. (Video screengrab)

Despite being disqualified from public ministry by his former megachurch for a “pattern of sinful behavior,” James MacDonald is preaching at Generation Church—an Association of Related Churches (ARC) megachurch in Mesa, Arizona.

ARC is one of the largest church planting organizations in North America. And a number of ARC churches have been embroiled in sexual and financial scandals over the past couple years.

In a Christmas newsletter to supporters, MacDonald wrote that during the winter months, he and his wife, Kathy, are attending Generation Church. He added that at the church’s invitation, he has preached to the staff, men’s ministry, and congregation “multiple times.”

Videos posted to YouTube show MacDonald preached at Generation Church at least four times in 2022. He also spoke at a “Bold Men’s Night” at the church. 

In 2019, Harvest Bible Chapel—the Chicago-area church where MacDonald pastored for more than 30 years—fired MacDonald for conduct “harmful” to the church. The firing came within 24 hours of a broadcast of a vulgar, hot mic recording of MacDonald on Chicago morning-drive radio.

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Several months later, Harvest formally disqualified MacDonald for a pattern of “disruptive,” “bullying,” greedy, and “reckless” behavior.

A financial review commissioned by the church found that MacDonald had misused millions in church funds. However, MacDonald claims he’s innocent of those charges. And he is suing the Chicago attorney and accountants who prepared the review.

james macdonald
James MacDonald and his wife, Kathy, at Generation Church (Photo via Instagram)

When introducing MacDonald to his church last February, Generation Church Pastor Ryan Visconti called MacDonald “a godly man” and “a great example of what it looks like to live for Jesus and make disciples.”

Visconti added that MacDonald had “planted a church over 30 years ago in Chicago that grew to over 15,000 people in regular weekly attendance.” Visconti also mentioned MacDonald’s former broadcast ministry, which he claimed “was one of the most disseminated Bible teachings on radio across America.”

Visconti did not mention MacDonald’s firing, disqualification, or alleged misuse of church funds.

Instead, Visconti said that that to him, having MacDonald attend his church was like being the “high school quarterback” and finding out “Brett Favre was at your football game.” He added that he and MacDonald had been meeting regularly and that MacDonald had become “a mentor.”

The Roys Report reached out to Visconti for comment about platforming MacDonald, but Visconti did not immediately reply.

MacDonald’s son, Landon MacDonald, serves as lead teaching pastor at nearby Mission Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona. Landon also served as an executive pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel but resigned in the wake of his father’s firing. Like his father, Landon also has faced allegations of bullying and spiritual abuse.

James MacDonald’s other son, Luke MacDonald, is pastoring an ARC church plant in the Chicago area, called Good News in the Neighborhood. Luke also was an executive pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel and resigned at the same time as his brother.

Luke has likewise been accused of bullying and bizarre behavior, like urinating in meetings and throwing chairs in a rage.

Julie Roys is a veteran investigative reporter and founder of The Roys Report. She also previously hosted a national talk show on the Moody Radio Network, called Up for Debate, and has worked as a TV reporter for a CBS affiliate. Her articles have appeared in numerous periodicals. 

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26 Responses

  1. Here’s the thing about many in today’s Church: They couldn’t give a hoot about a Preacher being “Publicly Disqualified” from Ministry. People today, even Church leaders, simply do not subscribe to the authority of the Scripture as previous generations did. My prediction is James MacDonald will organize a new Church and it will grow to large proportions and become a mega sized Congregation, perhaps, and People will already have heard about what happened with him at his former Church…but it simply won’t matter!

    I see it all the time these days. The young Pastors of ARC Churches are very arrogant, puffed up in pride and self-indulgence and self-importance, and many believe that they are unmovable due to the Biblical illiteracy of the People that they lead. If MacDonald organizes a new Church, it will take off like wild fire! Whether we like it or not, he is a very good teacher with a certain amount of Charisma, and that is usually all it takes to swoon People.

    1. TOTALLY AGREE! It’s hard to believe it is only 4 short years ago that Julie wrote “Hard Times At Harvest”, which started it all. It is appalling that the secular world would shun a person that has done the things MacDonald has done, yet a church welcomes him with open arms.

      1. It is the responsibility of the congregation not to support a church when it looses its’ way and will not correct its’ behavior when called out. Evil needs our consent in order to thrive.

        I will give you an example from a JMD sermon:

        JMD addressed a complaint by some in the congregation because he never taught out of MMLK. He of course mocked them by saying “I have a bunch of verses from MMLJ I will quote to you”, then after quoting half of a verse or so, out of Luke, said “that’s all you get.” Someone(s) in the audience spoke up immediately and he answered them by saying, “You don’t like it? You consented to this.” and moved on with whatever he was talking about.

        1. Andrew, thanks for sharing this example. It’s shocking on multiple counts. First, that any minister would omit teaching from the four gospels. Second, that the man insults his own congregants. Third, who would tolerate such abuse?

          1. Having interacted with people from JMD’s HcN (that is also the chemical abbreviation for hydrogen cyanide), they seem to be in an abusive relationship.
            JMD uses doublespeak, with trauma based imagery. He will say one thing and then contradict it in the next sentence, but if you point this out to them, they will tell you that he either did not say that, that’s not what he meant, or you misheard. He brought a lamb on stage, asked everyone to close their eyes and imagine what it looked/sounded like, when the lambs were sacrificed for Passover, described in great detail the instruments used, the lambs screaming and the blood. Asked everyone to open their eyes, then mimed slashing the lambs neck with a big old grin on his face (which is a tell when an abuser/liar/sociopath believes they have “won”).
            Very groomer type behavior, which seems to cause doublethink (or cognitive dissonance if you prefer) in his followers which cannot be questioned w/o an angry response.

          2. Forgot to include the doublespeak example:

            JMD did a sermon on how God doesn’t cause illness when we sin.

            He said (paraphrased, I am not going to re-watch it, going off my notes), “God does not give us an illness from our sinning.” Then the very next statement was, “This is how God gives us an illness when we sin.”

            When people are going to a service for the personality preaching and not what is being taught, they do not recognize or catch the contradictions (or check the scripture against what is said, as we are commanded to do), it set ups a cognitive dissonance and makes them easier to control.

  2. I couldn’t agree more Wayne. Many of these preachers are so much like—to me—like Jude 11-13. And to hold them accountable is in their mind as if you called God out. I believe that restoration in the faith is absolutely possible but does not imply church leadership is to be restored. Now I don’t want to cast stones in glass houses—I have a lot to work on—but celebrity seems to trump scriptural mandates. And in todays church the number of congregants somehow equates to God’s blessing. Anyway I rattled to say again—thank you for a well articulated post.

  3. I believe that what we have to understand here is that James MacDonald (and the like) are basically salesmen, and good ones at that. As long as they maintain their charisma, which is comparable to nothing more than window-dressing and maintain their contacts via the evangelical networking machine, they have a platform for being “used and useful”. Never mind that they have been summarily defrocked and correctly labeled as unfit for duty. It just doesn’t matter. The evangelical machine has a very short memory, or as I have observed, no memory. And as long as the James MacDonald’s of the evangelical assembly line are part and parcel of the good old boys network, they have it made in the shade, more’s the pity. Stay on it Julie! You are doing a superb job.

  4. Wish we could go back to the time when pastors were more like apostles & disciples and less like celebrities ✝️

  5. “When introducing MacDonald to his church last February, Generation Church Pastor Ryan Visconti called MacDonald “a godly man” and “a great example of what it looks like to live for Jesus and make disciples.”

    This demonstrates a clear lack of discernment and how hero and celebrity worship has taken over and displaced sound doctrine.

    Matthew 12:34 (ESV): “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

    1. He who has no sin let him cast the first stone . Has he repented ? We just don’t know . Is this good reporting from Julie or has it become a vendetta with her against pastor James. Maybe we all need to repent and move on. What if Christ kept throwing our sins up in our face. Im not saying there was no sin or wrong doing however we dont know the heart . Are his current teaching out of line biblically. Maybe before we slam someone past we should ask Christ if we are honoring him. Just another perspective. Bless you all. Merry Christmas

      1. Jim: I believe your post is worth considering and carries validity with it. However I also believe Julie is keeping the flock out of harm’s way by keeping us informed of the movements of the wolves. To be sure, it’s a fine line to walk, but I believe Julie does this with professionalism and humility. Being one of the casualties of the Harvest Bible Chapel disaster, I appreciate the very timely information she provides from her investigative journalism.

      2. Jim, with all due respect, I think you are an example of why James MacDonald is still in business. You asked, “Has he repented?” the obvious answer is an emphatic NO! How do I know? For starters, a truly repented Man would publicly acknowledge his Sin towards his former Congregation and the individuals he hurt along the way. Has he done that? Not to my knowledge.

        Furthermore, A truly repented Man would submit himself to others for accountability, Biblical counseling, reconciliation, and restoration. Has he done any of that? No! He is actually still suing People for one reason or another. There is no humility coming from James MacDonald, just bitterness, anger, blame shifting, and a refusal to take responsibility for all that has transpired. Think about it, if he had been what he should have been according to 1 Timothy 3:1-7 & Titus 1:5-9, we wouldn’t be having this conversation because he would still be leading the Church that he organized and led successfully for many years.

      3. Has he repented of looking for a hitman to kill his own soon to be ex-son-in-law? Hell no! Another vote to throw out Timothy and Titus and good ol’ common sense. This men is among the very worst of the worst. Hit Men? You just want to overlook that?

  6. One of the things that leads me to believe the accusations against James are largely true is his Twitter account, which reeks of obsessive bitterness, anger, resentment, and a desire to get back at those he believes are responsible for his downfall. His supporters on Twitter are just like him as well, which only further adds to the impression one gets from his own Twitter account.

    1. I agree! I had to force myself to stop looking at his Twitter account because I became so disturbed by it. We also were Harvest members in Canada, and going through experiences with church up here, we can say that there seems to be no repentance. However, we continue to pray for it.

  7. How very nice and tidy………”Yes, in the winter months, we hop on a jet and spend a lovely season in Arizona.” Another boring, affluent evangelical virtue signaling the ease and delight of being “Above it all.”

    When did evangelical wealth in this country actually equate to ignorance, arrogance, and stupidity. I’m 65 years of age and desperately miss my grandparents generation. To be ethical, middle class, and represent a work ethic in this country, has become a curse of loneliness.

    But I digress. Perhaps I’m the problem. Alas………I should probably be hanging out more often with that kind hearted soul who worships money………Dave Ramsey. Just sayin’

    1. From JMD recent twitter post”

      James MacDonald
      @jamesmacdonald
      ·
      Sep 10
      A beautiful late summer Saturday. Heading back to Chitwn to preach from Rock Bottom. Can’t wait.
      But first:

      • clip toenails, ✅
      • belch if needed ✅
      • check for seat upgrade ✅
      • rebuke/block twitterflys ✅

      Now for a nice peaceful flight ✈️

  8. The only issue is whether the customers are willing to attend the show. I guess they are, or the show would close.

  9. Hi Mrs. Roys,

    Just an FYI, I went to JMD site to copy his 5 part Roy’s expose and he appears to have scrubbed it from his archives. He “showed his ass” in it and it completely contradicts what he “preaches”. He seems to be doing the same on his twit, the pictures of you he posted with captioning, appear to be gone. I pray you archived all of his nonsense to call him on it when the time comes.

    Also, I have tried to find anything about his life in Canada, but cannot located any info on him before he came to the States (which is unusual). Any link or resource you could point me to?

    thank you,
    AT

      1. Ironically, JMac’s unhinged, ungodly rantings he meant to vindicate himself further demonstrate why he is biblically disqualified from Christian leadership.

  10. Julie –

    Having just scrolled thru James MacDonald’s Twitter, I wanted to come and say I am in prayer for you. His bitter obsession with you is not only not of Christ, but it is downright alarming.
    I don’t always agree with you (and when I don’t, I seek to understand); yet you don’t deserve to be the subject of targeted harassment that, in MY opinion, borders on threatening.
    As your sister in Christ I am covering you in prayer as you keep answering to your calling. Be encouraged! Merry Christmas.

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