James MacDonald Removes Walk in the Word From TV & Radio Amid Controversy

By Julie Roys
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Popular radio preacher and megachurch pastor, James MacDonald, has announced he is pulling his Bible teaching program, Walk in the Word, from all radio and TV platforms over the next couple months. The announcement comes about a month after my investigative report in WORLD Magazine, and subsequent blog posts, revealed allegations of spiritual and financial abuse by MacDonald and his Chicago-area megachurch, Harvest Bible Chapel.

In a surprise announcement to staff on Wednesday, MacDonald said he had decided to remove Walk in the Word from all “traditional” broadcast mediums and exclusively focus on digital delivery, like podcasts. MacDonald said the reason for the change was primarily pragmatic.

“Traditional broadcast is a dying thing,” MacDonald said in a live announcement to staff that was recorded by Harvest and sent to me by an anonymous source. “What that means is that the cost of it continues to rise while the demographic of it continues to age and the response to it continues to diminish.”

However, MacDonald also admitted that the current controversy is straining relationships with Christian broadcast ministries. Walk in the Word currently is broadcast on more than 2,000 outlets, including stations on the Moody Radio Network, Salem Radio Network and Trinity Broadcast Network.

“When our church goes through difficult times like of late, that becomes even more of a strain and a burden to carry in a way that none of you would ever even know what goes on behind the scenes.”

“There’s all the upkeep that’s going on with all the relationships,” MacDonald said. “When our church goes through difficult times like of late, that becomes even more of a strain and a burden to carry in a way that none of you would ever even know what goes on behind the scenes.”

Over the past several weeks, numerous radio listeners have told me that they contacted Moody Radio to complain about the network carrying Walk in the Word.

In an email to Greg Thornton, Moody senior vice president of media, listeners Tim and Jessica Hockett of Evanston, IL, wrote: “We trust that you are familiar with the recent controversies involving James Macdonald and Harvest Bible Chapel, including the (mis)use of donations from Walk in the Word . . . We ask that you would carefully consider the weight of all allegations and supporting evidence against James MacDonald and the Elders of HBC—including their decision to file a defamation lawsuit against 5 believers—and remove Walk in the Word from Moody Radio programming.”

Thornton responded, “While we’re not at liberty to discuss programming selections, we prayerfully and closely monitor the impact of all Moody Radio programs to our constituents, and we invite you to join us in continued prayer for a Godly resolution to the internal conflict at Harvest Bible Chapel.”

Even so, MacDonald maintained that his decision was something that he had considered for years, but especially in the month of December. He complained that Christian radio networks like Salem continue to give their prime-time slots to veteran broadcasters like John MacArthur, Chuck Swindoll, and even deceased preachers like J. Vernon McGee. This, MacDonald claimed, forced programs like Walk in the Word to pay two-thirds to three-quarters as much money for time slots that delivered less than half the audience.

He said Christian radio is “increasingly trapped in an old generation,” and claimed that the future is in digital delivery. “We want to grow . . . and reach more people than we ever have before,” he said, “but less of the, you know, 75-year-old lady in Kansas City who’s listening to her third sermon today, and more of the young adults, or even college student, who’s consuming their media on their mobile device.”

According to MacDonald, 70-percent of Walk in the Word’s audience already is engaged digitally. He added that sales of Walk in the Word products—like CDs, curriculum, and books—have dropped by as much as 700-percent in the last five years.

MacDonald said Walk in the Word staff would be reduced but didn’t specify by how much. He only said that more than one-third of the staff would remain. According to Harvest’s website, Walk in the Word will no longer employ veteran radio host Wayne Shepherd.

Below is audio of the announcement MacDonald made to the staff:

https://soundcloud.com/user-932579306/witw-meeting

 

After this post published, I saw the following Facebook post by Rich McClary, general manager of Minnesota Christian Broadcasters Inc. Several radio executives told me the same off-the-record, but McClary was the first I heard say it publicly:

 

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42 thoughts on “James MacDonald Removes Walk in the Word From TV & Radio Amid Controversy”

  1. James MacDonald is more concerned about being a comedian and entertaining his audience. I’m glad he is off…. he was getting very difficult to listen to.

    1. When he said “I do what I was asked like I always do” I thought I heard laughter in the background. That is a good one!

  2. One of the finest preachers and teachers, in our time. Listen to this man for the past twenty years, and listen to him.

  3. I’m a huge fan of James McDonald’s preaching and teaching style. I was so curious as to why he was no longer on TBN. I listened every Sunday morning. I’m not sure about these claims against him but I took note of him never beggin for money. I am so sorry to see his program off air. If there is a podcast, I wld love to get it.

  4. I Thank Our Heavenly Father for James MacDonald. . started listening to him waiting for Joyce Meyers to come on . Im a Joyce Meter girl. Im 63. Been with Joyce sence 1992. . Because of Joyce. . ..I have many preachers. ..Myra Godsey

  5. Christa M Walker

    James McDonald I’m sorry you are no longer on TV or radio and I miss your teaching. You were very valuable to my learning the Bible and having a personal relationship with God. When you come back from you sabbatical I kno it will be a blessing to me and Many others. I haven’t seen any forgiveness. I do forgive and wish you and your Family better times looking forward to listening to you soon . Thank you

  6. I am sorry to learn about the sabbatical and all the issues circling around. Pastor James’ teachings on scripture saved and turned my life around nearly 18 months ago. I pray for him and his family and look forward to his return to the pulpit

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