The Lawsuit, The Sermon, The Selection of Elders: An Update On The Disappointing Developments at Harvest

By Julie Roys
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When Harvest Bible Chapel fired James MacDonald nearly two months ago, I was cautiously optimistic. “God can rebuild something beautiful from these ashes,” I wrote. “That is His will. And He will do it if we remain focused and submitted to Him.”

Unfortunately, whatever beauty exists at Harvest continues to be obscured by ungodliness. As former Elder Dan George said when he resigned two weeks ago, the elder board continues to be controlled by former executive committee members—the same people responsible for Harvest’s “ungodly” and potentially fraudulent spending. George also warned that if the board did not “radically change,” Harvest would not “be able to rid itself of the old sinful, secretive, siloed, and controlling culture.”

“Sadly, the old adage that ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’ seems to aptly describe Harvest. Yes, there has been change. But none of the change seems to have transformed Harvest’s diseased culture.”

Yet the board did not change. Instead, it dug in, denied the problem. And as the church characteristically did under MacDonald’s leadership, it strongly censured the whistleblower, accusing George of sowing “mistrust and division in the body.”

Sadly, the old adage that “the more things change, the more they stay the same” seems to aptly describe Harvest. Yes, there has been change. But none of the change seems to have transformed Harvest’s diseased culture.

Church leaders refuse to own much of their sin, and repent of it publicly. Leaders continue to try and hide the truth.The pulpit remains a means of manipulation. And stunningly, old, disqualified elders are being used to pick a supposedly new and improved elder board.

The Lawsuit

In January, Harvest and MacDonald dropped their frivolous and unbiblical lawsuit against me, the authors of The Elephants Debt—Ryan Mahoney and Scott Bryant—and their wives. That was a welcome development, but two major issues remained.

One, the lawsuit cost the Mahoneys, Bryants, and me tens of thousands of dollars. And two, the lawsuit itself (and accompanying elder updates and comments to the media) included outlandish lies about me and the other four defendants.

Recently, Harvest reached an agreement with me that included the church paying for all my legal fees, including an additional $15,000 to compensate me for the defamatory comments MacDonald had made about me on the recording aired on Mancow’s radio show. Scott Bryant told me that the church also has settled with him and covered all his legal fees. For these developments, I am grateful.

Also, shortly after reaching an agreement with Harvest, I received an email from Harvest counsel, Chris Nudo, informing me that the elders would like to meet with me to offer a “heartfelt apology for the pain caused by the litigation.”

“As part of the Mahoneys’ litigation, their attorney sent me a subpoena for audio of a recorded conversation . . . Yet as Harvest has done before, the church predictably did again, filing a motion to quash the subpoena so this information never becomes public.”

I appreciated the elders’ sentiment. However, I told Nudo that for the elders’ apology to be meaningful, the elders would need to publicly renounce the lies they’ve published about me. Nudo responded that the elders would be in touch with me after considering the issue.

That was two weeks ago. I have heard nothing from the elders since.

Meanwhile, the Mahoneys remain in litigation with the church. They have filed a motion for sanctions against Harvest under the Illinois Supreme Court Rule 137. This rule allows a party to recover attorney fees spent defending frivolous litigation.

As part of the Mahoneys’ litigation, their attorney sent me a subpoena for audio of a recorded conversation involving James MacDonald, as well as a transcript of that recording. This is something I have never published for legal reasons. But it is something that is of significant public interest and is relevant to the Mahoneys’ case.

Yet as Harvest has done before, the church predictably did again, filing a motion to quash the subpoena so this information never becomes public. So much for Harvest’s alleged new era of transparency.

The Sermon

Much already has been said on social media concerning the sermon Harvest Theologian in Residence Michael Vanlaningham gave on Sunday. For those who missed it, Vanlanigham asserted that forgiveness involves promising never to bring up an incident that’s been forgiven, nor to talk about the incident with others. Then he asserted:

Now I just want to suggest, “I promise I will not bring up this incident” and “I promise I will not talk to others about this incident”—that rules out social media. Listen up! Social media has become social mania. Blogging has become flogging. Tweeting is now beating. And Christians are doing that against Christians! If somebody does you wrong, you don’t go home and post about it on Facebook for your 1,000 friends so it’s out there forever guys. It’s just wrong. That’s sin. It’s called slander. It’s called gossip. It’s called something we ought never to do to one another in the body of Christ. And, oh my goodness, how we’ve gotten out of control with that stuff! We have to learn to forgive.

Given normal circumstances, what Vanlaningham said might not have triggered backlash. However, these are not normal circumstances. For years, Harvest leaders have shamed the congregation from engaging in social media—or reading blogs exposing corruption at Harvest, like The Elephant’s Debt—saying to do so was gossiping and sowing discord.

Granted, the specific issue Vanlaningham addressed was publicly posting about a personal offense, rather than a public offense like corruption at Harvest. Yet given the context of past shaming, what he said, which lacked any clarification or nuance, felt like the familiar urging to turn a blind eye to the online exposure of ongoing corruption at Harvest.

What’s worse, at the 11:00 a.m. service at the Rolling Meadows campus, Vanlaningham upped the ante, passionately urging congregants to raise their hands if they’re willing to “stop the madness on social media.”

According to Alex Hageli, who attended that service, only about a third of the people in the congregation raised their hands. Vanlaningham then responded, “There’s a lot of you who aren’t (raising your hand). Oh, that’s too bad. Pray for the Holy Spirit to get a hold of you.”

The audio of that sermon is no longer available online, but below is a short clip from the sermon, which includes Vanlaningham’s request.

Also, here’s video of the sermon Harvest posted online. The part about social media can be heard from 27:21 to 28:22.

Again, under normal circumstances, what Vanlaningham said might be acceptable. But given the pattern of control and manipulation at Harvest, it was unwise at best—and at worst, a sign that the old, manipulative patterns remain.

Also, Vanlaningham makes a very disconcerting statement near the end of his sermon. In this statement, he addresses public discussions about Harvest. And then he conflates the public criticism of the church—which almost exclusively has targeted corrupt leaders—with the congregation itself.

At around 35:39 on the video above, he says, “I am grieved with what people are now saying about this church.” Then he points at the audience and says, “—about you. And I care for you guys a lot. I think I’m well on my way to loving you. And it is quite a dismay to see it happen.”

I was dumbfounded when I heard that. With these statements, Vanlaningham essentially created an “us-them” scenario, where the congregation and Vanlaningham—“us”— is being abused by “them”—the outside bloggers and social media users. But the reality is that bloggers and social media users aren’t abusing the congregation; Harvest’s corrupt leaders are. That is the “them” Vanlaningham should be calling out. Instead, he continues to point the fingers at outside critics, as though we’re the problem. That’s false and it’s wrong.

I have reached out to Vanlaningham for comment, but he has declined to say anything on the record. That really saddens me. Less than a year ago, Vanlaningham was a professor at the Moody Bible Institute and a repeat guest on my former Moody Radio program, Up for Debate. I really respected him during my time there, and this is not a message I would have expected from him.

Elder Selection

Lastly, there’s the matter of elder selection. As I’ve already mentioned, the elders currently running Harvest are the same ones responsible for approving the gross financial mismanagement there. However, Harvest says it plans to have a new board in place by the end of May, so does it really matter?

Actually, it matters greatly. These men shirked their fiduciary responsibility and have a strong interest in keeping Harvest’s financials hidden forever. Why the church would continue to allow them to have access to these documents, let alone control the direction of the church, is beyond baffling. It’s no wonder that Harvest still has not opened its books nor revealed the compensation it paid James MacDonald and former Harvest executives. And, though it’s extraordinarily unusual for an auditing firm like Plante Moran to refuse a job like auditing Harvest, given the circumstances, it makes sense that it did.

In addition, the elder selection process appears to be heavily controlled by campus pastors, who were tied to the former corrupt leadership to varying degrees, as well as disqualified elders. According to the church website, the campus pastors nominated all 13 of the current candidates for the new elder board, and former elders vetted them. This, despite the fact that the church posted on its FAQ page on March 2nd that “no one who has ever served as an elder before at Harvest will be part of (elder) nominations.”

There also are seven former elders serving on the elder selection committee. And of those seven, six signed the infamous letter last December pledging “unconditional support” for James MacDonald. That letter has since been removed from Harvest’s website but is posted below.

These disqualified men—Jay Patel, Elvin Valez, Mike Lawson, Ron Frahler, Jeff Kee, and Joe Brightwell—should have zero input into the selection of new elders. And it’s shocking that Harvest would elect a “new elder board” using old, disqualified elders. But once again, the more things change at Harvest, the more they stay the same.

Elder Statement of “Unconditional Support”

Elder Statement of Record _ Harvest Bible Chapel

 

Harvest Elder Application

Here is the application elders were sent. There’s much that’s worthy of comment in it. But for starters, it asks applicants whether they are tithing to the church. Normally, I would say tithing is a prerequisite for being an elder. But until Harvest opens its books and proves it has solved its mismanagement issues, giving to this church is irresponsible. I wonder if those prudent members who stopped tithing to Harvest were disqualified? I have emailed Harvest’s elders and asked questions about the process, but they have not responded.

Elder_App

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139 thoughts on “The Lawsuit, The Sermon, The Selection of Elders: An Update On The Disappointing Developments at Harvest”

  1. Hopeful about Harvest

    This is great, Julie. You’re proving Dr. V’s points! This is not investigative journalism. Much of it is speculation, anger and fear-mongering. Good reasons to stay off social media. You’ve done a good work in helping to expose the past problems at Harvest. I think you should examine closely if it’s time to move on to something else, lest people should start to use the measure you’re using to measure you. The bottom line is, not everything that has happened in the past needs to be played out in a public forum. Sorry, but you don’t need to know. If there is anything to know. Not everyone is entitled to all the details. Why spend life straining out the gnats? People are imperfect. That’s why we all need a Savior. News Flash: The current elders, who will soon be former elders, are going to make mistakes along the way. But, I’ll choose to do what the Scriptures teach and believe the best about people, unless I have PROOF otherwise.

    1. HOPEFUL ABOUT HARVEST…aren’t you disobeying Dr. V by posting on social media???

      It is not the time to stop as the truth in its entirety as not been exposed. It is does need to play out in the public atleast in front of the congregation past and present as we are the ones they deceived and misused used our time, talents, and money. The leadership is accountable to us. I would like to believe you would want to know if your children were exposed to any of the multiple people with criminal or sexual backgrounds Harvest allowed to be over the students. Harvest needs to account for the missing money. Silence or stopping at this point would allow this to continue to be covered up….NOT ACCEPTABLE!!!!!

    2. Wow, what a complete fraud you are. Speculation? You mean speculation about the facts she documented here? The pictures she put up? Is it speculation regarding the composition of the elder board and the former elders who did the selection? Is it speculation about Dr. V’s message? Was the video doctored? You are part of the problem, and your beef is with Jesus. That’s right, face the One Who spoke of whispers in inner rooms being shouted from rooftops, and stop hating the fact that they are. But then again, the way you come across here, you act like someone who does not care one bit about anything Jesus said. I think you need a savior.

    3. If ever there was a post that proved up Julie’s contention that “the more things change, the more they remain the same at Harvest”, you just made it. Wow, what an abusive, vicious, ungodly, anti-Christ culture . Wow, you just nailed it!

    4. Dear Hopeful About Harvest, So she did a good job at exposing the problems but now she should just stop even thought the problems still exist? Furthermore, she continues to expose the new problems to replace the old unresolved problems. Her job is not over and she does not do her job in a cruel and vindictive manner. This IS A PUBLIC forum issue because the leadership of HBC have drug her and others into court – a very legal and public place. This is a PUBLIC formum issue because HBC wont publickly acknowlege those they have wronged. I really hope HBC gets this issue resolved and does it in a Godly manner which starts with confession and repentence. Until then, her job is not done.

    5. Haha!! In other words, you’ll continue to bury your head in the sand, while pretending that you’re attending an actual “church.” What a total joke.

  2. Why did HBC not pay the legal fees for the Mahoneys as a sign of restitution? Until there is true repentance, God will continue to withhold His blessing to a sinful church due to the pride of its leadership. If my arithmetic is correct; HBC is down $2M for its Q1 budget. Glory to God for the spiritually mature saints in fellowship at HBC in giving their tithes to other honest and worthy organizations. Trust that this will be a sign for the leadership in self-examination and reflection. With a decline in both attendance and tithes; more staff, staff salaries and perks should be trim to the barebone. Pastoral staff and former leadership personnel should be solicited for funding that is tax-deductible since they were the culprits that put HBC in this mess originally. I see no discussion of another outside accounting firm auditing the HBC financial books. Will the 20% XLT private financial books ever be open for true transparency? I must say that I am extremely disappointed w/ Dr. Vanlaningham. I enjoy listening to him on WMBI Open Mike; yet it seems that the HBC virus has affected him besides Mary and sonflwrs. Yet he should know better (James 3:1)

    1. I just want to say that the whole truth about the corrupt LEADERSHIP of HBC has not yet come out and I pray that the Lord will shine the light of His Word, so that the enemy of our souls (Satan) will not continue to blind the wonderful members and parishioners of HBC. As a former 5-year member of HBC, I totally agree with Julie’s comment in this blog (see below, copied in quotes):

      “I was dumbfounded when I heard that. With these statements, Vanlaningham essentially created an “us-them” scenario, where the congregation and Vanlaningham—“us”— is being abused by “them”—the outside bloggers and social media users. But the reality is that bloggers and social media users aren’t abusing the congregation; Harvest’s corrupt leaders are. That is the “them” Vanlaningham should be calling out. Instead, he continues to point the fingers at outside critics, as though we’re the problem. That’s false and it’s wrong.”

      Social media and bloggers are NOT abusing the congregation. Harvest’s corrupt leaders are abusing the congregation (past and present). I LOVE my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are still at Harvest! The issue is the LEADERS that are telling lies to the Body of Christ at HBC.

      I, too, do not recognize the Dr. Michael Vanlaningham I’ve heard numerous times on Moody Radio, especially with Dr. Michael Rydelnik. Also, when the light of God’s Word was shone upon Moody Bible Institute, why was Dr. Vanlaningham fired along with a number of other professors? I would really like to know the truth about that too.

      And, where is James MacDonald, and what has he done with my 5 years of tithe which I would like to have back to give to my current church?

      That’s all I have to say for now – Lord, may Your will be done in Your time!!!!

  3. Wow, six pages Elder Candidate Questionnaire and no requirements for blood test or 1st born. Two great questions “How do you respond to criticism?” and “What do you do if things do not go your way?” If this was used for JimmyMac; we wouldn’t be in this mess today. Candidates can contact Rick Singer for assistance as he has help others into the top universities..

  4. Many will differ in their thought processes much less opinion in this matter. Those that feel otherwise that enough is enough, too much detail and not everyone needs to know, to let it be, and let bygones be exactly that- to move on and onto the next topic- really shouldn’t be blogging here. You create more palpable fear and division here due to your choosing willful ignorance over facts. Julie reports the solid facts and we in interpret for what it is. Some with and others without biblical recourse. If you would rather not know and don’t care to know then please spare yourself the build up of tension and anxiety and stay arms-length away from your keyboard and from this blog. Enuff said.

    1. Hopeful about Harvest

      We would let it go, but we NEED to expose the TRUTH about Julie. BTW, the truth is what I say it is, regardless of proof. Because, well, I just don’t believe you, or like you, or you messed up in the past. If you haven’t studied logic, it’s called circular reasoning.

      1. Hopeful, Your logic to “Let it go” means that you wish to keep the status quo and allow sin to flourish at HBC. True change (repentance) needs to happen. Do not allow Satan to use you as a tool to spin the truth and point fingers at others as these “false leaders” are doing. II Timothy 4:3 When you point a finger at someone else; how any fingers are pointing at you? (please do this actual physical illustration as I make a point; no pun intended) There are those that continue to put their faith and trust in the McDonald disciples which will lead them astray to a promiseland similar to Jonestown. Is it not OK to reveal the truth about HBC being $40M in debt? What about the truth about JimmyMac building a 8000 SF MacMansion w/ 10 car garage while HBC congregates rent, have had homes foreclosure, some working 2-3 and-4 jobs to make ends meet? Should you also contact the Chicago Tribune, The Herald, CBS, NBC, ABC, WGN, PBS, FOX, The Christian Post, Time magazine, etc. to let it go. They are all wrong in revealing the truth.

  5. Hopeful about Harvest “But, I’ll choose to do what the Scriptures teach and believe the best about people, unless I have PROOF otherwise.” How much proof do you need????

    1. Hopeful about Harvest

      Outside of what Julie reports happened with her directly (who knows if that’s true either), there is no proof of any wrongdoing in this post. She’s simply taking bits and pieces of information and gluing them together with assumptions of bad motives and secretive, sinful actions. Sorry but that’s not proof. I’m not talking about what James MacDonald did. That’s different and in the past. All the elders can’t just walk away on the spot, but they understand they need to leave soon. They’ve admitted that and asked for forgiveness! See Bill Sperling’s statement in Feb. on behalf of the elders. The current elders need to help facilitate a transition plan, and when it’s in place, leave. Otherwise, how will an orderly transition take place? Who will be in charge? Because Julie doesn’t like the process and it’s on a blog doesn’t mean it’s proof, or truth. Because we have an example of something, at some point, involving someone doesn’t mean that everyone and everything is always tainted. This post is a ton of speculation and opinion.

      1. Hopeful About Harvest – Do you truly want the precious elders that gave unconditional support to JM and enabled all the lies and deceit at HBC to be the ones that transition to the new elders? I know I don’t.

        The new elders should NOT learn how to be elders from the old elders. The previous elders/leaders should have NOTHING to do with the new elders.

        I was under the impression that Harvest 2020 was the transition to a new leadership at HBC. Sadly that was not the case, the old elders will “teach” the new elders, and the lies and deceit will continue.

        Jesus did not die on a cross for this. He did not want this for His church, His bride.

        1. Sorry – typo above.

          Jesus died on a cross for us. He did not want this for His church, His bride.

      2. WrestledWithGod

        Hopeful about Harvest,

        When the church says (in essence):

        “We made some mistakes. We ask forgiveness. Now it’s sin to bring it up again cuz we said ‘sorry’.”

        I call THAT sweeping it under the rug with no specifics. Hundreds were slandered, hundreds were spiritually abused, thousands were shunned and some left the faith over this. I know you all want to move on to serve the Lord but the Word teaches that saying “you mistakes and are sorry” is NOT repentance. The Word of God requires that you listen to what the “sinned against” are saying and helping them through this. Your leadership is calling that sin…and listening to anyone hurt on social media is sin and anyone who hasn’t forgiven is in sin…Many people have been deeply hurt by Harvest. Many slandered and shunned and treated unfairly. Don’t we have to wait until THEY are ok? Is it really sin for these folks to speak about it? If so, show me that verse. You’ve all been made to believe that your leaders have done everything…EVERYTHING they can to make things right. My daughter left the faith over this. What do they do for her? Is putting the past in the rear view mirror the right thing for her? Or do you not care about those who were hurt to that degree? There were many. True repentance is described well here and I don’t see even a hint of earnestness in Harvest’s repentance. I see a strong strong desire to “move forward” and never talk about the sin again. I’m thinking those are symptoms of worldly grief where the sinner is calling all the shots. Am I wrong?

        “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”

        ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭7:9-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

  6. Wow what a bunch of creepy devils run Harvest and blog how great it is still. The time for a forensic accounting is long overdue.

    1. Mancow, please post the full audio recording that finally led to JimmyMac’s firing. There are those that see, HBC in heading in the right direction by stating that “This post is a ton of speculation and opinion.” Yet the Satanic filled leadership continue to lead the blind sheep through the “wide gate and broad way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” Matt. 7:13. JimmyMac’s former business empire will change the name and faces in leadership. But the deceit, greedy and sinful behavior will still continues. HBC’s real Mission statement “For the lack of money is a root of all evil. Some people, not eager for money, have wandered and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Those that believe that HBC is on the right path; please read Jonathan Edwards classic “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. Thank You in advance.

    2. People are STILL waiting for you to share your testimony, Mancow.
      Or are you ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
      Personally, you and Roys have never given me any reason to believe either of you are Christians.
      So why should I or anybody believe what you say if you are nothing but atheists taking the sheeple for a ride for your own personal reasons?

      1. WOW, Mary J Linder—-it sounds like you see things from a very sad and bitter viewpoint. And it also is obvious that you haven’t read much of what Julie Roys and Mancow Muller have written and said.

        Please go back and do the research! Then it will be easy to see that neither of them is anything close to an atheist.

      2. Mary, that was a very disturbing post. Really not fairly stated. They are atheists why? Because they oppose MacDonald and those who now try to shut the church up? How in the world does opposing religious abuse make them like atheists? Doesn’t it make them more like Jesus? Please take a look at what you wrote!

      3. hahaha Mary! What a total joke. But keep on believing the crook jimmy mac. No wonder he fleeced the congregation. He knew first hand how gullible and stupid those people are.

    1. This is why we are called to be good stewards with our money. We have known for a long time of the problems of HBC and the corrupt leadership filled with lies, but people continued to give.

      Did you want your money to pay for Harley’s for people, hunting trips, a mansion for JMac?

      I would say that paying the people back, who your leadership unjustly sued, is not only right, but money better spent than the many other things it was spent on.

  7. Which way did he go

    It has been reported that Bill Sperling paid a big part or all of the lawsuit that Harvest filed.

  8. Anyone still giving money to HBC is a FOOL. You have been conned for years and you are a FOOL. If you think God is telling you to do this, you need a new God! JMAC was your God! Rant over for today.

  9. Julie please don’t stop until the leadership of this church is wiped clean. James is gone, but the toxic culture remains deep in the current leadership.

    Still to go:
    Mo Zachariah
    Greg Bradshaw
    Craig Steiner
    John Smith
    Jeff Smith
    Todd Rukes
    Jeff Sharda
    Eddie Hoagland
    Andi Rozier

    I know this sounds harsh, but it’s what needs to happen for this church to survive and be healthy.

    ALL of these men KNEW what has been going on and ENABLED it, as well as SHARED in the crimes and abuse.

  10. decade+ in then out when "unanimous" became rediculous

    HBC Elder cadidate question: “What do you think it means to be a team player?”
    Hmm. That smells like it may have been at or near the top of selection criteria for building the profoundly pliable puppet “leadership” culture. Will men picked for potential pliability and purified to perfection be able to discern wiser responses? With God all things are possible.

  11. Julie, is it absolutely crazy to you that Ed Stetzer can simply call up a church he doesn’t attend, is not a member, not in leadership and can get information that Harvest’s own elders can’t get?? My mind is truly blown.

    1. Paul G, are you saying that Dr. Ed Stetzer is lying that he called HBC? Please forgive me in rebutting you with the JimmyMac school of bullying. For your mind to be blown so easily; it must be a very small and not fully developed yet. Please think and research before you make any ludicrous comments which displays your ignorance. FYI, Dr. Stetzer has earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates. He holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, serves as Dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership at Wheaton College and Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center. He is also the Regional Director for Lausanne North America, a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine and the Founding Editor of The Gospel Project. He has a national radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, serves as Visiting Professor of Research and Missiology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Visiting Research Professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He presently serves as interim teaching pastor of Moody Church and teaching pastor at Highpoint Church. https://edstetzer.com/ I believe his credential speaks for itself and not make something up so trivial as calling HBC direct. He is still in ministry compared to those who have been fired or force to resign to save the embarrassment. By the way, did Rick Singer help you get into pre-school? ?

      1. GJ, it is interesting in your lengthy post of defense for a man, that you listed all these incredible accolades that will cease when he breathes his last. No where is there mention of His love for the Lord. Now I know nothing about Ed Stetzer. So I can’t offer any wisdom in that manner. But as men we to easily look at the outward appearance of man and his accomplishments and make our judgements. It would be interesting if you would support MacDonald by a list of his accolades, which I am sure is quite lengthy.

      2. GJ you’re either writing absolute rubbish or the best satire I’ve read in a long time. Pause. On second thought, it’s too good to be anything but satire. Well done!

        1. Fisher, I wish to nominate myself as an elder. l can increase revenue immediately due to the decline in attendance and tithes. Paid valet parking, pay-per-view for live streaming, premium seating fees, admission charges and more. BTW, I am a TEDS graduate with a M.Div and trust a great sense of humor in these troubling days at HBC.

      3. GJ, I love it! I’m fairly certain you were being funny lusting off all of Sir Stetzer’s achievements….however, my comment was not speculating he was lying, in fact, I believe he’s telling the truth that Harvest leaders handed over financial information to him, a non-participant of the church, while hiding financial information from their own elders. Make sense?

        1. Paul, a honest and sincere apology if I offended you. I was trying to convey to the HBC family the JimmyMac’s style of conflict management. Hope you see my humor yet insanity of what is still occurring at HBC. I will need Kim Foxx’s help to get me out of trouble waters.

      4. HAha GJ. Oh he has some degrees….blah blah blah blah. You left out his most important qualification: He’s a full fledged member of the Evangelical machine. Well, actually, you proved that point by all that you listed. All of that really means that he can do whatever he wishes to do, with zero repercussions. The Evangelical Machine = the mafia.

  12. Ex HBC Member 2001-2013

    In reading Julie’s twitter post about the VW purchased with WITW funds I was once again stunned that no on can see the black books yet if you call they know where to look. Obviously, the spending is in plan sight but no one wants to see it.

  13. Honest questions:

    1) Does anyone else think that a candidate pool of 13 people to fill 9 new elder board positions is potentially a weak pool? What if only 5 good men pass this part?

    2). I thought Rick Korte said we would be surprised at how much input the congregation (us) would have in the choosing/voting for the people in the new elder board? I’m still waiting for this – and not optimistically.

    3) I also remember Rick Korte saying we would be so tired of the updates and the transparency of HBC that we would want the updates to stop. Am I missing all these updates and new found transparency?

  14. Interesting article written by Thom Rainer from 2014 titled, “FOURTEEN SYMPTOMS OF TOXIC CHURCH LEADERS”.

    1. They rarely demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. Paul notes those specific attributes in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t see them much in toxic leaders.

    2. They seek a minimalist structure of accountability. Indeed, if they could get away with it, they would operate in a totally autocratic fashion, with heavy, top down leadership.

    3. They expect behavior of others they don’t expect of themselves. “Do as I say, not as I do.”

    4. They see almost everyone else as inferior to themselves. You will hear them criticizing other leaders while building themselves up.

    5. They show favoritism. It is clear that they have a favored few while they marginalize the rest.

    6. They have frequent anger outbursts. This behavior takes place when they don’t get their way.

    7. They say one thing to some people, but different things to others. This is a soft way of saying they lie.

    8. They seek to dismiss or marginalize people before they attempt to develop them.People are means to their ends; they see them as projects, not God’s people who need mentoring and developing.

    9. They are manipulative. Their most common tactic is using partial truths to get their way.

    10. They lack transparency. Autocratic leaders are rarely transparent. If they get caught abusing their power, they may have to forfeit it.

    11. They do not allow for pushback or disagreement. When someone does disagree, he or she becomes the victim of the leader’s anger and marginalization.

    12. They surround themselves with sycophants. Their inner circle thus often includes close friends and family members, as well as a host of “yes people.”

    13. They communicate poorly. In essence, any clarity of communication would reveal their autocratic behavior, so they keep their communications unintelligible and obtuse.

    14. They are self-absorbed. In fact, they would unlikely see themselves in any of these symptoms.

    Harvest, we have a problem.

  15. A very HUGE problem , where in God’s Holy Word does it say to build a WORLD SYSTEM MEGA COMPLEX that runs like business, looks like business, smells like business, treats others like business and sounds like business? IT DOES NOT SAY TO DO THAT, it does say to come come out and BE SEPARATE and touch not the unclean thing……..
    YOU CAN NOT FIX SOMETHING THAT IS NOT SUPPOSE TO EXIST…….. or in other words don’t ask God to fix it up when He didn’t ask for it to be in the first place, just so it can hurt thousands more?
    Does anybody realize that over 500 MILLION $$$ (or more) has flowed into this conglomerate over the years? That’s a lot of feeding the poor or something , but where did it ALL go? Buildings?, salaries?
    houses? Trips? Maybe heat and light? Remember $5 0 0 M I L L I O N , don’t tell me that there was $500 million worth of good done………. bad business bad , go stand in the corner, better yet in the lake of fire. BE NOT DECEIVED , RUN RUN RUN FAR AWAY!

    1. David …”You can not fix something that is not supposed to exist”…That says it all …I’ve never thought about it that way, but it’s so so true….thank you.

  16. You are very very welcome Dan! Start spreadin’ the news!
    That particular nugget came out of my 31 year old friend (our Brother) here in our little town where there is only 3 of us meeting in a home after separating ourselves from “church”. He is less than a year old since he started diving in and rightly dividing the word of truth with the help of the Spirit of Truth and I can absolutely guarantee that he has more truth in reality than 99% of the “Business leaders” at harvest (okay … 100%) In my 35 year journey of truth………. well I had to let go of a lot of stuff I thought I knew , and then I repented of even knowing it and ever thinking I knew , but when I removed myself from the “system” or like I like to say…. “From under the spell” Things become clearer and I could hear my Master’s voice properly.

    1. You got it Dave ,I am spreading the News ,I left Harvest about a year and a half ago…Im doing the same as the 3 of you guys are doing , meeting with a group of about 14 believers at my house and my friend Paul’s house….I’ve learned one good thing through this HBC disaster, God through His Word has shown us What The REAL CHURCH is, I was totally blind to how the Body of Christ really works….its Much Smaller in numbers than I once Thought but, Very Real and Lead by God Himself.

      1. I have found that when Jesus said in Mat 7:13-14 ……… “and FEW there be that find it” …. that He meant exactly what He said…. FEW.
        Let’s see….. if there was 10 or 12 thousand on a weekend , I wonder how many few would be?
        I’m frightened ,how bout you?
        Like I have shared before…… RUN FOR YOUR ETERNAL LIVES!!!
        One is NOT saved being in the SYSTEM (mammon) because Jesus said that you can only serve ONE OR THE OTHER not both!

  17. What healthy adult, let alone believer, let alone church employee, let alone pastor, let alone self-proclaimed top tier bilblical teacher/preacher does these?:
    1) yells and swears at coworkers, congregants and human beings.
    2) criticizes and demeans former coworkers with current staff for sport.
    3) criticizes and demeans other church’s and Christian schools.
    4) lives like a wealthy man on other people’s money, claiming he deserves to.
    5) lies directly to a persons face, with witnesses, then denies it.
    6) claims the only way they can “de-stress” is to go on expense vacations (again, using other people’s money).
    7) surrounds himself with people that think all the above is okay, or do the same.
    Answer: Jimmy McDonald (using his preferred name would indicate respect, and I have ZERO respect for him).
    Expanded answer: A full blown, pathological, narcissist. And a rage-oholic as well. I am not name-calling here. I am describing what is known and attaching the appropriate labels. Read about narcissism before challenging this and you will at least be enlightened. The light of Christ and fruits of the spirit do not exist in that inner circle, pre or post JM. The Holy Spirit will guide you out of darkness.
    I am praying that the banks/lenders call the loans ASAP, not because I want to see Harvest fail, but to spare believers from more hurt and pain, and to purify God’s Church. Sorry for the length of the post. I’ll be quiet now. ?

    1. Tom,

      Isn’t it amazing how the 8500 people who still remain at HBC can’t seem to see what the rest of the world can?!?

      Thank you for telling it like it is and not sugar-coating things.

      1. A lot of them surely see it, but they stay for reasons of their own. They may be wrong to do so, but they may not be there because they agree with what’s going on. Trust me, been there/done that.

  18. Julie, Please keep shining a light on the very dark situation at HBC. God is using you in a powerful way.

  19. A Former Harvest Member

    Dear Julie,

    You have accomplished your goal to expose the mismanagement and sin at Harvest Bible Chapel.
    In your last blog you said it is “business as usual”. The senior pastor has been fired, the elders are leaving or have left and the assistant pastor has resigned. This is not business as usual. The people at Harvest are trying to pick up the pieces and move forward. Maybe they are not perfect or doing it the way others think they should (I’m sure there are 1,000’s of opinions). However, they are trying to cleanse the church of wrongdoing & trying to continue to the ministry of Jesus Christ. There is no perfect church or ministry. The church and ministries are made up of imperfect people. But
    God is perfect and His Word is truth and offers us the salvation we so desperately need. Harvest is still proclaiming God’s Word. Even when God’s people are imperfect, He still uses them to change lives for His glory. God has always used imperfect people – Moses, David, Peter, etc. So while the leadership at Harvest is far from perfect & YES the sin needed to stop, much good and many blessings have come from Harvest Bible Chapel. I would challenge someone to start a Blessing Blog about Harvest. They ministered to me at a very difficult time in my life. Several of the men who signed the 2013 elder letter were a huge blessing to me along with Pastor Rick. There are many good stories about Harvest that have not been spoken. While many have been hurt, many have also been helped and ministered to as well.

    We should be praying for Pastor James, Pastor Rick, the elders and former elders and the past and present leadership of Harvest as well as their families. We need to pray for them as they seek out and decide upon new pastoral and church leadership. This is sad, so very sad. Many members have been hurt as well as many leaders. While many in leadership have been caught up in the blindness of what is called “Harvest Culture”, many of them have been hurt very deeply as well. I think Garret expressed this well. He tried to expose and correct the wrong but was met with opposition. He stayed for a while longer because there was good fruit being produced. This is the story of many who served at Harvest.

    So as they try to make things right and make restitution, to bring in new leadership & have financial accountability, I would ask you to uplift and not destroy this church. God can still rebuild something beautiful from these ashes. Yes, I believe He can.

    I don’t believe the present board is trying to put a new corrupt board in place. According to the HBC website, only 4 of the 9 members were previously part of Executive Committee. Since Dan left, maybe that is now 3. The April 4th Church Leadership Team Update lays out a clear and transparent process for selecting the new elders. This includes many people aside from any leadership that was in place while James was still pastor. I am hoping that you and Harvest will work out your differences and proper restitution will be made. I’m guessing only a few people from Harvest were involved in your lawsuit and that most of them are now gone. What Harvest needs to do to set things right must be very overwhelming and hard to proceed when so many actions need to be taken. At least consider hearing what they have to say in hopes that things can be made right. Yes there should be more repentance. Yes there so much more to be done. It’s going to be a long a process. There is so much more that could be said about Harvest Bible Chapel both good and bad. But we should love our neighbor and not bite and consume one another (Gal. 5:14-15). As Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”

    You have been given a wonderful gift as a writer. You can use it to encourage and build up this church or tear it down. For the thousands of people who love this church and would like to see it whole again, I am hoping you will choose to be part of its healing.

    A Former Harvest Member

    1. And you need to stop calling this people “pastors” they are not and never were ,they are all hirelings that care not for the sheep, please read your bible and see that those are the very words of the only true,great Shepherd Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Did ANY of them ever take even $1.00 in restitution, never mind MILLIONS? Why yes they did, ALL OF THEM…. therefore THEY ARE HIRELINGS and HIRELINGS what? That’s right…… CARE NOT FOR THE SHEEP. Not Spiritual , Ungodly, full of the world , in fact THIEVES and ROBBERS and LIARS, who else is a thief and a robber and a liar? Oh yes that’s right satan the enemy of your soul. THIS IS CALLED DECEPTION and IT IS SIN TO DISOBEY GOD’S WORD.
      And just to inform you…. THERE IS A PERFECT CHURCH without spot or wrinkle, they are the called out ones that hear ONLY HIS VOICE, another voice like jimmy boy’s or the rest of the thieves, THEY WILL NOT HEAR. Yikes! you just called one of the thieves “pastor rick”, you keep speaking of imperfection when Jesus Himself said clearly “BE YE PERFECT EVEN AS YOUR FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN IS PERFECT” Mat 5:48 EXCUSES ARE JUST MORE LIES.
      After rereading your comment a 3rd time , you say you are a former member but you I sense you have never left, I guess it’s going to take a little longer to get that “harvest culture” out of your system.

  20. There is a group of us praying for the Chicago situation. We are setting aside Thursday – Saturday specifically this coming week and would love others to join us in prayer. We aren’t naive. We know there’s mess and unresolved issues. We also know we serve a God of miracles, love and restoration. We are praying with expectancy that God will move in an incredible way. We are praying for the hemorrhaging to stop, transparency to be championed and healing to begin.

    At the end of the day, through all of this, the Bride of Christ is being displayed for all to see – people are watching how Harvest deals with this mess but they’re also watching how other Christian’s are responding. We don’t have to agree or know everything – but we should be grieving with those who grieve, rejoice with those who rejoice, life everything up to God in prayer with thanksgiving and show the world we are Christ’s disciples by our love.

    Please pray with us April 11-13.

    I know I may get flamed for this post — I’m just seeking the heart of God and praying others will join in.

    1. I will be praying alongside PJRF and all other followers who feel led to pray over the situation in Chicago. There is no one greater than God who can bring peace and restoration to any conflict.

      John 14:13-14 – Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it

      1 Thessalonians 5:11 – Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

      Ephesians 6:18 – MSG – In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

      We must not forget the necessity of prayer and remember that our job as the Church is to build one another up through prayer. It is a call from God to pray for one another, so I urge others to pray for God’s will to be done and watch as we see amazing works being done.

    1. This is a strong suggestion that one needs to be be very very very careful about calling certain individuals your brothers and sisters , not everyone is my brother or my sister ONLY they which DO THE WILL of my Father which is in heaven, JESUS SAID IT Mat 12:48-50.
      This means that the possibility could exist that one could be “praying ” against God the Father Himself. For example 2 Thes 2:7-12 in part says this .. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, UNTIL HE BE TAKEN OUT OF THE WAY………..(read the whole thing) because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. AND FOR THIS CAUSE GOD SHALL SEND THEM STRONG DELUSION, THAT THEY SHOULD BELIEVE A LIE: THAT THEY ALL MIGHT BE DAMNED…………. taken out of the way does not mean we are talking about the “lost” in the world. Is it God’s perfect will that a Industrial Business Complex of a Mega Church like harvest exists? Prove it out of the Word of God , IT IS ABSOLUTELY NOT HIS WILL , THIS IS CALLED DECEPTION and that is why there is pain and suffering today……. all because of DISOBEDIENCE to His Word which is called sin. Sin separates oneself from God……. but but but didn’t we…….. DEPART FROM ME YE WORKERS OF INIQUITY FOR I NEVER KNEW YOU.
      Sounds really serious , and by the way it is a serious situation with Eternal consequences.

  21. I commit to join PJRF and others in prayer. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are hurting.They need our love and our prayers, not our judgement.

    1. What makes seeking and exposing the truth of Harvest’s decades-long patternsof deep sin “judgment,” AJ?

      1. OUR JUDGEMENT? Somebody better get down to the south end of the Dead Sea and start praying for Sodom and Gomorrah then…… hurry now…….

        Where in God’s Holy Word does it say to build a WORLD SYSTEM MEGA COMPLEX that runs like business, looks like business, smells like business, treats others like business and sounds like business? IT DOES NOT SAY TO DO THAT, it does say to come come out and BE SEPARATE and touch not the unclean thing……..
        YOU CAN NOT FIX SOMETHING THAT IS NOT SUPPOSE TO EXIST…….. or in other words don’t ask God to fix it up when He didn’t ask for it to be in the first place, just so it can hurt thousands more?
        Does anybody realize that over 500 MILLION $$$ (or more) has flowed into this conglomerate over the years? That’s a lot of feeding the poor or something , but where did it ALL go? Buildings?, salaries?
        houses? Trips? Maybe heat and light? Remember $5 0 0 M I L L I O N , don’t tell me that there was $500 million worth of good done………. bad business bad , go stand in the corner, better yet in the lake of fire. BE NOT DECEIVED……….RUN RUN RUN FAR AWAY!
        How many was it that made it out of Sodom anyways? FEW THERE BE THAT FIND ETERNAL LIFE

  22. It’s true that scripture says in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13

    What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

    Unfortunately, in this case, it leaves the flock and other leaders behind to clean up the mess. I believe those are the “brothers and sisters” AJ May have been referring to. Obviously accountability needs to take place. But compassion for the people left behind can only be pleasing to God. I also pray for those leaders that have left and not stayed to truly repent and help clean up the mess they’ve created through “decades-long patterns of deep sin.” God’s heart must be bleeding over all of this. For me, the sad and scary part is because of the NA Christian culture, some of those leaders “say they’re sorry”, leave the mess, then get hired somewhere else as a “fresh start” only to continue old patterns. I think that’s so wrong. Regardless, they need prayer as well and God can reach in and convict and transform. This is so complex and messy yet I do believe God can bring fruit through the most dire of circumstances.

    I hope the forensic financial review takes place and the final 20% gets revealed. I hope those leaders continuing to cling and hide things realize how many lives they have affecting and still affect and choose transparency and let go. Only when everything is on the table can any deeper healing truly take place. But these are simply opinions of one not in the thick of it. Thus, we need to pray. God knows it all and He has a plan. :)

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