Harvest Bible Chapel announced that James MacDonald is taking a sabbatical and will work to reconcile with people. This blog has its doubts given MacDonald’s behavior. After all James MacDonald had 20 years to do the right thing, and he refused. After all who desires to resolve problems by firing off a lawsuit against a journalist and The Elephant’s Debt? Any kind of sincere repentance has to include people like RT Maldaner, Dan Haskell, and others who were hurt in the Paxton Singer situation. This blog believes that John Secrest from Harvest Naples is in James MacDonald’s sight and that he is going to be abused by the Harvest machine.
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”
“You will only fail to learn if you do not learn from failing. “
“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.”
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
Philippians 2:14-16 ESV
Scott Milholland, Luke MacDonald, James MacDonald, Landon MacDonald, and Mancow Muller
The Harvest Bible Chapel story is moving and this post is to update those who are involved on what is going on. First let’s start by looking at an email that was sent early today.
Email to the Church
On January 16, 2019 at 10:42 Harvest Bible Chapel sent an email out to the church. You can read the email in its entirety in, “Preserving the Harvest Bible Chapel Email on James MacDonald’s Sabbatical and Reconciliation.” In the email it states that Harvest has tried to deal with external criticisms in different ways over the years. None of those methods have worked. According to the email the elders prayed and reflected on how Harvest got to this point. At the January 14, elders meeting they decided to seek reconciliation. Harvest is also working with a ministry that is modeled upon Peacemakers, even though it will not be that ministry. If I am correct in the email Harvest Bible Chapel did not name the actual ministry that would be used. In the message to the church they made three different claims that would take place.
- Harvest will select a team of highly competent individuals that can engage as conciliatory and organizational consultants that will advise them.
- They plan to reach out to people who have left Harvest Bible Chapel and those who have complaints to listen to their complaints and accept their correction. Plus they will confess all their sins.
- Harvest plan to do a thorough self examination of leadership, finances, and the business model they use. As a result they will change their management style.
Harvest Bible claims they had successful audits and they hoped that would resolve the issues. That has not happened and as a result James MacDonald will take a sabbatical. The lead campus pastors will run the ministry in James’ absence.
A Brief Summary of James MacDonald’s Words
James MacDonald in his words says that he has “battled cycles of injustice, hurt, anger, and fear which have wounded others without cause.” He goes on to say that he has engaged in sin and carried this great pattern of behavior. James is sad for the people he has hurt and done that in a way that those could not approach him and share their concerns. For this the Harvest pastor says that he has no one to blame but himself. During this extended sabbatical James will take time to reflect on the situation at Harvest Bible Chapel and then he will also engage in preaching in Naples. All other Harvest ministry will be suspended, which means no speaking and no writing. Towards the end of the message James MacDonald is asking people to pray for him during this season of sabbatical.
Analysis of the Elder Statement and James MacDonald’s Words
This statement by the elders and James MacDonald is deeply flawed and has major issues. Here is the problem, the cat is out of the bag, the issues are out, and more information is pouring out. Harvest Bible Chapel is in the process of doing damage control. Why do I say that? Those who are honorable have walked away and left Harvest. Those that remain are there because they are James’ yes men. They don’t interfere or try and practice accountability. But think of it like this, James MacDonald has had over 20 years to admit his errors and mistakes and he has not. Why is he going to start now? This blog is working at developing sources inside Harvest Bible Chapel and drilling down into the network to obtain information about this church network. Earlier I gathered information that detailed how employees years ago at Harvest Bible Chapel Rolling Meadows heard James MacDonald and Luke MacDonald engage in shouting at each other in the green room. It could be heard through the walls where employees and guests could hear. Do you honestly think a man who is operating like that long term is going to want to show humility and submit to leadership? Fat chance!
Another issue is the inconsistency in that statement. If Harvest Bible Chapel was committed to peace and addressing their issues then why the lawsuit against Julie Roys and Ryan Mahoney and Scott Bryant at The Elephant’s Debt? Did James MacDonald honestly view the lawsuit as a means to build bridges? How, especially after he threw his elders under the bus and put the responsibility of the lawsuit on them. You can read more and even see James’ video in, “Is James MacDonald Blaming his Elders at Harvest Bible Chapel for the Lawsuit Against The Elephant’s Debt?” The statements of the elders do not match up with what the behavior of the church has been. For me that is disturbing.
Here is another aspect that needs to be raised. The Peacemakers model, even in another ministry that is not run by Ken Sande is deeply flawed. What corrupts it? The issue is money has entered the picture and that changes the situation. How will any Peacemakers system be neutral in a situation where Harvest has paid them? In Sovereign Grace Ministries Peacemakers was used as a means to collect intelligence on its critics and find out who is saying what. Sovereign Grace used Peacemakers to find out who was saying what on the blogs critical of the ministry. Peacemakers was a means to do damage control and abuse forgiveness and reconciliation. That is what I suspect Harvest will do in this case as well. Good luck if you commented on The Elephant’s Debt and Harvest wants to speak with you. Its will be even more troubling for those who have children in Harvest Christian Academy. As for Harvest admitting their mistakes it will be interesting to see how they respond. Will those who stayed in Paxton Singer’s cabin at Camp Harvest receive an invite to meet and discuss how Harvest Bible Chapel failed them? Will they take feedback and offer to pay their counseling? You can read more about Paxton Singer in, “Guest Post: An Open Letter from a Concerned Mother Disheartened About how Harvest Bible Chapel Mishandled Paxton Singer’s Arrest.” What about RT Maldener and City of Joy Church. Will Harvest reach out to RT and admit error? Will they stop the character assassination against him? Will they say they were wrong for using his children against him at Harvest Christian Academy? What about Dan Haskell who this blog has heard great things about. Luke MacDonald allegedly threatened Haskell’s family and that gaslighting was also practiced by Talbott Behnken as well. Will Talbott and Luke MacDonald admit their failure and reach out to the Haskells and apologize and do the right thing? Will they “Act Like Men?” This blog doubts that they can do the right thing. You can read about Dan Haskell in, “Did Luke MacDonald Allegedly Threaten the Family of Dan Haskell at Harvest Christian Academy? Also a Look at How Talbott Behnken Responded.”
In thinking about James MacDonald’s words this is why I reject them. This statement was planned and here is why. James has been in Naples for the last three weeks. James planned to escape the pressure and heat in Chicago. His narcissistic abuse has backfired and he is trying to preserve his empire and the brand. James doesn’t care about the people in Elgin, Niles or Rolling Meadows. If he did then he would not have fled to Naples. Its very convenient as to how this statement has emerged. Plus as I mentioned above James hurt a lot of people in his lawsuit. Will Julie Roys and Ryan Mahoney and his wife along with Scott Bryant and his wife receive an apology? If James MacDonald honestly cared about owning his mistakes and admitting his error he would work through the list that Ryan Mahoney and Scott Bryant composed and laid out in an open letter at The Elephant’s Debt. If James want’s to prove me wrong and show some authenticity that is where he can start. You can read that letter here.
The Wondering Eagle BS Meter
The Neo-Calvinist Model of “Stepping Down”
The Wondering Eagle will roll out a feature that will pop up from time to time. It will be known as the BS meter. In this case the BS meter is screaming off the charts as you can see. What does James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel’s statement remind me of? Could it bring flashbacks of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Seattle? And can it remind me of C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries? In the Neo-Calvinist model many celebrity pastors have emulated John Piper who once stepped down due to issues of “pride. ” This started when Piper stepped down from Bethlehem Baptist in March of 2010. In Mars Hill Seattle in August of 2014 Mark Driscoll stepped aside while the Board of Overseers investigated the claims against Mark Driscoll. In October of 2014 Mark Driscoll resigned instead of submit to a plan of “restoration.” He then eventually fled to Arizona where he is scamming people today. In C.J. Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Ministries there were also problems. Mahaney led the network of over 100 churches. But Mahaney was abusive, controlling and engaged in questionable behavior. Brent Detwiler documented the issues and all documents about Sovereign Grace hemorrhaged out on a website called, “SGM Wikileaks.” Mahaney sent out a letter to all SGM pastors in July of 2011 saying that he was stepping down. Then he bailed and showed up at Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Church and preached there and eventually fled to Louisville, Kentucky in time which is where he is today.
In the above situations here is the model of how this worked.
- Celebrity pastor is temporarily stepping down.
- Celebrity pastor is claiming to be “sorry.”
- Celebrity pastor excuses his own sin and mistakes.
- Celebrity pastor then flees and pops up in another location trying to restart their ministry.
- People in the original location of Chicago, Seattle or the Washington, D.C. suburbs left holding the bag and psychologically stuck.
James MacDonald’s behavior fills this model. All I will say is that those who have given to Harvest Bible Chapel sacrificially over the years have a right to demand that James MacDonald surrender his passport. There is much that I have to say and that will be below.
Spiritual Abuse is Transferring from Chicago to Naples, and John Secrest is Going to the First Target
This sabbatical has been planned for a while. What one must remember is that James is a narcissist and he wants to look like the victim. That is what that statement by him is meant to evoke. Poor James! (Not!) You file a lawsuit and spiritually abuse people but you are the victim in the end. I don’t buy that and neither should anyone else. From my understanding James has been preaching in Naples for the last three Sundays and will continue to do so until March. Does that sound like a repentant and remorseful individual? No, it does not. But there is also another aspect to consider. According to what I have read on Twitter didn’t James MacDonald buy another mini-mansion in Florida? Those of you in the know can you speak more about that. Please fill me in on the details in the comments below. As we all know James is addicted to mansions and luxury homes in the same way a crack addict in the southside of Chicago needs their fix. I don’t mind a person owning a nice home, what I don’t like is when they lie through their teeth about it especially during the Closer campaign.
James MacDonald has been engaging in spiritual abuse and manipulation in the Chicago area for years. Harvest Bible Chapel is the Mars Hill of Chicago. This ongoing story keeps playing and revealing this fact. That spiritual abuse is going to transfer from Chicago to Naples, Florida. The first person who will be receive the brunt of it will be John Secrest. John Secrest is the obstacle that stands between James MacDonald and his escape from Chicago. When you study the Harvest Bible Chapel movement its odd that a network of churches in Chicago would have an offshoot in Naples, Florida. That makes John Secrest a key player in this ongoing scandal that is unfolding. As we all know James will destroy any life or individual to get what he wants. James is all about James. Earlier I wrote two open letters to John Secrest. The first one encouraged him to leave Harvest Naples. Sources that I work with inside Harvest relayed the information to me that James MacDonald is gunning for his position. In discussing the situation with them I wrote this open letter as a warning so that John Secrest’s family would not be on the receiving end of spiritual abuse. This blog doesn’t want John Secrest or his family to be hurt by the Harvest Bible Chapel machine. I have heard good things about John Secrest and this blog does care for John. The second one encouraged him to speak up and speak out and challenge James behavior during The Elephant’s Debt lawsuit. I don’t know if that happened but I hope that it did. The fact of the matter is that James MacDonald is going to flee from Chicago in the near future. He is going to flee to Florida and stay there long term. He is going to run in the same way that Mark Driscoll or C.J. Mahaney ran. Its in his blood, as James MacDonald is a narcissist. He is very fragile and he can’t deal with his authority being challenged and lastly he’s drunk with power. To those from Harvest Bible Chapel my request is don’t be fooled by James’ words in that statement. What you should be watching for are long term actions. Anyone can say anything and puff it up and make it sound good. But the issue in the end is how is this worked out. How is James actions. The last 20 years of James actions have shown otherwise. And that applies here as well. This blog has tried to warn John Secrest to go back to the EFCA. The EFCA is a complicated organization, but I also think its much healthier than Harvest Bible Chapel.