John Secrest Launches Compass Bible Church in Naples, Florida. And a Unique Case of Evangelical Transparency

John Secrest is leading a new church in Naples, Florida. Called Compass Bible Church the congregation asked John Secrest to pastor it. Compass is made up of a number of former individuals from Harvest Bible Chapel Naples. This blog has been writing about the role of John Secrest in the greater Harvest Bible Chapel scandal. Likewise this blog has a deep amount of respect for John Secrest and wishes him well in this new setting. Its my hope that Compass Bible Church goes far. Its nice to see a positive development especially when you are mired in writing about scandal and corruption.

“It’s Not Whether You Get Knocked Down, It’s Whether You Get Up.”

Vince Lombardi

 “Security Is Mostly A Superstition. Life Is Either A Daring Adventure Or Nothing.”

Helen Keller

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9 ESV 

John Secrest and his family. 

This is an update on John Secrest. This blog has written several articles about his situation in Harvest Bible Chapel Naples. In all likelihood this will likely be the last time I will write about John Secrest. As a reminder these are the posts that have been written. 

  1. What Role Will Naples, Florida Play in the Harvest Bible Chapel Scandal?
  2. An Open Letter to Harvest Naples Senior Pastor John Secrest (Its Time to go Back to the EFCA)
  3. A Second Open Letter to John Secrest of Harvest Bible Chapel Naples.”
  4. James MacDonald is Taking a Sabbatical. Translation – He is Getting Ready to Engage in Long Term Spiritual Abuse in Naples, Florida, and John Secrest will be his First Target.”
  5. The Tragic Story Involving John Secrest and the Coup that Occurred in Harvest Naples.
  6. A Third Open Letter to John Secrest (On Fighting for Your Congregation and the Courage You Displayed)
  7. Another Open Letter to EFCA SE District Superintendent Glen Schrieber (On Helping Former EFCA Pastor John Secrest in Naples, Florida)
  8. Julie Roys Through World Magazine Publishes About Harvest Naples and the Termination of John Secrest.”
  9. Happy Birthday Fred Ananias! The Harvest Naples Elder Received a Personal Gift from Julie Roys.”
  10. Russell Taylor Comes to Harvest Bible Chapel Naples, Plus an EFCA Pastor Establishes a GoFundMe for John Secrest.”


Compass Bible Church has Launched 

John Secrest was fired by Harvest Bible Chapel in a questionable way. He was the victim of spiritual abuse from James MacDonald. John was fired for standing up for his congregation and his desire to protect the congregation. A number of former families from Harvest Naples who left the church reached out to John Secrest and asked him to re-launch a church and to be their pastor. In March of 2019 Compass Bible Church was launched. Up above you have the sermon that was given on March 24, 2019. This church is unique in one way that I want to stress. 


A Unique Case of Evangelical Transparency 

John Secrest and Compass Bible Church has done something that is very unique. Its an act of transparency that is bold and rare. In the history of Compass Bible Church John writes about the issues that happened at Harvest Bible Chapel Naples. This is what he says: 

In 2015 the Secrest family began the journey to Naples by attending a church planter training at Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago. In January 2016 they began the work of planting a new Harvest Bible Chapel in Naples and the first service launched in November 2016 at the Naples YMCA. In September 2018 Harvest Naples became the eighth campus of Harvest Chicago. After a series of difficult experiences related to this partnership a group of former Harvest Naples members asked John & Jessica to join them in starting a new church in Naples. In March 2019, Compass Bible Church was born!

This is one of the only times that I have a seen a church acknowledge its past and not try and hide it. I can’t tell you how many evangelical churches that have left questionable entities that have hidden their past. Let me illustrate with a few examples. This blog was born out of an incident from a person in leadership at Redeemer Arlington in the Washington, D.C. area. Redeemer, which is led by Eric Simmons and Jordan Kauflin, was planted by Covenant Life Church and Sovereign Grace Ministries in 2010. Here is how they describe themselves.Redeemer Church of Arlington was planted in 2010 by a team of about fifty people. We wanted to build not just a meeting, but a gospel family, committed to one another and to our city. We opened our doors in May, 2010, appointed our first elders in April, 2012, and approved the church constitution in June, 2012.”There is no mention of Sovereign Grace, the scandal that took place or more. Its like it never even happened. You can read the history of Redeemer that I did from research in, “The History of Eric Simmons’ Redeemer Arlington: Formerly of Sovereign Grace Ministries now of Acts 29.” Here is another example in Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland. This was ground zero for C.J. Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Ministries. Study the website and you will find no trace of Sovereign Grace or the problems with authoritarianism or cult like behavior that took place. Covenant Life still has problems from what I am being told. The last example I will use is an Acts 29 church in the Washington, D.C. area called All Peoples Community Church led by Kenji Adachi. The church that helped plant it was John Bryson’s Fellowship Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee. Fellowship Memphis covered up a dark voyeurism and child pornography scandal. Many people on the staff knew what took place and didn’t go to the police. Kenji Adachi was an intern at Fellowship Memphis during the cover up. When I asked him about it I got an exceptionally terse email. Kenji also scrubbed the history off the website and tried to hide the connections to Fellowship Memphis.  You can read about All People’s Community Church in “An Open Letter to Kenji Adachi (Senior Pastor of Acts 29 All Peoples Community Church in Fairfax, Virginia on my Concerns about your Fellowship Memphis Training and Other Issues)” The point is that many churches are not transparent and hide their past. At the first hint of scandal they try to bury the information. The reality is that information on the internet lives forever, you just need to know how to find it. 


The Wondering Eagle Wishes this Church Well

When I saw that John Secrest posted the history of Compass Bible Church I was stunned. This is a church that is transparent. Its also one that is healthy. John Secrest proved himself in the Harvest Bible Chapel scandal. To learn that John is leading a church again and that many people who have left joined it is encouraging. At this blog I spend a lot of time digging out scandal and revealing problems. In my experience evangelical Christianity is deeply corrupt, that is what problem after problem has taught me. Seldom does one see evangelical Christians taking the right course of action. And yet with John Secrest and Compass Bible Church this is an exception. Its my hope that John Secrest and his family will one day get an apology from Harvest Bible Chapel and Rick Donald for what happened. That is what I would like to see happen, as I would like to see John and his family healed by a sincere apology and acknowledgment that what occurred was wrong. This blog has seen the dark side of religion and when it happens I want to see the right course of action to take place. 

But when it comes to Compass this blog wishes John Secrest and his church that best. While I am mostly a done when it comes to the church scene, if I lived in the area I would attend a service occasionally and just hang out and observe. But after all I read and analyzed this is a good place for many. And John Secrest is someone who I could trust and listen to. His actions back up his preaching and I believe he should be respected. In the course of time I would like to see this church go far and for people to get involved. I don’t say that often, but this is an exception. This is one of the bright aspects of the Harvest Bible Chapel scandal. There are so many times in life when you want to see the good guy come out on top, and in this case that has happened. John Secrest if you ever find yourself in the Washington, D.C. area in the future I will gladly buy you lunch. Take care and god speed! This blog is pulling for you. 

6 thoughts on “John Secrest Launches Compass Bible Church in Naples, Florida. And a Unique Case of Evangelical Transparency

  1. Thanks for writing about John Secrest and new church. I had wondered what happened to him after HBC hijacked the church. Praying for God’s special blessing on that ministry.

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  2. Pingback: An Open Letter to Glen Schrieber (Regarding Compass Bible Church and John Secrest in the EFCA’s Southeast District) | Wondering Eagle

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