Jill Monaco on Processing Out from Harvest Bible Chapel

Jill Monaco wrote a post at her blog the other day about those who leave an organization like Harvest Bible Chapel. This post writes a response to Jill and points out that people from former leadership positions who leave Harvest need to own their role in propping up James MacDonald. Plus I don’t think many people understand how harmful Harvest is…its too recent and they are too close. When its 2030 and former members of Harvest are done with God or church because of the scandal then people will grasp it.

“The No. 1 cause of burnout is doing the same thing over and over again and not seeing results.”

Steve Kaczmarski

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

Luke 9:22-23 ESV

***NOTE – This post is mainly directed at those who were in leadership at Harvest Bible Chapel. That is what I am referring to when I say people have a responsibility to speak out.***

Jill Monaco wrote a post the other day on how she is de-toxing from Harvest Bible Chapel. There are a few things I wanted to say but I wanted people to read. You can do so in, “Detoxing After Working At Harvest Bible Chapel.”  I the article she discusses her responsibilities and the roles that she held. Jill discusses why she was silent and why it was hard to speak up. Jill also broke down the processing of detoxing from Harvest Bible Chapel. The five areas are. 

  1. Detoxing from legalism.
  2. Detoxing from false guilt. 
  3. Detoxing from fear. 
  4. Detoxing from being a perfect servant. 
  5. Detoxing from submission. 

Jill describes her own experience but there are some points I want to make. She may disagree with me and that is okay, but I have some alternative thoughts. But when you leave a place like Harvest Bible Chapel, and your were in leadership you also need to acknowledge the following. 

 

That You Were Part of the Problem and Helped Prop up Harvest Bible Chapel

When a person who was on staff at Harvest Bible Chapel leaves they need to acknowledge that they helped perpetuate the problem. They continued to serve and work there and helped keep the cult going. They enabled James MacDonald and gave him legitimacy. They could have spoken out and differing times but choose not to. Sometimes people leave Harvest and then go into another ministry or organization without discussing the culture or issues that took place at Harvest. Many people who leave often won’t discuss the situation even after they left. But its long past time that people who profess to be born again and came from leadership situations at places like Harvest come clean and admit that they were part of the problem. They helped keep Harvest going and they helped allow James MacDonald to abuse others. 

 

Secular Counseling is the Way to Go

This will not go over with some people but I need to say it. After leaving a cult like Harvest Bible Chapel Biblical or Christian counseling is not the way to go. Evangelical Christianity in my view is too broken to deal with these problem. The best thing one can go is to reach out to a secular counselor and work with them. Those on the outside who employ psychology and more are better equipped to deal with this situation. It may take time to find one but it is well worth it. 

 

Responsibility to Speak Up 

One other aspect that I consider deeply important is the following. Those who were on staff who left have a responsibility to speak up. Sometimes many don’t because they want to work in another location or ministry and they don’t want to be seen as “gossipers” or “slanders.” Many evangelicals have a warped view of slander and gossip. You can read more about that in, “What is Gossip? What is Slander? Addressing the Issue of Bitterness; Finally the Word Bitter will be Banned at The Wondering Eagle.” Those that leave places like Harvest Bible Chapel had a responsibility to speak up and out. If they are serious about wanting to challenge the system they must speak out and speak up. Too many people leave and try and go to other ministries and churches and act like nothing has happened. 

 

One Should Not Just Go From One Church to Another

Some people will say that after leaving a church like Harvest Bible Chapel you should go to another. I disagree. To be honest I don’t think many people who leave Harvest will be able to identify a “healthy church.” Their system was tainted and problematic. How can they know what is healthy or good? In this blog’s opinion, if the leave Harvest and get involved in an Acts 29, Sovereign Grace, Sojourn Network church or others they are going from one bad place to another. The best thing a person can do is disengage entirely and stay away. Work through your emotions and feelings. 

 

Some People Won’t Recover at All and Will be Permanently Done with Church or God

Let me also say this as I wrap up this post. Many people will say God heals and Jesus gives freedom. To be honest I don’t think many people really understand the enormity and trauma of what has taken place at Harvest Bible Chapel. I don’t think many people understand how destructive Harvest is. For many its too recent. The only way people like Jill Monaco will know is when its 2030 and she is hearing about people who are done with faith, God and church. And that is what I think will happen with a large group of people. There are many people who get burned and fried and they are done. Religion can be as destructive as alcoholism or drug addiction. I wrote about that in, “When Religion is as Destructive as Alcoholism or Drug Addiction.” Many people who will leave Harvest will be done. Their days of worshiping God, going to a church or having faith are over. And they will live out their life in that context. Honestly I have to think God will understand and be sympathetic on people who reject him because of organizations like Harvest Bible Chapel. This post will be dark, but much of this needs to be acknowledged. 

 

15 thoughts on “Jill Monaco on Processing Out from Harvest Bible Chapel

  1. This is not cool. Jill bravely speaks up, and you call her out for not speaking up sooner. She leaves Harvest, and yet you blame her for not doing it more loudly. Not cool to blame the victim. Would you castigate an abused wife for propping up her husband? At least you broadened it out to include everyone who has ever worked at Harvest, including me, apparently. When we worked at Harvest, there was no Elephant’s Debt. There was Twitter sharing like there is today. We had only a fraction of the information that people possess now–not to mention that the situation was not as grievous then as it is now. In retrospect, many of us see how we were used. But from our perspective at that time, we were serving the Lord–until we realized that we could no longer do that in good conscience there. So we left. That act by itself said something, especially when large numbers of us left. Did the congregation notice? Some of us did try to get out the truth. Did the congregation listen? Many of us were pretty beat up when we left. We just wanted out. It took a while for us to find healing–and in some cases that took years. A blog entry like this causes pain for people who have been hurt. I’ll try to give you the benefit of the doubt and believe that your intentions are honorable, but these are hurtful words. It’s not cool to blame the victim(s).

    Liked by 4 people

    • David I think everyone who leaves Harvest from a leadership capacity has a responsibility to speak up. Its not just Jill its the others. Some do and some don’t. And I have to disagree…I don;’t see how many can say they are serving the Lord in a place like Harvest Bible Chapel when people realize there are issues. This post is not aimed at the rank and file who are in the pew. This post is directed at leadership who was at Harvest Bible Chapel. And its blunt, I acknowledge it.

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      • What you have in your blog said may apply to some people who were on staff, particularly those who remained long after they knew what was going on. But it does not apply to Jill. Nor does it apply to others who were on staff, but left.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Well said Pastor David. Many of us have found healing after HBC in your church, by God’s grace.
      Also,I am not sure this comment “Honestly I have to think God will understand and be sympathetic on people who reject him because of organizations like Harvest Bible Chapel.” is biblical (true). I think it just makes us feel good. Rejecting Him for any reason would fall under- proceed with caution.

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      • Thanks for the comment. I appreciate it. The issue as l see it is fruit of the spirit. What does it say when an atheist or secular humanist has more gentleness, kindness, self-control, etc… then a Christian? I am not trying to be difficult but the question comes up from time to time. That is why l don’t talk as to who goes to heaven or hell. Honestly l think people will be surprised as to who goes where. Spiritual abuse and problems are much deeper and darker than many evsngevange Christians want to admit. But l respect and appreciate your thoughts.

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      • I’m not very tech savvy so this may show up out of order, but I agree with you wholeheartedly about there being surprise in heaven. A lot of evangelicals write off Catholic/Lutheran and other mainline believers, which is a mistake. Some we expect to be there, won’t be. Nobody has the corner on perfect theology. And I leave it up to our perfect God to make the perfect decisions. Spiritual abuse is particularly awful because the consequences have eternal ramifications. I pray for you and those I know who have experienced it.

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      • If righteousness comes by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

        Wondering Eagle, Your comment makes it sound as though Christ’s death was unnecessary. If good guys can get into heaven, God didn’t have to send His only Son to die.

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    • I can see the hurt from both sides of this. Please let me explain. As a victim of abuse for over 13 years, I understand how disorienting the process is when you are in it. When you leave you are just trying to survive and figure out what on earth just happened. Then eventually it settles in and you realize the impact of what happened – this can take months, years, decades. But, at some point, when you DO realize how wrong it is, and you KNOW those people are still hurting others, it becomes important to warn others from being wounded as you were. It is incredibly difficult! And especially hard because it means risking other doubting your experience, those you expose attacking you, and leaves you vulnerable. However, if you care about others – it MUST be done! When and how it is done is a completely different matter. But, the point is this, Jill was (IS) super brave for coming forward about what she experienced. There is no denying that!!! But, the reality is that if these same men are still employed at Harvest, or have gone on to another ministry, without these ‘disqualifying’ sins being exposed – who is she helping? She is moving along in her healing – which is FANTASTIC, but she is still self-preserving. Other women could potentially be hurt by this man (these men) and then be in the exact same position as Jill. This is NOT an attack on Jill. I don’t blame her for when she left or how she left. And will again commend her on speaking out. I am PLEADING with her to now save other women from the pain she has endured. Saying she wants to “help” others, but then leaving them in the dark with a potential abuser is “not helpful”. I say this as somebody who has endured years in court, lost tens of thousands of dollars in the process, have had my reputation destroyed, been kicked out of Harvest, and left alone, outside the church as a single mother with 3 children. It’s horrible! And because it is SO horrible, I want to make sure no other women has to go through the same thing – EVER. This is bigger then me, and my story. I’m part of something – the church- and want to work together with others to protect it. Hope these words are received in love and concern. And hope Jill knows that NONE of this was her fault. That whatever did happen is horrible and wrong. And I pray she finds great peace and freedom along this difficult path.

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  2. I’m with David on this. You have a tendency to butcher those who do come forward and then insist that others do the same. I would take this post down.

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  3. This will not go over with some people but I need to say it. After leaving a cult like Harvest Bible Chapel Biblical or Christian counseling is not the way to go.

    Because Biblical/Christian counseling came out of the same corrupt system as “cults like Harvest”. And backs up that same corrupt system, “taking care” of dissidents for the cult leaders. “One Hand Washes the Other…”

    Would you go the Whore of Babylon for counseling after fleeing the False Prophet? (Antichrist archetypes work very well as a tag-team.)

    To be honest I don’t think many people who leave Harvest will be able to identify a “healthy church.” Their system was tainted and problematic. How can they know what is healthy or good?

    How did that Rabbi from Nazareth put it?

    When an unclean spirit comes out of a man, it passes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ On its return, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and dwell there. And the final plight of that man is worse than the first.”

    If you take that poetically, a cult like Harvest leaves an “unclean spirit” of bad attitudes and assumptions in the cultist’s mind and personality, returning after attempts to sweep it out by leaving. With such a distorted view of “What is Normal”, they will be suckers for “other spirits more wicked than itself” from other cultic churches (which they will perceive as not only Normal but Godly because of their cult-tainted perception).

    Let me also say this as I wrap up this post. Many people will say God heals and Jesus gives freedom.

    Pious Platitudes come cheap.
    Especially to those who have NEVER been there.
    Just ask Job about his counselors.

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  4. I am appalled by what has gone on at Harvest … but your writing, my friend, has proven over and over that you are not my brother! God has one plan for this age and this time in history and that is through His church. We know from scripture that the church will fall away as we near the day of His coming … and sadly that is clearly happening … but for you to give written approval to me to stay away from his real children because there are dogs in the house is flat wrong and words from anything opposed to God. You teach heresy over and over with seemingly wise words and people eat them up.

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  5. This is the problem where anyone can create a blog. Post some stuff, some stuff complete lies where Wondering Eagle said he knew of ongoing child molestation at Harvest but then backed away from the statement. Many bloggers are more responsible such as TED, Julie Roy’s, and Wartburg. Not so much here. Just throw grenades and ignore the consequences. Perhaps why not many follow the Eagle.

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    • The information l know is based on what is shared. There is a lot more to Harvest that has not come forward. People remain scared. Plus Paxton Singer is coming up on his court date from what l gave heard. You wouldn’t say that information about the Chicago Tribune or Sun Times if they haven’t published it either. Yet l have heard they are waiting for the legal system to work before writing about the situation in detail.

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