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.”
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.
- Detoxing from legalism.
- Detoxing from false guilt.
- Detoxing from fear.
- Detoxing from being a perfect servant.
- 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.