Dave Harvey becomes the first President of The Great Commission Collective. This is an overview of this situation and a look at Dave Harvey. Allegations of covering up child sex abuse inside Sovereign Grace happened under his leadership at Covenant Fellowship Church. Despite the controversy and the bagged he brings, its this blogs belief that Brian White is making a business decision to try and save The Great Commission Collective from financial failure in the course of time.
“It isn’t the original scandal that gets people in the most trouble – it’s the attempted cover-up.”
“The source known as Deep Throat provided a kind of road map through the scandal. His one consistent message was that the Watergate burglary was just the tip of the iceberg.”
I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame.
Psalm 138:2 NIV
Dave Harvey has been hired to become the first President of The Great Commission Collective. You can read that statement in, “Preserving the Great Commission Collective Statement on Hiring Dave Harvey.” But how did that happen? Let’s start by looking at a worsening economic situation inside The Great Commission Collective.
Some Backdrop on the Situation with The Great Commission Collective
The Great Commission Collective from my understanding is the former Harvest Bible Fellowship. Harvest Bible Fellowship changed their name because of the damage of the Harvest Bible Chapel scandal and James MacDonald. They became The Great Commission Collective. However, many churches named Harvest Bible Chapel left the Collective and changed their name. As a result the organization was experiencing a slow painful bleed of money. From my understanding The Great Commission Collective started out at about 100 churches and today is down to 65. This is a financial decline that they cannot afford to endure. Keep in mind that every Great Commission Collective church likely contributes money to the greater organization. After all someone needs to pay Brian White and Rob Wiley. So they probably decided to take on a personality who they thought could attract people to the organization. Its like a moth being drawn to a light. And with that the Great Commission Collective decided to make Dave Harvey as its first president of the organization.
Who is Dave Harvey and his Role in Allegedly Covering Up Child Sex Abuse Inside Sovereign Grace Ministries
Dave Harvey came to The Great Commission Collective from the Sojourn Network in Louisville where he started in May of 2014. Dave wore many different hats at Sojourn. He became president of the Sojourn Network in May of 2014. He became its executive director in June of 2014. He also became the teaching pastor at Sojourn’s The Summit in March of 2017. Dave held all those positions until the end of his time at Sojourn. Dave was theologically trained at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wayne, Pennsylvania where he obtained an equivalence of a Masters of Divinity. He then attended Westminster Theological Seminary from 1997 until 1999 where he earned a Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Theology and Missioloy. Dave Harvey’s roots are in the controversial Sovereign Grace Ministries network by C.J. Mahaney.
Dave Harvey became a pastor of Covenant Fellowship Church in 1986, and a few years later became the senior pastor. Covenant Fellowship is located in Glenn Mills, Pennsylvania. Following Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland; Covenant Fellowship Church was a key church in Sovereign Grace Ministries. Leadership personalities from Covenant Fellowship hold high positions in Sovereign Grace. That remains true with Mark Prater who is the Executive Director of Sovereign Grace Churches today , who also calls Covenant Fellowship Church home. Dave Harvey would hold that senior pastor position for almost 26 years. While pastoring there he published “When Sinners Say ‘I Do’” in 2007. In 2010 he wrote “Rescuing Ambition” with a forward written by C.J. Mahaney. He joined the Sovereign Grace Ministries Leadership Team in June of 1995 and he stayed in that position for 17 years. In the SGM Leadership Team Dave Harvey worked on church planting, church care and international missions. He worked with Brent Detwiler. Dave in time also went on the board of Christian Counseling & Education Foundation (CCEF). CCEF has had a long and close business relationship with SGM over the years. When the SGM crisis was slowly growing Brent Detwiler approached Dave Harvey about the issues with C.J. Mahaney. At his blog here is how Brent Detwiler describes Dave Harvey.
Dave and I have a long history together going back to the early 1980’s when I was his first pastor in Indiana, PA. He joined C.J, Steve Shank, Bo Lotinsky and me on the SGM Board of Directors in 1995.
From 2000-2005, Dave and I worked in earnest to help C.J. see and turn from his long-standing and serious patterns of sin. We were in total agreement regarding our assessment of C.J.’s character and leadership.
By 2005, Dave was deeply discouraged and exasperated with C.J. He had no hope C.J. would change and was exhausted after years of trying. His trust in C.J. was greatly shaken and he was on the verge of despair. I know because I was caring for his soul during this time.
I continued to raise issues with C.J. but Dave made a conscious decision that year to accommodate C.J. and relate to him like a rebellious teenager. Those are Dave’s exact words. This is documented in A Final Appeal (pp. 90-97).
In January 2006, Dave wrote C.J. a lengthy personal letter outlining his concerns and frustrations (AFA, pp. 85-87). This was Dave’s last attempt to help C.J. C.J. never responded to letter. After this Dave went into retirement and stopped bringing concerns and correction to C.J. He could not handle the on-going stress of dealing with C.J. and he did not want to jeopardize his prominent position in SGM.
C.J. was Dave’s bread and butter but this accommodation to C.J. cost Dave his integrity. His desire for national recognition exceeded his commitment to speak the truth without worldly concern for the consequences. By 2007, he fully embraced the culture of accommodation surrounding C.J. That same year I resigned from the SGM Board having lost respect for C.J.
When C.J. took his “leave of absence” in July 2011, Dave became the Interim President of Sovereign Grace Ministries for 9 months. That began an even greater fall from grace that led to unimaginable deceit and heavy-handedness as he manipulated a puppet Board, the SGM pastors and the entire ministry with the help of men like John Loftness and Mickey Connolly.
Dave Harvey after that period became an enabler of C.J. Mahaney. According to Brent Detwiler, Dave Harvey became someone who engaged in a lot of deceit. In March of 2012 he was presented to the new SGM board. And he spoke at the traditional SGM pastors conference. Dave led the SGM for nine months before he decided to resign from the SGM Leadership Team. He announced his resignation in an email to Covenant Fellowship Church in December of 2012. That email is below.
Merry Christmas my friends,
I have some news that is now sprinkling our holiday season with an unexpected grace and I’m eager to share it with you.
As I’ve been experiencing the care of the elders and reflecting on the way forward, it’s become clear that the connection to my local church, my team, and my family should be prioritized in this next season. However, I don’t see how a more singular focus on these things would be possible with the extra-local responsibilities I’ve been carrying. So, after discussion with the elders and with their support, I believe we’ve found a way to bring that emphasis. I am stepping off the Sovereign Grace Leadership Team, largely eliminating my ministry travel, and resuming my role as a full-time elder at Covenant Fellowship through August 2013. Let me shoot straight with you – this has not been an easy decision. But Kimm and I now have a growing faith for what God intends to do as we take these steps.
Now, just so there is no misunderstanding: this step does not reflect any lack of confidence in Sovereign Grace, our direction, or our leadership. Actually, I’m quite excited over our mission to plant churches and serve pastors. I think our new polity, if ratified, will help us do this even better. It’s really my confidence in God’s grace already working so evidently through this family of churches that emboldens me to step away from the Leadership Team role I have occupied for the last 17 years. Nope, the story on this is not about what Sovereign Grace lacks but what one pastor needs right now.
Also, this transition back to Covenant Fellowship is not being initiated by Sovereign Grace; it’s a step I have voluntarily taken with the counsel of the elders – I’m grateful for the way they have walked with us through this decision. It’s one of those times where local and family needs must take priority over extra-local relationships/ministry. I want time in the church that I love and more connection to the men I have served with, some for over two decades. I need to continue to receive their friendship and counsel. And I want to be a part of what God is doing here.
So, my friends, this is good news for Kimm and I and I hope it hits you that way as well. As to how I’ll be serving in Covenant Fellowship, I leave that to our elders – I’ll serve wherever they want. As to what I’ll be doing beyond August 2013, I leave that to the Lord, confident that he’ll make it clear to us all. As to our hopes for this season,…well, maybe some refreshment, some reconnection, some additional growth, and maybe lots of good fruit. So please pray – pray for lots of good fruit.
Thanks for being the kind of church that makes a place for pastors, whether they’re young or old, green or weathered, fresh or embattled. Because for us, drawing into Covenant Fellowship means coming home.
See you Sunday!
Brent Detwiler did some analysis of Dave Harvey’s resignation email here. It also appears as if there were additional ongoing issues at Covenant Fellowship Church as well. One of the issues Brent Detwiler raises is the problem of alleged child sex abuse cover-up which happened under the watch of Dave Harvey. You can read Brent Detwiler’s article about it here. I also write this next segment with great caution. Let me begin by explaining that I firmly believe that you do not talk about issues in a pastor’s family. For me that is categorically wrong and that its no one’s business to know what is going on. Pastor’s kids and more deserve their privacy. However, in SGM, it was very different. SGM was totalitarian and all about church discipline. At Covenant Fellowship Church church discipline was frequent and also for minor infractions. Inside SGM parents faced church discipline even for how adult children acted. At the blog SGM Survivors people from time to time wrote about Dave Harvey and how they faced church discipline at Covenant Fellowship Church. And this often happened while there were a lot of issues inside Dave Harvey’s own family. Alcohol was one of them, and for now I will leave it at that. Had SGM and Covenant Fellowship not been authorterian when it comes to church discipline I would not have written that in this post.
Dave remained at Covenant Fellowship Church until April of 2013. He then resigned I believe due to personal reasons. He relocated to Florida from Pennsylvania and joined the staff of Four Oaks Community Church. Four Oaks was an Evangelical Free church at the time. Through the internet archives you can see him here. He was on staff at Four Oakes for three years and eight months. He departed in February of 2017. Four Oaks joined the Sojourn Network in the course of time. Dave went to the Summit Church in the Naples campus where he became the teaching pastor in March of 2017. He became the executive director and also the president of the Sojourn Network first in June of 2014 and also May of that same year. In addition Dave Harvey leads “Am I Called” which is a pastoral ministry. He also currently remains on the board of CCEF.
How Brian White of Harvest North Indy Made a Calculated Business Decision to Try and Save the Great Commission Collective from Financial Ruin
So how did Brian White who is Executive Director make the call to hire Dave Harvey? There were probably a number of factors that went into play. Dave Harvey could be classified as a counseling type and not the kind of individual who could build an organization. Plus he is also toward the end of his career. This decision is also awkward because previously the Great Commission Collective had no president, and Dave Harvey is the first. Brian White is also likely aware that The Great Commission Collective can not financially continue down this path. After all Great Commission Collective churches likely pay his salary through giving and if more leave that threatens his income and way of life. So Brian White had to make a calculated business decision. Do you go with someone who has a lot of name recognition and negative baggage? Or do you go fro someone lower profile? Brian probably through that the benefits outweighed the risk. After all consider the following
Sovereign Grace Ministries scandal broke in the 2010 ad 2011 timeframe. Brian probably thinks that most people forgot Dave Harvey’s role in that mess. He is also likely thinking that people will forget his role in allegedly covering up child sex abuse at Covenant Fellowship Church. Dave Harvey also has connections with CCEF and The Sojourn Network. Perhaps Dave can use his connections to convince a couple of Sojourn Churches to join the Great Commission Collective. Plus almost 50 churches left Sovereign Grace Ministries during the scandal. What if Dave used some of his contacts and brought a few of those former SGM churches into the Great Commission Collective. I would think if they could bring at least 15 into the Collective by the end of 2020 it would be considered a success. So in the end this becomes not a spiritual decision but a business decision. Since Brian White and other’s salaries are in play they are hoping that Dave Harvey can turn things around. So at the end of the day Brian White as the Executive Director is going to be doing a lot of ass kissing of Dave Harvey. I would also wager to say that Garrett Higbee probably pushed hard for Dave Harvey behind the scenes. After all what is ethics to Garrett Higbee? He is ethically bankrupt. Dave Harvey and Garrett Higbee have a long relationship through CCEF. This blog still believes that this move by the Great Commission Collective is like sticking you finger in a crack in the dam right before its about to burst. This is like putting a band-aid on a bleeding artery. This will not stop the hemorrhaging of the Great Commission Collective. And if I were a pastor affiliated with all this I would use Dave Harvey as further evidence to distance myself from The Great Commission Collective.