Dear Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel,
I am writing to you as a former member of HBC. I attended Harvest from 2005 until 2016. I can honestly say that some of the biggest blessings I have received in my life, Harvest and my Harvest family were a part of them.
I regret my decision to not write this letter sooner, but I honestly felt it would not have made any difference at the time. I’m not sure it will make a difference now, but my wife and I still have people that we know and love attending there and for their benefit, I need to say something now.
It's heartbreaking to watch the events at Harvest Bible Chapel unfold from where we sit. To see the truth of what is really going on and then see people attending there just doing what they are told by leadership to do is heartbreaking. For example, “stay off social media”, “Don’t believe the noise”, “Don’t look at that website”. They are being led right off a cliff! It's so sad because we really care for these people and they are going to be devastated when they eventually realize what happened. We also still believe that God is still present there and we want that church to thrive again.
I witnessed James MacDonald’s bullying personality on several occasions. I saw him belittle people and I also personally experienced his bullying and threats. Sadly, this letter isn’t just about James. It’s about a bullying mindset and a control thing there that just doesn’t seem to be changing, even with James gone.
I saw first-hand how that mindset seeped into other leaders there and how the culture in the church had grown to accept a “bullying” attitude from people. The pink shirts ceremony for the guys coming late to Act Like Men weekend is a perfect example of that.
I brought this concern to several leaders, including Luke, several pastors, and few elders, and was dismissed by everyone, with the exception of Dale Kuntz, who actually understood my concern.
When I spoke to followers of Jesus outside of Harvest about the pink shirt event, each one was mortified that that would be part of a men’s event yet the leaders of Harvest thought there wasn’t a problem at all with publicly shaming people. I find it hard to believe that Jesus would be a big fan of it also.
In addition, if anyone tried to speak up to try to improve something or possibly correct something, they run the high risk of being labeled a “critical spirit”.
It was also common practice that if a pastor got an email that was longer than a few paragraphs, just don’t bother reading it because it’s just a person complaining about something. That was told to me by several pastors on different occasions.
My wife and I were small group leaders, served during weekend services regularly, we were even in two God At Work videos, but had to leave Harvest in 2016 when it was painfully clear that what was being preached in the pulpit, was not being backed up by many leaders there.
I’m not expecting a perfect church. People are running them, and we are all a bunch of screw ups at times, me being the worst.
What we are expecting from a church is transparency. If a mistake is made, own it, apologize, try to fix it if possible, and then move on. It’s really kind of simple. To watch what is going on at our former church, a place that we called home for so many years, is just sad.
So why I am even writing you now? The answer is simple. I still care about Harvest and want it to thrive again. God did some amazing things for me and my family there and I saw His effect on many others.
That being said, I need to point out some observations in hope that you’ll truly hear what some of your “decisions” look like.
It appears that the elders, or whoever is calling the shots, can't seem to find a direction. A few months ago, you supported a ridiculous lawsuit. Then you all sign statements saying you totally support James. Someone even had the idea of having the entire staff say they support James. Not sure that’s even legal if they felt coerced into signing it for fear of repercussions if they didn’t. A true concern in the Harvest culture. To show what a joke that statement was, someone on staff recorded a meeting that James spoke at and sent it to a reporter. Not exactly the kind of behavior from someone who just signed a letter supporting James.
Then you finally remove James, and are totally justified in doing so, and you have his best friend and right-hand man preach the very same week?
Then, even after that, he gets up in the pulpit and has tears and talks about Harvest being in a storm?That’s not a storm, that’s a self-inflicted gunshot wound. James created this mess and Rick was a big part of allowing it to happen. To have him preach the very first weekend after James is fired is insulting to anyone who possibly thought about staying there.
Then, to make things worse, Rick saying that if anyone hears a little voice telling them to leave, it’s the devil? That’s even more insulting and right up there with the quote of his best friend James saying in a historic bad move video that when the elders get together, they speak for God. Seems to be a pattern of making an impulsive decision, only to realize later it was the wrong move, but the damage has already been done.
For Rick Donald to say to people from the pulpit, that if they hear a voice saying to leave that's the voice of the devil? Here’s a thought: Maybe it's the voice of God screaming to leave!
The elders should be issuing an apology for having Rick speak and for what he said.
I hope you made it all the way to this point in my letter. My wife and I have been praying for you all and the tough decisions that still need to be made there. It certainly appears that in order to save the sinking ship, the entire upper echelon of leadership, including the entire elder board, needs to be removed in order for the culture of James to truly be gone.
It might be the only thing that can save Harvest now and for God’s light to shine there again. That’s what would truly be glorifying to God.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss anything more, please don’t hesitate to call me. Even though we love the church where we are members now, The Bridge Community Church, we will always have a special place for Harvest in our hearts and want to see it thrive.
To God be the glory!
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