Blessing in Jesus
FROM PASTOR RYAN TO HIS CHURCH
Dear Church Family,
It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that James MacDonald has been fired from the main Harvest Church as of today. Harvest Palos is entirely independent from Harvest Rolling Meadows, and we withdrew our affiliation from their church planting network years ago. But these matters still affect us, as we still share a common name and history. I will make an announcement this Sunday once we know more details, but here are some initial remarks as we reflect on this sad ending to his 30-year tenure in ministry.
1. James MacDonald biblically disqualified himself from ministry.
All pastors sin and require God's grace on a daily basis, but ministers are warned against a pattern of unrepentant sin. "As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear." 1 Timothy 5:20. James MacDonald remains publicly unrepentant for his disqualifying conduct as a minister of the Gospel. Also, the elders at Harvest have yet to demand biblical repentance from James, and they have yet to repent publicly of specific sins they have been aware of and involved in.
2. The main issues were: lack of accountability, spiritually abusive leadership, and financial mismanagement.
These charges have been verified by a chorus of credible witnesses and a mounting pile of documentation. On WLS, (Chicago Radio Station), yesterday, Chicagoland heard audio files of James MacDonald saying deceptive, crude and criminal things about other Christians. Earlier this week, Julie Roys released texts where James admitted that over 1 million dollars of Harvest Bible Fellowship money was used for his church expenses. It is unfortunate that people outside of the church had to bring all of this to light, and we still wait for complete confession and ownership to be expressed by Harvest elders.
3. The message and the ministry model were not the problem.
So many people were blessed by the preaching of James MacDonald. I was trained for pastoral ministry by him and by other great men of God at Harvest. The message, the ministry, the movement were built on solid, biblical foundations. The MAN was the problem. He did not practice what he preached. The Bible he taught from is still true, and everything God's Word warned him about is coming to pass. We should believe the Bible more because of this, not less.
4. Moving forward will require both grace and truth from Christ.
We must avoid the twin pitfalls of unbiblical grace and unmerciful truth. James MacDonald remains in a place of disgrace and discipline, and if we bypass his need for repentance, we preach a different Gospel to a watching world. But if we refuse him forgiveness, we forget how much God has forgiven us. Grace and truth. This is a time to sympathize with those who were victims of all the drama. Most people were not exposed to James MacDonald's private patterns of sin, and they are now heartbroken that their former pastor failed them. They need grace. But the truth must prevail once again at Harvest. The people need the truth---about the finances, about James MacDonald's patterns of sin, and about those who were right to blow the whistle.
We want Harvest, the elders and James MacDonald to be healthy and holy as Jesus continues to build them into a temple of the living God. Ask God to bring beauty from ashes. Pray for Christ to be glorified through a process of repentance as the leaders consecrate themselves to serve the King who will return in heavenly glory soon.