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The Harvest and James MacDonald Controversy Explained

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james mcdonaldAn eight-month investigation into pastor James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel, his Chicago-area megachurch, culminated last week with the publication of a World Magazine article by Julie Roys. Before the article was even printed, Harvest sued Roys, plus two bloggers who’ve been critical about problems at Harvest.

In her exposé, titled “Hard Times at Harvest,” Roys details evidence from former Harvest elders, employees and members that show “an ongoing pattern of relational and financial abuse, a lack of transparency and outright deception.”

Harvest strongly disputes the claims, saying Roys has an “unhealthy fixation” on the church and failed to uncover the “desired scandal.”

The church, which has a weekly attendance of more than 12,000 at its seven campuses, is also associated with Vertical Worship, Harvest Christian Academy (HCA), and MacDonald’s Walk in the Word TV and radio ministry. It also had a church-planting network, Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF), which MacDonald dissolved last year.

Background Information About the Dispute at Harvest Bible Chapel

The unrest at Harvest began in the fall of 2013, when two elders were excommunicated and another was “indirectly censured,” Roys writes. That occurred right after eight former elders sent a letter to the current elder board, claiming that MacDonald was guilty of “self-promotion…love of money…domineering and bullying…abusive speech…outbursts of anger…[and] making misleading statements.” Harvest countered by accusing those eight former elders of “great sin” and “defiling many people.”

The three censured elders said Harvest maintained a “culture of fear and intimidation” that destroyed relationships. A year later, MacDonald apologized for the harsh discipline taken against the three men, adding that Harvest had “meaningfully and mutually” reconciled with them. In a statement, the elders indicated they had accepted the apology and, in turn, agreed to “leave [the church] alone” and “let the elder board bring about the necessary reforms.”

Abuses Continued, Roys Claims in Exposé

According to Roys’ extensive research and interviews, changes didn’t occur at Harvest; instead, questionable treatment and practices continued. This included “an abusive and fear-based culture where those who question leadership are punished,” she writes.

Gordon Zwirkoski, a former Harvest elder and the original director of HBF, told Roys that MacDonald essentially wields ultimate authority at the church and cultivates “a spirit of fear in the staff.” Former Harvest employee Dave Jones says his church has welcomed dozens of “Harvest refugees” who show signs of “spiritual abuse” and are “disillusioned.”

Roys’ article details three examples of actions that former Harvest employees say reveal MacDonald’s hot-tempered, vengeful personality. At Camp Harvest in 2009, for example, the pastor shot at a target that contained photos of some elders’ wives. MacDonald later admitted doing so but claimed it was “all in good fun” and misinterpreted.

In another incident at Camp Harvest, MacDonald reportedly stabbed a photo of a former Harvest pastor with a butter knife. Witnesses say MacDonald was angry that the photo was still on display. Although he denied stabbing the photo, MacDonald said, “I may have put my knife up against it or into it.”

A final incident in Roys’ article involves MacDonald publicly berating HCA students, an incident witnessed by Harvest videographer Luke Helmer. The next day, Helmer resigned, citing MacDonald’s “pattern of uncontrolled anger.” The pastor later admitted being “too intense” in the classroom that day.  continue reading

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is a non-denominational Christ based ministry which is dedicated to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world and to exposing the error in the teachings of many of the false teachers who have invaded our churches.  Founded by Reverend Robert Wise under the  calling from God and after many years of studying the different denominations and preachers who have gotten away from the true Word of God and have allowed man's selfish wants and wishes to dominate their organizations and local churches.  It is our belief that the Bible is not being preached in today's pulpits.  Preachers have turned from the true Word of God and have made a concerted effort to turn our churches and pulpits into a self centered based belief system. Churches have become mini country clubs without golf courses. Pleasing the pew sitters is what is being preached instead of pleasing the Lord. Our goal is to be an avenue to share the Gospel with anyone who wishes to hear it like it was intended to be told.  Forgotten Word Ministries website has materials that are designed to help you to understand the Word of God, identify false teachings which are designed to help you along your Christian walk.


Message from the Founder   About the Founder
Forgotten Word Ministries was brought  to life by directive of the Holy Spirit to promote the true Word of God through His Holy Scriptures.  We DO NOT hate any of the people we have listed on our site, in fact we love them all but we disagree with their teachings.  Our intention is to show you how some preachers are using the Word of God for personal gain or are just plain misled themselves, thereby misleading others who follow them and their teachings.  We do everything we can to discuss these matters with those involved but the majority refuse to discuss anything with us or with very few others.  We do pray that these persons who are either purposely misleading for personal gain or are misled themselves will see the Lord's Word for what it is, not what they wish it to be.

God Bless You, 
Pastor Wise




This website will divide it's attention between Proper Bible teachings and pointing out the false prophets and the false preachers that have risen in great numbers in the church these last 35 or so years.


False preachers are leading thousands if not millions of people in the  wrong direction and causing them to follow a Jesus that is not the Jesus of the Bible.  False preachers are getting rich off of the flock and that is certainly something that needs to be attended to.


There is a section of who these false preachers are and sad to say, the list  continues to grow.  As heartbreaking as it is to me and you, imagine how heartbreaking it is for the Lord.



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