14 August 2011

"The Steven Furtick Show" Now Playing at Harvest Bible Chapel

Misery loves company and so I am going to share my miserable morning with you. I tried to be optimistic. I prayed for discernment and for wisdom, and then I shuttled on over to Harvest Bible Chapel to hear guest pastor Steven Furtick "preach."

My initial plan was to drive to the main campus in Rolling Meadows, IL, but after thinking about it (and looking at the ominous sky), I opted to stick with my local Harvest campus. Sure, I would miss out on the lasers and lights and excitement of the main campus, but I admit, I was a little selfish, not wanting to give up that much time driving there and back just to listen to Steven Furtick. I knew his sermon would be just as enlightening (whether good or bad) on a big screen at the local campus. I arrived about 5 minutes before the service started and nabbed a seat in the aisle before an usher could force me to sit in the middle (they have an annoying habit at Harvest of ordering you where to sit). At this point, the church was still pretty empty, but I knew that would soon change. Looking up at the screen, I saw a clock counting down the seconds until the service began. Oh boy.

With about 45 seconds left on the clock, the worship team emerged. I immediately hoped they weren't on staff, because they all appeared to be about 15 years old. They later announced that they were indeed one of the student bands, so that allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief. (Side note: Parents, please do not allow your teenage son to wear tight, skinny jeans and clingy shirts. And for heaven's sake, please feed your sons so that they don't walk around with that emaciated look that is apparently so trendy right now!) When the music began, it took my breath away. Not because it was so spectacularly beautiful, but because the drums were so unbelievingly intense. Now, let's remember that I used to attend Harvest regularly, so I'm not just some life-long prude who doesn't like drums. The intensity of the loud, banging music, however, is something that I am convinced is simply not God-honoring. I tend to have very low blood pressure, so when it rises, I know it, especially because of the accompanying symptoms. The music this morning almost brought me to a point where I had to leave because it was making me ill. This is the music that the kids are singing in their worship services.

I did not write down which songs were sung, but they were far more about the beat and the melody and the choruses than they were about being didactic and doctrinal. It wasn't long before everyone was standing and jumping and swaying to the music. I am ashamed to say that used to be me. Led by the beat and my emotions, I was convinced that true worship meant that I needed to put on a show. God, forgive me. As for me this morning, I sat and tried to read my Bible while everyone around me was lost in this "worship experience." God's Word seems to me to offer a far better "worship experience" than any crooning rock band. Before the final song, the bass player shared the moment when God "woke him up." With his family suffering financially, he became convinced that they would have more money without him around, so he typed out a suicide note. While reading it back to himself, he said that "a voice came over me and said, 'I have so much here for you; I do not want you to go.'" And so he tore up the note and, I guess the implication is that meant he was saved. There was no mention of repentance of sin and faith and trust in Jesus Christ, however, so it seems like a lacking salvation story.

Next, there were announcements. Since Harvest is one of the more "hip" churches, they're starting to do those by video. The main announcement was to guilt people into working at the church. The tone seemed to be, "If you're not working every week..." then you are failing as a church member because you're "missing out." Turns out this attitude would be revisited later in the service. Then they showed a video of Camp Harvest summer camp for the kids. The interviews with the children? "It's really fun!" "I like the water slides!" Hm. I guess water slides are more fun than the Bible. But don't worry, lots of children said that they "asked Jesus into their hearts" and the claim is that there were 187 "commitments to Christ." We'll see how strong those commitments are as these young children grow up.

Okay, finally we're getting to the sermon (which you may be able to hear later this week online). Before Furtick came on stage, James MacDonald introduced him via a pre-recorded video (MacDonald is preaching this week at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Texas). In this video, MacDonald drove up on his motorcycle, decked out in his leather vest, with his wife behind him and introduced Furtick. Then he and all his motorcycle buddies drove away. Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with riding a motorcycle (although for the life of me I can't imagine why you would want to, but admittedly they scare me!). But can you honestly tell me that this is the most reverent and honorable way to run a church? Somehow I just can't see the Apostle Peter doing that, but maybe he had a really fast horse or something.

After that introduction, Steven Furtick looked at the crowd, awe-struck (even though we all know he saw the same video last night) and exclaimed, "That's your pastor! He preaches like Spurgeon and then rides away on a motorcycle!" (Personal note: MacDonald may be a gifted speaker, but he is hardly anything like Spurgeon, most especially in the content of his messages.) Furtick then went on to praise MacDonald and Harvest and at some point mentioned that his wife was "hot." This comment, of course, was completely unnecessary, but that's what these young, rock star pastors do. I guess you can't even become a young mega-church pastor unless you have a "hot" wife. It's some sort of prerequisite.

I won't have to spend much time telling you about the sermon because it can be summed up in one phrase: The Steven Furtick Show. First, he wanted everyone to clap and holler if they believe Jesus. He then proceeded to insult those of us who chose not to react that way by saying, "sometimes people who are biblically based have no passion or heart." Really? Is that really true? Or is it just that not all of us think that hooting and hollering is the only way to put our "passion and heart" on display? He did say that he liked that the congregation audience all had their Bibles, and admitted that his church does not bring their Bibles like they ought. Well no, why bother? When the pastor isn't actually preaching from the Bible, what's the point? But I digress...

Furtick supposedly preached from 1 Samuel 14:1-7. Here is that text:
One day Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side.” But he did not tell his father. Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah in the pomegranate cave at Migron. The people who were with him were about six hundred men, including Ahijah the son of Ahitub, Ichabod's brother, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, the priest of the LORD in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people did not know that Jonathan had gone. Within the passes, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistine garrison, there was a rocky crag on the one side and a rocky crag on the other side. The name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. The one crag rose on the north in front of Michmash, and the other on the south in front of Geba.
Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.” And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” (1 Samuel 14:1-7)
Furtick read the text, then told everyone to shout out the phrase "one day" because he believes in the power of a moment. I started to feel like I was watching a younger version of Joel Osteen with more hair gel and less hair spray. This led to a 5 minute diatribe about how Furtick was saved and supposedly called into ministry. Let me insert here that while I can't be sure, it seems to me that Furtick may think that people audibly hear from God. If he doesn't then he needs to drastically clean up his language. He talked about God "planting a vision" in his heart and on and on. If you want to hear the whole story, go watch the documentary about the life of Elevation Church. This morning's sermon was a Cliff's Notes version.

Skipping over the text, Furtick brought someone up to play the keyboard while he talked about the inspirational phrase spoken by Jonathan, "nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few." He proceeded to get everyone fired up and then moved backward in the text. "It may be that the LORD will work for us." Or, in Furtick's version, "Perhaps" the LORD will work. This brought him to the catch phrase of his message: God's promise is bigger than my perhaps. Huh? Okay. The "meat" of the message was then Furtick running back and forth on the stage interspersing stories about his own life with things like, "this is to encourage someone who is trying to believe God's promise! Maybe you heard God speak to you a promise...Maybe you heard God's voice..." but the devil is always getting in there with his "perhaps." Uh-huh. This got the crowd going. Amens, claps, and hollers of affirmation abounded. In a nutshell, this 40 minute "sermon" was supposed to inspire the audience to "audacious" faith by feeding off of the miraculous story of how Furtick got saved, how his father got saved (when telling this story, the glory seemed to go to Furtick and the sermon that he preached to which his father responded. There was no mention of God or the Holy Spirit working to bring his father to repentance and faith. However, I praise God if He did save Steven's father), and how he started Elevation Church.

Furtick concluded his message with the words of Jonathan's armor-bearer, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” These words, he said, are words that everyone at Harvest should speak to Pastor James. "But aren't we supposed to be only for Jesus," Furtick mocked? Well, yes, but we are the hands and feet of Jesus, so...and that's about all the explanation he gave. His final admonishment to the church was in essence to pledge absolute allegiance to Harvest and to James MacDonald. He told everyone who had a Twitter account to, when they left, "tweet" James MacDonald "I am with you, heart and soul." His emphasis on allegiance to the organization of Harvest and to its leader was reminiscent of what is required of those who attend Elevation. It wouldn't surprise me at all if, within a year or so, we see Harvest come up with it's own "Code" that everyone must abide by. Should we support our church and our pastor? Of course! But we should never pledge allegiance to the point where we will follow them without question and without examining and filtering everything through the lens of God's Word.

In the end, I was not at all surprised by what I heard and saw this morning. As I suspected, Harvest has grown more and more seeker-driven since I left and Scripture is being contorted more readily. A perfect example of this was on the back of the bulletin under the "2011 Stewardship Update." The needs were listed alongside the actuals, and then the verse Exodus 35:5 was beside the numbers: "Take from among you a contribution to the LORD. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the LORD's contribution: gold, silver, and bronze." Call me crazy, but isn't that verse about the construction of the tabernacle? It has absolutely nothing to do with the Church giving offerings to the Lord! Of course we give out of our hearts, but let's not pull a verse completely out of context in order to guilt people into doing so! But I fear that this is common place today at Harvest. Steven Furtick did not disappoint in his sermon, either. I wholly expected him to grab a verse and then focus on only a few words in that verse in order to somehow talk about his favorite topic of being "audacious."

This is sad. Harvest Bible Chapel is an organization (and it is an organization, I can no longer call it a church) that is rapidly becoming more and more influential. It truly has taken over the Chicagoland area, as it is nearly impossible to find a church that has not modeled itself after either Harvest or Willow Creek. James MacDonald is growing more and more popular and if he does not return to Scripture soon, then he, too, will become a dangerous influence on so many pastors. I grieve for the thousands of people who have heard or who will hear this weekend's message at Harvest. God was not glorified, Steven Furtick was. God's Word was not taught, and while not everything Furtick said was necessarily a lie, it nevertheless was a danger and an insult to the Gospel because God's Word was not faithfully preached and proclaimed. Thousands of people heard a message of do good and you will get good things. Believe harder, have audacious faith. No conviction of sin, no indication that maybe, just maybe, our lives will be worse in earthly terms if we are living for Christ. Yet the message scratched those itchy ears, and so it was received with glowing praise. As for Furtick's command to tweet James MacDonald our absolute allegiance to him? I'll let the screenshot speak for itself:

As for me, I will serve God and Him alone.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)

SEE ALSO:
Is Harvest Bible Chapel Being Fed to the Wolves? 
Steven Furtick to Preach at Harvest Bible Chapel

62 comments:

  1. I was at the same service this morning. I'm not sure who you are or if you are a Harvest member, or just want to visit random churches and critique them. In any case, I'm glad you visited, and I'm open to any Biblical critique, however, I just sense such a negative tone here. What are your alternative ideas?

    For example, when kids at camp accept Jesus, you respond with "We'll see how strong those commitments are as these young children grow up." How sad. What would you rather hear if that's not satisfying to you?

    Have you gone to a kids camp to contribute and try to do things the "right" way, whatever that is in your eyes?

    I would love to hear a response. I will check in and see what you have to say. If you truly are a Christian I really would love to hear your ideas.

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  2. Sounds more like a cult than a church. Pastors are supposed to be servants of God that point their congregations to following Christ. They are supposed to be feeding Christs sheep. This is sad. Thanks for exposing this error.

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  3. Hi Jon,

    First, I was mildly amused that you were upset over my "critique" and yet you felt more than willing to heap judgment upon me, especially when you say "If you truly are a Christian..." Thanks for the chuckle.

    If the kids at Camp Harvest truly repented of their sins and placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ and Him alone as their Lord and Savior, then praise God! However, if all they did was "ask Jesus into their hearts" (which is all we heard this morning), then we have a problem. I've known an awful lot of people who "asked Jesus into their heart," some even more than once! Yet, months or years later, where are these people? Where will these kids be once puberty hits? Most will "backslide" as we like to call it and lose all interest in the Jesus who is supposedly residing in their heart. Yet they will still assume they are saved because they were once told that all they had to do was ask Jesus into their heart and they'd be good to go. In reality, they were never saved at all. Without a proper teaching of what it means to repent and place one's trust solely in Christ, the salvation message is not being properly or fully offered.

    "Asking Jesus into your heart" is not Biblical and it's a dangerous way to offer someone false assurance of salvation. I could elaborate further, but this is only a comment box, so I'll direct you to this PDF to see the arguments against "asking Jesus into your heart" http://www.wretchedradio.com/pdf/ten_reasons.pdf

    Thank you for visiting.

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  4. Thank you for your response.

    Actually I didn't intend to criticize you so I hope it didn't sound that way. I just think that anyone who is going to tear down others should then submit their own ideas that would be better.

    Of course, no church, pastor or Christian is perfect, so what good does it do to church hop, tweet during the service, and then write a blog about it but not say how you would do things differently.

    As for the kids example, I definitely agree with you. But, I have to say that I've been to many churches in my life and Harvest gets to the point of true repentance and salvation better than any other for kids and adults. What church do you attend today? Are you a regular attender? Are you volunteering as Harvest promoted today at your own church?

    Thanks again for the discussion!

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  5. Hi again Jon,

    It seems to me that you are misunderstanding the purpose of this post. I am not out to "tear down others." Rather, I have seen dangerous trends and error creeping into a church which I at one time greatly loved. When we see God's truth being compromised and His Word being mishandled, we are to speak up, even if it is speaking against a celebrity pastor/church.

    The purpose of the post was not to wax eloquent about how I would do things, it is meant as a warning to those who are blindly following the leader. At one time, Harvest was indeed a very Bible-based church, which is precisely why a seeker-driven pastor such as Steven Furtick should not have been substituting in the non-existent pulpit.

    If Harvest is still preaching repentance and faith for salvation, why are the kids "asking Jesus into their hearts?" This is indeed a dangerous and growing trend and it grieves me that Harvest would succumb to it.

    Sadly, I do not currently have a church that I can call home because it is increasingly difficult to find a church that is faithful strictly to the Word of God. Especially in a city filled with Harvest and Willow Creek "campuses" or smaller wannabes, this is a very dark area. If that disqualifies me from searching the Scriptures and sounding a warning when false teaching is being promoted, then so be it. While I certainly owe no explanation of my personal situation, if it were not for a failing housing market, I would have moved long ago to the church that has fed me more than any other, Grace Community Church. In fact, if you insist to know how I would prefer things be done in a church, then you could watch the live stream sometime: http://www.gracechurch.org/live/ This is certainly not a perfect church, nor the only way to "do church," but it is a place where God, not man, is exalted. We go to church to worship God, not ourselves.

    Obviously you are a regular Harvest attendee, so I am sure that you noticed that today's sermon was indeed not a sermon at all, but a motivational speech that exalted the speaker. It is certainly true that Steven Furtick is a gifted speaker, but his teaching on 1 Samuel 14 was a clear example of eisegesis as he brought his own agenda to the stage. I suggest you research Furtick's church and his methodology. I am sure that a discerning mind will be a bit concerned about his presence and promotion by Harvest.

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  6. I find it amusing that people like Jon always resort to the "tearing down" charge when confronted with the exposing of false teachings.

    Jesus, Paul, Peter all exposed false teachings - were they "tearing down" people? It is the old victim card thrown at those who expose false teachings and teachers for what they are.

    Incidentally, is there really anything wrong with "tearing down" false teachings? Should they remain unassailed?

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  7. Thanks. I appreciate that response. Naming Grace as a model (albeit not perfect) is what I was looking for.

    I don't know much about Furtick, so I'm very open to your critique there. As for today, Furtick himself admitted the first half of the talk was a "get to know each other" talk and not a sermon. The rest was certainly motivational and was inspiring to me. His example of a light unto my path was great and Bible based. For those not there he used that to describe how faith is us taking just one step at a time. It's not a light that shows the "end" of the tunnel/struggle, etc. I see no problem in that kind of teaching, but I'm sure if you analyze the 40 examples/points or whatever in the 25 minutes or so, no doubt every one does not use a verse as a basis. I don't know if that's possible. Is that what you are looking for?

    I think the fact that you haven't found a church home might be a sign to you that maybe you are sitting in a pew with a critical heart (and tweeting) - focusing on pulpits/non-pulpits instead of on what you can do for the church. That said, I don't know you and your situation. There are times when it is hard to attend. I just know there were times in my life where my attendance was down, and those were my most negative and critical times.

    The last thing I would suggest is to not judge the Harvest camp (or anything) on a 2-minute video. If you've ever done video editing, interviews, etc. it's very much the result of the questions you ask the kids, and then the editing process. If you had gone to the camp and saw kids being told to ask Jesus into their heart instead of make them their Lord and Savior, then there would be a problem, I agree. But having been at Harvest since 2007, I know they miss the point with adults or in sunday school and Awana where I have assisted for kids. I would bet they are doing things the right way at the camp, too.

    I'll at this point let you have the last word. Thank you for approving my posts and the good discussion.

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  8. OH NO!!! I forgot the "critical heart" charge! I should have seen that one coming!

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  9. Hi Jon,

    I certainly appreciate your opinion on why I haven't found a church, however, I already indicated that I have not found a church that faithfully preaches the Word of God, unashamedly exalting Him and not compromising in order to please man. I find great joy in God's Word and in hearing it taught, and so I LONG to find a church where I can know that I will be fed each week with His truth. As for tweeting during church, it is not something I normally do, however, it was for the purposes of this sermon and post. If it is something that bothers you, then it may interest you to know that pastors like Steven Furtick encourage people to tweet during their sermons quite often.

    I also am not approaching Harvest as a one-time attendee. There was a point in my life not too long ago when Harvest was my church home. When I started to see it's decline and attempted to voice my concerns to the leadership only to be brushed aside, I prayerfully decided to leave.

    It is unfortunate that you do not see the problem with the type of sermon that was preached today. It was not my impression at all that Furtick intended for the bulk of his message to be a "get to know you," especially when he took us to the Bible and declared that he was going to preach on 1 Samuel 14:1-7. He then proceeded to focus on single words and phrases in order to build his message around his preconceived catch phrase, "God's promise is bigger than my perhaps." I suppose that statement may be true, but it is not the crux of that text. Firing people up with well-timed crescendos in your voice, emotional personal stories, and catchy one-liners may work to get the heart racing and sound out an "Amen," but it does not make for a doctrinally sound, biblically faithful sermon.

    Thanks for the discussion.

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  10. Hi Glenn!

    This should be old hat to you! :)

    Yes, you made the excellent point that Jesus, Peter and Paul were all quite vocal when it came to exposing error! The problem is, when someone doesn't see the error, they simply think you are being mean and critical. It also doesn't help when the one being exposed is a "sacred cow" if you will. Time to make a choice: defend God's truth or defend a man! I think I know which one I'll choose.

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  11. Thank you, Glenn. It's only because God graciously saved me - I owe Him everything, especially to stand firm on His Word!

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  12. I have been at Harvest Rolling Meadows for 12 years. Lately I have had a feeling that my church is going in a very bad direction but no one seems to agree with me and so I thought it is me. After today's spectacle I feel more sure of my own discernment. I found your blog by accident as I was trying to find information on this Steven Furtick. I had never heard of him. What is going on with Pastor James??? I know that people are leaving the church but I never am told why. Where is Dave Corning??? I heard he left but no one seems to know why. Please share any insight. This is tearing me up.

    Thanks for your blog!

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  13. Hi Anonymous,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Rest assured, you are not alone and it is not "just you." While I left quite awhile ago, I know that many others have and continue to leave. I wish I had some inside information or some insight as to why this downgrade is happening. I suppose the Apostle Paul has the best answer for us:

    "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths." (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

    It is my prayer that the leadership at Harvest would awake as to what is happening, would repent, and would return to depending upon God's Word alone to grow the church. Unfortunately, clear proclamation of the Truth often leads to a decline in attendance, so it is far more appealing to cater to the world.

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  14. I attend HBC and have been for six years. I never thought in a million years that they would allow a charismatic leader preach a sermon like he did, which was complete garbage. I was disappointed and confused about the passage. And, this was the first time ever at HBC I walked out of a service not knowing what the passage was about.

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  15. EBenz,

    Allow me to preface this comment by saying that I do believe that James MacDonald is a God fearing, word of God honoring man, humbled by the grace of Christ.

    I agree with just about everything that you've said about Furtick's teaching at Harvest this weekend. I too was greatly disturbed early last week when I heard that Furtick was going to be teaching at Harvest that weekend. My first reaction was anger, followed by conviction that I was judging prematurely and I needed to pray for grace & humility. Regardless, I still slipped into an increased blood pressure everytime I thought about Furtick taking the pulpit at Harvest.

    Nevertheless, I went to Church on Sunday morning at the Rolling Meadows campus. The recording that i saw, and i'm guessing you as well, was from the Saturday evening service, so Furtick only spoke once. I was astonished that Furtick prefaced his message with "James didn't even ask what my message was about because he trusts me enough to preach." That immediatly threw out my assumption that James MacDonald had at least vetted & proofed the message. His message was, as expected, very Furtick centered. And his interpretation of the passage was almsot entirely wrong.

    Although I was discouraged by the lack of discernment Pastor James used in allowing Steven Furtick to preach at Harvest, I must say your statements that Harvest is now an "organization rather than a church" and "overly seeker friendly" and "no longer preaches the Word" are entirely incorrect and unfounded.

    Pastor James recently preached a series on a "Vertical Church". In this message he spoke out against churches that are entirely soteriological & horizontal. He even expressed concern for some of his FRIENDS (Steven Furtick & Bill Hybels to a lesser extent) who err in this sense. I would suggest you listen to this message here http://www.jamesmacdonald.com/teaching/video/what-brings-the-glory-down-part-4-unafraid-witness-by-gods-people/#divSpecialVideoFeatures-tab

    I'd also recommend you watch the following video that shows a discussion between James MacDonald, Steven Furtick, & Matt Chandler on teaching doctrine.

    http://jamesmacdonald.com/blog/?p=7212

    Rohan

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  16. Hi Rojan,

    Thanks for your comment. I'm not sure how many times Furtick spoke this weekend, but it must have been at least twice, as the message that is currently posted online is not from the service that I attended.

    Thank you for the link to this other recent MacDonald sermon. It is confusing that he would speak out against pastors and churches such as this and then invite one of those same pastors to fill his "pulpit" and to oversee his flock for a week.

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  17. @Ebenz,

    I've just now discovered your blog through searching for opinions on Furtick's visit to Harvest this weekend. Glad to see individuals just as yourself standing for truth. I'll be following your blog & twitter from now on. I do pray that you exercise discernment in condemnation of ministry. I do believe that Pastor James & Harvest are still on the path of righteousness.

    I should also clarify, MacDonald did not name Furtick or Hybels when speaking of churches who have chosen soteriological doctrine instead of doxological doctrine. But they do fit the description perfectly so they were the first individuals that came to mind.

    Thanks again for all that you've done!

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  18. Thanks for your encouragement, Rojan, as well as the clarification. It's important to note that I'm not seeking to condemn, simply sounding an alarm. There are many who were in attendance this past weekend who were unaware of who Steven Furtick was, but who walked away completely enamored by his charisma. Since they very likely wholly trust their church and their pastor, it's important that those who do see the danger speak out. The decision to invite Furtick to preach at Harvest showed a great lack of discernment on the part of the leadership. However, it personally seems to me to fit along with the market-driven mentality that seemingly started to subtly creep in awhile ago. That is why I use the term "organization" over church.

    Thank you again for your comments and for the follow!

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  19. @Anon, it was not accident that you read this blog.
    @Ebenz, thanks for the warning. I listen to James McDonald from time to time and he always seem to have a good sermon. I will listen more carefully from now on. And thanks for the pdf, 10 reasons not to ask Jesus into your heart - I will pass it along~

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  20. Readers,

    Since there is not a formal comment policy posted, here it is: If your comment is not pertinent to the topic at hand, please do not even bother sending it. It will not be published. This is not to say that contrary opinions will not be published, as I most certainly welcome a Scriptural, God-honoring conversation. I am sure that most of you have been around enough blogs and comment threads to know exactly what kinds of boundaries this draws.

    Also, while I would love to be able to respond to each and every comment, I cannot always do so. In the absence of my contribution, I welcome other readers to share their thoughts, comments and ideas in the discussion.

    God bless.

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  21. The message felt placed, forced and this has been happening a lot. I have been having trouble pinpointing in my heart but it seems other see and feel as I do. I came to Harvest a little over 2 years ago and it has changed or the Lord, is changing me! Thanks for the post! I guess I found this for a reason...

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  22. Anonymous,
    Welcome to the "shunned" club also known as those whom the Lord is calling out. For further encouragement, read John 10. It helped me tremendously when i was going through the same feelings you are about leaving a church, and now several churches. Praise the Lord that he is blessing you with discernment, something we are all commanded to practice. Stay in the word and trust Him. "in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path." prov 3:6. You're going through what many, many people have gone through. Cut your losses and don't look back. Move on in the freedom that is ours in Christ. I would recommend reading Paul Proctor's blog and also reading the many articles on of "Lighthouse Trails Research"
    This is one reason I never let myself get too close to those in church and never let them dictate my holidays, personal time etc...Once they've done this, they've "gottcha". They want to become your family. Cult-like isn't it?

    Natalie

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  23. Hi, thanks for voicing your concerns regarding Steven Furtick being a guest speaker at Harvest Bible Chapel. I agree that inviting him into the pulpit was a serious mistake. I’m also thankful to have discovered your blog. I’ve been worshipping at Harvest Rolling Meadows IL for 7 years, and in the last year and a half I’ve become bewildered and dismayed at the direction the church is taking.
    The “Elephant Room” was the watershed moment for me and my relationship with Harvest. I found the whole premise of that event to be very disturbing…sending a message that all of the invited pastors agreed on doctrine, and that they only differed on the methods. For some of these pastors, their own recordings, videos and books prove conclusively that they do not all preach sound doctrine. Perhaps some of these pastors have an orthodox written statement of faith; but in practice they are not the leaders they should be…problematic messages that promote superstitious new age/mystical prayer practices, purpose-driven legalism, X-rated explicit topics and other concerns.
    The last worship service I attended at Harvest was when Mark Driscoll was guest speaker this past spring. The message was devoid of any serious biblical thought or humility. He told funny stories and spent a great deal of time musing about beautiful young Sunday school teachers and single men in church. It seemed so vicarious. He said…all that single Christian men need to have…in order to get a woman…is a job and a Bible! No mention of character or maturity etc. People hooted and hollered in appreciation. I haven’t been able to bring myself to go back to Harvest since that day. I’m looking for a new church too.

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  24. Anonymous (8/16 at 8:29),

    I am so thankful that you voiced your thoughts and experience here. Yes, The Elephant Room was indeed an eye-opener as to the direction Harvest was taking. These pastors differ in far more than just their methodology and the endorsement of some of this men was more than unfortunate. You are absolutely right - it is very easy to have a perfectly Biblical sounding statement of faith, but it's a whole other issue as to whether that SoF is actually lived out and taught by the pastor and the leadership.

    It seems to me that there may be quite a few people who are looking for a church in the area. Something to be praying about...

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  25. Since Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever and He spoke in an audible voice to Paul, and indeed many others, it seems a bizarre theology to imply that He no longer engages humanity in like manner. From whence cameth your unbelief?
    love ya JE

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  26. JE,

    I'm not sure that a comment thread is the place to get into the cessationism vs. non-cessationism debate, especially since it has recently been addressed at length in places such as the Pyromaniacs blog. However, the problem with people claiming to hear directly from God is that it stands in direct contradiction to the idea of sola Scriptura. We most certainly do hear from God today, however it is through His sure, certain, and complete Word. To claim direct revelation from God is to say that the Scripture as it stands is not sufficient. It is to contradict truths such as is found in Hebrews 1:1, where in these last days God has spoken to us by his Son. Claims of voices, visions, and extra-biblical revelation go against the clear warning in Revelation 22:18-19 that we are not to add to Scripture. The issue is not my unbelief. The point is that my faith rests in a God who has spoken completely all that I need to know in His Word, the Bible. To seek for voices, signs, wonders and experiences over and above the objective truth of Scripture is in fact a sign of unbelief.

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  27. Having come out of Harvest after 8 years, it saddens my heart to see what is going on in the last few years. We were very involved: small group leaders, audio ministry leader, youth volunteers, and had become friends with so many who remain at HBCCL. Even the tweet post in this article is hard for me to take in, as I see that I know one of the "Tweeters". I became convinced of better things for my family as it pertains to worshipping as a family on Sunday, and hearing the message as a family, and moved to a small, traditional, expository, family-integrated church in northern Illinois. One of the hardest things is that my sister-in-law still attends Harvest, and thought the Furtick message was 'awesome' this weekend. Hard to watch so many churches go astray of God's infallable Word these days. Isn't It enough?

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  28. No More,

    Even though I did not have the strong ties to Harvest that you obviously did, it grieves me tremendously to see this happening. Harvest has such an influence that extends far beyond Chicagoland that this is indeed potentially very dangerous. BTW, would you mind sharing what church you are currently attending that is faithfully preaching God's Word? If you don't want to leave it in the comment string, you can contact me using the button at the top of the page. I would greatly appreciate it!

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  29. I have been attending Harvest for over 14 years now, and for the past few years have had the same thoughts that some of you are having..."I feel so alone...am I the only one who has concerns about the direction that Harvest seems to be going in?" Especially after hearing about, and listening to, some of the conversations in the 'Elephant Room.' However, I chose to believe that maybe Pastor James' intentions were to stand for Biblical truth and lovingly bring correction to these other pastors, but sadly I now don't believe that to be true.

    Because of something that happened at Harvest two years ago, I left and began attending another church in the area, but when they began promoting Rick Warren's 'Purpose Driven Life/Church' books, it made me realize just how many churches are drifting away from Biblical truth. I decided to come back to Harvest, and am doing what I am sure all of you are also doing...praying for Pastor James and the elders, and trusting God to open their ears to what His Spirit is saying to them, and that they will repent and once again take a strong stand for Biblical truth, focusing on preaching the gospel, and testing things that others say in light of Scripture (Acts 17:11) before allowing them to preach from the pulpit.

    Even though we can't understand why Pastor James allowed Steven Furtick to preach at Harvest, maybe one reason God allowed it to happen was so that many of us who feel so alone would find EBenz's well written blog expressing her heartfelt concerns, and make us realize that we are NOT alone. My heart goes out to all of you.

    EBenz, thank you SO much for your post on Steven Furtick, and taking a stand for Biblical truth in spite of the opposition you face as you choose to speak out against many of the false and 'new age' teachings entering the church today. May God greatly bless you and your ministry as you seek to 'earnestly contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.' (Jude 3)

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  30. No Longer,

    First of all, I want to thank you so much for your gracious words of encouragement. When I wrote this blog post, I never anticipated how absolutely blessed I would be by so many readers and comments! God has certainly used those of you who have expressed similar concerns to provide me with some confirmation that these issues were not something that I was imagining!

    I've found that true, Biblical churches are hard to come by in this area. I most certainly am praying for the leadership at Harvest to repent and turn again to a true preaching of God's Word. Seeing and knowing the direction that these seeker-driven mega-churches tend to take, however, I admit that I am not very hopeful.

    With so many ex-Harvesters, perhaps we should begin praying that there would come a pastor who would be willing to start and lead a church of Harvest cast-offs!

    Thank you again for your comment.

    Blessings.

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  31. JOHN MACARTHUR - ROB BELL RICK WARREN MARK DRISCOLL SERMON JAM

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HidbQZMKVI

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  32. EBenz, it is my pleasure to encourage you. However, I think I can speak for everyone else here, who is as deeply grieved as I am over what we see happening at Harvest, and say 'YOU have absolutely blessed US!' It's one thing to find a well respected blog confirming our concerns about Steven Furtick and the shift from Biblical truth that Harvest seems to be making, but it's entirely something else to find someone such as yourself, who actually attended Harvest and understands exactly how we feel. You have touched our hearts and soothed our broken spirits. God will continue the healing in us that He has allowed you to begin, as we seek Him in His Word.

    Because of what happened this past Sunday concerning Steven Furtick, I believe God is showing us what can happen when people focus on a certain pastor or ministry, instead of having our main focus on Christ and making sure that the messages we hear being preached line up with Scripture... people are unable to discern truth from error, and go along with everything they are told to do without question, (standing, cheering, being caught up in emotionalism, as well as repeating what they are told to say without taking time to think and see if they agree with it or not) and therefore they are allowing themselves to be easily led into spiritual deception.

    For those of us who know how Biblically solid Pastor James' sermons have been for so many years, and have been blessed, convicted by the Holy Spirit, and challenged to change by his sermons, we now find ourselves deeply saddened by what we see happening. However, we will not lose hope, for we know that 'with God all things are possible.' So, EBenz, I stand along with you, and everyone else who has expressed their sorrow and concerns over this...let's agree in prayer that God will indeed give Pastor James and the leadership at Harvest, eyes to see the truth that He will clearly be revealing to them, and that they will repent and go back to preaching 'the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.' (Romans 1:16)

    Your second option of "praying for a pastor" (blessed with discernment and a love for preaching the truth of God's Word is a must) "who would be willing to start and lead a church for ex-Harvesters," (and those like me who basically feel abandoned, like 'sheep without a shepherd,') is definitely a great idea, if it sadly comes down to that...if Harvest continues to stray from Biblical truth, then we will definitely be praying for God to put that desire within a godly man's heart to do just that. Soooo, are there any men among us here who would be willing to seek God concerning this?

    God bless you, EBenz, and those of you here who are hurting, yet daily choosing to take a stand for GOD and Biblical truth, and loving Him with all your 'heart and soul.' (Deuteronomy 10:12)

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  33. Some like it “hot”.
    Maybe they are heading to the lake of fire.
    ================================

    Hosea 7:3-6 "They delight the king with their wickedness, the princes with their lies. They are all adulterers, burning like an oven whose fire the baker need not stir from the kneading of the dough till it rises. On the day of the festival of our king the princes become inflamed with wine, and he joins hands with the mockers. Their hearts are like an oven; they approach him with intrigue. Their passion smolders all night; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.

    >> Ebenz 14-Aug-2011 "Furtick then went on to praise MacDonald and Harvest and at some point mentioned that his wife was "hot." This comment, of course, was completely unnecessary, but that's what these young, rock star pastors do. I guess you can't even become a young mega-church pastor unless you have a "hot" wife. It's some sort of prerequisite."

    It is a prerequisite to demonstrate your attraction and committment to “the flesh” rather than what the Holy Spirit recommends in the counsel he repeatedly gives in the Bible he authored (authored by guiding its contributing writers), eg.

    Romans 13:14 ….. put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (NKJV)

    If you enjoy playing around in “worldly” phraseology that glorifies “the flesh”, then you are enticing yourself and others towards the acts of the sinful nature, see Gal 5:19-24

    Asserting a woman is “hot” means she is a potentially desirable copulation partner.
    It is a statement to affirm the standard of physical attractiveness preferred for a copulation partner.

    It is the kind of statement that unbelievers make to express sex lust.

    1 Thes 4:3-5 It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God

    1 John 2:16-17 For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

    The cravings, the lust, and the boasting of leaders in many churches.

    This kind of evil influence is the reason there is so much sexual immorality in churches, especially among youth.

    It also causes “worldly” unbelievers to mock God when they observe his supposed followers caught up in scandals, with the defense usually given “we’re not perfect, just forgiven”.

    The “worldly” unbelievers can easily see that the church people are the same as themselves in chasing sex adventures, pride fantasies, money, material possessions, etc.

    eg. these recent real examples:
    Girls in shower filmed by youth pastor Thomas Fortenberry

    Pastor Zachery Tims played with stripper

    To be critical is to be discerning, and God requires this as “passing the test” of being an authentic Christian.

    Are Christians passing the test to be good discerners, or are they just “going with the flow” to participate in fraud?

    Eph 5:11

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  34. Hey Erin,

    I am a member of Elevation and have been for about four and a half years. I have a lot of thoughts on your observations. But here is a question: is it possible that Pastor McDonald brought in Pastor Furtick to do something similar to having a Missionary come in and tell their testimony? I believe that to some, Pastor Furtick's message about hope with his father's salvation and faith in his calling (which you seem to disagree with that being the case) could be one that is pertinent to a lot of believer's daily walks.

    What say you to this angle on "the Furtick show"?

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  35. Anonymous (8/21),

    If that was the "angle" of Furtick's appearance, then it certainly was not presented as such. It was very clear that this was intended to be a teaching from the biblical text (although that never actually happened). Regardless, whether one is teaching through God's Word, or sharing one's own testimony, I would hope and expect to hear far more about the person and work of Jesus Christ than about the person doing the talking.

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  36. Christians need to be Bereans constantly checking all things against scripture. The Word says all like sheep are led astray. We only have one Shepherd that is Jesus and if the pastor is not preaching Christ crucified for my sin then he is a wolf that has come in another way. Clearly following Jesus will bring you persecution and tribulation. You will not get everything you pray for and there will be trials and tribulation but Jesus said be of good cheer because I have overcome the world. These slick preachers are preaching for their own needs out of their own evil desires and Jesus and Paul said there would be these kinds of preachers.When the apostles went to Jesus to complain about other people preaching about Him Jesus assured them to leave those alone and that whether out of vain promotion or sincere devotion at least Christ was being preached. God can use all and any means to lead people to Him and to the grace of Christ so we must be ready to give every man an answer for the hope that lies within us with gentleness and respect. We can use these vain preachers as springboards for the truth and pray that God will open their ears and their faith will come by hearing and by hearing the word of God.

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  37. @Anonymous 8/14 6:39p.m., 'C' 8/15 12:51p.m., Anonymous 8/15 11:26p.m., Anonymous 8/16 8:29p.m., Anonymous senior pastor of HBF, Anonymous 8/17 8:56 p.m., Michelle5900, and all others who are as equally concerned, but who have not posted a comment...It seems as if God is gathering many of us together on here who are deeply concerned about the unbiblical direction that Harvest appears to be heading in. So for those of you who have a serious desire to pray for Pastor James, the elders, and the people who attend Harvest, please prayerfully consider joining me in prayer every Sunday you are available, for about 15 minutes after the 11:15 service at Harvest Rolling Meadows in the first few rows directly in front of the cross. Or consider starting a prayer group at YOUR Harvest location.

    Let's be in prayer about all of this. And as Anonymous 8/17 said so beautifully and passionately, ""It will take courage and trust in God. Take the church back for the Lord and His people."" AMEN, Lord, that is our heart's cry and our prayer.

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  38. “The main announcement was to guilt people into working at the church. The tone seemed to be, ‘If you're not working every week...’ then you are failing as a church member because you're ‘missing out.’”

    That quote from your post really resonated with me, as a former attendee of my local Harvest Bible Chapel. Once their legalism and desire to control every aspect of my life were revealed to me, I was first stunned, and then fled from Harvest as fast as I could.

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  39. Go to a reformed church. Stay in the old paths of the puritans. John Owen, Richard Baxter, Thomas Watson, Jonathan Edwards.....

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  40. A good family integrated church is Covenant Reformed Church of Elk Grove. Faithful preaching of Gods Law Word for the Glory of Christ and the equiping of the Saints.

    http://www.covenantreformed-eg.org/

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  41. Thank you for the recommendation, Anonymous. I'm sure there are many here who will greatly appreciate it!

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  42. I heard the pastor of Covenant Reformed Church of Elk Grove speak at a conference last year. When I think back to his presentation and now look at the website for his church, I am struck by the absence of any self-promotion in contrast to my church, Harvest Bible Chapel Rolling Meadows. I am really struggling. I have been at Harvest a long time, my children have grown up there, I am involved in ministry work there, know a lot of good people there, etc. etc. I don't know what to do. I know Pastor James would never listen to someone like me. How do we reach him? Do we just leave or try to help him see the destructive direction he is taking our church???

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  43. Dear Anonymous Sept. 2 6:24P.M.

    May I suggest to you...prayerfully consider writing down all your concerns that you would like to share with Pastor James and either post them on his website...

    http://jamesmacdonald.com/blog/

    ...or make an appointment to talk with him, and you can read it to him. However, you will probably end up talking with Pastor Rick or someone else, because unfortunately Pastor James doesn't have enough time to personally meet with everyone who has concerns. If that happens, you can ask them to give your letter to Pastor James.

    If you choose to leave without expressing your concerns to Pastor James, you will be missing out on an opportunity for God to use you to make him realize the 'destructive direction he is taking our church' in, as well as bringing possible destruction to his reputation and his ministry because of his decision to become involved with Mark Driscoll, Steven Furtick, and the 'Elephant Room' Conferences.

    (While I am on that subject, I thought I would share with those of you who are concerned, that there is another 'Elephant Room' conference scheduled for Jan. 25, 2012. More information can be found at the link posted above. In the months to come, let's prayerfully consider posting our concerns expressed in love, and trust that God will cut through the spiritual deception that seems to be blinding him to the dangerous path he sometimes seems to be leading us all down).

    Anonymous, never underestimate God's ability to speak through 'someone like you.' Leaving without sharing your concerns would be missing out on an opportunity for God to use you to make Pastor James realize how some of his choices are effecting you. It is obvious by what you shared in your post, that your heart is filled with concern as well as hurt, and not with bitterness and anger. So whatever you would share with Pastor James as you seek to express your concerns to him, I know you will say in love, whether he listens or fails to listen. Maybe if enough of us choose to pray for courage to come forward and express our concerns, Pastor James will prayerfully seek God, knowing that he is accountable for how he leads us.

    God bless you, Anonymous, and all others who are concerned. Let's continue to lift up Pastor James, the elders, and all who attend Harvest, and trust that God will give them all eyes to see and ears to hear what His Spirit is saying to them. To God be the glory for what we trust He will do!

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  44. I think it is important to always tell the pastor or elders why you are leaving their assembly. Otherwise they will have no idea and, if they care, they wouldn't know what to correct. We have left 5 assemblies over three decades and we told each one why:
    1. Preaching evolution from the pulpit
    2. Market-driven/seeker-sensitive philosophy
    3. "Revival" infiltrated and we helped evict the pastor, but over the next year there was a refusal to make a doctrinal statement and the infighting continued so we left
    4. Entertainment orientation
    5. Sin in the assembly which leadership refused to deal with - poor leadership overall - which caused many to leave.

    Church #3 two years later called another pastor who made a doctrinal statement immediately. The rest haven't changes.

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  45. Someone earlier said go to a reformed church. I know there are strains of reformed churches, but many of the people connected are from a reformed background. SBC, Reformed Baptist, TBN faith healing and all are linking arms.

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  46. I had to leave my church 2 years ago because it decided the seeker sensitive route was the new direction to go. It was sad to see the Gospel get watered down and the social gospel get promoted with greater intensity. The self help, man centered wisdom became too much to take. Sitting in sermons listening to more and more pop psychology and fewer and fewer Bible verses. I did send e-mails confronting the issue and got replies saying stuff like, (basically) I understand what you're saying but this is the direction we are heading. It was sad to leave. still makes me sad. Now this! James seemed way to solid in his convictions to stray away from the truth. I've enjoyed his teachings on the radio for many years. Tell me this isn't so! Not James. Hmmm. sadness all over again. It's hard to believe. Stand firm John MacArthur!

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  47. Hi Ebenz,

    What is the point of this blog post?

    Weston

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  48. Weston,

    The point was to share my experience as well as my concerns over James MacDonald inviting someone into his pulpit who, in my opinion, is a very dangerous teacher. By doing so, MacDonald has given his blessing to Steven Furtick and those who naively follow MacDonald may easily begin to follow Furtick now as well.

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  49. I'm a South African and I found your blogpost very interesting. What is happening in US churches are also happening in our South African churches. A lot of confusion - glad to see I'm not the only one ...

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  50. I had found this blog because I was stunned at a video that was posted on GodTube.

    http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=FFCM2CNU

    This video is dangerous and it bothered me so greatly. I cannot attend Church because its this type of anti-Bible atitude and plastic Christians that keep me away.

    One of these Churches destroyed my family, even going so far to convince my wife to leave me at the pretense of keeping her safe. When she came to her senses, it was all too late. The Church convinced a judge to give our 4 beautiful children to her abusive parents. We are not even allowed to approach or see them.

    Previous to this, I had attended Church all my life. Since this all happened 2 years ago, my wife and I are devastated. She cries at why she trusted that Church. I feel guilt for telling her that she should trust the Church. Since this happened I have not set foot in a Church.

    For awhile we thought we were the only ones who were abused by the Church. But lately we have come to meet alot, and I mean alot, of those who are afraid of Church!

    When I was young, Church was a sanctuary, and place you went to feel safe. I know Jesus fortold this, and this is one of those birthpains, screaming for His return.

    My wife and I live for this statement...

    "For the Glory of the Lamb"

    We count ourselves fortunate that God would see us worthy, to share in Christ's sufferings. To be rejected as we have been.

    Keep up the good work, keep exposing the false prophets... and God Bless...

    Stan

    http://www.iamneo.org

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  51. Anonymous from Oct 7,
    Thank you for "visiting" all the way from South Africa! Sadly, churches the world over seem to be in a rapid decline as God's Word continues to be compromised. Yet, as you noted, you are not the only one seeing these things happening. Perhaps the only good consequence of all this apostasy is the knowledge that surely Jesus Christ must be coming soon for His Church!

    Stanley,

    Thank you for visiting and for sharing a bit of your heartbreaking story. I am so sorry to hear that a church wounded your family in such a way. I pray that you and your family will come to realize that not every church, not every pastor, behaves in such a way. It is an abomination that so many use the title of "pastor" as a means of abusing others. Yet, Jude notes in his brief epistle that condemnation is certain for such false teachers. Nevertheless, there are many Godly men who are still standing for truth even as the world grows darker. I pray that, if you haven't already, you and your family would be able to find a congregation led by such a man who fears, respects and loves God's Word.

    Blessings.

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  52. Hi,
    It seems many of the people who are commenting on your blog have never been to Harvest Bible Chapel. I have been attending for two years and have never had the sense that it is straying from God's Word. I've actually gotten more of God's Word from going to Harvest for two years than I have in attending Lutheran churches in the previous 28 years of life. I understand that some have disagreed with what Harvest teaches or their decisions and so they have left. I understand that--I left my entire denomination after 28 years and haven't looked back. But others are coming on your blog and reading your interpretation of what you think is happening, gathering information from short video clips (on this article and others you wrote), without taking into consideration the entire picture. People are quoting Scripture to condemn a church they don't know, based solely on your interpretations of the direction Harvest is heading. Does that seem right?

    Friend, I can tell you desire to worship in a place where the truth of God's Word is central and I really do think that is wonderful. I can tell you are passionate about the truth--I am as well. But before I came to Harvest, my problem was that truth had become an IDOL to me. I was so consumed with making sure people knew the truth that I forsake PRACTICING the truth. In other words, I didn't care how I told the truth, as long as I said it and exposed the falsehood, I was doing God's will--that thinking I had was so wrong. I disguised it under the whole "sometimes the most loving thing you can do is tell the truth" bit. In reality, I was speaking the truth, but HOW I spoke it and my methods for sharing it were just plain sinful. That is how I see your blog. You seem so focused on making sure everyone sees the truth that you are damaging others, speaking out against a church that is doing INCREDIBLE things through the power of Christ, and encouraging others to do the same by fostering an environment of criticism and self-righteousness. I am so glad that you love God's Word and the truth that is in it, but, my friend, it just ends up sounding like a "clanging cymbal" from 1 Corinthians. I don't think I'd have any problem with your articles about HBC if you were fair by listing the hundreds of ways that this church is impacting the world for Christ nor would I have a problem if you weren't anonymously attending Harvest events for the sake of getting blog topics. It's time to start LIVING truth by practicing truth, not just talking about it.

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  53. Anonymous,
    If you had read my comment policy, you would know that I don’t make it a practice to post and respond to comments made on posts that are more than a month old. However, since you have seen fit to make some rather large assumptions, you leave me with no choice.

    First of all, you claim that many making comments have never been to HBC. Did you actually read all the comments on this post and others? If you had, you would find that many, if not most, of the commenters are current or former HBC attenders who have had concerns for awhile, yet could not quite articulate what the problems were, or they assumed that they were the “only ones” seeing things of concern and so remained quiet.

    If you had bothered to read some of my first and earliest articles about Harvest, you would know that it is out of deep concern that I write the truth about HBC’s activities. At one time, God used Harvest greatly in my life, and so it is only because it grieved me to see the direction they were taking that I began to watch so closely after leaving the church. And to answer your question before you ask it: I left for various reasons, including concerns about some teaching and the downward spiral that HBC seemed to be taking. And yes, I attempted to contact the church but was brushed aside. So I am not attending Harvest events “anonymously” just to get a story. I have attended these church services because I am deeply concerned about the direction of HBC and seek to call out the truth about what is happening.

    Yes, MacDonald opens up Scripture for every sermon. And much of what he preaches is correct. But you will notice that it is largely not his sermons that I am critiquing, but rather his unwise decisions which are a reflection of his discernment and leadership. Personally, I could not sit under the teaching of a pastor who has the gumption to allow someone in his pulpit who declares that church is not for the saved. I could not sit under the teaching of someone who could listen to another “pastor” use foul language, and yet not rebuke him for doing so. Perhaps I’m too “picky,” but so be it.

    As regards the video clips, any video and/or audio clips that I have used have been from messages that I listened to in entirety. I did this to ensure that using a brief clip would not misrepresent the broader meaning or intention conveyed. I’m sure you will agree that most people will not sit and listen to a 90+ minute teaching, and take notice at various minute marks of what is being said.

    I’m glad that you saw fit to assess my spiritual condition based upon a few articles. I’m amused that you made the presumptuous assertion of, “It's time to start LIVING truth by practicing truth, not just talking about it,” without knowing anything of what I do in my personal life outside of this site. I hope that such actions were edifying to you.

    “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)

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  54. I really appreciate your love for truth, and so for Christ our Lord and Friend.
    It's not easy to speak the truth in these days. Kep on.
    All for jesus and His Cross. Gal. 6:14

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  55. Many thanks for the encouragement, donsands. All glory to our amazing Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ!

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  56. The time you have spent on the negative here doesn't really reconcile with your alleged strong faith. We saw Pastor Steven at Harvest and found him to be very solid and convicted. Incidentally we just moved from Chicago to Charlotte and now have the privilege to see him every week. Elevation is a great church and Pastor Steven is a great Pastor but going to church is only 1 small part of your walk with Christ, for you to have a blog dedicated to passing your judgment, is not something that brings glory to God. Focus on your personal relationship with Jesus.

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  57. So, you're judging what you perceive to be passing judgment. And you're judging my "personal relationship with Jesus," all while telling me that I should not be judging. Okay.

    The fact that you can listen to Steven Furtick preach about himself and yet still call him "solid" means that you are operating under a different definition of the word "solid." Test everything you hear against Scripture.

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  58. I am amazed/relieved/happy? to find this blog and post. It has been a few years now since I have been able to be a part of a church, and I stand with those who search for a God fearing community that is not centered around a show, a personality, or a model of some random kind.

    I attended Harvest for many years. this may sound proud but I know what I am talking about. I had various leadership roles and plenty of exposure in planning meetings and leadership training settings. I have to be acreful what I post, as I probably have too much built up in the "Harvest" category. And I don't want to become sinful about it. I can only say I am encouraged to see that some people are looking at what Harvest is becoming through discerning eyes. Some of the posts here are folks who have not been there that long. There is a Harvest lifecycle where over time it becomes easier to see the selfishness, lack of accountability, lack of truth telling, manipulative leadership practices, etc. That is why you see key people leave over time. It is deception. What you see is NOT what you get. I personally left because of all the things you saw on that Sunday. Is this a church? A media club (circus?)? A for profit organization? A pyramid scheme? It becomes hard to tell. Is the goal reaching our community or is that lip service? Is the goal putting James on TV as a celebrity? I have no idea what is going on at this church anymore. I try to not be negative as this will certainly get you "branded" as someone in rebellion or some tag that blacksheeps you. but in the end, I just don't see enough true gospel happening at this church to keep me there or to trust my resources with. Try asking to see all the financial details of what they do with your tithe. It does sadden me because I don't think this was where this church was headed however many years ago. The drift just continues and it's a drag. Lots of focus on numbers, lots of focus on "rah rah" stuff and becoming "something". Not enough focus on Jesus.

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  59. Before James Macdonald took his summer vacations he used an illustration from the Simpsons tv show and even said he watches the simpsons. Col.3:8 Hmmm. Why you can entertain your family with everything mentioned in this verse alone in just one episode. Also you will see cars in the parking lot with Masonic emblems on them. Does Harvest teach about the satanic connection of Freemasons?

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  60. Thank you for your post. We were new Christians when we went there. There was lots of talk of prayer. Well wanting to pray we asked when and where we pray. My wife was told that there were several good books on prayer for sale in the book store.We joined a small group we did not pray but rather talked about praying for each other.

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  61. I am very heavy hearted after reading this post. What is so disheartening to me is the fact that so many people sit under teaching like this and think that it is biblical. They are being brainwashed; this is nothing short of cultlike behavior.

    As I read this, my mind wandered to a church I visited when I first moved to Charlotte. Much of the same nonsense was shared about giving total allegiance to the pastor and the ministry of the church. To fall in line with the vision that "God had placed in the pastor". This happened to be a Word of Faith church, whose bookstore shelves were filled with books by Creflo Dollar, T.D. Jakes, Charles Capps, Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland.

    The messages are the same...WoF is being gradually accepted in what used to be "Evangelical" churches. As someone who used to enjoy James MacDonald's teachings, I am so incredibly sad that he has been taken in by this abominable teaching...

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