Concerning Our Disassociation With Harvest Bible Fellowship

Friday, January 13, 2012

Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. (Acts 15:36-41)

For five years our church has been privileged to be a part of the Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF). We appreciate the ministry of James MacDonald and the HBF leaders. We have been blessed to take part in the planting of Bible-preaching, Christ-exalting churches all over the world. Dozens of our church members have been equipped in ministry through Harvest’s annual conference. The Harvest Fellowship has had a significant role in the strengthening of our church.

However, it is with great sadness that our elders have unanimously decided to part ways with Harvest Bible Fellowship. This is not due to any change in our church’s position, but due to what we believe is a change in the Fellowship’s direction. James MacDonald seems insistent in pushing boundaries in the area of associations with men whose ministry philosophy, practice, and even theology we can’t endorse. As a member of HBF, our desire was for good, consistent, conservative leadership from HBF. When we became a member of HBF five years ago this is what we received and this is what we could wholeheartedly endorse; however, in our estimation that has changed. We have been surprised by significant decisions made by James MacDonald (and supported by HBF), resulting in our trust being shaken regarding their guidance as well as future direction as a movement of churches. Despite several personal conversations with HBF leadership, our concerns have not been assuaged.

This sort of “pushing of the boundaries” was not what we signed up for when we joined the Harvest Bible Fellowship of churches. We as elders have an obligation to guard our flock from false teaching (Acts 20:28-31). Our consciences have led us to this decision to disconnect from HBF. This has not been an easy decision at all and it is one with which we have wrestled, prayed, dialogued, studied the Scriptures, prayed some more, and wrestled over again and again throughout the last five to six months.

We love James MacDonald and the other Harvest churches, and we wish them well. We pray that God will continue to grant them fruitful ministry, and that He will spare them from error and false teaching. Please join us in prayer for God’s grace during this time of transition. We are grateful for the understanding and support that our members have shown.

- Pastor Dan and the Harvest Elders

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20 comments:

Recovering Fundamentalist January 14, 2012 at 2:36 AM  

Thank you for taking a clear, principled and uncompromising stand for truth in a very considered, measured and mature way. I particularly appreciate the way you have shared only the most measured and meaningful of the available online comments via the web links in your articles. I am sure it is not without personal and professional impact that you have gone public with this process, even though it has been appropriately respectful, humble and low profile.
Thank you for publicly sharing this struggle.
"and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31Therefore be alert" Ac 20
"until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,d to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." Eph 4

You will almost certainly be misunderstood by some you held dear. May God give you grace to "do the truth in love" cf Eph4:15
Grace and Peace
Jerry Brodie
Waterloo Region, Ontario, Canada

Dan McGhee January 14, 2012 at 7:24 AM  

Recovering Fundamentalist,

Thank you for those kind words of encouragement. Some time ago I came a across a quote by John Newton that I thought captured the heart of how brothers in Christ ought to disagree. Let me share it with you...

"In controversy, commend your opponent by earnest prayer to the Lord's blessing. If a believer, deal gently with him for Christ's sake. The Lord loves him and bears with him; therefore, you must not despise him or treat him harshly. The Lord bears with you and expects you to show tenderness from a sense of the much forgiveness you need yourself. Soon you will meet in heaven; he will then be dearer to you than your nearest friend on earth. Though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him personally as a kindred soul with whom you are to be happy in Christ forever." John Newton

jonesay January 14, 2012 at 1:02 PM  

Praying for you guys and I'm thankful for your obedience.

Randy Bachman,  January 14, 2012 at 5:22 PM  

Praying for you guys Dan. I know it had to have been a gut wrenching decision for your leadership. The Lord will honor and bless the decision you have made my friend. God bless you and your church family.

Anonymous,  January 26, 2012 at 8:13 PM  

Dan,

Please make sure you continue in your ministry without the great temptation of slandering or damaging the ministry you just pulled away from.

It will be very tempting to try to give more strength to your reasons for leaving the Harvest movement by throwing stones as you go.

There are blogs out there that are aggressively attacking Mr. Macdonald (apprising, etc) and I see your name in the comments (unless it's another Dan McGhee) ... I hope you display the grace on those blogs as you have here in this letter.

Keep pursuing the ministry God has laid before you as a pastor in Detroit without being distracted and know that truth and time walk hand in hand.

Dan McGhee January 27, 2012 at 10:12 AM  

I always appreciate anonymous people showing up with free advice:)

Anonymous,  January 27, 2012 at 11:26 AM  

Sorry Dan,

I am not really a blogger so that's why the "anonymous" tag. Was directed here by a young man I mentor who has been caught up in the whole Elephant Room thing.

My name is Stephen Brown I am a 58 year old passionate follower of Jesus Christ. My wife and I have 4 kids and 6 grandkids. I was drawn by God to faith in Jesus Christ at the age of 23 and have been involved in serving at my local church ever since in various capacities. My main focus of ministry now is in mentoring young Christian men in the business world.

My email address is stephenbrownis4truth@gmail.com

Not sure how much more information you require for your comments section and no offense if you feel no need to respond or to listen.

Dan McGhee January 27, 2012 at 12:45 PM  

Thanks for responding again, Steven. I appreciate the information you've share with me about yourself.

For the record, I would like to state a couple of things concern your comment and advice to me:

1. Whenever I comment on a blog I always do so with my actual name. Additionally, I do this while also enabling those with whom I communicate to see where I blog and where I am a pastor. This is done for the sake off my own accountability in the area of "speaking the truth in love."

2. I have commented on some blogs regarding the recent ER debacle, but have done so in a way that reflects this accountability. If you can point out a blog in which I commented where I sinned, please do so, because I don't want to be guilty of sinning against the Lord.

3. You mentioned the blog "Apprising" as one where I have commented. Well, last I check, that blog doesn't even allow comments... But, do you not like that blog because of its tone? I'm asking because I have witnessed many who simply want to write him off as a "hater," and I think much of that is because they don't like what he says. Like him or not, he has been systematically recording and then reporting the horrific drift toward postmodernism and syncretism in the evangelical church. I don't always like his tone, but I applaud his work. Frankly, I'm sick and tired of big-shot, mega-church, celebrity pastors who think they are the ones who get to decide who is worthy to be heard, and who isn't.

4. Mentoring young Christian businessmen is a very important role to have in God's kingdom. May God give you His grace and wisdom in this calling!

Stephen Brown,  January 28, 2012 at 7:34 AM  

Hello again Dan,

Sorry if you misunderstood my gentle caution as an accusation of sin. It was just a caution ... when my son would take the car for an evening I would tell him to drive safely. Not as an accusation of his driving skills but as a gentle caution ... something said out of a love for him.

I have been around the block a few times Dan and so, out of a love for Jesus Christ and His gospel I just wanted to caution you as you take this strong stand against the Harvest church planting movement. I don't think the stand is wrong in any sense - I just have seen how many have given up their original call of preaching the gospel and loving and caring for those that God has put in their care to be some sort of "global watchman" (so worried about every sheep in every fold, they give little time to their own flock).

My example of apprising.org was an example to the extreme (sorry for the confusion - I can see how you would have been confused as it was in the context of "comments"). But Mr. Silva is a great example of a man who has done exactly what I am commenting about. His "National Enquirer" style of website weakens any truth he may have.

I love your zeal but I have seen many a young man misdirect their zeal and thereby miss the fruit God has for them. Your final comment in #3 is what I am talking about ... take that "sick and tired" feeling you have and rather than trying to humble these men (which only God can do anyway) just let your voice be heard -- in your church. No one, no matter how large or popular, can take your voice away from you in your own church.

You teach and love your people as you live with them (crying with them, celebrating with them, guiding them) and no author, speaker or otherwise will have a voice that can compete with yours.

May God continue to grow your people as He grows you. All for the fame and name of Jesus Christ!

Many blessings,
Stephen.

Dan McGhee January 29, 2012 at 7:59 PM  

Stephen,

I'm going to comment this final time regarding your "cautions," "warnings" or whatever you would like to call them. They have been duly noted.

Regarding your issues with Apprising.org, please take your concerns up with him. If you have an issue with his methodology, tone, or approach that really doesn't matter to me, and isn't relevant to what I have written anywhere regarding this whole ER2 disaster. I've already stated to you that I think Apprising serves the church in a very unique and important way. You don't share that same appreciation, so we have a difference of opinion in this matter, and that's OK with me. Really, it is.

Thank you for the kind words and the encouragement to shepherd as Christ would have me to shepherd. By God's grace alone, it can be so.

Anonymous,  January 30, 2012 at 8:51 PM  

Praying for you and your ministry.

Caleb

"Chicago Dave" January 31, 2012 at 1:57 AM  

I will try to keep this brief and to the point. :-)

I have been following the situation at Harvest for some time now; my brother and his family attend the 'main campus'. I just wanted to offer my show of support for the difficult decision to pull away from the direction in which Harvest appears to be going (for whatever it may be worth). I have no doubt that it was not, by any means, an easily-made decision, or process.

I only hope (and pray) that your bold action will serve as a much needed wake up call to the greater body of Harvest to evaluate what is really happening and make any adjustments needed to ensure they are properly focused what the Church is called to do.

Okay, maybe a little wordy.....ah well.

God bless you.

David Alves January 31, 2012 at 4:06 PM  

Dear Pastor Dan:

Just wanted to write a note of encouragement and say "thank you" to you and the other elders at HBC Detroit. I appreciate and applaud the stand you are taking for truth. I pray God will bless you and HBC as you seek to serve Him and preserve purity of doctrine even at personal cost.

By the way, I am considering DBTS as I sense a call to pastoral ministry. David Doran's thoughtful and gracious work on the issue of ecclesiastic separation/association has been of great benefit and encouragement to me.

Dan McGhee February 1, 2012 at 7:33 AM  

Caleb, thank you for your prayers.

Chicago Dave, thank you for the word of encouragement. We join you in praying for our brothers and sisters in Harvest world...

David Alves, thank you for kind words of encouragement as well. Glad to hear you are considering DBTS. Mike Moses (one of the other authors on this blog) and I both received an MDiv from there and wholeheartedly recommend the seminary to you. If you come to Detroit some day, I would love to meet you!

Anonymous,  February 1, 2012 at 11:23 AM  

It is a sad situation at the very basic levels as well. Small-Town churches with small congregations are shifting also. I lay a lot of the responsibility in the lap of shephards who either through laziness or fear or even a complete disregard for the blood of the martyrs, won't teach history, review the resources being used in sunday school classes and don't see all the different subtle lies the members are 'in ignorance' teaching; compounding that, there is a lack of knowledge in the pulpit when it comes to hermaneutics. I also understand the pastors come together regularly to pray and talk ; with good intent, the afore mentioned qualities just bring a pooling of ignorance and differing doctrines. (Over the years, splits and changes brought on by factions caused me to seemingly church hop, but in truth I was looking for exactly what I found where I am now, - TRUTH and orthodoxy; but as stated above, we now have a pastor who believes in rebuking the devil. (It is by God's grace I begged for His truth, because by His grace I was miserable; (the place I was at before I settled where I am, was a pentacostal church filled with bickering, and although I knew from deep inside speaking in tounges was "off"; when I was first saved I figured they knew better because they were christians longer, so I adopted that doctrine and lo I became quite profitiant at it), and because of God's provision, I learned much from many many resources,( Apprising being one); I would therefore like to thank all of you wonderful family members out there for the work you do in standing strong for the truth. I never heard of the solas before the Lord led me to Grace to You, nor the church's history. YES!!! I am insensed that the word is not handled well. Most people read the Word and say, "what do "I THINK" it means?" And when you try to explain why that cannot be done that way, it is stated as my 'opinion'. I beg forgiveness for any fragmentations,incohesivness or misspellings in my letter. I pray for those involved at the ER, and the ones sitting under their leadership. May God in His mercy open teir eyes.

Misti M.,  February 4, 2012 at 11:15 AM  

Wow. I'm just getting up to speed on the ER2 and the separation from the HBF. Thank you for providing the links to all those articles. I stayed up way too late last night reading them all! As a member of Harvest Detroit West, I just want to say thank you to our elders and Pastor Dan for taking seriously their responsibility to protect their flock and remain faithful to the one true gospel of Jesus Christ. I wholeheartedly support their decision.

Mark P. February 9, 2012 at 11:16 AM  

Brothers, I am grateful to God that you have been given the boldness to stand up to this tragedy in the Church. Thank you for speaking publicly about this and for separating yourselves from the false prosperity gospel. There needs to be clarity for the sake of the sheep.

Mark Priestap

Dan McGhee February 11, 2012 at 8:49 AM  

Misti, thank you for sharing those thoughtful, encouraging words. Our Elders are men themselves who are far from perfect. But, we love the Lord, His Word, and His people entrusted to our watch and care. By God's grace, we will guard them from the wolves seeking to destroy them, and by God's grace, we hope to never become wolves ourselves.

Mark, thanks to you as well for those encouraging words. If you ever come through the Detroit area, be sure to stop by and say "hello."

terriergal February 12, 2012 at 9:50 PM  

Praise the Lord for your courage in taking a stand against this error. James Macdonald has been tweeting/insisting it is wrong to publicly tweet criticism, that you should go to them privately. Well, you did go to them personally. And they still don't listen.
https://twitter.com/#!/jamesmacdonald/status/168525934394216449
https://twitter.com/#!/jamesmacdonald/status/168527010455498752

Anonymous,  March 1, 2012 at 11:14 AM  

I attend Harvest Bible Chapel(not the main campus). I too share growing and heavy concerns about the direction HBC is going. Please pray that I make the the right decision that would honor God in whether to find another home church for my family. This is so hard for me and my family, since this is the church where we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Thank you for making your decision with transparency and supporting it with God's Word.

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