Friday, March 20

Letter To A Dying (GARBC) Church

In 2004, Dr. James MacDonald and the ever-sprawling, multi-campus Harvest Bible Chapel rescued then-GARBC Crossway Baptist Church in Niles, Illinois, from the clutches of death. In MacDonald's words, Crossway Baptist took the leap into Harvest's "staffing, leadership development, building renovation, live worship, and teaching by video" by voting "to never vote again."

Since giving up their right to vote, this church has exploded numerically. They now average 1400 in weekly attendance, and 40 baptisms per year. MacDonald sums up the church's success with this statement: "Sadly, many churches in the position they were in do not make the courageous decision they made."

What was that courageous decision MacDonald lauds? To give their land, building, assets, people, money, and their vote to a multi-site sprawling mega-church who is sure to rescue them from certain ecclesiastical extinction.

Sadly, MacDonald does not attribute the church-rescue to God's grace or power or strength--or even the effectiveness of God's Word. Rather, MacDonald seems to attribute the church's drastic five-year-turnaround to that vote in 2004--the vote to join his multi-site church. His staffing, leadership development, building renovation, live worship, and teaching by video seem to be the key to any struggling church's success.

Read MacDonald's words (and a poignant hypothetical letter to any other dying church) HERE.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


Talk about a total lack of anything closely resembling humility, I guess it takes courage to trust in James and his STAFF rather than God.

I was always taught growing up ( apparently erroniously ) that trusting in men and methods was not how God describes courage , but was instead spiritually traitorous and evidence of rank Unbelief.

I'll have to correct my Mom and Dad, and my grandparents as well next time I see em. They have been trusting only in God for all these many years.

Theres' a new king in town.

3/20/2009 12:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that Websters dictionary has now redefined the word " Marriage" being between " same-sex" couiples,...

Now Websters' can add the redefinition of the word " Courage " ..its' apparent 2009 Harvest meaning..

COURAGE [adjective]: "the attitude or fearless presence of mind to turn over your church and all its' assets over to James Macdonald and the resultant joy that comes from celebrating your new-found inability to ever voice a vote again", no matter what comes.


That sounds precariously similar to the definition of"sucker" .in my "old fashioned", pre-rock music. pre-video screen, pre-megachurch dictionary.



they are soooooooo fun

3/20/2009 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger Reforming Baptist said...

so, the church didn't get rescued from death,it just now has a name that lives, but is dead.

3/20/2009 04:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Scott G. said...

I still struggle knowing how to respond to this situation. I certainly praise God whenever the gospel is preached. Long story short this very circumstance is part of what God used to call my wife and I back to Chicagoland to plant autonomous local churches.

3/20/2009 09:40:00 PM  
Blogger kevin said...

We're grateful for the ministry of Harvest here in the Chicago suburbs--like Scott said, we're grateful any time the gospel is rightly preached. Dr. MacDonald is a fine preacher--I'm friends with several who attend his church and speak highly of the ministry.

But we need to ask a slightly different question: Did Dr. MacDonald correctly summarize the church's recent history? Or was it a prejudicial summary that lacks charity toward those who were displaced by the 2004 "congregational" vote?

3/23/2009 01:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Josh said...

"Sadly, MacDonald does not attribute the church-rescue to God's grace..."

Well actually, he does - in the first three words of the 3rd paragraph.

What exactly was the purpose of the your post? It seems to be an emotionally driven attack on methodology.

3/23/2009 02:10:00 PM  

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