06 Mar Warning Concerning James MacDonald
Philippians 3:17-19, “17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.”
When we preached this passage in February, 2020, the elders believed a warning was needed for our congregation. Paul warns the Philippians, after exhorting them in verse 17 to imitate and follow the example of those who are following Christ, to watch out for leaders who are not following Jesus Christ. Paul frequently warns his people about those who have their own agenda, who’s god is their belly (self-anything), who set their minds on earthly things, those who are in it for their own gain, using and abusing the people of God. He is a good shepherd to warn about those who should not be followed, imitated, listened to, or in any way in any church or ministry be in leadership.
Seeing Paul’s example, our elders believed we needed to warn our people, and this is posted here, not for those outside our congregation, but for those in our congregation who missed that Sunday. We have only, in past family chats, explained very briefly why we left HBF and James back in 2017. But now that he has made it public that he is starting up public ministry again, we believe he needs to be warned against.
Here is essentially what we shared that Sunday in the sermon. You can watch the sermon HERE to listen to this warning in the context of the entire sermon. What was actually said in the sermon, varies somewhat from the statement below, as it was delivered in a sermon, with the usual guidance from the manuscript, but some adjustments, additions, or deletions during the verbal delivery. But the core message is the same as this – we believe people need to beware and not associate with him in any way.
Norm (on behalf of the Elders)
One specific application in the sermon on Phil. 3:17-4:1.
I am going to get specific here as I think Paul, being a good pastor, warns of specific dangers to his people. So some times, we as elders need to warn you – specifically. We as a leadership, I in my role, we as elders, in our past, we led our church into a relationship, a fellowship, which we thought was good and godly, and there were many good things in it and many who were godly, we loved our fellowship, the one prior to GCC (as we love GCC and the churches/leaders in it). But we left that previous fellowship (HBF) and leader – James MacDonald – just being honest here, because we saw many times there was not a following of Jesus, but of self and sin in him and his church – HBC.
We have not told much of the story or details over the years, but a few years after joining HBF in 2006, we began to see issues develop, when Dave Corning stepped off the elder team and James began to expand the elder team. Perhaps more than almost any other pastor or church, we sought to speak into this, asking many questions, through many, many phone calls and conversations with the men associated with and around James at HBC and HBF, even with James himself. Despite many promises being made that things were changing, problems were being addressed, we saw no lasting fruit of change. It was hard to stay in HBF for those reasons, but we loved our fellowship and partnership with most of the other HBF churches, especially those here in Canada and we agreed to stay together, working with them for gospel ministry.
The end of HBF – most people don’t know it but the Canadian Region had a meeting in June of 2017 in Niagara on the Lake at our annual senior pastor/wife retreat. We were all unanimous in that meeting, in our resolve that James must fully regionalize HBF by year end, as we could not follow his leadership any more, due to concerns about his sin, his leadership, and his lifestyle. We were in full agreement that the leadership and all finances of HBF must be given to the various regions and James must step out of any direct leadership at HBF by December. The day after this was communicated to James, he resigned from HBF, locked HBF staff out of technology, offices (we were told this by numerous HBF staff), etc., essentially shutting down the functioning of HBF. This was the beginning of the end of HBF with GCC being birthed by the churches that wanted to separate from him yet still work together for the Great Commission.
We (our elders) believe we need to warn you (our congregation) now about James because he is starting back up with public ministry. What we saw and what we spoke against and finally left over were selfish and sinful lifestyle choices for a pastor, numerous character issues – far from the character Scripture says a leader must have, a heart that was fleshly and not right, and we did not see words, actions, priorities, and values, that reflected Jesus. We could not follow or imitate or be associated any more, and we do not think you should be following, imitating, or be associated with him or anything he is a part of, for we do not believe he is biblically qualified to lead a church, preach or teach God’s Word, or have any leadership role in any ministry. This assessment on our part, comes from relationship, from firsthand knowledge with many connections, and having not seen any public and necessary Biblical ownership, true humble repentance, nor any true seeking to restore and repair the damage and hurt and abuse his sin has caused many, many people.
1 Timothy 5:20 says, “As for those (elders) who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.” For certain – to us, from all our connections and insights – there were many sins in James life and we did not know the half of it when we parted ways. What has come out since then, with supporting proof, has shocked even us. Leaders who sin as often, as long, and as deeply as James, cannot be restored to ministry with a vague apology and asking general forgiveness (as he has done claiming God’s call back to ministry). What he has done to ‘repent’ falls so far short of someone truly understanding and owning and repenting Biblically. There is no evidence of true Biblical repentance. Plus the path to being restored to the qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 for any ministry leader, is a very long path, a public path, a humble path, and most leaders, who sin significantly would never be qualified again. Based on all we have seen and know firsthand, based on all that has come out publicly since then, with supporting proof, it all affirms there is no path for him back to any leadership in God’s work, anywhere. This is our warning to you, those God has called us to shepherd and lead.