Harvest Bible Chapel Fires Pastor of HBC – Naples (UPDATED)

John Secrest today informed Julie Roys that he has been fired from his position as pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel in Naples, FL. Secrest planted the church there as a ministry of Harvest Bible Fellowship. HBF was once affiliated with HBC. Those organizations parted ways last summer.

According to Roys, Secrest partnered with the HBC through the winter. Secrest did so without being aware of Roys’ investigation and pending article. In a letter to his congregation, Secrest said:

Dear Harvest Naples Friends,
I want you to know that I have asked the elders to reverse their decision to allow Pastor James to preach in Naples while on his sabbatical as outlined in the elder update sent to you on Wednesday 1/16/2019. This request was denied.

The good intentions of our ministry partnership with Harvest Chicago have been overshadowed by these developments. Furthermore, when we entered into this agreement there was not a disclosure of the investigative reporting which led to a lawsuit and the resulting fallout.

Read Roys’ article here. Secrest regretted his decision to enter the partnership and wanted to regain leadership of the church.

Secrest also wrote HBC yesterday and asked to reverse the agreement:

I am writing to express my disagreement with the decision to have Pastor James preach in Naples during this season of sabbatical.  Based on our conversations and other factors over the past 8 months I believe it would be best to revoke our ministry partnership and return Harvest Naples to self-governed autonomy.

Today, Secrest said he was fired. It is not clear if he was fired in response to his requests about the church or because he provided this information to Julie Roys. HBC did not return a request for comment.

I have a hard time putting this action together with the contrite statement by the HBC elders dated 1/16/19. In it, HBC leaders said they wanted peace and to listen.


This email was sent to HBC members:

Dear Harvest Naples Family,

It is with great sadness and regret that we write to inform you that John Secrest is no longer an employee of Harvest Bible Chapel.

Despite great efforts and reasoning, John has chosen not to yield to the consensus of our local leadership team or the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel. Conversations with John over the last few months, culminating this week, have made it clear that he no longer desires to work for Harvest Bible Chapel.

Because of his continued unwillingness to yield to the direction of the elders and the insubordinate email he recently sent counter to the elder direction, it became clear that he should not continue in his role.

Our hearts are grieved as John’s contributions to the Naples Campus cannot be understated. We wish him, Jessica, and his family well.

Harvest Naples will continue as a campus of Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago with Pastor Rick Donald serving as interim Campus Pastor and Associate Travis Doucette as Pastor of Worship and Leadership Development. Pastor James MacDonald will not be preaching this weekend. Services will continue this Sunday at 9:00 and 11:00 am.

We recognize that situations like these often yield more questions than can be answered in one email. The local elders of Harvest Naples, Scott Stonebreaker and Fred Ananias, are available to field any additional questions.

We ask for your prayers as our church grieves this loss.

We are believing for good things as we lean into God and His Word.

Standing together,

The Harvest Naples Leadership Team and Elders

Unless there is a different email, the email sent by Secrest and posted by Roys expressed disagreement but certainly didn’t seem insubordinate.


70 thoughts on “Harvest Bible Chapel Fires Pastor of HBC – Naples (UPDATED)”

  1. NO… Really… It’s “The Pulpit.” 🙂

    Seems, in the Bible, Paul, and most likely Jesus…
    Had a much better idea than this power platform “The Pulpit.”
    When His Sheep, His Ekklesia, come together…

    “ALL” can, and are expected to “Participate.”

    Yes, that’s In the Bible…

    1 Cor 14:26 KJV
    How is it then, brethren?
    **when ye come together,**
    **every one of you** (“ALL”)
    hath a psalm,
    hath a doctrine, (Teaching)
    hath a tongue,
    hath a revelation,
    hath an interpretation.
    Let all things be done unto edifying.

    Yes, In the Bible…

    “ALL” can, and are expected to,

    NOT listen to just “one,” and…

    When you listen to “a special one”…

    Eventually they think they have permission to…

    Paid – Professional – Pastors – in Pulpits…
    Preaching – to People – in Pews…
    Prevent – Public – Participation…
    And – Promote – Passive – Pew – Potatoes….
    Procuring – Power – Profit – Prestige…
    For the Prevailing – Parsing – Pastor…

    And – In my experience…
    Power – Profit – Prestige – Corrupts even the best intentioned hearts.

    “Titles” become “Idols” …………………. (Idols of the heart. Ezek 14:1-11)
    “Pastors” become “Masters” …………. (A No, No. Mat 23:10 KJV.)

    And other sheep I have, which are NOT of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall “hear My voice; “
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Voice – One Fold – One Shepherd – One Leader

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  2. Hmmm?
    Looks like just another battle for Power, Profit, Prestige…
    And control of “The Pulpit.”
    In… “Today’s Corrupt Religious System.”

    Today’s 501 (c) 3, Non-Profit, Tax $ Deductible, Religious $ Corporations…
    That the IRS calls church.

    Should one of His Disciples call an IRS Corporation…
    “The Church of God?”


    But wait…
    I know what the problem is…
    And the primary answer to prevent the problem. 😉

    These Persisting Painful Problems Point to “The Pulpit.” 🙂

    It’s “The Pulpit.”
    See, Pul… Pit… Puuuullll…. Piiiitttt…. A funny word. Yes?

    See, “The Pulpit” is really from the “Pit.”
    And “The Pulpits” job is to “Pull” us into the “Pit.”

    In the Bible? Can you name one of His Disciples “Hired,” as a…
    Paid, Professional, Pastor, in a Pulpit?
    Preaching, to People in Pews?
    Weak after Weak?
    In a church?


    Just get rid of ‘The Pulpit.”
    And the Problem is Prevented. 😉

    Just get rid of “The Pulpit.”
    And “The Pulpiteers” will phaseout.
    And the Pastor Problem is Prevented. 😉

    Has anyone ever noticed? In the Bible?
    NOT one of His Disciples took the “Title” pastor?
    Or shepherd? Or leader? Or reverend?

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    **THEIR shepherds**
    have caused them to *go astray,*

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as *sheep going astray;*
    BUT are now returned to
    the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

  3. The latest is an elder named Dan George said Saturday evening that James MacDonald won’t be preaching anytime soon while on sabbatical.
    So, Naples is out a pastor and no founding celebrity stepping in for 3 months.
    He also said MacDonald won’t be involved in leadership.
    Landon MacDonald told congregants there would be structural changes at Harvest involving a team of elders, outside counsel, staff and church members. They said they’d hold congregational meetings thru it all, and will focus on reconciliation.

    1. Saying MacDonald won’t be involved in leadership when they just fired a pastor over him is no more than a hair’s breadth from a lie.

  4. Wow…

    Those who take the “Title” pastor…

    Sure can screw things up.

    Jeremiah 22:22 KJV
    The *wind shall eat up all “Thy Pastors,”

    (*wind = ruwach = breath, mind, spirit.)

  5. “Our hearts are grieved as John’s contributions to the Naples Campus cannot be understated.” I think they meant to say, “overstated”, but who knows. Freudian slip?

  6. So Harvest can lie by omission to Seacrest and then fire him when he doesn’t “submit”. I’d been a member of HBC mother-ship for 21 years. It is a cold ruthless place. The whole atmosphere is callous. Pastor walk by you and won’t acknowledge you. They’re heartless in their treatment of people. They fire people constantly and ruthlessly demand extra time from people with no extra pay.
    Anyone who works for Harvest I just tell them I’m praying for them as they’re lives are going to be destroyed by HBC. Every single person who works there comes out of there worse than they go in.
    The Chicago land area churches are filled with people who are former HBC members and have had their lives destroyed as a result of attending Harvest.
    They ruthlessly shut down ALL small groups one day. James son Luke did this. Just carelessly shut them all down. There were no exceptions. In order to “get a handle on them”. People were heartbroken and devastated as their lives were ripped away from their prayer partners. This is just one example of HBC, the elders, James, and his son Luke cold heartless treatment of people.
    They pulled a guy named Buddy from Texas to lead marriage counseling. HBC didn’t like the way he was doing things so they fired him after only 3 months.
    James called people who have beliefs about the Deep State and share stuff online etc, on 9/9/18 he and his son Luke described them as engaging in “mental p@rm”, in an angry way, not backed up with biblical verses or anything, just deemed them this way and then laughed about it snarky, from the pulpit. This is what James and his son Luke, who’s never had a real job outside of his Dads coat tails and has no concept of real life at all, this is their preaching.
    James needs the money of those Naples elderly folks as he bankrupted HBC.

    1. RE: “People were heartbroken and devastated as their lives were ripped away from their prayer partners.”

      Curious as to why people would not feel at liberty to get together with anyone they want, whenever they want, for as long as they want. Why did they need the church’s permission to continue meeting as prayer partners? If they are not meeting as a recognized HBC small group, so what?

    2. “They ruthlessly shut down ALL small groups one day. James son Luke did this. Just carelessly shut them all down. ”

      Actually this is not true. I’ve been a men’s small group leader since 2012 and never experienced this.

      1. Actually it is true. After 21 years I know exactly what I’m talking about. It was June of 2015 to be exact.
        Don’t call me a liar as you are shaky on your facts. You are loved!!

        1. Actually Global Warmer, I know my facts, since I have been involved with this specific small group since 2011. We were never told to disband or shut down. Not sure who would have told you this, but the RM staff never communicated that to small groups or through our overseers. In fact, our small group has met continually since 2011 with NO extended breaks in meetings. My facts are as solid as your claim. Did your small group disband? If so, why?

          1. Then you all either didn’t do what Luke required, are not a HBC small group, or didn’t get the memo. Yes Luke shut everyone down in 2015. We even met at one of the SG leaders houses to discuss our next steps. People were devastated and heartbroken. We decided to start our own because we didn’t want to stop meeting. Luke’s decision was cold hearted, ruthless, and unnecessary. Kind of like when they just fired John Seacrest because he disagreed with HBC. They ruthlessly fires him and many many others just for disagreeing.
            You will never change your mind never. I was where you are at now. Total resistance to seeing what’s in front of you.
            You’ve got great worships, great preaching and happy happy happy. But it’s built on a bed of lies and deception.
            One day, I’m just telling you one day you’ll see. You’ll be hurt and devastated.
            Chicago churches are filled with really hurt people because of James and HBC.
            I’m telling you it’s coming. You are both warned, and loved.

          2. “or didn’t get the memo.”

            It’s a clever deception, telling people to do things and that everyone else is required to do it too, when they weren’t.

          3. Once again, at no time were we told we could not meet during the summer. As stated before, I have been a small group leader since 2011, did not go against HBC leadership’s direction and we have continuously met since 2011. Npt sure who would have directed you to disband but it clearly was not communicated to at least 2 an grow who have weighed in on your comment.

          4. I m not sure what you’re trying to prove here. I’m not wrong nor am I lying. All small groups were told that O stop meeting. If you didn’t then you’re probably a bestie of Luke. I don’t know what else to tell you here.
            The bigger problem is James, lying, suing wives of bloggers, him yelling at teenagers. The guys a coward.
            Where is he? On a beach in Naples soaking up sun and HBC $$ from retirees. He lies about a sabbatical, asked an unemployed guy to donate $3 million!!
            Why don’t you worry about that. Why don’t you get the elders to resign instead of hassling me over a memo you didn’t get from Luke about all small groups being forced to shut down. Ask him why he did that!

          5. even if I post it you won’t believe it. If you want the memo so bad, ask Luke for it. Are you not able to read? I’m not the one putting a church $46 million dollars in debt! I’m not the one lying about my vacation er sabbatical in Naples. I’m not the one who fires people and destroys their life for just simply disagreeing. I’m not the ripping a camp worker about algae left in the water. I’m not the one who’s teenage daughter got knocked out of wedlock.
            I’m telling you what happened. If you’re so interested I just this one little thing and miss everything else I just listed, then no wonder Harvest has become a cult. You focus on the most ridiculous things.
            Is this your godly character on display? Hassling people about something I didn’t do 3 years ago but I’m just telling you it did. If you want the truth, call Luke and ask him for it, better yet ask him why.

          6. Maybe you should take a rest, I think your blood pressure is elevated.

            I just got in on this convo and operate with verification. Usually when I ask for that, people who have it are happy to supply it. I don’t care that much about the small groups and agree that the rest of HBC news is more consequential. However, that doesn’t require you to get all defensive when I ask for verification of a claim that has been disputed.

          7. I’m perfectly calm. Not wound up in the least. And I’m just telling where to find it. If you’re that desperate for confirmation, again just call Luke, I’m sure he’ll take your call and be happy to explain why. If not, contact Dan George. This whole thing took place 3 years ago and all my harvest emails are cleared out.

        2. I was a flock leader at Rolling Meadows in 2015. I do remember them transitioning all flock leaders to small group leaders, and instituting “coaches” instead, but at no time were all groups told to disband. That simply never happened, at least prior to 2016. After Feb/March 2016, I wouldn’t know.

          I am sorry to hear about whatever disruption you experienced at that time, as it was obviously hurtful. I hope you have found a kind and healing community since then.

    3. “They ruthlessly shut down ALL small groups one day. James son Luke did this. Just carelessly shut them all down. There were no exceptions. In order to “get a handle on them”. People were heartbroken and devastated as their lives were ripped away from their prayer partners.”

      As an anti-authoritarian disciple of Messiah Yeshua, I find this excerpt almost inscrutable. Why would anyone listen to anyone else telling them which brothers and sisters they can fellowship with? Why would anyone presume they have the power to make such demands?

      To my eye this is not following Christ, it’s just a creepy cult. There is only One Authority in the church, and He does not share power.

  7. “Pastor…Asks for His Church Back” (Roys) … “the elders from Harvest Naples did not represent me” (Seacrest).
    Dunno … coming from a church with a congregational form of church government with a multiple elder leadership I really can’t understand either of the above statements. A church belongs to the pastor? Elders are supposed to represent the views of the pastor even if theirs differ? Am I the only one who seems to see a disturbing similarity in the attitudes of both Mr. Seacrest and Mr. MacDonald? (Note nothing in this comment is meant to in any way justify the conduct of the HBC leadership). D.

      1. I realize that … I guess the point I was trying to get at was that with my background the concept of a church “belonging” to a pastor and the elders “representing the pastor” (in effect a one-man show) seems so fatally flawed that ending in this kind of fiasco is inevitable. Just my narrow-minded little-experienced view of church leadership! 🙁

        1. I don’t disagree. I like congregational personally. It would probably prevent some of the shenanigans in this situation.

          1. I think MacDonald might soon find out that all churches are ultimately congregational. The congregation will either show up or not, and when they don’t, it proves they are in charge.

          2. My only problem with congregationalism is that I believe it means to govern that which is ungovernable. The idea of these fixed forms somehow aligning with a wind-like Spirit whose servants’ movements are inscrutable just doesn’t pass the smell test for me. How can wind be governed? What would that even mean?

    1. That is a great point. I think Christians today need to educate themselves about Narcissism Personality Disorder and the fact that it drives most of our leaders, both inside and outside of the church, today. There is no one more devoted to becoming successful in the minds of other human beings today then these people. In cases like this sometimes the leader is innocent and trying to protect the sheep, and in other cases it is just groups of narcissists who are bashing heads with each other. The statement makes it sound like this ex-pastor wanted to protect his own turf and reputation from someone else who now has soured his own reputation. This is what I would suspect as organizations like this are breeding grounds for narcissism. Stay with the org as long as there is something helpful there to your own selfish-ambition. Leave when there is not and torch your former friends and allies when they cease being useful to your own ambition. This is the way the Kingdom of Darkness works, and the fruits prove which kingdom this “church” has really been a part of. Good trees do not produce bad fruit and bad trees do not produce good fruit.

      1. Do you know what “hypocrite” means? It was the word for “actor” in greek drama. Remember? They put on a mask and climbed onto a stage for the amusement of a passive audience. That’s all church is today.

        The Spirit has an alternative for each of us. A radical life unlike any we’ve imagined before, and you will not find it in the viper pits that call themselves Churches in America today.

    2. My initial reaction as a lawyer was that it looked like a typical hostile takeover with a typical hostile takeover defense, and the defender got outbid by the aggressor for control of the board members.

      The atypical part though is where the shareholders didn’t get a vote. But that’s because shareholders are wiser than church attendees. “The children of the world are wiser in their generation than the children of light, ” as our Master said.

  8. John Secrest may be guilty of being naive and unaware,but that isn’t a sin.
    He had to have written the email knowing the consequences if he was getting up to speed.

    I think there was wisdom on his part by making his firing public. Enough people have been wounded by Harvest’s heavy-handedness. No matter the form of church governance, people deserve truth. Truth about Harvest has come from public disclosure, and at cost to those disclosing.

    1. Why wasn’t John Secrest just given a “sabbatical”? He writes one email that is in conflict with church board direction and gets fired. MacDonald exhibits reckless, poor leadership for years & gets sent on a vacation to Naples. If MacDonald gets fired, he’ll get a golden parachute.

  9. HBC Naples church members need to vote with their feet and follow John Secrest at a new location. The HBC system is completely corrupt. Sever ties.

  10. “John has chosen not to yield to the consensus of our local leadership team”

    And the local leadership team is apparently Secrest plus two elders. So what they apparently mean by ‘consensus’ is that 2 outvoted 1. That’s ‘biblical’ leadership for you, I guess. In the *absence* of consensus, the dissident must be destroyed.

    1. This is the error that happens when you use Paul to interpret Jesus rather than Jesus to interpret Paul.

      Interestingly enough, I haven’t found any other NT author’s words to promote authoritarianism, only Paul’s really work for it. I think he missed out by not being part of the same ecclesia Jesus was in.

  11. Would you join me in asking Jesus to break the strongholds of deception, fear and pride that allow spiritually abusive organizations to go unchecked?

      1. You do raise a good point. People could indeed stop deception, fear, pride, and abuse in their organization. I’d like to see that happen.

        1. Get rid of all the money and it will, because the people who built the whole rotten edifice will lose interest.

  12. When professions of ‘repentance’ are sandwiched between immoral legal action, and unconscionable church stealing, it is glaringly obvious how worthless those words really are. Personally, I am utterly sick of power hungry men whose ‘righteous’ words are simply a cover for their toxic behaviour.

  13. That did not take long at all for ACTIONS to take place that were 180 degree in the opposite direction of the statement prepared by lawyers and a public relations firm! This reminds me of the firings that happened at Mars Hills of other pastors who spoke out in any way contrary to the big wig there. I was very skeptical of that last statement and things like this happening are exactly why…

  14. As the deep reaching dysfunction of HBC becomes unveiled, I am saddened, but not surprised. Over the past few years, my family and I have walked through a very similar scenario in our former church. Although our former church is much smaller than HBC, the behaviors of elders and head pastors is almost identical to those at Harvest. There is an enemy who desires to maim followers of Christ and that enemy uses the same ‘playbook’ over and over.

    1. Let’s be clear, these professional leaders have too much to lose. The top priority is to protect revenue and power. That is the basis for their very calculated decision-making. I strongly object to spiritualizing this scenario and lessening their personal responsibility because ‘the devil made them do it’.

      1. Pam

        “Let’s be clear, these “professional leaders” have too much to lose.”

        In the Bible, Jesus has a unique take on leaders for His Disciples…


        Jesus taught **His Disciples** NOT to be called leader…
        And **His Disciples** must have believed Jesus, because…
        In the Bible, NOT one of His Disciples called themself leader.

        Mat 23:10-12 NASB
        Do NOT be called leaders;
        for “ONE” is your Leader, that is, Christ.
        But the greatest among you shall be your “Servant”.
        Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled;
        and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

        Humble – a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.

        Know many? any? who take the postion of Leader…
        Who are Humble?
        Having a modest or low estimate of their own importance?


        If someone is “Ignoring” what Jesus taught His Disciples?
        If someone is “Opposing” what Jesus taught His Disciples?
        And, calls themself “Leader?”
        Allows others to call them “Leader?”

        Are they one of His Disciples?

        NOT likely. 🙁

        1. You can’t be led my man and the Holy Spirit at the same time. The former simply cannot comprehend the Latter. All the energy and effort that a church victim spends on obeying their leadership and following their cues is idolatry, and I have very much repented of it.

      2. I’m not excusing anyone from personal responsibility. Everyone who has enabled disfunction at HBC or stands by silently while fully knowing what is going on there is accountable for his/her actions. We can still pray that they will heed God’s call to repent.

        1. I suspect they all know and are all accountable. American church is little more than a conspiratorial agreement that an idle people will congregate weakly to be excused for their idleness by an idle self-proclaimed guru, so long as they pay dearly for the indulgence.

          If there were two million Christians living the Christian life in this country I have a hard time believing we would yet have two million homeless. Those two million homeless would be loved like brothers in that event. In my town it’s worse: we have more churches than homeless people. Something doesn’t compute.

      3. My mentor taught me that any case in which one person tries to use religion to control another person requires a hands-on demon exorcism.

Comments are closed.