In 1988, eighteen people from around Chicagoland committed to forming a new church. Fueled by a vision for proclaiming the authority of the Word of God without apology, lifting high the name of Jesus through worship, believing firmly in the power of prayer, and sharing the good news of Jesus with boldness, their commitment came to fruition as Harvest Bible Chapel on September 18 of the same year. And twenty-seven-year-old James MacDonald began serving as the Senior Pastor.
As the gospel has been faithfully preached and God's Word upheld in the decades since, the Lord has done more in and through this ministry than anyone imagined. Countless thousands have been reconciled to God through Christ, addictions and strongholds broken, families healed, and ministries extended nationally and globally. And it seems this work is just getting started.
By God's grace, Harvest Bible Chapel is now an increasingly diverse multi-site church in and around Chicago. It is home to the daily international television and radio broadcast ministry, Walk in the Word, and the foundation for a global church-planting ministry, Harvest Bible Fellowship. This church-planting network has planted churches across North America and around the world, and hosts a training center for future Senior Pastors and worship leaders.
Harvest Bible Chapel is also the home of a thriving, accredited Christian school, a biblical counseling center, a multiplying worship ministry with Vertical Church Band, and is blessed with a year-round camp in Michigan.
“This is the LORD's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23).
Pastor James MacDonald preaches without apology straight from the pages of Scripture, provoking Christians to think and act on their faith. His Bible-teaching ministry, Walk in the Word, launched on as a radio broadcast in 1997, with the mission of "igniting passion in the people of God through the proclamation of truth." The radio program is now a daily and online broadcast, with stories from those who's lives have been forever altered by the gospel coming in from around the country.
God has shown great favor and expanded his teaching ministry to a daily television program in 2014, with an audience extending around the world. Walk in the Word's reach and impact continue to increase globally through online programming, digital and print resources, and impactful teaching events.
Whether it’s catching the daily radio program, attending a live event, watching the Walk in the Word television program, or digging into one of Pastor James’ books or Bible studies, the teaching is biblical, personal, practical, and aimed at leading people to the transforming power of God.
Harvest Bible Fellowship is the church planting ministry of Harvest Bible Chapel. Founded by Pastor James MacDonald, it was built upon the same four New Testament pillars as the church: proclaiming the authority of the Word of God without apology, lifting high the name of Jesus in worship, believing firmly in the power of prayer, and sharing the good news of Jesus with boldness.
As the Elders of the founding Harvest Bible Chapel focused on the mission of making disciples, God did above all they could ask or think with remarkable growth both in the number of attendees and the fruit of their lives. Then the Lord gave the elders and leaders a vision to plant churches—life-giving, church-planting churches, where lives would be changed for eternity. To be good stewards of the resources God had given them, and in response to the growth they were experiencing, Harvest Bible Fellowship was formed.
Planting and equipping reproducing churches that are alive with the gospel of Jesus Christ is the passion of Harvest Bible Fellowship (Ephesians 2:19-22, 2 Timothy 2:2, Matthew 16:18). Today the Fellowship trains pastors and worship leaders, develops potential planting opportunities, and plants church-planting Harvest Bible Chapels around the world.
God has blessed this movement and brought incredible increase. As Pastor James affirms, “The whole focus of Harvest is vertical, not horizontal. We know it’s God. We don’t want to do anything that isn’t empowered by God’s Spirit and blessed by God.”
Vertical. It’s a word that sums up everything we believe about what God wants His church to be. And Ephesians 3:21 lays out our highest purpose, “TO HIM (emphasis added) be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
The purpose of the church isn't something we fashion according to our own whims or subjective sense of God’s leading. The purpose of the church is doxological before it is ever soteriological. It isn't to reach people or feed the poor or any of those important outcomes, but to elevate and honor God’s great Son in the minds and hearts of those who gather in His name. When that truly happens, all the other good things happen too. When that focus is neglected, nothing that happens is lasting or worthwhile.
After more than two decades of ministry leadership, Pastor James MacDonald poured his passion for this vision and purpose of the church of Jesus Christ into the writing of Vertical Church. This foundational work speaks to what every heart longs for and what every church can be. And it has begun a life-giving movement among churches across North America.
Expanding this influence to a new generation of worshipers, Vertical Church Band (VCB) has become instrumental in creating and bringing new songs for the greater church around the world. A gifted collection of God's people who lead worship every week in Harvest Bible Chapels throughout Chicagoland and in venues across the country, VCB extends the truth that worship isn’t a warm-up for the sermon; it is a warm-up for heaven.
Find resources and learn more about what being a Vertical Church is all about at VerticalChurchMedia.com.
Churches Helping Churches is a global partnership of church communities who seek to rebuild other churches in the wake of a catastrophic natural disaster. Importantly, we are not Churches Helping People or even Christians Helping Churches. Rather, we are church communities from all over the world who have partnered through CHC with other church communities of brothers and sisters who are suffering. Our efforts are intended to provide spiritual support and development aid to the pastors and their churches who are often the de facto leaders in these affected communities, as a complement to the initial waves of humanitarian aid that pour into a country in the wake of a disaster. Many countries have relied on networks of local churches to be a primary conduit for the flow of health care, humanitarian aid, and even education. Rebuilding churches is a means of restoring not only the spiritual health and global fellowship of these affected communities, but also the infrastructure through which aid can flow into communities that so desperately need it.
The Act Like Men conference is a two-day event designed get to the core issues men face today. After more than two decades of ministering to men, Pastor James recognized that what is desperately needed around the world are men who embrace all that God created them to be. Men who are loud and ruthless about their own sin, but patient and full of grace in leading others. Men who long to follow God without limits and meet the needs of those around them without hesitation.
As a result, the first Act Like Men conference season launched in 2013, with three arena events. With clear teaching drawn from 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, these are gatherings designed to take men apart and put them back together in a better way.
More events are scheduled in North America for 2014 and 2015. For detailed information, visit ActLikeMen.com.