A group of eighteen people from across the northwest suburbs of Chicago came together and committed to forming a new church. They had a vision for proclaiming the authority of the Word of God without apology, lifting high the name of Jesus through worship, believing firmly in powerful prayer, and sharing the good news of Jesus with boldness. That vision came to fruition on September 18, 1988 as Harvest Bible Chapel, with twenty-seven-year-old James MacDonald serving as the Senior Pastor.
Since then, Harvest has grown to a multi-site church, and an international television and radio broadcast ministry. By God’s grace, Harvest Bible Chapel became the foundation for a global church-planting ministry, Harvest Bible Fellowship, which has planted churches across North America and around the world, and hosts a training center for future Senior Pastors.
Harvest Bible Chapel is also the home of a thriving Christian school, a biblical counseling center, a multiplying worship ministry with Vertical Church Band, and a year-round camp in Michigan. “This is the LORD's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23).
Pastor James MacDonald provokes Christians to think and act on their faith. His Bible-teaching ministry Walk in the Word, was established on the radio in 1997, with the mission of igniting passion in the people of God through the proclamation of truth. The radio program now broadcasts daily, and the television program, launched in 2014, has an audience extending around the world. Walk in the Word's reach and impact continue to expand through online, digital, and printed resources, and 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 was founded and built upon four New Testament pillars: proclaim the authority of God’s Word without apology, lift high the Lord Jesus in worship, firmly believe in the power of prayer, and share the good news of Jesus with boldness. God has blessed this movement and brought the increase. As founder James MacDonald 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.”
While Harvest Bible Chapel elders focused on a quality of discipleship rather than a quantity of disciples, God did above all they could ask or think with remarkable growth both in the number of attendees and the quality of disciples. Then, the Lord gave the elders and leaders a vision to plant churches—life-giving churches, strengthened with the power of Jesus Christ, where lives would be changed for eternity. Like you, the leaders of Harvest Bible Chapel wanted to be good stewards of the resources God had given them. And so, in response to the growth they were experiencing, Harvest Bible Fellowship was formed. Today they plant churches around the world.
Harvest Bible Fellowship’s passion is to plant and equip reproducing churches that are alive with the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:19-22, 2 Timothy 2:2, Matthew 16:18)
This passion is lived out by educating pastors in the Harvest Training Center and placing them with core groups to plant churches in the United States, Canada, or overseas. Ongoing support is extended during the first year in the life of a new church, and periodically beyond that year. Leaders are assisted in developing their vision for dynamic churches on an ongoing basis. Fellowship teams may visit a church and consult with its leaders on a wide variety of areas ranging from leadership training to discipleship to capital campaigns. To edify and strengthen both Harvest and other church leaders in their commitments, Harvest University a ministry leadership conference is held each spring, along with an annual summer retreat for Harvest Senior Pastors.
Vertical. It’s a summary term for everything that we believe about the church.
Ephesians 3:21 lays out our highest purpose, “to him 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 is not something we get to fashion according to our own whim, or subjective sense of God’s leading. The purpose of the church is doxological not soteriological. The purpose of the church of Jesus Christ is not to reach people, or feed the poor or any of those important ‘by products.’ The purpose of the church is to elevate and honor God’s great Son in the minds and hearts of those who gather in His name. PERIOD. When that truly happens, all the other good things happen too. When that focus is neglected nothing that ‘happens’ is lasting or worthwhile.
Everything that happens when the church gathers is for that single VERTICAL purpose. The highest and best worship is modeled by what the angels do: sing to God about God. Vertical Church is the idea that worshiping Jesus Christ is best done not when we just sing about Him or what He has done or what He will do in the future.
Vertical Church Band is a collection of people who play every week in places all over Chicagoland as part of Harvest Bible Chapel, a place that believes singing isn’t a warm-up for the sermon; singing is a warm-up for heaven. So the faces may change. The style may evolve. But the aim will stay the same. Vertical.
Learn more about Vertical Church at VerticalChurchBook.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.