James MacDonald Is Not A Pastor

In internet speak a “404” is the message that comes up when a link is broken. That is what happened when I searched the website of Calvary Chapel South Bay (Gardena, CA) for information about James MacDonald. This is good news because his ministry is 404. The link between ministry and MacDonald has been broken because he has broken it by serial, impenitent abuse of the flock. This abuse has been documented (see below). His own elders have removed him from ministry. As late as March 16, 2020, however, he was scheduled to give a series of messages at CC South Bay. This is part of his ostensible return to pastoral ministry. According to reporter Julie Roys, MacDonald told the congregation, “God has seen it to be fit to allow us to be separated from the church that we loved for our whole lifetime. And it has been a real crucible of suffering for us.” He did not mention his abuses and sins and the judgment reached by his former elders, the men who knew him well and served with him. Neither did he mention that he had been declared disqualified by his former elders.

He is apparently now trying to start a network of “home churches” to which he wants to broadcast sermons etc. Why was he removed? Leonardo Blair reports:

He was recorded talking about planting child pornography on Christianity Today CEO Harold Smith’s computer, and made crude remarks about independent journalist Julie Roys — including joking that she had an affair with now former CT editor-in-chief Mark Galli — and a vulgar reference to Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College.

He was also investigated for financial abuse. Harvest Bible Chapel has since published a summary of a legal and financial review of MacDonald’s reign, suggesting he extensively misused the church’s financial resources for improper financial benefit.

From January 2016 through mid-February 2019, MacDonald’s spending included $170,851 on hunting and fishing trips; $139,502 on meals and entertainment; and over $94,000 for clothing and eyewear. The church maintained two private checking accounts that gave MacDonald $3.1 million during those three years.

While he continues working on his healing and restoration with his wife, Kathy, after a public show of repentance last November, MacDonald said he was still working on “significant unresolved issues related to our separation from the church we founded in 1988.”

James MacDonald has demonstrated that he is not a pastor. He is a symptom of what is wrong with “Big Eva.” While he was committing all these abuses he was being “platformed,” as they say, by “Big Eva.” E.g., he is just one of the rogue’s gallery that composed “The Elephant Room:”

  • T. D. Jakes, a heretic, word not to be used lightly, who teaches the “prosperity gospel” and who denies the ecumenical doctrine of the Trinity.
  • Stephen Furtick. Look him up for yourself. That will be more convincing than anything I could say.
  • Matt Chandler, about whom see the resources 7, 8, 11, and 13 below.
  • Mark Driscoll, who, like MacDonald, was removed from his pastoral position in Seattle for abusing staff and others. Like MacDonald, he is re-starting his religious empire.

MacDonald is a successful American religious entrepreneur. He is not a pastor. This is not my judgment but that of his elders from HBC. Like Tullian Tchvidjian, he would be a great salesman. He should sell cars or computers. He would probably be wildly successful. He would have to work for a living, which would be good for him but tuning him in on your computer or phone will not be good for you.


  1. Harvest Elders Say James MacDonald Is Disqualified for Ministry
  2. MacDonald Sues Bloggers (Who Told the Truth)
  3. Behind James MacDonald’s Resignation From The Gospel Coalition
  4. James MacDonald Announces His Return to Ministry
  5. James MacDonald Returns to Pulpit
  6. James MacDonald Launches Home Church Network
  7. Symptoms Of Sickness In The Megachurch System?
  8. Big Eva And Big Church
  9. Trueman: What “Big Eva” Is And Why It Matters To Reformed Churches
  10. Trueman On Big Eva
  11. Time To Kiss New Calvinism Goodbye
  12. The Fork in the Road for the “New Calvinists”
  13. Heidelcast 142: When Pastors Abuse
  14. Mark Driscoll 2019: Young, Restless, and Freudian
  15. The Guy On The Screen Is Not Your Pastor
  16. He Is Not A Pastor Any More
  17. Josh Harris Kisses Christianity Goodbye
  18. The Elephant’s Debt
  19. When The Room Is The Elephant
  20. My Pastor Knows My Name
  21. False Teachers: T. D. Jakes
  22. (Video) No Compromise Ever (a response to the Elephant’s Room)
  23. How To Subscribe To Heidelmedia

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  1. Driscoll is also an inveterate liar/plagiarist and he pushes his porn visions of his parishioners as usually authoritative.

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