“To establish reasonableness, a compensation consultant or committee will study what similar churches or non-profits pay their officers. However, a troubling trend has emerged of pastors’ salaries being compared to those of big business CEOs and famous celebrities.”
(Barry Bowen – Trinity Foundation) Through best-selling books and excessive compensation, a growing number of pastors are becoming millionaires. Let’s take a look at one of them.
Thirty-one years ago James MacDonald and a small team of believers started Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC). The church grew rapidly and launched new multi-site campuses in the Chicago suburbs. MacDonald also reached a large radio audience after launching his media ministry Walk in the Word.
With assistance from his church and ministry staff, MacDonald became a prolific author. Moody Publishers, LifeWay Press and others published MacDonald’s Bible studies.
HBC fired MacDonald in February 2019 after radio show host Mancow Muller broadcast an audio clip of MacDonald discussing the idea of planting child pornography on Christianity Today President Harold B. Smith’s computer. MacDonald was furious because Christianity Today published an article that didn’t defend him for suing Christians critical of his actions.
A recently published audit of HBC revealed that MacDonald was being compensated extravagantly. The church’s compensation committee approved almost $4 million in compensation for MacDonald from 2015 through 2017.
In 2017, MacDonald was approved to receive $1,387,500 in salary and benefits.