Megachurch pastor James MacDonald has reached the halfway point of his whirlwind "Vertical Church Tour" planned for 40 cities in the U.S. and Canada in just a two-month time span. The founding and senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago continues to deliver his message that today's Christian churches should meet primarily for the purpose of seeking and worshipping God and all else will follow.
"I'm a pastor of the same church for almost 25 years and we feel very passionate about the church has got to get back to being about Jesus Christ and about the Word of God," MacDonald recently told Mars Hill Church Pastor Mark Driscoll during an interview to help promote "R12," an upcoming leadership conference.
"Somewhere along the line we became so helpful – all this three little tips for this and four little helps for that – no cross, no Gospel, no Christ-centered Word-based God exalting church. I just believe that the one true value proposition that we have is an earth-shattering, window rattling, life altering encounter with God that we need every week to cut down our pride and to bring us to our knees. That's what church is supposed to be. So I'm fired up about challenging the church in America to get back to that."
MacDonald, who wants to "raise the bar for leaders and their churches" and is touring with worship music performers, is also giving the message of his book, Vertical Church.
"Life is such a horizontal experience. What we desperately need is an encounter with the vertical – a life altering encounter with a transcendent God of the universe," says MacDonald in a video explaining Vertical Church.
"There's something that happens in the heart of God when His children go out on a limb and gather up their heart and say, 'God, if it's not you it's nothing now,'" MacDonald says.
Upcoming tour stops include two cities in Canada, then Albany, NY, and New York City. The tour is scheduled to end in Jacksonville, Fla., on Oct. 3.
"The message is that the answers are up and I've been really gripped by verses like Isaiah 64 verse one, which says, 'Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down and the mountains might quake in your presence,'" MacDonald told Driscoll.
"Most people are standing at the base of mountains that can't move. [For example,] 'I've got a prodigal child. I've got an addiction. I've got a private sin. I've got a dead marriage.' You know the things that people deal with. To them it's a mountain. Only God manifesting His presence among His people is going to move those mountains. So down with horizontal helpfulness and up with the manifest presence of God in the center of His church," he explained.
MacDonald says his ministry focuses on the "unapologetic proclamation of God's Word." In 1988, along with a small group of ministry partners, he and his wife, Kathy, planted Harvest Bible Chapel which has grown to 13,000 people each weekend, meeting in six locations.
In 1997, a Bible-teaching broadcast ministry called "Walk in the Word" was established, now reaching more than three million people weekly. In 2002, a church planting ministry called Harvest Bible Fellowship was born and has established more than 70 churches across North America and around the world. MacDonald's vision is that God will use him to help plant 1,000 churches in his lifetime.
On the Web: http://jamesmacdonald.com/verticalchurchtour/