In my 10yrs at FCC, 7yrs of which I was on their staff and the last 2yrs on their senior leadership team, I was exposed to a lot of their mind control practices.  Here is a list of the major mind control practices at FCC and its offshoots that I experienced.  I got saved in April 1995 and shortly after, as I started pondering the need for water baptism, the mind control lies started to begin.  The first thing I was taught in FCC was that “All authority is from God; therefore rebellion to authority is rebellion to God.”  This statement had many implications: 1. The leaders in the church are infallible and like God (Steve used this to get people to treat him as if he was God.  What he said was straight from God’s mouth.) This false teaching does not apply to anyone outside of the leadership of the church, i.e. Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. 2. You begin to ignore your parent’s input and that of others that once held a position of influence in your life, because they are not in the church leadership.  The leadership (Steve and the elders) take the place of your parents influence in your life.  3.  You will do anything for the leadership of the church including submitting to anything they request.  4. You will second guess and ignore your better judgment just to submit to the leadership of the church.  5. You begin taking the leadership’s statements and comments regarding your life as being the Word of God and therefore God’s plan for your life.  This enables the leadership to take the place of the Holy Spirit in your life.  6. You begin to obey leadership’s OPINION on non-moral issues in which they have no real authority to speak into.  7.  You obey leadership’s OPINION on moral issues that they are absolutely wrong on, i.e. telling the husband to get a vasectomy after having so many children. (Children are a blessing from the Lord, therefore why would you want to cut off that blessing?)

The truth is, “All authority is from God, but only God is infallible.  Man is not infallible and makes mistakes all the time.  No one can hear God for you, but you.  Leadership is not God and neither is Steve Michael Hall Sr, so don’t treat them or obey them like they are.  Another false teaching that is used for mind control and bondage is that FCC and its offshoots are the only churches that are doing Christianity biblically.  Therefore to leave is to jeopardize your own Christian walk and most likely your salvation as well as that of your children.  To leave means never to get sin out of your life because you do not have the wisdom and spiritual authority of the leadership to help you get free from the bondage that you are in.  This teaching leaves you fearful to go anywhere else.  It causes you to submit to any abuse, mistreatment, insults and threats.  Oh yes, threats were made about employment, events in my life, that of my wife and my children.  The fact of the matter is there are churches all over this globe that are doing things in a biblical manner.  The truth is there are a lot of churches out there doing things much better than FCC and its offshoots.  You will not lose your salvation and if anything leaving FCC sets you free from a lot of bondage and will enable you to walk closer with God.

The other major mind control lie that is taught and has the longest term damage is this (It is a two part mind control):  As a Christian your sin separates you from God and that you must work on getting rid of that sin to be closer to God.  This fallacy is combined with the over-spiritualization of sin/ improper behavior and the second mind control teaching that was just mentioned.  This teaching leads us to constantly strive to be free of any sin.  It causes us to constantly feel like we are far off from God and that the leadership is much closer to God than we are.  Therefore they are holier, wiser and had a direct connection to God that we didn’t.  (There was this fear that God would tell them about sin that you had committed.)  This belief leads you to the thought process of, the less sin in my life, the more good works I perform, the closer to God that I will be.  This is nothing more than living according to the Law of Moses, this is not a life lived by grace and is absolutely unbiblical, yet taught at FCC.    The truth is that Jesus is not far off.  He is by your side, yoked to you, staring at your pile of sin that is before you.  He looks at you with His arm around you and says, “Boy that is a lot of sin! Son when you are ready, we will tackle it together.”  This correct view leaves you relying on God’s strengths and abilities to live your life as opposed to living your life according to your own strength and abilities.

The final mind control practice used in FCC and the offshoots are used to control married couples and families.  Husbands and wives were told individually that if their spouse was having trouble with sin, that they were to go to the leadership to get help to set their partner free from the sin.  This led to couples who were unwilling to share their feelings and thoughts with one another because they both knew the other one would go to the leadership, resulting in getting rebuked.  Times of correction and rebuking at FCC and its offshoots were intense and harsh.  This harsh correction led to a fear of correction.  Couples were therefore not honest with one another for fear of correction.  Their relationship was not a safe zone where husband and wife could be honest with one another.  They instead put on a façade of everything being fine.  Never being real with one another because they knew they couldn’t trust each other.  This weakened the couple not allowing them to overcome the oppression they were under.

These are the major mind control practices taught and used on a regular basis at FCC and its offshoots.  This is not all of them, but some of the major ones.  I made this list to help assist those in separating the good from the bad that they were taught and to help overcome condemnation.  On that particular point, conviction ends at the point of repentance, any bad feelings after repentance is condemnation.

Please feel free to add to this list.  I know that I did not cover everything.

JM

Comments
  1. Anonymous says:

    No person or organization should EVER have more influence in your spouses life than you.

  2. Jeremy says:

    Anyone on staff extorted by FCC when they left? AKA “If you talk to anyone about why you are leaving, we will not give you any of your severance pay.” Anyone have to put it in writing?

  3. Michael. says:

    I have been a member of an ‘offshoot’ for a few years now. I have never experienced any of these mind control tactics. Your experiences seem to be with FCC. It seems wrong for you to assume this behaviour occurs outside of what you have experienced.

    • Michael, not sure where you are from but we have been reached out to by members or former members of every single one of the offshoots. But I am glad to hear that you have not yet been affected. I hope and pray that things have changed. However, if things have changed, you would assume that the leaders would be reaching out to people who were actually hurt (so far there’s close to 130 of us on Facebook) and apologize, ask for forgiveness and try to restore the relationships. The only response we have gotten is several facebook pages attempting to “hide” our Facebook page and also a new blog that is attempting to rival this one. Very sad to me.

  4. Connie Cohn says:

    Michael, I would agree with you if it was just FCC. However, there have been many others from the “offshoots” that have experienced very similar experiences. Some are afraid to post here, but they have sent private messages etc…I’m glad you haven’t had any negative experiences and I’m glad you have read the information here. You will now know what to look for and, if it ever happens, you’ll be able to get out before any damage is done.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Is “hope church” at ASU in Tempe an “offshoot” ?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, Hope Christian Church at ASU, is an offshoot of Faith Christian Church in Tucson. The Pastor, Brian Smith and his wife Wendy, were elders at the church in Tucson and trained directly under Steve. Is it any wonder they are just like him? They were sent to ASU to plant a church. The intention was to plant a church that was less controlling and legalistic than the one in Tucson. They have failed miserably! Brian Smith and his “ministers” are practicing the same recruiting and mind control techniques that they learned while under Steve. It is shameful. Something needs to be done about this group. Brian and Wendy should not be ministering to any student, anywhere, at anytime! They seem to think if they SAY they are different than Steve and try to distance themselves from him, they will somehow slip under the radar and no one will question their motives. I wouldn’t be so confident about that if I were you. What is hidden …will be made known. It is time for those who have been harmed by this man, and those who work under him, to speak up. Students are joining this group with the best of intentions and unfortunately, it may be too late by the time they realize they’ve made a mistake. The harm being done to their psyche will take years to work through. Beware of HCC!

      • Danielle says:

        I go to Hope. Yes the same techniques are used but nothing like what you have described. They left FCC and broke away they now have different churches that back the church up. Pastor Brian and Wendy do not believe they are infallible, they also believe that at Hope that our church isn’t right for everyone and that going to different churches is great. If you are being called to a different church then you talk with your mentor’s and you leave with integrity. Just because you leave hope doesn’t mean you are rebelling against God it just means God needs you to be somewhere else and that is ok. Do not speak ill of someone you don’t know just because they went to a church full of deceit. You don’t know what God is doing in their heart and what he is convicting them on. Also, if there is unity between different churches and they agree to the teachings and they are from all over then they must be doing something right.

  6. Jason camden says:

    I’m not from that church do from an outside prospective you sound a lot like Korah, keep it up and maybe you can be just like him someday!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Dude. Get off the Korah kick. Every one of us used to be a part of these churches and we all heard the Korah thing for years. In fact, most of us probably used to hurl that accusation against anyone who ever spoke out against a leader in the church, just like you’re doing. Been there, done that. What you fail to recognize is: a.) God disciplined Moses severely and did not allow him to enter the promised land for only ONE infraction–becoming angry at the people and therefore mistreating them and disobeying God, and b.) there are these really interesting scriptures in the New Testament where Jesus commands his disciples to not “lord” their leadership over people, to not cause anyone to stumble, and to serve people if they truly want to be great. And oh yeah, c.) there’s this really neat idea again in the NT called the “priesthood” of every believer, where the Bible clearly says that we are not in need of being “under the thumb” of a Moses anymore, and which actually requires trust of the disciple on the part of the leader. That means a truly godly leader will never try to control or manipulate people. Anyway, you should check those out. The abuse that was and is being handed down from the leadership in these churches is a clear violation of all of these concepts, and it’s not one or two isolated incidents, but a pattern of abuse that has continued for years and that is informed by deeply held beliefs. This abuse can only be stopped by the uprooting of these beliefs–something the leaders in these churches defiantly refuse to do. What’s wrong with them highlighting, for instance, Hebrews 13, where scripture says to obey your leaders is that they fail to BALANCE that concept with the rest of scripture, and most notably, the concepts I just mentioned. It’s called checks and balances. And even God uses them. Hence what happened to Moses. Scripture is clear that people should obey their leaders, but what is completely out of balance is where these leaders absolutely “lord” their authority over the people. Just read all of the true stories of them threatening people in their churches with disease, loss of livelihood, and even death for simply disagreeing with them, much less outright disobeying. Or the countless stories of these leaders verbally abusing people in the most profane ways possible. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, right? I’m sorry, but, the leadership I knew for almost twenty years in FCC has no interest in serving through love each disciple in a humble way the way Jesus taught us to do. If they did, one of the first things they would stop doing is lording their authority over others. I don’t mean they would stop walking in their authority as church leaders–because there have to be leaders, but they would stop lording it over others and causing so much damage through their abuse and control, which are all rooted in a terrible mistrust of people. Big difference. And believe me, God cares. Just read all the scriptures where He takes issue with how shepherds care for the sheep. So, you can stop trying to put on your big boy pants by threatening people that they’re behaving like Korah and start caring for your hurt brothers and sisters. They’re not doing this because they don’t love Jesus. They’re doing this because they were very hurt by these disobedient and rebellious shepherds, who have been rebuked, warned, pleaded with, entreated, etc., and who in no way have taken responsibility for their actions and repented in real sorrow and humility. The Bible is very clear that God demands us to not judge the motives of our brother’s heart. You should be the one walking circumspectly.

    • Or not says:

      Yay, ad hominem!

      But srsly bro. You’re totally from that church. Don’t post under the same name next time, you adorable little deceiver-in-cult, you. ;D

  7. Unknown says:

    this is happening in colorado. Non obedience on non moral issues puts members in the “rebellious” category. Also those who leave the church are lumped into that category or talked about as if they are leaving God. How about when they talk about your private conversations to staff members who have nothing to do with the situation. Chris once told the whole church that he talks about us and gets reports on how we are doing. Oh, how about being rebuked for texting…after church in the lobby. Or how about being rebuked for my shirt being too nice, “I must be trying to get noticed” per a senior staff member. Oh…i was once told that my car accident with a deer on the highway might be God judging me for spending too much time with my parents. ….seven yr member

    • Anonymous says:

      I just recently left after being “disfellowshipped” from Grace in Fort Collins, CO over disagreement with the leadership on a non-moral issue, and I can confirm hearing Chris say to the whole church also about how he got regular “reports” about each of us. The thing about people leaving the church being grouped into the “rebellious” and “leaving God” categories is also definately true. To Jeff and perhaps the one who wrote this post, I’d love to chat by email also if you’re up for it. -Former 8 year member.

    • Michael Childs says:

      I know for a fact that private matters are discussed openly with spouses and the payroll members of the church, even though the ‘spiritual father or mother’ will only acknowledge it if asked directly.

      • Michael Childs says:

        FYI, I am a former member from 2002 to 2006. One of the first members of GCC. Glad I got out but wish the transition was easier.

  8. Jeff Phillips says:

    Unknown (from May 20),

    Are you still in the church?

  9. Grounded says:

    What about Resurrection Church in Boulder. It is listed as an “offshoot”.
    How are the campus pastors trained?

    • Unless the offshoots are doing something differently, all the campus ministers are trained “in house” with practically no outside input. Formal seminary training is mocked. This makes it easier for the leadership to control what the people believe. I remember many times when our staff would have outside contact with others in the body of Christ, Steve Hall would debrief us and tell us what we should take from the teaching and what we should throw out. Sadly, this was often done in a very mocking way behind the person’s back. Steve would never say those things to their faces, because he wanted a good reputation with them. All the study materials (Bible studies, training manuals) are written by Steve Hall.

      After having been in seminary the last few years, it amazes me how off we were. I am so grateful for having been trained in how to properly interpret Scripture and apply its principles.

      • deleted says:

        Our son is deeply involved with FCC. We are concerned about the drastic changes in his personality and behavior over the past two years. We want to get him out and need guidance. Any help and insight you can provide would be most appreciated.

    • Michael Childs says:

      I am a former ‘disciple’ of Aaron Brechtel. Never in the 5 years that I met with him did he indicate anything but obedience to his spiritual father Chris Tomlinson. There was only one issue in the hundreds of Chris’ sermons that he expressed any disagreement about. He is just as much a pusher of authority-is-god as Chris or others. I’d be very surprised if anything is different. He also has no apparent capacity to acknowledge his mistakes against others.

    • Boulder says:

      Like a cult, no differently in boulder.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Yeah. I wonder what all these folks at the TAE or the pastors in New Zealand would do if they knew that Steve constantly sits and mocks them when they’re gone.

  11. Kristen says:

    I am a former member of Grace Christian Church in Fort Collins. My experiences there were horrible and it took me years to recover. I hope we can get the word so people will know to stay away from these churches.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hearing story after story of abuse as well as trying to recover from abuses suffered myself at Grace Christian Church has had me pondering the idea of handing out flyers or leaflets to CSU students on campus during the first week of class this coming fall semester warning them to steer clear of this organization and of their staff members out doing their surveying.

      Would anyone else possibly be up for that? Sooner or later, this evil needs to be confronted head on, and we can do that effectively if we stand together, and do what we can to prevent new students from falling for the schemes of these campus “evangelist” predators.

      • Michael Childs says:

        Seems to me the right approach would be education about cults. I’m willing to participate if an effective approach can be found.

  12. Kristen says:

    To Anonymous from July 22.
    You have the right idea and it will probably be the most efficient way to get the word out. Were you planning on doing this solo or trying to organize group? I have heard that many are afraid even to go on this website and talk about their experiences. I walked away from GCC 5 years ago so I have healed and am no longer scared or ashamed but many still are. If we did this we would definitely have to stand united and be aware that we might become targets.

    • Anonymous says:

      I certainly would like to organize some folks if I can. The more that participate, the better. If someone can think of something better or more effective I’m open to suggestions. Would you folks be willing to discuss things further via email?

  13. MW says:

    Hi, JM.

    I think I have a good idea of who you were, as my bible study leader (and brother in almost all respects) had the initials of JM during my year at FCC (1999-2000). Unless, of course, you’re an entirely other JM.

    I left after that first year, and I’d like to apologize.

    I could see that you were having trouble saying some of the things you said; I could see that you were struggling with the byzantine structure and opaque leadership at FCC. And instead of confronting that which I knew was wrong, I simply turned tail and I and moved to Phoenix.

    I’m not sorry I left. From what I’ve read of the stories you and other people have shared, I’m incredibly fortunate. But I am regretful that I didn’t say anything to you about the things I felt were wrong, that I didn’t speak up when I saw things that were inexcusable for Christian leadership to do, and I know you were stuck in the middle. Even if it would have wrecked our friendship, I should have said what I knew to be right and felt to be true about FCC. Instead, I left and hoped the best for you and the rest of my friends there, and that’s not something someone with convictions and honor and bravery does, is it?

    I’m glad you’ve left that environment, and I pray that you’ve found family, church and community that nurtures the wonderful person you are.

    MW

    • Anonymous says:

      Our son is deeply involved with FCC and we want to get him out. I would appreciate any insight into the church and its practices that you can share.

      • Boulder says:

        I was only at the church in boulder, CO for a short while but basically it’s nothing of what a church should look like. They hate all the other ministries on campus and try to take control of your life. I stopped replying to them and whenever I see them on campus they act like i’ve done something wrong and tell me I’ve fallen to sin. It’s a mind controlling environment and not a healthy place to be at all. You need to do something about it ASAP or you will lose your son to them altogether.

  14. Karen Cooper says:

    ( Not a member of this group) I am just fellow Christian, but I Have found that no matter what the circumstance,that it help to forget what lies behind and set my eyeseyes on Jesue! Up to this point have you learned to love Jesus and can you hear his voice? Then Carry on . Stop crying about the things that you did not like. The future is bright and you are powerful , in the Lord. You are charged with following the will of God! Go forward. Now you can see the Glory of the Lord spread.

    • Sanctum says:

      Oh, we’ll chin up and move on, but what bothers us is that this is still. Happening.
      And at some point, the bullying and manipulation surpasses what is just.
      If you saw a whole group of human beings getting abused and taken advantage of, only sticking around due to little flaws in our nature, what would you do?

    • Fearful says:

      Karen, I would like to respectfully say that I understand what you are saying. That being said this website is a blessing. In these churches you are taught not to disagree with authority and that you will hear that these churches are a cult but that is just because they are being persecuted and being persecuted is a positive sign that you are living for Jesus. It is a mind trick. Then you move into a house with other people in the same church, you cut off all ties with anyone who is not a member of one of these churches, and you cut off your family. You live in a world where your entire life is this church. If and when you start questioning the practices and if they are right, you have no one to talk to but someone in the church. Which leads to you getting corrected and rebuked for being a stumbling block and for being disobedient. You are at fault. You’ve left everyone behind. So when you realize you have to leave you lose everything. I know because I recently left. You lose your friends, your social life, and your housing. You have to start life all over. If you get born-again in one of these churches you don’t know what is truth from extreme because your mind is so twisted. It is so terrifying to leave. I know I was.

      This group gave me the courage to leave. It told me that I wasn’t crazy and that I needed to get out. I was afraid to reach out because I feared the ministers or elder or pastor would find out and I would be kicked out of my house with no where to go. But this website and Facebook page gave me courage to leave. I was able to reach out by private message for advice. And to reach out to people who knew specifically what I was going through. I personally feel mentally unhealthy from my experiences. I fear authority. I fear being found out. I fear asking for any help. So I am glad there are people who are willing to share there experiences. I am thankful that there are people who would risk so much to help me. I am thankful that there are people here I can ask for help from without being in fear of doing so. Without this website and Facebook page I probably would have stayed because I felt/was taught “I am sinning because I am questioning authority. I am going against God to talk to anyone outside this church about my concerns.” Reading people’s experiences and being able to relate exactly to so many and to read that these experiences are wrong and unbiblical and read instead that is ISN’T wrong to go to another church or talk to someone outside the church was EXTREMELY important in me getting out.

      Please don’t tell people to get over it. It isn’t that easy. The mindsets people have as members are not something you can just get over. Every single day you have to face these mindsets and deal with them and pray God will heal you. You have to stop and say to yourself “no that isn’t right” to something you think. I honestly worry that I will never be the same. That I will fear authority for the rest of my life. That I will be paranoid I’m being watched all of the time (which is seriously wrong to feel this way). To not trust people because they will share what I say to them in confidentiality. This is…. I honestly worry about my mental health. These churches change you mentally. Just like people who are abused and need counseling and a support group, just like cancer patients, many former members of these churches need a support group. Would you tell someone who has been abused to just get over it or would you encourage them to get help and support? It is clear that there are many people working through their experiences at these churches and this group of people can all relate to each other and help one another get through this.

      So thank you to the people who created to this site. Thank you to all of the people who have shared their experiences. I appreciate it so much. It is a blessing to me. It is helping me heal.

  15. concernedchristian says:

    I would like to thank you for posting this. Thank you for making me feel sane, Hope Church at ASU made me question everything about my faith in God. A childhood friend was baptized at Hope, and in attending a private Christian school in CA I though this was something to be thrilled over. That summer I began attending church with her. I was repeatedly mocked for going to a private Christian institution, was told that my faith wasn’t real because I have been a Christian since I was five (they said I never had a “real come to Jesus moment”), and that I wouldn’t have a mission field in becoming a doctor. I have since lost my friendship with the girl who was baptized here. I pray that she and her fiancé mature in their faiths and realize that there is more to living a life for Christ than being an intern at Hope. By the grace of God they are saved and I am thankful for that, but am extremely heartbroken that I have lost a sister (she was like family, she went on family vacations with us). I would warn anyone from attending this church. Don’t do it unless you’re well equipped in your faith to stand up to these people. I was laughed at when I brought up how Luke was a doctor and had a missional life. They scoff at writers like Donald Miller & Bob Goff (two writers who have helped me in my faith).

    Does anyone have any advice about how to be okay with losing a friend to this cult??

    • bringingtruthtothedecieved says:

      Concernedchristian, Please Check my post a few down.
      You are not the only one. I’ve met atleast 4 people who came to the conclusion, with the help of Hope ‘ministers’ that they weren’t Christians till they came to Hope.
      Trust God, trust the Holy Spirit and His work in your testimony!

      Praying for you!

    • DeceivedButFightingBack says:

      As a current member of Hope Christian Church I want to apologize for the way this Church treated you, and for the deception your friend is going through. I was the same as she was until a couple days ago, when a close friend helped me realize how I’d been deceived by my church. I want to open the eyes of the other members so they can see the things that I’ve seen, and if there’s anything I can do to help your friend while I’m still inside this system just let me know.

      • Anonymous says:

        Can you talk to me about what you say you’ve seen? I’m currently a member too and ever since all this has come out about FCC I’ve been very interested what people think about Hope. (Not just people making things up on the internet but someone actually here at this church.) I would greatly appreciate anything you can tell me about your experience because I’m struggling with what I think about it all!

  16. Anonymous says:

    “Stop crying” she says. Great. Classic Christian mercy. I love smug American Christians who comment on things of which they have no experience.

  17. bringingtruthtothedecieved says:

    From an ‘almost’ member of Hope Christian Church at ASU.
    I am currently working on how to speak truth to those who are being controlled at Hope.
    Tread lightly, do not burn bridges.
    Don’t shy away from truth, but you need to be very careful and gentle as you find who is willing to hear you out and who has been holding onto questions they want answered. These types of people are who you need to talk to. DO NOT go straight for the leadership. I promise you there are unhappy and confused people in the church waiting for someone like you to either tell them the truths OR encourage them to research it on their own and get back to you. Ask God to open those opportunities and conversations. God has been slowing providing me with opportunities to shed light towards truth and encourage a friend to act, research their questions. You know what? They are very open to what they are finding and they are 100% more likely to listen because i let them find the truth instead of shoving it in their face.

    The tough part is there isn’t one specific thing that you can put your finger on; you have to experience the church to understand.
    The ‘mindcontrol’ isn’t the only issue, so is their teachings of the gospel; repentance doesn’t equal salvation. They don’t say this out right, but you aren’t saved unless you have been baptized by the Holy Spirit. Well the only way you know the Holy Spirit has bapitized you is if you speak in tongues. That is not a biblical statement.

    (Note i am not saying whether or not tongues is or isn’t alive in this time period, i am saying your salvation IS NOT based on whether or not you speak in tongues.)

    It has been crazy to speak with friends who have let the church and to learn that at least a handful of members have secretly spoken up about some discomfort with the leadership in the church. They are paralyzed by their fear of man and not knowledgable enough with the truth. They’ve become so dependent on the leadership. It makes me so sad to see so many amazing men with good intentions, being mind-controlled.

    We shouldn’t be sharing these experiences as gossip but to help eachother and get truth to our lost friends who are being deceived. “The greatest act of hatred against a man is not sharing the the gospel with him when you know he is following a false gospel.” (keeping the quote anonymus for personal security). We know the truth, we are held responsible to share it, to try and save those being deceived. Rise up! Do not forget about your emotional wounds, but let God strengthen you through your testimony! Do not let other’s be controlled and hurt by the controlling practices being acted out in these churches.

  18. concernedchristian says:

    Bringingtruthtothedeceived,
    You are absolutely right their gospel is not accurate to the gospel preached by Jesus. I would go as far to say that they are boastful of their pasts and do not focus on what God is doing now. But, that’s neither here nor there. How can I help you in spreading the truth at Hope ASU? I recently saw this friend of mine who is a “campus pastor”, she admitted she had been avoiding me because of something I said over a year ago, but couldn’t remember what it was… Her excuse for avoiding me was that the example showed to her growing up was to avoid confrontation. It makes me so sad because the church is teaching it’s member to alienate their families because “they inflict sin”. I am certain it was Wendy Smith who told my friend I had issues with the doctrine they were preaching. I want to help you in this. Going to the leadership obviously got me nowhere, and stamped as rebellious.

  19. DeceivedButFightingBack says:

    I want to thank you guys for helping to open my eyes to the truth. I’m currently a member at Hope Christian Church (been there for about a year and a half) and I hate to say it, but I never suspected a thing until recently. For the past couple months I’d been feeling off and even slightly depressed, but I couldn’t tell why. At first I thought it was because I didn’t really feel all that close to the other members, but I didn’t tell anyone because I felt that whenever I talk to them about my life they would make it into a spiritual issue and would try to ‘fix me’ (and if I disagreed with them they would keep pestering me until I said I agreed with them). It wasn’t until I talked to someone outside the church that I realized what was going on. She told me she had heard some ‘interesting’ things about Hope, and when I went to try and find what she was talking about on my own I came across this site and others that opened my eyes.

    Please pray for me as I go through this stage in my life. Unfortunately I’m pretty deep in this church (I currently live in one of their discipleship houses with 5 other guys from the church), so it’ll be hard to leave. However, I feel like I’m in a place where I can fight back and try to show some of the other members the things you guys have shown me, and hopefully open their eyes to the situation they’re in.

    • Anonymous says:

      Our son is deeply involved with FCC at the U of AZ. We are concerned about the profound changes we have seen in him over the past year and a half and want to get him out of that environment. Like you, he is living in a house with four other church members. I don’t believe he is open to seeing the truth about FCC and need guidance on how to open his eyes. Did you leave your church since this post? If so, can you share your experience with me?

    • Anonymous says:

      I would love to talk to you if you are available. I am a member too (very recently) and have been asked to live in a discipleship house next year and when this all came up now I’ve been researching and trying to figure out what people that have heard or experienced “interesting” things really are. I’m totally open minded to either side at this point because I’m pretty deep in this church and think I need to figure all this out for myself. Would love to talk to you if you could help me.

      • Anonymous says:

        I was a member of Hope for a few months but just recently left the church. I left after hearing about FCC and doing my own research and talking with Christians outside of the church. If you still need someone to talk to let me know. Leaving the church has helped me tremendously.

  20. concernedchristian says:

    Prayers your way!! feel free to email me hollyfarrar@me.com

  21. What is next says:

    Boy am I glad to be out of Cornerstone Christian Church. That place separated me from my family and also other Christian friends who were outside the church. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t loving my family anymore…got to the point to where I was going to do a word study on “Love”. Then I realized it was the isolation. I’ve since starting loving my family again for who they are instead of mocking and judging them. Now I just need to find a new church =/

    • Anonymous says:

      Try checking out Apologia Church.
      A great bible beliving church.
      They even help members study scriptures so they can help rescue others who are being deviced in these false or unhealthy church environments and teach them the Gospel or the bible.
      They also are very supportive of passions God puts on your heart. I am passionate about saving babies from abortion so we ended up starting a prolife ministry!

      Praying for you:)

  22. Jane Doe says:

    Reading these comments is honestly very therapeutic for me. I attended Hope Christian Church for a little more than a semester my freshman year at ASU. I was living on campus and the church I normally attended was too far for me to commute to on Sundays, so I decided to join the church. They had been going around to the dorms, knocking on doors and inviting people to Bible studies. I figured I would give them a try. They were very friendly and seemed like very strong Christians. The few months I spent there nearly destroyed my relationship with my now fiance of 7 years, boyfriend of 3 years at the time.

    In the Bible studies we had with three or so other girls, they would ask us questions about our lives, in a general get to know you sort of way. Once I said I had a boyfriend of three years, they almost immediately asked if we were pure. Now, I’ve had huge issues with my purity. I was one of those Christian girls that thought I was still mostly pure because we hadn’t had vaginal sex, but we had done other things. I struggled with this notion over and over again, degrading myself because I wasn’t “completely” pure. My poor boyfriend had to deal with my back and forth on feeling like a filthy sinner for years. I told them we were pure, because I did not want to discuss the matter with them. But nearly every Bible study after, the discussion came back to my boyfriend and I. Eventually I confessed that while we had not had sex, we had done other things. This was after about three weeks of questioning during each Bible study. I broke down and cried and they consoled me.

    From there on out, EVERY SINGLE Bible study ended up coming back to me and my boyfriend. For weeks. Outside of the Bible studies, I apologized to the other girls who attended because it always came back to me and they had to sit there awkwardly while the leaders tried to convince me to break up with him. I can’t remember if they ever explicitly told me I must break up with him because being with him was a sin (we also discussed the “issue” of him not attending church even though he is Christian. they argued this was evidence he was not really a Christian), but there was no hiding what they wanted me to do. Every. Single. Week.

    Eventually, my boyfriend figured something was wrong with how distant I was and the increased and obvious guilt I felt every time we did something intimate. The guilt was the worst. I broke down with him and he told me to take a few days with my Bible and not think about what I’ve heard from anyone. Just read my Bible and talk with God about it. It did not take me two days before I realized there was no way I could or wanted to leave him.

    I wrote out my thoughts and rebuttals to whatever I thought they might say before the next Bible study, so that I would be able to sound strong. It was pointless. No matter what I said, they had something to say back that I was wrong. I shut down at this point. The rest of that study they tried to talk to me, but I simply looked down and said “I don’t know” to any question they asked.

    This was my biggest issue with them. I knew them for two weeks before they started to convince me my faith was all wrong and what I was doing made me a bad Christian and God wouldn’t love me until I corrected all these sins. All the things other people have stated about them I experienced as well, though: being coerced to speak in tongues, having my faith devalued because I had been a Christian since childhood, and being told I needed to be rebaptized because my first one didn’t count.

    As I started out this huge post, reading these comments has been hugely therapeutic because of people confirming my feelings about the church. I still have friends in the church who do not have the same feelings, obviously, so for a long time I still felt like maybe I was the one in the wrong. It is like releasing a breath I’ve held in for a long time. Thank you.

    • What is next says:

      I saw this happen with so many new members. Some came out stronger, but others were pushed away. What is even scarier is when these churches did the same thing but to the new members’s families.

  23. HappyHopeGoer says:

    I have been a member of Hope Christian Church since 2012 when I started at ASU. I have seen many people leave for various reasons, I have read comments from people who left the church before I even started there, and I honestly fail to see more than half of what you all are talking about. I got saved when I was seven years old and I know a host of people who were saved before they came to Hope and not once have I ever been told I wasn’t really a Christian before I came to HCC. In the Real Sun Devil Story videos they make, you will hear members talk about how they were saved at a young age or in middle school, high school, etc. I remember one guy was giving his testimony before he was baptized and he’d said that he had given his life to the Lord at a young age, but felt like it didn’t really mean anything and the leaders were confused as to why he would think it didn’t mean anything (at least, that is the vibe I got). I lived in a Hope discipleship house last year and I grew so much from the input and the challenging I received from my older sisters that when I think back to before moving in, when I was debating living in that house or living with a friend on campus, I am so thankful I chose to live with those girls. I’ve dealt with a lot of issues stemming from my past and recently opened up about something I’d never talked about with anyone and all I’ve gotten is support, prayer, and encouragement. Of course, there are a handful of things I disagree with, but you’re never going to agree with everything that your church does. Church doesn’t exist to make you “feel good” about yourself. Church exists as a community to help you grow closer to God. And anyway, my leaders know what I disagree with and not once have I been looked down upon or told I need to get over it, suck it up, anything like that. Sometimes, I’ll get an explanation that makes sense and actually changes my point of view. Other times, I just don’t get it and I never may, and that is okay. I do not have to 100% agree with everything the church does. But I will 100% say that Hope and its leaders, its members, have changed my life. I am so much happier now than I have ever been in my whole life. I used to struggle with depression and self-esteem issues and both are quickly fading. My relationship with God is growing stronger and stronger, as is my relationships with people around me – people I can actually trust and count on.

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  25. Former CCC, what is next says:

    It is so ironic that we were told in these churches not to have a fear of man, but that is exactly what we developed because of the leadership…

  26. Anonymous says:

    I am a member at an offshoot. Take this how you like: it is the responsibility of each Christian to diligently practice hearing from God. I’m still fairly young in the Spirit. Only recently I have learned that all matters of hearing – reading the word, prayer, spoken word from others:leaders, fellow Christians, family, complete strangers; should run through the same filter. Once heard, pray meditate – get a solid conviction from God. Now you have ownership of an idea that you believe is from God. Then seek council and confirmation. Even council can be wrong – thank you tot he man discipling me for teaching me that. Only once you reach confirmation do you really ‘a green light’ – so to speak.

    All this disharmony does bother me – but I see how it occurs. I have known many Former offshooters, so to speak. Despite all this, we are only fooling ourselves if we don’t take a responsible approach to hearing with faith.

    Michael.

  27. SmarterThanTheyThink says:

    Hello all,
    Just a heads up about this webpage. The people of the churches listed here know this page exists and frequent it. Do not be too specific when using examples if you’d like to remain anonymous. Whatever is said here only gives them more weapons to refute these truthful claims. Maybe we should find a different way to speak about it…?

    I know members of Hope at ASU are leaving quickly and quietly in the middle of the night to be free of such un-biblical control that is present within their group. If that’s not a red flag I don’t know what is.

    • anon says:

      good to know, they should know about it. we shouldn’t have to be afraid of them. where did you hear people from hope were leaving?

      • SmarterThanTheyThink says:

        I’ve heard directly from the members who’ve left.

      • Anonymous says:

        There are always people leaving these churches but no one talks about it because the leadership acts like it doesn’t happen. They just keep recruiting new people

      • SmarterThanTheyThink says:

        I’m hearing directly from the members that left that they left in the night. I went to Hope very briefly but my gut feeling constantly said to run and get out while I could.

    • Anonymous says:

      Would like to talk to you if you could. I’m a member and hearing this makes me concerned for myself and I would like to know maybe about who’s leaving and why because I’m scared to ask anyone in leadership about these concerns and accusations because I think I’m in too deep. Need help.

      • jefflisap says:

        Please contact me at jefflisap@yahoo.com. I was at Hope from 2007 to 2010, in leadership for one of those years. I can talk to you or put you in contact with someone who left more recently.

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