It’s amazing what hindsight can do for you, especially coming out of a system like FCC. You feel betrayed, you feel stupid for letting it happen and often times, confused. It has been incredibly helpful to read books by various authors to help “unravel” the knots that were tied in my head and see things for what they really were. It’ s frustrating to have been a part of something for so long and not see it, but when you’re in it, you’re stuck.
I’ve been reading a book on leadership that can be applied to anything in life: your family, relationships, church, work, etc. The latest chapter was on influence and that to be a true leader, you must be able to influence those around you. One of my favorite quotes from this chapter “True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed, or assigned. It comes only from influence, and that can’t be mandated. It must be earned.” It always baffled me how Steve propelled himself into this self appointed leadership position, even called himself an apostle, but when you truly consider the impact that healthy churches are having on the world, it is obvious that Steve has little actual influence. Pastors with influence are ones that people actually WANT to follow…they are not forced, condemned, coerced or judged into following. If Steve Hall was a real leader, people would be flocking to his church because he has natural influence and would be using that influence to make the name of Jesus prevalent in our world! The author also put it like this: “Most followers are pretty cooperative when their livelihood is at stake.” Steve maintains leverage over people but doesn’t maintain healthy and legitimate influence. Threatening to fire staff workers if they don’t change their musical choices or forcing them to burn poker chip holders because he believed poker wasn’t something Christians should do…just a few examples.
While I don’t write this to defame or smear, it is important to define what true leadership really is. Steve is a leader of sorts but lacks the influence necessary to sustain his vision. If Steve had true influence, there wouldn’t be a mass exodus from his congregation every few years and he wouldn’t have lost the 4 elders that he had spent 20+ years working with. Fear based control and leveraging of power is a short term means to coerce people to participate that ultimately ends with the falling of a regime. Fortunately for all of us who left, we all had our breaking points, something that made it evident that we had been “dooped” into following a man and a system that was slowly but surely destroying our lives, tainting a healthy view of God and ultimately reverting us back to slavery. I believe that everyone in this unhealthy system will reach that breaking point because the Grace of God is so much bigger than all of this. I still pray for my friends that are there, that they will truly look in the Word and realize what is actually happening.