Archive for the ‘Getting Free’ Category

This is an excellent article with thorough reporting that connects a lot of threads in the wider FCC movement.

The following is a compilation of the current media attention attracted by Faith Christian Church and some of its affiliates since March 7, 2015 (and don’t forget our Facebook page Former Members of Faith Christian Church Tucson and Its Offshoots).

Arizona Daily Star

  1. March 7 – Tucson ministry a cult, former followers say –
  2. March 12 – UA asks church’s campus recruiting arm for answers –
  3. March 15 – Religious Council opens separate inquiry into church –
  4. March 19 – Church accused of abuses to talk with UA –
  5. March 25 – New Zealand university bans Faith Christian offshoot –
  6. March 31 – Web Update – UA religious council revokes Faith Christian’s membership –
  7. April 1 – UA religious council revokes Faith Christian’s membership –
  8. April 10 – Faith Christian resigns from oversight group amid questions –
  9. April 16 – Amphi investigating its links to Faith Christian Church –
  10. Controversial Church is Without a Home –

Arizona Daily Wildcat

  1. April 9 – Religious clubs are questioned –
  2. April13-Letter to the Editor –
  3. April15–FCC, Case about more than just one church –
  4. April 15 – FCC, church or cult? –

Christianity Today

  1. March 12 – Arizona church says infants should be smacked with cardboard, former staff members allege –
  2. April7 – Church Clubs Expelled from University of Arizona Religious Council –

KVOA News 4 Tucson

  1. April 8 – Campus church revoked from university religious organization –
  2. May19 – Investigation Launched into Tucson’s Faith Christian Church –

     3. Coming end of July/early August

Audio Podcasts

  1. March 9 – 940 KGMS A Reason for Hope –
  2. March10–940KGMS A Reason for Hope –
  3. March12–1030KVOI The Voice –
  4. March 14 – NPR’s local Arizona affiliate, KJZZ –

Patheos Blog

  1. March 8 – Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability Defends Tucson Church at Center of InvestigativeReport –
  2. March12 – Former Members: Faith Christian Church (Tucson, AZ) Coerced Donations –
  3. March19 – Former members of Faith Christian Church (Tucson,AZ) to Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability: Talk to us –
  4. March 22 – ECFA Agrees to Hear from Former Members of Faith Christian Church –
  5. March 30 – Update: Faith Christian Church, the ECFA and Continuing Backlash –
  6. March31–Universtiy of Arizona’s University Religious Council Revokes Membership of Faith Christian Churchand Related Groups –
  7. May 4 – The ECFA Will Not Release Faith Christian Church Investigation –
  8. July22-Faith Christian Church Student Groups Cleared by University of Arizona,Banned by UA ReligiousCouncil, Looking for New Home –

Washington Post

  1. March 9 – There’s a cult ‘love-bombing’ students at the University of Arizona, former members say –
  2. April1-“Love-bombing”group at University of Arizona called a cult, thrown out of religious council –

Colorado Offshoot – Grace Christian Church

  1. May 4 – The Collegian Central – Cult or community? Questions about Fort Collins’ Faith Christian Churchoffshoot, Grace Christian Church –

Florida Offshoot – Cornerstone Christian Church

  1. April 1 – The Tampa Tribune – USF ministry is affiliate of church under scrutiny as a cult –
  2. April 25–The Tampa Bay Times – Offshoot of controversial Faith Christian Church comes under scrutiny at USF –

New Zealand Offshoot – Victory Christian Church

  1. March 13 – “Cult-like’ church sparks concern in Palmerston North –
  2. March19–People bullied into giving cash to Palmerston North’s Victory Church –
  3. March19–Pastors control marriage pairings, say former members –
  4. March 21 – Former pastor speaks out on ‘cult’ claims –
  5. March24–Massey Universtiy warns of ‘cult-like’ church –
  6. March25–Former Palmerston North ‘cult’ members tell of emotional scars –
  7. March 26 – UCOL second education institute to bar ‘cult-like’ Victory Church leaders –
  8. March27 – Churches reject ‘hands-off’ approach to Victory Church –
  9. March 28 – Victory Church leader disputes claims of “cult” –

Former members of Victory Christian Church in New Zealand, an offshoot of FCC, are speaking out about the emotional and psychological abuse at the hands of church leaders.

Please see the recent article published in the Arizona Daily Wildcat, the campus newspaper for the University of Arizona.  There are some very important comments on this article from former members.

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.

There is an old saying about counterfeit money that is priceless (excuse the pun).

The saying goes, that you have to handle a lot of authentic money in order to be able to identify a counterfeit bill. The reason for this is, the more you know what a real $100 bill feels like, the easier it is to know when a fake one is in your hand.

This also translates to spiritual authenticity as well. The more you see true Godly authenticity in a leader, the easier it is to spot a fake one. AUTHENTICITY is a trait that marks a true spiritual leader and the ability to maintain authenticity is a danger for a false leader. Consider the following.

When I was saved, I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. The trust for my salvation was transferred to Him instead of my good works. At the point of my conversion, I had to admit to God and to others, that I had been involved in a lot of stupid things that was sending me straight to hell. In admitting this to God and others, I was being authentic about who I was, and the telling of the story became my “testimony”.

This did not mean however, that I stopped sinning. No, I messed up a lot, and continue to do so. A true spiritual leader will admit to still falling short in word and deed, and is quick to confess and repent and move on in grace. But NOT a counterfeit leader.

To a cult leader, daily authenticity is dangerous, because it signals that they are JUST LIKE YOU. They refer to their PAST sinfulness, but are very careful not to admit to having a bent toward a particular sin that continues to harass them. The false leader counts on being seen as having moved on to a “higher plane” or “walk” with Christ, and to confess an ongoing struggle with sin removes the perception that they are “holy men and women of God”. In fact, I will state further that their insistence that they have “overcome” a particular area of sin, should be a ‘red flag” that self righteous hypocrisy is present in their lives.

Of course we should seek to refuse to submit ourselves to areas of sin that once overcame us in life…but the counterfeit leader will seek to present themselves as one who has no need to be transparent, because their “faith” has made them “overcomers” and now, they can move up to a higher place of leadership as a result.

The greatest leaders I have ever known have publicly confessed areas of sin in their lives that they continue to struggle in. This is because they do not wish to draw glory to themselves…they want Jesus to receive the glory. In fact the fellowship that I have enjoyed with these leaders is because we share a common fallenness…from which we will not be completely freed from until Jesus returns and exchanges our mortal for immortality.

This is one of the greatest signs of cultish activity that exists today. A “leadership” that requires a level of holiness that even they cannot attain. It is a misunderstanding that stems from an arrogant belief that they have arrived, but they insist that YOU must have something wrong with you….maybe even have demons…if you still struggle in areas of your life after your initial salvation. And instead of lovingly coming alongside of you to assist you confidentially and in love, the spiritually counterfeit leader, will actually use self righteous comparisons to other people in order to shame you into submission. They say, “well, the reason you have problems with that is, you just haven’t committed yourself completely to Jesus”. No…the reason you have ongoing problems is, that our sins of the flesh, are something with which we will grapple until the day that Jesus returns. We were told by Jesus Himself, that we would have tribulations in this life…but to REJOICE, because He had overcome the world.

Ongoing authenticity in a cult leaders life would mean that you would see them as vulnerable and fallen as YOU are…and THAT is simply not something they can allow to happen. Why….what would you do if they weren’t spiritually superior than you? I guess it would mean you would have to trust only in Jesus to be forgiven and to trust in His grace. It would mean that THEY are as much in need of “deliverance” as you are. It would mean that they too would need to publicly confess their sins. Do you really think Wildcat Cult Church for Christ leaders don’t have problems with pornography? Or drunkenness? Or other sins you need to confess? For any of them to deny these things happen in their lives is an outright lie. But they won’t tell you, because, they are NOT AUTHENTIC in humility and transparency. It would topple the house of cards.

Ask yourself the following questions:

1.Do you think your leaders always spend their money the “right” way?

2.Have your “covenant group” leaders ever confessed to you their sins?

3.Do your leaders feel they are spiritually better than you or impervious to the same sins you contend with?

4.Have you ever seen them grieve over their own shortcomings Publicly?

5.Do your “leaders” allow YOU to rebuke THEM? If not….why not?

If the answers to any of these questions is “No” then I would say there is spiritual pride and arrogance where humility and authenticity should be.

Remember, only Jesus is perfect, and his pastors are to have his gentle heart. Jeremiah 23:4 says,

“I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD.

If your leaders are not transparent about their imperfect lives, then you are following a wolf and not a true shepherd.

We are here to love you and to assist you to come out from under the harsh treatment of prideful taskmaster who seek to benefit by manipulation and guilt. Contact anyone on this site for help. You are loved.

I am often reminded of times in my past where I have failed miserably. One of the earmarks of a person who has been broken is that, like Jacob after wrestling with the Angel, they walk with a visible limp…proof that battle was entered into and was lost.

I walk with such a limp but I don’t dwell on it. I have come to live with it and to cherish it as a reminder that God is my ultimate defender…but He is NEVER my accuser.

And this FACT, that God does not accuse us is why I am blogging today. I have been around of lot of well meaning people (and a LOT of not well meaning people) who seem to take it upon themselves to remind me just how badly I have failed in the past. For some unknown reason, many people….ESPECIALLY Christian people, have decided that their calling in life is to put people in their proper place by dredging up the areas of failure or sin, which one has experienced. They say it is good for you…to keep you humble. But it has always been my experience that dredging up the past in someone’s life has NOTHING to do with humility, but almost always HUMILIATION. This type of conjuring up past failures is nothing less than an attempt to control and manipulate with guilt and condemnation. It has nothing to do with love. The New Testament says,

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

I Corinthians 13:4-5

Perhaps you have failed in life in some very hard areas. We all have…it is just a part of the fallen human condition. We fail, and others fail us. The beauty of love is that it will not constantly remind us of our fallenness. True love will overlook a wrong that it has suffered. However, those who would seek to control and manipulate you, will ALWAYS remind you of how you once lied, or cheated or stolen or… nauseum…until you grovel and beg for forgiveness. The ultimate symptom of hatred is that it seeks to control and gain advantage from a persons weakness. Only a person who is downcast and convinced of their “unworthiness” can be manipulated…because they do not feel they are of value. Maybe you have experienced this from others in the past.

I want you to be set free from the oppressive nature of those who would bring up your past in order to put you in bondage to condemnation. There is a very clear difference between someone who will gently remind you to guard yourself from an area of temptation due to a former weakness, and one who would harshly use your past failure as an attempt to humiliate you so that they can gain control of your will.

Relationships that feel “safe” are those relationships where we feel we can share the depths of our hearts…the disappointments, the personal failures, and know that we will be loved and accepted after the disclosure. Relationships that do NOT feel safe…and in fact ARE NOT safe, are those relationships whether marriage, friendships, church memberships, where after the disclosure of personal failure or sin is confessed, it is used against us time after time after time, in order to guilt us into submission.

God is your defender…he is your encourager and your joy. I have a healthy appreciation for that encouragement. God will not bring up past failures, He will not remind you of former things where you were destroyed by bad choices. God is for you and not against you. His banner over you is Love. Love will never dishonor you, discredit you or accuse you for falling short. Love will not envy the good things taking place in your life and seek to take you down a few notches in order to make itself feel better. Love will never CONTROL OR MANIPULATE YOU. NEVER, NEVER , NEVER.

Love will allow freedom and liberty to reign in your life. Love will never demand to have it’s way. True love will allow you to make choices, allow you freedom in your choices. This is how God works. Love is never afraid of freedom. Control is a human invention, Love is simply who God is. You will never find love being so arrogant so as to compare itself …how much better financially, spiritually or emotionally it is than where you are. Love has NOTHING to do with arrogance. This is why cults and other controlling organizations are such a blight upon the people they destroy. They try to shroud themselves in the garments of God sounding commandments and rules. God does not have any rules…..except one…Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Any group purporting to speak for God yet doesn’t show love, mercy and compassion is a cult…plain and simple.

If you are a member of a cult that constantly uses the sins you confessed in confidence against you publicly, I encourage you to leave it immediately and seek protection from other churches and seek legal protection as well. College Campuses have a multitude of cults that prey upon young students who want to have a relationship with God. They take advantage of your innocence first by making you their friend, second by separating you from other friends and family, and finally, after they have their hooks in you, to control you with man made rules that have NOTHING to do with God and that violate the principles of Love. If you are involved in a campus organization that appears biblical, but afterward, you have lost your joy and individual self worth…we are here to tell you that there is a future and a hope.

Love will allow you to go to ANY church you wish to attend WITHOUT condemnation.

Love will not discourage friends from talking to you. This is cult behavior

Love will not discourage you from talking with family. This is cult behavior

Love will not constantly “rebuke” you. This is cult behavior

Love will not tell you who to marry, date or separate you from the culture in which you live. This is cult behavior.

We are here for you…and you are LOVED!

Doug Pacheco

As a former member of FCC, I recall feeling trapped in a maze of seemingly right sounding church rules and behavior, but knowing inwardly that I would NEVER be able to be good enough unless I was willing to surrender my personality and free will in order to be accepted by “the leadership.” Somehow I knew…and you know too, that this is not the way Jesus intended the church to be.

One of the most liberating truths that I have ever received is the pure difference between Religion and true Christianity. Religion is; at its very root a very dangerous system to bring us into conformity with a belief about who God is and his guidelines for what are right and wrong ways of living. True Christianity on the other hand at its very root, is a lifestyle that has come to peace with the fact that our acceptance of the finished work of Jesus Christ is what brings us into right relationship with God. There is a world of difference between these two things.

If one wonders what causes the joy and wonder of our Christian experience to fade while a member at FCC, it is the wrong expectation that our performance of doing “right” things will produce a greater measure of favor with God. Whenever one must perform in order to be accepted or favored by God, there comes with it the fear- based dread that somehow, we must continue to jump through the “performance” hoops and, that we may do something, or fail to do something that will displease God ( or the leadership) and remove his covenant of blessing from over our lives. This flies in the face of Biblical Christianity.

Religion says, “I obey God and therefore, I am accepted by Him” True Christianity says, “I am accepted by God and therefore, I obey Him.” The drudgery of “works based righteousness” within the FCC system of religion forces a person to continually seek to “do” the right things and in “doing” we are righteous before God. But this becomes the basis for a person’s salvation. If you don’t do right things continually, you lose your standing as a “blessed” person. This is Phariseeism at its finest. The Pharisees were a strict sect of Jews who sought to keep every portion of the law. Jesus was at odds with their religious “self salvation” because it removed grace and substituted works as the basis for right standing with God.

One of the reasons that FCC separates a member of the congregation from his or her family is sadly due to the fact that if an objective person could see the works based Phariseeism at work within the organization, they would immediately identify it for the fear based fraud that it is…and that is simply something that a Pharisee cannot have…objective observation of its self salvation works project.

As a member of FCC you need only ask yourself the following questions.

1. Why do you serve God? If your answer has anything to do with fear of losing ones “blessing” or salvation, your service to God is done out of fear and not love. In fact, love based service to Jesus has NOTHING to do with fear at all! “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” I John 4:17-19. Fear of punishment is not the same as the Fear of the Lord.

2. Do you feel yourself tense up when you must meet with a leader or elder? Do you feel yourself with restless anticipation or sleeplessness when there is a meeting scheduled with one of these people? Do you fear rebuke, censure or worst of all, that you could be “disfellowshipped if you do not conform to FCC rules? If so you are serving out of fear of man, and not the love of God.

3. Do you feel that if you left FCC, you would be outside of God’s will for your life…or put another way, does your confident salvation walk with Jesus Christ depend upon remaining within FCC? If so, you have substituted FCC for Christ. The overwhelming characteristic of Jesus is that he gives LIBERTY. Liberty is our ability to choose among many options. If your choices have been limited by a Pharisaical devotion to rules or “right” behavior within FCC, then you do not have liberty. God does not EVER call us to a particular CHURCH…he calls us to relationship with HIM. He gives each and every believer the freedom and the Liberty to choose where he or she will have fellowship. Phariseeism demands that “Our church is where God called you, and he will tell the leadership if you are to leave and go elsewhere.” This spiritual piracy has taken your liberty captive. It is insidious and it is NOT Biblical.

Ask yourself another question…Is there any other reason you should serve Christ other than fear of displeasing Him or being out from under his “blessing.” Can you imagine serving Jesus out of simply pure devotion to Him, because he is worthy and gave EVERYTHING for you and NOT because if you break a rule he will stomp you? Those of us who are now outside of the FCC stranglehold have discovered that Jesus actually likes us. He looks at our lives and the Holy Spirit wants to set us free from fears and worries and works. He wants you to discover that there is a life free of buzzwords and false spirituality. Freedom in Christ is far easier than FCC would have you believe.

Timothy Keller in his book, “The Prodigal God” says, “The story of Jesus tells us that our root problem is not just failing in our obediance to God [not being good enough…] but in RELYING on our obedience [being really, really good] to save us. Therefore, the gospel is a ‘third way’– neither religion NOR irreligion. The religious person may say, “I am doing the right things that God commands” and the irreligious person may say, “I decide what is right and wrong for myself.” But both ways reject Jesus as Savior (though they may revere Him as ‘Example’ or ‘Helper’). Both ways are strategies for self-salvation– both actually keep control of their own lives.”

The bottom line dear friend at FCC is simply this. It is not the hidden dark sins that FCC leadership needs salvation from; rather, it is salvation from their damnable good works in which they trust. True repentance is not merely turning away from doing bad things, as important as that is…but it is also repenting for the pride of doing all the right things for the wrong reasons.

“It is only when you see the desire to be your own Savior and Lord -lying beneath both your sins and your moral goodness- that you are on the verge of understanding the gospel and becoming a Christian indeed. When you realize that the antidote to being bad is not just being good, you are on the brink. If you follow through, it will change everything: how you relate to God, self, others, the world, your work, your sins, and your virtue. It’s called the new birth because it’s so radical. (p. 78) Jesus Christ, who had all the power in the world, saw us enslaved by the very things we thought would free us. So he emptied himself of his glory and became a servant. He laid aside the infinities and immensities of his being and, at the cost of his life, paid the debt for our sins, purchasing us the only place our hearts can rest, in his Father’s house… Knowing this will transform us from the inside out… Why wouldn’t you want to offer yourself to someone like this? Selfless love destroys the mistrust in our hearts toward God that makes us either younger brothers or elder brothers… We will never stop being younger brothers of elder brothers until we acknowledge our need, rest by faith, and gaze in wonder at the work of our true elder brother, Jesus Christ.” (p. 87-89 The Prodigal God)

We love you…and are here as our safety net. Contact any of us and we will help you.

Doug Pacheco