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.

http://www.dailycamera.com/news/boulder/ci_30267624/resurrection-church-boulder-accused-cult-ministry

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 – http://tucson.com/news/local/star-investigation-tucson-ministry-a-cult-former-followers-say/article_8824efc5-f210-5041-8088-a654585e4673.html
  2. March 12 – UA asks church’s campus recruiting arm for answers – http://tucson.com/news/local/ua-asks-church-s-campus-recuiting-arm-for-answers/article_8ca014fc-3c10-54ac-8712-b5979675d0ae.html
  3. March 15 – Religious Council opens separate inquiry into church – http://tucson.com/news/religious-council-opens-separate-inquiry-into-church/article_a2dcbdfe-38f0-578c-95ca-d413cefe482f.html
  4. March 19 – Church accused of abuses to talk with UA – http://tucson.com/news/local/church-accused-of-abuses-to-talk-with-ua/article_671cfb39-5a6e-5add-bfcd-549160b9ba23.html
  5. March 25 – New Zealand university bans Faith Christian offshoot – http://tucson.com/news/local/new-zealand-university-bans-faith-christian-offshoot/article_d3631513-c2d7-53c6-a05e-fa909ff3620f.html
  6. March 31 – Web Update – UA religious council revokes Faith Christian’s membership – http://tucson.com/news/local/web-update-ua-religious-council-revokes-faith-christian-s-membership/article_1af01208-d7ea-11e4-8617-5f9fadcfc557.html
  7. April 1 – UA religious council revokes Faith Christian’s membership – http://tucson.com/news/ua-religious-council-revokes-faith-christian-s-membership/article_9998a6c3-08a9-5b08-8935-b0ceefa189dc.html
  8. April 10 – Faith Christian resigns from oversight group amid questions – http://tucson.com/news/faith-christian-resigns-from-oversight-group-amid-questions/article_6be65c89-dc98-5c05-bd53-f12c8ebc51c3.html
  9. April 16 – Amphi investigating its links to Faith Christian Church – http://tucson.com/news/local/amphi-investigating-its-links-to-faith-christian-church/article_cf52f01f-c677-51e0-bb72-a68f3543bcaf.html
  10. Controversial Church is Without a Home – http://tucson.com/news/local/controversial-church-is-without-a-home/article_98c54dc2-0c7c-57d0-8ce0-0dfbac147c37.html

Arizona Daily Wildcat

  1. April 9 – Religious clubs are questioned – http://www.wildcat.arizona.edu/article/2015/04/religious-clubs-are-questioned
  2. April13-Letter to the Editor – http://www.wildcat.arizona.edu/article/2015/04/letter-to-the-editor-april-13-2015
  3. April15–FCC, Case about more than just one church – http://www.wildcat.arizona.edu/article/2015/04/fcc-case-about-more-than-just-one-church
  4. April 15 – FCC, church or cult? – http://www.wildcat.arizona.edu/article/2015/04/fcc-church-or-cult

Christianity Today

  1. March 12 – Arizona church says infants should be smacked with cardboard, former staff members allege – http://www.christiantoday.com/article/arizona.church.says.infants.should.be.smacked.with.cardboard.former.staff.members.allege/49815.htm
  2. April7 – Church Clubs Expelled from University of Arizona Religious Council – http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2015/april/church-clubs-expelled-university-arizona-faith-christian.html?paging=off#bmb=1

KVOA News 4 Tucson

  1. April 8 – Campus church revoked from university religious organization – http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2015/april/church-clubs-expelled-university-arizona-faith-christian.html?paging=off#bmb=1
  2. May19 – Investigation Launched into Tucson’s Faith Christian Church – http://www.kvoa.com/story/29117519/n4t-investigators-investigation-launched-into-tucsons-faith-christian-church

     3. Coming end of July/early August

Audio Podcasts

  1. March 9 – 940 KGMS A Reason for Hope – http://www.scottrichardslive.com/kgms_upload/201503/arfh030915.mp3
  2. March10–940KGMS A Reason for Hope – http://www.scottrichardslive.com/kgms_upload/201503/arfh031015.mp3
  3. March12–1030KVOI The Voice – http://kvoi.com/podcast-window/?yourKey=4024434.
  4. March 14 – NPR’s local Arizona affiliate, KJZZ – http://kjzz.org/content/112586/reporter-emily-bregel-and-author-nori-muster-discuss-cults

Patheos Blog

  1. March 8 – Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability Defends Tucson Church at Center of InvestigativeReport – http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2015/03/08/evangelical-council-for-financial-accountability-defends-tucson-church-at-center-of-investigative-report/
  2. March12 – Former Members: Faith Christian Church (Tucson, AZ) Coerced Donations – http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2015/03/12/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 – http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2015/03/19/open-letter-to-the-evangelical-council-for-financial-accountability-from-former-members-of-faith-christian-church-tucson-az/
  4. March 22 – ECFA Agrees to Hear from Former Members of Faith Christian Church – http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2015/03/22/ecfa-agrees-to-hear-from-former-members-of-faith-christian-church/
  5. March 30 – Update: Faith Christian Church, the ECFA and Continuing Backlash – http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2015/03/30/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 – http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2015/03/31/university-of-arizonas-university-religious-council-revokes-membership-of-faith-christian-church-and-related-groups/
  7. May 4 – The ECFA Will Not Release Faith Christian Church Investigation –  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2015/05/04/ecfa-will-not-release-faith-christian-church-investigation-results/
  8. July22-Faith Christian Church Student Groups Cleared by University of Arizona,Banned by UA ReligiousCouncil, Looking for New Home – http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2015/07/22/faith-christian-church-student-groups-cleared-by-university-of-arizona-banned-by-ua-religious-council-looking-for-new-home/

Washington Post

  1. March 9 – There’s a cult ‘love-bombing’ students at the University of Arizona, former members say – http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2015/03/09/theres-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 – http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2015/04/01/love-bombing-group-at-university-of-arizona-called-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 – http://www.collegian.com/2015/05/cult-or-community-questions-about-fort-collins-faith-christian-church-offshoot-grace-christian-church/124483/

Florida Offshoot – Cornerstone Christian Church

  1. April 1 – The Tampa Tribune – USF ministry is affiliate of church under scrutiny as a cult – http://tbo.com/news/education/usf-ministry-is-affiliate-of-church-under-scrutiny-as-cult-20150401/?page=1
  2. April 25–The Tampa Bay Times – Offshoot of controversial Faith Christian Church comes under scrutiny at USF – http://www.tampabay.com/news/religion/offshoot-of-controversial-faith-christian-church-comes-under-scrutiny-at/2227024

New Zealand Offshoot – Victory Christian Church

  1. March 13 – “Cult-like’ church sparks concern in Palmerston North – http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/67319454/Cult-like-church-sparks-concern-in-Palmerston-North
  2. March19–People bullied into giving cash to Palmerston North’s Victory Church – http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/67441096/people-bullied-into-giving-cash-to-palmerston-norths-victory-church
  3. March19–Pastors control marriage pairings, say former members – http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/67454711/Pastors-control-marriage-pairings-say-former-members
  4. March 21 – Former pastor speaks out on ‘cult’ claims – http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/67467155/former-pastor-speaks-out-on-cult-claims
  5. March24–Massey Universtiy warns of ‘cult-like’ church – http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/67487872/massey-university-warns-off-cultlike-church.html
  6. March25–Former Palmerston North ‘cult’ members tell of emotional scars – http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/67499399/former-palmerston-north-cult-members-tell-of-emotional-scars.html
  7. March 26 – UCOL second education institute to bar ‘cult-like’ Victory Church leaders – http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education/67509643/ucol-second-education-institute-to-bar-cultlike-victory-church-leaders.html
  8. March27 – Churches reject ‘hands-off’ approach to Victory Church – http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/67523368/Churches-reject-hands-off-approach-to-Victory-Church
  9. March 28 – Victory Church leader disputes claims of “cult” – http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/67536122/victory-church-leader-disputes-claims-of-cult.html

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.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/67499399/Former-Palmerston-North-cult-members-tell-of-emotional-scars

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. 

http://www.wildcat.arizona.edu/article/2012/10/faith-christian-church-manipulation-101012

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…..ad 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