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  1. Benjamin says:

    This blog was well overdue.

    I was an official member from 2003 through 2009 down in Tucson, Arizona. My story is not different than many of the other people that have posted on this site.

    Like many others, I was hopelessly enmeshed with the church that I could not leave on my own accord. Sadly, many of those that did leave (or were asked to leave) after a number years did not have a safety net of friends to return to.

    The structure, implicit or otherwise, is to take a young Christian, remove him from the “world” and place him into a house with other church members to hold him “accountable” to himself, the church, and God. This necessarily entailed severing past relationships with those outside the church. It also meant “coming into the life of the church”, doublespeak for “join a ministry team” and “participate in events with other members.”

    Those individuals that have remained at FCC for longer than four years, graduated from the U of A, and felt “called” to stay in Tucson were entitled to some perks. Against my better judgment, I decided to remain in Tucson to “build the church.” It was a difficult decision. After a few “counseling” sessions, and agreeing to remain, the church brought in the welcome wagon. I was asked to housesit for elders, given more responsibilities, and was in the church’s good graces.

    When I left in 2009 having met a girl, it was one of the most freeing experiences of my life. Steve Hall, of course, used some biting descriptors as he “released” me that last Sunday. Don’t misunderstand, according toe But I left and have not looked back.

    In retrospect, I consider myself fortunate. I was still close with my family and friends in Phoenix. I had a solid, healthy church in the Valley that I had attended long before ever coming to FCC. I am certainly indebted to my friends and family I had before stumbling into FCC.

    In the months and years moving forward, I have certainly sought, needed, and received healing. There were a couple people that were either former members of FCC or close friends on the periphery that understood the situation and provided some support moving forward.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I was a member at FCC until 2008. This question is for Doug- I noticed that someone commented under “Manipulation, control, and fear… Welcome to FCC” about the church not accepting their lesbianism. You don’t share that view, right? I know that the leadership style is damaging people, but that doesn’t mean we condone sin.

    Someone else replied to this comment on lesbianism and said that these “extreme Christians” are basically crazy for thinking that abortion is wrong. Please respond to these, we should keep this site above reproach is possible (right?).

    • Anonymous says:

      I believe that the comments about abortion and lesbianism were placed on this blog by current members of FCC and/or their staff. They are trying to make the blog look extreme and foolish, but to answer your question, no, we do not condone sin. However, as a former minister at FCC, I can tell you that most of the staff that I worked with did not want to reach out to people in the gay community. While I do not personally condone the lifestyle, I think it is ignorant to treat that lifestyle as a much more advanced sin than someone who is openly involved in unmarried sexual activity, drugs, etc. We are called to reach the lost and not judge them for the type of sin they are in. I personally know of numerous people who were involved in the gay lifestyle and have had radical conversions, are serving Jesus and have left that lifestyle in the past. They are forgiven just like everyone else. The sad thing is that the staff at FCC, at least when I was there, were very homophobic, mocked the gay community and showed no love to them at in the slightest. If someone struggled with this type of behavior, they were likely mocked, condemned and probably would have been asked to leave. But do I believe it is an acceptable lifestyle as a Christian? absolutely not. The Bible is clear about it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am trying to reach someone from this website? I have been e-mailing the yahoo account for the last few days and never got a response?

  4. ANONYMOUS says:

    You people seriously need to move on. If you had a bad experience with something or someone, forgive them and move on. Don’t lump everything into one and just assume everyone is going to have a bad experience. All you are is bitter. The leaders of these churches aren’t perfect and in 5 years I’ve never heard a single one of them ever claim to be. Quit telling other people your assumptions and opinions about them like it’s gospel truth! So you didn’t get along with some of them, big deal, get over it. And you also need to quit slandering the other churches just because you had a bad experience or didn’t agree with something at the one you attended. Every church, I don’t care where it is, what denomination it is, who their leader is, EVERY SINGLE ONE has people that don’t agree with absolutely everything they do, does that make that church a cult? Absolutely not! Anyone and everyone is welcome to leave at any time if they don’t feel comfortable for whatever reason. It’s the same with these churches, you can leave anytime you want to if you don’t like it. You need to learn the definition of a cult. Are any of the members making out any of the church leaders out to be a god? No they’re not! The truth is, these churches and their leaders put God first in EVERYTHING and teach others to do the same. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING! That includes church, life, finances, home life, etc. God is a part and is involved in EVERY aspect of your life so what is wrong with getting advice or help on any of these things? Absolutely nothing! Am I saying that none of these leaders have ever made any mistakes in the positions they’re in? No I’m not! They are HUMAN! They make mistakes, they’re not infallible. I encourage anyone who is looking at this site not to believe everything that is said on here because most are gross exaggerations of the truth anyway! Go speak with one of these leaders yourself, go check out the church yourself. If you don’t like it, then go to another one that suits you better, but don’t go bashing and slandering them just because you didn’t like it there. These churches and their leaders are doing great things for students on college campuses across the country! For every 1 person on this site that is slandering all of these churches, there are probably 10 others that are so thankful for what these churches have done and are doing in their lives!

  5. Anonymous says:

    After attending FCC for 5 years and experiencing the damage that such a distorted portrayal of God causes, there have been many things that helped me heal. One unexpected source of help came from reading George MacDonald books. He was a Scottish author who inspired C.S. Lewis. MacDonald wrote primarily fiction about characters who struggled to find faith worth having and to discover who Christ really is. A great one to start with is The Curate of Glaston.

  6. Anonymous says:

    II prayed about this for awhile, but the Spirit led me to post this:

    Hello, I’m a member of Faith Christian Church. (1996-Present)
    Several months ago, I fell a victim to a very personal murder-suicide. I was both a dear friend of the victim and the perpetrator. I’m probably one of a handful of people who could honestly say the same.
    Before the events above, I was approaching the outside of “the flock”. I was broken by my physical condition, and discouraged at the same time. My faith lacked, and I spent months wallowing in self pity and spiritual abandonment. I’m ashamed that my testimony has such a blemish. But I believe it is for a purpose. (And ultimately a victory in the future.)
    Sadly, it took the death of two of my friends to awaken me, spiritually. (That is far to much of a price; so I dare not waste it.)

    My family could not comfort me.
    My friends could not comfort me.
    It was the Church that could only comfort me, and usher in the Ultimate Comfort of the Holy Spirit.

    Let me re-emphasize. I was separated from The Church, My Church, for months; suffering from my own pain and disappointment. (When I say Pain, I mean PAIN. Chronic, unbearable PAIN. The kind of pain that might take a limb or two away from you.)
    I laid in bed, refusing to get up and follow God. I rationalized my choice because of “Doctor’s Orders”, but my conscience knew the truth, I was avoiding God, because I lost faith. I joined to the disappointment; I joined to the futility of this worldly life.
    That pain still continues, but I do not care about the pain anymore. (Yes, the pain is still there, constantly, but I don’t care.)
    However, The Church was there. It was never not there. I was just blind to see it. Blind in my own Pain, my own Pride, my own Self. I was blind.

    Let me tell you, being blind really sucks. What you think is right is actually wrong. And you don’t know what is really right. To me, “right” was physical rest, but what was “really right” was spiritual rest. And my blindness kept me from the truth.

    But really, it wasn’t the Church that was there for me. It was Jesus. HE was there. I was the Bride. I AM the Bride. It was the Church that had to bring me to that place to realize it; again. Jesus was waiting for me; because He loves me.

    And that is the miracle. Jesus was waiting for me.

    The sad part is, two people had to die to bring me to that point of realization.

    It is too high a price.
    I am not going to waste it.

    I love The Church.
    I love Jesus.
    Right now, I NEED that love. I NEED Jesus, and I NEED the Church. MY Church.
    Thank you, Faith Christian Church. I doubted you for a moment. But now, I know that doubt is vain and unfulfilled; and I regret it. I regret my weakness. I know where I belong. I belong with You. I belong with my Brothers and my Sisters in Christ. You have given me so much healing, both now and then; it is foolish of me to attempt to look for that elsewhere.
    Thank you Jesus, for forgiving my brief moment of doubt. Thank You for not giving up on me. You are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and I humble myself to You, and Your love.
    I endeavor to not give up on You again.
    I will never let Your lanpstand grow dim.

    • Jeff Phillips says:

      Thank you for posting this. I am so glad to hear that you are closer to the Lord and that your church has helped you with that. I do not begrudge you your story of restoration. It may seem from the comments on this website that former members of FCC and its offshoots only ever experienced negative things during our time in the church. Speaking only for myself, there were lots of positive things that I experienced during my time in FCC, et al. However, here is the main point: The negative experiences, the abuse, control, manipulation, shame, fear, perverted misuse of Scripture, etc. were so bad that they cry out for redress. I cannot overlook the damage that is done because some good is experienced also. Here’s an analogy that captures what I am saying. Imagine a couple that adopts a child and saves him from a horrible life. They take the child in and clothe him, feed him, put a roof over his head, start a college fund for him, put him in the best schools etc. But at the same time, image the father of that child abusing him. Constantly tearing him down until he thinks he is nothing. Imagine the father beating the child for the smallest infractions, sometimes for behavior that really isn’t wrong, it just rubs the father the wrong way. Imaging that child grows up with self-loathing and perpetuates the abuse with his own children and wife. Are you going to tell me that because he was provided for that the other stuff should be brushed under the carpet? I don’t think so. And if I knew such abuse was occurring, wouldn’t I have a responsibility to expose it? So, no, my time at FCC wasn’t all negative, but it was negative to such a degree that I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone. God’s church is so much bigger than FCC. I would much rather be in a healthy church where I can experience all the good stuff I had at FCC without the bad stuff. Wouldn’t you?

      • Anonymous says:

        Given my sordid history, FCC is more than the best church for me.

        I have a bad history of dental problems, and I had to enlist the service of a rather aggresive dentist. When peagle asked me about by Dentist, I replied, “My dentist is a butcher, but he is **my** kind of butcher.”

        Maybe FCC is not the church for you.

        There is nothing wrong with that.

        God moves in infinite ways.

        Right now, I need FCC.
        Please do not ruin this for me.

    • Anonymous says:

      Heroin addicts need heroin until they realize they do not.

  7. anonymous says:

    Thank you for that last post. I recently suffered a loss as well, and the Lord really ministered to me through my Pastors. In Psalm 23 it says your rod and your staff will comfort me. My Pastors dropped everything to help my family in our greatest time of need. I could really feel God’s love and care through the tender loving care I received. I have been a member of one of these church’s for over 13 years. I have seen people come and go, unfortunately many people who have left have wandered from their faith. I know some have broken marriages and even some who are blatantly living a gay lifestyle. It is sad to see that many of the critics are no longer sharing the Gospel, instead spending countless hours brooding over the past.

    • Jeff Phillips says:

      You should really take a reality check before you post such insensitive and misinformed comments. Has it not occurred to you that many of the problems people have had post-FCC can be directly tied to the abuse they experienced there? It’s a miracle that more marriages aren’t ruined because of the way FCC leadership “arranges” marriages. When people get married because they think it’s what their “pastor” wants instead of what God wants, what do you expect? I am thankful that my wife and I weren’t pressured by FCC into not getting married. We persisted and got married in spite of the “pastoring” we received. And our marriage is exponentially better now than it was in FCC.

      Are you aware that multiple people have been clinically diagnosed with PTSD related to the abuse they experienced at FCC? Of course not, because you haven’t done the biblical thing and asked them for their side of the story. The fool gives an answer before he hears the other side (Prov 18:13). It is shame for him. As for sharing the gospel, I can only answer for myself. I have finally come to understand what the gospel really is, and it isn’t the warped legalism that I was sold and that I myself peddled for years at FCC. I just hope the Lord forgives me for spreading such false teaching and allows me many more years to preach the true gospel.

      You’re comments remind of the little sycophant that follows the bully around. After the bully beats someone down, his little fan boy comes along after and kicks the victim, too. Happy kicking.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Accusations aside, attacking an anonymous post which displays personal grief, is THAT the Christian way to respond to documented reproof of observed behavior? I wonder how Paul responded to “PTSD” in Phillipi, or Thessalonica. Oh, wait, it is documented.

    Here is a hint, there was not a lot of crying.
    And churches were birthed in the turmoil.

    There were letters. I have read them.

    I am sure a person with a degree in “divinity” has read them also

    This is the question I ask: If you and I were living in the Book of Acts,

    Who are you?

    • jefflisap says:

      I would respond if I could figure out what you’re trying to say. Perhaps you could try again. Oh, and how about sharing your name and owning your comments?

    • jefflisap says:

      And maybe you could cite some of those Scriptures in Acts so we can do a little proper exegesis. Maybe you could learn something in the process.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I am interested in how the church could exist in Tucson for more than 20 years with countless concerned parents and families raising red flags about the changes in their children without any one conducting a thorough investigation into Steve Hall and Ian Laks. One would think that someone has hired a private investigator or other service to expose nefarious doings or shady dealings regarding these individuals. From what I understand with just a cursory reading of these pages, there should be some evidence of financial misappropriation, nepotism, tax evasion, or some other law breaking over the course of such a long time.

    Also, wasn’t Ethan Orr a member of this church and does anyone know whether or not he advocates for FCC in his current position in the Arizona State Legislature?

  10. Peter Paciariello says:

    I just stumbled upon this researching past things in my life My name is Peter Paciariello. I was a member of FFC till 1995. I am shocked to see the stories of the abuse and evil stuff When I was there everything seemed fine church was a bit controlling but no serious issues Im in Virginia now will pray about this.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Jeff, are you the same Jeff my family member introduced me to at Hope CC at ASU, in 2013? The Jeff I met left the church abruptly, not too long following, perhaps 2014?

    • jefflisap says:

      No. I am a different Jeff. The one you are thinking of has been reluctant to speak publicly about his experiences at Hope. Do you need to contact him? If you will email me privately with more details, I can try to reach out to him and see if he will speak to you.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you for your quick response. Yes, I would love to talk with him, if he is willing, as I am desperate for some perspective. I am, also, reluctant to include my name, and any personal info., as I suspect these sites are monitored, and that my, already, estranged relationship with my child, will become further damaged. However, I will include my email address, with your assurance that it is protected from this public post.
        Thank you, again!

    • Please email me at I will keep any information you give me strictly confidential. My wife and I have spoken to many parents and family of current church members and helped them understand the issues that are going on with their loved ones, and we are fully aware of the tenuous nature of maintaining a relationship with a loved one in Hope Church.

      In fact, if you would like, either I or my wife could also speak with you and provide you with information. We were in leadership in Hope Church from 2007-2009. My wife used to live in Brian and Wendy’s home when they were elders in Tucson. I have know Brian since 1991. After leaving these churches, I got a master’s degree at Phoenix Seminary, and I currently teach at a Christian university and pastor part-time. I say all this to assure that we fully understand Hope Church, the Smiths, and what your child is being taught. Let us know. We are available to help you as well as try to connect you with the other Jeff you mentioned.

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