Posts Tagged ‘faith christian church’

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.

If you are currently or were ever a student and/or member of Faith Christian Church in Tucson, PLEASE, read this survey and post your comments below!!  I was shocked when I read this and MORE shocked that FCC is on here!!

http://www.kintera.org/atf/cf/%7B7D1DA795-5176-421C-BAB6-20324A96C585%7D/ReligiousConductBrochure.pdf

A great article posted on our Facebook page by Doug Pacheco

http://www.letusreason.org/culteac.htm

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

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

Usually someone will write a note about how the effects of a cultish group like FCC has hurt them. However, I am writing to the many of loyal FCC members who are reading this and being told that everything that is written are lies.

The basis for this would, of course, be fear. Fear that others will find this site and discover how they are being controlled, manipulated with fear. I want to invite them to come both to this site and the site Former Members of Maranatha Ministries.

For too long, the staff and “leadership” in FCC have grossly misused scripture in an attempt to control people. Unfortunately, they use many scriptures out of context in order to do this It all comes down unfortunately to the love of money….IT IS SPIRITUAL ABUSE…

• Do you know where all the money in FCC goes?

• Have you, as a member of FCC, ever decided to take a weekend and just go visit friends or family or attend a different church without asking permission at FCC? What was their reaction? How do they like it when you make a unilateral decision concerning your own life?

 

I love Jesus with all of my heart. I am filled with the Holy Spirit. It is my aim to see you realize your full spiritual potential…but you need to hear the truth.

 

Below is the full text of “Charismatic Captivation” Authoritarian Abuse in Charismatic churches. Please read this members of FCC. Do not be intimidated by your “leadership”.

“Wholesale abuse and misuse of authority is an integral part of the very foundation, fabric, and functions of an ever increasing number of church groups today who are engaging in the most insidious form of hyper-authoritarianism by which they are dominating, controlling, and manipulating their followers for personal gain and private kingdom-building. Being able to readily identify the signs and symptoms of authoritarian abuse and psychological enslavement is absolutely essential for every believer in their quest to know and be personally related to the Great Shepherd, who is the Prince of Peace and the true “Guardian of our souls,” rather than the thousands of counterfeit shepherds claiming to be the proxies of Christ.

 

Are you one of the many loyal and sincere church members who faithfully and cheerfully attend, support and participate in a local church, but have a nagging, persistent inward “thought” that “something is just not right here?”

Each time it rises within you, you peer around the room at the faces of fellow-worshipers caught up in seemingly heart-felt worship, you tune your ear to the soothing, melodious music crescendoing upward, and listen intently to the inspiring exhortations flowing from the lips of the various leaders on the platform…then…once again…you begin to chastise yourself…and “take authority” over those terrible carnal, negative thoughts, and command them to leave your mind. Now! there! no more of that! Right? Right!

That is, until the next time…and it happens all over again! You are enthralled in blissful worship and praise, focusing entirely on the Lord and His Magnificence. You begin to feel that familiar, but awesome sensation of His Presence filling the room and settling gently upon you. And then…BOOM!…there it is AGAIN!!—that still, small inner voice, telling you He is pleased by your expression of love, adoration, and praise; it is a sweet savor which He has received from your heart to His. But, still, He wants you to be aware there is something wrong here…with the leadership…their teaching, their “leadership” attitudes and methods, their motives and ambitions, their personal life-styles, their earnestness regarding ministering on His behalf to the needs of the hurting, needy multitudes for whom He died.

 

Is it possible this really IS the Lord speaking to you? Is that possible? And then you go through the drill once again, looking, listening, analyzing. “But,” you reply inwardly to the voice, “look at all these people here, the volunteer workers, the ministers, the musicians and choir! they can’t all be wrong! and there wouldn’t be this many people here if it wasn’t of God! Look at this wonderful building, its furnishings and decor, the instruments, all the regalia, all the money it cost? God has to be endorsing this, otherwise the money for all this would not have come in! Listen to the inspiring music and messages by the leaders! And look at all the people who’ve been blessed! This CAN’T possibly not be of God! God! what’s wrong with me? why do I think such horrible thoughts?” you cry silently within.

Then, you begin realizing, somehow, somewhere along the line you began losing your joy, your zeal for the Lord. It used to be you could hardly wait for the services and to be involved; now it is drudgery to go at all. You used to have such a light and blissful feeling as you worshiped the Lord in the services; now you just go through the motions, feeling heavy, staring placidly toward the platform, sometimes wishing you were somewhere else. You used to be able to “look past” the leaders, and focus only on the Lord; now, all you see during the service is people, people behind the pulpit, people on the platform, and people in the pews. You used to feel God’s love and pleasure with you; now it seems all you feel is unworthiness, guilt, and that nothing you do is ever enough or pleasing to Him.

“What on earth has happened to me? What’s wrong with me?” you ask yourself. “Is it just me?” Then, you begin to look around the room and study other long-time members. You compare how they are now to how they were when they first came. Is their life, as it should be, appreciably better, or have they and their family experienced an inordinate share of tragedies, seemingly inexplicable difficulties, and reversals? By and by, you begin to realize that many of the other members have lost their “first love” too, their zeal, their enthusiasm, their joy in serving the Lord, and that, though Christians, like everyone else, certainly experience adversity, many of these members’ lives have been on a gradual, downward spiral, instead of advancement and blessing.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? If so, don’t think you’re alone—it’s repeated several times every week by multitudes of sincere, faithful, and trusting believers. They’ve had this inward intuition for quite some time that something was just not right at their church or in their group, but just couldn’t put their finger on precisely what it was. The teaching “sounded” right, all the right things were being said, good things were happening, many members were being “used” in various “ministries” of the church. Still, this nagging sense something is awry persists.

Often, these are the symptoms of a church or group laboring under the heavy-hand of hyper-authoritarianism. That is to say, the leadership is dominating, controlling, and manipulating their followers as a means of exploitation for their own personal gain and private kingdom-building. Wholesale abuse and misuse of authority is an integral part of the very foundation, fabric, and functions of such groups.

Exploitative abuse of authority occurring in groups where these hyper-authoritarian systems of governance are instituted come in various shapes and shades, ranging from members having to receive the approval (usually referred to as “witness”) of their spiritual leaders to date and/or marry, to virtual sole dependence upon the supposed superior spirituality of group-gurus regarding every detail of their personal financial matters and requiring their leaders’ approval for virtually every significant expenditure. Commonly, in these groups there is constant allusion to the members as “dumb sheep” who must be “led” by the shepherds, ad nauseam. The definition of the term “led” in these groups is that the “dumb sheep” cannot trust their own judgment or ability to receive direction from the Lord for the important decisions of their lives, but must rely instead upon the transcendent wisdom and spiritual acumen of their “personal pastors.”

The proper role of human under-shepherds is to lead people to the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ, and teach them how to be His disciples, in submission to Him and His authority. Hyper-authoritarian leaders, instead, lead people to themselves, and indoctrinate them to be their followers, in total submission to them and their authority. In essence, these dominating shepherds teach they are the church-members’ de facto lord, master, and savior, rather than Christ. They indoctrinate members to believe the spiritual leaders of the church themselves are the members’ “spiritual covering” (a totally false and patently unbiblical concept), and any member who ever leaves the church will be “out from under” their “covering,” be without any covering or what they call, “uncovered,” and will experience terrible curses and other horrible consequences as a result. From the pulpit often come “horror stories” about what happened to such-and-so person or family, who were so spiritually bereft or rebellious as to leave the group without the blessings and approval of their “spiritual authority.”

In these groups, the “authority” of the “shepherds” is absolute, sacrosanct, and inviolable, that is, without reprisal. Any semblance of anything other than total and unquestioning obedience to the desires and counsel of the church’s leadership chain is considered rebellion and insubordination, and simply is not tolerated. Members live under the constant threat of being branded with the Scarlet Letter “R” for “Rebel,” openly denounced and shamed from the (bully-)pulpit, and consequently shunned by the “covenant-community” (church) for failure to comply with the unwritten, unspoken rules and expectations established by the leadership. An oppressive performance-based approval and promotion system keeps members in constant internal turmoil and fear as they jump through all the hoops the spiritual taskmasters put before them, in an attempt to seek their leaders’ approval and favor.

Moreover, members are indoctrinated and compelled to accept the leadership-set agenda of the group, regarding which they have next to no real say, as their personal burden and responsibility, and thus to commit their time, talent, and most importantly, their tithe, to its successful completion. Sadly, most never see past the spiritual smoke and mirrors to realize that the so-called “church” to which they have sworn allegiance and promised their wholehearted and unflagging support is nothing more than the personal “business” of its leaders, and not only are they free labor like the Goshen-Israelites during their captivity in Egypt, but they actually pay out of their own resources for the privilege of being a participant, i.e., member.

The following are some of the common signs and symptoms, or common characteristics, of authoritarian abuse manifest in hyper-authoritarian groups, churches, networks, and ministries, especially those identifying themselves as Charismatic or Pentecostal. It simply is not feasible to elaborate extensively on each of them in an article such as this. However, I have addressed most of them in various books, booklets, and articles I have written on the topic, though nowhere more extensively and expressly than in the featured book of this website, Charismatic Captivation. Bear in mind that the list is by no means exhaustive, and that these are somewhat general rather than exact descriptions. Many variations on these basic themes exist in authoritarian groups. Bottom-line is: any ministry in which more than a few of these signs of abuse are manifest should alert you to the fact that it is an organization that espouses hyper-authoritarian doctrines and employs abusive practices, regardless of how large, popular, or well-known it and its leaders are.

(Remember, you don’t have to see all of these characteristics in order to have a serious spiritual abuse taking place at FCC)

1. Apotheosis or de facto deification of the leadership — exalting them to God-like status in and over the group, often to the extent that the leaders become a “mediator” between the people and God;

2. MLM-like multi-level authority/government hierarchy (chain-of-command);

3. Absolute authority of the leadership to the extent that the effect is a suspension of independent thought and Berean-like examination of Scripture to verify the correctness of the teaching of the leadership;

4. No real accountability of the leadership to the corporate body, resulting in a repressive monarchical (autocratic, dictatorship) or oligarchical form of government;

5. Hand-picked sub-leaders, based on their demonstration of submissiveness to the ultimate leader rather than on the basis of their leadership skills, spirituality, and anointing and appointment by God;

6. Pervasive abuse and misuse of authority in personal dealings with members to coerce submission;

7. Paranoia, inordinate egotism or narcissism, and insecurity by the leaders;

8. Abuse, misuse, and inordinate incidence of “church discipline,” particulary matters not expressly mentioned in the Bible as church discipline issues;

9. Personal materialism, covetousness, and self-aggrandizement by the leaders, particularly when the personal lifestyle of the leader(s) is well-beyond the median lifestyle of the membership and that lifestyle is underwritten primarily from donations received from the membership;

10. Members and/or sub-leaders must make a “spiritual covenant,” sometimes a signed covenant agreement, pledging their total and everlasting commitment and financial support to the leadership and church/ministry;

11. Partitioning of the congregation into smaller groups that are led by internally “raised up” and appointed lay-leaders who have not been anointed or appointed by God for leadership within the church, i.e., Fivefold Ministers;

12. Financial exploitation and enslavement of the members, often by requiring or coercing them to donate well-beyond their means and Biblical principles;

13. Inordinate attention to maintaining the public “image” of the ministry and bambasting of all “critics”;

14. Doctrinal demeanment and devaluation — the Biblical requisite of espousing and teaching “sound doctrine” in accordance with Scripture is demeaned and devalued in order to justify or suspend evaluation of unorthodox or unproven doctrines and private interpretations of Scripture taught by the leadership;

15. Theological incompetency by the leadership, especially with respect to the accepted rules of hermeneutics and Biblical exegesis employed in the formulation of doctrine, giving license to twisting and adulteration of Scripture in order to provide proof-texts for unorthodox and self-invented doctrines;

16. Spiritualism, mysticism, and unproven or anti-biblical doctrines;

17. Abuse and misuse of prophetic giftings as a means to dominate and intimidate;

18. Devaluation, disallowance, disregard, and displacement of the true Fivefold Ministry within the church;

19. De facto legalism, or works mentality, and its resulting loss of the “joy of salvation,” though “freedom” is forever preached from the pulpit and the church is constantly touted as being a “safe church” by the leadership;

20. Esotericism — hidden agendas and requirements revealed to members only as they successfully advance through various stages of “spiritual enlightenment,” which in fact is really unorthodox, unproven indigenous doctrines;

21. Isolationism — corporate and individual, especially with respect to exposure to outside ministry sources;

22. Performance-based approval and promotion system of members predicated on “proven” “loyalty” (i.e., submission) to the leadership;

23. Devaluation, suppression, and non-recognition of members’ bona fide God-given talents, abilities, gifts, callings, and anointing, as a means of subjugation;

24. Requiring members to perform menial tasks, such as cleaning toilets, setting up chairs, and acting as the leader’s personal valet or slave, as a supposed means to humble them and teach them to “obey their leaders” or to evaluate their willingness to “submit to authority;”

25. Constant indoctrination with a “group” or “family” mentality that impels members to exalt the corporate “life” and goals of the church-group over their personal goals, callings, objectives, and relationships;

26. Members are psychologically traumatized and indoctrinated with numerous improper fears and phobias aimed at keeping them reeling in diffidence and an over-dependence or co-dependence on their leaders and the corporate group;

27. Corporately, there eventually develops an inordinately high incidence of financial, marital, moral, psychological, mental, emotional, and medical problems, including sudden deaths and contraction of “incurable” and “unknown” diseases;

28. Lack of true personal spiritual growth and development, especially in terms of genuine faith and experiencing the abounding grace, forgiveness, goodness, blessings, kindness, and agape-love of God;

29. Members are required to obtain the approval or “witness” of their leader(s) for decisions regarding personal matters;

30. Frequent preaching from the pulpit regarding not getting out from under the “spiritual covering” of the leadership by leaving the church/group or disobeying the leaderships’ dictates and demands of you;

31. Members departing without the prior permission and blessing of the leadership leave the group under a cloud of manufactured suspicion, shame, and slander;

32. Horror stories frequently told by leaders about individuals or families who left the group without the prior permission and blessing of the leadership, and the terrible consequences and curses they suffered as a result;

33. Departing and ostracized members often suffer from various psychological problems and display the classic symptoms associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

If after reading this list and recognizing doctrines and practices your church or ministry is engaging in, and you have great difficulty admitting it, even to yourself, then you are definitely brainwashed and under the spell of “deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,” and these demonic lies are “seared in your own conscience as with a branding iron” (1 Tim. 4:1,2). And, that means you need deliverance to be set free from Satan’s bondage and deception. It also means you are deceived about who you are serving. You are not serving the true Jesus, who is the One who died to set the captives free, but rather you are serving false gods — idols — which is idolatry, which means you are an “idolater,” and idolaters do not inherit eternal life or have an inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God (Gal. 5:20,21; Eph. 5:5)! The only way for you to escape HELL and eternal punishment, and enter into Heaven and the Kingdom, is to REPENT! Then RUN from your captors and RUSH into the arms of the True Jesus, who died to set the captives FREE! “He whom the Son sets FREE is FREE INDEED!

So…what to do? Well, here’s a few questions for you to ponder:

• Do you know what the signs of hyper-authoritarianism, control, and domination in a group or church and how to recognize them?

• Do you know if the signs are simple, overt, and obvious, or are they sophisticated and complex, covert, and hidden?

• Could you be objective enough about your church or group and leaders to correctly analyze if authoritarian abuse is taking place at your church?

• Do you know how to explain what the signs are to prospective or suspected victims in order to convince them they are under it?

• Do you know how to throw out a lifeline to rescue them?

• Do you know what steps are necessary for victims to recover from the psychologically traumatizing and spiritually damaging effects of years of subjection to spiritual abuse?

• Do you know why hyper-authoritarian doctrines and practices are unscriptural and Biblically-prohibited, and could you cite some of the Scripture passages in which God condemns them?

• Do you know from a biblical standpoint if God requires you to always “obey your leaders,” even when they set requirements that contravene Scripture or your conscience, or when they behave as unscrupulous and undisciplined tyrants rather than model the characteristics of servanthood that Jesus modeled and instructs His under-shepherds to likewise model?

These are just a few of the questions needing answers concerning this prevalent problem of authoritarian abuse plaguing the church today. Being able to readily identify the signs and symptoms of authoritarian abuse and psychological enslavement that are rampant among church groups today is absolutely essential for every believer in their quest to know and be personally related to the Great Shepherd, who is the Prince of Peace and the true “Guardian of our souls.”

These and many other relevant matters are directly addressed in the book to which this website is dedicated, Charismatic Captivation, written by Dr. Steven Lambert, himself a Charismatic minister for three and a half decades. The back-cover explains that Lambert wrote the book “in response to a Divine Call” to expose widespread authoritarian abuse and psychological enslavement occurring in many Neo-Pentecostal church-groups who espouse hyper-authoritarian doctrines and employ hyper-authoritarian practices. It also states that the work is “a medium of advocacy on behalf of untold multitudes of innocent sheep of God’s Flock who, unknowingly, are being subjected to exploitive enslavement by self-aggrandizing and unscrupulous religious leaders for their own personal advancement and expansion of their private kingdoms.” Identifying authoritarian abuse and psychological enslavement, and informing readers how to recognize and be set free from it, is the volume’s primary objective.

Dr. Lambert presents in this book a thorough analysis of the hyper-authoritarian doctrines and practices being implemented by many Neo-Pentecostal churches and groups, citing and elaborating on the five erroneous concepts they are based upon, which render them undeniably heretical. An entire chapter is devoted to an extensive exposition of the nature, illegitimacy, and Scriptural condemnation of ecclesiastical enslavement and exploitation. In another chapter, the author also delineates the common control mechanisms employed by hyper-authoritarian Neo-Pentecostal cults, which, tellingly, are essentially identical, with only slight variation, as those employed by classic cults. This is neither accidential or coincidental, but itself further verifies the conclusion that these mechanisms and mindsets, as well as the doctrines from which they emanate, are unequivocally demonically-inspired.

I invite you, if any of the above depicts where you find yourself in FCC, to leave without announcing it to anyone, and find the protection of another church, or you own family. If you feel you have been spiritually abused by FCC, you should seek Spiritual and if necessary, legal protection. If anyone in FCC forbids you to seek outside counsel from people not affiliated with their “church” you should leave and not tell anyone within the organization. It has taken my wife and I almost 20 years to be set free from the spiritual abuse of FCC.

 

You are loved here.

 

Doug Pacheco

Former member of FCC

1986-1990

This note is from Jeff Phillips          Some of us have already mentioned that there were positives which we gained from our time at FCC. One example of this for me is the teaching Steve gave on the principle of government. Ironically, it was his teaching of this principle and his and Bill’s lack of living out the principle that led me to leave the movement. Let me explain.

 

Steve had heard someone teach on biblical principles and condensed everything into a booklet he called Principle Method for Building a Christian Generation. There were seven principles, one of which was the principle of government. In a nutshell, this principle states that there are four spheres of government: the individual, the family, the church, and the state. Each sphere has its own property and purpose, and there is an ultimate form of punishment in each one. One of the points Steve drove home about the spheres was that the authority in each should not be usurped by another sphere. For example, it is the purpose of the family to educate children. Thus, it is wrong for the state to usurp this role and educate children. Likewise, it is the role of the church to speak the truth of God’s word to the other spheres of government. Thus, it would be wrong for the state to take on this role. This is a good application of the separation of church and state. I believe this is sound teaching and still embrace the principle of government.

 

Unfortunately, in my opinion, Steve and others championed this aspect of the principle in word but not in deed. In Tampa, my second son was regressing in his development around two years old. We were concerned that he might be autistic (he was, and we got the diagnosis a few months later). He could not communicate (he could say a few words, but that is different from communication) and would become very frustrated at times. In his frustration, he would scream a lot. To be sure, sometimes his screaming would be an act of defiance and disobedience, but not all the time. Bill told me that I needed to spank him every time he screamed. At first, I did, against my conscience and to my shame. When I began to push back on this and assert my concern that my son’s behavior was not always rebellious, I began to “get into trouble.” The bottom line is that I felt Bill was not allowing me to exercise authority concerning my own children’s discipline. It felt like it was either his way, or it was the wrong way. This violated the principle that Steve taught us so thoroughly.

 

I asked Bill one time, is it possible to receive counsel from my pastor about a matter of opinion (NOT biblical truth), and then to take that counsel before the Lord in prayer with the fear of God, but then to arrive at a different conclusion/opinion from my pastor. He never answered my question directly. His response was, “You are not going to tell me how to run my church.” When I responded that wasn’t what I was doing, that I was appealing to him, he said, “Nice try.”

 

Another aspect of the principle of government was violated (in my opinion) by Steve as well. As I wrote earlier, the principle states that there is an ultimate form of punishment in each sphere. For the individual, it is hell. The family has the rod. The church has withdrawal of fellowship. And the state has capital punishment. Steve taught that every act of disobedience was to be met with the rod, i.e. a spanking. Yet, this is the ULTIMATE form of punishment in the family. We don’t execute everyone in the state sphere every time a law is broken, nor should we use the ultimate discipline of spanking for every disobedient act of a child. One of my seminary professor has written a great book on this—Wise Parenting: Guidelines from the Book of Proverbs (http://www.amazon.com/Wise-Parenting-Guidelines-Book-Proverbs/dp/1572933526/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314290297&sr=1-6).

 

These inconsistencies in the application of the principle of government gave me one impetus for removing myself from the church in Tampa and the greater FCC movement. Let me just add that if you are married man and have children, there is no one higher than you in authority in your home except God. Never let a man usurp that authority from you. –JLP

Our goal is to assist current and former members of Faith Christian Church Tucson or one of its affiliate churches, connect with other people who were formerly victims of spiritual abuse and who have experienced first hand the heavy handed abuse that occurs in these churches.  You are not alone!! There are hundreds of people who have gone through amazingly dificult experiences and are here to help, pray with you and connect you with resources to get through it all.  Their stories are shared here.  Until this site is fully operational, you can visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/Former-Members-of-Faith-Christian-Church-Tucson-and-Its-Offshoots/264869173542893 and begin connecting with others.  God bless you!!