Posts Tagged ‘steve hall’

http://tucson.com/news/unm-ousts-arm-of-church-that-some-at-ua-called/article_5e7c8286-ba3e-556d-90ac-ad6d9e6db971.html

KVOI’s show, 4Tucson at 4, discussed the recent article in the Daily Star about FCC. Later in the show, former member Doug Pacheco called in and did a great job. Listen here:

http://kvoi.com/podcast-window/?yourKey=402443

The Arizona Daily Star ran a front page story, along with two full pages inside, exposing the abuses of Faith Christian Church Tucson. http://tucson.com/news/local/tucson-ministry-a-cult-not-a-church-former-followers-say/article_8824efc5-f210-5041-8088-a654585e4673.html

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.

After I left the church, I was incredibly torn about the decision, whether it was right or wrong, would God be angry with me, am I now going to be cursed for leaving, etc.  I felt so conflicted about it and I tried to get closure by staying in touch with my old “friends” at the church.  I went so far as to write two separate emails to Tyler Wachenfeld, someone who I was very close with at FCC.  The day that I left the church, he hugged me, told me he loved me and that if I needed anything, to call him.  So I felt that perhaps there was still an open door, of sorts, to stay in touch.  A couple years after I left, I was still wrestling with certain elements of my decisions and truly felt that perhaps I could have done some things differently and wanted to right any wrongs I committed.  After sending two emails asking for forgiveness for hurting my friends (which I now believe was self inflicted condemnation), I got no response.  Not a “no thank you, I forgive you, please go away”…I got nothing.  After one of my very good friends left FCC he told me that Tyler would show him those emails and mock them, make fun of them and make it a spectacle of how weak I was and I just couldn’t get over it.  After I heard this, I was very mixed in my emotions…At first, I was pissed but then I realized that this was their M.O….they MOCK anyone and everyone that they can’t change.  I remember asking one of the elders what the best way was to get someone to stop doing something that we didn’t like (this statement sounds insane to me now!!), if it wasn’t sin and we had no biblical reason to approach that person.  This elder told me “we mock them.  Mock them until they change.”  This is what we were taught!! We emasculated these men if they couldn’t or wouldn’t do what we wanted them to.  I recently spoke with someone who was a former staff member and he described a recent interaction with Steve Hall as having an interaction with a mocking spirit….I completely agree.  Biblically, mockers are not someone that you want to emulate.  I can post numerous passages of scripture showing how mockers are depicted in scripture…these are not the people you want to be like!! And it certainly shouldn’t be used as a discipleship tool for young Christians.   My point in saying this is that it became evident to me that there would likely be no reconciliation because that would mean that these men would have to stop mocking and actually humble themselves to a point of extending mercy and forgiveness where necessary but then in turn, that would expose their behavior and force them to repent and ask for mercy and forgiveness.  Someone coming and trying to reconcile would mean that they would have to change the way I was presented to other church members and I believe this would be too difficult and too embarrassing for the leadership.  The way we were taught to mock people is the opposite of the people Jesus called us to be…there is no love in mockery.  It is sad to me that even after I extended an opportunity for reconciliation, I was mocked and never contacted again.

In summary, I extend my hand in reconciliation and challenge the leadership to repent and personally contact, apologize and right the wrongs and abuse they have inflicted on hundreds of people.  I would welcome that and I’m sure most of us former members would welcome it as well.  I hope and pray that day will come.

– Nick Puente

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