Basic Church Information
Church Name: Faithful Word Baptist Church
Senior/Lead Pastor: Steve Anderson
Board of Elders/Leadership Staff: Unknown (Awaiting Info/Investigating)
Address: 2741 W Southern Ave, Suite #14
Tempe, AZ 85282
Phone: (602) 456-1049
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PastorStevenAnderson/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/sanderson1611
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sanderson1611/
Online Services: http://www.faithfulwordbaptist.org/page5.html
Denomination: Fundamentalist Independent Baptist
Preaching Style: Expository/Topical Mixture
Membership Requirements: Unknown
Tithes/Compelled Giving: Yes
Financial Transparency: Unknown
Answered Questionnaire: No
Affiliations: King James Version Only, Baptist, Fundamentalist
Red Flags of Abuse:
If you are a member of this church or are considering becoming a member and have attended the church, please walk yourself through Steve Hassan's BITE Model and Undue Influence Continuum (both links are below) to determine whether you've been abused by this church or its leadership.
I can say as someone who has not attended or been a member, simply from watching a few of the sermons and reading a few of the pastor's blog posts, that this is an abusive church. I would call it a cult. I avoid making opinionated statements in the church checks now, but I'm making an exception for this church, which I consider to be mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and even physically dangerous to people.
Pastor Steve can be seen screaming loudly at people during sermons (in most of his sermons in fact), having people thrown out of the building for disagreeing with him, shoving people who are not being violent or threatening, wishing death on former President Barrack Obama, wishing death and Hell on Caitlyn Jenner, hoping gay people get brain cancer, calling gay people faggots and wishing the government would execute them with the death penalty, humiliating former members and former leadership in front of the congregation for disagreeing with him or wanting to leave the church, and the list goes on.
The most serious red flag and a clear sign that this is an abusive cult is a recent sex scandal that involved Senior Pastor Steve Anderson's teenage sons, which you can read about here and here. Warning: The content of Anderson's teenage boys' "locker room talk" is extremely graphic in some places and could be disturbing to those who have experienced sexual trauma. Read at your own risk.
What's worse is Steve Anderson didn't deny his sons made these statements. He claims to have punished them and talked to all the parents involved, but nowhere do I see an apology or any kind of remorse for this happening.
Red flags. Red flags everywhere, people.
Lastly, after asking me to send them my questions in a PDF format and where I go to church, the staff at Faithful Word Baptist Church are now ignoring my emails, so I'm assuming at this point that they aren't going to answer the Questionnaire.
1. What is your church's official position on tithes and offerings?
This church does preach tithing and they have a transcript of one of Steve's sermons on the topic available to read on their website here. Steve spends most of the sermon angrily attacking and condemning anyone that disagrees with his beliefs on tithing, and it's clear from the transcript that this church believes in pressured giving and/or the legalistic practice of tithing.
2. Does your church have official memberships, and if so, does it include a membership agreement or contract?
I am awaiting a response from this church to see if they will answer our questions, but for the time being, we don't know the answer to this. We did, however, find a blog post by Pastor Steve Anderson on "3 Ways to be a Bad Church Member" wherein he tells Christians to "...get your butt into a good church, and sit down and shut up."
We can also hear Pastor Steve talking about firing church staff and leadership for disagreeing with his views on things like the Trinity in some of his YouTube sermons. This along with the blog post and the fact that this is a Fundamentalist Baptist Church lead me to think there are definitely official church memberships and contracts here.
3. Is your church financially transparent or accountable to either the local church, a third party (such as the ECFA), or the universal church/public?
We haven't found anything to show any kind of financial transparency or accountability in this church so far.
4. Which denomination does your church align with, if any at all?
While Faithful Word Baptist Church calls itself a King James Only Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church, there are some beliefs listed on the church's website that don't line up with the Baptist denomination. The church's Doctrinal Statement states they only believe in the local church and not the universal church, which could be very vague and confusing to many if not most Christians. It also says they believe that homosexuality is punished by God "with the death penalty."
I mean...how objective do you guys expect me to be with this one? Eeegad.
5. Is the church's pastor available for questions or comments regarding the church's doctrines or policies?
I imagine it's extremely difficult to speak with Steve Anderson for multiple reasons. I haven't been able to contact him personally as he has no email address listed anywhere. There are video recordings on YouTube of people trying to approach Steve during his service, or not even trying to approach him but being called out by him during the service, only to be thrown out, shoved, yelled at, and humiliated. I imagine if a pants-wearing woman like me were to even try entering the building, I would not be allowed.
It may be possible for the right person to approach and ask pastor Steve questions, but based on everything I've seen and heard so far, it doesn't seem like questioning, disagreeing with, or expressing concerns with the leadership is an option at this church. He went on a rant in a sermon entitled "Loudmouth Women" about how he won't hear concerns from women about the church because their husbands need to be the ones speaking to him about church issues.
Additionally, he says FWBC is not a "democracy" but a "pastor-led" church, and appeasing what people want is "not gonna happen. Go to the Baptist church down the street if that's what you want."
6. Is your church tolerant and accepting of differing non-essential doctrinal views, such as differences in eschatology, ecclesiology, and others?
Steve Anderson fired a man from a leadership position for doubting the Trinity doctrine. He says there are non-essential issues that people are free to disagree on, but the Trinity is essential to this church. If a woman "tries to take over the service" as Steve describes in his "Loudmouth Women" sermon, he will "drag her outta here."
So...no. I don't think so.
7. Does your church require its members to be baptized?
While their Doctrinal Statement does mention that they believe in baptism by full immersion, it doesn't mention whether this is required for membership or not.
8. Please describe what a typical service and/or meeting looks like at your church.
There is nothing on the website to describe what a typical service looks like, but after watching multiple services online, I can tell you what I've seen.
Service begins with worship, where they sing traditional hymns and sing psalms from the Bible. After they finish worship and their psalms, they pass the collection plate and someone comes up to read a passage from the Bible that the pastor will be teaching on that morning.
Then the pastor comes up, makes whatever announcements he has, then preaches the sermon. Steve's preaching style is mostly topical. He begins with the selected verses and while sermons seem to be expository at face value, the pastor spends the vast majority of the sermon speaking topically. There is no substantial, contextual Bible study.
The full service lasts for about an hour and a half. I don't see any children's services available or Sunday School. This is a "family-integrated" church where children and even young infants are encouraged to come to the service with the adults.
9. How many people does your church have on staff, both paid and volunteer?
We don't know who is on staff since it isn't listed on the church website or anywhere else online. We do know that this church has a board of elders and deacons, however. We will continue doing our research on this church to answer this question.
10. What is the pastor's educational background?
The pastor's bio on the church website doesn't list any educational background for Steve Anderson, but simply states that he "...travelled (sic) throughout Germany and Eastern Europe for 3 months serving in local independent Baptist churches, studying foreign languages, and getting experience in the ministry...."
11. How does the church discipline its members with sin? Does the church have a discipline policy or official protocol?
While it's possible that this church has an official sin discipline policy, it seems pastor Steve doesn't follow it very well as mentioned by a few people online surrounding the controversy with his sons several months ago. Read the comments in the link in the Red Flag section of this review to see what I'm referring to.
Additionally, Anderson has people thrown out of the church, fired, and excommunicated on a regular basis. Since this church is "pastor-led" and not a "democracy" I would imagine most decisions regarding discipline are made by him personally, or possibly with a few other leaders he's appointed in the church.
12. How is the pastor compensated (income, bonuses, benefits, etc...) and how is that compensation established (Ex: board of elders, church vote, etc..)?
Of course, we haven't been told this information by the church and we don't expect to be as usual, but we did find a source that claims pastor Anderson's net worth is between $1 million - $5 million. How his salary is set or decided is unknown.
13. What is the size of the congregation and any space or buildings used for church services or meetings?
While Wikipedia says as of 2015 this church had about 300 members and their church continues to meet in the space of a strip mall in Tempe, Arizona, the church's Facebook page has 26-27k likes and follows with ver 1,600 check-ins (and a 1.9 star rating). How many members they have today is unknown.
14. What is the pastor’s ministerial work history? Have they been the pastor of or on the leadership staff at any other church? Please list their past ministry work and their reasons for leaving those ministries.
There is no specific ministerial work history listed for Steve Anderson online, and as mentioned before, his bio simply states that he traveled the world with various Baptist churches to gain experience in ministry before planting his own church.
15. How does the church safeguard against any kind of abuse (sexual, verbal, emotional, spiritual)? Has there ever been an incident or conflict within the church involving potential abuse? If so, how was it resolved?
Since the pastor regularly verbally abuses his congregation and excuses abuse coming from his teenage sons toward minor girls, then threatens and punishes anyone that brings it up in the church, I don't believe there are any legitimate safeguards against abuse in this church, nor any standards or steps in place to resolve such problems.
If you have any information on this church and would like to help answer some of our questions, please feel free to add your input in the comments section below or speak with Sarah directly through the Contact Page. If you would like to remain anonymous for your own privacy or safety, we will keep your identity confidential.
Sarah Leann Young is a lifelong student of the Bible. She is a homeschooler, stay-at-home Mom to three beautiful children, and an avid consumer of Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Mystery Thriller stories. She has a passion for religious debate and defending the Body of Christ against abuse and wolves in sheep’s clothing. Look for her debut book series in early 2021 on the corruption of the American Christian Church.