|Title||International Church of Christ, Boston Church of Christ, Boston Movement, ICC, ICoC|
Hope Worldwide, Los Angeles International Christian Church, Portland Church of Christ, Boston COC, (every name from hundreds of cities followed by Church of Christ, but not to be confused with mainline Church of Christ) etc.
|Leader||1979-2002 Kip McKean, Al Baird present leadership is "cooperative|
This is a Bible based cult which grew out of the mainline Churches of Christ but is no longer affiliated with them.
Excellent history of the movement: (from reveal.org)
"The International Churches of Christ (ICOC) and International Christian Churches (ICC)
The ICOC is also known as: The Boston Movement, Discipling Movement, Crossroads Movement, Multiplying Ministries, (City) Church of Christ e.g., Boston Church of Christ.
The ICC is also known as: The Sold-Out Discipling Movement, (City) International Christian Church, e.g., City of Angels International Christian Church, Chicago International Christian Church.
They have alternative names to disguise their identity or alternate fronts such as: Campus Advance, Christian Students Association, Alpha Omega, Disciples on Campus (not to be confused with the Disciples of Christ group with the same name), HOPE Worldwide, MERCY Worldwide, Disciples Today.
In the 1800s, a number of Protestants were concerned about the fragmenting Protestant Church, over what they perceived to be minutiae of beliefs. Instead, a number sought to return to First Century Christianity and only the Bible and tended to ignore any creed and statement of faith as only man-made, as well as ignoring any Christian history, and look over their own traditions. This became the Stone-Campbell American Restoration movement or the Mainline Churches of Christ. Even though most of the contemporary Mainline Churches of Christ that have roots in this movement and healthy and grace-filled, this movement has also produced legalistic and even cultic fruit. One example is Jim Jones and Jonestown. The other well-known groups are the International Churches of Christ (ICOC) and a rising splinter group known as the International Christian Churches (ICC).
During the 1970s, the Mainline Churches of Christ membership numbers had plateaued. In Gainesville, Florida, Chuck Lucas, the mentor of Thomas Kip McKean and campus minister for the Fourteen Street Crossroads Church of Christ, realized having every member 1) focus on recruitment ( evangelism) and 2) tied into the church via prayer partners would allow his church to rapidly grow.
A number of Crossroads trained leaders, especially Kip McKean, took these strategies and took over a number of churches and formed their own movement within the Mainline Churches of Christ, then dubbed the Boston/Discipling/Crossroads Movement. A number of controlling techniques were employed, ranging from breaking sessions where multiple members would confront a member on wrongdoings, to verbally coercing recalcitrant members to do what leaders and disciplers wanted. As criticism mounted from within the Mainline Churches of Christ, including former Boston Movement leaders, Kip McKean discovered a new doctrine: Matthew 28:18-20 taught only disciples those who were sufficiently broken over their sins, living the Christian life in the ways McKean defined them and agreed with his interpretations of Scripture were fit to be baptized. This new-found doctrine allowed McKean to schism from the Mainline Churches of Christ. Christian sociologists termed McKean's movement the International Churches of Christ (1994).
In 2003-2004, a series of events rocked the ICOC's world. McKean's own oldest child, then a Harvard student, did not worship at or fellowship with the Boston Church of Christ. Since McKean had dealt with leaders whose children were not members by removing them from leadership, numerous leaders asked Kip to step down from his role as World Missions Evangelist, the ICOC's top leader. Eventually Kip admitted he had to step aside from ministry to work on his marriage. Henry Kriete, a high level Evangelist in London, wrote a lengthy letter, admitting to abuses, problems and areas needed for change, vindicating what numerous former church members and critics had been saying for 2 decades.
Kip eventually was appointed the lead evangelist of the Portland, Oregon, International Church of Christ, and became convinced that his strategies were still correct and attempted to call other churches, leaders, and members to align with them. Instead, over 80 lead evangelists and other church leaders signed a statement against McKean's conduct and vision and responded against his divisiveness. McKean decided to schism again, calling his new movement the International Christian Churches or the Sold-Out Discipling Movement.
Why are they considered an abusive/destructive group?
Both groups teach the same doctrines, but the ICOCs current practices of these doctrines aren't as extreme as the ICCs. Either way, both groups are still very dangerous and destructive. Numerous ex-members complained of legalism, heavy-handedness of treatment, lack of grace, lack of forgiveness (e.g., past sins brought up and used against them), manipulation, forced uniformity and conformity to church agenda, browbeating on all matters, even opinion. Numerous former members have noted a lack of ability to make their own decisions or diminished critical thinking skills. As members, students have dropped out, reduced their course load, or changed to easier majors due to the number of church-related meetings and events, which are deemed mandatory or very important. A typical non-leader member can spend between 6-15 hours per week in church events. Numerous members and ex-members have noted personality shifts and personality falsification towards the group norm. The church is also synonymous with God, making pronouncements into members lives. To disobey or not obey the church is to stray from Gods good graces and could result in condemnation. Numerous members have cut ties with former friends and families even if the friends and family were devout Christians. They teach a Gnostic Gospel: one that elevates spirituality and the spiritual e.g., becoming a minister as opposed to the mundane (e.g.., studying, secular work). They teach a false man-centered Gospel of Works where the power and reliance on the Holy Spirit is unnecessary.
Doctrines and Some distinctive beliefs
Disciple: Members of the ICOC and ICC believe that only committed Christians who are involved in cold-contact evangelism, who have made the decision to follow Christ, agreeing with core ICOC-/ICC- defined tenets, are disciples.
Baptism: Members of the ICOC and ICC believe in baptismal regeneration, that the act of full immersion in water procures forgiveness of sins and subsequently gives the indwelling Holy Spirit that baptism must be done to only a disciple. It is not a valid baptism if: 1) one does not hold to these beliefs, 2) the baptism is done by a church that does not have the same doctrines and beliefs as the ICOC/ICC. Individuals must start living the life as a disciple before they are baptized. (This is a contradiction as they teach that people are lost and not a disciple before they are baptized.)
True Church: The only true churches are congregations that have the same doctrines and practices as the ICOC and ICC respectively. No other churches are true churches.
Evangelism: The litmus test for many ICOC/ICC churches of a disciple is whether they evangelize, meaning they practice cold-contact invitation. They also tend to target relatively innocent and idealistic college students and other vulnerable people.
Strategies for discussion with members of the ICOC/ICC
1. Don't focus on baptism, which is where they want to fight.
2. Do not agree to meet with multiple members or their friends alone.
3. Be actively involved in a healthy church and Christian fellowship.
4. Get them to define their terminology: don't assume that they are saying the same thing you are.
5. Discuss justification by faith.
6. Show them other mature and devout Christians one can have a spiritual life outside of the ICOC/ICC.
7. Emphasize spiritual unity of Christians outside the ICOC e.g., the Lord's Prayer, the Nicene Creed, para-church organizations that work with multiple churches (e.g., Cru, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Navigators, National Association of Evangelicals, Christian Apologetics Alliance, etc.) although members may demonize all of these groups.
8. Discuss the personhood of the Holy Spirit as well as the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian the dual nature of Christ (fully human and fully God) their continuous and unrelenting focus on falling short instead of walking with the Spirit."
believes in the Bible as the inerrant word of God and believes that God's one true church must have centralized leadership- is a pyramid structure with Kip at the top. Kip is not considered to be the messiah, but rather "God's leader" and flawed. To "seek first the kingdom" means to put God's church above everything else in your life. God will bless you if you obey your leaders and submit to their authority, even if the leaders are wrong. It is up to God to deal with the leaders, not the membership.
Autonomous churches are sin because they are not obedient to the parent church.
Kip was publicly "marked" in 2006, his practices are no longer condoned by the ICoC.
These descriptions will be prior to those years.
Behavior1. Regulation of individual's physical reality
a. Where, how and with whom the member lives and associates with
b. What clothes, colors, hairstyles the person wears
c. What food the person eats, drinks, adopts, and rejects
d. How much sleep the person is able to have
e. Financial dependence
f. Little or no time spent on leisure, entertainment, vacations
2. Major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals
3. Need to ask permission for major decisions
4. Need to report thoughts, feelings and activities to superiors
5. Rewards and punishments (behavior modification techniques- positive and negative).
6. Individualism discouraged; group think prevails
7. Rigid rules and regulations
8. Need for obedience and dependency.
1979- 2002 (see description and links for more current practices)
A discipler is appointed over the new recruit and each member is watched over this way. People are rebuked publicly for not "bearing fruit". People are rebuked privately and ganged up on in breaking sessions to make them repent of their sin.
Every member must get advice about every aspect of their life such as where to live, how to dress, whom to date, how often you can date the person, how often you can speak to the person, absolutely no sexual contact allowed, only hand -holding and only if you get permission and only if that person is your designated "boyfriend/ or girlfriend".
You must tell your discipler how you spend your time, often having to write out your schedule down to the fifteen minute block in any given day and are rebuked for how you could be more productive for God (meaning recruiting).
Married members are told how often to have sex. No subject is off limits. Women are told how to act so as not to make the brothers "struggle".
Scriptures such as "wives submit to your husbands" and "obey your leaders and submit to their authority" are used to make people think that their obedience to God depends on their obedience to flawed human beings.
You must call in your statistics (how many people are potential recruits) daily and are made to set "Faith goals" of how many people to "Share with" (invite to church event) every day. You must report everything you do at all times of the day.
You must report how much money you make and give at least 10% of your gross income and much more than that for special contributions annually.
People have gone into debt and put their "contribution" on their credit card.
If a member does not show up to midweek service when the contribution is collected, the leaders must go to the person's house to collect the contribution. It is never acceptable not to give. You must pledge a certain amount each week and you can never lower your pledge, but much pressure is placed to keep increasing your pledge.
People are made to move, drop out of school, break up relationships and are coerced into doing these things, but often feel that they made the decision themselves because they are told to go pray about it and get their own convictions about it, but are rebuked if those "personal convictions" go against the "advice" of the leaders.
Information1. Use of deception
a. Deliberately holding back information
b. Distorting information to make it acceptable
c. Outright lying
2. Access to non-cult sources of information minimized or discouraged
a. Books, articles, newspapers, magazines, TV, radio
b. Critical information
c. Former members
d. Keep members so busy they don’t have time to think
3. Compartmentalization of information; Outsider vs. Insider doctrines
a. Information is not freely accessible
b. Information varies at different levels and missions within pyramid
c. Leadership decides who “needs to know” what
4. Spying on other members is encouraged
a. Pairing up with “buddy” system to monitor and control
b. Reporting deviant thoughts, feelings, and actions to leadership
5. Extensive use of cult generated information and propaganda
a. Newsletters, magazines, journals, audio tapes, videotapes, etc.
b. Misquotations, statements taken out of context from non-cult sources
6. Unethical use of confession
a. Information about “sins” used to abolish identity boundaries
b. Past “sins” used to manipulate and control; no forgiveness or absolution
1979-2002 (see description and links for more current practices)
You are not allowed to talk to ex-members (or current members) who are critical of the group- every negative thought must be confessed up the chain of command. You must not read any critical information or visit any critics websites. This is called "spiritual pornography"
Thought1. Need to internalize the group's doctrine as "Truth"
a. Map = Reality
b. Black and White thinking
c. Good vs. evil
d. Us vs. them (inside vs. outside)
2. Adopt "loaded" language (characterized by "thought-terminating clichés"). Words are the tools we use to think with. These "special" words constrict rather than expand understanding. They function to reduce complexities of experience into trite, platitudinous "buzz words".
3. Only "good" and "proper" thoughts are encouraged.
4. Thought-stopping techniques (to shut down "reality testing" by stopping "negative" thoughts and allowing only "good" thoughts); rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism.
a. Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking
e. Speaking in "tongues"
f. Singing or humming
5. No critical questions about leader, doctrine, or policy seen as legitimate
6. No alternative belief systems viewed as legitimate, good, or useful
1979-2002 (see description and links for more current practices)
Loading language: disciplers, discipling, D-Time, Bibletalk, "Awesome" etc.
Scriptures are used "take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ" to get person to confess every thought they have that doesn't agree with church doctrine.
Prayer is used to get your thoughts in line with the teachings of the group.
Emotional1. Manipulate and narrow the range of a person's feelings.
2. Make the person feel like if there are ever any problems it is always their fault, never the leader's or the group's.
3. Feeling-stopping. Like thought-stopping, this is the automatic suppression or blocking of feelings that are not acceptable by the cult identity- such as feeling "homesick" or feeling "depressed" or feeling "resentful".
4. Excessive use of guilt
a. Identity guilt
1. Who you are (not living up to your potential)
2. Your family
3. Your past
4. Your affiliations
5. Your thoughts, feelings, actions
6. Social guilt
7. Historical guilt
5. Excessive use of fear
a. Fear of thinking independently
b. Fear of the "outside" world
c. Fear of enemies
d. Fear of losing one's "salvation"
e. Fear of leaving the group or being shunned by group
f. Fear of disapproval
6. Extremes of emotional highs and lows.
7. Ritual and often public confession of "sins".
8. Phobia indoctrination: programming of irrational fears of ever leaving the group or even questioning the leader's authority. The person under mind control cannot visualize a positive, fulfilled future without being in the group.
a. No happiness or fulfillment "outside"of the group
b. Terrible consequences will take place if you leave: "hell"; "demon possession"; "incurable diseases"; "accidents"; "suicide"; "insanity"; "10,000 reincarnations"; etc.
c. Shunning of leave takers. Fear of being rejected by friends, peers, and family.
d. Never a legitimate reason to leave. From the group's perspective, people who leave are: "weak"; "undisciplined"; "unspiritual"; "worldly"; "brainwashed by family, counselors"; seduced by money, sex, rock and roll.
1979-2002 (see description and links for more current practices)
Confession- every member must have a "discipler" who is over him in the Lord and every sin or doubt must be confessed. This creates an excessive amount of guilt. Personal information is revealed immediately and boundaries are destroyed.
Submission and obedience- to all church leaders but especially to one's discipler and wives to husbands- are stressed. If people are disobedient they are rebuked using breaking sessions and if they don't "repent" they will be excommunicated- the threat of losing all of one's friends leaves people submitting to things just to maintain relationships.
People are made to fear that they will lose their salvation, become drug addicts, become immoral, etc. if they disagree with the teaching of the church and leave. Leaving this church means leaving God.
Current ICoC (not affiliated with Kip): http://www.icocco-op.org/
Kip's group: http://www.laicc.net/
(articles, videos, information)
Videos from the 1990s
detailed article by Chris Lee of the ICOC 1979-2009
Info about what's happened since Kip was fired:
Help a Loved One
716 Beacon Street
Newton, MA 02459
Phone: 617 396-4638
Fax: (617) 628-8153
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