New Covenant Publications - A Counter Cult Ministry

Still More “Quotes”
By the Leadership of the International Churches of Christ
(Boston Movement)

 

 

The creation of this article has come about due to the response by some current members of the International Churches of Christ (ICOC) regarding statements by leadership contained in two other articles, "Quotes"and "Additional Quotes" (both published by New Covenant Publications). Apart from being accused of taking leader’s statements out of context, an accusation easily disproved, the majority of the responses made note of the fact that most of the statements were more than 6 years old. These members claimed that even if the statements were accurately quoted, things have changed since those statements have been made and that people, even leaders, have occasionally made mistakes. But what, I wonder, would these members say if the same kinds of statements and teachings were continuing up to the present time?

Would they still claim that things have changed when it would be blatantly obvious, by the statements being made, that things have not changed? Would they still claim that leader’s statements were being taken out of context or misquoted? Simply taking the time to listen to the tapes of the speeches from which the statements were quoted would dispel that notion. But how many current members have the resolve to do that? How many of them really care to know the truth? How many of them continue to hide behind comments like “God will deal with it” or “If it’s not of God it won’t last”, relieving themselves of the responsibility to do anything? Oddly, this attitude violates the very Scriptures they claim so adamantly to uphold.

An ICOC leader can take regular members to the mat, rebuking their “socks off” for any number of reasons. Yet, God forbid regular members calling a World Sector Leader to repent, or challenging the accuracy of something a lead evangelist is teaching. As Kip McKean once put it when a few of the ICOC teachings were being questioned by an entire congregation of 600 people, “…we’re talking about people who oppose God’s servants, and, thus, oppose God.... They have set themselves in opposition against the Lord’s anointed.” Kip McKean disfellowshipped and “marked” the congregation. (read: What Happened?) He also threatened the salvation of any ICOC member who might be tempted to violate the “marking”. How can one question or challenge their leaders with that kind of wall of intimidation?

The leadership statements contained in this article display attitudes, practices and teachings that have continued in the ICOC up to the present time. The statements are categorized according to subject matter and date, and are preceded by excerpts from testimonies by former ICOC members relaying the types of abuse produced by these continuing attitudes, practices and teachings. The few excerpts used under each category are but a sample of the many testimonials that were collected over the past four years.

 


Topics

Evangelism/ Bearing Fruit
Discipling/ Rebuking
Tithing/ Special Contribution
The Kingdom


 

Evangelism/ Bearing Fruit

 

For many former members, being a part of the ICOC was much like being hired by a company (Kingdom Inc.) to fill a position known as Disciple Maker. The hours are long (24/7), daily reports of your productivity are required to be given to your immediate superior (disciple partner), and there are managers (evangelists, bible talk leaders, etc.) constantly berating you for, among other things, not producing according to company standards (Kingdom Stats). Deceptive methods, subtle as they seem, are even taught to help increase your productivity. When employees question these methods they are discipled (disciplined), called “selfish”, accused of not wanting to reach out to people. There are also threats of termination unless personal productivity improves. Not only will the president of the company (God) fire you, he will punish you with eternal torment. And all because you failed to produce enough fruit (converts), or fruit that lasts (converts who stay faithful to the movement). There is also the pressure to produce specific kinds of fruit (reach out and convert certain types of people). If your productivity increases, you are moved up in management (leadership) where you are continuously praised by others in management as a great employee (man or woman of God).

Eternity with God based on productivity of convert making. Continually baptize people or you will be cut down and thrown in the fire. Or as Kip McKean once put it in reference to personally baptizing converts, “You’re not fruitful, you’re going to be sawed off the vine. (Kip McKean, The Super Church, Boston Leadership Conference, Aug 92) If that is not a works oriented salvation, I don’t know what is. And if the leadership of the ICOC still fosters these kinds of practices and teachings, then they are not only in gross error of Scripture, they are guilty of spiritual and psychological abuse. To understand just how grossly in error the ICOC teaching on “bearing fruit” is, and to understand it’s origin as a brain child of Kip McKean, read Bring Forth Fruit.

[comments by former members]

“It was taught that we had ‘no business’ being friends with anyone except for the purpose of converting them…”

“During that weekend, it was repeatedly hammered on us how bad the church was doing (not enough new members) because of sin in our lives and the brothers were even called ‘sissy brothers’.”

“Finally, I was asked to sit in as a sub during a bible talk leaders meeting and that was when the truth of the church was finally exposed to me. The leaders discussed how many women they would baptize that week and how to push them along in their studies. There was no mention of each individual's needs, just a mob mentality to score as many dunks as possible. We were all numbers. I asked my women's ministry leader about this and how I felt that we were all numbers and not individuals and there was no mention of each woman's needs. All they talked about was pushing them and meeting their baptism numbers. My women's leader told me that I didn't have a learner's heart and that I should study out learning and submission.”

“The leader of the Dublin CoC was ‘fruitful’ on the 31st of January, 1997. In the first four months of the year there were three other baptisms, of which two were on the 31st of March. The guy baptized on the 31 st of January left a few weeks later…. I did ask the leader about the guy he baptized on the 31st of January and he admitted that he shouldn’t have baptized him so quickly. The issue is that monthly goals were set and it looked good to keep them.”

“I never felt good about some of the methods we used to get people into Bible studies. All these activities, parties, etc. Nothing wrong with Christians having fun and inviting friends, but I don’t like to ‘Catch with bait’. Sure people will be attracted, but it isn’t an accurate picture of what the church ‘really has in store’.”

“My first reason for leaving was that I was a failure as a Christian and needed to remove myself so that the church would grow, before God did. Scriptures like ‘cut off the dead branches’ or ‘give one more year, if it does not bear fruit tear it down and burn it’ (my year was up). Christians that were not pulling their weight were treated as dead weight and holding everyone back.... No amount of ‘up beat’ talks could kick start my core feeling that something was wrong. I was called lazy, rebellious, going to hell if I don't change. Being asked ‘where’s your love for GOD?’ ‘Get out there and change’, ‘do what ever it takes’, ‘you just need to push yourself’, ‘you are just thinking of your self’... Oh I love this little saying that I heard over and over again, ‘what if the person you didn't reach out to that day was standing beside you on judgement day and turns to you and says why were you a selfish coward not to tell me about Jesus?’ Pretty much the same as ‘you are the reason I'm going to hell.’

 

[statements by leadership]

(before 1995) (see also:"Quotes" and "Additional Quotes")

 

“You might have noticed that I’ve been preaching heavy duty about the evangelism of the church. The evangelism of the church, right now, stinks! It stinks! It’s terrible! We’ve got 740 disciples; we’ve got 120 studies going on. That is the PITS! Am I communicating here?” (Dave Eastman, Christian Dating, 1991, sd 2)

“These 12 Jesus sent out with the following instructions. Ok, let’s get practical about our Bible Talks here. ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.’ You know it’s a hard teaching for many of us. The Bible Talk leader says, ‘Ok students, our goal is to build up the campus ministry. I want you to go out and I want you to convert some students. I want you to convert some high powered leaders for the future of the church. I want you to convert someone like you, reproduce after your own kind.’” (Gregg Marutzky, Bible Talks That Multiply, sd 1)

“And I don’t believe that after two weeks you don’t have a baptism it’s time to doubt your conversion or your spirit-filledness or your correctness before the Lord. But I think if you look back over a prolonged period of time and see no fruit, something’s up and you need to invite discipleship.” (Bob Trenchell, The Battle for Abundant Fruit, 1993, sd 1)

“Matter of fact, Chicago, the seminar there really changes Jim. And he got a lot more radical when he got back from Chicago; church got a lot more radical. And he said, ‘You know, we need to have 30 baptisms in 30 days before May 21st.” (Henry Kriete, Discipleship: Passing the Torch!, Part 1, Toronto COC)

“You know, we want fruit that will last…. There is no greater bummer than to convert somebody and to have them fall away.” (John Porter, How We Reached and Kept Our Converts, 1988, sd 1)

“We need to focus in our Bible talks on being ‘fruitful’ in 88. What do I mean by that? We need to be focusing on bringing someone to Christ, personally.” (Ashley Hockenberry, Jesus’ Bible Talk, Toronto Church, 1988)

“If you want to be a disciple, then you better be fruitful.” (Jimmy Rogers, The Battle For Fruit, 1993)

“We’ve got too many ‘solo’ Christians. Too many Christians who think that there is nothing wrong with being unfruitful…. That’s a ‘solo’ Christian because you are not remaining in the vine! Says here that such branches wither. They’re already fallen down. It says they’re picked up and done what? Thrown in the fire.” (Jimmy Rogers, ibid)

(1995 to present)

“I think that the evangelism in so many of our churches just flat stinks. It’s not a matter of just expecting our members to be evangelistic, the need to BE EVANGELISTIC! It is a standard that Jesus expects. Now PREACH IT!(Kip McKean, Preach the Word, Johannesburg World Leadership Conference, Aug 95)

“Singles, we’ve got nothing else to do. Without kids you have nothing else to do except convert people. There are no excuses.” (Dan Conner, Faith - Fear - Fruit, 1996)

“That’s really the key to building fruit, fruit that will last. Guys, our relationship needs to be ALL about evangelism. We can never take off from our relationship. ‘Oh, you know what? Let me take off today. We’re out on Saturday, so let’s not share our faith.’ Or, ‘You know what? Saturdays are just for us.’ Or, ‘We need to have family time together, just for us.’ Guys, you need to have as many people in your life as possible. You need to be working for the Lord incredibly.” (Kendal Knight, Couples Facing One Another, Singles Retreat: “Face Off”, 1998, sd 1)

“How much time are you spending with non-Christians on a daily basis? You know, there needs to be lunch time filled with non-Christians, evenings, having at least two or three studies in the evening…. Use your relationship to evangelize…. Do you have visitors with you on Sunday, at midweek, at Bible Talk? Are there people with you? Are there non-Christian couples that you are going out on dates with on Saturday night?” (Dian Knight, ibid)

“We need to get a conviction that when the church is not growing the first person we need to look at is the preacher. And the second is his wife. They lack faith and they’re in sin!” (Kip Mckean, Preach the Word, Johannesburg World Leadership Conference, Aug 95)

“I said, ‘Bro, I’m totally aware of the history down there. hey haven’t grown for a year and they’re in sin.’ I went down, I told the church about their lack of growth, I laid out the stats; we’re so afraid to tell the church the stats. Let me tell you something, let the people know the problem.” (Kip McKean, ibid)

“I heard this story about Kip going out to this school, Eastern Illi-noise. No Eastern Illinois…. Anyway, so he’s out there and, um, you know, supposedly it’s like a campus in the middle of a cornfield. Is anybody familiar with this school? All right, a few people. There’s supposedly not a lot going on, it’s not like New York City. But he went out there and he baptized, I think, over a hundred or over two hundred people in ONE YEAR. Out there. Just to show that, ‘You know what? It can be done.’ Just so he could say, ‘So there!’” (Dan Conner, Faith - Fear - Fruit, 1996)

We set a new rule for evangelists for about a five month period. You couldn’t preach a sermon in the DC church if you didn’t have a visitor sitting there with you…. You got your sermon ready, that was important, but hey, you better get your visitor there or you weren’t gonna do it. And brothers had spare sermons in their pocket. Cause if the one brother who was supposed to speak didn’t have his visitor there, then flat out some other brother who had been sharing his faith needed to get up and preach the word that day.”(Douglas Arthur, Congregational Service,Ilikai Hotel, Dec 12, 1996)

“The reason we don’t have sons in the faith is cause we’re not a hero. Now I’m not saying that in a boastful way, but you gotta make it one of your decisions. I’m gonna be a hero. Heroes don’t happen by accident. You gotta decide to be a hero. And you know something, when you’re a hero you’re gonna see the ‘five talent’ people get baptized….heroes make heroes who make heroes.” (Kip McKean, Preach the Word, Johannesburg World Leadership Conference, Aug 95)

“Can you imagine the kind of, the kind, I mean, Peter had his 3,000, but what if Judas would’ve turned it around?…. Can you imagine the amount of people he would’ve affected?…. I mean, Peter’s line was pretty long to get baptized. But Judas, oh my goodness. He would’ve had to tag team with, say, ‘Hey, someone come baptize all these guys, man. Help me out, Pete. Goodness, you only got 3,000? Hey man, you’re laggin, bud. Supposed to lead this kingdom. I don’t know. Did Jesus not forgive you, only 3,000?” (Bill Moulden, Changing Colors, Oct 25, 1998, sd 2)

I hope I’m not the only one who sees the absurdity of Mr. Moulden’s comments. Not only is it absurd, it is wrought with misrepresentation and Scriptural error. But this shows the kind of subtle manipulation and twisting used to get members to go for the numbers. And find me any Scriptural reference for making such a “rule” as Mr. Arthur is speaking of in regard to preaching. I must say, sarcastically speaking, that this really sounds like a ministry led by the Spirit.

“I think a lot of us just have studies, but we don’t have friends. I was talking to someone and they said, ‘Well, what happens if everybody cancels out on you?’…. What happens if you have all these people cancel out, well then I would say they’re probably not your friend. See, you can cancel out on some guy who asked you to study the Bible on the train, because who cares? You’re not going to see that guy again, maybe. But if it’s your friend, if you care about him, you’ll at least, ‘Well, let me see what this person has to say.’ Now, if this sounds like, ‘Well isn’t that being friends with an ulterior motive?’ Well, I mean, we want to save the world.” (Dan Conner, Evangelism, Aug 13, 1996)

“Moving to friendship evangelism. We’re going to move to friendship. They’re kind of like when you do the crab bait. Remember when we talked about you put the bait in there and for six or seven hours you have to wait for the crab to come in there? So, that’s like with the friendship evangelism. You go in and you build friendships with these women…” (Sonya Weeks, Goin’ Fishing (women), Brooklyn Leaders Retreat, Aug 21, 1999, sd 1)

“You want to help other men become disciples you gotta learn to serve’em. You gotta learn to have a good enough job so you got enough money so you can spend some money on some other guys. You know what I’m talking about? You gotta be the one treating for lunch, you gotta be the one helping people out. You start serving people then they’ll want to know you.” (Randy Tinnina God’s Dream for the Single Man, Singles Seminar: What Dreams May Come, 1999, sd 2)

This reminds me of a former member telling me that people were instructed to become “best friends” with every new prospective convert in order to gain their trust so it would be easier to take them through the studies. To become friends with someone to insure that they won’t “cancel out” on you when you invite them to Bible Talk or so that it will be easier to persuade them during the studies isn’t really becoming their friend. It’s a facade to gain their trust so they will do what you want them to do. It is an old business trick taught in many circles as a way to manipulate people. It’s the same as pulling the wool over someone’s eyes or running a number on someone.

“If you don’t know how to fish, then you need to get discipled and trained to fish. Cause if you don’t know how to fish, then you’re not going to make it to heaven.” (Terry Folker, The Call to Fish, South Florida Church of Christ, Jan 4, 1998 )

“The second tool to effective fishing is bait. You can use worms, hooks, sinkers, but these are all tools used to entice fish. And OUR bait we need to realize is to make the gospel just look a lit- much attractive. As women we need to be able to look our best and be the most presentable to the crowds we are facing…. if we look good, they are going to want to come to us.” (Maryum Delves, Goin’ Fishing (women), Brooklyn Leaders Retreat, Aug 21, 1999, sd 1)

“So we’re going to talk about bait, catching the fish, and reeling it on in. Ok….. And along with that bait you have to think when fishermen go out they really consider, ok, they consider the fish and what kind of bait the fish would be attracted to. Ok. They don’t, they don’t just throw any old bait out there, ok. That would be too suspicious, ok….So they choose flies or they choose bait that look just like the bait that they’re already attracted to.” (Natalie Bowen, Goin’ Fishing (women), Brooklyn Leaders Retreat, Aug 21, 1999, sd I)

Talk about being deceptive. Don’t these people realize that bait is something used to trick a fish. A worm or lure is used to conceal (hide) the hook and the fish is deceived into biting it. It is actually a trap. How can they be teaching people to use friendship as “bait”? And why are they reducing the activity of preaching the gospel, or sharing their faith, to the activity of modern day fishing? Apart from the fact that Jesus was speaking metaphorically and only to the first two disciples when he said “I will make you fishers of men.”, the modern method of fishing being spoken about by ICOC leadership is quite different than the method used in His time. One thing is certain, He was not teaching them to use “bait” to “entice” people. Nor was He teaching them deceptive methods. Jesus taught his disciples to preach the gospel. Simple. Straight forward. Truthfully. And that’s just what they did. If you want to put it in “fishing” terms, they threw in their net (the gospel) and men were caught up by it. As God once stated, “…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isa 55:11) No bait, no lures, no tricks, absolutely no deception. As the Apostle Paul said, “… we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Cor 4:2)

“God promises us that if we remain in Him we will be fruitful…. How do you react when someone challenges you on it? When someone asks, ‘Bro, man, how you doing personally with fruit? How you doing?…. How’s it been going with meeting people that you can get out there and baptize?’ How do you react?” (Dan Conner, Faith - Fear - Fruit, 1996)

“Who’s gonna say, ‘I’m sick of not being fruitful. I’m tired of it…. You’re gonna come with me or not, but I am not going to rebel against the Lord.” (Dan Conner, ibid)

“One thing I love about Kip McKean is that Kip McKean never tires of pushing the basics. Every time I go to a leadership conference, every time Kip comes to town, I know what he is going to talk about. He is going to talk about ‘Are we making disciples around here? Are we bearing fruit for God?” (Gordon Ferguson, Congregational Service, Ilikai Hotel, Aug 17, 1997, sd 1)

“We’ve got to ask ourselves a question, ‘Were you personally fruitful last year?’ You know what the Bible says about the tree and the fruit? It says Jesus looked at the tree and it wasn’t bearing fruit. He was going to cut it down, said, ‘No, no, no, give it one more year.’ Let me tell you what. God prunes the church, here. And the dead branches that aren’t bearing fruit, God prunes.” (Terry Folker, The Call to Fish, South Florida Church of Christ, Jan 4, 1998)

“You know, when you hear somebody saying this person is getting baptized, that’s exciting because fruit is being born in the vine.” (John Hafer, Getting Tied In, Oahu Church of Christ, Aug 30, 1998)

“When you’re not fruitful, you’re not remaining in Jesus.”(John Hafer, ibid)

“And so from this one man, and he as good as DEAD, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. What does this say about Abraham? Is that Abraham was fruitful. He wasn’t hindered by excuses. I mean, the Bible says he was as good as DEAD. Therefore, we can be fruitful as well. As disciples, I don’t care how rough your situation is right now. You’re not ‘as good as dead’. I mean, that’s a pretty bad situation to be in. You see we’re called to bear fruit and sometimes we can feel like, ‘You don’t understand my situation, you don’t understand the circumstances I’m in’. But, Mark 1 says if we follow Jesus we’ll be fishers of men. John 15 says if we remain in Him we WILL bear fruit. What is our excuse?” (Dan Conner, Therefore…, New York City Church, May 28, 2000, sd 1)

“But we know what God’s will is. When the Bible talks about make the most of every opportunity, I believe the spirit of it is always to be evangelistic. The spirit of it is ALWAYS to be fruitful. The spirit of it is to ALWAYS have people in your lives that you can baptize.” (Kendal Knight, Couples Facing One Another, Singles Retreat: “Face Off”, 1998, sd 1)

“You need to ask yourself what is your time on the phone like now that you’re dating, and now that you’re engaged…. Is your time on the phone more focused on your partner rather than on the women you need to be studying the Bible with? You need to be talking about who you’re reaching out to and who you’re studying the Bible with. That needs to be a lot of what your conversation is about with your partner. Why? Because there is a high expectation for fruitfulness in your relationship.” (Dian Knight, ibid)

“Focus on fruit that will last, making disciples.” (Kendal Knight, ibid, sd 2)

“Is this person seeking God’s kingdom first in their life? That means that they are seeking the mission, that they’re focused on making disciples.” (Dian Knight, ibid, sd 1)

I would like to take a moment to confront the ICOC’s use of the phrase “Seek first the kingdom”, a phrase used by ICOC leadership when correcting or discipling (teaching) the members. The phrase is taken from Matthew 6:33 which states “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” (NIV) Most often only the first part of the verse is used and members are taught that it means to seek first ‘what’s best’ for the kingdom (i.e. the ICOC). When there are no specific verses of Scripture to support a leader’s correction, teaching, instruction or directive, the leader most always uses “seek first the kingdom”. The problem with this is that it is a misrepresentation, a twisting of Scripture and it gives leadership carte blanche over the lives of the members.

To begin with, the word “seek” in Matthew 6:33 means to go after as to obtain. And keeping with the context of what Jesus is saying, that is exactly what is meant. In Matthew 6:25-33, Jesus is telling the people not to worry about worldly possessions or needs, in other words not to focus on obtaining those things. God already knows that they need them. Instead, seek (go after as to obtain) first his kingdom and his righteousness, and God will take care of the things they need. He wants their first focus to be on obtaining His kingdom and His righteousness. It is also very important to remember that Jesus was speaking to Jews who were unsaved, not yet born again into the kingdom of God. Contrary to Diane Knight’s last quote, at the time that Jesus said these words He had not yet given the great commission. These unsaved Jews knew nothing about any mission of making disciples. So to say that this is what Jesus meant when he was speaking these words shows an ignorance of Scripture.

Secondly, the ICOC meaning does not fit with the second half of the sentence. To say, “Seek first what’s best for His righteousness”, “His righteousness” being the subject matter in need, makes entirely no grammatical sense whatsoever in the context of what is being said. Adhering to the context, the subject matter in need is the unsaved people that Jesus was speaking to. They were in need of God’s Kingdom and His righteousness. That is why Jesus was telling them to seek the Kingdom and His righteousness before other things. This is the biggest problem with people using things out of context or using half of a sentence to try and support a view or a teaching. It is gross error of exegeses. And it leaves one to think that it was done intentionally.

 

Discipling/ Rebuking

 

Many former members have claimed that the leadership of the ICOC has abused it’s authority through harsh demeaning, abusive, controlling “discipling” that many times has had the effect of tearing people down rather than building them up. This includes harsh rebuking and undue pressure to seek and accept advice. It is asserted that the leadership goes way beyond the authority given to them in Scripture, using intimidation to get members to submit to them in all areas of their lives. I am not suggesting that people refrain from seeking advice. On the contrary, Scripture teaches us the invaluable rewards of doing so. However, individuals should never feel pressured to do so. Nor should they ever feel expected or obligated to follow the advice given. Advice is just that, advice, an opinion given by men. It is not a command from God. It should never be put on the same level as words spoken by God. The apostle Paul was careful to note the difference. To reject advice, or even human instruction, is not a sin. (For a more in-depth treatment on Biblical authority, read Led By Men Or Led By God? and chapter 3 of Mary Alice Chrnalogar’s book Twisted Scriptures, which can be ordered at most Bible book stores.)

In Scripture, Timothy was instructed to correct, rebuke and encourage “with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Tim 4:2)Scripture teaches us to admonish and correct one another with wisdom, gentleness, and respect. As Christians we are to clothe ourselves with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Col 3:12) This includes people in leadership. Paul instructed Timothy, a brother in leadership, that the Lord’s servant “…must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth…”(2 Tim 2:24-25) The only time anyone was instructed to rebuke “sharply” was in reference to people rebelling against the word of God and teaching false things for dishonest gain. To this Paul said to “rebuke them sharply so they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths...” (Tit 1:13-14) The “Jewish myths” refers to legalistic error. It was a very specific situation.

As for being rebuked openly in front of others, the only place where Scripture instructs such a thing has to do with ‘Elders’ who sin. “Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.” (1 Tim 5:19-20) The NAS translates verse 20 as, “Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also may be fearful of sinning.” Still, it says nothing about rebuking in anger or in a demeaning fashion. To do so violates Scripture.

On a side note, the Chicago church elder, Isaiah Pickett, was disfellowshipped and ‘marked’ by leadership without ever once being rebuked “in the presence of all”. In fact, during a meeting of the church that the leadership called for to inform the church of their actions, several members brought up the fact that they, as the church, should be informed of the reason for Isaiah being disfellowshipped and were bullied into silence by leadership. The actions of the Chicago leadership constitute a flagrant disregard for Scripture as well as an un-Biblical brandishing of authority.

The question is now raised: Is the leadership of the International Churches of Christ (a.k.a. Boston Movement), as a whole, guilty of abusing Scripture and Biblical authority? Is the leadership also guilty of attempting to control individuals by manipulating and pressuring them into discipling relationships that are not Biblical and to adhere to advice given by those in leadership roles?

(comments by former members)

“We were discipled HARD about personal visitors, but don't forget the leaders also got discipled about EACH PERSON in the house church and/or Bible Talk that they led. Every time someone in my HC wasn't giving contribution or bringing visitors, I was responsible and got the rebuke for it. I was always expected to ‘pass it on’ to the disciple, but to be honest, I did not always do so. And I can honestly say that NOBODY in my house church ever got a tenth of the rebuke that I got for ‘ their sin’.”

“That singing was great, but you can't believe (well, yes you can) the REBUKES and DISCIPLING the music leaders were subjected to in order to get everyone fired up. I have never known such intense pressure in my life. We were scrutinized for every gesture and expression. Sometimes I would get angry inside because I would be up there sweating and singing till my throat hurt, but the congregation wasn't ‘fired up’ enough. Guess who got rebuked for that? Of course, it was my sin that kept God's people from singing joyfully.”

“My girlfriend was harshly rebuked for missing a Wednesday service in order to study for finals.”

“Our evangelist T---- R----- had a midweek and harped on all the ‘fat’ sisters. He said that he did not care who he offended because sin is sin!!!! So as an off shoot this group formed. He had this woman who was an intern named C---- (who was as skinny as a bean pole and never had a weight problem in her life!!!) lead this group. We were forced to go….She basically sat around and told us how we were in sin because we were overweight and that sin could keep us out of heaven if we did not change it. I have a history of eating disorders and I told her that this was very unhealthy for me to be in this group. She told me that there were no such things as eating disorders and that it was a lack of self-control.”

“I don’t know if this was a thing in NYC only but there was a group here called Food Group…. Most of the time we talked about how we ‘used food’ in our lives instead of depending on God. The problem was that the church felt that we overweight ones were not being treated ‘tough enough’ -we weren’t losing weight fast enough. It was just another place to get rebuked and ridiculed…. The d-sessions were degrading and cruel. Usually we were yelled at, rebuked, verbally laid out for our lazy, debaucherous lives. I usually left every week feeling like I was ugly, disgusting and no way could anyone, including God truly love my fat butt…. We were told over and over again, the reason why you don’t have dates, are not getting married and won’t in the kingdom is because your sin is obvious and why would brothers want to be with such a weak sinful sister?”

“I bummed a ride for the first week at the new job, then, with financial help from my parents, bought a new car…. I was rebuked quite harshly, I might add, for going out and buying a new car without getting advice (permission) from my discipler, BT leader, evangelist, etc.”

“I was already in hot water with my roommate/discipler. I wasn't getting up early and having quiet time, rather, I was doing it on the bus in the morning, or, if I biked into work, I was using my breaks. Mostly it was because I was out the door by six am. I was living with my discipler and had no money of my own. I had been directed by the hierarchy to move in, she'd take out money for room, board, and of course, my contributions to the kingdom. I cannot believe to this day how odd this was, and that I went along with it. I came home from work one afternoon and I made myself dinner. I had a salad and broiled a pork chop that I found in the freezer. I thought this was what room and board meant. Well the next afternoon she confronted me with the wrapper she'd found in the trash. She was livid. Apparently room and board didn't include meat products, and I was ‘totally in sin’ for eating a pork chop when I was clearly overweight by church and Los Angeles standards. Especially *HER* pork chop. She frantically called HER discipler and required me to confess to her, and she was also yelling ‘tell her you're not doing your quiet times, either!’. Oi, the tirade went on and on. That evening I was invited to a ‘ladies’ gathering, or so I thought. It was more of one of those ‘interventions’, where they were there to make me confess my sin and agree to go to weight watchers. Also they made allusions that it was probably because of my ‘eating disorder’ that I was not bearing fruit. They actually got me to call a nearby friend and invite her over to this strange gathering, to prove my faith or some such nonsense.”

“I was rebuked for missing a wedding that was for someone I didn’t even know, because I had another wedding to go to that my husband (who was not a member) and I were IN!!!…. I got rebuked again the next day for staying so long and not rushing home early enough to go to the movies with my Family Group.”

“After Bible Talk one evening I was ushered into a room in the apartment away from the sisters and any visitors. Practically surrounded by five brothers, my discipler and the sector leader, I was rebuked for a sin that I had already confessed to God and was sure that I had been forgiven of. I had mentioned it to one other brother. He was the only one I told so I guess he went to leadership and told them. So much for confidentiality. I was pretty much raked over the coals because I had not confessed my sin to my discipler. That was one of the things we were supposed to do, confess all of our sins to our discipler. I tried to convince them that I had repented and confessed to God and asked for His forgiveness. That didn’t seem to be good enough. I was told that I did not appear broken over my sin. I guess that was because I had not come to them in tears or something, and because I wasn’t in tears now. I told them that it had occurred more than a month prior and I had already confessed to God. According to Scripture, God forgives me and casts my sin into the sea of forgetfulness. So why was it being brought up again. I was told that they were to judge whether or not I was truly broken over my sin. I was told that if I committed that sin again I could be kicked out of the Kingdom of God. This went on for almost two hours. I was also labeled a womanizer because I spent more time with sisters than I did with brothers. It was like a tribunal and it was very intimidating. I was told that I needed to learn how to have better relationships with the brothers and that I would learn this through serving them. I was instructed to become a “servant” to my discipler. Every day I was to make his bed, clean up his room, do his laundry when needed, and any other daily chores that he normally had to do. I was to do this for a month. I didn’t understand how that was supposed to help me have better relationships with the brothers, but I agreed to it just to get the heck out of that room. I remember agreeing to several things just to get out of that room. I remember thinking as I left, ‘this is not of God.’ But I didn’t have the strength to fight against it. ”

Show me one Scriptural support for any of the harsh rebuking mentioned above, or any reference in Scripture to the controlling, domineering type of discipling relationships that appear to be practiced in the ICOC.

[statements by leadership]

(before 1995)

“When you say, when you recognize, ‘Hey, my opinion, I believe it’s the right opinion. But that’s not what my discipleship partner wants to do. Ok, his opinion is what we’re gonna do. Philippians, chapter 2, I’m going to consider him to be better than me.’, you will take down a lot of walls right there.” (Gary Herrell, Destroying Negative Thinking, Asian Missions Conference, 1989, sd 1)

Yes like walls of intuition and better judgment. From what he is saying I would think that a better title for the speech would be Destroying Critical Thinking As a Tool for Gaining Conformity.

“If I don’t have a vision for my discipling relationship, they’re not going to grow and become a dynamic man or woman of God. They aren’t! You’ve got to have vision for them…. It’s your vision that’s going to change their lives.” (Henry Kriete, Discipleship: Passing the Torch! Part 1, Toronto COC)

“You, know, someone who’s radically changed my life in this regard is Marty Fuqua…. He has really just radically changed my whole character and nature.” (Byron Parson, Discipleship: Passing the Torch! Part 2, Toronto COC)

“When I looked at John I said, ‘Brother, we’re gonna be best friends and brother I’m gonna make your marriage great. Brother, I’m gonna make you a great father.’ I said, ‘Brother, I’m gonna make you a great discipler of men.” (John McGuirk, Gaining and Baptizing Disciples, DPI)

I was under the impression, from what Scripture states, that it is Christ in you, by the Holy Spirit, that changes your life, not the physical efforts of another human being. Even Paul said, ‘I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.’(Gal 2:20) We can do our part to teach, set a right example, pray for people, etc., but ultimately we cannot change people or make them do anything. Nor should we try. That we must leave to the Holy Spirit working within them and their yielding to Him. It is very boastful for Mr. McGuirk to assume that it is he, himself, who is going to do anything to change this brother. But that seems to be the attitude of many people in ICOC leadership.

“Whenever it talks about specific disciples being with Jesus, who’s mentioned? Peter. But, you know, he’s got one up on the other disciples cause he was there one time when nobody else was around. Do you know when that was? In the courtyard. In the courtyard when Jesus was being molested, spat upon, hit with a staff, he got to see how Jesus reacted. Let me ask you, brothers, how do you think Peter’s martyrdom went? I’ll bet you he acted just like Christ. Because he was there when Christ was about to be crucified…. What in the world was Peter doing in the courtyard?…. He wanted to be with Jesus. He was ‘aggressively available’. Brothers, we are going to have to fight for time with the people discipling us.” (Ken Guidroz, Discipling: Passing theTorch! Part 2, Toronto COC)

It is difficult to read these quotes without commenting. They are in such gross error. And it makes one wonder if these people in Leadership have trouble reading. To begin with John had one up on Peter. John was actually AT the crucifixion. And Peter was not watching while Jesus was beaten and molested. Scripture states that Peter went only as far as the courtyard of the high priest, not inside where the trial was being held. And he was warming himself at a fire with the guards. Mark states that during the trial before the Sanhedrin, Peter was “below in the courtyard”. (Mk 14:66) All four Gospels state that Peter followed “at a distance” and Matthew states that the reason Peter was in the courtyard was “to see the outcome” of the trial. And it wasn’t until after Peter left the courtyard to weep bitterly that the guards began to beat Jesus. Peter never witnessed it. Finally, at the very time Peter was being “aggressively available”, as Mr. Guidroz puts it, he was actively disowning Jesus three times! Peter was not being so noble, fighting for time to be with Jesus, he was following at a distance and denying Jesus out of fear for himself. But the truth doesn’t help to support what Mr. Guidroz is trying to feed his audience.

“First point, we need to have inspiring imitation. Look at Acts 4, verse 13. ‘When they saw the courage of Peter and John, they realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men. They were astonished and took note that these men had been with Jesus.’ What is the ultimate compliment? Is somebody to look at you and your life and your ministry and to say, ‘Man, that guy is like Jesus’…. And that’s what they said about Peter…. When they saw Peter’s courage, they thought of Jesus…. I believe Peter was an imitator. He was an imitator. And, uh, because of that, because of what he had seen in Jesus, he became just like Jesus.” (Ken Guidroz, ibid)

“Paul says, ‘I want you to imitate my life. Well, how you gonna do that? I’m gonna send Timothy. Timothy is such a carbon copy of me. His attitude is so much like mine, his heart is so much like mine, his teaching, his way of life, how he responds to persecution is so exactly like me, I’m going to send you Timothy. And if you look at Timothy, you’re seeing the apostle Paul’… Now that needs to be the goal of our discipling relationships.(Henry Kriete, Discipling: Passing the Torch! Part 1, Toronto COC)

Talk about adding to what is written. Imitation is not what changed Peter. Imitation is not what brought him from being afraid and disowning Jesus three times to having a courage that surpassed his natural ability. It was being filled with the Holy Spirit. It was not his strength, but that of the Holy Spirit. If he was like Jesus, it was not because of what he had seen in Jesus, but because Jesus was living in him through the Holy Spirit. And all that Paul actually said was that he wanted the people to imitate his way of life and that he would send Timothy who would remind them of his way of life. He never suggested anywhere that it was because Timothy was a “carbon copy” of himself, or that if people looked at Timothy they would be seeing the apostle Paul. This is conjecture by the leadership of the ICOC because it helps to support what they teach about discipling.

“And you know this guy has blown it as bad as he could possibly do it. And you rebuke his socks off! And he finally breaks. And he’s in tears and he, ‘Man I blew it [sic] Can I be saved?’ ‘Yes you can be saved.’ And the grace of God covers over all this stuff. But then you decide for about the next week or two you are going to ‘cold shoulder’ him and keep him understanding just how bad his sin was. That’s a ‘doghouse’. There were no doghouses in Jesus’ ministry. Brothers, we cannot afford to have ‘dog houses’ in our ministry. There’s too much to do. We cannot afford to have anybody sitting around in the dog house.” (Byron Parson, Discipling: Passing the Torch Part 2, Toronto COC)

I think what alarms me the most is not that people participated in this practice of “doghouse”, but that enough people were doing so that they actually gave it a name. And the only reason Mr. Parson states for ending this practice is because of a statistical matter, not because the practice is pure, gross SIN. On top of that, he seems to support rebuking peoples “socks off” to the point that they are “in tears”. None of this is Scriptural.

“Here in Acts, Chapter 9, verse 18, after Ananias has taught him, it says, ‘immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes and he could see again…” (Al Baird, Go and Baptize Disciples, 1987, sd 1)

Again, leadership is adding to Scripture to push their teaching and practice of the one on one studies. Acts 9:18 says nothing about Ananias ever ‘teaching’ Saul (Paul) anything, especially not 8 or 9 studies on how to become a disciple of Jesus. Paul even stated in the first chapter of Galatians that he was not taught the gospel by any man, but received it by revelation straight from Jesus. But this truth has no place in the ICOC mentality where it is taught that the only way to Jesus is through the initial one on one studies of the ICOC. Most of these quotes were made by people in high levels of leadership, people that should not be making these kinds of errors and should know Scripture better than it appears that they do. It makes one wonder if they are not doing so intentionally.

“But I don’t ever, sisters, just don’t ever come and say to me, ‘Isn’t that legalistic?’ Just don’t say it to me, all right? It would be a bad move. [Dave: ‘Bad move.’] All right? It would be a bad move. I’m not much of a rebuker, I mean, every once in a while I’ll level out a good rebuke, but over all I’m not much of a rebuker. But THAT one, I will rebuke.” (Cathy Eastman, Christian Dating, 1991, sd 2)

(1995 to present)

“I don’t care how many years you’ve been in preaching, let people see your progress. Well, what’s progress? Number one is depth in your preaching, insight in your preaching, the ability to inspire even when you’re rebuking the TAR outta them!(Kip McKean, Preach the Word, Johannesburg World Leadership Conference, Aug 95)

“Peter was real. He messed up a bunch. But he felt the freedom to do it, with God. And when it was all said and done, he was one of the two main leaders in the whole kingdom…. A most awesome, awesome man. How’d he become awesome? He just felt free with Jesus to mess up and Jesus discipled the tar out of him. They had a great relationship.” (Gordon Ferguson, Discipleship, 1997, tape 4, sd 1)

“If you don’t have discipling in your life, you don’t have somebody speaking the truth to you in your life, you cannot remain in the vine. God will cut you off.” (John Hafer, Getting Tied In, Oahu COC, Aug 30, 1998, sd 1)

“We’ve done that by the way, we got our tails discipled. [Gary: ‘Oh yes.] Like that’s the discipling time that stands out most in my life. [Gary: ‘Yep’] When we blew it. [Gary: ‘I got laid out!’] We were laid out. [Gary: ‘Dan’s hair was flopping up and down. He was so mad at me. Whoo!] We’ve been there.” (Gary and Jody Vermass, Dating Workshop, NYC, April 6, 2001, sd 1)

“Without discipling partners a number of these verses will never be carried out. For example, you stop and think about churches generally, ‘confess therefore your sins to one another and pray for one another.’ Now, how many people in churches confess their sins? They don’t do it! You know they don’t do it! Uh, if you don’t have some set up where you’ve got an intimate enough setting to do it, you’re not going to do it. Oh you may respond in a public service occasionally and confess that you have sinned, but I mean confessing sins specifically is what James says. And you don’t do that without the intimate settings.” (Gordon Ferguson, Discipleship, 1997, tape 1, sd 1)


The following quote was from a sermon on relationships and dating using the book of Ruth as support. After drawing parallels between Naomi and discipling partners, the speaker, Kiesha Williams, reads Ruth 1:14-19 and then states,

“But you know, the point is it says that Ruth clung to her. Does that describe your discipling relationships? That the thought of being torn apart from this person or separated would break your heart?…. I mean, what really is your heart, your attitude toward discipling?…. Do we have that kind of loyalty to the people God has put in our lives because we believe that this is the person that God thinks I need to be with in order to become the woman that God wants me to be right now?” (Keisha Williams, Relationships and Dating, NYC, Jan 5, 1997, sd 1)

Ms. Williams is pushing the idea that members should feel the same way about a person that they might not even have known very long (very common with discipling relationships in the ICOC) as Ruth felt about Naomi, a woman that had been her family for 10 years. She also pushes the idea that members should believe that it is God who selected their discipler for them, and that they should have the same loyalty toward their discipler that Ruth had toward Naomi.

“And her attitude in verse five [of chapter 3] was, ‘I will do whatever you say.’ Is that our hearts when we’re given advice? How do you see advice?…. We’ve gotta just decide, ‘You know what? Everything that somebody tells me, I’m going to pray to believe that it is directly from the mouth of God.” (Keisha Williams, ibid)

Here is a classic example of the manipulation by leadership. Ms. Williams is using this Scripture to teach that the correct attitude ICOC members should have is “I will do whatever you say” concerning matters of advice (opinion areas not addressed by Scripture) given by their ‘discipling partners’ as if it were directly from the mouth of God. But that is not what the Bible teaches. In fact, such teachings contradict Scripture. (read: Led By Men Or Led By God? for a more detailed discussion on this subject) When Ruth told Naomi, “I will do whatever you say”, she was referring to a very specific issue the two had just discussed concerning a particular situation. She was not referring to every word that would come out of Naomi’s mouth. Previously Ruth had disagreed with what Naomi had told her to do, adamantly refusing to do it. (Ruth 1:15-18) If Ruth had followed Naomi’s advice she would never have been in the land of Israel taking care of her mother-in-law, worshipping the one true God (the God of Israel), with the opportunity to marry Boaz. She would have been back in her homeland worshipping the false gods of the Moabites instead. (Ruth 1:15) Ruth certainly did not believe that every word spoken by Naomi was “directly from the mouth of God” and therefore should be unquestioningly obeyed. Neither should we believe such about ‘discipling partners’ or church leaders. With that kind of mind set it is easy to see how even relationships can be manipulated.

“There came a point in Kendal and I’s relationship, um, you know, he was having to wrestle with going into the ministry full time, and the timing of it and working with it. And he needed to be able to take the advice of the spiritual men around him and step out on faith. And I’ll never forget Rhonda and I having a talk and she said, ‘You need to pray because whether or not he’s willing to take this advice is going to show you whether or not he’s the man for you, whether or not he’s the man that’s going to get you to heaven.’”(Dian Knight, Couples Facing One Another, Singles Retreat: “Face Off”, 1998, sd 2)

So Dian was being told that Kendal’s acceptance of other’s “advice” to go into full time ministry was going to dictate whether or not he was the right man for her to marry. The future of their relationship rested on Kendal’s ministry status and his obedience to other’s “advice”. This is the kind of counseling Dian was receiving from her discipler. Was this perhaps because Dian was in leadership (or being groomed for it) and they couldn’t have her marrying a man who was not going to be in full time ministry, as many of the accusations concerning relationship manipulation have declared? And from Dian’s response, this was an idea that not only had not even occurred to her until it was introduced by her discipler, but an idea that she was initially opposed to.

Excuse me?! Now?! After I’ve given my heart away?!. No, no, no, no, no, no, no! No, don’t tell me that, now! Don’t tell me that, now! No! No!” (Dian Knight, ibid)

But like a good disciple with the attitude of “I will do whatever you say”, believing that what she was being told was “directly from the mouth of God.”, she “listened”, and prayed that he would take the advice. Fortunately for her he did and today, according to her, they have “an awesome marriage”. This, of course, begs the question, “If Kendal had not accepted the advice to go into full time ministry, would Dian have been advised not to marry him?” Having the attitude, as members are taught to have of believing that everything they are told when given advice is “directly from the mouth of God”, would she have listened?

“One night he said, ‘Okay, you gotta learn how to do this. Now, next Sunday when we do the workshop, you do the night sermon, the PM sermon’. Fine. That’ll be good. With him in the audience I got up and preached HIS sermon exactly; intonations, gestures, the whole nine yards. I had to change a couple of illustrations, but, even then, I strained to find some just like his.” (Gordon Ferguson, Discipling, 1997, tape 2, sd 2)

The Bible speaks about imitating the faith of your leaders, not their personalities or their intonations or their gestures. What makes a good preacher is not how well he imitates another preacher, but the leading of the Holy Spirit at work in him.

“Guys. Weak Christians, those who are falling away; too many of us, too many of us ‘doghouse’ them. ‘Are you falling way? He needs to fall away and fall on his face and then, amen, I’ll get him back.’” (Kendal Knight, Goin Fishing, 1999 Brooklyn Leaders Retreat, Aug 12, 1999, sd 2)

I don’t know what is more alarming, the fact that this practice continues to occur or the fact that it occurs so much so that it warrants a label. And again, these are people in leadership being addressed. At least the speaker is calling for them to curb the practice.

“Judas even went and tried to repent, tried to give the money back, although it was too late. But see, Peter had relationships. He had relationships that were going to keep him within the promise. ‘Hold on, Pete. He said he’d come back. He told us He would resurrect’.… ‘I mean, I fell asleep on him in the garden, too. Listen, Peter, you are not alone.’ ‘Man, I was the one that out ran you when the crowd came.’ ‘At least you turned around and went back to follow Jesus into the courtyard. Man, I hid for my life here. Listen, we’re all in the same boat. STAY FAITHFUL!’ See, Judas didn’t have that. Judas was cut off from the relationships.” (Bill Moulden, Changing Colors, Oct 25, 1998, sd 2)

It amazes me how little ‘fact’ some of these leaders hold to in their attempts to push their teachings. The above quote is almost all conjecture, fantasy created to push their version of discipling relationships, suggesting that without these discipling relationships a person is doomed to fail as a Christian. One of the many abusive practices within these discipling relationships is the expectation of confessing all of one’s sins to the person assigned to be their discipling partner.

“Some of us have never dealt with sin in our lives. You’ve never sat down and been completely honest with another human being. Maybe you’ve been religious and gone to church and said, ‘Well I confessed my sins to God.’ Well that’s wonderful and all, but you’re never gonna change and you’re never gonna be able to really deal with yourself until you get open with another human being… And that’s what it takes if we’re going to get in to the true vine.” John Hafer, Getting Tied In, Oahu COC, Aug 30, 1998, sd 1)

According to Mr. Hafer, one cannot get into the “true vine”, which is Jesus, unless people confess their sins to another human being, their discipling partner.

“This is not the church for you if you don’t confess your sin. Look at James 5…. This is not the church for you if you don’t confess your sin. [reads James 5:13-16] There’s many things about this passage that I don’t understand how they work. But what I do understand is that if I confess my sins to people I’ll be healed. I’ll get better…. But if we don’t want to let people into our lives and be open and confess our sin, this is not the church for you.” (Jon Morales, This Is Not the Church For You If…, June 3, 2001, sd 1)

Given the ICOC view of kingdom exclusivity, Mr. Morales is actually saying that the kingdom of God, thus being saved, is not for you unless you are willing to confess all your sins to another human being. This is totally unfounded in Scripture. Your place in the kingdom of God, thus your salvation, has nothing to do with whether or not you confess sins to another human being. This is a clear-cut fear tactic to get people to conform.

James 5:16 is used in the church a lot to seek to justify the ICOC practice of mandatory confession of all sins to a ‘discipling partner’, especially when someone challenges this practice. But James 5:16 does not support this practice of expecting members to confess all their sins to their discipling partners. It certainly does not support their discipling partner expecting them to call and give a list of the sins committed or struggled with. Nor does it support the practice of a discipling partner flat out asking what sins they have committed on any given day when they do call to report. 

“We have to be open about the sin that’s in our lives cause the Bible says in, uh, First John that when we confess our sins to one another, that God will purify us from all unrighteousness.” (Ronnie Ross, Forceful Advancement, Feb 25, 2001, sd 1)

This statement made by Mr. Ross is in violation of Scripture. Either he made a mistake, which I warrant is possible, or he took liberty with Scripture. That passage, 1 John 1:9, says that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” There is no mention at all of confessing to “one another” as Mr. Ross suggests. It is easy, given the teaching of the ICOC, to understand his suggesting that, but it implies something that just isn’t there. It implies that the confessing of sins, which is needed in order to be purified from unrighteousness, is confession to someone other than God. In fact, the Disciple’s Handbook teaches that King David, in order to keep purity of heart, confessed his sins not to God, but to the people of Israel. It is established by the writers of the Disciple’s Handbook that part of the process needed to “come to purity of heart” and to “keep the heart pure” is the practice of confessing sins. The question then asked is, “Who did David confess to?” Immediately after the question, in parentheses, is the statement,

“If you said ‘God’, think again. He wrote this Psalm of confession to be read and heard by all Israel.” (The Disciple’s Handbook, Discipleship Publications International, 1997, p 66)

It must be noted here that the phrase “purity of heart” and other similar phrases are used in Scripture in connection with forgiveness of sins and coming to right standing in front of God. The implication, therefore, is that God will forgive our sins only if we confess our sins to another person. Sounds a lot like the Catholic church. For an in-depth study of just how grossly in error this ICOC teaching is, and the deceptive lengths to which Kip Mckean went in order to propagate it, read Confess Your Sins.

“Number six. This is not the church for you if you don’t want to come to ALL the services, midweek, Bible talks, retreats, prayer meetings and when you go on vacation. This is not the church for you if you don’t want to come to all the services…. You see Jesus says that we must seek His kingdom first and His righteousness in Matthew 6. If you know your Bible somewhat you will know that the kingdom and the church are the same thing. Those who belong to God’s kingdom on earth, the church, will belong to His kingdom in heaven. And you see we have some people that think that it’s optional to come to a Bible talk or to midweek services or to the retreats or when we do events for the poor through HOPE or something else.” (Jon Morales, This Is Not the Church For You If…, June 3, 2001, sd 1)

How can someone in leadership decide that mandatory attendance to all church functions is a requirement for being in the church (a.k.a. the kingdom of God), especially when there is a monetary fee associated with attending some of those church functions? And making something a requirement for being in the church (a.k.a. the kingdom of God) is actually implying that it is a requirement for being saved. I defy anyone to show me anywhere in Scripture mandatory attendance to anything as a requirement for being in the kingdom of God, for being saved.

 

Tithing/ Special Contribution

 

“On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.”(1 Cor 16:2)

“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor 9:7)

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” (Mt 6:2)

“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. So that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”(Mt 6:3-4)

Many Christian churches practice tithing, a giving of 10% of one’s income to God. In Scripture it is referred to as the “first fruits” of the harvest. In the Old Testament, these first fruits were given to support the priests and Levites, the ones who ministered in the temple. Today, the tithe is given to support the ministry of the church. This includes the salaries of those in the leadership as well as any position where someone is actually employed by the church. It is taught in many churches that tithing is Biblical and expected by God. Other churches teach that we are not bound by certain Old Testament practices such as tithing. They teach that we are free to give what we choose and can afford to give. They cite 1 Corinthians 16:2 where Paul makes instruction about the collection of God’s people. Paul tells them that each one should set aside “a sum of money in keeping with his income…”. He never mentions how much or that it should be 10%. Other churches teach that we are not bound by Mosaic Law, but that tithing is a faith response to God following the example of Abraham giving a tenth of everything to Melchezadech, as did Isaac and Jacob, previous to the existence of the Law. In any case, all camps agree that giving should not be done reluctantly or under compulsion as Scripture plainly states.

But is it Biblical for church leadership, of churches that teach tithing, to police a congregation to insure that every member gives at least 10% of what they make every week? Is it Biblical that church leadership has the authority to ask for full disclosure of a person’s salary and assets so as to monitor that person’s giving every week? Is it Biblical for church leadership to teach and expect 10% of someone’s “gross” income rather than their “net” income? Is it Biblical for church leadership to harshly rebuke people for not giving a full 10% every week or exactly on time, while openly praising and lifting up those who give more than 10%? And is it Biblical for church leadership to expect or demand a tithe from someone that has lost his or her job, or is a student with no current income who is being supported by his or her parents?

And what about the subject of “contributions”? Is it Biblical for church leadership to set an amount of money for a contribution and expect each member of the congregation to give that specified amount? Is it Biblical for church leadership to manipulate people through guilt tactics in an attempt to get them to give the specified amount? Is it Biblical for church leadership to set up a system for giving contributions that gives them power to monitor each person’s contribution amount for any other reason than to provide, for those who want it, receipts for tax deduction purposes?

And finally, is it Biblical or ethical for church leadership to expect sacrificial living on the part of the members of the congregation (preaching adamantly to them on the subject) to insure higher tithing and contribution amounts, while they, themselves, live just the opposite? The answer to these questions is a resounding NO! Anyone in church leadership who is a party to any of this is not only abusing their Biblical authority; they are flagrantly violating Scripture. They need to be called to repent.

NOTE: Given the subject matter, and the overwhelming response concerning it, a larger number of excerpts from former member testimonials have been included under this topic. I, the author, have chosen to provide only the first letter of names appearing in these testimonials, both of former members and current members, out of respect for all persons involved. Also special contribution is referred to at times as ‘special’, ‘Spec Cont’ and ‘special contro’.

(comments by former members)

“It really bothered me that I worked so hard to give the church 10% every week as well as special missions, when I was making less than $20K a year in NYC, and the sector leader and his wife (J-- and T----- B----) had a beautiful two-bedroom apartment on the upper west side with a spacious kitchen, living room, fireplace and office.”

“Credit Cards, I hate them. That’s where all my debt came from. I used to have to pay for my food with a credit card because it was the only way I could afford to eat, yet I some how gave my contribution every week. When I talked to my discipler about it at one point she felt it was fine that I was doing what I needed to do. Sick!”

“The $800.00 was only about two-thirds of the amount I was supposed to give, and I just didn't have the rest. I remember my zone leader was just appalled. I was in ‘leadership’ and needed to ‘set the example’. Oh geez. Sometimes even just remembering and talking about this stuff makes that suffocating feeling of bondage come back.... I know that last year they told us as a church that once all the churches for 2000 had been planted that the multiplier was definitely going to take a downturn. I know there was a lot of relief in people’s minds and to think now they have been let down again. In Nashville last year, SMC was a big bust. It was the first year they didn't make the goal when the money was collected. It turned really ugly. They made everyone stay and wait for the money to be counted, and then when it came up short, they had all the region leaders come up and basically rebuke their group. They asked people to write more checks and everybody started scrambling. They finally came up with the right amounts and sent everyone home. The whole thing was just horrible.”

“I went to a financial workshop about one year ago. We were basically told that we were to give our ten percent plus, and many times over that amount, regardless of our financial situation. We were highly implored to live on rice and beans if that is what it would take for us to get to the point where we were living sacrificially, according to their standards of course. A story about a couple who had struggled to give their ten percent was told at the workshop. The speaker mentioned how proud the couple felt to be able to finally contribute 10 percent. I felt happy for them as they had succeeded at accomplishing one of their financial goals. At the following Wednesday midweek service, our local region leader spoke about the workshop. He brought up the story of the couple that had been referred to at the workshop, berated them because it had taken them years to get to the point where they were able to give a tithe of ten percent, and blasted them for having bought a house in the mean time. Of course his speech was directed at all of those who were not currently giving a tithe of ten percent. It was a guilt tactic. Even though I had no idea who the couple was that he was blasting, I felt very bad for them as anyone could have known their identity by the circumstances of their lives that were mentioned. His berating of them was totally uncalled for.”

“Another thing was that if you were getting married around the time of special contribution, you had to pay all of your special BEFORE you paid any of the expenses for the Wedding. They would hold people’s weddings off because they did not pay special! Unbelievable. Even hearing about the scripture about Ananias and whoever who died on the spot for holding money that they vowed to give, that made my body quiver! They would use any scare tactic possible to get us to pay!!”

“God forgive me, I remember being charged with rebuking a single Mom in my sector who couldn't meet her weekly contribution. She was giving something like $15 a week. My heart told me she was doing her best. My heart told me that I should NOT put even MORE pressure on her difficult situation by rebuking, etc. But my DISCIPLER, S----- L-----, told me to rebuke her. I don't think my rebukes were as stinging as some that others gave (I'm a pretty gentle soul) but I did rebuke P-----. I'll never forget how wrong it felt. FORGIVE ME P-----. If you're out there somewhere, I was wrong....so wrong.”

“I was responsible for Special Contribution and regular contribution as a BT leader. I knew exactly at all times what everyone was supposed to contribute. This information was updated as often as once a month, especially when BTs were changed around.... When my women did not give, I had to find out why and report it to the Sector leader in detail. I sometimes put the money in for them.... I knew of one woman who had a child (her husband left her cold). She was unable to give anything for special contribution. They came down on her for some reason. Everyone kept going up to her and asking her why she didn't save or sell something valuable from her home. She came to me at one point and said she couldn't take much more, she was feeling like a bad mother but also a horrible disciple. Many said she wasn't being a good example for her child.”

“Even as a teen, I was 'persuaded' to give generously...as much as 10 times monthly allowance...I had seen fellow teens giving up all their savings to the ICOC...they fail to realize most of teens are not working and should never be forced to contribute... I remember a circumstance when a fellow bro could not afford to contribute...he was rebuked in front of everyone.”

“We all had to write down a pledge amount and turn it into our bible talk leaders. Each week, as the contribution date neared, we had to update the amount we had on hand. If you were not close to it, then you were ‘chatted with’ and suggestions were given on how to meet it. It wasn't mandatory, but it was. Anchorage usually ‘blew it out’ because of the ‘PFD’. The state of Alaska pays all its residents a PFD each year for living here. This year it was about $1586.00 per person. Special Missions was always scheduled about PFD time so that everyone had money available.”

“I remember that in Morgantown, and presumably the entire Commonwealth World Sector, we had two additional HOPE campaigns each year where we were each given a flat goal of $120. The Pressure was on! I was required to phone my discipler each evening before 10pm to let them know how much closer I was to my goal each day this sort of accountability was true for special contribution as well.…. Also a note on weekly tithing. In DC, Morgantown and Tampa, I was required to keep a running tab when my funds were low (and even during times when I was unemployed and hence, no income). If I missed a week or was short a bit, I would end up ‘owing’ the church. When I lost my job this past summer, I had quite a bill running.”

“Well in Dallas, we had to do I think it was 18x your regular tithe and I remember one year we were in an apartment and I was pregnant with our 3rd child and we couldn’t give what they wanted us to, I think we ended up giving like $150 and I remember that they told us if we could afford to have another baby then we could afford to come up with the money somehow…Even if we sold furniture or things we had…. The special contribution form you turned in was like everyone said your tithe, then your tithe x the 18x then the amt you pledge and if you didn’t pledge the full amt you got questioned as to what was wrong, why couldn’t you, where was your money going? …. We had the HOPE for kids drive every year and you had to reach the goal of $125 per person. If you didn’t they would say you’re not reaching out or trying to get money from people for HOPE, etc. Basically you were wrong with God and even if you had to come up with it out of your pocket then so be it. You can live without other things.”

“One thing that really stands out to me about the special contribution is how subtly manipulative the pledge card is for one…. The pledge card looked much like a tax form. You entered your regular contribution amount in the top line, the second line to multiply it by X amount and put the result here. Right next to the last line was the statement, ‘This is your pledge’. Pretty clever, right? If you really can’t afford to give the amount, your only other options are to add up the pledge wrong or drop your weekly amount, which by the way is monitored by your family group when the collection is taken…. On a weekly basis, people are urged to give 10% of their gross income or more.”

“D----- had been out of work for 7 weeks (the only time in his adult life that he was out of work for more than a few days), and we had 2 toddlers and a newborn. We lived in a 2 bedroom, 900 s.f. apartment, and we had always joyfully given 10% of our gross salary…. As soon as D----- started working, his discipler wanted to know when we were going to ‘make up’ our 7 weeks of tithe and how were we going to collect 8x Spec Cont coming up. So now we were supposed to have 15 weeks of tithe after what we had gone through?…. We joyfully gave 4x for Spec Cont and were asked how could we feel any joy over not meeting ‘our’ goal.”

“The first contribution, the BIGGIE, 18x or more, is usually taken sometime between March and June. That is a special contribution for HOPE, etc. Then the church generally asks each sector to have their sector ‘retreat’…. Well all the disciples are expected to go there…. Then the following month, (the same month they campaign for HOPE) they have an 8x contribution that they generally say is used for church plantings and what we have been told to pay debt that our church owed to other churches. They have said that the other churches have covered us in special contributions (the Biggie). Interestingly enough there is a lot of money shelled out between March and October!!! Paying for both contributions and then the retreat, not to mention we were supposed to donate to HOPE.”

“G----- and I were Bible talk leaders and he was a sector administrator (responsible for collecting and depositing tithes). The summer of 1996 (May and June) we were having church in the park. This was ok once or twice but this went on for 2 months and I was 8 months pregnant. It was very difficult to be in the sun the end of June and also not have restrooms. I was asking what the deal was because this was such a bummer for me and of course I was told, 'Sister, where is your heart? Don’t you love Jesus?’…. I did have a friend in Oklahoma who was the church administrator there and she was a good friend of mine. I told her what was going on and she said, ‘Oh, you all are meeting in the park because you did not achieve you special contribution goal as a church.' I said, ‘So, what did that have to do with us meeting in the park?’ She said, ‘The church is responsible to give that money so we were meeting in the parks to save the rent money to use as special contribution.’”

“There was a tremendous amount of pressure regarding ‘special’ and it was discussed during EVERY mid-week. A friend of mine brought a visitor to mid-week and J-- K---- (City Sector Leader) admonished him for it because the visitor wasn’t ‘ready’ to hear about special and J-had to tailor his message around the visitor. He wasn’t happy about it at all…. Two weeks before Special, J-wanted a ‘mock run through’ to see how much ‘cash on hand’ there was. So another pledge sheet was distributed and people had to list that if special was collected tonight, how much money would be given. After the sheets were turned in, we had to meet as a d-group and discuss what we wrote. Each d-group was responsible for coming up with their pledge and those who made their goal needed to help those who hadn’t…. In San Diego my friend had gotten lifted up because she sold her engagement ring. We were told to sell family heirlooms, our car (if we had more than one), sacrifice lunches, coffee, soda, whatever…. If you sold something of value (sentimental and/or monetary) you were then lifted up and held in high esteem because you were so sacrificial and ‘godly’. During the Reconstruction of 1997 J-- and I were not put back on the membership list because we hadn’t met our ‘special contribution’ goal. We were told that we had bad hearts and we had to give a chunk of money in order to be put back on the list…. In January 98 the Seattle leaders had a financial devo and disciples were to get together with disciplers and go over their budget. It was to ‘help’ people get on track and be good stewards, but the first thing our disciplers filled in was our weekly tithe and how to plan for special. It also gave the church way too much information since our disciplers kept our budget sheets.”

“In Houston, the evangelist (taking orders form the Sector leader) would tell us that special contribution would be 18 or 20 or 22 times the weekly contribution. Meaning that if a member gave $10/week, then their special would be 20 x $10 = $200. They would add up all the expected special contribution for the zone, and if the zone did not meet its goal, the zone leaders were expected to make up the difference.”

“Special contribution was 18 times your regular contribution; but the students were encouraged to give 20 times to show how fired up they were. The pressure for special normally starts around 2 months before it is due. Your Bible talk leader encourages you to find a way to raise the money and it is talked about over and over again until the due date. You are reminded of the church in the book of Acts how they sold everything for the Kingdom and how Ananias and Sapphria held back some of what they had sold. Basically, not giving to special contribution is deemed as evil and an act that could send you to hell. People who do not meet their goal are told that they are not seeking first the kingdom…. The tithe is 10% (before taxes). There was constant pressure to pay this. Leaders will hunt you down if you do not pay this. It can be harassing. I remember my scholarship check being late a couple of times. As a result, I missed my contribution a couple of weeks. The leaders were constantly on my case. I felt so guilty and unspiritual. People who paid more than 10% were praised. 10% is the bare minimum.”

“The sector leader usually informed us what special would be. My last pledge was 20x (about $600). EVERYONE was expected to give. If not, you were considered unspiritual, selfish and a lover of money not God by leaders and other members…. I wanted to please God but if I did not give the full amount then I was made to feel I was cheating God…. So naturally my heart was BAD and I had to get right, which meant hours of prayer trying to cleanse myself of the guilt I was made to feel and begging God to forgive my ‘Selfish Heart’. That is the kind of pressure that was put on everyone…. The pledge card system works this way: whatever you write, you give, case closed. If you wanted to change it you had to meet with a leader and he would basically DIG into your life and try to find out why you would not want to ‘Give it all to God’. Then make you ‘See your Sin (Selfishness, withholding from God, etc.)’ and tell you to ‘Repent’…. The 10% is gross income. You could give 10% to get by but we were constantly challenged to give more. If you gave more you could be praised among the group as being a ‘devoted’ person who loves God with ALL that he has. So if you gave more you were accepted as spiritual.”

“We had a church-wide meeting where we were told that the churches in Africa are hurting badly financially, so next year’s special contribution for all will be 20 times our weekly contro instead of the usual 17. The church-wide speech was given by D-- C-----, evangelist who leads the Manhattan Super Region…. At the meeting held on Sunday, December 6th we were told that the 20x special contro was expected of EVERYONE, no exceptions. The few disciples I’ve talked to about it haven’t expressed much of anything. They’ve pretty much resigned themselves to it. Their attitude is sort of like, ‘Oh well, whatever it takes to meet the need’.”

“We had to give 17 times our weekly contribution. Push, push, push…. Anyway, the WC told me, ‘people have gone to hell over the special contribution’. I guess because their heart wasn’t ‘right’.”

Before listing quotes from leadership speeches and ICOC literature, I would like to take a moment to address a flagrant misuse of Scripture on the ‘apparent’ part of the ICOC. In addition to two excerpts used in this article, I have heard from many former members about the leadership’s use of the Ananias and Sapphira incident in the book of Acts to motivate members to give the amounts of money that the leadership specifies. It is clearly a scare tactic that works quite well, especially on people who do not have a healthy knowledge of Scripture. If you read the entire account located in the fifth chapter of Acts (verses 1 - 11), it is quite clear that the couple’s demise (punishment) was due to lying. They had sold property and claimed falsely that the amount given to the Apostles was the full amount of the transaction. In reality they had kept some of the money for themselves. They had tried to deceive the Apostles. Peter even asks Ananias, “Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?” There is nothing to suggest that they were punished for not giving all of the money. It was at their disposal to do with it what they wanted. Their punishment was for lying about the amount of the transaction, obviously attempting to put forth an image of themselves that wasn’t true. Peter even states to Ananias, “You have not lied to men but to God.” And he later asks Sapphira, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” To which her answer was, “yes”.

There is no Biblical support WHATSOEVER for using this event in attempting to persuade people to give the full amount of a pledge or goal that, according to former member’s claims, they were manipulated into making in the first place. And if someone makes a pledge, but then cannot accumulate the full amount for whatever reason, and states as much to the church, then that person is not guilty of lying or attempting to deceive the church. Therefore the Ananias and Sapphira incident does not apply. Using it in such a manner is outright extortion. In fact the Webster Handy College Dictionary definition of “extort” is: OBTAIN BY FORCE OR COMPULSION; WRESTLE FROM ANOTHER BY INTIMIDATION. And to extort money from someone is not only a sin, it is against the law.

The following are quotes taken from speeches given by those in the leadership of the ICOC, and from ICOC literature, which I believe sheds a light of credibility on the stories of former members contained in this article.

“Counting Team Leader Responsibilities: 1) Select and Train counting team, 2) Alert contribution coordinator regarding needed supplies or other issues, 3) Ensure that the contribution budget is met or exceeded.” (Meeting breakdown sheet, Financial Meeting, South Florida Church of Christ, April 24, 1999)

The “contribution budget” is the amount of money expected if every member tithes. How is it that a person in charge of counting money is going to “Ensure” that a certain amount is met or “exceeded”? What control does that person have over what other people actually contribute?

In an article published by the American Commonwealth Region of the ICOC entitled 1998 ACR Special Missions Contribution, under the sub heading of 22 Practical Ideas, a list of suggestions for raising funds for special contribution is provided. Among the 22 suggestions listed are:

“4. Participate in a study at NIH, or another reputable agency.
 6. Fast from a meal each day (lunch for example) and set aside the savings.
 7. Take out a loan.
10. Liquidate stocks or bonds.
11. Dip into your savings account.
18. Save away expense reimbursements, refunds, etc.
20. If your birthday is near, suggest ‘cash’ as a great gift!
22. Give plasma.”

In a newsletter entitled, Broward Newsletter, published by the South Florida Church of Christ, dated June 3, 1998, another list of suggestions for raising money for special contribution is provided. Among these suggestions listed are:

“3. Work another job while taking a vacation from your present one.
 6. Visit you local blood bank to give blood or plasma.
 8. Fast from meals.
 9. Avoid making any long distance phone calls.
10. Open the windows, turn on the fan and go without Air Conditioning.
15. Save $40 a month by canceling cable TV.
18. Don’t buy groceries, use what you already have in the pantry and refrigerator.”

I, for one, find it shocking that a church would suggest that its members give blood (or plasma) to raise money for contributions. But then again, here is a church that suggests its members go without air conditioning in South Florida in June. The first question that comes to mind is, “Are those in leadership (Kip Mckean, for example) going without air conditioning in the summer, cable TV, groceries, meals, etc?”

“God uses the special contribution to test our hearts - to see how sincere we are. Talk is cheap.” (Quiet Time Schedule Part I, Special Contribution Preparation, Oahu Church of Christ, May 29-June 1)

II. Prepare Your Contribution: 2Corinthians 8:10-15

Paul urged the Corinthians to fulfill what they had already decided to give. Hopefully by now you have saved all the amount you are planning to give. Be sure that you finish the work so that you will be able to give the full amount of June 21st. Perhaps you need to do a little part time work this week or skip some meals to make your goal. If you have already made your goal, consider what you can do between now and June 21st to give even more than what you have already decided to give.” (Quiet Time Schedule Part II, Special Contribution Preparation, Oahu Church of Christ, June 17-19)

“Realize that your sacrifice will mean someone’s salvation! Seriously consider raising your contribution.” (Quiet Time Schedule Part II, Special Contribution Preparation, Oahu Church of Christ, June 17-19)

“I’ve heard Christians say, ‘Nope, no thanks, I just prefer to live alone.’ You know, you can do what you want. Seems to me it makes more sense to live with a Christian, though. You save money, so you can give more money to Africa, amen, and the rest of the missions. Uh, and you get discipled 24/7.” (Randy Tinnin, God’s Dream for the Single Man, Singles Seminar: “What Dreams May Come”, 1999 sd 2)

“In our discipling with your little church, your Bible talk, you gotta disciple finances. As a Bible talk leader you should never say, ‘I don’t know why this guy’s not here.’ You know, if you know he’s not going to be there, get his check in advance for the contribution. GET THE MONEY. Show God the money.” (Kindal Knight, A Leader Is…, New York City Church, Aug 21, 1999, sd 2)

“How important are material possessions to you? How important is comfort and ease of life-style? Do you have the same attitude toward these things as God does? How willing would you be to sacrifice your present life-style if doing so would further the spread of the kingdom? How sensitive are you to appeals for increased contributions in the church? Do you need help with your heart in these matters? Will you ask for it?” (Gordon Ferguson, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory, Discipleship Publications International, 1996, p 140)

Ironically, the questions in the above quote are from a man who purchased a home back in 1996 for $235,000. He is also a part of a level of leadership that are living in homes, some of which had price tags of over $350,000 and some of which were actually purchased by the church. (see: Leadership Lifestyles)The following quotes and comments appear in the article "Additional Quotes" I have chosen to repeat them here because of the support that they give to the validity of the former member’s comments.

“The first year we got there we wanted to be self supporting. January, with 154 disciples, I had to go to the church and say, ‘Let’s give a 25 times contribution’. We wanted to start a Latin ministry that May. We had to give a 3 times contribution. That fall we had to give a 20 times contribution to Manila. The people that were there January one of 1990, that year in special contributions alone had to give a FORTY-EIGHT TIMES CONTRIBUTION!!! (Kip McKean, Malachi: God’s Radical Demand for Remaining Radical, Manila World Leadership Conference, 1994)

“I want to challenge you, challenge you with the example of LA, challenge you with the example of Russia, challenge you with the example of my life and say, ‘listen, I’m not gonna give this minimum 20-times. I’m going to go way beyond the minimum...” (Kip McKean, Glory, Australia Evangelism Conference, May 5th, 1996)

“When the first special contribution came, Al, wanting God to know his heart, and with the need for world missions, sold his house. Just like in the Bible, Acts 2, Acts 4. But today we’re not selling houses, we’re buying them. Now if you’re buying a house, how you going to ask someone to sell theirs for a special missions contribution?” (Kip McKean, Malachi: God’s Radical Demand for Remaining Radical, Manila World Leadership Conference, 1994)

And in reference to his view of giving (and living) sacrificially, Kip stated, in this very same speech,

“Our problem is, we don’t want to demand it of ourselves and so we don’t want to demand it of the people.” (Kip McKean, ibid)

Where does Scripture teach that the leaders of a church have the right or the authority to set “minimums” or demand specified amounts, in reference to contributions, from it’s members? Where does Scripture teach that leaders of a church have the right to be asking anyone to “sell” their house for a special contribution?

“Secondly, we give the contribution in the discipleship group. You say, ‘Well, won’t everybody see what’s happening?’ Mmmhmm. Mmmhmm! And we make sure they give their tithe. You say, ‘Why do you do that?’ Because the Bible says in Malachi 3, if you don’t tithe you’re robbing God. And we don’t want anybody to go to hell cause they didn’t, they robbed God. You say, ‘That’s awful hard-line.’ You bet your booties it’s hard-line. Someone doesn’t give, we ask why. We know who didn’t give by the end of the discipleship group. Questions are asked. We have almost a hundred percent giving in our church. Someone doesn’t give, they’ve got some attitudes.” (Kip McKean, The Super Church, Boston Leadership Conference, Aug 92)

First of all, you cannot keep someone from going to hell because you make (force) them do something. If their heart is not there it won’t matter. God judges the heart of a person. (1Ch 28:9, Jer 17:10, Pv 17:3, Mt 5:28, Lk 16:15, 1Thess 2:4, Rev 2:23) Secondly, if you are making sure people tithe, by whatever methods being used, then of course you will have almost 100% giving. But what does it matter if it is being done under compulsion. As Jesus stated, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spice-mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-justice, mercy and faithfulness. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” (Mt 23:23-24)

 

The Kingdom

 

It is no secret to former members that the long standing view of the leadership of the ICOC has been that the current version of this movement, begun by Kip McKean in 1979 in Lexington, MA, has an exclusivity on being the kingdom of God.

This is the true movement of God. There’s no other group, no other church, that can touch this.” (Kip McKean, Boston Congregational Meeting, 5/6/90)

“You think this is a church among churches, you can’t be a disciple. If you think there’s other churches out there you can go and be a part of and be just as good and just as saved...you can’t be a disciple.” (Nick Young, Friday Evening Message, Tulsa Reconstruction Weekend, Sept 1992)

In fact it is taught in the Kingdom Study of the ICOC that the church and the kingdom are one in the same entity, and taught through other studies that the uniqueness of ICOC teachings makes the ICOC the “one true church”. (For more quotes read, 3 Questions, "Quotes" and "Additional Quotes") Yet, when asked by media or people who are not members, the official speak of the ICOC allows for the possibility of being outside the membership of the ICOC while still being a part of the kingdom of God. Even in the introduction Who We Are, on the ICOC web page, it states,

“The International Churches of Christ are a family of Christian Churches whose members are committed to living their lives in accordance with teachings of Jesus Christ as found in the Bible.”

“A family of Christian Churches…”. This sounds wonderful at first glance, yet a bit deceptive given the true teaching and view of the ICOC. I guess that’s because in the ICOC view, as Kip McKean once stated to others in leadership,

“When you say we’re the only true church...that’s gonna tick the religious people off.”(Kip McKean, Preach the Word, Johannesberg Leadership Conference, Aug. 1995)

The presentation to the public is well orchestrated, as are the answers to the media. Yet when pressed during an e-mail correspondence in Aug of 1999, Al Baird, the official spokesperson for the ICOC, wrote,

“You seem to focus on what happens to a person who chooses to leave the ICOC. Obviously, God will decide that. But you want to know what I think and what I teach. If the ICOC is not the Kingdom of God (or a part of it), then a person had better leave it for their own salvation. If it is just a part of the Kingdom and there are any number of other choices locally, then I have totally missed what the Bible teaches about unity. If the ICOC is the Kingdom of God (which I believe it is), then a person who leaves it, leaves God.” (Al Baird, e-mail response: Teaching on dating / kingdom, Aug 17, 1999)

So, what is the truth concerning the teachings and leadership of the ICOC? One thing is for sure, it warrants deeper investigation by those involved and those who are being drawn to the facade of the ICOC.

As in my other articles published on this web site I challenge everyone, especially current members of the ICOC, to do their homework to verify for themselves the accuracy of these quotes and to study in Scripture the points brought out in this article. Paul said, “We are not looking for praise from men....We are not trying to please men but God who tests our hearts.” (1Th 2:4-6) I also urge every believer to follow Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians.

Test everything. Hold on to the good.”(1Th 5:21)

Pray continually so that you will not be deceived, and seek the Lord thy God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind, with all of your strength. Only there will He be found. (Jer 29:13-14, Dt 4:29)

Final Note: I also make this request: that people, regardless of how well meaning their intentions may be, refrain from copying the quotes contained in this article and tossing them around the Internet. Many hours were spent listening to tapes of sermons and speeches to obtain these quotes made by leadership. This article was written to deal with these statements, to help shed light on the error of ICOC practices and teachings. Because of the manipulation practiced by leadership, many of the members of the ICOC are unaware that these statements and teachings are in error of Scripture. Just listing the quotes or tossing them around the Internet won’t be of much impact to those members. Explaining the Scriptural error of these statements by leadership, the contradictions, and appealing to common sense is what will be of greatest value.

If there is a strong desire to make people aware of these quotes then please make mention of this article and link to it. They will get much more out of the article than they will by just reading a list of quotes. If, however, the desire is to merely enhance your own web site, I would ask you to sincerely pray about the motivation behind creating your web site in the first place. If anyone chooses not to respect this request, at least do your own research to make sure that the quotes are copied correctly and make sure that each has the correct bibliography attached to it. (The use of “ibid” after a quote means that it was taken from the same speech or article as the quote appearing just previous to it)

“…we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”(2 Cor 4:2)

 

(All Scripture references are taken from the New International Version unless otherwise noted. The use of bold type and underlining in Scripture references are for emphasis and do not appear within the Scriptural text of the NIV)

 

 

for more information contact New Covenant Publications at our e-mail address: or write to: New Covenant Publications, P.O. Box 167, Radio City Station, NY NY

 

 



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