Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Rise of the Portland movement: The Dumbing of the ICOC

Part 2: Kip’s Pawns – You’re Hired!

And so we find ourselves, at this point in our evolution as a brotherhood glumly staring into the future with trepidation. The Portland movement has spread their wings to the “farthest horizon” – the islands of Hawaii.

Here, sharp people of the university of Hawaii with the likes of a baseball captain and a professor of volcanology and a retired Navy Master Chief along with their wives becomes the “decision making couples” for the Hilo International Church of Christ. Let us note: none hold a degree in theology! The neon lights of Portland’s discipleship – Boston style – have become their inspiration. They like a moth drawn to a flame have followed “with eyes wide open” the fire of Portland International Church of Christ.

“In Hilo, the existing church leadership has called its membership [16 sold-out disciple members from a group of nearly 60] to the radical commitment” that is “to be a sold-out disciple and participate in all the worship services, a Bible Talk and in discipleship partner relationships.”

The stage was set for Kip and Elena McKean’s arrival in Hilo Thursday, September 14th 2006 “to rebuild the foundation of sold-out disciples” despite “a third of the congregation was against the new direction for the Hilo Church.” Sunday Kip preached a lesson entitled, “God Is On Your Side.” McKean reverie his recent trip to Hawaii in an article, A Tale Of Two Cities. He states: “I simply made the point that I was not calling people to be on “Portland’s side”, but to obey the Word and be on God’s side.” On the other hand he “told the “Portland Story” and preached about radically following Jesus.”

Here, we see the Portland movement descending into stupidity. How foolish for them to champion a document that has spliced the ICOC and gave rise to the “Portland’s side”. Incredulously, the Portland Story has redefined Biblical terminology! You interpret it your way; I’ll interpret it in mine. Furthermore, the co-boundaries of God’s side and Portland’s side are skilfully blended with stupefying ease.

Support for the rebuilding of the Hilo International Church of Christ spilled over to the Honolulu congregation, known as the Honolulu International Christian Church, which took effect from Sunday 24th September 2006. However, those islanders affiliated to the former ICOC who don’t want to commit to the flame of Portland were chastised by Kip as the “negative group” or “dissident group”. Here, the stupidity sweeping the Portland movement is a good dress rehearsal for what life is like under Kip’s leadership sins.

What about Douglas Arthur’s admonishment to Kip? What happened to Kip’s “Heartfelt Apology”? A Tale of Two Cities is a Dickens classic. However do you recall the fable of the Toad carrying the Scorpion across the river? It goes like this. “I am so sorry to everyone who is striving to be a dedicated disciple of Jesus. Please forgive my arrogance and disrespect in the Portland Bulletin articles and in my Sunday sermons, which are online. I do believe there are church leadership around the world that are trying very hard to restore the lordship of Christ and discipling.”

Now, even “Generation Y” has become aware of Kip’s nature. The ability to sting! What happened to the idea to picky-back Kip’s articles? Didn’t Kip felt “greatly honored” to comply with Doughlas Arthur’s suggestion “it needed to be critiqued by people outside the Portland congregation.” In particular “if Dough would do it”. Now remarks do the round … again … derived from Dough to Kip “spitting in the face of church leaderships that were trying to follow the Bible’s commands of discipling” and “You treated them like a stray dog that you kicked every time you passed by.”

The script of A Tale Of Two Cities states the “Honolulu elders and evangelist met at a separate location with the dissident group.” This is a tell tale story of the 1994 Indianapolis incident. Kip’s “one church – one city” policy will never allow God to “pull us together.”

Kip’s revisionism has polished the ICOC Unity Conference document, which entails “the decision to dissolve the world sector leaders group” during the Long Beach Unity Meeting in November 2002 to sound like a “forced resignations of the World Sector Leaders”. Perhaps the long-arm of the Portland movement is looking into reinstating a concept base on the WSL group in order to hold “God’s side” together.

Furthermore, there has been little debate for returning to the disciple relations as it was abandoned for the most part since HKL in February 2003. The fact is while we accuse McKean of annexing churches, more than 70 percent of the ICOC voluntarily handed over their collective brain to the Unity Proposal Group supporting Kip’s ideals of discipleship.

The question of an identity was not on the agenda until Kip McKean made his famous Portland Story. “At the 2005 World Missions Jubilee, the Portland church leadership believed that the time had come to begin calling a remnant of disciples to come together for God to use to evangelise the world in one generation. In response, disciples have moved to Portland from 24 different states, some church leaderships have asked for discipling, and several groups of disciples have left lukewarm churches to begin new congregations of sold-out disciples. Though there are sold-out congregations and disciples who are not aligned with Portland, our conviction is that in time God will pull us together.”

In reality, two mainstream ICOC groups do all our thinking and our agenda setting and many just limp lamely behind it. From “Portland’s side” without Kip McKean, it seems they cannot initiate any thinking projects!

By re-examining the Boston disciple approach is one of the main reasons we fear loosing our discipleship methodology. We are afraid of what we will become once our collective brain is taken away. Will we become like the “mainline” Church of Christ? Who will lead our policy interrogation? Who will construct and manage the complex web that is our governance matrix?

We look into the future and forget “how could the weaklings of the present rebuild what the giants of the past had been unable to uphold?”

McKean’s supporters – so dwarfed, intimidated and alienated by their strategist – warm to “do anything, go anywhere, give up everything for Christ”. In him they see someone they can “press on” to win the prize of global evangelisation in one generation. They see someone – a man of God, a leader, and a prophet – who can take them “From Here To Eternity.”

As the sun sets on the unity efforts of the two groups, the Portland movement and the United Cooperation Group, the “proven church builders” who served in a bygone era of Episode 1 scramble for the hearts and minds of ordinary ICOC folk. The majority look for light relief. In so much of 70 percent of the former ICOC now suspend their thinking capacity by embracing discipleship as truths we want to defend.

How did we get here? It is just a case of us mimicking the intellectual capacity of people who-wants-to-be-the-leader that has turned us into dolts!

Inasmuch as many would not like to believe so, this is the case. It is our refusal to be ourselves that has landed us in this predicament – being Kip’s Pawns! Although the majority is not for hire! It is the refusal of the ICOC membership to draw on its intellectual commonsense that has short-changed us.

The past year [2006] has been a period in which ICOC membership capable of intelligent conversation since the HKL turned into a global congregation of babbling fools.

If the strategists in the US ICOC ignore the dangers of the disciple approach as spelled out in Roy Davison’s article (Click on sidebar: Roy Davison) and lingering on Church of Christ Kingdom theology other fellowships in the world will make peace with the fact that this may be our future. Herein awaits us all a second wave of global persecution from outsiders as well as deepening the rift in the brotherhood of believers.

This perception is born out of reality.

Pawns march forward – one step a time. When blocked – they stagnate. However being dormant the rule of engagement awakens when unexpected chess pieces ventures within their reach.

Let us become keenly aware not becoming Kip’s Pawns. Let us not support discipleship relationships base on the bygone era of Episode 1. It is time for urgent thinking!

Are You For Hire?

Next weeks article: The rise of the Portland movement: Where Are The Churches?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Rise of the Portland Movement: Flaunting a Dead Horse

Part 1: What is the relationship of Kip McKean to ICOC today?

”Kip had a huge influence on our movement … That influence is not there anymore, and each congregation is making their own decisions. We want to move forward. Please don’t believe that the comments he makes are as if he is speaking for all of us; that’s not the case. And that’s not going to be the case in the future.” – Gregg Marutsky

The reins of Episode 1 were firmly in the hands of Kip McKean. Eventually, the horse bucked and the rider hailed as “God’s man” is without a horse to command. Today that horse is embarrassed of its former master. Herewith lies our question as asked by the panellist of the 2004 Faithful Conversations: “What is the relationship of Kip McKean to ICOC today?”

Thomas ‘Kip’ McKean founder and trendsetter of the Boston movement a.k.a. the International Churches of Christ (ICOC) is down but not out after having been rebuffed by concerned ICOC pressure groups for “calling out of the remnant disciples” from dying, former ICOC Churches’ in order to start an exciting Episode 2!”

Today the ICOC arena offers varying doctrinal conclusions. McKean a colossus of Episode 1 is no longer the sole arbiter of orthodoxy in the ICOC. This is to his disadvantage. His cracking reforms in the Portland International Church of Christ have estranged relations with the brotherhood. Nevertheless can they do without McKean?

Kip’s ‘unfortunate article, “The Portland Story”’ has persuaded the 2005 International Leadership Conference Committee ‘to take Kip McKean and his class, “Revival: Son of Man, Can These Bones Live?” off of this year’s International Leadership Conference teaching program.” Their reason: ‘The Portland Story that in our observation, while calling disciples to appropriate commitment to Jesus and His missions, also disparages and disrespects churches and leaderships around the kingdom in a way unbefitting the purposes of this conference.’ The International Leadership Conference was held September 8-10th 2005 in the Seattle Church of Christ based with the theme “By Faith”.

The crux of the Conference was decisions made by leadership ‘for the sake of our churches’ Maturity & Missions’.

What transpired before the Seattle Conference was the release of two proposals with similar ideals yet set apart in the manner they were written. Kip McKean issued a strongly worded statement during the Portland church World Missions Jubilee, August 21st 2005. A commentary from one of the reactionary ICOC churches summed it up perfectly. ‘Kip McKean is ‘calling people out’ of existing [ICOC] churches to what he considers a higher standard of commitment to counter the lukewarm faith and fruitlessness he perceived in the [ICOC] churches during the last couple of years [2003-2005].

McKean stressed that members of the ICOC churches must become “sold-out” disciples. Hot on his heals, the LA Unity Proposal released on 25th August 2005, apparently without their prior knowledge about Kip’s Portland Story emphasise that ‘every member in every church is expected to be a true disciple’. The LA leadership does not claim ‘that this proposal is, by itself, infallibly inspired by the Holy Spirit.’ ‘We have assembled a basic list of core convictions and principles upon which most, if not all, of us have lived our Christian lives since the beginning of our walk with God.’ [Some since 1967 and others since June 1st 1979 to the present] The Leadership Group of the LA ICOC are aware that ‘there will be some who may not be ready to join us in this action.’ Kip McKean ‘gladly joined the LA Church because we fully agree with the accompanying “Statement of Unified Brotherhood”. Portland’s elders in training are in accord with Kip. ‘We too commend the L.A. Church and their decision to introduce a vehicle to assist in helping churches to return to the standard of the Bible.’

Nevertheless, Kip’s strongly worded statement has upset many ICOC churches “calling out of the remnant disciples” from dying, former ICOC Churches’. They reacted against Portland’s plan for recruitment. ‘In the fall the Portland leadership will begin to seek out church leaderships in congregations that are struggling to ask if we can help them build a foundation of sold-out disciples.’

The elders of the Boston Church of Christ reacted with dismay and shock. They stated they ‘have grave concerns about our brother Kip McKean’s actions. While we love the man and are thankful for good he has done, we cannot be silent in the face of recent events.’ The Seattle Church of Christ could not allow Kip McKean to teach during the Conference due to some conference goers planning to boycott the proceedings if he was a guest speaker.

The moderate ICOC churches strongly opposed Kip McKean’s idea of ‘discipling other congregations’ with the help of ‘Overseeing Evangelists’ through means of Portland’s rescue effort in ‘replanting other places’ where congregations have ‘lukewarmness, no discipling and no evangelism’. Although the South Florida [Miami] Church of Christ oppose most of McKean’s plans they do acknowledge that they ‘must learn about [themselves] in these situations. Some of the criticisms raised in Kip’s article [Portland Story] are valid and apply to the South Florida Church. Lukewarmness in our relationship with God, lack of commitment to our love to each other, and the absence of evangelism are issues we must face in light of the Scriptures at a congregational level.’

Many moderate ICOC churches see the Portland Church as ‘divisive and dangerous’. In a resent sermon Kip stated: ‘there are three main charges against us. Number one is unwholesome talk. Number two is recruitment. And number three is division.’ Nonetheless, Kip reminds his followers that: ‘Our enemies are not these churches that wrote us up. Our enemy is Satan. And the sad thing is, I will guarantee that those letters are going to cause the falling away of people in this church [Portland] and other churches. I will guarantee it. I will guarantee it.’

In the aftermath of the Seattle Conference it is apparent that not every one is in favour of LA’s Unity Proposal or Portland’s Church rescue attempts. Orlando, St. Louis and San Diego ICOC churches objected to both calls. Atlanta, Vancouver, Orlando, St. Louis and San Diego oppose the LA Unity call. LA, Boston, Seattle, Phoenix, Orlando, St. Louis and San Diego oppose Kip’s call. Nevertheless, a repetitive pattern simulating the period of Episode 1’s disciple practices is emerging within the family of former ICOC. Many former ICOC churches start to embrace mentoring relationships as some referred to it as a commitment to our love to each other while others simply calls it discipling.

As stated before, Kip McKean despite being the frontrunner have now accepted that the ‘path may get a lot darker and a lot more lonely in the next few months or couple of years. Our issue is not, “Are we on their side or our side? Or anything. The issue is “Are we on the Lord’s side? What does God want us to do?” Many former ICOC churches are content to cut-off metaphorically speaking the head of the snake (Kip) while keeping the body (McKeanism). This strategy is clearly visible in Scott’s Green Seattle Church response letter to The Portland Story. ‘We would welcome them [Portland Leadership Group] “to be on the team,” with the Northwest family of churches and leadership fellowships. If not, then we wish them well, pray for them, but are both sad yet content to part company for the present time and move in a very different direction for our own church’s missions and maturity.’ Boston elders declared. ‘Kip’s actions are divisive and arrogant and must be stopped.’

Kip McKean was publicly reprimanded while attending the conference in Seattle. The Seattle Letter, according to Kip, ‘was read even the Wednesday night before the whole Conference there to all the people. And in particular it said, “Take special note of Kip”. I felt real encouraged by that.” Furthermore, the 33 worldwide conference-planning members barred Kip from attending any decisive decision making group like the Co-operation Proposal Group whose sole aim ‘is to review all proposals, prayerfully synthesize the best ideas from them, and by February 1, 2006 to submit a recommended proposal for brotherhood consideration to our family of churches. Kip admits he ‘also was not allowed to take part in the leadership shaping of the Movement. I was left out of that meeting.’ Over the period in Episode 1 members of the ICOC were informed to ‘take special note of Kip’. For example: “We thank God for raising up Kip and Elena McKean to lead us. Their vision, their commitment to God and their continual challenge to take Jesus to all the nations has spurred us on. God works through men and movements. But in the end it is all God. He takes us From Here To Eternity.”

Kip’s ‘leadership sins’ have become a stumbling block for many ICOC leaders.

McKean has saddled up another horse willing enough to obey his every command to ‘go anywhere, do anything and give up everything’. In 2004, celebrating his 50th birthday in Portland Kip stated: ‘I am just as vigorous to battle the spiritual forces of evil to evangelise the world as in the early days of Boston!’ The McKean’s resoluteness to ride out into “new frontiers” has contributed to the rise of the Portland movement. The futile attempts to reason with Kip by leadership from former moderate ICOC churches simulate a period in time when mature evangelists from the Church of Christ tried to reason with their young evangelists not to use vices like unwholesome talk, recruitment and division in order to bring about ‘a church within a church’ scenario.

Kip McKean has spurred his horse on at the August 2006 World Missions Jubilee held at the Portland ICOC. He is not interested to build the ICOC Church but Jesus Church! “I started the sermon by preaching that we are not building the Catholic Church, Lutheran Church, Methodist Church, Baptist Church, Mormon Church, a community church or even the ICOC Church. We have been called by God to build Jesus’ Church.” (Source: Report: Follow the Fire)

It is my opinion that Kip is done with the ICOC sentimentality. He is bend on conquest despite the criticism. McKean’s own experience will tell him not to waste any time in unifying the ICOC as he tried in the 80’s with the Church of Christ.

History is repeating itself. The reins are firmly in his hands.

“We are so grateful the McKeans still are pressing on and we want to press on with them to win the prize. We are not ashamed of Jesus and we are not afraid to associate with a couple that is preaching the Word and putting their lives on the line to see the world evangelised for Christ!”

This praise comes from Anita and Buzz Banadyga, Lead Evangelist of the Savannah Church of Christ. How striking is their words when compared to a bygone era known as Episode 1.

“Out of this darkness, [referring to: the 1970’s worldwide unrest among the youth.] God called a young man to start another movement for this generation.

(The Boston Movement)

Twenty years ago, on June 1, 1979, Kip McKean led a devotional in Bob and Pat Gempel’s living room for 30 would-be disciples of the Lexington Church of Christ. Here is where the Spirit of God initiated what men would call “the Boston Movement”.

THE RIGHT MAN: God raised up Kip McKean and gave him a radical message that would start a revolution in the lives of people all over the world in our era. …

God’s awesome plan is staggering in its wisdom. As the World Sector Leaders have imitated Kip and Elena’s faith and remained unified in the message, God used them to build the largest churches of any kind in many areas of the world. They are planting churches in remote countries while they are building pillar churches to be great models for their World Sectors.
No other Christian movement since the first century has spread this far, this fast. None has grown this quickly during the lifetime of its founder. … God has raised up a couple to lead his people to reach the world again in one generation.” - by Roger Lamb “God’s Man, Message and Movement” commemorating Episode 1 in the LA Story magazine of 1999

Surely the horse that is saddled up for Episode 2 is unlikely to run out of steam in the near future. Perhaps the words of King Richard III “My kingdom for a horse” may ring true for McKean’s great escape.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Next series - The rise of the Portland movement

My review and comments on the rise of the Portland movement will be published before the end of September.
Part 1 will be posted on TUESDAY, 26 SEPT 2006. Thereafter expect weekly submissions.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Reject the dangerous rhetoric of false prophets (3)

The architects of the Portland movement and United Cooperation Group have fallen into old patterns in order to increase and sustain their respective memberships. Why the need to embrace the Biblical pattern of discipleship relations all over again?

McKean has justified the imperative disciple approach as an essential part for salvation. Anything obscuring his viewpoint is devastating false teaching. Kip warned disloyal members not to think themselves “better” than past leaders! How about that standard!

“I believe the lukewarmness that is plaguing many American congregations comes from some leaders, who are ‘super apostles’ (thinking themselves ‘better’ than past leaders) who have begun to preach a more palatable, ‘PC’ (politically correct) Jesus! They preach a different Jesus who says, “You don’t have to come to all church services to be a faithful disciple!” “If evangelism is too much pressure, do it only if you ‘feel’ good about it.” “Only the apostles were discipled. That was a ‘professional preacher training relationship’, no one-one one! Especially no one-over-one!” Sadly many thought these destructive teachings are being ‘led astray from their sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” [Source: I Am Not Ashamed – 4th July 2004]

Paul the Apostle hangs up a signboard in the book of Philippians. It reads: “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision.” (Philippians 3:2 KJV) In modern English it reads: “Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh.” (Philippians 3:2 NIV)

The signboard warns about “a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all.” The gospel of the Circumcision group is recorded in Acts 15:1. “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” (Acts 15:1 NIV)

The Apostle for the Gentiles spends all his days refuting it. In short, circumcision is not faith and faith is not based upon this circumcision! In other words: a belief system is not faith and faith is not based upon a belief system!

But can you teach old dogs new tricks? Often, it is not that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks; you can’t teach some dogs any tricks at all.

Is Jesus’ discipleship method a theological fantasy?

A careful study on Roy Davison’s Errors of Hierarchical Discipleship (click sidebar on Roy Davison) is either instrumental as “dangerous rhetoric” of a false prophet or heaven send wisdom!

Who is barking into the wind?

In my opinion: “There is a need for urgent fresh thinking!”

Friday, September 15, 2006

Reject the dangerous rhetoric of false prophets (2)

Irrespective of the political divide, both the house of Renovation (The Portland movement) and the house of Innovation (The United Cooperation Group) have reinstated Christ’s plan of mentoring better known as “discipling”. According to Roy Davison this plan is based “on the thesis that Christ’s master/disciple relationship with the twelve apostles is a pattern to be followed in making, training and leading disciples today.” (Click the side bar on Roy Davison)

According to the Church of Christ and Davison “these are entirely different matters.”

Despite his many shortcomings, Kip McKean, and a small band of followers were the first to drag a part of the ICOC back to the Boston disciple approach hence the rise of the Portland movement. Today many of his disgruntled former colleagues have done the same, hence the rise of the United Cooperation Group.

As a consequence the doctrinal foundation in “making disciples” of the Boston movement era remains intact in both factions. Embracing discipleship has become a core truth - “truths we want to defend”.

Here, both groups within the ICOC have failed to come up with a healthier alternative or better mousetrap for it‘s seemingly essential discipleship methodology in order to increase and sustain membership.

By September 2003, the Portland International Church of Christ adopted the former ICOC discipleship teaching plan based on a voluntary teacher-student relationship (one-over-one or adult-to-adult discipleship). According to McKean’s understanding, mandatory discipleship relationships in the fellowship “was and still is the only plan of God to evangelise the world.” McKean has responded strongly to many churches in the ICOC fellowship that have either abandoned or compromised discipleship relationships – “the now lost plan of multiplying disciples.” According to Kip, any suggestion by his colleagues in stating that the Bible does not teach one-over-one discipleship is “devastating false teaching”.

ICOC Christians with their “valuable insight and wisdom” across six continents helped the nine coordinators of the Unity Proposal Group to submit a plan of ratification on March 11th 2006. As a result a good chunk of the ICOC failed to discard the Boston disciple approach. Instead they “reaffirm those truths and emphasis that have particularly shaped our branch of God’s movement, from the campus ministry days until now.” In other words, like Steve Johnson who joined Kip McKean in Portland, Oregon, they also wanted to do exactly what they were taught in Boston in 1979 – in regards to teaching people how to teach people to become disciples.

Thus the legacy of the Shepherd movement remains intact. Authors and para-church groups who were never affiliated with the International Churches of Christ (ICOC) first introduced this type of method in “making disciples.” In particular, The Master Plan of Evangelism (1963, 2003) by Robert Coleman or similar material like Juan Carloz Ortiz book titled Discipling (1975, 1995) forms the backdrop for the ICOC mousetrap.
If we consider these above-mentioned facts, how can anyone consider Greg Marutzky assurance to the Church of Christ’ April 2004 panellists that Kip McKean’s “influence is not there anymore”? And “each congregation is making their own decisions. We want to move forward. Please don’t believe that the comments he makes are as if he is speaking for all of us; that’s not the case. And that’s not going to be the case in the future.”

In order to “move forward” the Second Epistle of John implores the saints to be like children “walking in truth” (KJV) rather than being hasty people “who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ” (NIV).

The United Cooperation’s efforts were never aimed to change the disciple approach so called “one-another passages” or “one another Christianity” but rather focussed on rebuilding and restructuring the overall leadership organization for the entire ICOC. From this point of view, Kip McKean’s character sins that led to his resignation as the Lead Evangelist of the Los Angeles ICOC in 2001 and World Missions Evangelist for the ICOC in 2002 frustrates their plans to reach “complete unity” among the brotherhood. Over 80 prolific ICOC leaders accused McKean for starting a “new movement” or “building a kingdom for himself”. Some stated McKean’s sins compare to Diotrephes “who loves to be first”.

Perhaps McKean paid the ultimate price being a pacesetter.

He could never compromise nor abandon discipling. “Methods” states Kip in RTR 3, 2003, “are neither right nor wrong; people can use them for good and for evil. But denying the principles of discipling in time will lead us directly back to the mainline Church of Christ as well as to other denominations in which people are not involved in each other’s lives.”

What exactly did Mike Taliaferro mean by stating at the 2004 Faithful Conversations Forum: “We have ended the practice of over/under discipling. We don’t believe one Christian should be giving orders to another. We are definitely stressing topics like grace, the cross, God’s love. We are moving away from performance orientation and getting back to basic Bible, as we should.”

Clearly, the changes we see from a discipleship point of view by the frontrunners of the ICOC are not “deep and long lasting”. Their best efforts parallel well with dangerous rhetoric of false prophets.

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