Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Count Out Years

Seven years have past since the dawn of the new millenium. The first three years - 2001-2002-2003 - were the literal "go down for the count" for the indomitable International Churches of Christ (ICOC). It took only three well directed blows aimed at the World Missions Evangelist to finish off the ICOC structure. But who knocked out who?

The first blow was the Sabbatical in late 2001.

The McKeans oldest child "stopped attending church." She was heiled according to the LA Story 'From Here To Eternity' (August 1999) as "the first of the 2nd generation disciples born, raised and baptized in the movement." The status of the three children of the McKeans were more pronounced than any other "Kingdom kids." They were groomed to "become disciples and leaders in the kingdom;" a "godly offspring". They were the frontrunners for the ICOC youth - Revolution X. In fact, the young Miss McKean (name witheld) is a product from Generation Y. "They", according to 'From Here To Eternity' videotape, August 1999, "represent the renewed emphasis of the Kingdom in the campus and teen ministries, as they lead us into the next generation of disciples."

Nothing of this sort was accomplished when the McKeans oldest child bravely walked away. "This single event", reported Kip McKean.org,"caused uncertainty in McKean's leadership among some of the World Sector Leaders. In the later part of 2001 the World Sector Leaders then forced McKean to go on sabbatical, though some later regretted the decision."

However, Kip and Elena McKean expressed a more honest opinion in their statement released in 11/11/2001. They provide sound reasons for taking a sabbatical, of special note, they view it as "God's will". It read as follows: "During these days, Elena and I have been coming to grips with the need to address some serious shortcomings in our marriage and family. After much counsel with the Gempels and Bairds and other World Sector Leaders as well as hours of prayer, we have decided it is God's will for us to take a sabbatical and to delegate, for a time, our day-to-day ministry responsibilities so that we can focus on our marriage and family."

The consistency issue for ICOC leadership children to remain faithful to God (ICOC) were rigorously applied to the McKean's dilemma. This legalistic requirement instituted by Kip derailed relationships between himself and some upper class leaders who were in "sin" because their children no longer fellowship with the ICOC (God). In due time, the McKeans were forced "to address some serious shortcomings in [their] marriage and family" after the McKeans oldest child "stopped attending church." Their sabbatical were announced with two written statements: one by the McKeans; and another by World Sector Leaders Al Baird and Bob Gempel on November 11, 2001.

The second blow was the Announcement in late 2002.

Kip McKean's resignation on Wednesday, November 06, 2002 did not only technically paved the way for a new beginning for church polity in the ICOC, but more so, caused a scandal! Kip's hypocrisy aghasted friend and foe alike. The "shortcomings" were serious. Simply put, McKean pretended to be a disciple.

Kip's "character sins" led to his resignation. It was unavoidable, therefore a personal decision. "I have decided to resign from my role as World Missions Evangelist and leader of the world sector leaders." At the time, Kip did the right thing - he stepped down because of his personal "character sins". Nothing more sinister than that. There was no plot, no take-over, no threats and above else no "forced" resignation!

Kip admitted to arrogance. "God through His Word, through circumstances and through true brothers has made it clear that my leadership in recent years has damaged both the Kingdom and my family. My most significant sin is arrogance - thinking I am always right, not listening to the counsel of my brothers, and not seeking discipling for my life, ministry and family. I have not followed Jesus' example of humility in leadership."

Kip also admitted to anger . "Other sins manifested themselves through my anger. My anger has often shut people down and, worse yet, fostered an environment where people were afraid to speak up."

Kip was never a team player. "Additionally, I failed to build strong, mutually helpful relationships. I did not respect those whose leadership gifts could have complemented my own."

Kip manifested typical symptoms found in Diotrephes - who loves to be first (3 John 9). "I was insensitive to the needs of weaker Christians and churches. I also caused some to operate from wrong motives and other to stumble because I focused more on numeric goals than on pleasing God. To my shame I allowed myself to be glorified more than calling everyone to give God all the glory."

Kip's Resignation Letter briefly touched on future plans for a "new governance." He stated: "A new governance is being discussed and formed by the world sector leaders and other leading evangelists, elders and teachers. I shall give them my full support as they strive to follow the Scriptures and the principles of our Father in heaven." Perhaps, purely from a speculative point of view. This was McKean's final official proclamation, until mid 2003 McKean writes to oppose the new direction of the ICOC in 'Revolution Through Restoration Part 3: From Babylon to Zion.'

The final blow was the Decentralization of the ICOC in late 2002.

It merits to revisit McKean's thoughts on this matter. Almost five years ago - Kip asked for prayers and guidance during his resignation. But quickly changed his mind in supporting the "new direction"! In his letter of resignation McKean asked: "Please pray for me that someday these tears, which are no longer shed in self-pity but because I have hurt God and His people, will give birth to a joyous harvest of righteousness."

Today, every one involved with the ICOC can vouched this day is still long off!

Kip McKean.org tries to shed some inside perspectives regarding what actually happened at the Resignation. Here, the World Sector Leaders are first portrayed as the culprits who "forced McKean to go on sabbatical, though some later regretted the decision." Then we are told during the sabbatical period, "the most influential leaders in the International Church of Christ became the 'Kingdom Teachers' and the 'Kingdom Elders'." These secondary groups "influenced the rest of the leaders of the ICOC at the Long Beach Unity Meeting, November 2002, to dissolve the structured, central leadership." They "forced" McKean and all the World Sector Leaders "to resign". To an innocent bystander it sounds just like a mutiny, a take-over! On the other hand how unbelievable when we compare Kip McKean's carefully drafted documents regarding his sabbatical and resignation with these revisionist propoganda on Kip McKean.org! Did he not state before? "A new governance is being discussed and formed by the world sector leaders and other leading evangelists, elders and teachers."

Clearly the ICOC leadership with or without McKean's prior-knowledge have experienced a change of heart regarding the concept of church polity (church rule). A document 'ICOC Unity Conference' (November 15, 2002) shed some light concerning the mood in which the "humble resignation of our world missions evangelist" and the "decision to dissolve the world sector leaders group" come about. "The first night of our meeting we had a powerful worship service of singing, scripture reading, and prayer. This set the tone for the humble and apologetic resignation of our world missions evangelist." The leadership shake-up has effectively done away with the popular watchword "God's man, message and movement." Before, so much emphasis was on Kip McKean. These attributes have persuaded many critics that the ICOC is a cult despite being believers in leadership. The termination of having a form of positional authority in the ICOC have done away with the role - world missions evangelist - the role - world sector leader - and subsequently the role - geographic sector leader. Ultimately, these decisions stripped away the elemetary role - bible talk leader. All these titles were drafted by Kip McKean. The mastermind behind these schemes.

"This reaction", according to Kip McKean.org, "produced a reactionary 'new vision' of autonomous congregations, consensus leadership with no lead evangelists, the elimination of structured outreach (Bible Talks) and the elimination of discipleship partners." The ICOC "lost its distinctiveness and identity." Most importantly the organization was not ready to steer the ship unaccustomed into unfamiliar waters without a rudder! For the first time ever, McKean was not recognised as the sole arbiter of orthodoxy in the ICOC. This drastic action was to be repeated during the September 2005 Seattle Leadership Conference. "Several key decisions made at this meeting," states McKean.org "went against the basic convictions of Kip McKean, the Boston Movement's founder."

The "new era of leadership for the kingdom" was a dramatic breakaway from the former leadership model since 1988. Kip McKean appointed in 1988 his "chosen few" as World Sector Leaders. Six years later, Geographic Sector Leaders were appointed. The former leadership model relied on an oppresive authoritarian tactics as observed in McKean's letter of Resignation. McKean was surrounded by "fallible men" serving as Kip's "focused few" in the role of World Sector Leaders who had relied on a system where "one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still (Ecc 5:8 NIV)." As a unit they could tap into huge Kingdom resources available on their finger tips. The rest of the membership worked the plan and provided the much needed Kingdom cash to finance it. But a new dispensation of "spirit of unity, teamwork, and consensus" overruled all that. It apparantly took the Holy Spirit only 36 hours, according to the 'ICOC Unity Conference' document, in order to transform the former 23-year pyramidal system, also institutionalize by God, into a brand new system of church rule. No wonder because of this absurdness, thousands later jumped ship!

The doctrine of autonomy has clearly struck a nerve. It was never addressed as such by name. The right of self-rule were never properly addressed. This concept of having "a right of self-government" is totally foreign to any members of the former ICOC. According to Henry Kriete's article: "Local church autonomy is practically viewed as heresey."

Furthermore, the ICOC fast becoming an unstable vessel. The dramatic plunge occured two months after the Long Beach Unity Meeting in February 2003 after Kriete releases a letter, entitled 'Honest to God'. By now the colossus of Episode 1 was down... but not out! No official mentioning was made about Kip McKean other than promised "a full-time ministry position with the South Region of the Los Angeles International Church of Christ." Or the rumour to "go back to the Third World and spend [their] remaining years there."

But who knocked out who?

It's too early to reveal the scorecard. Technically, McKean should be down... but he is not out!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Best Quote of the Week

"We in the Portland Discipling Movement are calling out a remnant from the ICOC, the mainline Churches of Christ, the conservative Christian Churches as well as those who have “walked away” from the ICOC. God is using this rapidly multiplying remnant to form a new movement of churches, which are distinguished by our sold-out commitment to God and our love for one another though discipling." - Kip McKean (February 2007)

Also. "The Portland Leadership sees itself as a restoration movement within the former ICOC churches." Click here to read 'The Portland Movement' article on Kip's official website

Friday, February 09, 2007

Next article: "Your contribution" on the ICOC

Commentary is free - below are some pointers for my next article. If you want to contribute drop me an email. I can read Afrikaans / English and with some help: Dutch / French and German. Lets see if we can post an article by end February 2007.

A lack of understanding - a nation falls. No one can ever accurately guess how many tens of thousands of people have left this organisation overtime. Nevertheless, the revolving door always welcomes new faces - no matter who is coming or going - and at best what they teach from the pulpit. The majority of ICOC elders, evangelists, people in leadership roles have not a degree or diploma in theology! Does it matter?

The disciple approach - dismantled for a short time in the history of the ICOC since 2003 is fast becoming a popular methodology within the ICOC. Why did the majority of the ICOC never revert to the traditional Church of Christ viewpoint on this matter? For example; who is paying attention to Roy Davison's lesson on "Errors of Hierarchical Discipleship"? How liberated are the "new lot" concerning the disciple approach? Does one need to be a disciple before baptism? Date and marry only ICOC disciples? Fellowshipping only with the ICOC disciples? Is salvation found only with the ICOC disciples?

Is there a difference - what is different from Kip McKean's Boston movement a.k.a. the ICOC and his newly founded Portland movement? Do they offer newcomers a choice in style of worship/doctrine? Which church is the Temple? Which fellowship is more sacred? Who worship in spirit and truth? Who is to blame for our divisions? McKean? Kriete? Our brain dead "followship"?

The Church of Christ - heritage goes back much further than the Campbells and Stone "founders"- as a matter of fact - this church group believe their origin begins with the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:42! Is this form of transference literal or spiritual? What about the "denominational churches"? On the other hand, Catholics belief in their Pope's lineage - all the way to the apostle Peter!? How should one view the traditional Church of Christ claim based on Acts 2:42? What did the former ICOC believe to this regard? Moreso, will the "new" Unity Cooperation Group and the "new" Portland movement avoid the Acts 2:42 blunder? Is it a blunder?

What's your questions?

Commentary is free.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Holy crumbs! Portland is a Movement!

Jesus said: "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." Whereupon, the Canaanite woman replied: "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master's table."

The new year - 2007 - is well under way. New agendas await for those dining on the long extendible table of the once-unified-ICOC and those dogs snatching at the crumbs underneath it. I am a bottom feeder. What's happening on top is only news when bits and pieces fly off the topside into my mouth. Honestly, I am very happy with the crumbs! However, when dogs like myself bite back, the master's table is quick to reply: "You only fight our dust!"

Jesus, at the time, considered it wasteful in order to deliberately entertain dogs - the act of tossing bread - rather than the child starved through neglect. And those doggies were the non-Jews of his time! They were not considered "family". However, the Canaanite woman, was aware that even the crumbs are holy! When it mingled with dirt on the floor or saliva of other hungry competitors under the table - it didn't matter - the crumbs were holy!

So what do I make of the scrap?

It's official in my humble opinion - since feeding of the crumbs, starting this blog a year ago, that the PORTLAND MOVEMENT is an official term for the Portland family of churches, also described here, as the House of Renovation. Kip McKean made that announcement in his article: A Modern Day Jethro. "Truly, there is so much good news to report concerning the PORTLAND MOVEMENT OF CHURCHES." [4th February 2007] Furthermore, Kip McKean has an official website [www.kipmckean.org] which, now describes the Portland family of churches as the PORTLAND MOVEMENT. Their aim is summarised as follows from McKean's official website regarding the PORTLAND MOVEMENT: "McKean and the other leaders of the Portland Movement saw a tremendous wave of evangelism sweep the world in the days of the Boston Movement (ICOC). Their conviction is to learn from the past and to build a church growth movement that will far surpass any of the previous efforts of the ICOC."

I think it is very signifigant, because again in my humble opinion, McKean is the only person that can bring about reconciliation in the family of the once-unified-ICOC. No other former ICOC leader has achieved by himself what Kip has done regarding tearing down relationships and re-building new friends on a scale his life demonstrates persisting with the message of the disciple approach. Perhaps it is Kip's intention "to rebuild the churches", but never again will the ICOC be put back together again. The lesson of Humpty Dumpty: All the kings horses and all the kings men could never put back together Humpty Dumpty again.

It is now a matter of attitude. Those of us under the table will assuredly be fed from the table top like never before when McKean and his millenium friends move down this coming April to L.A. If he is not settled to unify or "keep bridges there" meaning to act in a role as an appeaser to those long-forgotten associates in L.A. ICOC then heaven help us! This trip definitely is all to familiar whith the 1990 Boston trip to L.A. but with a twist! Back then, in the Boston days, in their opinion there was in that great city no "God's fellow-workers". Today, it is a different ball game. If so much memories swamped McKean's mind in his recent visit to the University of Florida football stadium then Kip will surely choke on his oatmeal reaching L.A! On the other hand, it seems his move seems like a sort of demonstration of will. Perhaps a contest. The former L.A. church will rise from the metaphorical ashes. Here we'll see the former World Missions Evangelist of a bygone era in Episode 1 rise to the occasion doing exactly what he has done before in the capacity of World Mission Evangelist now as the proud bearer of that title in the Portland Movement.

So how can Kip possibly improve his attitude and bring about reconciliation?

Impossible. If unchanged, he'll remain a contemptible person in 2007.

If we can return to Jesus' story. The crumbs that fell merely from the table or from the childrens mouth fed faith! The Canaanite woman not only benefitted for herself, but her daughter was healed from that very hour when the Holy Crumb, filled up her empty room. Jesus also said: "In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you."

As Gentiles, let us not fight each other for the crumbs on the dirty floor. Like dogs, snarling, biting and devouring each other whole. What do we achieve by eating flesh and blood? If we feast on tables, let us not make light of the Bread of Life. Let us consider the mere fact of a Holy Crumb. It can raise life through FAITH!

In conclusion. If your are not part of the "ICOC family" or if you are part of a "new movement" or established one - does your faith heal or does it send people away? What is happening in your very hour?

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