Sunday, March 18, 2007

PE Church of Christ participation in the Ironman South Africa 2007


Sunday 18 March 2007 will be an extraordinary day for the Port Elizabeth Church of Christ because their "pastor" Rod Fick participated along with Jabu Mpengesi, a member of the church in the Spec-Savers Ironman South African 2007, which includes a 3,8km swim, 180km cycle and 42,2km run, to be completed within 17 hours. An article, posted on March 17th in the Weekend Post newspaper provides all the details. How about it? ICOC churches can generate some positive news, but more so, is it not remarkable for "pastors" in the ICOC churches to take Sundays off for sport? Just too show how drastic "kingdom" priorities over the last few years have changed!

From the article:
Inspiring pastor and protege set to pit strengths

At tomorrow's Ironman race one Port Elizabeth man will pit his strength against the pastor who first inspire him to take up the sport.
Jabu Mpengesi was so moved by US pastor Rod Fick's passion for the sport that he tried it out himself, and soon was also hooked.
Fick, a pastor at the Port Elizabeth Church of Christ, last did an Ironman 20 years ago when, by fluke, he landed himself a slot in the much-coveted Ironman Hawaii on the island of Kona - where the current World Ironman Championships are held.
"When I last did an Ironman in 1987, there were only two Ironman races in the world, Kona and Canada," said Fick.
The pastor explained how he met and motivated Mpengesi, who was one of the first development triathletes in Ironman to be nutured bt SA Triathlon Development director Paul Wolff.
After Kona, from 1989 to 1992, he joined the Peace Corp and went to the former Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) to teach people how to farm.
He then returned to the US and became a Christian - and triathlon and Ironman seemed a long way away.
In 1996, he returned to Africa to work at a mission in Johannesburg. Then with his wife Linda, a former Free State radiographer, he settled in Port Elizabeth to lead the church.
"At this stage triathlon was a distant memory for me, although it's funny, when I preach I bring up triathlon quite a lot as an example for perseverance."
The passionate way he spoke about the sport piqued the interest of Mpengesi, a member of his congregation. And in 2002, when a group from the church signed on for the Redhouse River Mile, Mpengesi was there to have a go at the swim.
He was "sold on the sport of triathlon". He borrowed Fick's bike, entered races and started to excel.
As one of few black athletes in sport then, he caught the eye of Wolff, who started to help him with training.
With Mpengesi well on his way, Fick felt the urge to take up triathlon again.
In 2004, he and Mpengesi raced the half-Ironman in Port Elizabeth and were on par until Fick dropped out to go and preside at a friend's wedding.
On Fick's 45th birthday last year, a congregation member challenged him to do the Ironman in 2007. "I thought, why not? It's been 20 years, it's an anniversary."

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Dividing Years

Kip said it. They denied it. Who's dividing who?

"Gone, I believe, is the ICOC," stated McKean, A Great Light Has Dawned, June 2004, "I mean it's a name we invented in 1994 anyway. Many churches have renounced the name International Church of Christ and just going back to Church of Christ because they want to be identified with the Church of Christ." McKean might be right, but a large contingent of the "former" International Churches of Christ (ICOC) perhaps better known as the Cooperation Group still appraise "the name".

They retaliated soon after Kip and Portland leadership dared to begin "a progressive 'calling-out of the remnant of disciples' from dying, former ICOC Churches." The Portland Story burst unto the scene stating: "August 2005 is not a new beginning but an exciting Episode 2!" It hoped to kick start "valiant but wiser, past leaders of His [God's] movement to meld with young Spirit-filled leaders to forge a new brotherhood leadership to spearhead the evangelization of the world in the 21st century."

But McKean's unrepented "leadership sins" and "character sins" twarted cooperation between himself and those "valiant but wiser, past leaders" who want to heal him from his spiritual deficiency. Since Kip's Resignation letter, according to the first Brothers' letter addressed to him by "key leaders who led the planting and the building of churches of the International Churches of Christ" they've noticed that McKean "have acknowledged these sins, but we do not see change in you beyond mere surface change to satisfy people for the moment."

The drama intensified over the years since November 2002 as Kip singlemindedly tries to outwit - outlast and tries to outplay his former collegues concerns for him in order to reach "cities where former 'ICOC churches' have abandoned discipling and world vision." McKean is more anxious to get the former ICOC back on track rather than worrying about his anxious counterparts concern for his spiritual wellbeing. Here both groups face a terrible dilemma. How could the weaklings of the present rebuild what the giants of the past had been unable to uphold? Secondly, both groups think they are like David's mighty men, thinking they too "understood the times and knew what Israel should do" (1 Chronicles 12:32 NIV). McKean's "same short-term attractive results" serve as a catalyst for conflict between himself and other leadership groups within the ICOC. Kip have been warned many times not to revamp the "structure" of Episode 1. "Yet, when asked what your ideas are for unifying us once again and helping our churches to heal, mature and return to our mission, your answer is to go back and do what you did in the 1980's. You are in fact attempting to do just that. If you continue on this course, you will build some churches. And you will reap the same short-term attractive results and the same long-term painful results. You must repent and learn how to work with other leaders in true adult to adult relationships. You are no longer a young man with lack of experience for an excuse."

The excuse ultimately came from Kip's own support base - the Portland International Church of Christ. In an international letter of appeal, Portland acknowledges "there have been numerous letters of warnings and markings for divisiveness from former International Churches of Christ (ICOC) leaderships against the McKeans and the Portland Church. On October 3, 2005, Kip McKean received a letter signed by over sixty evangelists and elders which had grave concerns and accusations about his character, his motives and his ministry building skills. Once again divisiveness was a central issue."

Their appeal for Concern For All The Churches is neatly sandwished between the two Brothers' letters designed for the purpose to show concern for Kip McKean "to appeal for Kip's repentance and to protect the flock." These serious letters of admonishment, rebuke and disfellowship were respectively signed by more than 60 and 80 international signatories. Here, McKean's philosophy or "persuasive talents" provided Roger Lamb no other alternative in December 2006 to remark: "If they agree with Kip's teachings, they apparently also do not believe that any other churches are godly churches. Though our family of churches desire fellowship with them, they have separated themselves from our family of churches." He justified his statement on the following facts.

"In an October 8th sermon entitled 'You Might Be Fighting God' McKean stated: You see we believe our congregation is unique here in Portland. Now I think there are other baptized disciples in other fellowships. But I don't think there is any other fellowship that is composed solely of sold-out baptized disciples. From this proclamation, we are hearing the old refrain that proved disastrous once before among us - that the Portland Church and the others in their movement are the One True Church. This is a false premise and elitist claim. To us this is more of the same judgemental, divisive teaching that serves to draw people to himself as the only truly godly leader of the only true church. Sadly, the arrogance and the divisive spirit have not changed. These are all the signs of one who 'loves to be first.' This is not the narrow road of Matthew 7: 13-14. This is a tight, elitist circle."

Furthermore, Lamb offers an explaination on Kip's lack of cooperation. "The common requirement is being under Kip's control. This is the very reason he is not willing to work among our churches or any other group of churches. Kip was offered to work as a team player with the other brothers, but his response was that he was the star. We must follow God first, not men."

The history and narrative of the Portland Story, according to the majority of key leaders is reintegrated from "a simplistic, misleading and self-advancing way". Here, the Brothers' Statement to Kip McKean, November 2, 2005, mentions: "The Portland response paints [Kip's] resignation in noble colors, something completely inconsistent with what actually took place."

However, the entire Portland leadership viewpoint differs considerably from the major ICOC stakeholders opinion concerning McKean's resignation. They say: "By November 2002 at the Los Angeles Unity Meeting, Kip officially resigned as the World Missions Evangelist, not because he felt he was disqualified for his role, but in an effort to preserve unity between the leaders and the churches. As Kip and others have testified before, the 'irony' of the LA Unity Meeting was that a gathering that was supposed to bring unity, in the end produced widespread disunity. Sadly, all the World Sector Leaders were called to resign. This resulted in the visionary central leadership of the International Churches of Christ being dissolved. It must be noted at this point in time, the ICOC as we knew it ceased to exist."

Whereupon, the second Brothers' letter quickly seized on this opportunity to point out that Portland's "response shows no acknowledgement of the hand of God and our learning from him. The issue is reduced to a discussion of structure and organization. This is the real heart behind what went wrong with our churches in the 1990s. We are glad that the church organization that valued structure over spirituality and maturity has ceased to exist."

The issue about the "dying, former ICOC Churches" is a lie. They stated: "But the church is God's. He is still leading us. He has disciplined us. We are still learning from his discipline. We are seeking his will in how we should work together in the future. This is why there was such unity in forming the Brotherhood Proposal Group. We are glad that God is still working through us as a family of churches called the International Churches of Christ."

Sandwished between these two letters from the Brothers, Portland ponders: "One must pause and ponder as to what has happened to our fellowship of churches during these last four years in the absence of Kip's influence and a central leadership?"

Clearly, the house of Renovation, alias the Portland "discipling" movement emphasise something completely different than the house of Innovation or United Cooperation Group. In February 2003, the principle of “Continual Restoration - Man, Message, Momentum, Maintenance, and Monument” has reached an “unavoidable fork in the road” in the outcome of Kriete’s ‘Honest to God’ letter. Mature Christians no longer think “to work the plan” or “pack a bag, go any where, do anything, give up everything” for the sake of “leaders in the Boston movement.” Rather, mature Christians go by faith “doctrinally and practically" when they have seen the truth in the Scriptures. How shortsighted are those who follow a failed and tried doctrine of “God’s man, Message and Movement.”

Here, the articles of Revolution Through Restoration, Part 1-3; The Mandate of God for World Evangelism series; The Portland Story and Partners in the Gospel Part 1-3 written by Kip McKean do not carry innovative schemes but renovate dreams of God’s ‘former’ modern-day movement a.k.a. the Boston movement better known as the International Churches of Christ.

Clearly this ICOC is dead. It no longer exist. It is gone. But there are others who will fill her shoes. What remains is a divided frontier.

"I am sad", replies Kip in an article entitled A Divided Kingdom, March 2007, "that many of my former colleagues and me continue to be unable to resolve our issues. But as for me and my house, we are serving the Lord and 'moving' on." Elsewhere in the same article he states: "But of this I am sure, I am teaching the same thing 'everywhere in every church' as I have for more than three decades. Therefore, the Portland family of churches has been called the 'Sold-Out Movement,' the 'Portland Movement,' the 'International Christian Church Movement' and my choice, the 'Portland Discipling Movement."

The purpose for this "new movement" is ultra clear when the following question is asked to Kip McKean: "Why have several ICOC Churches disfellowshipped you, the father of faith for all the ICOC Churches, for being divisive?"

Here we must conclude why the dividing years... and who is responsible?

"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 through discipling. Each disciple's love of Christ compels us to collectively dream of evangelizing the world in this generation. These were our original teachings in 1979 which God used to form the Boston Movement, which officially became the ICOC in 1994. Now we considered divisive, because the present ICOC church leaders no longer fully embrace these teachings. We are not drawing people away from God, but are unapologetically calling everyone to repent of lukewarmness, bitterness and unbelief and return to God as sold-out disciples. Bottom line, the question must be asked to the present leaders of the ICOC, 'Who divided from whom?" Source: Super Bowl Sunday in Las Vegas!

McKean and the Portland Discipling Movement refuse to "draw a line of fellowship. We want there to be a genuine 'bridge of fellowship' to visit our congregations to see what God is doing among us. Daily we pray that more individuals and whole congregations will join us."

Let us note; they themselves don't want to cross over! The reason is simple Old Testament tactics. People defected slowly to David's side! No wonder in every opposing ICOC church group concerned leaders notices "two separate churches trying to please God in different ways." In deed it's becoming all the more "a cloudy situation."

At best the years of dividing will last a long time. The battle will intensifies with the McKean's "move" to the City of Angels International Christian Church.

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