Monday, April 09, 2007

The McKean's comeback years - Part 3

The following is a letter from the McKean's to the Eugene Church shortly after their arrival in Los Angeles Sunday, March 18, 2007.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The McKean's comeback years - Part 2


Question: Today, we have to ask the question concerning the legacy of the ICOC leadership - especially those who continue with the procession of discipleship. Are they cured?

Not too long ago, the fellowship of the International Churches of Christ (ICOC) could uniformly declare Who We Are - but now members of this divided church group ask themselves Who Are We?

In 1992, Dr. Albert W. Baird commonly known as Al Baird, evangelist, elder, teacher, editor and media spokesperson for the ICOC confidently supported McKean's two-part series entitled Revolution Through Restoration (RTR). Baird stated in his first preface of RTR1: This article explains who we are as God's modern-day movement and where we came from, better than any other single piece of which I am aware. For this reason I frequently give a copy to someone with whom I am studying the Bible or to someone from the media who wants to know more about us.

That now has changed. These infamous articles who were once part and parcel of former ICOC websites are all withdrawn from church websites supporting the United Cooperation Group. They can only be viewed in its entirety on church websites rallied behind the founder of the Portland Discipling Movement.

Henry Kriete released in February 2, 2003, a counter revolution article, entitled, Honest to God: Revolution Through Repentance and Freedom in Christ, in which he asks: On what grounds do we now claim that we are "God's Modern Day Movement"? Kriete pulverised the notion that the ICOC is the kingdom of God. And so I ask again - are we - 'THE ICOC', 'THE KINGDOM', 'THE ONE TRUE CHURCH' - still the remnant chosen by grace? Or was that claim itself simply too much for God?

Kriete, like many other heroic men and women before him refuse to buy into the notion that the emperor's clothes had the wonderful quality of becoming invisible to anyone who was not fit for his office or who was unpardonably stupid. Therefore, no one wished to admit that he could see nothing, for then he would have been unfit for his office or else a fool.

It is disconcerting to read follow-up material from Henry Kriete such as a Response to a friend, September 6, 2005 with regards to the powerful delusion which still plagues those hearts and minds entrapped with the life and doctrine of the former ICOC. To this day, tens of thousands of our members still think that to leave the ICOC is to leave God. Or at least believe it is probably so. And now that same kind of hubris has spawned a calling out of the remnant from within the ICOC itself! Shame. Shame. Shame. That my friend, is the real reason for the damage, the 'human wreckage'.

In the same article, Kriete state: The ICOC was built, not on the pure foundation of Christ alone, but on a seriously inadequate version of the person and work of Christ, and on a very deficient understanding of the grace and truth of Christ. In short: a different Jesus, a different gospel. Kip's version of Jesus. As we followed Kip's leadership in the ICOC, this was the 'different' Jesus that he himself was following... and follows to this day.

Today, we have to ask the question concerning the legacy of the ICOC leadership - especially those who continue with the procession of discipleship. Are they cured?

Steve Johnson, editor of issues 4 & 5, January 1993, UpsideDown magazine commented From the editor stating: we are believers in leadership; and our belief in leadership is very common sense. Steve emphasises: Kip is our leader not because of a puff of smoke from a Vatican balcony or a twisted theology. He's simply further out front than anyone else I know; so we follow and God has blessed us.

In the following year, 1994, Al Baird's article as editor for the LA Story's 'A Man for All Seasons' affirms: Throughout the pages of the Bible and history God raised up one person to lead his people, and for our day it is unquestionably Kip. He is not infallible, he is not an apostle, he is not perfect, but he is an incredible leader. Baird continues: People outside the movement sometimes ask me, "Why is Kip the leader?" I simply reply that he is the leader because he is far out in front leading!

However, we all know the dutiful courtiers - our highests ranking evangelists have caught up with their front man.

The final straw was during the proceedings early September of 2005, during a forum organized by the 2005 International Leadership Conference in which the coordinators in Seattle barred Kip McKean from attending a vital meeting. Here, a group of nine brothers, were elected by ballot to serve as a Unity Proposal Group. Although there was certainly not a puff of smoke visible from any balcony they were elected by ballot. Thus, McKean was excluded from an unique historical process for this church group.

As a result, a new document was released in March 11, 2006. A ratified plan that serves their dual Christian interests with its background firmly emplaced in the first century; ideally rooted in the New Testament dogma of the Church of Christ and truths and emphases derived from the Crossroads campus ministry days. From page four: The Unity Proposal Group are striving both to articulate the theological framework of "the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 3) and to reaffirm those truths and emphases that have particularly shaped our branch of God's movement, from the campus ministry days until now.

The United Cooperation Group, like their counter group, the Portland Discipling Movement spawn these Crossroads principles as core truths - truths we want to defend.

In reality, these two opposing groups do all our thinking and our agenda setting and many just limp lamely behind it.

Let us note: The leadership of the Unity Proposal Group, guided by the input of the whole ICOC except by Kip McKean did not attempt to overthrow the temples as Kriete suggests, or at least dump the baby along with the bath water, or allow the pendulum to spin madly. By refusing to re-examine the Campus ministry disciple approach is one of the main reasons we fear loosing our identity Who We Are especially our discipleship methodologies of the past. We are very afraid of what we will become once our collective brain is taken away.

How did we get here? Is it because we follow an emperor type of leadership without clothes?

Perhaps the sense to belong, to be part of something, to have an identity Who We Are has short-changed the ICOC.

Here, the presure for leadership to establish a church culture or an identity Who We Are during those neutral years of 2003-2005 often called the pendulum-swinging years have reached a breaking point in most churches. This is evident on page seven of the Unity Proposal document - before the reactions among us define us.

Already, the Unity Proposal document of March 11, 2006, since the ICOC group decentralised in December 2002 have succesfully pulled together over 70% of the former ICOC churches, thus securing some form of anchorage to those who wants to define themselves Who We Are. The majority look for light relief. In so much of 70% of the former ICOC now suspend their thinking capacity by embracing discipleship as those truths and emphases that have particularly shaped our branch of God's movement, from the campus ministry days until now.

However, in reality McKean will keep on probing for ICOC churches made up only of disciples. Kip is back. The McKean's leadership sins - although real - are temporary distractions. In due time their philosophy on the disciple approach will rise above mediocre attempts of others. The possibility for people to defect is tangible. The probability to demonise Kip will continue.

The McKean's have established a church culture, ever since the release of Kip's third revolution article, in July 13, 2003, entitled From Babylon to Zion - Revolution Through Restoration III. The comeback years of the McKeans does not hang in the balance when men and women once more start embracing discipleship principles.

A dry period usually follows after a fire storm. Eventually, dormant seeds of discipleship will sprout again, whether they were hidden underground in the cave of Adullam or being protected by elders guarding their discipling churches against Kip's comeback.

Seeds will sprout and there is nothing one can do to stop the cross-pollination.

Seasoned veterans of the ICOC knows Kip McKean is A Man For All Seasons.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The McKean's comeback years - Part 1

Question: Will people on April 1st support the couple God once raised up to lead his people to reach the world again in one generation?

The founder and trendsetter of the Boston movement better known as the International Churches of Christ (ICOC), Thomas Wayne McKean, commonly known as Kip McKean is down but not out after been rebuffed by former ICOC colleagues for "calling out of the remnant disciples" from dying, former ICOC Churches in order to start an exciting Episode 2 - now officially termed the Portland Discipling Movement.

The beginning stage of an Episode 1 begun in 1979 when Kip supported by his wife, Elena Gracia-Bengochea moved to the Lexinton Church of Christ, later renamed the Boston Church of Christ. The move was encouraged by Elena's innitiative for Kip's dreams. Let's follow your dream. That dream entailed implementing methodologies based on the the disciple approach acquired from Charles 'Chuck' Lucas' Crossroads movement one-another passages rather relying entirely on Church of Christ dogma.

In 1967 the Church of Christ started a pilot programme called Campus Advance modelled after Campus Crusade for Christ in order to impact the campusses. Chuck Lucas was a campus minister in the 14th Street Church of Christ (later renamed the Crossroads Church of Christ). This new undertaking started in several Church of Christ congregations focussing on shepherding of Christians by other Christians - primarily from students basing their techniques on the one-another passages.

The Crossroads movement was the product of Chuck Lucas teachings after modifying discipleship principles observed in certain Christian groups such as The Navigators, Campus Crusade for Christ and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Lucas was also influenced by Robert E. Coleman's book The Master Plan of Evangelism first published in 1963. Although Chuck was the pioneer of this faith after a sabbatical he left the ministry for personal and spiritual reasons in 1985. McKean become the perfector of this faith. Chuck Lucas' idea of discipleship was modified by Kip. Prayer partners became discipling partners and soul talks became known as bible talks.

McKean was 18 years old when he was taught to give up everything for Christ and be baptized for the remission of sins to become a Christian. This commitment he made in April 11, 1972 at the 14th Street Church of Christ, Gainesville, Florida. At the same congregation, Elena was 17 when she was baptized into Christ on August 8, 1972. The following year, 1973, they "dated steady" for three years and were married by Chuck Lucas and Sam Laing December 11, 1976. From here on the McKean's common dream of working together in the ministry started in Charleston, Illinois where Kip was the campus minister for the Heritage Chapel Church of Christ (Roger Lamb was the preacher). Again this was made possible due to Chuck Lucas powerful preaching along with his associate Sam Laing that has convinced Kip in 1975 to become a minister. This he did when he come of age.

Since 1975 Kip's concern for the spiritual state of affairs in the Church of Christ intensified. Here he saw how uncommitted many of the so called "Christian" students were: drugs, drunkenness, prejudice and immorality were prevalent. His resolve to revolutionise the Church of Christ followed over a period between 1975-1979. Here, the truth as set out by the dogma of the Church of Christ was in conflict with his convictions about the truth.

Here, the reader must understand that Kip McKean's introduction to the "set-up" of the Church of Christ is completely different comparatively to many former ICOC colleagues with a traditional Church of Christ background who have joined McKean during the Boston era. They all had to unlearn their past traditions and misconceptions before they could really learn how to build churches. In other words each individual had to re-think his former theology as observed in the Church of Christ before becoming a proven builder in the Boston churches. But this did not deter ambitious Church of Christ leaders or men aspiring leadership. From an account of James Lloyd, who along with Doug Arthur planted the London Church of Christ (1982) describe the youthful Kip McKean at an age of 25 as a powerfully effective minister. Lloyd wrote: About a week after my baptism, [October 8, 1978] Douglas told me he would be moving to Boston to train under a powerfully effective minister. After asking me if I'd be willing to move to Massachusetts with him, he persuaded, "It'll be the chance of a lifetime. We can both become ministers!

In years to come, Roger Lamb described Kip as God's man.

Perhaps Lamb was the last author to lavish such praise on to the founder of the ICOC in an article entitled God's man, Message and Movement in the LA Story magazine, From Here To Eternity, August 1999, p3 before the curtain abruptly dropped on the couple as they entered the new millenium. 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. Lamb also stated: 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.

To conclude part 1.

The ICOC had a founder - Kip Thomas Wayne McKean. He based his philosophy on the disciple approach methodologies rather on Church of Christ dogma. Here, the truth as set out by the dogma of the Church of Christ was in conflict with his convictions about the truth. His followers had to unlearn their past traditions and misconceptions before they could really learn how to build churches. His followers described Kip as God's man. This fellowship believed God has raised up a couple to lead his people to reach the world again in one generation.

In reality these very elements are fuel for the McKean's comeback.


Next week: McKean's comeback years - Part 2.

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