Friday, March 14, 2008

Update Part 4: 2007 Church Survey Statistics – Africa and Caribbean stats completed

icoccommentary forecast a possible 2.6% decline from 2006 membership stats, and 36.1% decline from peak membership (135,046) in 2002. (See Update Part 3)

Church participation from Africa:
Membership for 2007: 10,788
icoccommentary forecast score: -40

Church participation from the Caribbean:
Membership for 2007: 2,238
icoccommentary forecast score: -116

Combined Total Membership for 2007: 13,026
Combined Total icoccommentary forecast score: -156

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Update Part 3: 2007 Church Survey Statistics - Slight Improvement, Again

Mission Memo, along with Disciples Today, conducts an annual survey on a section of the International Churches of Christ (Anti-McKean Churches).

The estimated membership at the end of 2006 was 88,597.

A possible 2.6% decline is forecast from 2006, and a 36.1% decline from peak membership (135,046) in 2002.

Church participation from Africa:
Membership for 2007: 10,387
3 Churches expect to participate from Africa:
Combine membership since 2006 survey: 441

Church participation from Eurasia:
Membership for 2007: 3,742
16 Churches expect to participate from Eurasia:
Combine membership since 2006 survey: 3,082

Church participation from Europe:
Membership for 2007: 2,323
9 Churches expect to participate from Europe:
Combine membership since 2006 survey: 3

Church participation from the Middle East:
Membership for 2007: 196
1 Church expect to participate from the Middle East:
Combine membership since 2006 survey: -

Church participation from Asia/Pacific:
Membership for 2007: 15,712
23 Churches expect to participate from Asia/Pacific:
Combine membership since 2006 survey: 1,584

Church participation from the Caribbean:
Membership for 2007: 1,665
4 Churches expect to participate from the Caribbean:
Combine membership since 2006 survey: 457

Church participation from Latin America:
Membership for 2007: 11,066
7 Churches expect to participate from Latin America:
Combine membership since 2006 survey: 710
(Previously Mexico, Mexico City 3,906 now 3,904 / Puerto Rico, San Juan 120 added, not displayed before)

Church participation from Canada/United States:
Membership for 2007: 33,683
21 Churches expect to participate from Canada/United States:
Combine membership since 2006 survey: 1,221
(Previously U.S. Detroit 303 now 304; U.S. San Antonio 301 now 304; U.S. San Juan 130 now 120; U.S. Raleigh appeared twice 275 and 525 now 525 / U.S. Chapel Hill 275 added to compensate Raleigh?)

Current Membership for 2007: 78,774

84 Churches expect to participate in 2007 Church Survey:
Combine membership since 2006 survey: 7,498

Target: 88,597
Possible estimate: 86,272
Difference: 2,325
% Down: 2.6%


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Why is it taking Kip so long?

Kip McKean’s article Rapidly Spreading The Honored Message! is a far cry to the words penned by the Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 3:1.

Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honoured, just as it was with you.

Here Paul the apostle and his fellow workers, Silas and Timothy encourage the church in Thessalonica for persevering with the Lord’s message they received whether by word of mouth or by letter. The Thessalonians were under severe pressure from the Jews to deny Jesus as King! (Acts 17:7)

(Part 1)

The International Churches of Christ (ICOC) have separated into two distinct movements, namely the pro-McKean faction known as the Sold-Out Discipling movement and the anti-McKean faction known as the ICOC Co-operation Churches.

Paul’s remarks pray for us and just as it was with you is noticeably absent from these factions interaction with each other whether by word of mouth or letter. Here the possessive plural form – our – is often used in a selfish embrace.

The opening lines of McKean’s article refer to God as our God.

Mike Taliaferro, recently corrected the perception that the anti-McKean faction have renounced the dream to evangelize the world in one generation with this statement: Finally, let us note that we have not lost our dream to win the world in our generation, even though we have hit our bumps at times. [Underlined by me]

However this article is not about fidgeting over words but investigates the likelihood to evangelize the world in one generation.

Kip McKean promote strongly the dream to evangelize the world in a generation. An ideal he penned and signed with his World Sector Leaders on February 4th 1994. This document is known as the Evangelization Proclamation.

However this strategy is not from the Lord despite McKean’s claim that the Lord put on my heart to pen the Evangelization Proclamation. Many ICOC leaders during the S.A.D-interval (see graph) have openly expressed their dissatisfaction with this proclamation. McKean is quick to exploit this fact stating the following in his article: In 2002, many leaders in our former fellowship renounced the dream to evangelize the world in a generation as “impossible” and labelled me a “false prophet” for calling everyone to it.

This impression is clarified in Mike Taliaferro’s article Hotnews Response to Raul Moreno Editorial since November 2007. The article, though unofficially state for the record that [Mike Taliaferro] do not know a single evangelist or elder in the ICOC who has renounced this dream. It seems that the anti-McKean faction have considered a more moderate approach concerning the time frame for a generation in reaching the world for Christ. We are still giving our lives to evangelize the world, and we want to do it in our generation. If it takes longer, so be it. The Holy Spirit is in charge. But we all want to see it happen in our generation.

On the other hand the pro-McKean faction judged from this article by McKean have stipulated a generation consist of thirty-some years. Again, the anti-McKean faction safer option is explained to Raul’s question to evangelize the world in one generation. I quote: Of course, this begs a question. Since the Portland Movement so often talks about winning the world in one generation, well, hasn’t Kip had one generation already to do it? Didn’t he start trying in 1979 in Boston? It seems to [Mike Taliaferro] that after 30 years he is back to square one. Since you guys are so set on World evangelization taking only one generation, then why is it taking Kip so long? It appears that Kip will need to try a second time to accomplish his goal, and it will take Kip himself at least two generations to do the job. So, why are you so critical of us?

The problem between these two factions is Kip McKean’s leadership and a few moderations concerning church polity. Both have a manifest for their modus operandi. Historically the Portland Story and the Unity Proposal documents set them each apart.

The formation of the pro-McKean faction happened in August 2005 at the Portland World Missions Jubilee. Before this event the Portland International Church of Christ since accepting the McKeans in June 2003 were fast reaching “movement status”. The Portland movement was taking shape, while the rest of the ICOC group was “bumping away”.

The former ICOC ‘Kingdom-dominion’ or ‘Restoration’ theology reared its ugly head in the Portland Story released during the Portland World Missions Jubilee in August 2005. Here McKean reintegrate this point in his article [it] was the beginning of a calling out of a remnant of sold-out disciples who believe in a movement to evangelize the world in a generation. McKean is adamant that by October 2006, the Spirit had clearly begun a new discipling movement, which has been “rapidly spreading” in unprecedented ways. [Underlined by me]

McKean stated in the Portland Story: For years, I have preached “one church-one city;” in other words, each city should have only one church of disciples, because if they are faithful to God, He will multiply them to evangelize not only their city but the whole region. (Acts 19:8-10) I still believe in this same principle. Sadly, it has become the practice of some former ICOC churches to break-up into geographic groups or groups of various convictions about commitment to Christ, discipling and church government. If a group asks for help to restore the foundation of sold-out disciples, we will help in any way we can. Biblically, disciples can never rebel against authority, yet as seen with David who “chose” to transfer his allegiance from the ungodly Saul to the uncircumcised Achish (1 Samuel 27:1-4) one is “free to choose” whom to submit to!

A counter movement formed quickly, in order to thwart McKean’s plans for a progressive “calling-out of the remnant of disciples” from dying, former ICOC Churches. Simply termed the anti-McKean faction.

Today, the anti-McKean faction officially known as the ICOC Co-operation Churches have a strong ethos with more than 70% of ICOC churches supporting this initiative. This group does not view themselves as a “breakaway” from the original ICOC. Mike Taliaferro’s admonishment to Raul Moreno sounds like a typical William Wallace speech from Braveheart. But most of us did not cut and run during the direst time in our history. While some ran off and started “new movements” simply so that they could be in charge once again, most of us stayed with the churches that we began and did not desert “the army of God” that was still fighting in the field. [Underlined by me]

Nevertheless the freedom to choose whom to submit as it was for Raul Moreno is often met with counter arguments. Mike Taliaferro’s response (no matter how prudent) to Moreno’s grievances will always produce a spirit of dominion that will continue to wound and crush any who do not toe the line. Nothing will be accomplished if the one group, mentions God as our God and the other accuses them from deserting ”the army of God”.

The Bible states: The war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time. David grew stronger and stronger, while the house of Saul grew weaker and weaker. (2 Samuel 3:1 NIV)

Elsewhere on my blog I have referred to this scenario by calling the pro-McKean faction, the house of Renovation and the anti-McKean faction, the house of Innovation. Altogether the ICOC group can be called the house of Pain.

Both groups are dangerously close in revealing the following character trademarks (if they are not already present) typically associated with church groups preaching ‘Kingdom-dominion’ or ‘Restoration’ theology with their reliance on the shepherding (discipling) approach. The former ICOC was guilty of it. They are characterise by: (1) a universal Kingdom of God on earth; (2) a requirement for religious unity; (3) a requirement for a structured Church system based on human leadership; (4) a rest on human ability and wisdom; (5) replacing Jesus with the Church.

It would be wise for these leaders to council this year in order to make a determined effort either to embrace one another as brothers or at least be leaders and embrace each other’s differences. If leadership fail to remain in dialogue members will abandon this group due to criticism from within. If they cannot resolve this conflict or war then the ICOC as a group will never be able to Rapidly Spreading The Honored Message! Neither in this generation nor the next!

(Part 2)

The Roman Catholic Church is the largest Christian religious group in the world and growing with more than half of the world’s population Christians in this body. Round about 1.1 billion membership.

This Christian group does not rely on a goal to reach the world in a generation, or make use of exponential growth nor on Jesus’ plan of making disciples. Imagine if they did! However, they do have a centralized Catholic leadership hierarchy that answers back to one man.

The pro-McKean faction supports a worldwide centralized leadership structure, while the anti-McKean faction don’t go along with worldwide centralized leadership.

Even so, it is safe to speculate both support a strategy for worldwide evangelism base on exponential growth produced through Jesus’ plan of making disciples within a timeframe of a generation.

Here, both camps have formulated their ideas on paper in accomplishing this mammoth task. The pro-McKean faction’ Portland Story strategy is continually revised by Kip McKean’s pen. The anti-McKean faction ‘Co-operation Churches’ are continually updated on their website.

On the one hand, the pro-McKean faction’ churches are formed by church planting congregations and remnant gathering congregations and on the other hand, the anti-McKean faction’ churches are formed by church planting congregations and churches signing up with the Plan to co-operate.

According to McKean to reach remnant status remnant gathering congregations must ”start” something new or die in order to be part of God’s new discipling movement. This train of thought is nothing less than an extension of the ideals of the Portland Story’s manifesto for a progressive “calling-out of the remnant of disciples” from dying, former ICOC Churches.

This very interesting dynamic in God’s new movement officially known as the Sold-Out Discipling movement have spoiled good will in the brotherhood of the ICOC family of churches. Clearly ‘Jesus is replaced with the Church’ as a man is turned against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be members of his own household. (Matthew 10) In other words, it leads to human arrogance and rivalry, and replaces obedience to God with submission to the Church.

Already McKean’s article stipulates Loyalty to his group’s dynamics. For example, Kip states for exponential growth to occur, there must be a pure foundation of only sold-out disciples. Any lukewarmness, sin or hypocrisy allowed to perpetually exist becomes a leaven that eventually ruins the whole church (1 Corinthians 5:6-12).

In the face of this statement how did ungodly (non-Christian) institutions like Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Nike and even Britney Spears [music] have evangelized the world in our lifetime?

Now it is a matter of time before the rot will set in (if not already present). The diagnosis for Church groups supporting ‘Kingdom-dominion’ or ‘Restoration’ theology requires obedience to the Letter. It becomes imperative that all churches unite to do the work. The scheme for world restoration calls for organisational ability, qualities of leadership, rhetoric and the ability to dominate adversaries. It requires obedience from followers, which relies on a system of discipleship to ensure every Christian is under authority and unable to err from the teaching. Here the door shut to outsiders who must enter through the system in order to be saved. The church group becomes the visible Body on earth and Leadership impose direction for everyone.

This frightful scenario is already mounting criticism towards the pro-and anti-McKean factions. McKean’s article does not shy away from dramatic criticism. In Los Angeles, one local “minister” has accused God’s new discipling movement of being “a movement of Satan.” How history repeats itself! [Kip is referring to the men stand opposed in the New Testament]

McKean’s article does not hesitate to attribute new direction within his group as Godly intervention, despite criticism. Some have critized and tried to discredit what is clearly the work of God’s Spirit as evidenced in all the miracles – the baptisms and restorations of fallen away brothers and sisters. Therefore, let us share a very interesting dynamic in God’s new movement. In the new discipling movement, churches are formed in two very different ways: church planting congregations and remnant gathering congregations.

Perhaps McKean’s loyalists receive more open criticism than the anti-McKean group because they articulate their intensions more openly. Here the thoughtful must not pause at a particular group but be ever mindful what is happening on the other side. Remember the history in the making of the International Churches of Christ teachings was more openly criticised than the ‘mainline’ Church of Christ!

In conclusion, McKean’s article supports the same strategy for world conquest as described in Robert Emerson Coleman’s book The Master Plan of Evangelism. It relies on worldly formulas such as exponential growth produced through Jesus’ plan of making disciples.
Roy Davison astutely pointed out the doctrinal foundation and fundamental error in relying on exponential growth produced through Jesus’ plan of making disciples. Adherents to this thesis of the disciple approach mistakenly conclude it is correct to follow Jesus’ pattern or plan in training his apostles as a pattern for making disciples. Davison conclude these are entirely different matters.

Jesus Christ was a rabbi who formed an organizational teacher/student relationship with his apostles. He expressly forbids them to become rabbi’s (Matt 23:8-10). Christians cannot imitate Christ example in everything. A Christian cannot be the head of the Church. The Roman Catholic Church does. Christians may not have disciples of their own or disciples! All Christians are the Lord’s disciples!

Clearly the ICOC pro- or anti- McKean factions face an insurmountable task to evangelise the world in one generation or two or ever. The status quo is not good when one go by statistics. (see graph above) Reaching the world in one generation from an ICOC perspective remains a theological fantasy.

McKean’s article has warned his followers about people like myself who oppose this ideal. Be sure, opposition from the “wicked” and “brothers” who have no faith awaits all who desire to challenge and change the status quo.

Perhaps before the ICOC can look at the world they have to look to each brother and each sister across the room. Pay attention to the plank in your own eye!

Finally, I concur with Tricia Tillin’s observation the New Testament demonstrates that the Law cannot save mankind and that the only hope for man is in justification by faith. The Law has failed to transform mankind and it always will. (Romans 7:6)

Let us all rapidly spread the honored message: Jesus’ remains King!

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