International Church of Christ (ICC, Boston Church of Christ, Multiplying Movement, etc…)

Bethel | Book | International Church of Christ | Podcast | Sharing Jesus with the Cults | Youtube

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I want to talk to you guys about a group that I’ve had a couple of run-ins with over the years. The first of which was when I was in college at Hope International University. I was with a Bible study that would go out on the campus witnessing. We would also have prayer meetings and Bible studies. We’d have a book table that was set up for anybody who was interested in coming on by and getting information about the group and about Christianity and the gospel. One day there was an entire group of people that came over to our table, and they paired up with us, one on one with us, and started arguing with us. And that group was part of the International Church of Christ group on campus. Some might know this group as the Boston Church of Christ or Los Angeles Church of Christ.

I encountered them in Chicago as well. One time, when living there, my wife and I got invited to church. I found out that it was with the Church of Christ, and I was wondering if it was the good Church of Christ or not so good Church of Christ. When we got to church, the first thing anybody said to us was, “Who invited you?” When we told them, they ushered us down to the front as this individual was performing a special song during the worship service. It was pretty obvious to me from the way they were asking the question and what I saw around me that this was the not so good Church of Christ. But it was good to have that experience of knowing what their worship services were like.

Going back to that first experience at the book table, there was one individual from that group that ended up coming back later by himself, and asked if he could talk to one of us. He ended up giving his life over to the biblical Jesus that day, leaving that group and becoming part of our group. We watched as this man got harrassed by other members of this group.

Another interesting encounter I had with this group. I got to meet one of the key leaders of the group in that area. He had an interesting name. Something like Geo or something like that. I was talking with him for quite a while, and then all of a sudden, there were these two girls, who seemed to come out of nowhere. They started joining in on the conversation, and it became clear after a while that these two girls were hitting on my group, and I came to find out later that this is a strategy that they don’t have a problem employing when trying to recruit people. They are very popular when it comes to the college age level. They are very active on college campuses.

I want to talk to you about some of the doctrines and history of this group so you can become familiar with them, and at least recognize them when you run into them. They are also known as the Boston Church of Christ, the Crossroads Movement, Multiplying Ministries, the Discipling Movement, the International Church of Christ, the London Church of Christ, the San Diego Church of Christ, etc…

As far as the doctrines go, they believe in the Bible as the inerrant, infallible Word of God. They are Trinitarian. They believe in the resurrection of Jesus and the sacrificial atonement. The Boston Church of Christ is the only true church. And that is a dangerous belief. They believe in baptismal regeneration, meaning baptism is necessary for salvation, and baptism in their church, with a proper understanding that baptism saves is required for salvation.

Heavy discipleship. What I mean by heavy discipleship is that every person in the church is supposed to have somebody discipling them and somebody they are discipling that is lower than them, or newer to the group than them. Discipleship isn’t just teaching of the basics, opening the Bible and study it together. It’s who I should marry, what kind of job should I have, what should I do with my life, where should I live. All of those types of questions and more would be under the scrutiny of the person who is your discipler, and they would have the authority in your life to tell you the answer to all of those questions.

It’s unquestioned submission to authority is another trademark of this group.

A little bit of history of this group. It’s distant origins go back to 1967 in Gainesville, Florida under Charles Lucas. He started a program called the Multiplying Ministries program, which was very successful. The movement we’re concerned with here started in the Crossroads Church of Christ in Florida in 1985 by Kip Mckean, who had been trained in the discipling methodology by Mr. Lucas from Charleston, Illinois early in the movement. Kip later moved to Massachusetts, and using the methodology, the church began to grow. In the first year, 103 people were baptized in their church. In the second year, 200 were baptized. Third year, 256. Fourth year 368. So on until we have 6,790 people. From its modest beginnings the church has grown into 103 congregations all over the world with total attendance of 50,000 members. In 1982, the Boston Movement began planning their pillar churches. These are churches in key cities throughout the world. The first two were established in Chicago and London. In 1986, the program called reconstruction was undertaken whereby ministers in established Church of Christ churches were replaced by trained International Church of Christ ministers. This caused problems among this organization, but it helped to solidify this group.

The structure. Kip Mckean is the unquestioned leader, and under Kip are the elders. Under the elders are the evangelists, then zone leaders, then house church leaders, which is obsolete in most congregations. Then assistant Bible talk leaders. These leaders govern by concensus, but Kip Mckean gives them direction.

In regard to authority and submission, Al Bart, one of the uppermost leaders in the Church of Christ said, “Let us begin our discussion of submission by talking about what it is not. It is not agreeing. When one agrees with the decision that was made, he does not have to submit to anything. By definition submission is doing something one has been asked to do that he would not do if he had his own way. Submission is not just outward obedience. It includes that. It is a whole hearted giving up one’s own desires. Submission is not conditional. We submit to authority, not because the one in authority deserves it, but because the authority comes from God, so therefore, in reality we are submitting to God.”

So where did this group come from. You might have noticed that it was called the Church of Christ. You might remember from our discussions of the LDS church, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, that there was a movement in the early 1800s in America called the Restoration Movement. It was started by Thomas and Alexander Campbell, along with some contemporaries, and it was an idea that the true church of Jesus Christ needed to be restored to the earth. That somewhere along the line, and the disagreed exactly on when, the church had gone completely apostate, and there was a need to return to New Testament Christianity, the early church, and the model that you see in the book of Acts.

Going back to the book of Acts, they started incorporating in baptismal regeneration, and this is true of any Christian Church, Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, and all the other movements that started with the Restoration Movement.

Within the Church of Christ, there is the instrumental Church of Christ and non-instrumental Church of Christ. The International Church of Christ is also non-instrumental. They do not implement any musical instruments in their worship services. Why? Because they say it is not to be found in the New Testament. The idea behind the Restoration Movement was that anything that is not found in the New Testament they would not do and anything that you do find the New Testament, they would do.

So baptismal regeneration. And most of these churches, Churches of Christ, will require people to be re-baptized in their church, even if they have been previously baptized, and by baptized, I mean immersed, as a believer, after they have believed.

Those are some distinctives of this group. You have this heavy discipleship. You have this distinction between Christian and disciple, and I remember them asking all the time. They would get people in by asking, “Are you a Christian, or are you a disciple?” A disciple is one who would fully submit, they are whole hearted in the church. And of course they are the one true church that can give you the truth, truly disciple you, and truly help you come into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

So that’s the International Church of Christ. You may have run into them. I just wanted to cover that one briefly.