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REVEAL: About the ICC

1967-1979: The Crossroads Era

The Boston and Crossroads movements are earlier incarnations of the ICC, and were named after the Churches of Christ where these movements began. (The Crossroads Church of Christ in Gainesville, Florida in 1967, and the Boston Church of Christ in Lexington, Massachusetts in 1979.) Both movements had many members at other churches which they began (or planted), or which adopted their methods and beliefs, so a "Bostonite" or "Crossroader" may not have been in Boston or Gainesville at all.

ICC Timeline

The ICC generally points to the start of the Boston Church of Christ in 1979 as the point at which it begun. Most outside the ICC put the date twelve years earlier, though, and at the 14th Street (later Crossroads) Church of Christ in Gainesville, Florida. In 1967 the elders (bishops) of that church hired Chuck Lucas as campus minister. Lucas immediately began an outreach to the University of Florida campus in Gainesville, named the "Campus Advance."

Lucas also began a system of mentoring, or discipling, within the Campus Advance, based on two sources. The first source was that at that time in the late 60's, one Juan Luis Ortiz had imported a one-over- one discipling scheme that had been successful in his home country of Argentina. Two other groups also in Gainsville at that time, Maranatha Ministries (now known as "Tree of Life") and the Navigators also adopted this discipling methodology, but the other two have since dropped a mandatory discipling scheme, due to many instances of reported abuse. The second source was supposedly the principles in Robert Coleman's Master Plan of Evangelism and other works which preached the principles of discipling, or "shepherding", as it was also called at the time. The central theme of these works was an interpretation of Matthew 28:18-20 which taught that:

To this Lucas added one further point.

Lucas noted that many people, if left to their own devices, would end up going to every direction, perhaps one would say he had taken a job in New York, or another woman had started school in LA, and another person starting a church in Kenya. Lucas needed a system which would tie all the people back into the church and keep them loyal, which would be his discipling or buddy system.

If this sounds familiar to those who never heard of Crossroads and joined the ICC twenty years later, it should. While there are some differences, a few significant, between the doctrines and practices of the early Crossroads movement and today's International Church of Christ, the similarities far outweigh the differences. Small group evangelistic Bible Studies (called "soul talks" in the early Crossroads movement), disciplers (called "prayer partners"), quiet times, radical Christianity (called "total commitment"), and the imperative to evangelize the world (or at least, this generation) all came from Crossroads.

During the twelve years before the planting of the Boston Church of Christ, the Crossroads Church of Christ and Churches of Christ with Crossroads-patterned Campus Ministries were among the fastest growing churches in the world.

Not surprisingly, there were a series of problems associated with that extremely rapid growth. The young, "totally committed" disciples often looked down on what they viewed as the lukewarm, or even spiritually dead, older members of their churches, and it showed. Spiritual pride and arrogance have been Achilles heels of the discipling movement from the beginning.

The doctrinal concerns of the older members and leaders about the discipling movement also struck the discipling movement's leaders and members as largely irrelevant, and were ignored. In the extremely doctrine-conscious, conservative mainline Church of Christ, this caused a lot of tension.

In 1977, the Memorial Drive Church of Christ in Houston, Texas fired a couple of young Crossroads ministers they had been supporting at a small church in Illinois. These ministers were Roger Lamb, the son of one of the elders at Memorial Drive, and Kip McKean. In the letter announcing their decision to withdraw financial support for these two young evangelists, the elders accused Lamb and McKean of teaching false and "deceitful" doctrine and promoting controlling practices.

This letter, which was widely publicized in the Churches of Christ, confirmed the growing uneasiness felt by many in this denomination about Crossroads. By 1979, it had become clear to most people in and out of the Crossroads movement that the Crossroads methods did not work well in most established Churches of Christ. Time and again, churches with Crossroads-based campus ministries split or suffered severe problems because of them.

So Kip McKean decided to try something different. He found a tiny, dying Church of Christ in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts which agreed to allow him to rebuild it from the ground up using the Crossroads methods. They were about to close their doors, and had noticed his "ability" to grow campus ministries, so it agreed to give him and his team full authority to do this, and the Boston Church of Christ was founded.

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