Three Major Factions

by Chris Lee for REVEAL


How does one capture "history" as it is making progress? It is a difficult task at best, somewhat akin to shooting a moving target. Will there be a happy or a tragic ending? Will things be the same or different? It's not for us to say, but there is One who knows. For about 6 months, some others (e.g., Kyle Degge) and I have been saying that there are three major factions within the ICC -- certainly we can document this on the site although it will be hard to say what will happen. (Updated, Sept. 2005)

Three Factions

1.) There is a reformist group that has taken heed to Henry Kriete and others, who are actively trying to make things better and change. They recognize a number of problems. Some have broken away from the ICC (Salt Lake City, Utah) or are making progress towards unity with the Mainline Churches of Christ (Tallahassee, Florida). Others have reconciled with 'enemies' or ex-members or strived to improve in areas of abuses (Chicago, Atlanta, Triangle). I do take this to recognize that many of these churches have made considerable progress by becoming more autonomous than before; previously, the ICC had been more like a hierarchy reporting into LA. The ICC has also tried to curb some of the abuses (specifically with mandatory evangelism "quotas", mandatory discipling partners, and so on). Some of these churches have gone so far as to even recognize other Christians outside of the ICC.

2) There is a moderate group that, while they recognize that reform is necessary, feel that the current rate of reform is sufficient and believe that the abuses will be taken care of, eventually. They do not feel that they need to go to the perceived 'extreme' measures of the reformist group, to be radical about reform. Perhaps they feel that the ICC has changed, and is changing, and is sufficient. My only comment is from an older and wiser friend, that "All culture is slow to change. From a leadership perspective, it takes five to ten years to instill deep cultural changes if there is a consistent set of driving forces and a broad leadership that is aligned. Culture is fundamentally that act of habits by which an organization does its work. Quoting Mark Twain: "You cannot toss a habit out of the window; you have to coax it down the stairs one step at a time." Thus, it is necessary for all current members to strive for reform, not just wait for it to happen.

3) There is a conservative or traditionalist group, that feel that Kriete's letter and other criticisms (even positive ones) are just being used by the enemies of the ICC in trying to tear it down, and that the ICC has become 'soft' and 'weak'. They want to return to the glory days of old, when things were more black-and-white and definitive (for instance, mandatory disciplers telling people what to do). This group is divided however; some want a return of a high power, Kip, but others do not want Kip to return. One can find samples of Kip's own writing on the Portland Church of Christ website, to note some of his own thoughts. Another interesting read is the L.A. Church of Christ's document, A Call To Unity And Revival.

So naturally, you may ask, which of all the ICC's congregations today is in which group? It's a hard task to say. Some churches may have elements of all three. As the ICC gets more fragmented it becomes harder to keep track of.

Adding to the difficulty in watching the ICC is that the movement's old information sources have either shut down publication, or have not really reported on the changes the movement is going through (e.g., Kingdom News Network, Discipleship Publications, Inc.). Most ICC churches are not creating a public record of what they currently teach and practice -- even though this would help to verify claims of progress or reform.

©2004, 2005 by Chris Lee. All rights reserved.

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