International Churches of Christ (ICC) Boston Movement Crossroads Movement
[The scene opens in the hall of a bustling college dormitory. It is the week before classes start in the fall, and all the new students are moving in. A hungry freshman is obviously looking around for someone to go to lunch with. A couple of fellow students come over.]
Older student: Want to go get some lunch?
Freshman: Yeah, I'm hungry.
Older student: Great. My friend and I were just headed for the cafeteria.
[Jump to cafeteria, where the freshman and older students are sitting down with their trays.]
Older student: John and I were just talking about a party we're going to tonight when we saw you. It's off-campus, at a friend's house. Want to come?
Freshman: [Obviously delighted] That sounds fun. Thanks!
[Fade to black.]
The "skit" above shows a typical ICC college recruitment. There are lots of variations on this theme -- not everyone joins the ICC the same way. The ICC is known primarily for its aggressive proselytizing, however, especially on college campuses, and its intensive "discipling" inside the church. Members spend a great deal of time proselytizing to fellow college students, co-workers, and any other non-members in their lives. Old friends and family members frequently report feeling either ignored or under siege.
Members are under the oversight of a "discipler", an older member who mentors them and to whom they are answerable. Family members, in particular, report noticing that the new disciple seems to be on the phone constantly to his discipler when he visits.
Depending on a whole lot of individual factors, the individual in question usually will get either burned out or fed up with this in time and leave the group. But that may be months or even years later, and meanwhile college, career and other personal goals will be put on the back burner or completely on hold. The ICC demands "total commitment" from its members, called "disciples". In practice, this means that the disciple's "discipler", or mentor, and the leaders of the group make the major decisions in the disciple's life. These decisions will often include what to major in in college, where to go to college, what job to take after college, who to date, and even who to marry.
The ICC is extremely effective at winning converts -- it has one of the highest conversion rates of any religious group in the world. It is less effective at keeping them. One ICC leader recently estimated that there were more former members than current members of the organization. In recent years this has affected its growth rates, although it is difficult to know how much since the ICC does not make full information public.
So where did this group come from? What made it like it is? While we certainly don't know the full story, an outline of the ICC's history makes it easier to understand what it is today. Read on.
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