International Churches of Christ (ICC) Boston Movement Crossroads Movement
The ICC came out of a conservative, "fundamentalist" Protestant Christian church originally, and many of its features still resemble the church it came from -- it does not usually appear abnormal or strange to most Americans or people who grew up in cultures heavily influenced by the United States and western Europe. Outsiders primarily notice its aggressive proselytizing, especially on college campuses, and its intensive "discipling", or "shepherding" practices inside the church.
Members are under the oversight of a "discipler", an older member who mentors them and to whom they are answerable. Members spend a great deal of time proselytizing to fellow college students, coworkers, and any other non-members in their lives.
The doctrines of the ICC are, with a couple of notable exceptions, the same as those of the Church of Christ from which the ICC came. The exceptions are:
The ICC has a pyramid-shaped, hierarchical structure of authority. At the top is Kip McKean, the World Missions Evangelist, and his wife Elena Garcia-McKean, who is Women's Ministry Leader for the group as a whole. Under the McKeans are the eight World Sector leaders and two non-geographic functions at an equivalent level -- Media and Law, and HOPE Worldwide. HOPE Worldwide is the charitable arm of the ICC. Other layers of authority follow. The list given is approximate -- the actual structure differs from region to region.
Local ICC congregations take their name from their town or city, most commonly followed by "Church of Christ", occasionally by "Church of Christ Jesus", "Christian Church", or even just "Church". For example, the ICC affiliated church in San Francisco, California is known of as the San Francisco Church of Christ. The ICC church in Manila, Philippines is known of as the Metro Manila Christian Church. The ICC church in San Antonio, Texas is the San Antonio Church of Christ Jesus, and the one in Orlando, Florida is called the Orlando Church.
Since the ICC believes that church unity means there can only be one church per city, there never are two churches in the same city both of which are affiliated with the ICC. This does not mean that the local ICC affiliate church always meets as one group in one location, though -- the local church will usually meet in a number of different locations at different times during the week.
The people most important in the life of a rank-and-file disciple, or ICC member, are his Bible Talk Leader (BTL) and discipler, or mentor. The BTL leads his Bible Talk, a small group Bible Study used as a primary tool for proselytizing. The discipler makes most important decisions for the disciple, hears his confessions of sin, and trains him to live as the ICC wants.
Members are expected to imitate their disciplers. "Imitation" is taken pretty literally -- at certain points in the movement's history members were expected to obey and emulate their disciplers in all areas of life, even in matters such as hair style, dress, and social mannerisms. They are expected to be in contact with their disciplers at least daily by phone, and meet weekly with them in addition to their other church activities. Families of ICC members often report that, when a member visits, he/she is on the phone at least once or twice daily talking to the discipler, and must check with the discipler before making most decisions.
Members have busy schedules. Each member is expected to have a quiet time, a personal period of prayer and Bible study, every morning. This usually lasts about an hour. There is a church service on Sunday mornings. In addition, an ICC member will have a zone meeting on Wednesday evening, a devotional on another evening (usually Friday), a Bible Talk (to which he/she is expected to bring visitors) once a week, assorted "social" events intended to help proselytize, and the Saturday night date.
Members spend a considerable amount of time and effort inviting to church, Bible Talk, and social events people from work, school, and any other part of their lives in which they come into contact with non-members. When one of these people becomes interested in the ICC, the member will spend a considerable amount of time "studying the Bible" with him/her, usually as a subordinate to his/her discipler or Bible Talk Leader. ("Studying the Bible" usually means going through the studies in First Principles, a study series written by Kip McKean in and used throughout the ICC.)
Recent former members report that they spent from thirty to forty hours a week on mandatory church activities, when all of this was added up.
The ICC has strict standards of personal conduct, and regulates the dating lives and marriages of its members closely. Single members are expected to date on Saturday nights -- the "Saturday Night Date" is an institution in the ICC. There are specific rules as to what behavior is permitted. Sexual contact between unmarried people is absolutely prohibited, of course, and most other kinds of physical contact strictly regulated. Members are not permitted to date anyone outside the ICC, and a couple can date only with the approval of both their disciplers.
Members are encouraged to date, and marry, people of the same "spiritual level" as themselves, usually meaning that the leaders believe they are suited for the same level in leadership. The ICC strongly encourages its members to marry.
The ICC practices strict tithing -- members are expected to contribute at least 10% of their gross income to the church. Single members with jobs routinely contribute 15%-20%. In addition, once or twice a year a "special contribution" is taken up, at which members are expected to pledge an amount from twelve to twenty-five times their weekly tithe.
For more complete information about the history, beliefs, and practices of the International Church of Christ, please read About the ICC.
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