International Church of Christ
OBEYING YOUR LEADERS
For your salvation
When we hear the word cult we envision people held against their will confined away, working with little or no pay, and physically abused. They are unable to think for themselves having been changed into religious robotic zealots. While these descriptions are possible and have occurred in some extreme groups, they are usually unlikely.
The International churches of Christ have long been labeled a cult because of the control used for Jesus sake. Well a group like ours in Boston attracts attention. There people that say were a cult. Y'know thats a word for anybody thats different than you. (Gordon Ferguson the Victory of surrender II, 8/15/99) A cult is anyone who thinks different than you! So if everyone is different than them, he's saying everyone else is a cult and they are not.
People who do not understand spiritual unity attempt to explain it away by calling us cultic and brainwashed. Yet, this unity remains. (Kip McKean, UpsideDown issue 11, 1994, pg. 19). Lots of cults have unity, the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons. Some of the greatest armies that have marched were in unity. All this means nothing as far as accurate biblical practice.
How are people controlled or manipulated in this Church.? Simple, people become willing subjects to believe the leaders lies by being convinced it is actually the truth. This is still brainwashing, but with willing subjects. In other words they first are convinced of the leaders sincerity and call from God to lead them before they become willing subjects.
According to the International Churches of Christ, no one can be a disciple on their own. Everyone must submit to another person in the ongoing process of discipleship. (Judy Weger/Chris Fuqua, Faith and Convictions, audio tape, San Diego) . . . you must listen to your leaders, they want to help you. It should scare you, sober you, you can still come, but only if you repent. Your attitude will prove whether you have a heart of a disciple. This means obedience without question like in the army your the private they are the sergeant.
Discipling (shepherding) is the heart of their body the only times you don't obey him (referring to someone over you) is if it violates Scripture or your conscience. (Kip McKean. Denver, May, 1988) Yet McKean has stated that, Even if the evangelist calls you to do something that disobeys your conscience, you still have an obligation to study it out and prayerfully change your opinion so you can be totally unified.( Why Do You Resist the Spirit, Boston Seminar 1987, Audio ) This he calls unity, being manipulated into the agreement with everyone else.
Joining the ICC can seem wonderful at first, but you are actually being romanced into a social fraternity that will watch your every move, for your own benefit of course. Cults operate using mind control they exploit and manipulate individuals by soliciting their cooperation through thought reform programs.
How does one become convinced to join? After all no one knowingly would join a cult group. First they convince you that they are called bad names because of their zealousness and seriousness. People tell you how talented you are and saying you can really go places. An instant bonding of friendship occurs without your knowing who they are, or they really knowing you, they act as your best friends immediately. Then you are required to attend studies, going through the programs you become convinced of their bible correctness. but its all pride in disguise as they emphasize their church and who they are, more than Christ. They teach that one can only be a Christian by joining them. There's nothing new about this rap.
They do offer improvements, they will get people off drugs, alcohol and keep them off the streets. Their marriages can be healed. But it will be replaced by a new bondage to their discipler and leaders. The members become subordinate to the goals of leaders and their well-being is dependent on their cooperation.. While this is all good, and we are glad for those helped, this in no way validates this church as doing Gods work. Many in the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons and other cults can also testify to being helped in the same way. What I have found is that many give glory to the Church, instead of Christ and his instruction and power, where it should go if it is of God.
Recruits can find the cult atmosphere conducive to providing them with friends when they are away from home or from not having direction, not knowing what to do with their time. Someone involved in an abusive system finds their of loyalty is nurtured and even demanded. Loyalty for Christ is replaced by an organization, church or leader. Because authority is usually from an individual or a group one is asked if they will be loyal to God confusing the member that to be loyal to a person or group means the same. EX: Jehovah's Witnesses with their blind loyalty to whatever the Watchtower says.
Any church that does not promote the holy Spirit for ones relationship to Christ and in its place promotes a person/ persons or a method needs to be brought into question. They are not practicing biblical Christianity.
I've heard people well the lord lead me to do this, the lord lead me to do that. I'm thinkin which lord was that now! Because I know my emotions mainly lead me in the wrong direction because there so flimsy and so changing (Gordon Ferguson the Victory of surrender II, 8/15/99).
So if one says they are lead by God outside the parameters of the way this church does things its blamed on emotions. No one can be led by the lord individually, they need to check in with their discipler. One girl told me that her husband was gone for several weeks and just got home and she called her discipler to ask if she could go out with him on a Church night, her discipler scolded her for wanting to do so. If this isn't cult control then there is no such thing as a cult!
What about the bible that says Rom 8:14-15: For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba, Father. There is freedom and flexibility in following Christ.
In Gal. 5:18 Paul writes, But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. And Paul then lists the works of the flesh of which several are practiced by this Church. The law, are mandatory requirements which are usually enforced not by compulsion or force but by convincing someone that if they don't take their advice they are not spiritual and instead prideful.
Information control is practiced where members of the group are not allowed or discouraged to have contact with outside family members, other ministries or Christians that could influence them. This is done to prevent information that may expose what is going on internally. They cut off and denigrate outside sources of information, especially if it is critical of the group. One is not allowed to read or converse with those who say these things or was once part of the group and left for whatever circumstances. Ties are severed with former friends and family and the circle becomes tighter as the only people you are exposed are themselves! They read only their books and are discouraged or even forbidden to read other books especially if one opposes their views.
Their discipleship program is like coming home with a bad report card when you were little. They scold you because you haven't performed up to the expected level. Last month you made 7 disciples this month is only 3 you have gone down, you got a C or D on your report card instead of an A. Now you will have to work harder.
Confession to one's discipler is necessary for cleansing. The condition of accountability is part of salvation. Even if a member confesses to God and did not confess daily to their discipler, there is a potential of losing salvation. They will be confronted by the discipler and told it is deceitful to hold their sins from someone who cares. In Tim.3:6 tells not to allow a novice (beginner) to be in ministry as a teacher (bishop) but there are many who have this role in other peoples lives. So do they really follow the bible as they claim?
Recently a Mom who showed great concern for her daughter who joined flew all the way to Hawaii to get her out. When she asked the pastor John and his wife Michelle Hafer about James 5:16 they actually admitted that this verse was taken out of context. No kiddin'. But it has never been admitted. But don't hold your breath for this to be said to their members. Since they practice pragmatism. If it yields results without any biblical precedent, let it continue.
Her daughter previously thought of her mom as a Christian example in her life, today she is convinced she is not a Christian and is going to hell. Things can quickly change if you are exposed to their manipulating of scriptures.
Often they will have you make a decision between God and the world or more accurately between them and your parents. Luke 14:2If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
Hate in Greek is miseo from a primary misos (hatred); to detest (especially to persecute); by extension, to love less: it does not mean to not love at all.
Now it should become obvious that one of the commandments is Exod. 20:12: Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you. Also Deut 5:16.We are to obey our parents who are entrusted guardians over us. So Jesus couldn't be recommending for someone to break the commandments. So it must mean to love less or to have God as ones first and primary priority. We can see this from Jesus' example. Paul says in Eph.6:2Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise. What is meant is that a family that is non believers is not to have hold over one that believes, and influence them toward ungodliness. But the respect is to be there.
Cults will always divide the family unit instead of bringing them together. They will make you choose between God and their church. They use scriptures such as Jesus came to bring a sword not peace or one must give up brothers, sisters, wife, and house for the kingdom and be a true follower. What often happens it the leaders dictate ones relationship and have the converts lose respect and their relationship with family and friends since all but they are viewed as unbelievers. Convenient isn't it? Actually- airtight.
No one was asked give up things as the apostles were. Luke was still a doctor, even Paul who was traveling planting churches still made tents as a profession. So no one was asked to give up their vocation or move away from home through a leaders dictation. What they were asked was to give up those things being priority. What the ICC does is make one choose between vocation and family, with no neutral ground. Control can be subtle but directly exercised to a very personal level in people's lives. They deny this but I have heard it said from enough people that they were asked to quit their jobs or schooling to do ministry work to show their allegiance to God. All this is claimed as only advice, not law, by those who are in the position of authority. What does it matter if you get the same result?
Requirement #1 Giving it all up
Only baptized disciples are members of Christ's church. After baptism every new Christian needs to be taught or discipled by another Christian to obey all of Jesus' teachings (Matthew 28:20). The NIV which is the version they use replaces observe with obey which translates into control in their discipleship.
People in our churches do not get baptized unless they have counted the cost, understand the cost, and have paid the cost. Amen! . . . He goes on and just kind of sums it all up and says, Frankly, anyone who doesn't give up everything he has, cannot be my disciple. (Randy Haragan, Go and Baptize Disciples Only, audio tape, 1991.)
For someone to get to the point of qualifying for baptism, they must go through the Counting the Cost Study and discipleship. The leader will then ask them questions in order to determine whether they will give up everything and are ready to be saved. There are no quick decisions for one to enter into their Kingdom. While Jesus simply said to the people, Follow Me, and Paul and the disciples proclaimed to Believe in the gospel, the ICC has constructed a maze of conditions and requirements that need to be met before conversion and also afterwards.
the ones who disciple others can be a immature person put in a position of importance that influence others lives. This has nothing to do with spiritual maturity, which is one of the biblical requirements for leadership and being put into a position of trust in the church. An enormous amount of authority is given to those who are new who know next to nothing about Christ. What they do is flatter people and make them feel important by putting them in charge of another's spiritual welfare. They make them all special by having them called a DISCIPLE. As if no one else in the world except they are this. This certainly can make one feel useful and important but it fosters pride.
What does the bible say about authority and submission is to be practiced in church leadership?
Heb 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. Paul writes to watch over the flock as elders, this means to care for them by guidance as an elder who is more mature. This is not practiced because obedience is to another discipler who is certainly not an elder. Peter writes this as well 1 Pet. 5:2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly.
What they say is Do you see any other church making disciples like us? What they want us to believe is that they are the new, improved form of Christianity. Although it may be new, it most certainly is not improved. On the contrary, it is very toxic.
If we look at how Jesus conducted His ministry and discipleship, we see that it wasn't that He was at the top like a standard pyramid, but He was at the bottom like an upside down pyramid. He showed His followers how to walk by example rather than pulling rank and making them subordinate to Him as their leader. Jesus never compared Himself to others or encouraged His disciples to do so either. Jesus model was, He who wants to be the greatest in the Kingdom, become the servant of all.
This is what Jesus said, You know that the rulers of the Gentiles [civil/legal authority] lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. NOT SO WITH YOU. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave -- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many
Peter goes on to write 1 Pet 5:5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. This means leaders are not to lord it over the young.
But this is not what they practice, To the extent I trust my discipler, Gloria Baird, I am in reality trusting God. (Theresa Ferguson. Forever Growing, Boston Bulletin, Oct. 22 1989) Trust your discipler's motives. Keep no hidden reservations and give the benefit of the doubt. Although weaknesses should not be ignored, neither should they become the focus of your relationship. In a word, your faith in God is reflected in your faith in your discipler. (Bob Harpole, Chicago Fire, August 16, 1987.) Nowhere does the bible say to trust man as you would God.
(Judy Weger, Faith and Convictions, San Diego) How many times have people told you that they're concerned about your spirituality, and you say, 'Hey, I'm fine. There's nothing wrong with me.' How many times have to challenge your pride because you don't like to be challenged. Your unloving heart towards people, you have attitudes towards evangelism, or you're fat and you won't lose weight. You have an attitude because people love you enough to help you to be happy, and you refuse to be controlled and discipled.
The methods of control which are used is usually FEAR of displeasing God the leader or both, fear of rejection, punishment, losing ones salvation, missing the rapture, going to hell, not being prosperous or healed. Guilt, Fear, intimidation are spiritual weapons used to maintain their loyalty and devotion to their groups teachings.
(Kip McKean, Malachi, 1994 Manila World Leadership Conf.) (speaking of God being with them): ... As long as you're making disciples, He's with you, that's what the Good Book says. My good book says he with us always. They are taught that if you are not producing disciples at a certain rate, you are not a follower of Jesus. The emphasis is on production. This is how they get their growth done by convincing people to work for God and disciple others.
If a disciple stops working for the Kingdom, they are considered lukewarm. Using Phil. 2:12 about working out your salvation in fear and trembling, they say no work, then you're not a disciple and have no salvation.
Performance is a condition that is stressed to keep one in a right standing into God. While the term grace may be used in how one receives salvation, their interpretation is very different from the Bible, especially in putting this into practice. They have their members bring people to the Church. They don't point to Jesus as the way, otherwise they would have to come under his authority.
Control is usually overwhelming and covers most aspects of the followers' lives: Dress codes, activities, finances, possessions and relationships. Who to see what to do, what is the right thing to say and how to say it. Various degrees of control can be experienced. From subtleness to blatant ordering. They will expect obedience to their rigid Control of Time and Activities. this leaves little time for privacy and reflection, or questioning their authority.
Any responsibility can be dropped on you at any time, if your discipler decided its time to be discipled even if its in the middle of the night you are to be cooperative.
I was told by several former members that every three day weekend (holiday) they had a conference so you couldn't be with your family (the one that you were born in, not the church). One night a week was family night or date night for everyone, this was Friday.
A couple, who were leaders, shared with me what happened when they were late to church a few times. They are asked questions like, What are you doing? or Why are you showing up late? These are genuine concerns, however, because they had been late, they were asked to go over the last 24 hours of their schedule and break this time into 15 minute blocks or periods. They were told to get advice on their schedule in order to see where they were going wrong in managing their time. This is a standard procedure in this movement, and only one of many examples that demonstrate how far they extend their control through their discipling methods in order to help people be better disciples of the church
CONTENDING WITH THE LEADERSHIP
The leaders are not sinful, this is not a doctrinal teaching but is implied since they never do any wrong. . You say, 'Well, okay, but what happens if they start opposing the movement:' Ah, now you've brought up a whole different issue. Let's turn to 2 Timothy 3 . . . verse 10 . . . If you oppose the Lords servants , then you oppose the Lord God picks the leaders and you gotta get behind them. That's the teaching of the Word. (Kip McKean, Indianapolis meeting March 17, 1994, audiotape) This is an excuse for the leader to do just about anything. McKean has said I've got a lot of the Pharisee in me. After all I'm the leader of the movement. (Kip McKean. Sydney, Australia, May 1996, audio) a true leader is an example of Jesus in his humility, and servanthood, then people follow by example but it is Jesus they will see, not ones ego.
When Ed Powers saw the abuses of control and started to disagree with heir doctrines McKean had this to say Lastly, we need to obey the marking. You are to have no contact with Ed Powers, or staff, or anybody that has decided to be at that other church in opposition to this church. If you disobey the marking, then we will be forced to warn you if you're in our fellowship. If you leave, then you will be marked. You are divisive. I am very serious, it is an issue of salvation . . . Anybody saying those people are lost, I believe Ed Powers and those that stand with him are the lost ... since they left the church (McKean speaking at Indianapolis audio tape 3/3/1994). Clearly that if one leaves McKeans Christian fraternity they are pronounced as lost. Not because they left Christ but because they disagree with HIM. Certainly to leave the family of God, the true church, is to leave God (Upsidedown pg. 18).
They train there people to avoid the truth, keeping them from others who can challenge their beliefs. In so doing they run from the very thing that can set them free. They deny that they believe they are the ONLY true Church. Ask them if they are not the only true church, then why is there mission to take people out of all other evangelical churches.Their false practice of authority and discipleship will continue until someone, or several people of influence come to their senses and want to see true scriptural change from within. Then they will be able to practice and achieve their goals in concert with God because they will be doing it God's way and not their leaders way.