Sunday, May 8, 2011

Over Eight Years Later: Signs of ICOC Reversion, Part 1

Three articles posted on the primary news site for the International Churches of Christ, Disciples Today, are an ominous sign that over eight years after the reforms spurred on by the events surrounding Kip McKean's departure and Henry Kriete Letter, that the status quo is returning to classic positions the movement has had since the 1970's.

The first article is entitled Confessions of a Kingdom Kid at Harvard, written by Joseph Porter (posted 1/7/2011), a self-professed "Kingdom Kid" (who was born and raised in the church). In fact, his parents "both... served in Boston's campus ministry back in the day".

What are Joseph's confessions?
"I was a prideful coward. I was terrified of inviting strangers to Bible discussion groups or other events, and I did everything I could to avoid actually talking to strangers..."
His sin was not anything in the realm of sexual immorality, drunkenness, use of illegal drugs, cheating and cutting corners in his school work, but inviting enough people out to church! He repented of this sin, not by reading the Word of God (there still isn't a verse in there that says "thou shalt evangelize everyone at all times of the day and night") and not by a conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit (John 16:8), but by submission to discipling.
"Eventually - about two years in to my career as a college disciple - I learned my lesson. I learned that it was laughably foolish for me to think that I knew how to evangelize my campus better than my campus ministers..."
It's a given that any leaders of a campus ministry would have more experience than the students they're leading. However, what we see in this case is submission to discipling by the leaders. "Soul Talks", now known as "Bible Talks", were a new innovation in the late 1960's during the start of the Crossroads Campus Ministry Movement days in Gainesville, Florida. Were they "laughably foolish" by breaking the then norms? Of course not. These delivered results: conversions. And Joseph wasn't making disciples at the rate that both himself and his leadership expected him to.

Joseph finishes with a description of his commitment to the church:
"Of course, being a disciple on campus is a full-time job. I have to use my time wisely; meals are often combined with Bible studies, and many evenings are devoted to midweek services, Bible talks, Friday devotionals, d-groups, and the like. I've learned to limit the time I spend on Facebook and playing video games. I don't always get as much sleep as I'd like; I wake up at around seven on Saturday mornings for Saturday Academy, and not much later for church on Sunday. But I love what I'm doing nevertheless."
With this example, he's been "given the opportunity to serve as an intern in Boston's campus ministry". He's also repeating the time and resource consuming requirements of being a disciple, a Christian, a saved person - as the ICOC has clearly defined it in the past. A total commitment not to Jesus, but to the church and its ideology. Joseph's reflection of the ICOC ideology is shown here:
"I knew that campus ministry was the heart and soul of the ICOC, and I wanted to turn my campus upside down when I arrived there."
The concept of the importance of the campus ministry, not only to himself as a campus student, but to the survival of the church as a whole, has been deeply embedded into him, literally since birth! Also his unconditional submission to discipling and what the leaders above him say and what he says to the people he personally disciples. And not to mention the total commitment to even put the church above his studies, particularly challenging studies at an Ivy-League institution! Sadly, Joseph and other Kingdom Kids like him have likely never learned to put Jesus in the center of their lives and had all of their activities - church, school, family, leisure, and even sleep - centered around the crucified Christ and guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit to keep the balance.

Two more commentaries about the remaining two articles will follow.

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