Friday, May 13, 2011

Over Eight Years Later: Signs of ICOC Reversion, Part 3

This is the third and final commentary in a series of posts on recent articles on Disciples Today concerning the reversion of the ICOC to a state before reforms were promised by the leadership in 2003. The third article is entitled Still Willing to Go Anywhere for God, written by Damon Brog (presumably the Lead Evangelist) from Springfield, Illinois.

At first glance, this story seems inspiring. A young, single man named Rajaveen (Raj) Chandrasakaran decides to do "something radical" in order to escape "complacency".
"My time with my company was coming to an end, I am single and my parents are disciples. I realized no better time than now to take that radical plunge and to GO and be on the cutting-edge of faith. So I proceeded to put my condo on the market, gave away all my possessions, and put out feelers to anyone who would give me an opportunity to help build their ministry."
Raj then gets hooked up with Damon and effectively becomes the campus minister of the Springfield Church of Christ. Damon describes Raj's efforts.
"Just today we studied the Bible with 4 college students consecutively between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. They continue to bring friends with them. Nearly twenty students are studying the Bible in earnest. The church has been here for about 15 years and had never had a campus ministry, though the effort had been made prior to our arrival. We put together a little campus Bible Talk at the beginning of 2010 and had a couple of baptisms, but there has been a literally miraculous injection of life to our campus ministry since Raj arrived here in August. It is very likely that we will finish the year out with about a half dozen baptisms."
So should there be rejoicing about Raj's decision? That apparently he made it on his own and wasn't being told to do it through a discipling partner? Was the Holy Spirit calling him to do this?


However, the article mentions nothing about the Holy Spirit, or the influence of another person either for that matter.

He says, "Instead of living my life by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me, I constantly tried to live for me –not in a blatant manner but far more subtly, allowing the distractions and desires of life to lull me into a sense of complacency." This certainly can be done within the context of being a "Network Engineer for Fortune 500 company".

Did that "something radical" have to be done in the context of selling and giving away everything and becoming a campus minister intern? Certainly not! However, this mode has been a classic McKeanist position for decades. And he's going though this well-worn path once again. Even though Raj may not have a discipling partner or leaders telling him what to do, the ICOC's mindset regarding what it takes to be "alive in Christ" has clearly been transferred to him.

Damon continues:
"All that being said, it has made a GREAT impact on our church members here. Seeing someone surrender all and move to their town in order to invest themselves in the work of the Lord has left the people here revived and challenged in a good way. The Springfield church began the 2010 with 39 members; we will finish the year with well over 50! This comes after years of the church here struggling and even decreasing in size. Now there are ongoing Bible studies in all ministries of the church –campus, teens, marrieds, and singles! It is difficult to overstate the effect that the campus explosion has had on the entire church. The momentum that we have gained during the year has been pushed into hyperdrive when one committed disciple made the bold decision to respond to the radical calling of the Lord!"
In short, the campus ministry is the spark that gets the church going, growing, and doing well. The position of the campus minister is and continues to be the most exhausted role in the church, sometimes surpassing the roles of the evangelists and elders! Why couldn't Damon "crank" the campus ministry like Raj could?

It's concerning, like it's been mentioned in the previous two articles, that the role of the Holy Spirit isn't mentioned at all. So it's doesn't take a lot for Raj to fall back into the classic game plan - convert a bunch of campus students to create the illusion that the church is growing and groom those campus students as the leadership base as they get married and have children of their own. In addition, it's not a foregone conclusion that when Raj or any of the people mentioned in the previous two articles aren't using "First Principles" or a derivative that still promotes the same works-based steps of salvation developed and pushed under Kip McKean.

In the past three articles, the common thread for both Kingdom Kids and new converts, major cities and smaller towns, established strongholds and newer outposts, is that core patterns established in the Crossroads era, built and solidified through the Boston Movement era, continued through the unified ICOC era, are now clearly being seen during the post-McKean era. We should see more signs of abuse as the ICOC continues on its clear path back to the "glory days". And we should pray that the Holy Spirit is stirring the heart of the next Henry Kriete who will inevitably call the graceless, Christ-less, man-made system to true and unequivocal repentance.

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