From Jerusalem to Rome, From Boston to Moscow
By Kip McKean
To my brothers and sisters in all the congregations of the International Churches of Christ.
by Al Baird
“Let it begin here!” cried the American revolutionists in Lexington and Concord over two centuries ago. The British band played The World turned Upside Down as their troops marched into battle. No one knows who fired the first shot, but it soon became the “Shot heard ’round the world.” Revolution had come. What more fitting a theme for July 4th than Revolution? In 1992, Kip McKean wrote “Revolution Through Restoration” for Upside Down magazine. In it he describes the beginning of the church in Lexington, Massachusetts, and how it has truly become today’s “shot heard ’round the world.” This article explains who we are as God’s modern-day movement and where we came from, better than any other single piece of which I am aware. For this reason I frequently give a copy to someone with whom I am studying the Bible or to someone from the media who wants to know more about us. What more fitting a theme for July 4th… than Revolution? [ In 1992 ], Kip McKean wrote “Revolution Through Restoration” for Upside Down magazine. In it he describes the beginning of the church in Lexington, Massachusetts, and how it has truly become [today’s] “shot heard ’round the world.” This article explains… who we are as God’s modern-day movement and where we came from, [better] than any other single piece of which I am aware. For this reason I frequently give a copy to someone with whom I am studying the Bible or to someone from the media who wants to know more about us.
by Kip McKean
Revolution was and is in each step and breath of those who dare follow this man called Jesus. Revolution comes about only when there is at least one person willing to take a stand for God and say “the present system” is wrong and thus will not accomplish the purposes of God. All of God’s purposes center on His glory and meeting the needs of people. Jesus was the ultimate revolutionary. After the first several centuries of Christianity, men tried to reform from within an apostate movement. When the Christian establishment rejected these men and women, denominations formed that genuinely attempted to be God’s movement. These predecessors, who strove to return to the Bible even to the point of death, are to be commended for their faith. Now in our day, we are confronted with unbelieving seminaries and dying denominations with systems of doctrines that have been compromised and crystallized short of the Word of God. However, His Spirit continues to call all men and women to make the ideals of Scripture become our everyday standard and sole authority. Therefore, revolution in Christianity–a return to the doctrines and lifestyles of the first century church–can only occur when we abandon the apostatized systems and their poisoned foundations of traditions and hypocrisy. This path is both frightening and exhilarating, for only by studying the Bible and then by trial and error implementation of these rediscovered teachings can a movement be forged like the original that shook the entire world in one generation. Enemies and critics, Pilates and Judases will abound, for with each restoration of Scripture a more clear, narrowing and convicting, path appears. The restoration of ancient paths evokes the same ancient reactions God’s movements have always received. Therefore, I felt the need to write a more complete explanation primarily for those who are seeking the truth but have heard only our critics, and secondly, to encourage and strengthen God’s people everywhere. My prayer is that this treatise will produce a deep, abiding sense of gratitude to our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. I write this article not as an apostle inspired by God, for I am not. I am simply a Christian who dreams that God’ s modern day movement will never stop restoring and living out God’s Word.
Seeds of Faith:
by Kip McKean
I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on May 31,1954. Like many young men of the ’60s, I was inspired by those who refused to compromise and were willing to sacrifice everything for “the worthy cause.” This conviction was also deep in my family’s heritage as we have always been called higher by the courage of one of our ancestors, Thomas McKean. He not only signed the Declaration of Independence, but also was the President of the Congress of Confederation, the highest office in the land, when news arrived from General Washington that the British had surrendered. My father, serving as an admiral in the U.S. Navy, not only became a strong influence, but also my early role model for leadership and excellence. Always very outgoing and warm, my mother gave me a great passion for life. My heroes became John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who paid the ultimate price for their dreams. In time, my greatest hero became Jesus. Until the middle of high school, I was not a particularly religious person. However, at the end of tenth grade, I became very involved in a growing, fundamental Methodist church in Maitland, Florida. The leader of the youth group, Jim Gillean, a very warm and generous family man, the preacher, Hugh Lake, and the other Bible school teachers consistently reached out to me and encouraged a simple faith in the inspiration and inherence of the Bible. The youth group had a tremendous camaraderie, and, because of this love, I began to love Jesus and to read the Word daily. I came to a deep conviction that Jesus died for my sins and was physically resurrected from the dead on the third day. Just before my senior year my father was transferred to Chicago and, though I remained religious, I was pulled more and more into the world. At the end of my freshman year at the University of Florida, I was invited by Sam Laing, a Sigma Chi fraternity brother, to a devotional of 90 college students. This devotional was sponsored by the 14th Street Church of Christ (later renamed Crossroads). This church in Gainesville had begun a pilot program in campus ministry for the Churches of Christ five years earlier. The Churches of Christ wanted to impact the campuses and initially modeled their efforts after Campus Crusade and called this program Campus Advance. Here I was taught to give up everything for Christ and be baptized for the remission of my sins to become a Christian. This commitment I made in the early hours of April 11, 1972. That summer at home in Chicago, I became very sick. Boils covered the upper part of my body. Bandages were wrapped around my body for the next three months. God was testing and humbling me, particularly through the severe scarring on my face. The members of the little Church of Christ I attended in the Chicago area never came to visit me. This incident in my life certainly sensitized me to meeting people’s needs. Then, even though my doctors strongly advised me otherwise because of my weak health, I returned to Gainesville so I could once more be part of a strong fellowship of college students. The campus ministry was where my dream to become a minister began. In my sophomore year, I believe God reinforced this dream when my younger brother, Randy, my best friend as we grew up, was diagnosed with cancer his senior year of high school. I believe God was teaching me that life is fragile and brief, like a mist, but our souls are eternal. God’s heart desire is for us to be saved by having a relationship with Him and then saving others. The Lord allowed me to baptize Randy six months later! (Our sister Dana and her husband Bob were baptized sixteen years later.) Meanwhile, the innovations of “one another Christianity,” evangelistic small group Bible studies, and the vision of dynamic campus ministries were put on my heart through the powerful preaching of Chuck Lucas and his associate, Sam Laing. Seeds of discipling were placed in my life as I saw personally how one man could affect another’s daily lifestyle and eternal destiny for God. In 1975, shortly after graduating from the University of Florida as a Phi Beta Kappa, I was asked to be the campus minister for Northeastern Christian College, a mainline Church of Christ school located near Philadelphia. Here I saw how uncommitted the so called Christian students were: drugs, drunkenness, prejudice, immorality, and lukewarmness were in many of the students’ lives. I came to a deep conviction that being religious is not the same as being righteous. I also attended Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary where I was challenged by one of the deans that the Bible was not the “only” inspired Word of God. Intimidated, yet convicted by faith, I strongly responded to the dean’s challenge. I told him that if there are any other “holy writs” besides the Bible, then Christianity is reduced to simply another philosophy like Confucianism, Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism. To me, Christ and his Word were and are the only Way, the only Truth and the only Life. I was also disillusioned by the lead minister in the King of Prussia Church of Christ who publicly and privately chastised me on my “narrow view of the Bible.” I came very close to quitting the ministry, not only because of these ordeals, but also because I felt so ineffective. After 10 traumatic months, I was asked by the elders of the Heritage Chapel Church of Christ in Charleston, IL, to initiate a campus ministry to Eastern Illinois University. My personal wounds were quickly healed by the concern of the lead minister, Roger Lamb, and by marrying my best friend in all the world, Elena Garcia-Bengochea on December 11,1976. Thinking that more formal training in the Bible was the answer to my challenges, I attended the Harding Graduate School of Religion in Memphis, Tennessee, for two summers. I drew the following conclusion from the Bible and from the lives and ministries of the seminaries’ graduates (Eastern Baptist and Harding): though helpful in scholastic pursuits, seminary was not the way to train ministers, but rather, one minister walking with another, like Jesus and the twelve. Between 1976 and 1979, I spoke in numerous churches around the United States as the campus ministry in Charleston grew from a few to 300! I was exposed to several different elements in the Churches of Christ. The spiritual condition of most of the Churches of Christ ranged from lukewarm to disgusting (Revelation 3:14-19). After almost 200 years since the inception of the Churches of Christ movement in the United States, the average Church of Christ was about 100 in membership and less than half attended the midweek services. The average church had but eight baptisms in a year and six of these were children of the members. Of those baptized out of the world, less than 10% remained faithful and half of the members’ children who were baptized fell away. The divorce rate was around 33% (about the same as the world), according to the Institute of Marriage and Family Studies at Abilene Christian University. Alarms were constantly being sounded about the declining numbers of full time ministers and missionaries. Reuel Lemmons, in his editorial February 9, 1982, in the Firm Foundation declared that over 8,000 Churches of Christ had closed their doors in the previous 20 years. Even Flavil Yeakley, later an opponent of the Boston church, reported in his book, Why Churches Grow, in which Mac Lynn’s first accurate survey revealed only 965,439 actual members in the mainline churches as opposed to the 2.5 million that had been claimed. He discovered that instead of an estimated 15,000 congregations, there were actually only 10,165 mainline churches, “only 24 with a membership of 1,000 or more, only four with a membership From Jerusalem to Rome, From Boston to Moscow 6 of 2,000 or more, and only one with a membership of more that 3,000.” The largest Church of Christ congregation outside of the borders of the United States was and is only 500 in attendance. Yeakley also wrote, “…in 1980 the Church of Christ in the United States did stop increasing and started decreasing in total membership. It is clear that if the 1965-1980 trend were to continue unchanged, the church of Christ would cease to exist in this nation in just a few years.”” Some of their own prophets have said in the book, The Worldly Church, “The impact of secularization among Churches of Christ appears today in three trends: the emergence of a prudential gospel, the turn to the self, and the veneration of wealth and status.” It is no wonder these mainline churches reacted to Jesus’ call to commitment. However, during these years, I gradually came to a deep conviction that no matter how dynamic a campus work, unless a whole church is “totally committed,” the campus ministry’s impact would be limited. I, along with others, witnessed the slow decline of the Crossroads campus ministry movement because “no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out [and be ruined] and the wineskins will be ruined ” (Luke 5:37). Indeed, many churches (wineskins) with campus ministries split and many young campus ministers (wine) quit the ministry. I thus decided that I would not send the ministers I would train to attend seminaries or to minister to existing churches, but would start new ones–“new wine must be poured into new wineskins” (Luke 5:38). Another valuable lesson was gleaned from the Crossroads church when they became heavily criticized by the world and some of the different elements in the Churches of Christ. Sadly, in time the leadership backed down on some of their convictions and innovations for the sake of remaining in “fellowship” with all the other elements of the modern Churches of Christ. During my years at Charleston and Memphis, I devoted myself to studying the Old Testament. At this major turning point in my life, I came to a deep conviction that, unlike the traditional Church of Christ which claimed only to be a “New Testament church,” a better understanding of God’s eternal plan would cause us to be a Bible church. I found the eternal Kingdom of God to be a crucial part of all the Scriptures beginning in Genesis, fulfilled in the New Testament with the establishment of the church and concluding in the book of Revelation with heaven to come. Along with this, I came to differ with the Churches of Christ whose creed is “to speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.” This creed dictated that one must have specific authorization by command, example or necessary inference from the Bible to do anything. It developed a legalistic, pharisaic mind set that sowed the seed for much dissension and division producing the factions of the Churches of Christ. For example, the whole mandate to only “call Bible things by Bible names” is contradictory because the word “Bible” is not even in the Bible! From the Scriptures I came to believe the opposite. I believe that we should be silent where the Bible speaks and speak where the Bible is silent. In other words, a Christian should simply obey where the Bible speaks and only speak (have opinions) where the Bible is silent. In building a life, a church or a “system” for a movement, we are “free” to do anything the Scriptures do not specifically, by command, by example or by necessary inference prohibit (Colossians 2:6-23). The truth seeker will always strive to be faithful to the direction and the spirit of the Scriptures. From Jerusalem to Rome, From Boston to Moscow
Restoration in Boston:
by Kip McKean
During my last year in Charleston, the elders of the Lexington Church of Christ in Massachusetts, contacted me to be their pulpit and campus minister. Though this mainline church was desperate as they considered closing their doors because their number had shrunk to about 30, I hesitated for five months. I told the people in that congregation that in order for me to come, every member must vow to become (in the terminology of that day) “totally committed.” On June 1,1979, history was made as 30 would be disciples gathered on a Friday night in the living room of Bob and Pat Gempel. Our collective vision was a church where not only the college students were totally committed, but also the teens, singles, marrieds and senior citizens. This was a radical concept not witnessed in any other church or movement in my experience to this day. Another building block in our ministry came about when Pat Gempel and I had a strong disagreement during our first month. It was quickly settled by Elena, myself and Bob and Pat as we vowed, as the two most influential families in the church, to always be unified in Christ. The four of us became best of friends. This commitment to unity laid the foundation for a great church and a movement that was truly family – the family of God. As in all families, a commitment to unity is not a onetime event. It is a lifetime process. Satan continually attempts to divide the believers and sow mistrust and insecurity. Elena’ s and my relationship with the Gempels taught us how to build and maintain family in the church. (Since then this godly principle has helped us form a team approach to leadership which maximizes the talents and contributions of each leader.) To this very day, our friendship with the Gempels has been nurtured through times of victory and peace as well as misunderstanding and actual conflict. I personally dislike conflict, as most people do, but conflict Scripturally resolved forges closer relationships (Matthew 5:23,24; 18:15-35). This commitment to honesty, forthrightness and caring has been repeated over and over throughout the Kingdom. “Family” lasts a lifetime and weathers the storms because our foundation is not each other’ s perfection, but the rock of Jesus’ love and grace. [Now there are over 100 churches! In every one of them there is a different ambience, but every disciple feels at home in any of our congregations, no matter their race, sex or nationality. The unselfish unity and warmth among the churches and their evangelists, elders and other leaders distinguish our movement as disciples. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:34,35).] Early on I developed a series consisting of nine Bible studies on the “first principles” (Hebrews 6:1-3). The members of the church were called to memorize these studies and then teach others to become Christians. The most impacting was called “Discipleship” where, from my study of Scripture, I taught what was clear in Acts 11:26: SAVED = CHRISTIAN = DISCIPLE, simply meaning that you cannot be saved and you cannot be a true Christian without being a disciple also. I purposely developed this study to draw a sharp biblical distinction between the Lexington (later renamed Boston) Church of Christ and all other groups. I taught that to be baptized, you must first make the decision to be a disciple and then be baptized. I saw that people in and outside of our fellowship had been baptized without this understanding and then, in time, developed a disciple’s commitment to make Jesus Lord of their entire life. I taught that their baptism was invalid because a retroactive understanding of repentance and baptism was not consistent with Scripture. Upon conviction by the Scriptures, most people in the Lexington (Boston) church were rebaptized: Doug Arthur, Joyce (Crosby) Arthur, Lynne (Hembree) Green, the Morehead family, the Foss family, the Crosby family, and, just before he arrived, Steve Johnson. Others like Bob and Pat Gempel, Paul and Helen McNiel, Lisa Johnson, Chris (Timmis) Fuqua, Jim Lloyd, Don Lee and Doug Blough were not rebaptized, as they felt after studying the Word, their conversions were true. Out of these convictions from the Scriptures came one of the crucial characteristics unique to our movement–a true church is composed only of disciples (Luke 9:23; John 4:1; Acts 2:41,42). I have never believed or taught that anyone has to be baptized into the Boston Church of Christ to be saved. The Scriptures clearly teach you must be baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and then, the Lord adds you to his church (Acts 2:36-47; Romans 6:3,4; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 2:41,42). However, I do not know of any other church, group or movement that teaches and practices what we teach as Jesus taught in Acts 2:41,42: one must make the decision to be a disciple, then be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins to be saved and receive the Holy Spirit. When one is born again at baptism (Titus 3:5), one must have Jesus’ heart and attitude to do anything, go anywhere and give up everything for God. After baptism each disciple is taught to obey all the commands of Jesus as one grows and goes making disciples. If this is what God teaches in the Bible, then we are God’s movement. One very interesting and crucial event occurred in the fourth year of our existence a building we bought in downtown Boston burned down. We were all heartbroken, but God was just guiding our way. Church history, we found that the first church buildings did not exist until the third century. We concluded that buildings had taken too much money from people and slowed the growth of the church. We then rented the Boston Opera House for Sundays and we met in homes (house churches) for our midweek services. In this way, the elders and I decided to invest our funds in people instead of mortgages, interest and stone. At that time, we were the only Church of Christ of any kind in Boston proper. We took the name, the Boston Church of Christ, because the churches in the Bible were simply called by the name of their city. In time, we also came to a conviction from chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation that there was to be only one church in one city, according to the Bible. After all, if one church multiplied disciples, then it would, in time fill the whole city with the teachings of Jesus (Acts 5:28). During these times, we altered the form of our worship. No longer did we have Sunday school or Sunday evening services (both of these began in the 1800s in America). But we intensely studied Bible passages individually every day and together at our midweek service. On Sundays our church services became two hour celebrations of singing, communion, prayers, baptisms, fellowship and exhortive preaching from the Word! Perhaps also unappreciated by the casual observer was the challenge to meet the needs and keep faithful the unprecedented number of new Christians – over 2,000 in the first six years in Boston! In the ’60s and ’70 s in the denominational world, there had been much discussion and writing on the “body life” of the church and “shepherding” one another. Thus, in the Crossroads movement, one another Christianity was expressed in a buddy system called “prayer partners,” where each person chose their own “buddy.” With so many new Christians in the Boston church, I felt this approach was not directive enough. Building upon this concept, I came up with “discipleship partners.” In these relationships, the evangelists, elders and women’s counselors, after discussion and prayer, arranged for an older, stronger Christian to give direction to each of the younger, weaker ones. They were to meet weekly, but have daily contact (Hebrews 10:24,25). (Obviously, the younger discipleship partner also gives input and advice to the stronger disciple, as in any healthy relationship.) We also saw in Scripture that Jesus primarily trained men through groups the apostles and the 72 (Luke 10:1-24). Therefore, we began discipleship groups for every Christian. (This group would usually meet at the midweek service.) Through this approach, each Christian could naturally build relationships with other Christians in addition to their discipleship partner. Studies were done by several church growth experts that proved the greater the number of relationships in the church a new Christian possesses is directly proportional to his likelihood of remaining faithful to God. Interestingly, Dr. Milton Jones in Discipling: The Multiplying Ministry insightful comments, “A new Christian who has good relationships on all levels will achieve a maturity in Christ that is greater than other Christians who have been Christians for years, but only have [casual, non focused] relationships. With the previously discussed system, everyone in the church would have people to meet their needs, and the multitudes of people being baptized would remain in Christ by continuing to be taught and making disciples themselves (Matthew 28:20). These restorations caused incredible controversy. However, the retention rate through all these years of all the baptisms has been about 50%, which is over five times as high as the rate in the various elements in the Churches of Christ.
by Kip McKean
In 1981-82 the Lord put on my heart a vision for the world. This passion grew even greater as I was influenced by former missionaries and the mission efforts of the Sunset School of Preaching. However, given the restored Bible concept of one church in one city and a true church being composed solely of disciples, my plan was a simple one. If we could place a small group of disciples (church planting) in each of the key metropolitan centers of the world, they, in turn by the multiplication of leaders and disciples, could send church plantings to each of the capital cities of each nation. Then these capital city churches could send out church plantings to all the other cities of that nation and the nation would then be evangelized in one generation just like the first century church (Colossians 1:6, 23). These “key” churches were called “pillar churches,” for a world brotherhood was envisioned to be built on their foundation. Dr. Donald McGavran, the “father of modern church growth” (in the broadest definition of Christianity), saw the Boston movement as unique in that we had a plan to evangelize the entire world from our rapidly growing church. Dr. John Vaughn, editor of Church Growth Today and Director of the International MegaChurch Research Center, recently wrote in a statement to us, “The Boston Church of Christ, as an evangelism/discipleship and church planting movement, represents one of the most aggressive and rapidly growing worldwide movements of this decade. The national and global focus makes it a movement that even its critics cannot ignore.” In the latter part of 1981, Doug Arthur and Jim Lloyd decided they wanted to plant a church in London, England. After working with them on their plans for several weeks, I called Marty and Chris Fuqua, whom Elena and I had trained for the ministry in Charleston and Boston. We asked them if they would lead a church planting in the city of Chicago. After much prayer, the four of us decided the team would be composed of disciples from my old ministry in Charleston, disciples from Marty’ s present work in the campus ministry at Northern Illinois University and any disciples from mainline churches in the Chicago area, like Cecil and Helen Wooten. To further strengthen the work, later I asked my good friend Roger Lamb to serve as coevangelist with Marty. The Chicago church began with about 50 members in June 1982 and now has 2500 every Sunday. I will never forget the night before Doug, Jim and their courageous team left for the shores of England. It was a moving tear-filled time of prayer in the Gempels’ living room. God answered these pleas of faith as the London church began in July 1982 with only eight disciples from Boston on the mission team. Today God has blessed them with 1500 every Sunday. (This is the largest Church of Christ of any kind outside of the United States.) Also in 1982, 182,100 people attended the first annual Boston World Missions Seminar. In 1983, for our third church planting, 18 disciples led by Steve and Lisa Johnson were sent from Boston to New York City, a metropolis of 18 million lost souls. The New York church now meets in the Javits Center with almost 4,000 every Sunday! In 1985 the Holy Spirit sent out church plantings from Boston to Toronto, Canada and Providence, Rhode Island. Later in 1986, the mission team to Johannesburg was sent out, an historic event in South Africa because the church was multiracial from its inception. Also that year our first foreign speaking church plantings were sent to Paris, France, and Stockholm, Sweden, led by four of the dearest friends to Elena and myself, Frank and Erica Kim and Andy and Tammy Fleming, respectively. The great commission of Jesus to take the gospel to every nation in one generation is initially overwhelming. However, through God and implementing His only plan–make disciples who make disciples—all things are possible! I realized the training that produced great evangelists such as Doug Arthur, Steve Johnson and Marty Fuqua must exist not only in Boston, but in hundreds of churches around the world, if we were to fulfill this commission. In all the different elements of the Church of Christ, there was no formal means of “appointing” or “ordaining” an evangelist. We came to believe that the best way to become an evangelist was to train full time (Luke 5:1-11). and walk with and imitate the one you desired to become like as they followed Jesus (I Corinthians 4:6,11:1). When a person began to train fulltime, we called them interns. After several months–in some cases years when the people of that ministry had confidence in the intern’ s walk with God and his ability to impact people’ s lives to become more like Christ, the man was formally made an evangelist. He was given a charge in the presence of God and in front of the church by the laying on of hands of the evangelist who trained the young man (2 Timothy 3:10-4:5). The incredible wisdom of Jesus’ plan is that this process can be learned and imitated anywhere in any language and in any culture. [There are now, on every continent, collectively over 1,000 men and women training full time for the ministry with plans for churches composed solely of disciples in every nation of the world by the year 2,000!] Another aspect of restoration that enriched the movement was led by Pat Gempel and Elena McKean. That was the creation of formal training for women leaders and the discipling of all women. Thus, a dynamic women’s ministry was created. This opportunity for leadership excited the sisters and attracted non Christian women to God’s movement. Many women in the traditional church perceived their role as “second-class” since they simply prepared meals for fellowship dinners. Thus, with no real purpose, many became lazy
and/or discouraged in their daily Christianity. Other women “raised in the church” responded differently to the traditional role, became rebellious, poured their lives into worldly pursuits or left the church completely because they longed to make an impact with their lives and God given talents. Pat, Elena and I, by studying the Word together, came to understand that God commands women to be responsible for and lead the other women. Ultimately, women could then put their all into the church because they saw from Scripture their purpose was exactly the same as the purpose for men–to change the world by making disciples (Romans 16:1,2,3,4,6,12,13,15). In our churches, except for the older women, all women are discipled by other women (Titus 2:3-5). This avoids many of the possible temptations and tensions in male-female relationships and allows women to more effectively disciple other women as they are obviously more insightful into women’s needs than men (Titus 2:1-8). We believe that the formal offices of elder, deacon and evangelist can only be occupied by men according to the Scriptures. (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:6-9). We call our women leaders “women’ s counselors.” In all of our churches, the women’s ministry is led by a woman leader (who is usually the wife of the lead evangelist) and she has no authority over men (I Timothy 2:12). Since God has given these principles to totally fulfill women, it is no wonder that few, if any, worldly organizations of women can equal the power, radiance and talent in our women’s ministry.
One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism:
by Kip McKean
From 1983 on through the 80’s, many people, especially leaders from the various elements of the Church of Christ, moved to Boston or our plantings to be disciples and to train to build churches. They were in awe of God and the unprecedented growth the Holy Spirit produced in Boston and our daughter churches (Acts 9:31). Men and women came from traditional mainline Churches of Christ, Christian churches, Crossroads campus ministry churches, Milton Jones campus ministry churches, Springfield, Missouri (John Wilson, Tom Jones) campus ministry, bus ministry influenced churches (Garnett Road in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Williamstown in West Virginia; and Lindbergh Road in Anderson, Indiana), Stanley Shipp influenced churches, one cup churches, anti Sunday school churches, anticooperation churches, the “black” Churches of Christ, and several students from Church of Christ sponsored colleges: Harding University, Harding Graduate School of Religion, Oklahoma Christian University, Abilene Christian University, International Bible College, Great Lakes Christian College, Northeastern Christian College, and several schools of preaching (of special note were Sunset and Preston Road in Texas). The amazing thing is that many of these groups had several philosophical and doctrinal conflicts with each other. However, in Boston, the elders, their wives, Elena and I made every effort to forge a bond of unity between all these leaders from the Scriptures and through our working side-by-side with each other for one purpose (1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 1:27). We have always welcomed people from any background who are truly seeking God and we continue to be open to still others joining in our revolution through restoration of the Scriptures today more than ever. All of these leaders either went to Boston or our plantings and secured a secular job, hoping some day to be selected to be an intern or they were immediately hired as interns. But all (no matter how extensive their experience or Bible background) had to begin their training as if they were young Christians. For example, everyone was encouraged to take the First Principles Class. We found that these leaders had to unlearn their past traditions and misconceptions before they could really learn how to build churches. The training for someone baptized out of the world in Boston and for someone who moved to train in Boston was exactly the same. Before any man was sent out to lead a church, he had to become a proven builder in Boston or one of our plantings. It was during these days in 1985 that Chuck Lucas left the ministry for personal spiritual reasons. This left a void of leadership for many churches he influenced. Crossroads campus ministry movement faded. The some fifty churches they directly influenced then splintered into many different doctrinal directions. With the passage of time, the mainline Church of Christ’s concept of autonomy and the restorations in Boston, my relationships with others converted at Crossroads had eroded. Realizing this, in the ensuing two years I made a concerted effort to reach out to the leaders of this campus ministry element of the Church of Christ. Many moved to Boston. Of special note were Sam Laing and Tom Brown who were then leading struggling congregations only partially composed of disciples. I vividly remember going to see Tom and his family in Berkeley, California. He pleaded, “I need people in my life. I want myself, my family and, if possible, the church in Berkeley to be ‘grafted into’ the Boston churches.” I also remember flying down to see Sam and his family in the Atlanta area and bonding again through our tears. He had become discouraged and even considered leaving the ministry. God used our time together to give him a vision for one church that could evangelize all of the Atlanta area. Just before Sam moved to Boston, the church that he was serving split. Those who desired to be disciples became the foundation for our Atlanta Church of Christ planting. As Paul wrote, “There are divisions among you…to show which of you have God’s approval” (1 Corinthians 11:18,19). Tom and Sam moved to Boston in the summer of 1987, as simply interns training to build churches. Others converted at Crossroads, many of whom were former friends, resented my efforts to pull them into the Boston movement. They became some of our most verbal opponents. At this time, the Crossroads church publicly distanced itself from the Boston movement because of the Atlanta planting and the many restorations from Scripture that Al Baird and I taught there. (Today the Crossroads church is simply another mainline Church of Christ with less than 400 in attendance.) In all of these trials, the elders, my fellow evangelists and I determined to stay focused on the mission. Many of the men who were leaders in the different elements of the Churches of Christ, who came to train to build churches of disciples, discovered they had not been baptized as disciples themselves. In the world’s eyes, they were rebaptized. In God’s eyes, they were baptized into Jesus Christ (Acts 19:1-5). Of special note are: Nick Young, Preston Shepherd, Willie Flores, John Bringardner, Jerry Jordan, Reese Neyland, Bill Hooper, John Mannel, Dave Peden, Mike Taliaferro, Steve Kinnard, Steve Sapp, Steve Brown, John Lusk, Curt Simmons, Mike Rock, Scott Green, Grant Henley, Ed Powers, Andy Fleming, Gordon Ferguson, Tom Jones, Jeff Tabor, Ed Heinlein, Kevin Robbins, Roy Larson, Dr. Richard Rheinbolt, Tom McCurry, John Reus, Gregg Marutzky, Gregg Metten, Barry Mahfood, Mike Leatherwood, Sonny Sessions and Joe Garmon. Others were not rebaptized, as they felt they had made the decision to be disciples (usually not with that terminology) when they were baptized: Dr. George Gurganus, Sam Laing, Cecil Wooten, Jim Blough, Marty Fuqua, Dr. Marty Wooten, Ryan Howard, Henry Kreite, Joe Woods, Jess Asper, Ed Townsend, Jimmy Allen, Jr., Jimmy Rogers, John Porter, Dave Eastman, Tom Brown, Dave Weger, Phil Lamb, Bruce Williams, Randy McKean, Mike Fontenot, Douglas Jacoby, Ron Drabot, Mark Mancini, Wyndham Shaw, Gerry Frederick, John Partington, Sam Powell, Tom Marks, Steve Gooch, Tim Huffman, Elena’ s brother-in-law Martin Bentley, Camaron Corr and Dr. Jerry Jones (who later left the Boston movement). Many more came to
train. A few of these later turned back in bitterness because of the “hard teachings” they could not “accept” (John 6:60-66).
A Remnant Returns:
by Kip McKean
In late 1986, because so many leaders from so many different elements of the Church of Christ had moved to Boston or our plantings, we decided to call to repentance all types of mainline and all types of campus ministry churches who were willing to pay the price to multiply disciples. First, we would ask the interested church’s lead minister to move to Boston to be discipled and further trained. We replaced them with a Boston-trained evangelist to serve the church. During the initial weeks of this changeover, each member was called to renew their commitment at baptism to be a disciple of Jesus, to be baptized as a disciple of Jesus, or to leave. Sometimes elders were rebaptized: Dr. Al Baird, Roger Lamb, George Havins, and Ron Brumley.Criticism came from outside our churches because, in the mind set of some, since these elders were just baptized, they became novices in the faith. The Bible teaches that a person should not be an elder as a novice so he will not become conceited (1 Timothy 3:6). Since they were already serving in this capacity, and were now humbling themselves, there seemed little chance for them to now become conceited. Thus, this character requirement was not an issue. After these radical changes, these churches grew equally as rapidly as our plantings, for, in fact, there was now no difference. Each church would be composed solely of disciples. I called these efforts “reconstructions” after the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem in the book of Nehemiah. We always renamed the church after the metropolitan (city) area in which the church was located. First of all, we did this to be biblical, as these were the names for local congregations in the Bible (i.e. the church in Ephesus, Revelation 2:1 , etc.) And secondly, it gave the disciples a vision to evangelize all of their metropolitan area. In our first reconstruction in December 1986 in Kingston, Jamaica, Phil and Donna Lamb were a great strength for Elena and me. This experience totally bonded the Lambs and us. I still remember preaching on a very hot and humid Friday night to about 70 people from a weak
congregation in Kingston. The lesson was entitled “Rebuilding the Wall” from chapters 1-6 in Nehemiah. After the lesson, I figuratively drew a line in front of the pulpit and said, “If you want to be a disciple of Jesus, and a member of the new Kingston Church of Christ, and if you want to be a part of this pillar church which will evangelize all of Kingston, Jamaica, and, in time, the Caribbean, please come forward.” Forty three responded! Immediately afterwards we broke up into men and women’s groups. Here those who wanted to openly confessed their sins (Nehemiah 9:1-3; Matthew 3:1-6). By the next morning, all of the 43 were jubilant. Then Phil preached on the power of the Holy Spirit. He charged them to make it their purpose to be fishers of men and to begin by bringing their friends to church the next day. On Sunday, over 200 attended services! The Kingston church started with 48 disciples, including five young leaders from Boston. The first year 115 were baptized, the second 200. The Kingston church now has over 1,000 on Sundays! Later, in the summer of 1987, I worked with the Greens and the Kims on turning the struggling Berkeley congregation into the San Francisco Church of Christ. Now God has blessed them with over 1,400 in worship on Sundays! Then in December, the Williams and I did the reconstruction in San Diego, where they now have nearly 2,500 every Sunday morning! Of great significance at the same time, London reconstructed Sydney, and Chicago reconstructed seven churches in the Midwestern United States. When we built these churches, we taught against the unscriptural church government system practiced in the traditional Churches of Christ. They believed that each congregation was independent and totally autonomous from all the others. We showed from the Bible how congregations were connected through their relationships and how evangelists directed other evangelists in the region (field) they influenced. (The word “autonomy” is not even in the Bible.) We also taught that the lead evangelist worked with, and, for the most part, led and discipled the
elders to direct the affairs of a local church (Titus 1:5; 1 Timothy 5:17). In all, we preached one worldwide brotherhood (1 Peter 2:17) for we observed that independent autonomy violated the command and spirit of Scripture. This teaching stopped churches from learning from each other and from growing, and simply produced a critical spirit toward other churches and no impact throughout the world. Today we have many evangelists who minister to clusters of churches in an area of the world. For example, Gordon Ferguson has recently ministered to the churches in Europe by teaching the book of Romans in short two week periods. As Isaiah wrote, “Only a remnant will return” (Isaiah 10:21,22). I saw all the way through the Bible that God, from time to time, took the few who were faithful and separated them from the unfaithful to have a purified people devoted to him. This action always precipitated His movement in that generation. The examples are numerous: Noah and his family, Abraham and Sarah, Gideon and the 300, David and his mighty men, Nehemiah and the remnant in Jerusalem, and ultimately, the Jews who became the first Christians in the first century! In the many elements of the Churches of Christ and Christian churches where there was no desire for help, we felt an obligation to God to call out the true disciples (or people who desired to be true disciples), asking them to move to one of the Boston churches, sometimes called “multiplying ministry churches.” Thus, we purposefully set about to glean the remnant into what now was clearly a new, modern day movement of God. After pushing myself so hard for so long, I was exhausted and became physically sick during Christmas of 1986. While in bed I realized from my condition that I, and all the other Christians, needed to rely more on God through prayer. During the congregational workshop in January, I stressed the need first for myself and then for the entire church to repent and draw closer to God. Consequently, there was a spiritual revival as I began to teach this in all of our churches. We greatly intensified our focus on Bible study, prayer, fasting, the Holy Spirit, and our personal relationships with God to endure the rigors of the Christian life. Frank and Erica Kim
were a great comfort at this time. I found when praying with them that their prayers were very aggressive in fighting Satan and his demonic angels. The Kims have been an upward call for the entire brotherhood as they are always up before daylight to pray to the Father (Mark 1:35).
It was during this period that some of the influential Churches of Christ (Garnett Road and Sunset), as well as the Christian Chronicle, the most prominent Church of Christ publication, stopped considering us a part of the Church of Christ fellowship. The major issues were: who is a
Christian, independent autonomy of each congregation and rebaptism. I am convinced that jealousy over our growth, which exposed their lack of growth, was a major motivation of this separation(John 3:20, 12:42,43). The charges against us were filled with emotionally laden words
such as “love bombing,” “brainwashing,” and “cult.” The Bible teaches that Christians should not be surprised by persecution (1 Peter 4:12).
Jesus also was falsely accused with the emotionally laden words, “demon-possessed” (John 10:20), “blasphemer” (John 10:33) and even his own family said he was “out of his mind” (Mark 3:21). To Pilate he was accused of subversion, opposing taxes and claiming to be king, these last
charges being two lies and a half-truth (Luke 23:2). Even the early church was accused, “we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect” [cult] (Acts 28:22). My challenge to all of the critics in the Churches of Christ has been: Where are the souls you are saving and where are the churches you have built? We do believe “by their fruit [or lack of fruit] you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:20) Some of our churches then decided to change their names from Church of Christ to other godly names (like Christian Church or Church of God) to avoid unnecessary criticism. Historically, theologians are marking this hour. For the first time, Dr. John Vaughan in his publication, Church Growth Today, will separately list the Boston family of churches from all the other Churches of Christ. He calls us the “International Churches of Christ (Boston Movement).” In 1987 I was very honored to be asked by my good friend Marty Wooten (we had met at Harding Graduate School) to be a member of the editorial board of a new magazine. It would have a scholarly orientation yet would be useful for even the newest Christian. He named it Biblical Discipleship Quarterly (later called Discipleship Magazine) and it would include challenging articles, news reports and interviews. After I reconstructed the Denver church in 1988, I asked Marty to move to Boston to train. Together we shared a new purpose and vision that Discipleship Magazine would be based in Boston and become the official documentation and information for the Boston movement. (Up to this time, the. Boston Bulletin had served this purpose.) Later I asked Roger Lamb to become the editor, as Marty felt that the Lord had called him to lead the evangelization of Germany and Eastern Europe. (Marty and Cathy Wooten are doing a superior job in their God given field as the Lord has already raised up two churches, Berlin and Munich, both of which are rapidly increasing in disciples.) As of this year (1992) we changed the name of the magazine to UpsideDown from the title of the musical based on the book of Acts written by Steve Johnson and Sherwin Mackintosh. This has indeed become the anthem of our movement, as well as our goal: to turn the world upside down with the gospel (Acts 17:6 RSV). Plans are under discussion and prayer to begin a Spanish version of UpsideDown in 1993 edited by Jess Asper, who coordinates the Spanishspeaking ministries in the United States. Phil Lamb would be responsible for distribution throughout Central and South America.
In 1987 and 1988, the following key foreign mission teams were sent out from Boston: Mexico City with Phil and Donna Lamb (chronicled in Andrew Giambarba’s book, Bent on Conquest), Hong Kong with Scott and Lynne Green, Bombay with Jim and Donna Blough, and Cairo led with undaunted courage by Bob and Laurie Tranchell into the heart of the Muslim world. Also the Kims joined Dr. George and Irene Gurganus in Tokyo. The Gurganuses had started a mainline Church of Christ in Tokyo immediately following World War II. They returned to the United States 10 years later. Upon completion of his doctorate in cross cultural communication, George started the missions program at Harding University and
later directed the missions program at Abilene Christian University. After he had been retired for two years, I asked George and Irene to move to Boston for I was convinced God still wanted to use them. There they became like spiritual grandparents to Elena and me. Following their training in Boston, they inspired the whole brotherhood by returning to the Japanese mission field at 70 years of age! When the Kims arrived, George assisted Frank in reconstructing the small congregation in Tokyo which we then called the Tokyo Church of Christ. Immediately following the reconstruction, the Wall Street Journal called Japan, “the Mount Everest of mission work” because it is over 90% atheistic. Through the Holy Spirit, the preaching of God’s grace, and the cross of Christ, each of these key church plantings experienced unprecedented growth in their region of the world.
by Kip McKean
In 1988 after much prayer, fasting, studying the Word and talking with my closest
brothers, I came to the conviction that I needed to focus my ministry on “a few men” (Exodus 18:13-27; 2 Samuel 23:8-39; Luke 6:12-16). I considered crucial qualities such as their relationship with God, the impact of their ministries, and whether they had dynamic, spiritual
wives and great marriages. After all, a church will never rise above the spirituality of its leadership (Luke 6:39,40). Also, since leadership in God’s movement is by relationship, I felt one of the primary requirements for the “focused few” would be that I had personally trained and
discipled them. After a final all-night of prayer, I selected the following brothers to focus my energies upon and gave each a geographical field in the world, so that through a collective effort the world would be evangelized in this generation. I called them World Sector Leaders.
Douglas Arthur : British Commonwealth, Scandinavia
Steve Johnson : Eastern U.S., Caribbean, Africa
Randy McKean : New England, Europe
Phil Lamb : Central and South America
Frank Kim : Far East
Scott Green : Hong Kong
Marty Fuqua : Midwest and Western U.S., Canada, Russia
Al Baird : Middle East
Bob Gempel : HOPE Worldwide (projects for the poor)
(One of the original world sector leaders, Tom Brown, left the full-time ministry for personal and spiritual problems.) In the early days of the Boston movement, the elders and their wives (Al and Gloria Baird, Bob and Pat Gempel), Elena and myself would make the major decisions for the movement. Since the movement has expanded around the world, the World Sector Leaders now make collective consensus decisions that set the direction of the churches. A World Sector Leaders meeting usually occurs twice each year. Also, to maintain the great unity of the Spirit among the churches, this summer in Boston the first World Missions Leadership Conference will be held. Every lead evangelist, every elder, lead national, local administrator and their wives will attend! I still remember Scott Green preaching, “The greatest challenge to God’s movement at this hour is not persecution from the outside, but disunity on the inside.” This also was a challenge to the first century church (Acts 15; Ephesians 4:4-6; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13). Since every Christian, especially a leader, needs people in his or her life, the Bairds and Gempels, being older, have been involved in our lives and discipled Elena and me in our marriage and family for many years. Of all these leaders, my closest brothers are Doug Arthur and Steve Johnson, who are my most experienced and most trusted men. Doug and Steve have always told me what I needed to hear. This they have done with great gentleness and conviction, having God’s best interest at heart. Like all true disciples, their first allegiance is to Jesus, not a man. In 1989 I asked each World Sector Leader to name an administrator to deal in a godly way with the legalities, administration, and finances for their sector of the Kingdom. This would allow the world sector leaders to be more devoted to prayer and the ministry of the Word. Because of his great integrity and experience, I asked Cecil Wooten to coordinate the efforts of the world sector administrators. Cecil won two purple hearts in World War II and is a former senior vice president of administration for the worldwide CBI Industries, Inc. The world sector administrators presently are: Tom McCurry, Jim Blough, Vivian Hanes, Dan Bathon, Chris Jacobs, Don Lee, and Dr. Jaime DeAnda. Cecil and the other administrators have worked hard to make all of our churches above reproach by requiring outside audits on our churches over 500 in membership by Deloitte Touche, Price Waterhouse or similar firms (2 Corinthians 8:20-21). The financial books and how we spend our money are open to any member at any time. Also in 1989, the Boston church sent out seven mission teams around the world. Of note in the United States was the reconstruction of the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale church led by Sam and Geri Laing. Then that summer the church planting in Los Angeles was initiated by Tom and Kelly Brown. And excitingly, one of our most eloquent preachers and one of my most trusted brothers, Russ Ewell and his dynamic wife Gail led the church planting to Washington, D.C., politically the most influential city of the world. In August of 1989 the last Boston World Missions Seminar filled the Boston Garden with 12,000 disciples from around the globe.
During the ten years that God allowed my family to serve the Boston church, unprecedented growth occurred. Though the original Lexington church had witnessed only two baptisms in the previous three years before June 1979, by restoring the radical concept of a totally committed church, God’s power was unleashed and he gave us 103 baptisms the first year. As more restorations of biblical doctrine and life occurred, so did unprecedented multiplication–never before seen in a modern day Church of Christ. (The most dynamic Church of Christ for decades had only baptized 200 to 300 each year.) In our second year, we witnessed 200 baptisms; 256 our third; 368 in the fourth; 457 in the fifth; 679 in the sixth; 735 in the seventh; 947 in the eighth; 1424 in the ninth; and in our tenth year, l621 were baptized into Christ and our Sunday attendance was approaching 5000 as we were meeting in the Boston Garden. Not only is this the single largest congregation in the long ecclesiastical history of New England, but it also became the largest Church of Christ in the modern world. Though it was very hard for us to leave the relationships in Boston for the mission field, it gives us great joy to know that the current elders, Al Baird, Wyndham Shaw, and Gordon Ferguson and their wives make a great team dynamically lead by Randy and Kay McKean who serve as the lead evangelist and women’s counselor. God has blessed this team of leaders as the membership of the Boston church gets even larger today. Contrary to what our critics have said, we have always stressed excellence in the life of a disciple including academics and job performance. This is reflected in the outstanding men and women baptized out of the world in Boston, who would later become great full-time leaders for the Lord: Frank Kim ( magna cum laude, Harvard), Bob Tranchell, Russ Ewell, David Grantham, Tim Anderson, and Luis Martinez (Harvard); Dr. Jaime DeAnda, PhD. (MIT), Andrew
Giambarba, Elena’s brothers — Geroge and Peter Garcia-Bengochea, John McGuirk (baseball team captain, Boston College), Brian Scanlon (Harvard), Mo Adame (Harvard), Tom Gurrentz, Dr. Mo Bishara (Harvard Medical School), Steve Chin, Dr. Dave Traver (Boston University School of Medicine), Herve Fleurant, Chris Reed, Mark Templay (MIT), Dr. Doug Webber (Yale Medical School), Walter Kotkowski, Ron Marsh, Jim Valente, Eddie Armes, Wilner Cornely, Damien Jean-Baptiste, Javier Amaya (Brown University, IBM), Frank Hines (Harvard), Dean Farmer, Ph.D. (Brown University; post-doctorate, Harvard), and many others. Other great church leaders (many of whom are [non-US] nationals) were baptized in the
church plantings: Mohan Nanjundan, Dr. Peter Swaby, Onyechi Ouguagha, Fred Scott, Chris McGrath, John Louis, Tan Chio Chang, Anthony Galang, Gustavo Sassano, Cory Blackwell, Jeff Sachinger, Garrett Gin, Mike Vassallo, Dave Tebbutt, Caesar Lopez, Josue Ortega, Christopher Lindfeldt, Franck Descotes and Misha Rakovschik. These do not even include the incredible women who serve full time or the thousands of professional and skilled disciples who excel in their occupational fields, their families and their faith (2 Corinthians 8:7). The Boston church is the Jerusalem for God’s modern day movement and thus, has been the center of training evangelists, women’s counselors and mission teams. Through those sent out from Boston, the centers of training multiplied as was the pattern in the book of Acts. Accordingly, perhaps the most thrilling highlight brought about by the hand of God has been the awesome multiplication of disciples on the foreign fields. In New York City, Mike and
Anne-Brigitte Taliaferro were trained and sent by Steve and Lisa Johnson to plant Sao Paulo. Then Steve asked Mike to take charge of the evangelization of the continent of Africa. In the past three years God has blessed the Taliaferro’s work for Christ which has grown from one church to eight churches: Abidjan, Accra, Cape Town, Harare, Lagos, Nairobi and Umtata. The collective Sunday attendance of these congregations is now nearly 3,500! Another Third World challenge where the Lord has blessed us is in the Hindu nation of India. This incredible outreach to nearly one billion people is now overseen by Mohan and Helen Nanjundan, a great brother and sister in the Lord converted and trained by Doug and Joyce Arthur in London. From the initial pillar church in Bombay and the Bangalore church planted by London, there are now churches in Delhi and Madras as well. This summer a new church will be planted which will reach out to the 15 million in the “City of Joy,” Calcutta.
Other inspirational leaders trained by the Arthurs are the Louis who now lead a church of 1,000 in Singapore, the Fontenots in Sydney, and the McGraths and Scotts who lead the London church. In Europe when the church in Paris went through a difficult period, I asked someone in
whom I had total confidence, my brother Randy and his wife Kay, to again forge a base of disciples there. When they went to Boston, they left Brian and Adrienne Scanlon to lead the church on to greater victories. Today the church in Paris has 400 on Sunday mornings and has already planted the church in Brussels. Also in Europe are the works in Amsterdam, Munich, Berlin and Milan, led by the Tranchells. In the Far East, the Kims have sent mission teams from Tokyo to Osaka and Sendai in Japan. They have also discipled the Galangs who have led the Manila church that now has 1,000 on Sundays in only its third year! Amazingly, in the Buddhist cities of Bangkok and Seoul, tremendous inroads are being made for Christ. And in Central and South America, Phil and Donna Lamb have discipled the original 13 members of the Mexico City team to multiply into the leadership for ten churches: Buenos Aires, Santiago, Sao Paulo, Rio, San Juan, Bogata, Puebla, Monterrey and Guadalajara. The key couples the Lambs have worked through to bring about this multiplication of churches are the Porters, the Bentleys, Peter and Laura Garcia-Bengochea, the DeAndas, and the Giambarbas. In Hong Kong, the Greens have raised up the Chins, who have now planted the church in Taiwan. Today, the Taliaferros, the Nanjundans, the Chins and all the other evangelists and their wives are training another generation of leaders to evangelize their respective regions and nations of the world (2 Timothy 2:2).
by Kip McKean
For nearly 13 years, there has been a constant wrestling with God through the Scriptures and prayer — “Revolution Through Restoration.” As more and more churches were planted and built, the Bairds, the Gempels, Elena and I as well as the couples sent out from Boston, particularly the Arthurs and the Johnsons, discovered numerous unbiblical traditions in our backgrounds.True restorations occurred as first century Bible doctrines were once more rediscovered like–
• Jesus baptizing only people who have made the decision to be disciples (John 4:1);
• ongoing discipling for every Christian in a local church (Matthew 28:20);
• every Christian’s purpose is to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10);
• daily accountability and openness with one another (Hebrews 3:12,13; Ezekiel 3:17-21);
• discipleship groups (Mark 3:13-14);
• planting churches (Acts 13:14);
• world vision (Mark 16:15);
• one church, one city (Revelation 2-3);
• church buildings not essential (Acts 2:46);
• house churches (Acts 20:20);
• revival of prayer and fasting (Acts 13:3);
• the role and power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8);
• awareness of angels, demons and the spiritual battle in the universe (Ephesians 6:10-18);
• the training of evangelists (Mark 3:13-14);
• church government especially the role of evangelist and elders (Titus 1:5; 1 Timothy 3:1-7);
• New Testament lifestyle of giving and sacrifice for missions and the poor
(Acts 2:45, 11:29);
• the leadership role and the discipling of women (Titus 2:3-5);
• one brotherhood, not autonomy of individual churches that causes division (Ephesians 4:4-6);
• simply believing that we, the church, are the Kingdom of God (Colossians 1:13)
It is exciting to see theologians rise up in our number such as Douglas Jacoby in Stockholm. He earned an M.T.S.degree in New Testament from Harvard Divinity School and engaged in post graduate work at King’s College in London. Douglas has written such books as True and Reasonable on Christian evidences and A Powerful Delusion which corrects common misconceptions about the Holy Spirit and shows how He can impact our daily lives. Another immediately gratifying restoration has been in marriage and the family. By teaching and living the biblical principles and roles of godly marriages (Ephesians 5:21-33; 1 Corinthians 7:25), with the hundreds of weddings in our churches around the world, we have never had a divorce with couples who have remained faithful to God and his church in any of our congregations. The Bible teaches that a Christian cannot initiate a divorce except in the case of adultery or being deserted (Matthew 5:32; 1 Corinthians 7:15). From Jerusalem to Rome, In evangelizing the community, married couples were reached who obviously did not have the benefit of having people in their life to help them live out the biblical principles for marriage. For example, when David Graham, who toured with the band Grand Funk Railroad, and his actress wife Coleen were contacted by some Christians in Boston, they had separated from each other. They had decided this even though they had one child and another on the way. When they committed their lives to Christ, they learned to “forgive as the Lord forgave [them]” (Colossians 3:13). With their marriage healed by God, David now serves as an elder and evangelist and Coleen serves as a women’s counselor in the church in L.A. This great story, with different names, could be repeated countless times about couples in our churches around the world. In 1988 Pat Gempel was totally open with the devastating pains of her life at the annual Women’s Discipleship Conference in Boston. The title of her speech was “Woman, Why Are You Crying?” In tears she shared about being divorced by her husband, left with two small children (Doug Arthur and Kim Arthur Evans) and overwhelmed by the responsibility of the birth of her third child. In desperation she had decided to place her infant up for adoption. She shared about God’s comfort in her sorrow. Not by chance but by God, a sister in the audience volunteered to help Pat find her lost child. Only three months later, God brought Roxanne and Pat together in a joyful, emotional reunion. The three children, Pat and Bob were reunited by God in a powerful demonstration of Christ like forgiveness. By this time, Roxanne was married with one child and in a few months
both she and her husband Eddie were baptized into Christ. Later her adoptive parents became Christians also! Today Eddie and Roxanne Armes
have three children and are in full time ministry for the Lord, as are the Gempels’ other children, Doug and Kim and their spouses Joyce and Walter. (In the meantime, Pat’s mother has also become a disciple.) Bob and Pat Gempel have a tremendous extended family because of forgiveness, the power of the Holy Spirit, and God’s plan to reconcile family relationships that have been scarred by the sins of the world. There is an urgent need for sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, moms and dads to be reconciled in every culture. Praise God, as we can see from these two accounts, any relationship can be healed in Christ. Another restoration was the call during the 1987 Boston World Missions Seminar from Douglas Arthur and the example of the London church for all the churches “to remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10). This restoration of “pure religion” led to the founding of HOPE Worldwide–a separate arm of the church that is focused on projects for the poor and destitute
around the world (James 1:27). Already there are ongoing HOPE Worldwide projects in Mexico City (a medical clinic for children); Delhi, India (a leprosy medical clinic); Madras, India (a tuberculosis clinic); Abidjan, Ivory Coast (an AIDS clinic–the first of its kind in Africa according to the Associated Press); Moscow (a soup kitchen); Atlanta (an adoption and pregnancy counseling center); and the inner city work in South Central Los Angeles (Cross and Switchblade ministry–job training and placement, midnight basketball program, counseling and, in the future, college scholarships.) Interestingly, one of our critics, Jerry Jones, who has “shipwrecked the faith” of some, wrote in What Does the Boston Movement Teach?, “One problem in writing an accurate treatise [for the Boston movement] is the rapidly changing and developing doctrinal positions. The changes from August 1986 until November 1989 have been many and rapid.” (This was this critic’s stated reason for leaving the Boston church.) For many people in the different elements of the Churches of Christ, our changing doctrinal positions have been nothing short of heresy. Their unspoken assumption is that the traditional Church of Christ is a restoration movement that has fully restored the Bible. However, our observations and study of the Bible have led us to a different conviction. Not that we have always initially been correct ourselves. For example, I was wrong on some of my initial thoughts about biblical authority. I had felt that church leaders could call
people to obey and follow them in all areas of opinion. This was incorrect. I feel very badly for people who were hurt by this wrong stance. Hebrews 13:17 teaches Christians are to obey their leaders in the work of the church as they lead in what the Bible teaches, so as not to make their work a burden. However, the leaders are not to lord it over the church and not to bind it with burdens it cannot bear (Matthew 23).
As in every restoration from Scripture, it has taken ongoing study from the Word and discussions with many brothers and sisters to even begin trial and error implementation of all these rediscovered truths. At the end of it all, the leaders in the Boston movement have always been willing to change doctrinally and practically when we have seen the truth in the Scriptures. Today this certainly could not be said of most of the leaders of denominations including the other elements of the Churches of Christ (even though they claim to be a restoration movement
themselves). Except for the people who are truly seeking God, the collective deadness in most congregations testifies to God against them. Incredibly, some of these same “Christian leaders” are willingly yoked together with money-motivated deprogrammers who do not even believe in
Jesus. Simply put, the costs of restoration are too high and too threatening for them. In the midst of this spiritual battle, our churches have continued to remember the words of Paul, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). We continually have fun with our brothers and sisters in each of our churches. The New York church has produced two musicals, “Upside Down” and “Slingshot”, as well as having a dynamic theater troupe for children, The Pied Pipers. The San Diego church has enjoyed putting on square dances and concerts by the bay. Each summer the Boston church celebrates their own Summer Olympics with competition throughout the church culminating in medal competition. Soccer games have been held in the churches in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The L.A. church sponsored a walkathon and David Graham and the Bottom Line produced a CD, “Old Friends Never Die” to raise funds for the Moscow mission team. Recently, the L.A. singles celebrated a Valentine’s Party on the Queen Mary. Some of the London leaders went parachuting. The Auckland, New Zealand, brothers and sisters have gone white water rafting and bunji-cord jumping. Some brothers in Johannesburg competed in car racing. Perhaps, most daring of all, the Mexico City brothers actually had their own bullfights–fortunately, God’s angels protected them! This does not include the joyful times of gathering in Sunday fellowship, Bible Talks, discipleship groups, dating, retreats or celebrating baptisms at the ocean. Instead of bachelor parties that glorify bachelorhood, drunkenness and pornography, we throw “groom honoring” parties and bridal luncheons that celebrate marriage, real fun, and deep relationships. Truly, being a disciple is not the easiest life, but it is definitely the most joyful. And to think that heaven awaits us, too!
From Boston to Moscow:
by Kip McKean
Since January of 1990, my family, Elena, Olivia (10), Sean (9), Eric (7), and I have lived
in Los Angeles in a rented three bedroom house; we have but one car–a 1985 Dodge Caravan. As
in Boston, we have become very involved in helping the community. Alongside Cory Blackwell,
a former NBA player and his wife Megan, we lead the outreach to South Central L.A.: the Cross
and Switchblade Ministry. Also I presently serve on my children’s elementary school’s Site
Council, as well as coaching my sons’ basketball team.
The church in L.A. began with just 25 disciples from Boston and 25 disciples from San
Diego and San Francisco two and a half years ago. We have been ably assisted by the Fuquas and
the new Los Angeles church elders–Bill Hooper, David Graham, Bruce Williams and their wives
Sally, Coleen, and Robyn–so that God has now blessed our efforts with 2500 on Sundays!
Currently, Elena and I have our hearts set on building a “super church” in L.A. as a model, for all
the churches to grow and mature to God’s glory (1 Thessalonians 1:7).
I am greatly encouraged that the churches in Atlanta, Denver, London, Kingston, Manila,
Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, and Toronto each have over 1,000 on Sundays. Also the churches
in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco each have over 2,000 every Sunday and
the New York church has nearly 4,000. Excitingly, Boston recently had a Sunday service of
6,500! However, we envision scores of churches of thousands, as in the book of Acts (super
During the past three summers my family has lived in Cairo and other life threatening
cities, particularly to American Christians, as well as planting churches in Manila, Bangkok, and
Moscow. My personal conviction is to never send another person into a dangerous situation that I
have not first been exposed to myself. It seems incredible that in less than 13 years one church of
30 has multiplied into 103 churches on every populated continent of the world with a collective
Sunday morning attendance of over 50,000! There are now exactly as many churches as we had
baptisms our first year in Boston! As Jesus said, “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and
your ears because they hear, For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to
see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it ” (Matthew
We know that “neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who
makes things grow” (1 Corinthians 3:7). God’s hand is at work in Kingston, Bombay, Madras,
Kuala Lumpur, Brisbane, Auckland, London, Birmingham and Manchester, Edinburgh, Amman,
Cairo, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Seoul, Fiji, Melbourne and Taipei where nationals are leading the
churches with many more to follow this pattern.
Not only is the multiplication of disciples exciting, but unique to the Boston movement is
the multiplication of churches. In the last 13 years, God has used the Boston church to plant or
reconstruct 34 churches; these second generation churches have started 60 third generation
churches that have already planted seven fourth generation churches. Through God’s power and
to his glory, Lautoka, Fiji Islands, is our first fifth generation church: Boston planted London;
London planted Sydney; Sydney planted Auckland; Auckland planted Fiji. Plans are, Lord
willing, to plant at least 30 more churches in 1992.
As amazing as the spread of Christianity was from Jerusalem to Rome in the first century,
it is equally amazing to see God’s modern day movement spread in thirteen years from Boston to From Jerusalem to Rome, From Boston to Moscow 26
Moscow, a modern day Rome! Astonishingly, the Moscow Church of Christ, sent out
from Los Angeles and heroically led by the Flemings, has become the fastest growing church
planting in the history of our movement to date. God has grown the Moscow church from 15
disciples to nearly 800 every Sunday morning in only eight months!
Truly a revolution with “the shot heard ’round the world,” fired from Boston, is
unstoppable as long as disciples continue to restore and live out all that we read in the Scriptures.
“Wind of Change”, a recent song by the German group, The Scorpions, certainly has a prophetic
message for this hour:
“I followed the Moskva down to Gorky Park
Listening to the wind of change
On a summer’s night, soldiers passing by
Listening to the wind of change
The world is closing in and did you ever think
That we could be so close like brothers?
The future’s in the air-can feel it everywhere
The blowingwith the wind of change
Take me to the magic of the moment
On a glory night where the children of tomorrow
Dream away in the wind of change.”
Truly this magic moment has been brought about by the wind of change the Holy Spirit. In
just the last few years He has dramatically opened previously closed doors for evangelism by
sword, famine, disease, natural catastrophe, recession and legislation:
• South Africa (abolition of apartheid);
• Central Africa (famine and AIDS);
• the Middle East (Persian Gulf War);
• Mexico City and the Philippines (earthquakes and volcanic eruption);
• Eastern Europe (fall of the Berlin Wall),
• the Soviet Union (the attempted coup and the formation of the Commonwealth of
These open doors are not by chance but by God because of the prayers of the saints around
the world (Colossians 4:2-4). I believe with all my heart that the dream to evangelize the world in
this generation will be accomplished by God’s power working through his disciples. And to God
be the glory!