Commentary on the statistical survey published by the Cooperation churches (formerly ICOC) in 2017.

2 Chronicles 30:6-8 At the king’s command, couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the king and from his officials, which read: “People of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. Do not be like your fathers and brothers, who were unfaithful to the Lord, the God of their fathers, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see. Do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were; submit to the Lord. Come to the sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever. Serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you.

The ministry staff of the ICOC had a quizzical saying in the 1990s, “stats don’t lie”! Thought I have seen significantly less statistics in my church (the ICC) since I joined in 2005, there are some things that rightly remain of interest, most notably the reporting of baptisms. The former ICOC churches have not been able to avoid this need to quantify their progress either but in 2017 they took a radical step and measured a number of their leadership beliefs regarding issues that are quite contentious in their congregations.

We need to take a long hard look at the facts revealed here. There are strong feelings of discontent emanating from the numbers. They represent the precious souls of my brothers and sisters who signed up for something very different to their current experience. I feel that it is important for my non-remnant ICC brothers and sisters (who I affectionately call super-troopers) to know what is going on and the background from which these disciples are emerging when they join us from former ICOC churches, seeking revival. It is important also that our membership are clear about why disciples from former ICOC churches ‘place membership’ with us.

Though stats can be quite dry I hope my readers will see the far reaching implications of the results of this survey for the billions of lost souls in this world. These numbers also represent the fate of the souls of over a hundred thousand members of former ICOC churches.

The former ICOC churches (*) claim to have 684 congregations and 108,000 members worldwide as opposed to the ICC which have built nearly 80 churches with approximately 5000 members since starting the LA ICC in 2007. The leadership of the former ICOC churches recently published results from a survey of the opinions of 2374 of their current leaders. The following is one man’s commentary of the pie chart presentation released in 2017 with the early results of the survey. It follows the format of the questions in the survey. I previously wrote my article ‘Remnant Rats‘ focussed on the grass roots differences between the former ICOC churches and the ICC. I should make it clear I am not making a comparison based on a competitive spirit but with a compassionate focus on being clear about a lot of the facts especially to my dearest friends in the former ICOC churches some of whom I have found to have no idea of these facts. In my ‘Remnant Rats’ article I explained how I am confident that the ICOC is bound for spiritual death as an organisation. I also point out the futility of leaving the ICC to seek sanctuary in the former ICOC churches. In the 1997 movie ‘Titanic’, the lead female character Rose (Kate Winslet) is safe on a lifeboat and stares longingly into the eyes of Jack, her lover (Leinardo DeCaprio) as she is lowered to safety. She is overcome with her feelings for her lover and jumps back aboard the sinking Titanic. Whilst this scene is awfully romantic in a worldy sense it essentially amounts to suicide. Everyone knows that like Jack she could just as easily have frozen to death in the icy waters of the North Atlantic over a thousand miles from their destination. After becoming aware of the ‘ICOC 3.0’ project I am now even more convinced and further enlightened to the fact that their 108,000 members are under a very divided leadership. This is clear to anyone with an eye to see. After going through the results with brief comments I will consider some biblical parallels.

1. Should we be a global movement? 

90% said yes

2. Do we need to be organised globally? 

Only 80% of the 90% who said yes to Q1 said globally organisation was necessary. Which means only 72% of individuals surveyed believe in central organised global leadership. That leaves 28% that reject this centralised leadership.

The mindset of the 18% who said ‘yes’ and then ‘no’, acknowledges the great achievement of the ICOC when it had a biblically based central leadership with annual global missions collections between 1979 and 2002 but taken together, the first two questions show a prevalent mindset among that 18% of rejecting a central leadership structure in spite of the great success of the late 20th century movement.

Accurate analysis of the 2002 dis-membering of the ICOC’s central leadership has consistently apportioned responsibility to God, man and Satan. Man can be divisive for good or evil. The ICC ‘First Principals‘ series, ‘Church Study’ has a section on righteous and unrighteous division. Not included but nonetheless relevant from a topical perspective is that in the case of the division of Israel after Solomon Jereboam was actually instructed by God to split the 10 tribes and promised a Holy Dynasty equal to King David’s (1 Kings 11:29-39)! God had taken the sins of Judah very seriously (1 Kings 14:-24) . One might say that when the division is from God it is always righteous. The problem with the division of Israel was not the source but the outcome. Jereboam immediately set about the practice of pagan religion thereby causing something which God intended to be blessed to become the curse of the 10 tribes (1 Kings 14:8-10). In the second decade after the split Jereboam was punished with the loss of half a million men. (2 Chronicles 13). There followed in Israel a series of internal rebellions. Israel degenerated into a pagan kingdom.

Similarly in 2002, if it was God’s will that the central leader of the ICOC take a sabbatical it certainly was the will of men and of Satan that he was not at least temporarily replaced to continue to provide direction and leadership through the World Sector Leaders. Instead not only was he marginalised, he was not replaced and the top levels of international leadership were actively dismantled first by the World Sector Leaders themselves and then in successive waves all around the world.

“2,374 elders, evangelists, teachers, women’s ministry leaders, interns, lay leaders and board members participated” in this 2017 survey.

In my experience this sample of leaders represents no essential change in this view since 2002. There is a generally accepted toleration of a huge section of the members who have embraced a form of autonomous governance not unlike that prevalent among the ‘mainline’ churches of christ. This reinforces the need for the ICC to distinguish themselves with a core conviction on central organised global leadership. The benefit of this significant difference is highlighted by the much higher ratio of growth and birthing of new churches in the ICC. This is highlighted in the comments on the results for Q12 below.

3. Do we need a unifying vision statement serving as a rallying cry?

Only 70% felt the need for a body politic vision or mission statement

The phrase ‘mission statement’ first started showing up in books around the 1940’s (around the prime of Bernays) and really started to take off in the 1980’s.

In my view the ICOC between 1979 and 2002 and the ICC since 2004 has had Mt 28:18-20 as it’s mission statement.

Question 4 is omitted from the public document for some reason.

5. Do we need to significantly upgrade our global communication infrastructure?

75% of former ICOC church leaders want to know more about what’s going on. This dissatisfaction with levels of communication was also prevalent amongst the outspoken critics in the aftermath of the Kreite letter. One classic example of how one sided the reasoning of those people became after 2003 is evident in an accusation I hear levelled against ICOC ministry staff from the years prior to 2003, with the words, ‘They were paid too much!’.

I have NEVER  met a critic who was able to answer four simple questions in response to this accusation.

(1). How many hours did any of these evil blood suckers work?!

(2). How much tithe did these pleasure seekers pay?!

(3). How much did they give in benevolent gifts?

(4). How many people came through the doors of their home compared to yours? What price do you put on privacy?

It is the height of hypocrisy and mis-information to propagate lies against the Lord’s innocent servants. Shame on them! In the ICC I give tithe gladly as I did in the ICOC up until the 2003 rebellion. I trust that our all consuming goal of world evangelism is the deciding factor and driving force behind all our ICC leadership’s financial decisions. I personally know that my local ministers prior to 2003 were paying as much as 20% tithe and above and beyond the average special missions contribution also. Having lived in a ministry house for a year I am very much aware of the great lack of privacy in the ministry house (not to mention the extra effort with housework and hospitality). In addition many ministers I knew (especially evangelists and interns) did many more hours than the standard 37.5hrs put in by the average professional member. The ICC recommended minimum hours for campus interns is 70 hours per week! There is no overtime paid to our staff! In the vast majority of cases, the church staff I knew, did not invest in property and so there was no free accommodation for its ministers. If it is impossible to say how much net income a staff member had, then it is also impossible to accuse the staff of being paid too much!

Question 6 is omitted from the public document for some reason. 

7. Do we need a global missions organisation to strengthen our missions societies?

Only 62% of the former ICOC church’s leadership believe that special contribution for missions is necessary and this figure falls to 54% when the geographical areas are assessed. This essentially means that only half of former ICOC churches are willing to fund international missions in a coordinated effort. This must surely be linked to the 1.9% growth rate reported by Gordon Ferguson for the year 15/16.

Question 8 is omitted from the public document for some reason. 

9. Do we need a structure for conflict resolution on a global and regional level?

63% of individuals in former ICOC church’s current leadership want a conflict resolution structure.

This must surely mean there is a huge level of internal conflict between churches and between their leadership. This is already proven by the glaring differences already seen in beliefs regarding church governance and the evangelisation of the world. These leadership differences were highlighted at the San Antonio conference 5 years ago but obviously are still a big concern.

10. Do we need an organisation to manage resources, like people and money, globally and regionally?

There is a huge divide on this issue of organising people and money. 55% of leaders do not want people outside their sphere of influence interfering with their decision making or planning regarding their finance or leadership personnel. This is actually 46% on a geographical level. The 2012 conference in San Antonio also highlighted this position.

Question 11 is omitted from the public document for some reason. 

12. Is our present growth rate of 2.4% concerning to you?

It is very encouraging to me to see that 86% of the former ICOC leaders are concerned about the current lack of numerical growth. This of course leaves 14% that could not say that they found this concerning. The question to the 86% of course has to come, ‘Is concern enough?’ as a reaction to spiritual death.

Another relevant question to ask the 86% is, ‘What are you going to do about the 14% you are carrying who are showing blatant disregard for the will of God, the Scriptures and flaunting a heart that is cold toward a lost world?’

Concern is of course only one part of repentance (2 Cor 7:11) and does not constitute an appropriate godly response to the disastrous condition of the former ICOC churches before God.

It is safe to say that this is a major difference between the ICC and the former ICOC churches. If the ICC were growing at 1.9% or 2.4% there would be widespread concern leading to swift repentance. This goes not only for the leaders but for the members as well. Any individual church with this issue would recieve help from overseeing staff and prolonged ineffectiveness would lead to leadership changes.

Question 13 is omitted from the public document for some reason

14. Do service teams serve our present needs?

The service teams in the former ICOC churches are their current essential leadership structure. Many of the leadership are named on the cooperation website. John Causey who joined the ICC in 2017 was a former service team leader. The service team members are those foremost individuals who are invested in the ineffective structures and leadership models embraced since 2002 and propagated by the nine ministers who engineered the cooperation proposal.

Only 27% of former ICOC  leadership believe in the service team structure.

15. Does the delegates system serve our present needs?

Only 27% of former ICOC leadership believe in the delegates structure.

Question 16 is omitted from the public document for some reason. 

17. Do you think we should have a global leadership team that is appointed to do certain tasks?

62% said yes

Question 2 was similar to this question but reflected 72%. This means that a further 10% on top of the 28% against central leadership are not certain about how their leaders need to operate. 10% said ‘yes’ we want centralised leadership but no we don’t want them to have only certain tasks. This may mean that only 10% want their international leaders to have a certain level of authority to determine their own ministry tasks (much like the ICC’s international leadership). Assuming this is the case, it would be interesting to know just what that 10% think about the ICC model of international leadership. Perhaps they could investigate the dynamic for themselves as John Causey and Blaise Feumba have done, both of whom signed the document against Kip McKean in 2005 but later joined the ICC.

Question 18, 19 and 20 are omitted from the public document for some reason.

21. Do you think that a “Zero budget, volunteer only” approach is the best strategy for our brotherhood/global fellowship?

29% want a voluntary free international leadership.

This is entirely unbiblical. (1 Corinthians 9:3-12)

23. Do you believe that if given a clear explanation, and time for implementation, that churches in your part of the fellowship
would be open to supporting “brotherhood efforts”?

10% of leaders do not believe their people will want to support international efforts.

————————————————————————


Final discussion. 

In light of all these revelations I have had unconfirmed reports that there are leadership shuffles at least in some churches where those service team members who lack the global vision are being replaced. If this is true there will most likely be a haemorrhaging of membership who are unsupportive of any changes toward a more centralised leadership.

Even if this were the case and measures are taken to centralise more, with 50% of the current leadership opposed to organised funding of the evangelisation of the world, it is highly likely that anything short of a large split in the membership would bring anything like the unity required for biblical church growth. Even then they would face the fundamental problem of conflict resolution between leaders with newly surfacing issues.

The publication of the co-operation proposal in 2005 and the recruitment of hundreds of congregations to this ‘cooperation’  system inclusive of practices such as voting and surveying has led to this system becoming a long term methodology. Core beliefs were redefined by congregations around 2005 by asking all the membership to contribute. Each local congregation defined their own core beliefs. Congregations had votes on the cooperation proposal. Questions in the 2017 survey suggest this system will be employed further. If this leadership buy into a perpetuation of the democratic voting implicit in the co-operation churches, this governance system together with the growth rate that results will remain. The churches cannot vote on every issue however. Voting in some way gives every member equal right to lead. In the church in the bible this responsibility was given to trained, tried and tested qualified members.

One only has to look at democratic politics in the world to see it has no place in the Kingdom of God.

In my amateur estimation the growth rate of the ICC is approximately 61% per year since 2007. This is more than 30 times faster than the former ICOC churches. Using a prediction based on current rates it will be 6 more years before the ICC membership reach the numbers equivalent to those in the former ICOC churches who support their current leadership. Somewhere in the 8th year in 2026 the ICC will outgrow the former ICOC churches and every year after that the ICOC will become less and less important in the ICC strategy to evangelise the world. It is my sincere hope and prayer that 2018 will see greater numbers than ever before join us from our ‘former fellowship’ and truly move forward together to evangelise the world in our generation to the glory of God.

2 Chronicles 36:23…  “‘The Lord, the God of heaven,.. has appointed [us] to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Anyone of his people among you—may the Lord his God be with him, and let him go up.’”


* I refer to ‘former ICOC churches’ throughout this article to describe those churches that were formerly described as the ICOC but who currently do not share the name but who are an affiliated group of cooperating congregations.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: