Commentary on ‘The SoldOut Discipling Movement’s ​Distinguishing ​ Core Convictions’​

Lamentations 2:1-2 How the Lord has covered the Daughter of Zion with the cloud of his anger! He has hurled down the splendor of Israel from heaven to earth; he has not remembered his footstool in the day of his anger. Without pity the Lord has swallowed up all the dwellings of Jacob; in his wrath he has torn down the strongholds of the Daughter of Judah. He has brought her kingdom and its princes down to the ground in dishonor.

I got together for a cup of tea recently with a man that I respect deeply for what he has made of his life and for his heart of loyalty towards the people of God. He is a member of the ICOC. He is on a mission team and trying to come to terms with his task. He is wrestling with the great divide that has come between the churches I call ‘the former ICOC’ and the ICC. We both gave testimony to why we have ended up where we are. And both of us have very good reasons in our own minds for why we are in two churches under two completely different leadership models. He has a pronounced fear in his heart with regards to where the ICC might be heading in the future. I have pronounced fear likewise about where the former ICOC churches are headed.

I have been asked just last week by my Evangelist to write this article about the difference between the ICOC and the ICC. I will follow the format of the document we see on our banner at church. It follows our 5 core convictions.

Firstly though, I think is right to introduce this article with an overview. The most relevant application of the 5 core convictions is in the direction of members or ex-members of what were formerly known as the ICOC churches. As such these 5 convictions are a reaction to some of the main changes that happened in ICOC churches since 2002. They are in this respect somewhat idiosyncratic and perhaps in part misunderstood or misinterpreted by those who have not personally experienced the traumatic events in the ICOC beginning in 2002.

 

1. We Are A Bible Church, Not Simply A New Testament Church

2 Timothy 3:14-17, 2 Peter 3:15-16
Technically speaking, the word “Scripture” in this passage refers to only the Old Testament. Now, through the inspiration of the
Spirit, we believe that it applies to the New Testament as well.
Colossians 2:13-14
We believe the Old Testament applies to our lives — as much as the New Testament — except for the Mosaic Law and any teaching in the New Testament that supersedes the Old Testament.

Essentially this conviction underpins the rest in that the Bible (as a whole) is where the ICOC before 2002 and where the ICC since 2004 draws teaching and inference from, for it’s structuring, leadership models and practice. There is no single leadership model in scripture that can account in it’s entierty for the current leadership model of either the ICOC or the ICC. I have covered some of the reasons for this in my article ‘God’s plan for centralisation‘. This first conviction leads directly to the next core conviction of the ‘sold out movement’. 

 

2. “Be Silent Where The Bible Speaks, And Speak Where The Bible Is Silent”

Genesis 2:19
In applying scriptural principles to build the visible church, we believe we must obey God’s Word, but where the Bible does not
prohibit a practice or name, we are free to use our God-given creativity.
1 Corinthians 10:23 We are free to practice or name something as long as it does not contradict the Scriptures.

This principal has exceptions and somewhat grey areas when taken out of context but when it is seen as a valid objection to the ineffective leadership structure of the ‘cooperation churches’ formerly known as the ICOC it stands as a very strong principal. It is made necessary by the need to fill in certain areas of responsibility held by Apostles in the much less centralised world of the first century church. It underpins the authority ICC leaders use to design a modern international leadership that is effective in the 21st century.

The next ICC principal deals with another area of objection to changes instituted by the nine evangelists who conceived, engineered and proposed the cooperation proposal and rolled it out to the ICOC congregations in one form or another from 2002 onwards. The conviction below involves the structure that the leadership of the ICC uses to teach its members obedience to the Scriptures which is called ‘discipling’. The word ‘discipling’ is the verb form of the noun disciple.


3. Discipling Is A Command Of God And Not Optional

Matthew 28:19-20, Colossians 1:28-29, John 15:15
The dynamic in this relationship begins as a teacher/student relationship and then matures to a more peer/peer relationship.
2 Timothy 2:1-3

Discipling is teaching obedience to scripture and is detailed in the “one another” passages: “love one another,” “instruct one another,” “confess your sins to each other,” “pray for each other,” etc.

 

 

Discipling is still optional in many ‘cooperation churches’ and it is not something that necessarily happens on a weekly basis. It is a named practice in a number of churches outside of the restoration movement. In the ICC (as with the ICOC prior to 2002) it is practiced weekly (and most often more than weekly), is focussed on accountability and obedience and includes the full compliment of scriptural communication strategies (2 Tim 3:15-17).

Next, the five convictions return to the leadership structure and essentially the replacement of part of the role of the Apostle in the first century movement, that being the teaching, unification, shepherding and evangelism of the whole church.

 

4. A Central Leadership With A Central Leader

Numbers 27:12-23, Exodus 18:12-26, Judges 21:25, 1 Corinthians 4:15-17, Titus 1:5
Throughout God’s Word, when His people were unified, there was a strong central leadership and a godly central leader.
(Examples: Moses, Joshua, David and of course Jesus and the Apostles.) Local congregations had an overseeing evangelist who unified the disciples “everywhere in every church.” In the first century, congregations were a collective movement — not autonomous, not self-governing.
Acts 15:19-24, Acts 21:24
In the New Testament, Jesus is the leader of “the Movement!” Uniquely, when He ascends to Heaven, Peter takes on this responsibility as “the apostle to the Jews,” since for the first seven years of Christianity only Jews became Christians.
Interestingly, after Paul became “the apostle to the Gentiles,” the leadership of the movement by Acts 15 had passed to Jesus’ oldest half-brother James. At the Jerusalem Council, James, after listening to both sides of the circumcision issue, gives his singular authoritative “judgment,” which is then bound on all the churches.

The former ICOC churches have a central council of leaders that attempt to steer and serve the disparate yet cooperative group of churches. John Causey served on that council until 2016. He left the ICOC and joined the ICC in 2017. The direction that they are steering is clearly towards a very traditional Evangelical type of denomination. As an ex-member of 12 years I am not an excellent source of ‘hot news’ and I have been painfully aware of this since I joined the ICC in 2005. I know the very serious nature of the problems in the ICOC congregations that I was personally involved with up until 2005 but after this a lot of my information came from 100s of ex-members joining us since then and friends who were still members, who told me things were changing for the better. Most of these members coming over from former ICOC churches were seeking revival. They clearly found a vibrant, revived and rapidly growing church and so I trusted and believed that the former ICOC churches were dying just as they had been when I was a attending in 2005. This trust in the testimony of ex-members was replaced by an absolute belief when I read Gordon Ferguson’s report on the 2015/16 growth rate of 2% for the entire body of former ICOC churches. Gordon is a member of a former ICOC church and was one of a small number of Teacher/Elder/Evangelists who led us in the 1990s. Since I read Gordon’s report earlier this year, I have become confident that all attempts to revive the ICOC since 1995 including the 2002 Long Beach meeting and the 2003 Kreit Letter have failed. From 2005 there were 5 year plans in the UK churches. I believe that they have failed. The former ICOC churches in London attempted revival in 2010 with a ‘new’ centrally located region with a campus focus. Some other UK congregations have had new leadership move to them and attempted similar improvements. Though there have been some notable efforts made in various churches around the world, the sad fact remains that the cooperation churches are actively dying as shown by the 2% growth reported in ’15/’16. In medical terms it could be put this way – though they already have multiple organ failure and are in many cases relying on life support there will at some point be a complete and permanent death. Professionals who work with the dying are usually dignified and accepting of the nature of death. I choose to remain in as compassionate a position as I possibly can. Many human beings facing death struggle to accept it. This is perhaps the greatest tradegdy amongst my friends in those churches. One ICOC writer said in recent years ‘we will never go back to that’. They choose death instead of imperfect life. In this way they are following the care plan of Dignitas, the company that offers assisted suicide to those that can pay. They refuse to take up the cross of laying down their lives with their imperfect brothers and sisters again and obeying the greatest comission of all time. . This is so, so tragic.

My old ICOC friend said recently that ‘when we had the problems in 2003, the last thing we needed was a new church’. In spite of the fact that we do not see the ICC as a new church but a reunification of the ONE ICOC church that was divided up in 2003, I will give another analogy, this time to the ICC. The ICC could be described as a church of rats!

Rats have been said to be the first to sense an impending disaster, such as a sinking ship or a gas leak in a mine – so if rats are seen leaving it’s a good idea to follow! 

Early records of this expression go back all the way to Pliny The Elder’s Natural History (77 AD): ‘When a building is about to fall down, all the mice desert it’. 

If it will give my ICOC brothers a chance to abandon ship and save themselves I will admit I was a rat. I sensed the futility of the new church strategies of 2003 onward. I scurried off the sinking ship. I had been trying in my own futile way to figure out a way to survive between 2004 and 2005. My way was not effective.

All that is left therefore is the fifth conviction.

 

5. The Dream Of The Evangelization Of The Nations In THIS Generation

Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8, Colossians 1:6 & 23, 1 Timothy 2:3-4
If the world was evangelized in the first century, we can certainly do it again in the twenty-first century! This will be accomplished through every disciple making disciples, and every disciple having discipling relationship

This is the mission of the ICC. It was the mission of the ICOC up until 2002. The ICC is clearly on target to obey the commands given to the church by Jesus. There is only one realistic, wise choice in a sinking ship. Whatever the reason for staying on board and however daunting the concept is of leaving, the people need to man the life boats and abandon the vessel as all those who choose to remain will surely die. Hanging on to save the vessel and all aboard was valiant (no doubt about that!) but there is a point of no return. Likewise there is no point for those who are drowning to put their trust in boarding a sinking ship. The trickle of EX-ICC members going to the ICOC for support will no doubt find encouragement from those still aboard this floundering vessel but they will not find revival. Even rats will not board a sinking ship! My friend asked me why I abandoned ship in 2005.

I pray that this is a sufficient answer.

Genesis 45:7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

 

Remnant Rats 2.0

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