What is the International Church of Christ?

The International Church of Christ (ICC) is a break-off of the Church of Christ denomination.  The ICC is Christian in its basic theology but has some aberrant practices.

The ICC was influenced by the discipling movement on the 1950's. Its roots can be traced back to 1967 to the Crossroads Church of Christ, in Gainesville, Florida.  The Crossroads Church had a program on discipling which became known as the Crossroads Movement. It is out of this Crossroads connection that the present leader of the ICC, Kip McKeen, received his start. He and Roger Lamb were fired from the Houston, Texas, Church of Christ. Kip McKeen then found a Church in Boston MA, was asked to come on board, and began what has come to be known as the Boston movement. The Boston Church grew by leaps and bounds due to its heavy discipling program. Soon other churches were being planted in the United States and then in England.

The ICC did not become known as the "International Church of Christ" until 1993, and its headquarters moved to Los Angeles, California.  The ICC considers Christian denominations to be sinful.  They will cite biblical passages that speak of the apostles establishing one Church per city and claim that there should only be one Church in each city.  Of course, the one Church should be an ICC Church.  As of the year 2001, the ICC claims to have over 400 churches with a membership of 130,000 worldwide in over 150 countries.

The International Church of Christ considers itself to be "a family of Christian churches whose members are committed to living their lives in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ as found in the Bible."  This commitment to biblical living includes a very strong emphasis on discipling.  In fact, it is this overly-strong emphasis on discipling that has drawn as much criticism from outside the church as inside - from those who were once members.

The ICC is Orthodox, affirms the Trinity, salvation by grace, Jesus' virgin birth, and physical resurrection, His deity, the personhood of the Holy Spirit, heaven and hell, and much more.  But, it deviates from orthodoxy in both its requirement of baptism as a necessary element for salvation and its heavy requirement of discipleship.

According to the ICC, baptism must be done in their church with the person being baptized having an understanding that baptism saves. Combined with this, the ICC method of discipleship includes strong accountability to other members of the church as a necessary element to be considered a Christian.  According to the ICC, one cannot be a Christian if he is not a true disciple, and being a disciple must precede baptism.  Therefore, the International Church of Christ tends to be very legalistic and controlling.  Many of its former members attest to requirements that they confess their sins to their disciple leaders, that they submit to the decisions of their disciple "leaders" regarding dating, frequency of sexual relations for married couples, jobs to take, places to move, and so on.

This discipling operation within the ICC has drawn much criticism for its intrusive practices and has been labeled as a form of brainwashing and psychological and emotional manipulation.  There are numerous websites on the Internet devoted to ex-members of the International Church of Christ who warn people not to be involved with the movement.  There are also support groups to help those who have left to find healing and, hopefully, true Grace in Christ instead of legalism and bondage.



About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.