Tag: Kip McKean

Revolution Through Restoration II: The 20th Century Church

Preface : by Al Baird 
“And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Acts 2:47
“So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly.”
Acts 6:7
“The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.”
Acts 11:21
Revolution II is our first sequel to Kip McKean’s article, “Revolution Through Restoration: From Jerusalem to Rome, From Boston to Moscow”, which originally appeared in Upside Down magazine, April, 1992. Typically, movie sequels are rarely as good as the original. Kip’s latest article, “Revolution Through Restoration II: The Twentieth Century Church” is even better than the first.

Communication is a major challenge in every interpersonal dynamic. It is the major problem area in marriage as well as in churches. It is so very difficult to get everyone in every church around the world to grasp the big picture of what God is doing. Almost three baptisms per hour and two new churches a month in places we have seldom or never heard of staggers our minds. Kip has done an excellent job in this article of putting these events into perspective. A few days ago I was interviewed via telephone by a newspaper reporter in London. He had heard that the United States Churches had just sent 50 evangelists to London to help the church there — a major cause for alarm in his mind. Of course, I had to clarify for him that 50 disciples from Philadelphia and Washington D.C. had taken a vacation from their jobs to go to England to help out for a couple of weeks in a summer campaign! The world has a hard time understanding such commitment.

In a question that revealed his skepticism, a reporter challenged me: “Surely you do not believe that your people will be able to grow from 1,000,000 disciples to 5,000,000 as easily as you did from 10,000 to 50,000, do you?” “Why not?” I replied. “Just as long as everyone continues to do his part it will happen.” I have so much confidence that it will happen when I see what has already occurred. Your confidence will grow as well when you see the miracles of our church’s growth, the increase in the number of churches and the number of nations and attendance in just fifteen years. Truly God is good. It only gets better.

LA Story – The Cross

Things are not always what they appear to be. Just a few seconds were left in an important high school football game that would determine the final state championship playoff spot. The favored team was ahead by two points and they had the ball on the opponent’s 40-yard line. To win, all they had to do was fall on the ball and let the clock run out. But the coach sent in a play that so totally rattled his team in the huddle that they were called for a delay-of-game penalty. Although confused and perplexed, the team ran the play that the coach had called: the quarterback handed the ball to the tailback, who then ran 55 yards in the WRONG direction – into his own end zone! A sure victory had now turned into a tie game because of the two-point safety. What a crazy coach! That is what everyone in the stands and on the field thought. But remember, things are not always what they appear to be. The coach knew exactly what he was doing. You see, because of the way the season had gone, his team had to defeat their opponents in this final game by at least four points. With only seconds left in the game and ahead by only two points, his team would have had to score on just one final play when they were 40 yards from the goal line – nearly impossible. He knew that by his causing the game to be tied with the safety, his team would have a much better chance to win in overtime. And they did! They won by six points and went on to the state championship playoffs.

Revolution Through Restoration I: From Jerusalem to Rome, From Boston to Moscow

Preface : 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.

Introduction: 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.

Revolution Through Restoration III: From Babylon to Zion

To my brothers and sisters in all the congregations of the International Churches of Christ:


By the Rivers of Babylon We Wept

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy. Remember, O LORD, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell. “Tear it down,” they cried, “tear it down to its foundations!” Psalm 137:1-7

Tears flow as my heart is crushed with pain and anguish at the condition of most of our churches around the world. We are fragmenting as a fellowship. Many disciples are in agony, caused by years of feeling unable to measure up to the “law” and judged as not “doing well spiritually.” They have been weakened by spiritual malnourishment, fulfilling Paul’s words, “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” Surely the hand of God is against us for not taking care of the weak. Many of God’s evangelists have grown weary and are losing heart because of criticism from those they have loved, served and baptized. In most of our larger congregations in the United States, over half of the full-time ministry and administrative staff have left the ministry in the past year and a half.

God has also allowed churches in other countries to be “torn down to their foundations.” For example, 90% of the full-time ministry staff of nearly 100 people in the British Isles’ churches either resigned or have been asked to step down. The former 2,000 member flock in London is deeply divided, spiritually damaged and many of the members have been scattered. Like the walls of Jerusalem, the walls of the world sectors are burned and crumbled because of unrighteousness. There has been a reactionary dismantling of the leadership structure of our brotherhood that once joyfully cooperated to finance the evangelization of every part of the world. Congregations, which at one time annually baptized hundreds, are now experiencing very few baptisms. Persecution, Satan’s attack from the outside, has rarely caused our churches long-term damage. However, grumbling and bitterness by both leaders and members have allowed the Devil to enter our sacred fellowship and begin to destroy it from within.

Though the issue of church “autonomy” obviously needs much discussion, study, and prayer, the decision at the November 2002 Unity Meeting in Los Angeles for the world sectors to operate individually has resulted in the dismantling of a central leadership. In the ensuing months, many of our individual congregations have likewise declared their own autonomy. The implementation of these decisions has already reaped disastrous results on the mission field. Funding for third world churches in many places has sharply decreased or is no longer available.

LA Story – Staying Alive

Super Bowl XXXVI – New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17. It ranks as one of the great Super Bowl upsets of all time. Having finished in last place the previous season, and having started the season with one win and three losses, no one gave the Patriots a chance of even making the playoffs, much less of defeating the former world champion Rams. The only ones who believed in the Patriots were themselves. Every playoff game became a matter of staying alive. Because they never quit believing and fought until the very last play, they are now the world champions.

Last year, 2001, was a very hard year for many disciples and churches. Personally, it was one of the most difficult years that Gloria and I have ever experienced. September 11th marked our 40th wedding anniversary, and we were to fly that very day to New York City. Late last year, two very special friends and treasures of the Kingdom, Ryan Howard and George Havins, died and went home to be with God. My father in the faith, mentor and best friend Kip McKean and his wife Elena went on sabbatical to sort through marriage and family problems. Two of our special spiritual children, Moe and Amani Bishara, left Los Angeles spiritually renewed to return to the Middle East.

LA Story – I Know What You Did Last Summer

Are the International Churches of Christ a youth movement? I hope so. We are trying to be. An often heard comment of older visitors to our church services is, “Everyone seems so young!”  Some of them mean that in a negative way, but I take it positively. The death knell of a religious movement is the loss of its young people. In so many denominations, their dying churches are mostly populated with members older than 40. Now, there is nothing wrong with being over 40 – I am 59. But, shouldn’t there be more young people than older people in God’s church? The young provide so much of the energy, enthusiasm and idealism that the healthy church body needs. For several years in the Kingdom of God, we neglected our young people. But we have repented. 

Things are changing powerfully and rapidly. The first change was to energize our children’s ministries, “Kingdom Kids,” with top-notch curriculums and teaching materials. This project, headed by Kingdom Teacher Gordon Ferguson, took hundreds of hours, several hundreds of thousands of dollars and two years to complete. Now we have children’s ministries that are second to none. The second change was to restore a major evangelistic focus to the many college and university campuses. World Sector Leaders Marty and Chris Fuqua have been given
the charge of coordinating the building of great campus ministries all over the world. The third change came last year when Kip McKean called all of the churches to launch an unprecedented effort to make disciples of our own children, and to reach out to teens in our communities. Strong teen ministries are essential for strong churches.

LA Story – LA Confidential

The LA miracle is almost nine years old and is growing stronger. From July of 1989, a small group of 56 disciples has multiplied to 7,155 members today – a 100-times growth! Gloria and I knew most of the original team members, since many of them came from Boston and included our daughter Keri. They were great people, but there was not a single miracle-worker among
them. So how did they do what they did, become the first church in the history of the International Churches of Christ to grow beyond 4,000 members, and 5,000, 6,000, 7,000 and beyond? Like the author of Psalm 34, King David, we can only boast in the Lord. Sure, having Kip and Elena McKean lead the LA Church since 1990 has helped; but the success of the church is not because of one powerful couple. It is all God. The above verses describe well what has happened. This issue of LA Story, entitled “LA Confidential,” is about the Los Angeles International Church of Christ. Yes, we are doing some boasting, but it is boasting in the Lord. All of the glory and honor go to him.

LA Story – The Edge

I have a T-shirt that I like to wear; it is a T-shirt for disciples. On the back are these words: “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room!” Jesus lived his 33 years as far out on the edge as it is possible to get. And he calls each of us to follow him out there. “Normal” people do not want to get close to the edge. It is not safe there, and it certainly is not comfortable. But “normal” people don’t change things. They stay in the middle of the crowd, and they get pushed in whatever direction the crowd happens to be moving. They don’t have much impact on the world. Jesus had impact wherever he went, and his disciples do, too. That is what happens out on the edge. Jesus always has an incredible effect on the crowd when it stops long enough to listen to him. In Mark 4:1, Jesus drew the people to the edge of the water to hear him and be changed by him.

Aren’t you thankful to be out of the crowd and out on the edge? Aren’t you thankful to be in the Kingdom of God? Aren’t you glad that you are not “normal” by the world’s standards any
more? A few weeks ago Gloria and I, together with Bob and Pat Gempel, leaders of HOPE worldwide, were in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We were there to celebrate the first anniversary of the King
Sihanouk HOPE Hospital and to preach to the incredible Phnom Penh Church of Christ. It probably had the most personal impact of any trip we have ever taken. Cambodia is a beautiful country with beautiful people. But every citizen there has lived through unfathomable suffering. Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge army tortured, starved and killed nearly three million people, one third of the population, in the late 1970s.

LA Story – Shalom Salaam

Jerusalem is an incredible city. Three thousand years ago this year, King David captured the city and made it the capital of his kingdom. Since then the history of the world has been shaped and influenced by what has happened there. Most of the events described in the Bible occurred within a 100 mile radius. Now three major religions – Judaism, Islam and Christianity – consider this to be a holy city. “Holy” is not the best word to describe those past 3,000 years; “bloody” might be more appropriate. In that time nearly 100 battles have been fought for control of Jerusalem. The tension is no less today as the Palestinians are pushing for East Jerusalem to become the capital of the West Bank and the Israelis are just as determined to prevent that.

Over two hundred leaders of God’s modern-day movement gathered in Jerusalem this past May. We as disciples were drawn to Jerusalem because that is where it all began nearly 2,000 years ago. Jesus was born only five miles from there; some of his most powerful preaching and healing was there; he was crucified and resurrected there; and he started his church there. Then the word rang out from Jerusalem and was heard around the world in just one generation. Since the first century, the church has never again taken the message to the whole world, much to its shame. As disciples, we went back to Jerusalem to see our roots. God has done great things among us in the last eighteen years, but so much remains to be done. Being there,