Frequent Questions and Answers

 Frequently Asked Question:

What Makes The International Christian Churches Unique?

What Is Our Mission?

Who Attends The International Christian Churches?

The Religious World Seems To Be Plagued With Sexual And Financial Scandals. How Are You Different?

What Is Role Of The Women In The Church?

How Are The Activities Of The International Christian Churches Funded?

How Do You Help The Poor And Needy?

What Do You Expect Of Your Members?

What Time Commitment Is Involved As A Member Of The Church?

What Does The Term "Being Discipled" Mean?

How Does Being A Member Of The International Christian Churches Help Other Areas Of Life Such As

Career And Family?

What Do You Say To The Charge That You Are A Cult?

What Makes The International Christian Churches Unique?

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions:

What Makes The International Christian Churches Unique?

There are several things that make us unique. First, we are committed to continually searching the Bible for truth about our lives and God’s will for us as His church.

Second, we believe and expect every member of the church to be fully committed to living according to that truth. These convictions, as straightforward and obvious as they may seem, do not characterize the convictions of most of the religious world around us. Many of these convictions that have been lost in modern day Christendom revolve around topics such as: repentance, discipleship, baptism, church government, etc. They are the original convictions the early church held in the first century that are being restored today and helping so many find Jesus all around the world. We invite you to participate in our Bible study series to look more into these Bible teachings.

Another unique quality of our churches is the diversity found in our fellowship. Sadly, it has been observed that Sunday morning is the most segregated time of the week for most Americans. Most churches only talk about diversity; we live it. We believe that any religious group that allows racial, social or economic segregation does not reflect the unity and love of God our Father and, therefore, cannot be the true church of Jesus Christ. God’s true church is made up of all kinds of people, coming together as one common body to share one common love.

What Is Our Mission?

Jesus said in Luke 19:10 that he came “to seek and save what was lost”. Because of this purpose, he commanded his disciples to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). Therefore, as disciples of Jesus, our mission is to “make disciples of all nations”. Jesus mapped out his plan for world evangelism in Acts 1:8 when the church started in 33 AD and the early church spread the gospel to the known world of their time. The apostle Paul writes around 60-62 AD that the world had been evangelized (meaning every person in the known world had heard about the church and Jesus – Colossians 1:6,23).

Our mission and motivating vision is the same as the early church: to evangelize the nations in our generation. Please CLICK HERE to see our “Crown of Thorns Project” to see how we are accomplishing this mission in our day.

Who Attends The International Christian Churches?

All kinds of people! People of all ages, all cultures, all economic levels, all religious backgrounds and kind of past are made to feel welcome in our fellowship. Visitors often comment on the racial diversity in both our membership and our leadership. In a day when younger people are abandoning traditional religion, people are also impressed with the large numbers of vibrant youth and college students in our churches. In our own congregation here in Eugene we have students from University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and many more just to name a few!

The Religious World Seems To Be Plagued With Sexual And Financial Scandals. How Are You Different?

The Bible makes it clear that church leaders must be people of character whose lives are worthy of respect and imitation. Therefore, we have the highest expectations of integrity and purity for those serving as leaders in the International Christian Churches. Leaders in our church do not have extravagant life-styles. All full-time workers, including the leadership of the ICC, are paid according to a standardized salary model for reasonableness and fairness.

Our congregational finances are managed internationally by professional financial administrators and not by the ministry staff. This means that the ministers, while being involved in the financial planning for the church, have no authority to write checks or disburse funds. Each congregation’s financial and legal affairs are under the supervision and scrutiny of a corporate board composed of qualified members of the local churches.

The Bible teaches that there is no one who is beyond temptation and sin, and certainly leaders are no exception. All full-time leaders in our church are expected to have people of strength, character and integrity involved in their personal lives. These are people to whom they are consistently accountable and with whom they openly discuss their weaknesses, faults and temptations. While our leaders are committed disciples of Jesus, we realize they are human and like all of us, still sin. As with any member, biblical counsel and discipline are available to help leaders in their struggles. Through the years there have been isolated cases of leaders becoming involved in immorality, contempt, drunkenness or other grave sins. All were given the help needed to assist in overcoming their problems. In some cases, it was necessary to remove them from leadership. With these kinds of safeguards in place, it is our hope that we may maintain a standard of conduct that will cause our churches to reflect God’s glory.

What Is Role Of The Women In The Church?

It is our belief that women should be as prominent and valued in our churches as they were in Jesus’s ministry. Jesus was the greatest liberator of women the world has ever seen. In a day and time in which women were commonly regarded as inferior or as mere possessions to be owned, used and discarded, he treated all the women in his life with respect and dignity.

We believe that Christian women have the same mission as men — to change the world by making disciples of Christ. While Scripture instructs us not to put women in positions of authority over men (1 Timothy 2:12), they are to serve beside men in the work of the gospel (see Romans 16:1-16), as well as functioning as powerful leaders of other women (Titus 2:3-4).

While some of their roles may be different from men, women are viewed by God as equals to their male counterparts (Galatians 3:28). Many of those visiting our congregations are struck by the vibrant, joyful, dynamic women in our membership and leadership. Adherence to these scriptures has produced a powerful women’s ministry in our churches that has given our women a sense of confidence and a place of influence that has too long been denied them in the religious world at large. This has all been brought about by our return to the simple, but revolutionary teaching of Jesus – that women and men in his church are disciples — first, foremost and always!

How Are The Activities Of The International Christian Churches Funded?

Activities of the International Christian Churches are funded by generous giving of the individual members themselves. Each Christian’s duty to give is clearly spelled out in such passages as 2 Corinthians 9:1-12, and every member is expected to contribute sacrificially to the work of the church.

In most of our congregations there are two types of contributions. The first is the weekly contribution at which time members are encouraged to tithe — that is, give 10% of their income. While some members cannot afford to contribute 10% (though it is hoped they will be able to do so when their financial condition improves), many give more; it is up to each member to decide how much they give. The second contribution is an annual missions contribution, which primarily supplies needs of congregations in the Third World although some funds are used for mission work in other first and second world countries and for local needs. This offering averages about one-third of each member’s total annual weekly contribution.

In the ICC there is no income from investments, real estate or “front organizations” typical of some religious groups. Therefore, members; offerings are the sole means of funding the work of both overseas missions and domestic churches. At the moment, none of our congregations own buildings, money collected does not go to pay for lavish, impractical facilities with their accompanying high mortgages and overhead. Rather the majority of funds go to increase numbers of ministry staff or to other projects that are directly involved in ministering to people’s needs. The financial responsibilities of church membership are clearly taught and explained before someone becomes a member of the church, and questions by members about procedures and allocation of funds are welcomed.

How Do You Help The Poor And Needy?

Just as Jesus had compassion on the poor and the sick, we teach and believe that all disciples should give of themselves to serve the poor where they live. A study of the Scriptures brought us to the conviction that this was an area of God’s will that can be largely neglected in many churches. Each church in our fellowship now reaches out into its own community with various projects to help those who are less fortunate. We also began a charity arm called MERCY Worldwide. MERCY (Maximizing Efforts for Relief Care and Youth) is a non-profit 501(c)3 International Service Organization that is established now on all six populated continents. Our churches provide the “MERCY Ambassadors” to serve all the local and community projects. Please visit www.mercyworldwide.org for more information about this.

What Do You Expect Of Your Members?

We expect all of our members to love God with all their hearts, all their souls and all their minds and to love their neighbors as they love themselves. (Matthew 22:37). All church members must be disciples of Jesus who accept his teachings as a daily standard for life. We do not believe discipleship is optional for our members. Furthermore, every disciple must seek to develop a growing, personal relationship with God and minister to the needs of those all around him. Clearly, we believe God expects us to love and serve with a commitment far beyond what most of us have typically observed in the religious world (Romans 12:10, 1 John 3:16).

What Time Commitment Is Involved As A Member Of The Church?

This is an important question since the average member of our fellowship is significantly more involved in the work of the church (Ephesians 4:16) than most men and women in the religious world at large. Generally speaking, there are about six hours of meetings per week. In addition, members spend time with their Christian friends in informal fellowship and friendship settings outside of the regular church meetings.

Is this excessive?

Absolutely not! Most denominations hold several different meetings per week: worship services, Sunday school classes, midweek meetings, prayer meetings and so forth — and the more committed members attend all of them. And when all members attend all the meetings this is highly lauded.

In our congregations when the average member comes to all the meetings it certainly should not be regarded as unusual behavior. Why? Because the Bible tells us that the early Christians were willing to meet daily (Acts 2:46). Moreover, for anyone who considers the time commitment unreasonable, take note that the average American adult according to USA Today watches a staggering 28 hours a week of TV! Christianity is a religion of action, a lifestyle of a relationship to God and others.

What Does The Term “Being Discipled” Mean?

Jesus taught his own disciples to go into the world and make other disciples. This involved older or more mature disciples teaching and training young converts to become more like Jesus. Being “discipled” simply means getting input, advice and teaching from people we know and respect so that each one of us can become more like Jesus. Being “discipled” does not mean that someone else makes our decisions for us nor does it mean blindly doing whatever we are told.

Discipling is based on a relationships of trust, friendship and closeness, and breaks down if the people involved do not become great friends who respect and appreciate each others faith, love and individuality. In our churches we work hard to make sure that all disciples have at least one person who helps them to have a Christ-like perspective, to make needed changes, and to get the encouragement needed to live the Christian life.

How Does Being A Member Of The International Christian Churches Help Other Areas Of Life Such As Career And Family?

God calls disciples to do their best at whatever they do (Colossians 3:23). For example, the Bible teaches disciples to be excellent employees – to be honest, eager, productive and hard-working. Family life is another top priority. Husbands and wives are called to build the best marriages possible with God at the center, whether or not their spouses are disciples. Parents should rear their children in an atmosphere of love, teaching them to love God, to love life, and to set great examples in their efforts in the classroom and in other school and community activities. Disciples should love and honor their parents, even if their parents are not disciples and are not supportive of their pursuit of God and their involvement in the church.

Sadly, many people today have been affected by dysfunctional marriages and families. One of the greatest joys of our fellowship is to see broken, hurting marriages mended and healed through the power of the love of Christ. We also strive to see children and parents reunited in love for each other through the forgiveness and hope that Jesus brings into their lives. We teach our couples to build close, loving marriage relationships and to raise their children in a secure, loving family.

One of the most noticeable aspects of our fellowship is the happy marriages and joyful households that have been produced by our emphasis on biblical family life.

What Do You Say To The Charge That You Are A Cult?

The International Christian Churches (ICC) are no more a cult than was the Church that Jesus started, as described in the Bible. The word “cult” is a prejudicial label. Read how three noted authorities describe it:

“All the major religions started out as cults,” said the late Dean Kelley of the National Council of Churches.

“Cult has become a buzz word,” said David Bromley, a sociologist at Virginia Commonwealth University. “What disturbs me is any group that is unorthodox in any way starts to run into ‘cultic’ or ‘cult-like’ labels.”

Robert Ellwood, Professor of New Religious Movements at the University of Southern California, said, ” ‘Cult’ always is a term people use when they want to stigmatize another in a pejorative way… It inclines you to see what you already expect to be there… But over the centuries numerous religious movements first viewed as cults survived and are no longer perceived as extremist. ‘Cult’ has proven to be a very subjective word.”

One of the best definitions of “cult” that we have found was given in an article in the March 13, 2000 issue of US News & World Report. The piece identified three traits common to cults in general: 1) Charismatic, authoritarian leaders. These require absolute devotion and dictate how members should think and act. 2) Mind control and manipulation. Use of controlling methods, including physical and/or psychological isolation from family and friends. 3) Misleading recruitment tactics. Use of “love bombing,” or showering prospective members with attention; the use of front names that mask group affiliation

Let us compare each of these three traits to teaching and common practice of the ICC.

1) Charismatic, authoritarian leaders.

There is no person or group of people to whom the International Christian Churches require absolute devotion. There is no person or group of people to whom the ICC would even allow to be given absolute devotion. Only God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit deserve and are given that. The acknowledged human leader of the ICC is Kip McKean. This is because the ICC teaches the biblical conviction of having a central leader and central leadership council to lead the churches. Throughout God’s Word, when His people were unified, there was a strong central leadership and godly central leader. (Examples: Moses, Joshua, David and of course Jesus and the Apostles) 1 Corinthians 4:15-17 and Titus 1:5 teaches that 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.) While Kip certainly is spiritual (as we expect all of our church members and leaders to be) and a very talented leader, he is not infallible, he is not an apostle, and does not claim to have a sense of being supernaturally led or inspired by God. He, like all of us, believes in the power of prayer, in the guidance and wisdom derived from study of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:14-17) and from the Holy Spirit who indwells each disciple of Jesus (Romans 8:9), and in the collective advice of those around him.

Only God, through his inspired written word, the Bible, should dictate how we should think and act. Our leaders simply call us to follow the teachings of the Bible and the example of Jesus Christ, which will determine our thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5) and actions (1 Peter 2:21). Leadership also is for the purpose of unity in areas of opinion where the Bible is silent (Hebrews 13:17) (ie. What time we should meet for church, what days meetings are held, etc.). It is unbiblical for spiritual leaders to call anyone to do anything that would go against the Bible or their conscience which is not tolerated in the ICC.

2) Mind control and manipulation.

Mind control and manipulation imply intent to cause a person to do something against his or her will. This is exactly the opposite of our goal and purpose. Jesus calls each disciple to love God with all of his/her heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37). Following God must be a decision made from the heart, and not because one has been manipulated into blind obedience. Before a person makes a decision to become a disciple, we study the Bible together so that he/she clearly understands what God expects. Included in the Bible’s teaching is God’s expectation that every disciple honor his/her parents (Ephesians 6:2). Quite often a dysfunctional relationship has previously existed between the parents and child which needs to be rebuilt or repaired in order to become what God wants it to be. Non-Christian friendships are encouraged, unless those friends tempt the disciple into his/her pre-Christian lifestyle of immorality, drugs, partying, selfishness, etc. (1 Corinthians 15:33).

3) Misleading recruitment tactics.

Deceit is a sin, condemned by Jesus (Mark 7:20-23). We are proud to be disciples of Christ and members of the International Christian Churches. We do not use “front names” or try to hide who we are. (Our campus groups will often have a name for their club on campus, such as “LIFE on Campus.” This is not an attempt to hide who we are, but is what religious clubs normally do on campuses. In each case it is our policy to be up front about the club’s association with the International Christian Church.

“Love bombing” is selectively loving someone to manipulate them. By this definition, it is wrong. It is wrong on two counts: it is selectively loving (a contradiction in terms) and it is manipulative. Christianity is the religion of love; and we believe in showing love to everyone, member or non-member (Matthew 22:39). When people attend our meetings, they are impressed with the racial, ethnic and social diversity of the membership. We believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ needs to be offered to every person, everywhere. That gospel is the power of God for the salvation of anyone who would put their trust in him (Romans 1:16), and it should not be cheapened by manipulation or deceit.

What, then, do we say to the charge that we are a cult? If the charge is the same that was leveled against the early church, then we are glad to be identified with them. “But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect” (Acts 28:22). If, however, the charge is the same as that leveled against destructive extremist groups in our day, then we say, “No!” We, the members of the International Christian Church, are nothing more than disciples of Jesus Christ who are attempting to restore the movement that God began in the first century. That movement turned the world upside down in its day, just as we expect it to do today.

*This was put together in our former fellowship at a now non-existing website (upsidedown), and edited to be up to date by Mike Patterson.