Formerly known as the Los Angeles Church of Christ & the Boston Movement
In the early 1970's Kip McKean, the founding evangelist and pastor of the Boston movement, was a student at the University of Florida. There he met Chuck Lucas, pastor of Crossroads Church of Christ.
Lucas misunderstood Robert Coleman's book, The Master Plan of Evangelism, to teach that Jesus controlled the lives of His apostles and then taught His apostles to disciple others by controlling their lives. Christians today, he wrongly concluded, should use the same process of control when bringing new people to Christ. This was the view of discipleship that Lucas handed down to McKean.
In 1976 McKean joined in campus outreaches using the local church as a base. He then moved to the Boston suburb of Lexington where he became involved in the Lexington Church of Christ, establishing an aggressive program of evangelism and discipleship. The church grew phenomenally from 30 to 1,000 members in just a few years.
In 1981 the Boston movement launched an aggressive missions program sending out teams of people to establish churches throughout America and the world.
By 1983 the church had to rent the Boston Opera House for its Sunday service and meet in "house churches" for mid-week services. Later that year the Lexington Church of Christ changed its name to Boston Church of Christ.
Boston is the modern-day center for "multiplying" the worldwide ministry. Today there are 103 churches around the world with a total membership of 50,000.
Despite testimony from former members, cult researchers, and others accusing the movement of excessive control, inappropriate exclusivity, elitism, and false doctrine, the Boston movement appeared to be solidly united--until 1985. By that time churches had begun disassociating from Boston's leadership over four major doctrinal issues: 1) the usurping of congregational authority; 2) the exercise of excessive control; 3) the undue authority given to leaders; 4) the teaching that one must obey one's discipler in all matters, even in matters of opinion. The split identifies a few of the serious problems of the teaching and conduct of the L.A. Church of Christ (LACC).
Discipleship & Control
Before leaving earth for heaven, Jesus gave his followers a commission to "make disciples" (Matt. 28:19). A disciple is one who learns from another, who attaches him or herself to a discipler and becomes a follower in doctrine and conduct of life, growing in Christ. Sometimes, however, discipleship is used as a means to exercise inappropriatecontrol over a person's life. This has been a consistent complaint made by former members of the LACC.
The LACC emphasizes authority and mandates submission to their hierarchy of disciplers. Leaders monitor living situations, dating relationships, tithes, attendance at activities, indeed, virtually every area of life. To maintain control, the discipler can even disclose information told in confidence.
The Bible never portrays totalitarian church leadership nor a hierarchy of discipling relationships that control the details of the disciple's life. Both discipleship and submission are healthy and biblical measures, but in the hands of the LACC that which was meant for good becomes abusive and destructive.
Baptism for Salvation
The Boston movement teaches that water baptism is required for both salvation and church membership. They believe one must be baptized by water before sins are forgiven. Though we disagree with this position, a number of credible denominations do teach it. That's why baptismal regeneration in itself is not our main concern. Rather, the serious problem is the Boston movement's teaching of "conscious baptism."
In the LACC, it's not enough to be baptized by water as the Bible commands. In order to be saved, one must be baptized by the true church (the LACC), as a true disciple (a member of the LACC), with a conscious understanding of the true doctrine on baptism (the LACC's particular position). If these conditions are not met, the baptism is not valid and you are still in your sins.
This explains why LACC evangelists are so zealous to evangelize even genuine Christians from other denominations. To their way of thinking, you're lost if you're not a member of their group regardless of your personal commitment to God and your relationship with Jesus Christ. The LACC has rebaptized those baptized in other Churches of Christ, and have even rebaptized their own elders baptized previously who lacked the necessary commitment at the time of their baptisms.
Further, if you leave the fold, regardless of the reason, you stand condemned. This is a standard practice of "our-group-only" sects who use the threat of divine retribution to keep their members in line.
The doctrine of baptism itself is not the real problem with the L.A. Church of Christ. One can hold to forms of baptismal regeneration (as do Lutherans and Roman Catholics, among others) and still be a Christian in good standing.
The most serious problems are false claims about the authority and false claims about salvation being mediated through their group, both which lead to unbiblical and abusive control of their disciples.
The LACC uses baptism as an entry point to a legalistic, militaristic discipleship program in which the leaders hold the keys to salvation, rejecting anyone who fails to meet their high standards.
The LACC offers a demanding discipleship program which might be acceptable if its goals were merely to produce an order of highly disciplined Christian workers. However, their extensive requirements apply to salvation as well. Eternal life is withheld from those who fail their rigid tests, and is reserved instead for the few elite who can maintain the rigorous requirements of their sect.
The LACC preaches salvation through Jesus Christ; but faith in Christ is not sufficient for salvation. Instead, salvation requires faith in Jesus &
Kip McKean's baptism
Kip McKean's church
Kip McKean's doctrine
Kip McKean's discipleship program
The LACC's principle problem is not its teaching on baptism per se, but its teaching on the nature of salvation and the nature of the church. The gospel of Kip McKean is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's a "different gospel" that Paul warned against in Gal. 1:8.
Hold your ground and don't be taken in by their well meaning yet seriously misguided attempts at winning you over to their sect.
Note: The Los Angeles International Church of Christ, the Manhattan Beach Church of Christ, and all others in various cities birthed out of the Boston movement are not to be confused with the denomination known as the Church of Christ. Though holding to baptismal regeneration, the Church of Christ denomination does not hold to any of the abusive and unbalanced views we've mentioned in connection with the Los Angeles International Church of Christ (LACC). Although we disagree with some of the doctrines of the Church of Christ, they do not have the cultic character of the Boston movement.
Bjornstad, James, "The Boston Church of Christ Movement." Christian Research Journal: Winter, 1993: 26-31.
First Principles. L.A. Church of Christ (Training Manual).
McKean, Kip. "Revolution through Restoration," Revolution. April, 1992.