Where's the Beef ?
In 1981, Kip McKean got a “vision for the world” the next year in 1982, the Boston Movement began planting pillar churches in key cities throughout the world, first in Chicago and London. Because of their strict discipling techniques and authoritative structure, they had grown globally to over 156 congregations with a total Sunday attendance of 90,000 as of 1994. By January, 1995, Sunday attendance world wide reached 100,000. By 1996, the attendance increased to 120,000 people with 242 churches in 90 nations. in 1997 have their attendance at 137,769 with 286 churches in 114 nations. Jan.1999 attendance is 172,409 with 350 churches in 150 countries. What is needed to be taken in consideration is their attendance figures are one third to almost double the amount in their membership. This Church growth is not what they represent their movement to the public and their members as "the fastest growing Church in the world." As of their last post1/7/98 they still use Dr. Vaugns1996 figures of 1995(newest statistics are taken during Dec. to Jan. which is known for attendance increases during the holiday season in all Churches) They had been using attendance records instead of membership (until recently).
New York city in 1995 was the second fastest growing church in the movement with approximately 7,000 in attendance on Sunday, which they claim makes it the largest church in New York city. In 1997 there was 7,438 this means only 500 members discipled one person in two years. This is hardly anything to boast of. Today 10,000 attend.
Boston has approximately 6,000 in attendance on Sunday in 1995 in 1997 6,284 today they have 6,409 again a small increase in attendance only (It is the largest church in New England). There is some discrepancy because on their site they also have listed its current membership as over 6,800. how can you have a membership greater then attendance?
Overall the U.S. churches are nominal, even stagnant in their growth.
On their web site they record these current statistics
As of 6/1/2000 they still use Church Growth Today produced by Dr. John Vaughan, 1996 list of North America's 100 Fastest Growing Churchesin 1995. the Los Angeles Church of Christ was named #1 for the second year in a row, and eight other International Churches of Christ were named in the top 100. This is misleading because this is now 2,000 and the new statistics for their churches is not close to these figures.
In 1996 the Los Angeles Church of Christ where Mckean presides over was recognized as the fastest growing church in the U.S. with approximately 9,000 in attendance. (Dr. Vaugns chart). In 1997 the L.A church has 10,542 an increase of only 1500 in two years. Currently in the year 2,000 they haveis 11,825, an increase of only 825 in attendance three years. Recently the numbers of their membership was released having an unimpressive 6,800 plus. Hardly phenomenal growth even from the leader.
Chicago went down from 4,434 in 1995 to 4,194 in 97 today 4,048. and number 21 on the list. How in the world does this church become a fast growing church when it goes down?
Number 44 on the list in 1995. In San Diego 1995 figures were 2,938 a small increase in attendance in 1997 to 3,350. Tin 1999 and 2,000 it is 3,437. This church could not make the growth list now when it barely rose in numbers.
These stats are interesting since he jumps from # 8 to the 21, 27 then 33, then 44 for Boston where he started it all. Overall they are not doing as well as others. If he would fill in the chart one just might see other non ICC churches growth rate as quite high.
The reason why Mckeans church is rated as such is because they gather everyone in the vicinity to its service the next church closest is San Francisco? If all the churches did this they too would have a tremendous growth rate as well.
San Francisco Church is- #45 Attendance is 3,604 .
In Jan.1999 their attendance was 172,409 with 350 churches in 150 countries. In May of 1999 their attendance was 196,235 with 358 churches. Now in 2,000 they are in 160 countries with 380 churches and an attendance of 199,729. What needs to be taken in consideration is that their attendance figures, are usually one third to half the amount of their membership.
But this is significant- In 2,000 their attendance was 199,729 in 160 countries with 380 churches. In Jan. 2001 they have 407 churches in 170 countries. In the year 2,000 they had 123,648 members worldwide, in Jan.2001 it is 126,894 increasing only 3,200 in members with 27 more Churches and they decreased in attendance to 188,217, that is 11,000 less than the year before. So they are not growing phenomenally.
Up until recently they were releasing attendance records only, instead of membership records to hide the decline of their growth. Maybe too many people had asked questions so they had to release their membership records, something they had not done in years. They now have 126,894 members world wide (according to their recent statistics). Maybe when they reach 144,000 we will hear something new. Clearly they arenot "fastest growing Church in the world" as they represent their movement to the public and their members. They still use Dr. Vaugn's figures from his1995 chart on church growth as a monument. Clearly their attendance numbers are not impressive compared to other denominations. Considering 20 years of church growth that is an average of about 6,000 members per year, realistically they probably doubled in 10 years since 1990.
There are many other denominations that have great growth in a short period having 10,000 to 17,000 members. Its not a big deal unless you make it one.
Their goal is to evangelize the entire world in one generation. With this vision, they changed their name to The International Churches of Christ with a goal to bring their church to all the cities of the world. However its to all the bigger cities. By the year 2000, a church in every nation with a city of over one hundred thousand" (Phenomenon 3/97) So if you live in a city with a population less than one hundred thousand your not going to be blessed with gods only true church movement moving to your city. Big cities are targeted because thats where they can bring in the numbers, its easier, it also helps validate their movement, little cities dont seem to count. True missionaries go into places where there are very few people in obscure areas, and they certainly dont keep track of their numbers converted.
Throughout the world this still is a fast growing church movement. However it is not as phenomenal as they would like you to think, because few stay. Instead of stating how many they have attending services (non- members included) they should also include those who are leaving, they just may be the fastest emptying of churches instead. Their growth rate actually becomes replacements for those who have left, often broken and hurt. If only they could keep the people but only a few have the stamina for being part of the army of Kip Mckean's super disciples. Instead they have left the wounded lying on the ground in every country on their way to fulfilling McKean's dream of the year 2,000. Which we now see has not happened. So what do they do they change this former statement that they held for years to "Our short term goal is to plant a church in every nation with a city of at least 100,000 people by the year 2000. Then in the next few years following 2000, churches will continue to be planted in the remaining smaller nations." (ICC website)
Articles are taken from the spiral bound book International Church of Christ Birth of a Cult. (click> on books)