Monday, September 08, 2008

A conversation with a former Boston movement member

Yesterday, we had lunch with a family from High Pointe who was converted to Christ by members in the Boston Movement. The Boston Movement, now called the International Churches of Christ was a discipleship movement in churches of Christ that arose twenty years ago or so. In its best moments, it challenged Christians to a devoted life to Christ and a commitment to evangelism. At its worst moments, it was controlling, highly manipulative, and cultlike. My friend at lunch said that we ought to keep the former, and avoid the latter.

Most every moment like this starts because something is missing in the church. While the Boston movement may have gone astray, it was seeking to correct a real problem in the church--complacency and a luke warm faith. Discipleship should not be controlling and hierarchical--it should be mutual and relational. However, many Christians have no people in their lives with whom they seek to grow in their faith, and most Christians are not seeking to share their faith. The result is a shallow Christian experience that reaches no one. This must change, both for our sake and the world's.

Have you had any experience with the Boston movement?


Anonymous said...

I went to school with one of the founding members of the Boston Movement. He was very intelligent, and extremely focused. This was in the early 1970's.

Anonymous said...

I spent over 20 years as an ICOC member (i.e. "Boston movement") and am now a member of a local Church of Christ. I would still be in the ICOC had it not disintegrated in our city in 2005.

Your characterization of the ICOC, as I knew it, is dead on - fantastic level of committment, amazingly evangelistic, but controlling and manipulative. Today's ICOC has changed in many ways and still has many things to change, but is a far cry from what it used to be.

What did the ICOC do for me? The disciples studied the Bible with me so that I could become a Christian. By God's grace I then helped baptize scores of others (some of which were individuals I had personally met and baptized, while others were met by friends of mine). I was never in the full-time ministry and never desired to be. I had a full-time job, family responsibilites, marriage, etc. I met and married my wife of 23 years through the Church. We adopted our daughter from China through the ICOC's adoption agency. I could go on and on about the positives.

In terms of the negatives, I know I was hurt in some ways spiritually, and in turn hurt others in those ways. In a sense I'm still recovering from some of the wounds, primarily doing things out of a heart for God rather than for any other reason. If I had it all to do over again, would I do it? In a heartbeat!!! -though as James' friend said, I would keep the ICOC's strenghs and discard the weaknesses.

For those interested in the history of the ICOC (including warts and repentance), there is a great book by Thomas Jones entitled "In Search of a City". I just finished reading it and it is spot on about the negatives and positives. It also describes some of the efforts to reconnect with our Church of Christ heritage.

Just my 2 cents.


James said...


Thank you for sharing your experience. It is interesting that you would go through the experience again. In sounds like in your mind, your coming to faith was worth the rest. As Paul said, Christ is often preached for wrong reasons, but thank God he is preached.

Anonymous said...


Coming to Christ was definitely worth it all. That same rationale can be used for my marriage and my kids. They've all been challenging at times (and I have returned the favor, unfortunately), but would I marry the same woman and have the same kids again! In a heartbeat because they are SO worth it....

I believe I am on the journey that God would have me experience - difficult times and all. Though at times I wish his will for me was different, I can't and won't argue with his plan for me. I'm excited about the future and what God still has in store for me!