May 28, 2014 10 Signs Of An Abusive Church

Would you believe that Kip McKean's International Christian Churches meet ALL TEN qualifications for an abusive church?

Crosswalk: 10 Signs of an Abusive Church >>

Every single sign applies to the ICC. However, I'd like to slightly reword "Unrealistic Promises" to make the concept more specific to the "Kipdom."

In the ICC, only leaders are guaranteed material comfort, with the guarantees increasing with the level of leadership. All "rank-and-file" members are expected to give, and give, and give, until it hurts. And then give some more.

Rank-and-file members are, however, promised that being "faithful to God" (which in practice is synonymous with doing whatever the ICC leadership requests or demands) means that God will bless them in unrealistic, magical ways. For example, "faithful disciples" are basically guaranteed a great spouse, "awesome" marriage, and abundant spiritual blessings from God. ICC leadership constantly preaches the message of how people's lives were terrible before finding "God" (again, saying "God" but meaning "the ICC") and how much their sad, empty, terrible lives were transformed because as a consequence of joining the church and doing whatever ICC leaders asked of them.

What do you think? Is the ICC an abusive church?

Someone on Facebook (a current ICC member) suggested that some of the abusive characteristics mentioned in the above-linked article are acceptable, since they are based on passages from the Bible. My response to that is 1. that's great that you are able to recognize that your church is exhibiting a majority of the abusive characteristics listed and 2. please remember that you can pretty much support anything you want with passages from the Bible, including murder and slavery, so that argument doesn't hold much water with me.



  1. Thank you for writing so candidly about your experience in the ICC. Much if not all that you share are significant issues that have been a cause of concern for parents, family members, and friends of those ensnared by Kip McKean's doctrine. This website along with a few others has been a great source of information regarding the inner-workings of the church and the type of people who lead it.

    1. Thanks for commenting! Please share any links of other sites that you have also found helpful. Thanks again.

  2. I I was a member of ICC till 2012 and I agree 100% they represent all the points in the article and that's why I left....

    1. Thanks for your comment and congratulations that you were able to get out. And don't give up on your friends who are still donating their time and money to this man and his followers!

  3. 10 Things Concerned Parents Should Know About Kip McKean and the ICC:

    10. Two-thirds of the ICC is made up of college students between the ages of 18 and 22. Most drop out of college because they are unable to manage both school and the rigorous church schedule that each member is required to adhere to: church on Sunday, midweek service on Wednesday, bible talk on Friday, discipiling (D-times) meetings, evangelism or "sharing" several hours a day, bible studies with new recruits, "serving" paid staff leaders by house cleaning, baby sitting, running errands for them, etc. Failure to meet these demands are met with brow beating sessions where students are made to feel that they have a bad heart and are selfish by not putting the church first and as a result risk going to hell.

    9. All three of Kip McKean's kids went to private school, graduated from Ivy-League colleges, and went to graduate school. Kip's children left the organization and want nothing to do with the church. Side Note: during her college years, Kip's eldest child suffered from bouts of depression and thoughts of suicide due to the scrutiny and intense pressure to preform which are hallmarks of Kip's leadership and church culture. Since many within the ICC (including top leaders), as well as ex-members have shared that they too have experienced these emotions as a result of their affiliation with the church, Kip felt compelled to write an article on the topic of Acedia, The Forgotten Sin to deflect his responsibility in cultivating an environment where depression is common because members never feel like they are able to do enough or measure up to Kip's standard.

    8. The organization's internal college, ICCM, is not accredited. Several students have dropped out of legitimate universities to enroll in the ICCM.

  4. 7. Many of the ICC's top leadership (World Sector Leaders) is comprised of men who have been married multiple times, fathered children outside of marriage, and spent time in jail for fraud. A one time WSL committed adultery twice with prostitutes. When questioned about the lack of credibility and experience of the men and women he has appointed to oversee churches and world sectors , Kip's response is "The church just doesn't have the talent..."

    6. Members are required to "tag" (stand on street corners or busy intersections begging for money) to raise funds for Special Missions and countless retreats, conferences, workshops, etc. hosted by the church. It's not unusual for college students to use their financial aid money to make their Special Missions requirement. The pressure to fund these projects are often so great that the son of a high ranking shepherding couple was arrested for stealing watches from a department store to make his special missions contribution.

    5. The church often preaches that if one is not regularly "fruitful" (personally meeting, studying the bible, and baptizing someone) they will be cut off from Jesus and thrown into hell. Yet, no one can remember the last time Kip's wife, Elena McKean, was personally fruitful nor any of her direct disciples. Apparently, John 15:5-8 doesn't apply to them.

    4. The church systematically infantilizes its members by requiring that members get permission (ie. "advice") from church leaders about everything in their lives-where to live, where to work, where to go to school, who to date, whom to marry, whether or not they can go on vacation. Students in particular are discouraged from going home during school break to visit family.

  5. 3. Excluding college students, the remainder of the church is made up of the "working poor". Individuals and families that can barely make ends meet yet are guilted into sacrificing all they have to the church with the promise that God will take care of them. Yet, the only people God seems to be "taking care of" is those in upper leadership.

    2. The church does not baptize foreigners unless they agree to return to their country of origin with the sole purpose to expand the ICC.

  6. 1. Kip believes that he is a "modern day apostle", "God's right hand man", and a "high priest." He often uses Deuteronomy 17:12-13 to instill fear and compliance in those that are "arrogant" enough to question his decisions and actions:

    "The person who acts arrogantly, refusing to listen either to the priest who stands there serving the Lord your God or to the judge, MUST DIE. You must purge the evil from Israel. 13 Then all the people will hear about it, be afraid, and no longer behave arrogantly."

    1. Anonymous, thank you for your excellent comments. I have, in fact, taken the liberty to group them together and turn them into their own post, which you can view here:

  7. I am outraged that the ICC leadership is calling OUR CHILDREN to quit school in order to expand Kip's religious franchise. In the church's 10-19-14 propaganda news letter, Joe Willis the leader of ICC Sydney, writes "I personally want to call all disciples from China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan to contact me in the next month at give up their university plans or go against their parents' wishes."

    So our kids are EXPECTED to sacrifice their education to advance Kip's church yet NOT ONE of his kids were expected to give up their education. All three of his kids attended the most expensive preparatory school in Los Angeles and then onto Harvard and Stanford. Guess who funded this stellar education?!? The church! A church comprised mostly of single moms, poor families, and struggling college students. SHAME ON KIP MCKEAN!!! It's time that the ICC upper leadership start walking the walk they expect the rest of our children to walk.

    World Sector Leaders, Matt and Helen Sullivan's, eldest daughter should be "called" to stop her studies at USC in order to advance Kip's kingdom. She is fluent in Spanish. Send her back to Chile, Mexico, or any other Latin American country to help further McKean's corporation.

    I am pleading with parents, family members, and friends to LOVE your/our children enough to do what ever it takes to get them out of the ICC. For 30+ years, Kip has exploited (and also gotten rich) the vulnerability of pure hearted, idealistic, and sacrificial young men and women.

    The ICC AGGRESSIVELY targets and goes after college students. Why? Because they are the most vulnerable and trusting. In fact, Kip laid out a mandate at this year's ICC Leadership Conference to refocus the church's recruiting efforts on college students. If your son or daughter is involved in the ICC or is in the process of being recruited by them, please contact the college and report your concern. Many of the universities have banned Kip's group from their campuses due to the havoc they have caused in the lives of students.

    1. Thanks for your comment! I got wrapped up in Kip's "movement" as a freshman in college, trusting of everyone and fresh out of a small town. 15 years later I finally wised up and got out, but not before wasting 15 years of the prime of my life, shortchanging my education, alienating all of my old friends, and blowing through $40,000 of my own money (including several thousand in school loans that the church was just so happy to receive.) I sure wish there was someone there who could have helped me avoid all of that. I'm still trying to pick up the pieces in my new, post-cult life.

    2. How can I save my merrage my husband is doing the same give them everything he has I am going to file divorce I love him but I am tired I don't have husband and my kids they don't have father

  8. The ICC is notorious for utilizing their propoganda driven newsletter, The Good News E-Mail, to give the impression that they are experiencing incredible growth with phrases like, "the Lord has blessed us with 493 additions: 356 baptisms, 50 restorations and 87 place memberships..." The reality is that nearly half of those that join the ICC leave soon after. Many of the ICC churches have not had net growth for several years despite the number of reported baptisms, restorations and membship placements.

    Kip claims that his ICC "Evangelists and Women’s Ministry Leaders are the best trained ministers in all of Christendom" and the "true mark of maturity is multiplying disciples..." Many of those that Kip has tapped as leaders are not only chronologically young (20-23 years old) but are also relatively young in their faith (2-3 years old). This not only contradicts what the bible teaches and warns against, but the unhealthy focus on numerical growth and the practice of placing the young in a position of authority is what significantly contributed to the abuse of power that plagued Kip's ministry during his ICOC days.

    There are two camps in the ICC. The remanant (those disciples who were a part of the ICOC at the height of Kip's leadership 1980-2000) and the young disciples (most of whom were born in the late 80's-early 90's) who make up the majority of the current ICC membership. Although Kip seeks to actively recruit these "remnant" disciples out of his former church (International Churches of Christ or ICOC) when these disciples do join the ICC they are often labeled bitter, selfish, lukewarm, not "sold-out" when they realize and share their concerns that the ICC is no different than what the ICOC was when Kip was leading it. Consequently, several of these remnant disciples have been disfellowshipped and labeled "contemptuous" for voicing their concerns.

  9. Kip has a bad habit of hijacking words and assigning his own definition to them. For example, in the recent edition of the Good News E-Mail dated 01-28-15 Kip specifically writes, "Maturity means multiplying disciples..." let's think about this for a moment. Basically this means a baby christian who converts 10 of his/her close friends ("multiplying disciples") is by Kip's account spiritually mature whereas a christian who has been faithful for years, perservered through trials and hardships, has a deep understanding of God's Word, possess fruits of the Spirit, serves and sacrifices for the body of christ and yet only converts one person is not spiritually mature. In Kip's church (the ICC), a Christian's value is measured by the number of converts he/she makes. Yep, that's Godly!

    It's this type of flawed reasoning that Kip has used for 30+ years to justify many of his beliefs, decisions and practices that have had a devastating effect on people's faith (ie. placing young, ill equiped, inexperienced converts in positions of church authority).

    It would be beneficial for the new generation of ICC members and/or those thinking about joining the ICC including the so called "remnant" to read/reread Henry Kriete's letter, "Honest to God", that outlines the unhealthy church culture perpetuated by Kip's style of leadership during his ICOC days. Not surprisingly, this same type of environment is being cultiviated in the ICC.

    Below is a link to Kriete's letter:

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

  10. Every point in Henry Kriete's letter was met with an emphatic, "YES!!! This is exactly what's going on in the ICC just with a new generation of leaders and disciples."

    1. YES to "Our Obesssion With Numbers"-Kriete writes, "Many of our leaders have become so obsessive about 'the numbers' it has retarded them spiritually, made them neurotic, or even idolatrous...We have consistently judged the 'sharp' or prominent of greater worth than the poor or less talented - because of what they can accomplish 'for the church'...We are constantly bragging about our 'fruit' and our 'numbers' and our 'impact' and then, reflexively declare, 'And to God be the glory!'"

    This is obvious to anyone who reads the Good News E-mail, listen and/or been in ICC staff meetings, or by simply read Mike Patterson's (the Gainesville ICC Leader) Facebook posts. 'Sharp' has been replaced with 'opinion leader' to describe recruits and/or members Kip considers of great value. Value in the ICC is measured by how many people you can get to join the church.

    2. Yes to "Our Corrupted Hierarchy"-Kriete writes, "We have had a 'founder', complete with personal and 'kingdom-wide' authority that we were expected to respect and follow. We have had World Sector Leaders and Geographic Sector Leaders - to consolidate the grip of power...We teach 'one church, one city', not always in the pure interest of unity, but as a means of tightening control...We have routinely humiliated and marginalized those members who speak out as 'critical' and 'disloyal...We have also exerted 'influence' or suppressed suspicions by the use of 'spin', non-transparency, and double standards...We have seen almost all criticism of the movement to be sinful. We accuse people of having bad hearts or bad attitudes or independent spirits, when very often, they have every right to feel as they do."

    In the ICC Kip is the central figure/leader of God's Kingdom, under him are the World Sector Leaders, and just to make sure there is absolutely no room for dissenters Kip created a second group of overseers known as the Crown of Thorns Council whose primary roll (according to Kip) is to "promote a greater unity" which is actually 'code' for ensuring absolute compliance and obedience to the ICC system. Think gestapo.

    'Critical' and 'disloyal' have been replaced with 'contemptous' and 'bitter' to describe and discredit those that disagree and/or challenge ICC doctrine and practices. Not surprisingly, members that have been vocal with their concerns have been marked and disfellowshipped.

  11. 3. YES to "On Discipling"-Kriete writes, "We have assumed, wrongly, that the sheep are stupid. We have trained them to depend on men, on us in fact, and not on Christ. 'Did you get advice' for the most part means 'Did you get permission.' Yes of course, they are vulnerable and open to attack, but they are not stupid...We have not trusted disciples to live by their own convictions and decisions (and mistakes), and have fostered in them an unhealthy dependence, rather than freedom to grow and mature. Many of our discipling guidelines are nothing more than 'rules taught by men', condemned by Jesus as burdensome and legalistic."

    ICC members cannot do anything without getting 'advice' from leaders first. One such example is a member who sought out "advice" about wearing swimsuits from one of the women's ministry leader in the Los Angeles ICC . Although the WML stated that wearing swimsuits is a matter of opinion she emphasized that "disciples SHOULD support their leaders in all matters of opinion since the bible clearly states to obey your leaders." Talk about spirtual manipulation!!!

  12. WOW!!! Kriete's letter is SPOT ON especially in the area of discipling and matters of opinion. Blown away by the following:

    "...our discipleship hierarchy with all its 'little leaders' has caused more damage, heartache, and criticism than any other thing. Among the tens of thousands of untrained and 'unspiritual' disciples, advice has become permission, opinions have become orders, and the dignity and 'right' of our God given freedom has been denied...Much of the advice that has been give over the years, some of it horrific, is merely a reflection of the selfish goals or 'higher agendas' of those 'over' them in the Lord. Or the belief that Christians are generally incapable or incompetent of pleasing God without another mans interference. No matter how much we spin it or try to deny it, this is what the vast majority of our Christians believe and practice, because that is what they perceive to be reality." -Henry Kriete, "Honest to God"

  13. Henry's letter is as relevant to the ICC, today, as it was to the ICOC when Kip was leading it. As stated in an earlier comment, the only thing that has changed is that the ICC is operating with a new generation of leaders and followers. Many of whom were either still in diapers or not even born when Kip was king of the ICOC.

  14. My son joined this 'church' last year. We didn't have much concern at first and failed to do our research. Then a couple weeks ago while visiting him we attended a serviceThe sermon was pure: PRAY, PAY, and OBEY. The pastor was singularly unimpressive, he used random quotes to support his statement of the 'basics' (pray pay and obey), yet even I spotted the glaring theological errors he made. He was clearly had no meaningful theological education and simply used the Bible like tool for his own (or more likely Kip McKean's) own ends. An example, and this would be laughable were it not so serious, he likened the old testament reference to certain spices in the tithe as indicating that you even need to count your spices when calculating your tithe. I guess he was so ignorant that he was unaware that in those days spices were a form of currency, not that you had to tithe everything down to your home spices! Then they use another set of quotes to infer that the pastor is your representative to God and thus you must OBEY (obeying your pastor is equilibrated with obeying God). This has been the source of abuse in the Catholic church for centuries and was eliminated in the Reformation. Simply put, they twist versus to support their desired behavior and the audience lacks the religious education to challenge the statements. My guess is any dissent is quickly exterminated. In these action and the harm they cause this church moves into the realm of being outright evil. .

    My challenge now is how to get my son to 'wake up' to the reality of what this group really is.

  15. Dear Concerned Mom-

    This is typical of ICC leadership especially of those who are tasked with actually leading a church. Most are relatively new converts, spiritually immature, grossly inexperienced due to their age (under 22-23 years old) and only possess a rudimentary understanding of bible principles. Much of what is preached is regurgitated McKeanism. There are a couple things you should be warned about:

    1. The church believes they are the only ones saved. They claim they don't teach this but their First Principals study series is built on this foundational belief.

    2. Members are indoctrinated to believe that the "spiritual family" is more important than physical family. This is how the ICC isolates members from healthy support systems so members become totally dependent upon the church. Kip coined the ICC mantra and battle cry, "Family til the End..." which should be a RED FLAG for parents and concerned loved ones.

    3. The church teaches that nothing (school, job, etc.) is more important than spreading McKean's brand of Christianity. Most of the ICC members who were converted as college students never graduate.

    4. The three most important things to the church are MEMBERSHIP, MONEY, and OBEDIENCE to leadership. I think the sermon you heard was actually titled, "PREY (not Pray), Pay and Obey"

    5. Most people eventually do leave the ICC but sadly, they often leave with their faith decimated.

    Good Luck!

  16. 6. Be VERY WORRIED if your son tells you that he wants to drop out of his accredited university to attend the church's unaccredited college, the ICCM. You can learn more about it at

  17. I would look look to see if feelings of security/insecurity, significance//insignificance, and worthiness/guilt are based on submitting to leaders. True Christian teaching always points to God as the ultimate source to satisfy these emotional needs.

  18. My husband goes to the church I don't know what to do he doesn't care divorce he gives them a lot money a lot more tha what he give to me his bonus he spend to much time with them he cares a lot about his soul going to haven I don't know what to do I need help I need to open his eyes before to late are 11 year marriage it's going to end I am going to file divorce we have 3 kids he said God its first than anything wha can I do to open his eyes

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  20. Really? Thanks for the information. I wanna build our own church on our land. We apparently will need help of a church mortgage in USA source.