What I Learned at the ICMC; What You Should Learn Too Featured

Monday, 21 July 2014 13:51

Editor's Note:  Kerry Cox is the Campus Minister for The Crossings Church in the St. Louis area and is a board member of Campus Ministry United. This article is republished with his permission from his website College Ministry: Making Students His Students.

2014 ICMC LogoI recently attended the International Campus Ministry Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. The ICMC is run by the International Churches of Christ (ie not Kip’s group.) Many of you have never heard of this conference, therefore this post may be of less value to you. However, others know this group quite well and may consider abandoning ship now. It is my hope that you will read on with an open heart and mind. The ICOC has admitted major failures and weaknesses in their past. They realize things have been said and done that were wrong and they have since apologized. Let me remind you that these are our brothers in Christ who have confessed wrongdoing and asked for forgiveness for their mistakes (Matthew 6:15). I hope that as you read this article you will see that these actions were not mere words but godly sorrow followed by genuine repentance (2 Corinthians 7:8-11).

As I child I remember hearing so much about this “movement” and I was not quite sure what to expect going into the ICMC. I knew I would hear the word disciple often, but to be honest, that bothers me little since it is used nearly 250 times in the New Testament. I also knew that there would be a strong focus on evangelism, accountability, and zeal. Again, I took no issue due to the fact that these are very biblical terms, concepts, and practices.As I walked around I was excited to see approximately 3,000 students and campus ministers; there was a brotherly spirit and passionate buzz in the air that was very contagious. I found myself smiling with childlike anticipation as to what they were so excited about. What I came to realize is that they were excited about the very things I love about campus ministry: God’s ability and desire to reach into the lives of every college student in the world.There were three things that struck me about this conference:

  1. The honesty and vulnerability from each and every speaker. From even the ICOC’s admissions of the past I expected to hear much more about the successes and exploits of the ICOC. I found myself expecting to run into an arrogance and elitism that I simply never encountered. The ministers who spoke talked very openly about their struggles, weaknesses, and sin. They spoke of mistakes they had made, how they learned from those times and hoped to do better in the future. The speakers reminded me that leaders must never forget that we are just forgiven sinners who mess up daily…just like everyone else.

  2. The focus on relationships also surprised me. Based upon confessions from many in the earlier days of the ICOC, too much emphasis was placed upon stats and numbers. Each class talked about the importance or relationship with God, his people, and those we are trying to reach with the Gospel. People were not being viewed as an assignment or a number in these lessons, they seemed to be viewed as Jesus viewed them, helpless and harrassed. I was encouraged by the amount of passionate conviction there was to make sure that people were not prizes to be won but souls that needed to be saved by God.

  3. The warmth and general acceptance of having “outsiders” was also incredible. Nearly every person we spoke with shared with us how glad they were that we were in attendance. The men we talked with were grateful that bridges were being built and were interested in how they could build more. Many of them apologized for the past while being excited about the possibilities of working together to further the Kingdom in the future.

I understand that some of you may still be very skeptical of this group. I get the fact that there is a history that many struggle to let go of. That being said, I will tell you that I wholeheartedly believe they were successful in making disciples not because of their abuses, but rather in spite of them. I also believe that they had more good in their hearts than bad in their actions. Who am I, and who are you, to withhold the hand of fellowship to brothers who have repented and asked for it? Not only do we need to forgive and move forward, we need to learn! There is so much we can learn from our brothers and sisters.I will not begrudgingly open my arms to these brothers. I will accept them as Christ has accepted me. I will not be afraid to confront issues or problems I see, if and as they may come. I must also be willing to allow them to confront issues and problems they see in me and my ministry as well. If we all let our hurts and former mistrusts go and love and forgive one another I believe God will do amazing things!

Kerry Cox
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See more: Has a New Era Begun in the ICOC? | 2012 WDS: A Defining Moment for the International Churches of Christ | ICMC Videos and More on DTV

Read 6272 times Last modified on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 16:31