ICOC InconsistenciesJul 31st, 2010 | By admin | Category: Compensation, Contribution, Finances, Hope Worldwide World Sector, Incompetence, Salary, Special Missions Contribution
ICOC Practices That Are Inconsistent With
Stated Goals and Policies
- The founding of HOPE worldwide, LTD. In a movement that stressed personal accountability, personal evangelism, personal purity, personal dedication, personal loyalty, personal relationships, etc., it is rather odd that the answer to benevolence would be to start a corporation. Why weren’t the members taught to take care of each other’s needs and to look after their neighbors? Why were they taught instead that they were to “volunteer” for HOPE as their act of benevolence? Why were they forced to raise money for HOPE and to participate in the local and highly-publicized events sponsored by HOPE? Why was supporting a corporation considered more important than practicing daily, personal benevolence? Who would benefit from this?
- “Contribution for the Poor”. When they did collect local money for the local poor, why was so much of it sent off to HOPE, rather than being given to meet local needs? Who would benefit from this practice?
- Embarrassingly low levels of local benevolence. One would think that a church dedicated to “restoring New Testament Christianity” would be excellent at taking care of the financial overloads of its own members. Yet stories abound in which single mothers in needy situations were refused benevolence by their own ICC congregations. Especially when there was a weekly contribution advertised as “contribution for the poor”, one would think that the ICC was routinely taking care of the needs of the poor. So why wasn’t this happening? Who would benefit from this neglect?
- Special Missions Contributions in Third World countries. When the First World countries were collecting “Special Missions Contributions” (supposedly) for the purpose of funding church plantings in poverty-stricken Third World countries, why was it necessary for those impoverished Third World churches to collect their own SMC? And to whom would these Third World SMC funds be sent–to the Fourth World churches? Or did they just stay at home to support Third World congregations who were not really getting much from the SMC of the US churches? Or did they return to ICOC, Inc. as a management fee? Who would benefit from this money?
- Secrecy in the finances. The ICC started with boasts of financial transparency and freedom from financial scandal. Why, then, did the promises that the “books are open” fade away in the middle 90s? And why have many members and former members been denied access to the books since then? Who would benefit from this secrecy? In fact, why did they ever boast about their financial integrity at all, unless it was to hide something? The traditional churches of Christ, from which the ICC grew, are neither known for boasting about their financial righteousness, nor for fostering financial corruption. So the ICC did not learn these habits from their CoC brothers. Again, who would benefit from the boasting? And who would benefit from the secrecy?
- High level of compensation for key personnel. In a “movement” that placed so much stress on “evangelizing the world in one generation”, why would they pay their key personnel so richly when they could have hired two to three times as many dedicated workers at a more modest (but sufficient) compensation level? Couldn’t they have spread two to three times as much by now if they had done this? Who benefited from this salary model?
- Incompetent persons in the ministry. Why were there so many reports of incompetent individuals in the ministry? Why so many leaders who are not good teachers or speakers? Why so many stories of gifted Bible students being passed over for leadership roles in favor of obviously ungifted ones who would tow the party line? Who would benefit from this practice?
- Ministry Interns paid very little. Why were most ministry Interns paid so little while the “Evangelists” were paid so much? Weren’t they doing the same amount of work (if not more)? Is this practice related to the Gammon & Grange Salary Model letter that boasted that ICOC’s average ministry salary was lower than the national average? Indeed, if the “Evangelists” were paid so much more than the national average, they had to have some way to make their overall ministry compensation plan look appropriate. Again, who would have benefited from paying these interns less than most people need to survive?
- Leaders generally “unfruitful”. In a church whose priority was multiplication of membership, why are the paid leaders not known for being regularly fruitful in their “personal evangelism”? When people who are paid to spend all week encouraging the members and studying the Bible with potential converts are no more “fruitful” than the average member, there is a problem. What do these people do all week, and why has no ICOC congregation posted its job description for the role of “evangelist”? Who would benefit from the church getting such a poor return from its salary investments?
- Leaders living in affluent areas. Why is it considered necessary that the lead evangelist in an ICC church live in an affluent community at the church’s expense? We were told that it was so that they could “reach out to the sharp people” who lived there. (Because “sharp” people were said to make the best leaders.)But where are the “sharp” converts that have come from this practice? Any why does the church continue to make such investments when there is such a small return from them? Who would benefit from this practice?
- Neglecting to teach sound financial practices to members. In a church that bragged about excellence in managing its money, why was it so reluctant to teach its members to exercise sound financial practices in their own personal lives? Stories abound of individuals who were given poor financial and career advice, and who now complain of being years behind in their careers as a result. Would it not have been to the advantage of the church to have all its members becoming financially healthy? Would they not have earned more money to contribute to the church? Couldn’t the church have grown faster as a result? Or would the financial education of the members have been a threat to the church in some way? Who would have benefited from the members remaining naïve about sound financial practices?
- The frenzy of the annual Special Missions Contribution. Why engage in the annual financial chaos of having each member come up with a special contribution that is from 15 to 28 times his normal weekly contribution? Wouldn’t it have been less stressful, more efficient, and more responsible for each member to be setting aside money throughout the entire year? And why wasn’t missions support simply included in the regular weekly contributions? Who would benefit from having a “special” contribution, as opposed to having missions money collected weekly? And who would benefit from the annual chaos and strife caused by this SMC practice?
- Staff members giving to SMC. If the ICC staff members were paid on a “needs-based” salary model, why, then, were they expected to give any contribution at all? Indeed, if they were paid only according to their needs, then how were they able to give to these contributions? Why should the church pay tax on salary money that’s just going to end up back in the plate? And what was the benefit of having the leaders “make sacrifices” by giving to these contributions, unless it was considered “seed money” to inspire the congregants to do the same? (Note: there was no known accountability for whether a ministry leader actually contributed or not, though there was frequent reference made from the pulpit about the high level of financial sacrifice practiced by those in leadership.) Who would benefit from this?
- Refusal to plant churches in small towns. If the goal is to spread the gospel to the entire world in one generation, why were there never any small towns in the growth plan of the ICC? Why purposely neglect the millions and millions who do not live in the larger cities? Isn’t this naturally against their stated goals? Or does it have anything to do with the fact that small town churches would not generate the amount of revenue necessary to run the ICC machine in those towns? Who would benefit from keeping the ICC churches out of the small towns?
- Failure to train many leaders. If the goal was to evangelize the world in one generation, why select a church structure that kept the attention of large congregations centered on just a few leaders? Why not adopt a model in which smaller groups of members are put under the leadership of a broader number of leaders, so as to give the practical training necessary to bring a multitude of leaders to maturity? Who would benefit from keeping the number of leaders limited?
- Boasting about the accomplishments of HOPE worldwide. Although Jesus taught not to boast about one’s charitable deeds (Matthew 6:1-4), boasting about HOPE’s wonderful achievements was common. Why is this? How was it to the spiritual benefit of the church and its members that they were subjected to constant propaganda about the great value of HOPE? Why were they constantly reminded of how HOPE is more righteous than other “worldly” charities? Who benefited from the constant hype over HOPE?
- Leaders’ knowledge of the contributions of members. Jesus said about giving, “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing”. Yet ICC policy was that the leaders would know how much each member was contributing each week. And not only that, but the leaders were encouraged to intervene swiftly if there were irregularities in an individual’s giving. Why is this? Who benefited from breaking Jesus’ command?
- Special Missions Contributions remaining in local bank account. If there was really such urgency each year for getting funds to the mission fields in order to save the lost world, why was it common practice to leave a local church’s SMC funds in its own bank for a number of months before forwarding it to the appropriate World Sector or to ICOC, Inc.? Who would have benefited from this practice?
- World Sector Corporations. If the SMC monies raised in the local congregations were to go to the designated mission fields, what was the purpose of the ICC having the World Sector corporations as its subsidiaries? Who would have benefited from having these “middle man” corporations? And why were ICC members told that the WS corporations were not accountable to the members and did not have to show them where their money went?
- Separation between contributors and missionaries. Why didn’t local church members travel with the money to be given to missionaries in the field as was done when monies were collected for distant congregations in Acts? Why not build the bonds between the supporting congregation and the benefiting congregation? Why not send a report back from the mission field as to how the monies were spent and what good came from it? Even if the monies from multiple congregations were pooled and several new churches were supported from that pool, why did the contributing churches never receive detailed reports about the financial status of the new churches? Who would have benefited from keeping the contributors in the dark as to the actual use to which their donations were being dedicated?
- HOPE/ICC Relationship. How can HOPE be not a “church”, when it was founded as a “separate arm of the church”? How can it be a distinct corporation from ICC and its subsidiaries when Bob and Pat Gempel (the heads of HOPE) were appointed “World Sector Leaders over HOPE” by Kip McKean? HOPE was never separated into “World Sectors”, but ICC was. So how is it that HOPE can be a “World Sector” of the church, but not be a “church” itself? All the other World Sectors were considered “churches” by the IRS and even by ICC’s Administrative Policies 2001! Yet HOPE “volunteers” were constantly forbidden even to mention the ICC while at any HOPE function, and were told that HOPE could get in trouble if it were seen as being connected to the church. Who would have benefited from this duplicitous relationship of the two entities? (If HOPE were registered as a “church”, it would be ineligible for the millions of dollars it has received in government and corporate grants and donations.)
All of these inconsistencies with stated ICC policy are completely explained if one views the ICC as an organization whose primary purpose is to make money for the inurement of its leaders.