By Lewis Willis
The “movement” to which I refer has had several identifications: Crossroads Movement; Boston-Crossroads Movement; Multiplying Ministry; The Discipling Movement. Possibly by now it has gotten another identification. The Movement had its origin in the mid- I 970s at the Crossroads Church of Christ in Gainesville, Florida under the leadership of their local, dynamic preacher, Chuck Lucas. It would subsequently spread its influence throughout the country and the world.
From the very outset the Gainesville Church was associated with the liberal, institutional, apostate churches. Thus, most of its influence was felt among those liberal churches. It never did affect, to any significant degree, faithful churches of Christ. However, considerable teaching was done on the subject and this probably accounts for its minimal effect on us. When good people know an idea is false, they are able to guard themselves against it.
“Under the leadership of Chuck Lucas, the Crossroads Church of Christ achieved rapid growth through its campus ministry at the University of Florida. They began training people for similar ministries elsewhere. Soon other churches of Christ wanted campus ministers who had been trained at Crossroads” (The Discipling Dilemma, Flavil R. Yeakley, Jr., p. 5). In 1985 Lucas did something that resulted in him resigning his ministry and leaving the Crossroads Church, along with his leadership of the Movement. Lucas was replaced, rather unofficially, by a young man he had trained named Kip McKean, who was working with the Boston Church of Christ at the time.
Boston quickly exerted great influence on the Movement and expanded its reach far beyond anything that has previously been seen. Large “Discipling Churches” began to appear throughout this country. However, with the growth of the Movement came a strengthening of the opposition to it. In the last two years there has been a noticeable decline in the headlines Boston had been receiving. Apparently the opposition to the Movement has greatly diminished its influence and growth. It would be foolhardy to assume that the battle is over, but it appears that the death-blow has been dealt it.
There were two basic problems associated with the Boston-Crossroads Movement. (1) They sought to establish a control over the members of each of these churches. Yeakley, in his 1988 book, reported the results of an invitation he had received from Boston to do psychological testing of their members, which they hoped would disprove the charge that their control over their members was cultic in nature. Yeakley, a professor at Abilene Christian University, proved with his testing that Boston was having precisely the same effects on their people as the Moonies and the Hare Krishnas, both recognized cults, had on theirs. This was a major blow to the Movement.
(2) The second major error of the Movement was its insistence on having the Boston Church control other congregations, in violation of New Testament teaching on congregational independence or autonomy. So-called “Mainstream” Churches of Christ started violating congregational autonomy almost 50 years ago, so it was rather surprising when they objected to Boston doing the same thing. However, their opposition was strong. Boston would go into a local church and “reconstruct it.” This usually meant changing its name, removing the local preacher, and installing a preacher who would do things like Boston wanted them done. This, of course, was a violation of congregational autonomy.
There were other violations that grew up around these two within the Movement. But, when it was shown that they were affecting people like a cult, and more brethren became aware of how they literally took over churches, the effectiveness and growth of the Boston Movement markedly declined.
I read a significant statement of its current status in The Christian Chronicle (August, 1990). On July 28, 1990, the elders of the Crossroads Church of Christ in Gainesville, Florida, “confessed error and requested restoration to fellowship with churches of Christ worldwide.” They confessed the error of controlling other Christians and other congregations, which were basic tenets of their Movement. They did not confess the sin involved in their other liberalism regarding fellowship halls, church support of colleges and other human institutions, which separated us from the liberals almost 50 years ago. However, it appears that Crossroads, but not Boston, has been received back into the fellowship of mainline, liberal churches of Christ.
We continue to oppose the errors incorporated into the life and activities of both the Boston Church and the mainline, liberal churches of Christ. And, we hope the time will come when all of them will follow the example set by Crossroads and confess the sins they have committed in introducing practices into the church which have resulted in division and alienation among brethren. In the meantime, we will not waver in our opposition to sin – in or out of the church.
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 20, p. 621
October 18, 1990