Great Commission church movement


Great Commission church movement

Infobox Non-profit
Non-profit_name = Great Commission Churches
Non-profit_type = Evangelical Christian Church Association
founded_date = 1965 with no official name
1970 as The Blitz Movement
1983 as Great Commission International
1989 as Great Commission Association of Churches
2005 as Great Commission Churches
founder = Jim McCotter
location = Columbus, Ohio
origins = Plymouth Brethren
key_people = Herschel Martindale
John Hopler
Rick Whitney
Dave Bovenmeyer
Tom Short
Mark Darling
Brent Knox
Chris Martin
Dennis Clark
area_served = International
language= English
focus = Planting and building churches
method =
revenue =
endowment =
num_volunteers =
num_employees =
num_members = 43,000 (2005)
owner =
Non-profit_slogan = New Testament Christianity In Action Today
homepage = http://www.gccweb.org/
dissolved =
footnotes =

The Great Commission church movement is a broad term used to describe the entities associated with an evangelical Christian movement formalized in the USA in 1970. The largest of these organizations today is Great Commission Churches (GCC). Other associated organizations include Great Commission Ministries (GCM), Great Commission Latin America (GCLA), and Great Commission Europe (GCE). The movement has grown in size and scope through its focus on church planting in the United States and abroad. Between 1978 and 1994, the movement attracted criticism for alleged authoritarian practices and a high degree of control over members (see Criticism). GCC formally acknowledged these criticisms in 1991 (see 1991 GCC Statement of Church Error). GCC is a member of the National Association of Evangelicals, and one or more organization within the movement has continuously been a part of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability since 1992.cite web
url = http://www.ecfa.org/?PageName=WhatIsECFA
title = What Is ECFA?
accessdate = 2007-08-16
] cite web
url = http://www.ecfa.org/?PageName=MemberProfile2&MemberID=6794
title = Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability : GCC
accessdate = 2006-11-28
]

History

The Great Commission Association of Churches (GCAC) is the current name of an Evangelical Christian association of churches that started as a movement in 1965, though not generally recognized as a movement until 1970. The movement at first avoided any denominational affiliation, becoming known in the early 1970s as "The Blitz" or "The Blitz Movement," then as Great Commission International (GCI) when leaders formed a formal organization in 1983. In 1989, GCI became GCAC ("Great Commission Association of Churches"), and the campus and international mission agency for GCAC became known as Great Commission Ministries (GCM); the campus ministry prior to this was known as Great Commission Students (GCS), although GCS did not employ full-time missionaries or do international work. Today, the "right hand of fellowship" ministry to international churches and ministries is known as the Great Commission Association (GCA). GCAC generally refers to itself as Great Commission Churches (GCC) in public communications. [ cite web
url = http://www.gccweb.org/gcc/about/history_long.asp
title = Great Commission Churches
accessdate = 2007-03-02
] cite video
title = "Church History" (Tapes 1-4)
year = 1984
author = Jim McCotter
quote = Jim McCotter: "I had one suitcase and- over a hangup bag, and $400 dollars in my pocket, and that was all I started with back in 1965."
url = http://www.gcxweb.org/Audio/McCotterHistory-1984.aspx
] [ cite web
url = http://www.gcachurches.org/
title = Great Commission Association
accessdate = 2006-12-03
] cite book
last = Pile
first = Lawrence
title = MARCHING TO ZION: A Personal History and Analysis of the "Blitz Movement" aka Great Commission Association of Churches
edition = 2nd
year = 2002
publisher = Christians United to Remedy Error (CURE)
location = Albany, Ohio
language = English
] cite web
url = http://www.greatcommissionchurches.net/gcc/about/HistoryofGCC2006.pdf
title = History of GCC 2006
year = 2006
accessdate = 2007-03-05
quote = The Great Commission church movement began in 1970 with a focus on planting and building churches that are devoted to Jesus Christ and to fulfilling the command given by Jesus to “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28: 19, 20). ... In 1989 GCI changed its name to "Great Commission Association of Churches." (Today, the shortened name "Great Commission Churches" is used in public communications, in order to promote the central and historical vision of this movement.) ... In 2006 Great Commission Churches was clarified to be a membership association for US based churches and ministries only. The Great Commission Association (www.gcachurches.org) is a "right hand of fellowship" ministry to international churches and ministries which are united with Great Commission Churches in beliefs, values and in the mission of reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
format=PDF
] [cite web
url = http://www.gcmweb.org/about/amr2002/locations.asp
title = Locations
quote = GCM is a member ministry of the Great Commission Association of Churches (GCAC) based in Columbus, Ohio, and acts as the international missions organization of GCAC.
accessdate = 2007-03-05
] cite news
title = ...And beware of Great Commission
quote = As someone who has experienced the Great Commission Students (GCS) from the inside, it pleased me to read Sue Ferrera's column warning against cults.
publisher = The Diamondback
1986-9-22
] cite news
title = James McCotter: How he brought GCI to Silver Spring
author = John L. Guerra
date= 1986-02-06
publisher = The Montgomery County Sentinel
url = http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/MCS-02-06-1986-c.aspx
quote = the "Blitz", as it was known before being renamed "Great Commission International", was started when McCotter and William Taylor, a high school friend of McCotter's, began evangelizing on the University of Northern Colorado campus in the mid-1960s. ... McCotter preached that a goal of the church was to have the gospel heard throughout the world within a generation.
]

Background

Roots

In 1965, 20-year-old Jim McCotter (James Douglas McCotter) left his home in Colorado Springs, Colorado and moved to Greeley, Colorado in an attempt to recreate the New Testament Church, a church model he believed no existing Christian denomination was emulating fully.cite paper
title = Controversies in Iowa Christianity
publisher = Des Moines Sunday Register
date= 1980-03-16
url= http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/DMSR-03-16-1980.aspx
quote = Taylor said when he and McCotter began evangelizing and proselyting at the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley in the mid 1960s, McCotter left Northern Colorado after two years. McCotter, in an earlier interview, said he also spent time at the University of Southern Colorado at Pueblo and at the University of Maryland. ... In 1970 and 1971, according to some of McCotter's associates of the time, there was enough of a group to begin a "blitz movement", traveling in a school bus from campus to campus in the South and Midwest speaking and proselytizing.
]

McCotter, whose family's religious background was with the Plymouth Brethren, has stated that his desire to form the movement stemmed from his belief that God had shown him in the Bible's Book of Acts a strategy instructing Christians on how God wanted to use church planting to "reach the world for Christ" within one generation. This strategy came to be known as the "Heavenly Vision", and was a cornerstone belief of the early movement. McCotter also believed that the Bible was instructing every Christian to emulate the actions of the Apostle Paul's life as he imitated Christ and that this was the model life for all Christians to imitate based upon Paul's exhortation in 1 Corinthians 11:1. [cite news
title = Controversies in Iowa Christianity: The rise of a fundamentalist
authors = Jim Healey and Sherry Ricchiardi
quote = "They're all locked into what Jim calls 'the vision.' Whether it's official or not, he's the one most of them look to for leadership", Schooler said.
publisher = Des Moines Sunday Register
url = http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/DMSR-03-16-1980.aspx
date= 1980-03-16
] [ cite book
last = Pile
first = Lawrence
title = MARCHING TO ZION: A Personal History and Analysis of the "Blitz Movement" aka Great Commission Association of Churches
edition = 2nd
year = 2002
publisher = Christians United to Remedy Error (CURE)
location = Albany, Ohio
language = English
quote = Underlying even this basic fallacy of the "team church" was another more basic error, namely the "strategy" or "heavenly vision." ... A similar thing had happened within Great Commission International. In many of the churches associated with GCI the primary focus had been shifted off the full gospel of Jesus Christ and onto the "strategy" propagated first by founder Jim McCotter, and then by his disciples, the current board of directors of the movement, and the pastors of local GCI churches.
]

Early members believed they were returning to the lost lifestyle of the first century Christians. This lifestyle included a devotion to discipleship which has been criticized and compared to the "Shepherding Movement."

After arriving in Greeley, McCotter attended and began sharing his faith at the University of Northern Colorado campus. According to McCotter, by the end of the first year 12 people had joined him, after 1966 there were thirty, and in the following years it "doubled and tripled." The movement eventually spread to other cities in Colorado, as well as Las Cruces, New Mexico, in the form of missions or "works".

McCotter dropped out of college to focus on ministry full-time, and was planning to move down to Pueblo, Colorado to continue his efforts; however, in 1967, at the height of the Vietnam War, he was drafted into the United States Army. During basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, McCotter met Dennis Clark and on McCotter's return from Vietnam in 1970 he met Herschel Martindale. Clark and Martindale would become two of the founders of the movement in the summer of 1970. cite web| title = CHRONOLOGY OF KEY EVENTS IN GREAT COMMISSION CHURCH HISTORY | url =http://www.gccweb.org/gcc/about/history_long.asp | accessdate = 2007-08-05 ]

"Blitz Movement" Begins

In 1970, under the leadership of Jim McCotter, Dennis Clark, Herschel Martindale, and others, approximately 30 college-age Christians embarked on a summer-long evangelical outreach known as "The Blitz" to several university campuses in the Southwestern United States. [ cite news
author = Maria Agrelo
title = Have Bible-will travel
publisher = Ohio State Lantern
location = Columbus, Ohio
date = late July/early August 1973
year = 1973
] "The Blitz" was named after the Blitzkrieg military offensive of World War II.cite paper
author = MacDonald, Jerry
title = Reject the Wicked Man: Coercive Persuasion and Deviance Production: A Study of Conflict Management
publisher = Cultic Studies Journal
year= 1988
url = http://gcmwarning.com/Articles/RejectTheWickedMan.html
] These 2 or 3 day events used singing, tract distribution, and sidewalk canvassing to draw crowds and spread the word.cite speech
title = Church planting and the 'ordinary' Christian
author = John Hopler (Herschel Martindale, guest speaker)
date= 2006-12-30
location = central Missouri
url = http://malexmedia.net/media/2006/12/30/church_planting_and_the_ordinary_christian_john_hopler
accessdate = 2007-03-21
] As the movement expanded, additional mission outreaches and training conferences took place. In the summer of 1973, nearly 1,000 people attended the movement's national conference. The conference was followed by the "blitzing" of fifteen new campuses and by the end of 1973, about 15 "works" had been established.cite paper
title = GCLI Document, Church History: Great Commission
author = GCAC Executive Director John Hopler
location = Columbus, OH
] In the late 1970s, selected newspapers, former members, and select watchdog groups began to publicly criticize the movement's practices. This continued into the 1980s and early 1990s. (See the Criticism section for more information.)

Great Commission International

In 1983, Great Commission International (GCI) was formed. Led by Jim McCotter and Dennis Clark, it was formed to provide services such as publishing and fund raising for the developing association. That summer, GCI launched the first summer Leadership Training conference which attracted college students for a summer of intensive training in evangelism and discipleship. The LT program continues today under the leadership of Great Commission Ministries. cite web
url = http://www.gcmlt.org/events/lt/
title = Great Commission Leadership Training
accessdate = 2007-08-05
]

In 1985, GCI undertook a mass outreach and expansion effort called Invasion '85. During this effort, teams were sent to 50 college campuses with a goal of starting new campus ministries. While many "works" were successfully established during Invasion '85, most of them did not continue. According to GCAC, "team members were not properly trained nor were they given adequate support."

GCI continued to be scrutinized in some newspapers and by former members of the movement, and in 1985 several conferences were held with the purpose of helping former members of churches that were part of GCI "recover from the emotional and psychological damage they'd experienced" while in the movement. cite web
url = http://web.archive.org/web/20051223055506/wellspringretreat.org/journal/spring_1992_3-1.html
title = Wellspring Journal Vol 3, No. 1, Spring 1992
accessdate = 2006-12-03
] Shortly thereafter, Wellspring Retreat and Recovery Center, the world's first accredited cult and abusive religion recovery center, was formed by several ex-members of the movement.

In late 1986, founder Jim McCotter announced his resignation from GCI, stating a desire to utilize his entrepreneurial abilities in an attempt to influence secular media for Christ. Two years later, McCotter moved to Florida and has not since attended a church affiliated with the movement, with the exception of the 2003 Faithwalkers conference. [ cite web
url = http://www.gcnwdads.com/articles/thepassion.doc
title = Letter To Dads "On The Wall"
date 1-2004
author = Rick Whitney
quote = And Jim and Barb McCotter and their family were a surprise, late addition. It was good to talk with them. Jim wrote, 'How my heart was blessed to hear each of you share what God put on your hearts this last week. I felt so unworthy... and so humbled... and at the same time so overjoyed.'
format=DOC
]

At this point in GCAC history, its churches claimed approximately 5,000 members.

GCAC and GCM formed

In 1989, Great Commission International changed its name to the Great Commission Association of Churches (GCAC), and is known today as Great Commission Churches (GCC). [cite web
url = http://personalwebs.myriad.net/FCC/Who%20is%20FCC.htm
title = Who is Fellowship Church
accessdate = 2006-11-29
] Also in 1989, Great Commission Ministries (GCM), under the initial leadership of Dave Bovenmyer, was formed. Its aim was to "mobilize people into campus ministry by training them to raise financial support and by equipping them for campus ministry." [cite web
url = http://www.gcmweb.org/about/content.asp?section=666
title = Great Commission Ministries : History
accessdate = 2006-11-29
]

In 1996, the Internal Revenue Service selected GCM as a test case to eliminate the common practice known as "deputation", (allows non-profit mission organizations to raise funds for its activities, while allowing contributors to claim income tax deduction) "setting off alarm bells throughout the Christian parachurch community."cite web| title = CChurch & State: Conservative Christians in the Cross Hairs | url =http://ctlibrary.com/1104 | accessdate = 2007-08-05 ] The IRS reaffirmed GCM's non-profit status.

Today

Approximately 60 churches in the United States are affiliated with GCA, and approximately a dozen internationally in Europe, Asia and Latin America.cite web| title = Community Directory | url =http://www.gccweb.org/gcc/ministries/dir_commun.asp | accessdate = 2007-08-05 ] Together these churches claimed over 43,000 members in 2005. According to a 2001 Ivy Jungle report as cited by John Schmalzbauer of Missouri State University, there were 6,900 college students involved in GCM. cite web
accessdate = 2007-08-05
publisher = The Religious Engagements of American Undergraduates
url = http://religion.ssrc.org/reforum/index.html#Schmalzbauer
title = Essay Forum on the Religious Engagements of American Undergraduates
] GCA maintains an administrative support staff in Columbus, Ohio. cite web
accessdate = 2007-08-05
publisher = Great Commission Churches
url = http://www.gccweb.org/gcc/about/contact.asp
title = CONTACT US
]

GCC publishes the periodical "Daylights" and other doctrinal papers, written principally by pastors within the movement. [ cite web
accessdate = 2007-02-06
publisher = Great Commission Churches
url = http://www.gccweb.org/gcc/daylights/
title = Daylights Online
] Regional and national conferences are attended by both leaders and members of churches in the movement. Conferences include Faithwalkers, High School Leadership Training (HSLT), and National Pastor's Conferences. [ cite web
accessdate = 2007-02-06
publisher = Great Commission Churches
url = http://www.gccweb.org/conferences/faithwalkers/index.html
title = Faithwalkers 2006
] [ cite web
accessdate = 2007-02-06
publisher = Great Commission Churches
url = http://www.hslt.tv/hslt/
title = High School Leadership Training
] [ cite web
accessdate = 2007-02-06
publisher = Great Commission Churches
url = http://www.gccweb.org/gcc/conferences/plc/default.htm
title = 2006 Pastors' And Leaders' Conference
]

Beliefs and Values

Statement of Faith and Core Values

GCC's Statement of Faith can be found on [http://www.gccweb.org/gcc/about/sof.asp their website] . GCC also maintains a [http://www.gccweb.org/gcc/about/values.asp Core Values Statement] .

Other beliefs

Women and authority

GCC does not believe women should have authority over men in the church, or be in a position where they would teach men in the church. cite web
url = http://www.gccweb.org/gcc/daylights/default.asp?date=09.23.2004
title = Authority in the Church
date = September 23, 2004
author = John Hopler
quote = Paul is clear: Women shouldn't be in an authority position over men in the church. Nor should women teach in a way that places themselves in authority over men. One argues, "This makes women second-rate citizens in the church." Scripture is clear: A person's value is in Christ, not their position.
] In its GCLI materials, GCC reproduces a part of John Piper and Wayne Grudem book "Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: [http://www.cbmw.org/rbmw/index.php A Response to Evangelical Feminism] " and endorses the Danvers Statement, an attempt at a consensus among Evangelical leaders representing the complementarian view in 1988, now advocated by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Authority of local leaders and church government beliefs

According to GCC, its churches are "independent under the Lordship of Jesus Christ", cooperating within the association in conferences, mission efforts and for accountability in doctrine and ethical practices. Being part of the association requires that a church agree to Biblical and ethical standards set by the association. Final authority rests with the pastors of each local church.cite web
url = http://www.gccweb.org/gcc/about/accountability.asp
title = ACCOUNTABILITY PROCESS IN GREAT COMMISSION CHURCHES
accessdate = 2007-08-05
publisher = Great Commission Churches
[]

Leadership education

GCAC states that it places great emphasis on raising leaders from within its congregation, based on the character qualities detailed in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. This is contrary to the more common practice among Christian denominations of hiring pastors from other churches/cities. It is not required that GCAC pastors have formal seminary training. [cite video
url = http://www.graceforstate.org/faithwalkers/Faithwalkers%20The%20Great%20Commission%20Story%20-%20Martindale%20and%20Clark.mp3
title = The Great Commission Story
speakers = Herschel Martindale and Dennis Clark
location = Faithwalkers 2004
date= 12/2004
] However, a number of GCC pastors and staff have received training from partnering with specific Bible Schools and Seminaries.cite web
url = http://www.mun.ca/rels/restmov/texts/believers/gossardbhwts/BHWTS06.HTM
title = Growing Resources and Educational Sophistication
accessdate = 2007-08-05
] GCC also founded the Great Commission Leadership Institute (GCLI) in 1999 to support the development of pastors within the local churches. The GCLI program includes teaching materials written by pastors and leaders from across GCC as well as regional "Going Deeper" conferences for discussion of doctrine and values.cite web
url = http://www.gccweb.org/gcc/about/default.asp#services
title = Services and Programs
accessdate = 2007-08-05
]

Partnerships

GCAC, and its associated bodies, is a member of several evangelical organizations including the National Association of Evangelicals,cite web
url = http://www.gccweb.org/gcc/about/relationships.asp
title = RELATIONSHIPS AND PARTNERSHIPS
accessdate = 2007-08-05
] Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability,cite web
url = http://www.ecfa.org/SubsidiaryProfile.aspx?ID=18570
title = Subsidiary Profile
accessdate = 2007-08-05
] cite web
url = http://www.ministrywatch.org/mw2.1/F_SumRpt.asp?EIN=521707002
title = SUMMARY PROFILE
accessdate = 2007-08-05
] Evangelical Fellowship of Missions Agencies,cite web
url = http://efma.gospelcom.net/memlist.php?start=40
title = EFMA Members
accessdate = 2007-08-05
] and the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association.cite web
url = http://www.ifmamissions.org/ifma1/member.htm
title = IFMA Member Missions
accessdate = 2007-08-05
] GCAC works with a number of organizations that share its aims including Samaritan's Purse, Global Pastors Network,cite web
url = http://www.gpn.tv/GPNtv.jhtml
title = Global Pastor's Network
accessdate = 2007-08-05
] Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, Wycliffe Bible Translators and Reformed Theological Seminary. GCM maintains a Council of Reference.cite web
url = http://www.gcmweb.org/about/council.asp
title = GCM CoR
accessdate = 2007-08-05
] These members do not run or manage GCM, but affirm their support for the ministry and serve as a source of counsel for GCM leaders. Chi Alpha, the campus ministry of the Assemblies of God, suggests parents check out GCM, among eight others, if there is no Chi Alpha on their students' campus.cite web
url = http://www.chialpha.com/team/index.php?display=parents
title = ChiAlpha Parents
accessdate = 2007-08-05
]

Subsidiary organizations

Great Commission Ministries

Great Commission Ministries (GCM) is the campus and international mission agency for Great Commission Association of Churches.

In 2004, Boundless webzine (associated with Focus on the Family published an article listing GCM as one of the "ten top college ministries across the U.S.", saying that their strategy of "seeking to incorporate students into the starting of a church based campus ministry" "has been effective to attract and involve thousands of students." The article also stated that "Their outstanding Board of Directors and dedicated staff are committed to world missions and leadership development and thus supplying the church around the world with a fresh supply of equipped laborers." [ [http://www.boundless.org/regulars/list_guy/a0000859.html 10 Top College Ministries in the United States ] ]

Following the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, GCM's Virginia Tech campus church New Life Christian Fellowship (NLCF) received widespread media coverage. NLCF pastor Jim Pace was a guest on Larry King Live and Good Morning America, CNN created a [http://www.cnn.com/video/partners/clickability/index.html?url=/video/us/2007/04/22/keilar.tech.return.cnn video] of their [http://www.nlcf.net/multimedia/videos/our-tribute-video/ memorial service] . Several newspapers, magazines, and radio shows carried quotes from NLCF pastors.

Later that year, another GCM church was again in national news as rescue workers and volunteers combed the forest for Jacob Allen. Allen, an 18 year old autistic man, was a lifelong member of [http://www.chestnutridgechurch.com Chestnut Ridge Community Church] along with his parents. [http://www.wvmetronews.com/index.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=21606]

The largest financial supporters of Great Commission Ministries are individual donors. In 2002, 92% of GCM's income came from contributions of this nature.cite web
url = http://www.gcmweb.org/about/amr2002/finances.asp
title = Financial Report
accessdate = 2007-08-16
] GCM missionaries are required to raise 100% of their support goal, which includes base salary, benefits, and ministry expenses. Twelve percent of all funds raised goes toward administrative overhead. GCM has been a member of the ECFA since 1992.cite web
url = http://www.ecfa.org/MemberProfile.aspx?ID=12040
title = Member Profile: Great Commission Ministries
accessdate = 2007-08-16
]

Other subsidiaries

Great Commission Latin America (GCLA) is a Latin American outgrowth of Great Commission Ministries founded in 1974 by Daniel Sierra, a Cuban-American missionary from Florida Bible College and directed by Nelson Guerra since 1981, a native Honduran and former president of the Honduran National Association of Evangelicals. As of 2007 it consisted of 25 member churches. [cite web
url = http://www.reachinglatinos.com/churches.html
title = GCLA : DIRECTORY OF AFFILIATED CHURCHES
accessdate = 2007-08-21
]

Great Commission Churches (GCC) is a fellowship of churches in the Great Commission Association, which helps coordinate ministry activities in the U.S., including Great Commission Leadership Institute (GCLI), GCLI "Going Deeper" Regional conferences, Faithwalkers National Conferences, and national GCA Pastor's Conferences. [cite web
url = http://www.gccweb.org/gcc/about/default.asp#relationships
title = GCC : About : Relationships
accessdate = 2006-11-28
]

Great Commission Northwest (GCNW) is a regional association of North American GCA churches, spanning from Chicago to Seattle. [cite web
url = http://www.gcnw.net/about/index.asp
title = GCNW: About
accessdate = 2006-11-28
]

GCC has several regional subsidiaries as well, including GCC Regional Ministries (GCC-RM) and Great Commission Northlands (GCN) (which coordinates church planting, leadership training, and church coaching in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin). cite web
url = http://www.gccweb.org/gcc/ministries/regional.asp
title = Great Commission Churches - Regional Ministries
accessdate = 2006-11-29
]

Past Ministries and Organizations

During the 1980s, a number of ministries and organizations were formed and then discontinued by the late 1980s in an attempt to "penetrate key centers of influence," including: Americans for Biblical Government, Great Commission Academy, Alpha Capital, THEOS (The Higher Education Opportunity Service), Communication Forum, and Students for Origins Research. A campus ministry similar to the current Great Commission Ministries (GCM) existed prior to 1989 under the name of Great Commission Students (GCS).

Publications

Under the direction of Jim McCotter in the 1970s and 1980s, the movement started several magazines and newspapers, including "The Cause", "America Today", "Today's Student", "U.S. Press", "Potential", and the "Life Herald". These projects were short-lived or were discontinued in the late 1980s. [ cite book
title = The Cause And Effect: A Closer Look
author = Richard Harvey
publisher = Christians United to Remedy Error (CURE)
year = 1986
url = http://www.gcxweb.org/Misc/TheCauseAndEffect/Default.aspx
]

Several Relevant Magazine articles have also been written by GCM staff and members. [http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god_article.php?id=3432] [http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life_article.php?id=3028] [http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life_article.php?id=2826] [http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life_article.php?id=947] [http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god_article.php?id=2610]

Exodus International's website republished an article by Greg Van Nada from the GCM Connect Newsletter in 2005. [http://exodus.to/content/view/658/55/]

Criticism

Criticism in newspapers

In March 1978, the first public criticism of the movement and its practices was reported by the "Iowa State Daily", after an Iowa State student spent 18 days in a psychiatric ward, followed by another 23-day stay in another, due to emotional problems his psychiatrist attributed to involvement with the movement's Iowa State campus ministry [ cite news
title = Bible Study plays role in mental breakdown
publisher = Iowa State Daily
url = http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/ISD-03-28-1978.aspx
date= 1978-03-28
] . Subsequent criticism of the movement appeared eight months later in a front page article by the "Des Moines Register", in which campus pastors expressed concerns over "manipulation" and "a kind of brainwashing." [ cite news
title = Evangelicals arise on campus
publisher = Des Moines Sunday Register
date= 1978-11-26
url= http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/DSR-11-26-1978-a.aspx
] Throughout the late 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s, similar criticisms were published by newspapers in Ohio, [ cite news
title = Ex-Bible Study member says the group ostracized her
publisher = Ames Daily Tribune
date= 1979-12-10
] [cite news
title = Ex-members say religious group controls, intimidates its followers
publisher = Columbus (Ohio) Lantern
date= 1982-10-11
url= http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/OSU-10-11-1982.aspx
] [ cite news
title = 'I think I was brainwashed' Religious group criticized as cult-like is now at KSU
publisher = Daily Kent Stater
date= 12-3-1982
url= http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/KentStater-12-03-1982.aspx
quote = ..some members he knew while in the group had nervous breakdowns as a result of the pressure, while others completely turned their backs on religion.
] South Carolina, cite news
title = Students tell story of cult involvement: Officials work to limit influence
publisher = The Gamecock (University of S. Carolina)
url = http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/Gamecock-04-30-1990.aspx
date=1990-04-30
] Maryland, [cite news
title = Silver Spring Fundamentalists: Church or 'Cult'?
publisher = Silver Spring (Md.) Montgomery County Sentinel
date= 1985-02
url= http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/MCS-02-06-1986-a.aspx
] cite news
title = New Life policies scrutinized
publisher = Towson (Md.) Towerlight
date= 1985-05-09
url=http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/Towerlight-05-08-1985.aspx
] [ cite news
title = Beware of cults on campus... (...And beware of Great Commission)
publisher = The Diamondback (University of Maryland)
date= 1986-09-22
] [ cite news
title = Destructive cults eliminate freedom of thought
publisher = The Diamondback (University of Maryland)
date= 1988-04-14
] [ cite news
title = Cult debate prompted by group involvement
publisher = The Diamondback (University of Maryland)
date= 1988-09-08
] [ cite news
title = James McCotter: How he brought GCI to Silver Spring
publisher = The Montgomery County Sentinel
date= 1986-02-06
url= http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/MCS-02-06-1986-c.aspx
] , New York [ cite news
title = Group Members Dispute Cult Labelling by Loomis
location = Ithaca, New York
publisher = The Cornell Daily Sun
quote = "The cult issue is an issue of human oppression and freedom.… It's not a religious issue", ac­cording to Ronald N. Loomis, director of Unions and Activities. Loomis discussed two new cam­pus groups that he considers cults in a recent interview.Members of Great Commission Students and a former member of EST (Erhard Seminars Training), both of which Loomis categorized as new cults on campus, defended their organizations.
] , Illinois [ cite news
title = Cult label follows new church: Cult watcher calls GCI 'shepherding cult' Pastor: 'We're just New Testament Christians;' Critics: 'Subtle danger'
publisher = The Sunday Journal (Wheaton, Illinois edition)
date= 1988-11-06
url= http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/Wheaton-11-06-1988-a.aspx
] [ cite news
title = Ex-members label GCI a coercive environment
publisher = The Sunday Journal (Wheaton, Illinois edition)
date= 1988-11-06
url= http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/Wheaton-11-06-1988-c.aspx
] [ cite news
title = Evangelical association reviews complaints against church group
publisher = The Daily Herald (Dupage City, Illinois edition)
date= 1988-11-11
url= http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/Herald-11-11-1988.aspx
] [ cite news
title = Church group draws fire
publisher = The Record (Wheaton, Illinois)
date= 1988-12-02
url= http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/Wheaton-12-02-1988.aspx
] , Toronto cite news
title = Bible club evicted from U of Guelph campus: group accused of authoritarianism, cult-like control over members
publisher = Toronto Globe & Mail
date= 1989-09-27
url = http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/Guelph-09-27-1989.aspx
] , nationally across Canada cite paper
publisher = The Canadian Press
title = EXTREMIST FUNDAMENTALIST GROUPS MAKE INROADS ON CANADIAN UNIVERSITY CAMPUSES
month= September | year= 1989
url= http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/CanPress-09-1989.aspx
] , and in other locations, particularly those near college campuses where the movement was active. The movement was often accused of authoritarian practices, and some accounts quoted former members and cult researchers who accused the movement's leaders of "brainwashing" and "mind-control" techniques. [cite news
title = 'I think I was brainwashed': Religious group criticized as cult-like is now at KSU.
publisher = Manhattan (Kan.) Daily Kent Stater
date= 1982-12-03
url= http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/KentStater-12-03-1982.aspx
quote = ..some members he knew while in the group had nervous breakdowns as a result of the pressure, while others completely turned their backs on religion.
]

Criticism in research papers and books and magazines

Two research papers critical of the movement were published between 1988 and 1995,cite paper
author = MacDonald, Jerry
title = Reject the Wicked Man: Coercive Persuasion and Deviance Production: A Study of Conflict Management
publisher = Cultic Studies Journal
year= 1988
url = http://gcmwarning.com/Articles/RejectTheWickedMan.html
] cite paper
author = Martin J. Butz
title = An inquiry into the paradox of aberrant Christian churches: orthodoxy without orthopraxy
year= 1991
] as were three books that included the movement in its lists of "abusive Christian groups" cite book
last = Martin, Ph. D
first = Paul
title = Cult-Proofing Your Kids
publisher = Zondervan Publishing House
location = Grand Rapids, Michigan
year = 1993
id = ISBN 0-310-53761-4
] [cite book
last = Enroth
first = Ronald
authorlink = Ronald Enroth
title = [http://www.reveal.org/development/Churches_that_Abuse.pdf Churches That Abuse]
publisher = Zondervan Publishing House
year = 1992
id = ISBN 0-310-53290-6
] [ cite news
title = Recovery from Cults: Help for Victims of Psychological and Spiritual Abuse
publisher = W. W. Norton & Company; New Ed edition (June 1995)
id = ISBN 0-393-31321-2
author = Michael D. Langone
] , one with a sequel which mentions dissatisfaction with the group's efforts.cite book
last = Enroth
first = Ronald
authorlink = Ronald Enroth
title = [http://www.reveal.org/development/Recovering_from_Churches_that_Abuse.pdf/ Recovering From Churches That Abuse]
publisher = Zondervan Publishing House
year = 1994
id = ISBN 0-310-39870-3
] In a 1992 "Group Magazine" article by Ronald Enroth, one ex-member described the movement as fostering a "learned helplessness" in members.cite news
title = How to Spot an Abusive Church
publisher = Group Magazine
date= 1992-03
url = http://gcmwarning.com/Articles/GroupMag.aspx
]

University of Guelph ban, and excommunications

In 1989, the GC's campus ministry was banned from the University of Guelph, located in Ontario, Canada.

Between 1976 and 1986, an estimated 500 individuals were excommunicated, or "shunned", by churches within the movement.cite paper
author = MacDonald, Jerry
title = Reject the Wicked Man: Coercive Persuasion and Deviance Production: A Study of Conflict Management
publisher = Cultic Studies Journal
year= 1988
url = http://gcmwarning.com/Articles/RejectTheWickedMan.html
] cite paper
url = http://www.gccweb.org/gcc/about/weakness.pdf
accessdate = 2007-02-09
publisher = Great Commission Association of Churches
month= July | title = A Statement Recognizing Early Errors And Weaknesses In The Development Of The Great Commission Association Of Churches
author = Great Commission Association of Churches
year = 1991
month = 7
format=PDF
] Several former members of the movement have stated that they were only able to leave the movement after family members intervened and hired a professional "deprogrammer."cite news
title = Iowan tells cult experience
publisher = Des Moines (Iowa) Register
date= 1985-01-12
url= http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/DMR-01-12-1985.aspx
] cite news
title = Students tell story of cult involvement: Officials work to limit influence
publisher = The Gamecock
University of S. Carolina
date=1990-04-30
] cite news
title = New Life policies scrutinized
publisher = Towson (Md.) Towerlight
date= 1985-05-09
url= http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/Towerlight-05-08-1985.aspx
] In 1985, Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center, the world's first accredited cult and abusive religion recovery center, was formed by several ex-members of the movement. cite web
url = http://web.archive.org/web/20051223055506/wellspringretreat.org/journal/spring_1992_3-1.html
title = Wellspring Journal Vol 3, No. 1, Spring 1992
accessdate = 2006-12-03
]

Maryland Political Controversy

In 1986, 12 members of a GCI church ran for state office in Maryland, prompting attention from the national media, and speculation from Maryland political leaders that it was a concerted effort by GCI to enter the political arena. None of the GCI church members running for office were thought to have had prior political aspirations, yet many filed papers to run on the same day, June 30. In a Washington Post article, GCI leaders denied formal involvement, stating that each person's decision to run was made independent of GCI leadership. Former and current members were quoted in the article as saying that GCI took an active interest in politics, was heavily involved in member's personal decisions, and had instructed members of GCI churches during a two-month training seminar to distribute campaign literature for church member candidates, with canvassers being advised to "cover religious bumper stickers on their vehicles with political ones." On August 30, at a news conference held by Republican and Democratic Party leaders, a "shouting match" broke out as the GCI candidates rebuked Democratic and Republican leaders for "raising religion as an issue in the election and labeling their beliefs as 'cults.'" Republican Chairman Albert Bullock accused GCI candidates of practicing "deceptive campaign tactics", and said: "If this (campaign) isn't orchestrated, then this is an incredible coincidence." cite news
title = Parties Warn of 'Fringe Candidates': Montgomery News Conference Breaks Into a Shouting Match
publisher = The Washington Post
date= 1986-08-30
url= http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/WashPost-08-30-1986.aspx
quote = A bipartisan Montgomery County news conference held yesterday to discuss "fringe candidates" in the Sept. 9 primary erupted into a shouting match when a handful of candidates rebuked the Democratic and Republican leaders for raising religion as an issue in the election and labeling their beliefs as "cults." ... Bernstein also invited a representative of the Cult Awareness Network, a nonprofit group that monitors what it considers cults, to speak. Nancy Howell, president of a chapter of the group, charged that LaRouche's National Labor Caucus and Great Commission International, a nonprofit religious organization with a congregation in Silver Springs, are groups that have "cultic" natures. ... Tom Short, a member of the board of trustees of the Great Commission congregation, said he believed his church had been unfairly "labeled as a cult by innuendo. In reality, all of the allegations . . . are untrue."
] On September 11, 1986, The Montgomery County Sentinel reported that none of the candidates won election. [ cite news
title = Ex-Members Say Md. Church Active in Conservative Politics
publisher = The Washington Post
date= 1986-09-07
url= http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/WashPost-09-07-1986.aspx
] [ cite news
title = Great Commission gets into politics
publisher = The Washington Post
date= 1986-09-07
] [ cite news
title = The End Of The Trail: How the pols partied when the polls closed
publisher = The Montgomery County Sentinel
date= 1986-09-11
] [ cite news
title = Gilchrist concerned over ballots of church candidates
publisher = The Montgomery County Sentinel
date= 1986-09-11
] [ cite news
title = Owens out, blames sample ballots (church candidates)
publisher = The Montgomery County Sentinel
date= 1986-09-11
]

"see also: Dominionism"

Cult and "Aberrant" labels

In 1988, the movement was classified as a cult by the American Family Foundation (AFF), [cite paper
publisher = The Touchstone
month=April | year=1992
author = Kaade Roberts
title = Divine Deception
url = http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/Touchstone-04-1992-a.aspx
quote = GCI along with its subsidiary, Great Commission Students, has been classified as a cult by the Cult-Awareness Network (CAN) and the American Family Foundation. Since the mid-seventies there have been complaints of GCI's authoritarian forms of mind control leaving members at the point of suicide or in psychiatric wards.
] the (pre-Scientology) Cult Awareness Network, cite news
title = Cult label follows new church
publisher = The Sunday Journal (Wheaton, IL edition)
location = Wheaton, Illinois
date= 1988-11-06
url = http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/Wheaton-11-06-1988-a.aspx
] and the Council on Mind Abuse.cite news
title = Bible club evicted from U of Guelph campus: Group accused of authoritarianism, cult-like control over members
publisher = Toronto Globe and Mail
date= 1989-09-27
url = http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/Guelph-09-27-1989.aspx
] cite paper
publisher = The Canadian Press
title = (EXTREMIST FUNDAMENTALIST GROUPS MAKE INROADS ON CANADIAN UNIVERSITY CAMPUSES)
month=September | year=1989
url = http://www.gcxweb.org/Articles/CanPress-09-1989.aspx
] The Council on Mind Abuse ceased its existence in 1992, while the CAN was taken over by Scientologists in 1996 after years of legal issues. The movement was classified as an "aberrant Christian group" by Martin J. Butz in his 1991 research paper and by Paul Martin, a former leader of the movement, in 1993.cite book
last = Martin, Ph. D
first = Paul
title = Cult-Proofing Your Kids
publisher = Zondervan Publishing House
location = Grand Rapids, Michigan
year = 1993
id = ISBN 0-310-53761-4
]

In 2002, ex-member Larry Pile said he would not refer to the movement as a cult, but instead as a "Totalist Aberrant Christian Organization". Pile believed the movement was "Christian because they hold orthodox beliefs", and yet "aberrant on secondary issues."cite paper
author = Martin J. Butz
title = An inquiry into the paradox of aberrant Christian churches: orthodoxy without orthopraxy
year= 1991
url= http://www.gcxweb.org/Academic/AnInquiryIntoTheParadoxOf.aspx
] [ cite paper
title = "Just Who Is Jim McCotter?" North & South
month=April | year=2002
location = New Zealand
url = http://www.rickross.com/reference/mccotter/mccotter1.html
]

Responses to criticism

Tom Short, 'Setting Great Commission's record straight'

On April 21, 1988, "The Diamondback" published an article by GCI's National Student Director, Tom Short, in which he defended the movement against an article written by Denny Gulick, professor of Mathematics at the University of Maryland, which charged that the movement was a "destructive cult." He also defended the movement against charges from the Cult Awareness Network that the movement was a cult. In part, he wrote:

Anyone who believes that a person can have a genuine, life-changing experience with God becomes the avowed enemy of CAN (The Cult Awareness Network). ... I’ve been a member of Great Commission for more than 14 years. When I joined my mom didn’t understand my conversion and deep interest in the Bible. She feared I was in a cult and would only serve to make the leaders rich. Now that I’m a leader she knows better! As she has gotten to know dozens of people in GCI, her fears have subsided and she thinks the world of our church.Could it be that Dr. Gulick would feel the same way if he took the time to look into GCI with an open mind? [cite news
title = Setting Great Commission's record straight
author = Tom Short
date= 1988-04-21
publisher = The Diamondback (University of Maryland)
]

1991 GCC Statement of Church Error

According to GCC, "During the late 1980s and early 1990s a concerted effort was made to reach out to people who felt that they had been hurt by GCI and its churches. At the initial urging of Tom Short, the GCI leaders and pastors published a paper as part of a plan to follow the Biblical standard of humility and reconciliation in relationships. This effort towards reconciliation, formally called Project CARE, was led by Dave Bovenmyer and was instrumental in building unity with Christians within and outside of Great Commission."

In 1991, GCAC released a public statement acknowledging church error and weakness."Great Commission Apologizes to Students, Parents" [http://www.gcmwarning.com/Articles/CultObserver.aspx] [http://www.whyaretheydead.net/misc/Factnet/CO0192AB.TXT] The Cult Observer Vol. 9. No. 1, 1992.] Bovenmyer wrote:

We, the local pastors and national leaders of the Great Commission Association of Churches, are preparing this statement with the hope that we might accomplish three goals. First, it is intended to be a clear statement of the mistakes we believe we have made and the steps we have taken, and will continue to take, to rectify them. Secondly, the statement is a confession and a request for forgiveness from those who have been hurt by our errors. Finally, we have prepared this statement with the hope that it will be an important part of our plan for reconciliation, where possible, with former members, leaders, and others who, for various reasons are now estranged from us.
In the statement, GCC clarified its position on many issues, and admitted responsibility for mistakes grouped into two categories; problems resulting from a "prideful attitude", and problems as "a result of a misapplication or misinterpretation of Scripture." Issues discussed in the statement include:
* Failing to distinguish between a command, and principle, and preference.
* Authoritarian and insensitive leadership.
* An "elitist attitude" towards other Christian organizations.
* Excessive and unbiblical church discipline.
* Improper response to criticism.
* Lack of emphasis on formal education.
* A belief that every man should become an elder.
* Treating dating as a sin.

The statement also listed steps taken, or to be taken, to correct these issues. No specific people or incidents were named in the statement, other than Secretary David Bovenmyer, whose signature was printed at the end of it.Or|date=March 2008 Their statement in its entirety is available at the GCC website in the external links section below.

Response to Statement

As of 1994, many former members felt the Weakness Statement was not enough or that it left-out other concerns, according to Ronald Enroth's book " [http://www.reveal.org/development/Recovering_from_Churches_that_Abuse.pdf/ Recovering From Churches that Abuse] ":

Dr. Paul Martin, director of Wellspring and a former member of Great Commission International (as the group was formerly called), concurs with the opinions of many other former members:

Some encouraging reforms have occurred in recent years after the founder, Jim McCotter, left the movement in the late 1980s. However, the current leadership has not yet revoked the excommunication of its earlier critics. The admissions of error so far have been mainly confined to a position paper, the circulation of which has been questioned by many ex-members. Furthermore, Great Commission leaders have not yet contacted a number of former members who feel wronged and who have personally sought reconciliation. There has been some positive movement in that direction, but most ex-members that I have talked to are not fully satisfied with the reforms or apologies and feel that the issues of deep personal hurt and offense have not been adequately addressed.

External links

* [http://www.gccweb.org Great Commission Churches' official website]
* [http://www.gcachurches.org Great Commission Association's official website]
* [http://www.gcmweb.org Great Commission Ministries' official website]
* [http://www.reachinglatinos.com Great Commission Latin America's English website]
* [http://www.gclaweb.org Great Commission Latin America's official website, in Spanish]
* [http://www.gcmlt.org/events/lt/ Leadership Training Program homepage]
* [http://www.gcnwdads.com GCM Dad Support Group and Monthly Email]
* [http://www.gccweb.org/gcc/daylights/ Daylights Online]
* [http://www.gccweb.org/gcc/about/weakness.pdf 1991 GCC Statement of Church Error]
* [http://www.rickross.com/groups/mccotter.html Rick Ross' page on Great Commission International]

References


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