Why I left the London Church of Christ (LCC)
By Mary, a former member of the London Church of Christ.
To whomever may read this, this is my testimony I give straight from my heart with the Lord my God as my witness and guide. I have prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide me whilst writing this.
I joined the LCC with the purest of motives. I knew in my heart that I had abandoned God for the past few years and an accident I was involved in made me rethink about my whole life. In a ray of confusion and a yearning to be forgiven for sins I’d committed, I thought the answer lay when I was approached by an LCC member and consequently joined. How wrong I was.
It’s pretty amazing when I think how God works, because in order to discover what constitutes true Christianity, I needed to discover that which was not. My entry into this church began my voyage of rediscovery into Christianity. To write everything I know about the LCC would fill an A4 pad – my experiences likewise. Considering what some would regard as a relatively ‘short period’ in the LCC (nine months), I can honestly say I was ‘deeply’ involved. I had gone beyond the ‘threshold’ point towards my last three months there. I was willing to give up and do absolutely anything for the church – it was my life, my very essence of being, nothing else mattered. At that time, I was on the verge of moving out of home – in fact I’d been househunting with other members the very week I left the church.
It’s funny, but your mind can be your own worst enemy at times – denial can be very powerful and have dramatic consequences on your psyche. In the LCC, I was denying to myself that ‘something was not quite right’, I was doubting and thought that maybe my friends and family were right? Could I trust these people? These questions would pop up time and time again, but were ever so quickly dismissed from my mind. This is a method used by the LCC to ‘control your mind’. In other words saying to you: “All doubts about the church come from Satan”, “Trust in God and everything will be OK”. How many times did I hear these words whenever I expressed any fears/doubts to my disciplers/leaders? Doubts were also an indication of my ‘bad heart’, my ‘faithlessness’, ‘being negative’. I believed and trusted everything they said, therefore all subsequent doubts I shoved to the back of my mind. They’re ‘Satan inspired’, I’d think or ‘you’re being silly’ or ‘you’re weak’ or ‘it’s your own fault’.
In fact, soon after I got baptised into the church, that very first week my life turned upside-down. My family took the news very badly and wanted me to seek help. They arranged for me to see our priest. On asking one of the leaders for help on how I should ‘defend’ myself, I was ridiculed for even agreeing to see a priest. I said I was confused about what the church I grew up in taught. I was told in a condescending tone: “I know what your church teaches.” I was shocked that night – expecting sympathy in my confused state, I felt I’d been slapped in the face. I thought: “Surely a man of God, true Christian doesn’t behave like this?” The other members defended him, saying that I was being sent to the priest as a “sheep among wolves”. How ironic. Little did I know then, that it is they who are the wolves snatching the innocent lambs…”They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inside are ferocious wolves waiting to grab you”.
In fact, I can report at times that I was happy there – ecstatic even. Why wouldn’t I be? I was saved, going to heaven (automatically), I was part of a group who were the only true Christians in the world, the only ones saved. I had the ‘truth’, the knowledge and power, I knew what others didn’t, I’d been chosen, I was special, I was a disciple of Jesus Christ! I’d been forgiven and had my sins washed away! I was a new person! In addition, I belonged to this wonderful church full of lots of young people who were so ‘nice’ – you got hugs when you met them. I was approached by so many people when I first joined, like being part of a new family. Suddenly, I had so many new friends, what I thought then were ‘real friends’, ones you could trust, friends for life (and eternity), who would love you unconditionally.
The LCC to my discovery and that of others, from countless documented evidence and through my own practical experience, was and continues to be a destructive cult. What I mean by this and what constitutes a common definition of the expression, is that it is an abusive church or ‘organisation.’ I do not class its teachings and doctrines as brainwashing. This is because when you join the LCC, you believe you’re acting out of free will: your love for God, reading the Bible, wanting to be a true Christian and wanting to be part of the ‘true’ church and a disciple of Jesus Christ. What you don’t realize at the time is that the LCC exercises ‘MIND CONTROL’ (common to cults in general – read the literature).
By this, I define as being made to think in only one way for which there is no ‘truth’ other than that taught by the LCC. Blinkers are put over your eyes so you reject any other explanation or opinion. You think you have Biblical justification for everything you believe. You wouldn’t even dream you were taking the Scriptures out of context. You believe the study you ‘freely’ went through is 101% correct – the only truth, the only interpretation – if you don’t accept this teaching, then you’re not a Christian.
Basically, the LCC claims Jesus came, was crucified, was resurrected and ascended into heaven: correct. They then claim there followed early Christianity with the Church beginning at Pentecost with the sending of the Holy Spirit: correct. Now, when I really think about what I’m about to write, it comes across as the most absurd heretical teaching I can think of: that soon after the apostles died (up to 2nd century), Christianity entered a ‘dark’ period – there was a state of apostasy….many had tried to get back to the Bible during the Reformation period, but had failed. Suddenly, in 1979, the Holy Spirit came to Kip McKean – bingo – the true Church came home again after 1800 years! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I think about it, but at the time I just accepted it. Talk about a distortion of history.
So, according to the LCC, the Holy Spirit basically ‘went to sleep’ during this apostasy, fell away and woke up again in 1979! What happened to the words of Jesus who clearly stated that…”on this rock I shall build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. The ‘universal’ Church (all Christians worldwide belonging to the one Church), can never be destroyed and was never destroyed throughout history. The LCC refuses to acknowledge the history of Christianity after the early Church period – i.e. it was all ‘downhill’ they say. They will refer to history/writings when it is in line with their teaching e.g. Luther (even though he produced many doctrinal errors).
Anyway, I don’t wish to get into doctrinal issues – to explain in greater detail and make the reader understand where the LCC have distorted Scripture, will have to be considered elsewhere. The LCC fail to see anything else beyond the Bible – namely the New Testament. They forget about history, the ‘unwritten’ word handed down by the apostles and practiced in Churches thereafter – Paul did command Christians to “stand firm to the teaching whether by word or by mouth or by letter” (Peter). They forget about the numerous Christians throughout the ages who were witnesses for Christ.
If you haven’t ‘repented and been baptised’ into the LCC then you’re not a Christian – you’re going to hell. There is no other way to be saved. This is the teaching. I know all the defences and responses a member would give to this: “But it’s biblical, we’re following God’s word, we’re disciples, the true Church etc…”. To that I would respond: Please humble yourself before God and perhaps consider that you (the LCC) may be applying your own interpretation to the Bible. Can you be absolutely sure that everyone else is wrong and you’re right? How can they claim to know the true interpretation of the apostles’ teaching after 2,000 years? How many of them have Greek as a first language in order to most effectively interpret the original Greek text?
How can they claim the Bible is their own authority – rather it their interpretation that is used as the authority and source. I believe the LCC neglect the ‘heart’ of the gospel message: “To love God with all your mind…soul and to love your neighbour as yourself’ (that means everyone). Also to be merciful, forgiving, loving, gentle, kind, not to lead a sinful lifestyle, to repent and pray continuously.
Looking back and re-evaluating my time with the LCC, I did not find this was practised. In fact, I see a group of innocent victims turned into robots, into clones of their leaders, having lost their individuality and control over their lives. This is primarily caused by the ‘discipling’ hierarchical approach, resembling that of a strict regime. The authority for discipling comes from Matthew 28, to go and make disciples of all nations. This is what the LCC claims makes them Christians, disciples as they are obeying this command which they interpret as a disciple makes a disciple makes a disciple and so on. This is what they call ‘bearing fruit’ – a complete misuse of the biblical definition, as when the Bible talks of being ‘fruitful’, it refers to your ‘works’ as a Christian bearing fruit to the soul (spiritual growth), not just the multiplying of Christians.
The LCC claim that numbers = growth = discipling movement = true church as God’s church should grow. You must make other Christians, otherwise, you’re not a disciple, not saved. So, your salvation is dependant on bringing members into the church (the LCC). In my opinion, the LCC was about figures and statistics, growth – they were obsessed – every week I’d learn of how many new converts there were, with lots of clapping and cheering. All LCC Churches had ‘performance indicators’, that is they were expected to reach a certain target number. I cannot think of anything more unchristian. There is no biblical authority for this, and was not how the early Church functioned (sitting and analysing their ‘successes’, despite the absence of computers).
After I left, I came to realise how unbiblical the ‘making other disciples’ technique was. ‘Reaching out’ on the streets, tubes, workplace, anywhere. Get your family in – they too need saving or they’ll go to hell. Despite how hard I prayed to try to do this, it did not seem the right thing to do, but as explained earlier, I denied my objections and felt I lacked courage to go up to complete strangers and ask them to come along to a meeting. You overcome this fear by convincing yourself you have the Holy Spirit to ‘speak through you’. I challenge a member of the LCC to answer this question: Are Christians personally responsible for the growth of the Church? Is it not up to God? The Church of God is not about ‘getting as many as possible’ (especially by the year 2000, which is their goal to evangelise the world). No, we are not held responsible whether people go to hell or not.
If I sit back and analyze what’s ‘behind the screen’ of the LCC the ‘hidden agenda’, then the sad truth that is so cleverly covered up is that; growth = numbers = movement = money = power = authoritative abuse. Leaders can’t wait to report back ‘to the top’ on how their sector churches have grown, as they know they will be praised. What a confidence boost!
Yes, I totally agree that the Gospel needs to be spread, that we need to share our faith as Christians by our love and lifestyle. But not in the way enforced in the LCC. The apostles were specially chosen to spread the Word which has been continued to this very day. How else would Christianity still be available today? How come the Bible was painstakingly preserved and passed on through the ages? (especially if there was this ‘apostasy period’ claimed by the LCC).
Sharing your faith is not about dragging people off the street: and lets be factual here: certain people off the street. I was specifically told to aim for young women as older women were more ‘hard-hearted’ (i.e. harder to convert). The way the Bible asks us to share our faith is by showing our love for all people, by obeying the commands of the Lord (forgiveness etc.). By sharing your life with people and letting them ‘see your light’ will bring them to God, not by ‘forcefully’ sitting then down to a Bible study and being pushed into ‘being urgent’ about your baptisms, i.e. becoming a member of the LCC otherwise you’re doomed. As a member, you’re baptised into the LCC, not ‘God’s church’ and any previous baptisms don’t count. According to the LCC, you’re saved at the point of baptism only, therefore prior to my baptism into the church, I was told by one of the leaders, that if I got run over by a bus on the way to my baptism I’d go to hell, as I wasn’t yet saved (even though I’d repented). There was no other way to be saved.
On discipling, basically you join, you’re discipled (often by someone who’s not long been a member). They’re discipled by another who’s discipled by another until you reach the top (completely unbiblical). Result? A hierarchy of disciples, the ‘pyramid’ approach where advice travels down the hierarchical structure (similar to ‘pyramid selling approach’). Little room for Christianity is therefore left. Your discipler wishes to know everything you do. Once you become a leader, your discipler will be making even more decisions for you and excercising greater control over your life (often from instruction from above). You will be disciplined and rebuked by your discipler, confessing your sins to them and repenting your sins to them.
This is the effect of discipling, so characteristic of many cults: the individual loses their ability to make decisions and take control over their lives. They feel ‘God is in control’, but the reality is the leaders are in control of their lives. The discipling approach research has proved, causes unhealthy personality changes in people, trying to conform to their leaders, trying to be like what others are telling them to be like – totally unchristian. Where is your freewill and freedom in Christ? The Holy Spirit should be your ‘guide and counsellor’, not your discipler. Yes, seek advice from people, but not to the point where you’re turning to your discipler for decisions you should be making yourself.
God wants us to know and obey Him through freewill – we must have this freedom of choice (just as Adam and Eve were given this choice in the Garden of Eden). In the LCC you don’t have freewill – you came not by freewill and you don’t acquire it. Mind control works in such a way that you can deceive yourself into believing you’re acting out of freedom of choice, but in fact you’re many times compelled to act through pressure from the church. Christianity is lost when you’re acting through the control of others. This control system can frighteningly be compared to communism and a dictatorship.
Of people who have left the LCC, many allowed themselves to use their ‘critical abilities’: to accept that not all doubting comes from Satan but may actually be fact – that is the LCC may in fact be corrupt. I did try and leave on a couple of occasions – why? As I let myself ‘think’. However, I was ever so quickly weaved back into the spider’s web – why? As it’s not so easy just to get up and walk out. No, I was being spiritually blackmailed – not intentionally by any member – I blame no individuals, for they were only saying what they’d been programmed to say: that if you leave this church, you leave God, it’s straight to hell and your punishment will be even greater as you’ve ‘known the Lord’. Faced with this predicament which threatens your very soul, you can understand how I was ‘lured’ back in time and time again.
I learnt to grow ‘comfortable’ in the LCC – great social life, lots of friends, I felt very wanted and loved. I developed insecurities in that I always wanted to be with them. I’d ‘neglected’ my family, former friends – how could I go back and lead a normal life again? Too much was at stake here. It’s almost as if I knew ‘the truth’ about the LCC but afraid to admit it to myself (self -denial). So I couldn’t face leaving. So I denied the truth, convinced myself they (the leaders) must be right, believing they’re following the Bible. There then followed the point where I was absolutely sure what I was doing was right, everyone else who challenged me, was wrong. I thought opposition came from God testing me to see how true I was to Him. I would defend the LCC to no end and ‘everything they did was right.’
The one true God however, is a just God – I believe He will reveal ‘the truth’ – about what the LCC is really about, to all those who will allow themselves to open up to the truth and be honest to themselves and to God. Just as He revealed it to me. Whilst in the LCC, I prayed to God to reveal to me if I was not in the ‘true Church’ or if I was in a cult, to take me out. God answered my prayer – but, only when I was willing to be honest to myself and God.
God works in mysterious ways, as all true Christians know. But why would God put me in a church that was not the right one, if I was earnestly seeking Him? Sometimes you need to know what the opposite of something is, in order to understand it. You need to know what evil is, to understand what is good. Being in the LCC helped me to understand and realize (from the Bible and from experience), what the ‘essence’ of Christianity is: what Jesus hoped to send to people’s hearts by his message. I discovered this by eventually allowing my heart the space and freedom to understand this most crucial teaching.
It’s very simple: LOVE – in every aspect. Love for God obtained by your faith in Jesus Christ, love for your neighbour and that means unconditionally – no matter what. If you leave the LCC, in most cases you’re not ‘loved’ anymore as you’re no longer considered to be a brother or sister, part of their ‘inner-circle’. This is not unconditional love. Unconditional love is also not dismissing people from the church if they’re not ‘pulling their weight’ or have dared to speak out against the LCC for practices they consider to be unchristian. In the leaders’ eyes, they’ve already been ‘judged’, so they’re out.
If I stayed and spoke out against the practices of the LCC, I guarantee I would have eventually been kicked out for being ‘divisive’ as so many others have. I’d be giving the LCC ‘a bad name and image’, putting people off joining I wonder, disrupting the recruitment process? I have read a quote from a leader saying: “Nothing or no-one will stop our movement”. So if you step out of the ‘party line’, you’re out. In fact even if I’d tried to talk to the leaders, they wouldn’t believe me, they would dismiss everything: the facts, the evidence would be and labelled as ‘fabricated’ and ‘lies’. Even the corruption, deceit, lies and practices I had unveiled with lots of evidence, how can they all be lies? If I challenged the leaders on their ‘Bible truths’ and asked why so many peoples’ lives had been destroyed as a result of having left the LCC – why so many have sought psychiatric help, what would they say? (and no, these people did not all previously have mental health problems).
Why so many people turned away from God after their experiences with the LCC, makes you wonder what kind of a God was being offered to them. Surely not the loving God of the Bible preached first to the early Christians? With the guidance of God, I felt it useless to enter into pointless discussions which would lead nowhere. No, I felt it unchristian to do so. I felt that talking to the leaders would be like talking to the Pharisees – so firmly ‘set’ in their mould of one track thinking and not having the confidence at that stage to even think of breaking that mould they had created.
If a member, please open your heart and begin to think for yourself, critically. I am not the only one who thinks like I do. People who’ve left the LCC will understand me (if they’ve left for the same reasons). I know exactly as a former member, just how you will be thinking, how you will be responding and how your mind will be racing and searching for justification/defences/scripture to disprove what I’m saying. I ask members to please, humble themselves before God and pray from the utmost deepest levels of their hearts for God to reveal the ‘Truth’ to them. They may think, “but I couldn’t have been wasting my time all this time…” – no, they have not been wasting their time – one can learn from this experience, just as I did as part of my spiritual development.
I pray for every member to be receptive to the idea that what they’re part of is not right, and not Christian. They are part of a destructive heresy. On the surface, this will not be apparent – believe me I know, cause I’ve been there. On the outside, you find a great Church, great people, great life, a church that’s practising the Bible and wants to save the world from evil. If the LCC really practised true Christianity as I understand from the early Christians, if the Holy Spirit was truly at work within the LCC, I wouldn’t have left. God as my witness, I strongly proclaim that at the deeper ‘veiled’ level and practises of the LCC, it is very unchristian.
I was by no means seeking perfection in the LCC, and worse than the hypocritical and ‘lukewarm’ churches they were criticising. In fact there are churches worldwide where communities/individuals are practising true Christianity and trying at best to follow the Bible (help the poor etc.). What I find most disturbing is how the LCC have put themselves in God’s seat and judged and condemned the rest of the world for not being ‘true Christians’. In their eyes or God’s eyes may I ask? “Do not judge or you will be judged.”
I know I’m writing a lot here, but I feel the pen is just flowing from my hand – I will stop when I feel the outpouring of my heart has stopped. I must write a few words on my life since leaving the LCC. Not easy by no means. I had to start again from a Christian viewpoint, right from the very beginning like a child learning to read and write. It’s taken a process of my own reading and research, talking to people and of course the help of God to understand the fundamentals of what constitutes true Christianity. I by no means even begin to claim I have all the answers – there’s a lot of unanswered questions, so much I’ve still got to learn and elevate myself spiritually. But I’m patient, and I know God is giving me the time I need.
I believe that since leaving the LCC my prayers have been at a more deeper and honest level, as I was able to humble myself before God, admit I was wrong about the Church and thank Him earnestly for the trial I’d been given. I am trying my best to be a “disciple’ of Jesus in the true sense of the meaning, even though it’s hard, but I know God is merciful and forgiving. I would like to strongly add that I bear no resentment to any member of the LCC. I loved dearly and still love everyone I got to know. I honestly believe the majority of members are acting out of love and selfless motives thinking they’re doing everything for God (I did). In fact, you are serving the organisation you are part of: members are often the innocent victims. However, I do believe that some of the leaders, on ‘rising up’ have discovered they’re part of something wrong, but have lost all will-power and strength to undo the spell and speak out.
I think I’ve said enough to hopefully open the hearts of those who wish for their hearts to be opened to the Truth. There is a lot of evidence confirming what I’ve said – in fact, I probably only know about 10% of what the LCC is really about and that’s by far enough. I have seen and heard enough to know absolutely that the LCC is not what it purports to be. What you see is not what you get. Often, you’re completely blind to this fact. Please, if you’re a member, open your eyes – you are spiritually blind if you have not even had doubts about the LCC. The worst thing is that you the blind are in effect ‘leading the blind’ by bringing people into this Church. At the core, the LCC is not practicing the essence of Christianity. In fact, many unchristian practises have and continue to take place.
I want to begin to wind up now. I’ve stayed up all night to write this, unceasingly. My prayer and hope is that this testimony will have begun to change your heart, if you’re a member reading this. Please believe me that there is ‘life’ without the LCC, even if you’ve spent years there. There is also a Christian life available to all those who wish to lead that way of life. You can still follow God – in the true way, with prayers, dedication and willpower. The Holy Spirit can work powerfully in your life, as it has done through the ages. God has and continues to intervene in people’s lives.
Pride is the one factor that contributed to the Fall of Man. It cast the angel Satan out of heaven for trying to be better than God. I feel the LCC needs to acknowledge this factor: possessing the pride that it has the ‘only truth’, that it has the power and knowledge that no other church has, that it’s interpretation of the Bible is correct. As you know, the opposite of pride is humility. However, if the LCC practised humility, they would no longer exist as their teachings would be diminished. Therefore, it is up to the individual members to admit to themselves and to God: maybe, just maybe, ‘I got it all wrong.’
I have stressed the importance of freewill and having your freedom in Christ. Therefore, any decision to even consider leaving the LCC must come from this motive – otherwise it will not hold any ground and members will want to go and consult the other members who will be quick to draw them back in. If members allow themselves the possibility to find out more, to seek help (not from LCC members as they will not be objective), then the action must be freewilled. All I’ve been doing so far is laying the ‘cards on the table’ for any member reading this and it’s now up to that person, to ‘play a hand’.
I keep stressing the ‘heart’ issue. Members know this term only too well. But what they’re led to believe is that all thier motives and actions are from the heart, but mind control works in such a way that you’re completely oblivious to the fact that their mind is being controlled/governed, ‘pre-programmed’ thinking in acting, speaking, defending the LCC to no end.
I plead again with members reading this, to search the core of their heart with prayer and consider at least what I’ve written. I myself pray for you to consider the honesty of my testimony. The worst thing that could ever happen to me, is to lose my relationship with God, my salvation. Why then, when I was willing to give myself totally to this Church with no turning back, did I in fact turn back at that very crucial moment? Why would I throw it all away? Why would I risk losing the most precious and beautiful gift a person could have – salvation? The answer is this: by remaining in the LCC, I would have eventually lost this gift.
The short-term prospect of the LCC is very rosy – you think you’re happy and secure, but will it last? A Church with a 17-year history? Could it not be just another church movement claiming to have all the answers? (yes, there are 1,000’s of them). Look at the Jehovah’s Witnesses – yes, their churches are growing more and more – but, that doesn’t imply their cause is rightful.
The truth, sadly, is that the long-term stay in the LCC will eventually (could take years), destroy you. I don’t mean physically, but spiritually, and for some to the point of no return. If you stay too long, you may not be able to ‘come out’ as life outside the LCC will become unbearable. It compares to being released form a long term prison sentence or from a secure hospital where you will be unable to face society on your own. You will have been reduced to the mind of a little child in the sense that you are ‘pathetic’- where you cannot be responsible for yourself or others. There is a wealth of evidence to support this.
However, many members who decide to leave, often discover that their loved ones (who they may have neglected, such as friends and family), are there in open arms waiting for you – they never gave up hope to have you back. They are the ones who will have loved you unconditionally. In addition, there is a lot of help available, if you seek it.
My last words to members are again PLEASE believe me as a servant of God that I have written the truth. I cannot convince you otherwise. I write this revelation for members and any others (friends/family) who are seeking the truth about the LCC and the friends and family who may be extremely worried and concerned.
Since leaving the LCC, my spirit has been set free, having previously been imprisoned. It is free to act according to His will, now it is able – I know this as I can feel the difference of how I thought I was being guided whilst in the LCC, and how He is guiding me, truly, now! In fact, I am no longer confused. I have returned to the Church I grew up in with God on the doorstep waiting for me.
My prayer is for the truth to be revealed to Members and I pray also for the loved ones of members reading this as they too have become involved. I again ask that members pray about what I have written and to ask the Lord if I speak the truth.
Peace and love to you all,
Postscript: October 1997 : I have reread my testimony and sincerely hope it has been a help and inspiration to others and continues to do so. I believe in the ‘Truth’ and believe the Truth will always be revealed, no matter how long it takes. I have made small minor amendments to the original to improve clarity and expression.