Every Disciple A Life Changer


One of the most shocking facts about Christianity is that the very “way” to become a Christian was lost for the greater part of 1500 years. From the Edict of Milan in 313 AD when Emperor Constantine ushered in the modern Catholic Church to the 16th century when the “Radical Reformers” in Europe influenced the “Anabaptists,” we do not know of any movement that made disciples and baptized them for the forgiveness or remission of their sins. Even the brutally persecuted Anabaptists, some of whom briefly seem to have made disciples and baptized them for the remission of sins, devolved into obscurity and legalism; eventually becoming the Amish, Mennonites, and Hutterites.

Therefore, from the first century to the present the history of “Christianity” is mostly devoid of one thing, Christians! Catholics were born Catholics and later Protestants were born Protestants. Neither traditions contained Peters true call to simply, “repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” (Acts 2:38) For generations the simple yet powerful truths of how to become a Christian had been carefully hidden and confused by Satan. Even though God called out in each generation (Acts 17:27) no man answered the call to to take the gospel to the ends of the earth as the apostles had done. (Acts 1:8)

Yet by the grace of God, in America in the early 1800’s the Spirit of the Lord moved in the hearts of men to reignite the fire of true discipleship. Barton Stone was the leader of the “Cane Ridge” congregation of Lexington Kentucky where from August 6-12, 1801 over 20 000 people came to hear the preaching of many ministers and receive communion. It was an incredible revival – some called it the American Pentecost! In an effort to build a powerful church and make many Christians in a world he considered polluted by false doctrine and sectarianism in 1803 Stone and others formed the Springfield Presbytery. However in Stones effort to build a powerful church he realized that in fact all he was doing was building another denomination. Therefore in 1804 he and several others published the “Last Will and Testament of The Springfield Presbytery.” This document announced their withdrawal from denominationalism and the creeds and traditions that supported it. They wished to “be dissolved, and sink into union with the Body of Christ at large; for there is but one body, and one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling.” Barton Stone set out on a mission to uncover the original beliefs and practices of the first century Church. Through these events Barton Stone became leader of a movement and one of the earliest voices of non-denominationalism.


Another Minister, Thomas Campbell, an Irish immigrant to America penned the document known as the “Declaration and Address” in 1809. It was a call to unity among Christians and a return to the model and teachings of the “first century” or “New Testament” Church. Thomas’s son Alexander Campbell was deeply impacted by his father’s teachings and became a leader in what then became the embryonic “Restoration Movement.” He yearned for a return to the “ancient order” of the church and Christianity. He once wrote “I labor to see sectarianism abolished, and all Christians of every name united upon the one foundation on which the apostolic church was founded.”


In their effort to return to the genuine teachings of the Bible and reject the creeds and traditions that had so poisoned the denominational world this father and son stumbled over a powerful and miraculous teaching – repentance and baptism for the remission of sins! Alexander Campbell wrote, “Baptism for the remission of sins, is the only baptism of which the New Testament knows anything.” The Campbells were baptized by immersion on June 12, 1812 by Baptist pastor Matthias Luce at Buffalo Creek, West Virginia. When asked if Baptism was a “work” Alexander replied: “We do not place baptism among good works. In baptism we are passive in everything but giving our consent.” God had moved in an incredible way in His abundant grace to re-initiate true Christianity.

In 1821 the Campbells met with another powerful reformer, preacher and evangelist, Walter Scott. Scott had been baptized by immersion in 1819 and believed that baptism was for the remission of sins. Walter Scott was a powerful preacher and joined them in spreading the message. In 1824 the Campbells and Barton Stone met and found they agreed biblically on so much that by 1832 their movements had merged into one. Their voices joined the growing chorus of preachers and Bible students who yearned to return to true Christianity, which they now started to call “Discipleship.”


The Restoration Movement grew and thrived over 80 years, and there is much to say about its great colleges, congregations and publications but by 1906 Satan has sewn so many seeds of dissent and discord that it had split into the Christian Churches, the Church of Christ and later the Disciples of Christ over various controversies, not the least of which was a debate about instrumental music in the church. These ministries had varying degrees of success and yet the powerful message of salvation was largely blocked from wide scale international expansion. Also, in the Restoration Movement never was every “Christian” given the training or the tools to make a Christian. The conversion process was largely handled by the ministry staff.


Much like the legend of Excalibur the “sword of the word” (Ephesians 6:17) has become encased in stone. The baptisms became very few and people lost their understanding, faith and gratitude for the ability they had to make disciples. The stone that locked Excalibur was, in this case, the cold and hard hearts of men.


Many years would pass, but God will never cease to reach-out to mankind. At 1:30am on April 11th in 1972 Kip McKean was baptized for the forgiveness of sins by the campus ministry of the 14th Street Church of Christ. Instinctively Kip understood the power of the gift he had been given – the ability to baptize people into Christ and make totally committed disciples. He answered God’s call and understood the magnitude of this “discovery.” Like the young King Arthur he “pulled the sword from the stone” and began to dream of an evangelized world.


God worked in many ways to season and prepare Kip for the work He had prepared for him but finally in 1979, he took the helm of the Lexington Church of Christ in Massachusetts. Kips first direction to the church was that “every member” – adults, singles, campus and teens – (were) to be “totally committed.”  In 1980, to help his congregation to grow spiritually and numerically, Kip developed a Bible Study Series called First Principles. For the first time in 2000 years every disciple could make a disciple… Up until that time the Restoration Movement had been like Israel in 1 Samuel 13:19 “Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!” Now every disciple had the ability and encouragement to “swing the sword” and impact their classmates and neighbors!


This is an excerpt from Ron Harding’s book “THE CHRONICLES OF MODERN-DAY CHRISTIANITY.”


During the ten years that the McKeans served the Boston Church of Christ, the Spirit produced exponential growth! The original Lexington Church of Christ had witnessed only two baptisms in the previous three years before June 1979. Through the restoration of the radical call and practice that every member of the congregation is “totally committed,” the Boston Church of Christ had 103 baptisms the first year! The most dynamic and well-established Mainline Church of Christ for decades had only baptized 200 to 300 each year. In fact, during the 80’s, every year a list of Mainline Churches of Christ baptizing 100 or more was published which usually had only 15 Mainline Churches listed. With God’s Spirit working through the McKeans, the Boston Church of Christ saw exactly 200 baptisms their second year; 256 their third; 368 in the fourth; 457 in the fifth; 679 in the sixth; 735 in the seventh; 947 in the eighth; 1424 in the ninth; and in the Boston Church’s tenth year 1621 were baptized into Christ. By this time also, the Sunday attendance in Boston was approaching 4,000 as the church met in the famed Boston Garden – “home” of the Boston Celtics professional basketball team. Not only was this the largest single congregation in the history of New England, but it also became the largest “Church of Christ” in the entire world!


Not only did Boston grow but multiplying ministries of disciples spread all over the world, nearly reaching all nations. Through Kip the Holy Spirit would restore New Testament disciple making in the 21st century not only in Boston but worldwide! By making totally committed disciples and empowering them with the ability to make disciples a force of nature – but not nature but the Spirit – was unleashed worldwide! There is much history to read and I fully recommend Ron’s book which can be found for free (for now) at KipMcKean.com. Because of the demise of the ICOC, just as in 313 AD and 1906 AD Satan has obscured and confused “the way” for so many lost souls to reach God. This is why our movement is so necessary! Let us never forget the incredible role we have as disciples and the power God has imbued each of us with. Let us take this God given responsibility to make disciples into our schools, our families, our neighborhoods to free so many souls who can now free others in turn.


I want to urge every disciple to have a prayer list of people they are praying to study the Bible with and baptize! Not only must we study the Bible with people here in LA but we must also continue to cheerfully and vigorously raise funds for our missionaries who are doing the same thing all over the world. Disciples are loyal and committed to God and to one another! Our God and our missionaries know we have their back and we won’t let them down. The world stands ready to be freed in our generation! Let us pull the sword from the stone and take it into battle for the Lord!


Love you all very much!