Church Network Leaves NAE

Christianity Today/April 7, 1989

Great Commission International (GCI), a Maryland-based network of 70 evangelical churches, last month withdrew from membership in the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). The NAE had postponed the renewal of GCI's membership to investigate questions about the group's structure and complaints about its practices.

A review of GCI's initial application, which was accepted in 1987, revealed that it had joined as an organization when in fact it is a church, said NAE executive director Billy Melvin. Great Commission officials met in February with Melvin, NAE president John White, and Arthur Borden, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, to discuss the application. GCI subsequently decided to withdraw.

Melvin emphasized his belief that GCI leaders did not intend to deceive the NAE on its application. He blamed the discrepancy on a "misunderstanding of the definitions" of NAE membership on the part of GCI.

Several Christian cult-watching groups have described GCI as "aberrant" and "quasi-cultic," citing, among other things, authoritarian leadership in some of its local churches. Melvin said the NAE was aware of such complaints and discussed them with GCI leaders.

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