International Christian Fellowship
ICF (International Christian Fellowship) is a church movement aimed at young people and charismatic evangelism of the style typical of US Christianity. It began in 1990 in Zürich, Switzerland with ICF Zürich. Now it has spread to 17 other cities of Switzerland, 9 in Germany and one in London (United Kingdom), Trondheim (Norway), Prague (Czech Republic), Leiden (The Netherlands) and Rome (Italy).
The groups run off the basic principles of Christianity. Participants are encouraged to evangelize based on the Great Commission found in the New Testament of the Bible.
ICF was founded in 1990 by Heinz Strupler. In 1996, leadership was taken over by Leo Bigger and Matthias Bölsterli, who emphasized an aggressive policy of expansion. Around 2005, worship attendance at the Zurich "mother church" peaked above 2,000 participants, and has fallen to around 1,200 between 2005 and 2007. International Christian Fellowship (USA) founded by Rev. Gonzalez in Chgo. is not an international conglomerate. Identified as international in that the congregation is made up of various ethnic groups and nationalities (Hispanic, Asian, African American, Caucasian, etc.)
Senior pastor Leo Bigger (b. 1968) with his wife Susanne introduced a hierarchical structure of groups, called "g|12", consisting of groups of 12 people of which every group leader was a group member in the superordinate group, terminating in the group led by Bigger. In 2004, official terminology was changed from "g|12" to "SmallGroup". The graphical representation was changed from presenting the Bigger couple at the center of a circle instead of at the top of a pyramid, but the topological structure of the system remains unchanged. "g|12" is conceived as a pyramid scheme, urging each group member to strive to become the leader of a derivative group.
Small groups are set in place to promote group discussion on biblical principles. Members are encouraged to start new groups if their own group becomes too large to the point of fair discussion being jeopardized.
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