Keepers of The Flock

Boston spawns one of Protestantism's hottest churches, but critics call it a cult and accuse its leaders of dictatorship

STAID NEW ENGLAND IS NOT KNOWN as a hotbed of evangelism. Yet it has sprouted one of the world's fastest-growing and most innovative bands of Bible - thumpers. Launched in 1979 by a young evangelist named Kip McKean, the Boston Church of Christ has grown from a 30-member community into a global empire of 103 congregations from California to Cairo with total Sunday attendance of 50,000.

Yet along with its success has come a remarkable degree of opposition. A loose network of "exit counselors" seeks to pressure church members into quitting. Universities that welcome all manner of oddball groups on campus...