Wednesday, December 21, 2005


[originally sent on Dec. 14th, 2005 to the subscribers of the subversive underground e-newsletter]

WHAT IF? by Keith Giles

What if Churches stopped meeting on Sundays?

Imagine if, instead of getting up early, throwing on your best clothes and running to a service every Sunday morning, Churches met every single morning and throughout every day, on into the evening.

Stay with me here.

What if Church met on Monday morning at your work, and on Tuesday night in line at the Grocery Store, and on Wednesday afternoon at McDonalds during lunch? What if Church met on the sidewalk, in the cubicle at work, with the single Mom who doesn't know how she's going to feed her kids this week, or with that homeless person you see outside the 7-11?

Shouldn't Church meet in these places? Shouldn't worship be something that takes place every single day, of every single week, at every single hour? Wouldn't it give life to the words, "Be ready in season and out"?

The truth is, you and I, we are the Church. We are unable to critique or to criticize or to praise the idea of Church without having it reflect back on us, because we are the Church, the Bride of Christ.

When you're in the car, so is the Church. When you're playing with your kids in the backyard, so is the Church, when you're talking with your neighbor about life, so is the Church.

I think this is actually the way God always intended for His Church to operate. I think God expects us to worship him 24 hours a day, with all our lives, and in every situation, no matter how mundane or "un-spiritual" it might seem.

Remember, you are an eternal spiritual being having a temporary physical experience, not the other way around.

C.S. Lewis admonished us to realize that we, the followers of Jesus, do not have the right to operate any longer as "mere men" but as transformed agents of the Living God.

The offering plates aren't big enough to receive all that God wants from you, because He doesn't want or need your money, He wants all of you, and all of your time, and all of your life.

This is, of course, part of why Wendy and I are feeling called to the House Church model. We both long to "be" the Church and not to simply "do" Church.

I love this quote by A.W. Tozer: “We must not think of the Church as an anonymous body, a mystical religious abstraction. We Christians are the Church and whatever we do is what the Church is doing. The matter, therefore, is a personal one. Any step forward in the Church must begin with the individual.”

As we prepare to move forward in this calling, we prayerfully ask God for wisdom and direction. So much of this is unknown to us, yet we are certain this is where God has placed us and how He wants us to serve.

Some of you have responded to me directly to encourage us, or to share your own personal struggles and story with us. For that we are very, very grateful. It's good to know we're not alone in this mission.

More later.

*I promised updates to the blog this week and there are two there now. Go see:

You lucky people get this 'bonus' article/thought, so Merry Christmas!



[sent on Dec.12th, 2005 to the subscribers of the subversive underground e-newsletter]


You know, I love it when I'm blind-sided by God.

The other day, driving in the car with my wife Wendy, listening to a song by Alanis Morrissette (yes, I know she's a pagan, get over it), we were both moved to tears.

The song is called "Still" and it's written from the perspective of God as if He is singing to us.

Here's the part that really got to to us (see below).

STILL by Alanis

I see you averting your glances
I see you cheering on the war
I see you ignoring your children

And I love you still
And I love you still

I see you altering history
I see you abusing the land
I see you and your selective amnesia

And I love you still
And I love you still

I see you holding your grudges
I see you gunning them down
I see you silencing your sisters

And I love you still
And I love you still

I see you lie to your country
I see you forcing them out
I see you blaming each other

And I love you still
And I love you still

*It's so cool to know that God is bigger than the acceptable Christian bubble where everything is "safe for the whole family". God's Spirit is at work all around us. The Kingdom is near.

Just started to read the new book by Barna "REVOLUTION" and so far it's cool, but he's not gotten to the part that sounds like what we're doing exactly...maybe it's in the third chapter? Still, he's convinced that the next 10 years will mean a radical shift in how America defines and "does church" and it will look a lot like relational, simple, community-focused gatherings of sincere believers who are compelled to follow Jesus with their entire life, not just with their lips.

I recommend everyone get a copy and read it. It's truly incredible that someone like Barna would prophetically see this coming shift and call it a revolution. It is bigger than we think.

Barna calls it a revolution, I liken it to a subversive underground movement of Jesus-people who are driven to live out their faith in the world, to "be the church" rather than just to attend it or give to it.

I'm encouraged, however, that, like Aslan of Narnia, God "is on the move" and that The Kingdom of God is still advancing.

I'm reminded that it can't be stopped. I'm resolved to surrender again my life to Jesus today.

Happy Monday.

*watch for a couple of new blog updates this week. I've got a few ideas percolating right now and I need to get them out.


[this was sent on Dec.7th, 2005 to the subscribers of the subversive underground e-newsletter list]

METAPHORS by Keith Giles

I was corresponding with someone this week about metaphors for ministry and for understanding our own calling.

Metaphors help us to take a step back and look at our experiences and our thoughts from a different vantage point. Sometimes this helps us to discover things that we never would have thought of before.

In this week's latest blog update, "Apple and Oranges", I take a look at how an apple tree's purpose and natural design can teach us about the Church and how it grows, etc.

As far as extended metaphors go, on a ministry level, the one that God seems to keep giving me is more along the lines of a military one.

About two years ago I received a prophetic word from a guy at church that confirmed what I was asking God that same week (about whether or not to launch a new compassion ministry at our church), and the word was about me being a "Pointman" in our church, leading the people into new territory and being careful to lead them through the dangers and towards the place that God (our commanding officer) was sending us.

Of course, the whole idea of being a pointman kinda scared the heck out of me. In real life, a pointman is the guy who takes the bullet if the unit walks into an ambush. He's the guy who had better know where they're going or else everyone will get lost in the jungle and die.

I figured if God was taking this metaphor seriously then I should take it seriously too.

Just this last Sunday the same guy gave me another word. The funny thing is, I knew he was going to have another word for me before he did. And no, this guy isn't one of those 'prophetic' kind of people who is always going around handing out words. In all the time I've known him, (2 years or more), this word on Sunday was only the second thing he'd ever shared with me.

The word he gave me was about my family being like indigenous 'special forces' units within the community. There were a lot of little details, like how we're part of the community, specialized and equipping others in the community to join with us, and teaching them to train others, etc. It was exactly about what we're doing now by starting a missional house church here in a new community.

How can I discount this sort of thing? Such a specific word of encouragment at such a perfect time and place. Like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

Spencer Burke ("Making Sense Of Church") talks about having a personal metaphor. For example, he said he felt like he was a firestarter. His calling and gifting were related to helping others get on fire for what God was calling them to do.

I think I'm like a magnifying glass. I help people to see things that they might not otherwise see and to magnify the urgency or amplify the vision that God is giving them.

Everyone has a specific calling, gifting or purpose within the Body of Christ. It's God's promise and His plan to build up the Church.

Our part is to understand who we are specifically made to be and then to fulfill that calling.

So, class, the question for today is...
"What's your metaphor?"




[orginally sent Dec. 2nd, 2005 to the subversive underground subscription list]
*This article recently appeared on the new SEED STORIES website this week.
By Keith Giles

Earlier this week Wendy and I confessed to each other that we don’t really like our new life right now.

It was an honest expression of our frustration with the slowness of things. We long, we ache for our new life to begin here.

Getting settled into the new house has been an up and down transition for us. My transition into a new role at my job has been agonizingly slow. Transitioning out of the old church and into the new house church plant has been the most difficult of all. We’re still praying, still talking, still meeting with friends and still trying to work out the how and the when of it all.

Of course, we also miss the old patterns of life we once knew, and during this “in between” time we can’t help but to turn our heads back and look over our shoulder at the way things used to be.

Maybe I’ve been expecting too much, too soon? Maybe I just miss the familiar sort of ministry I’ve been used to these last few years?

The other day I was driving around our new town and I felt like God was urging me to look around and to see “our poor” here in Orange.

Just one street north of our house is Chapman, a major street peppered with fast-food chain stores, gas stations, and a few poverty motels where families and the working homeless try to get by. The motel just across Chapman from our neighborhood is called “The Castaway Motel”. Doesn’t that just make you sick? What an awful name for a motel where people are forced to raise their children and struggle for a dime, an identity, or a handful of dignity. It makes me want to buy the motel and change the name to something that offers some hope, or to re-paint the building a shade of light, or to offer an affordable rate to these people who are working their guts out just to feed their kids and have a warm place to sleep.

Maybe, in attempting to discover these new patterns of our life, I need to get to know our local homeless? I’ve already noticed a guy who’s always sitting on a bench near the Castaway. I’ve nick-named him “Barney” but I know I need to get know his real name and hear his story.

I’ve also seen a woman, fairly young, who stands at the corner of Chapman and Main with a collection of matching black luggage. She’s usually outside the Starbucks, sitting near her small island of black bags, wearing a black dress, a black hat and black sunglasses. She looks as if she’s waiting to take a trip somewhere, or for someone to show up any minute and pick her up and take her home.

I’ve begun to wonder how I can meet them. How can I walk up to them and introduce myself, ask their name, find out their story? What would Jesus have me to do in their life?

As always, I’m usually held back by the awareness that I have nothing that I can give them. I have no great resource or plan to make their life better. I can listen to their story and I can offer compassion, but when it’s all said and done, there’s not much I can do except extend to them a smile, or a short prayer, maybe a meal or a handful of cash for the night. It seems so meager, so weak.

Of course, this small offering is more than they get from anyone else each day. Most people walk past them, maybe offer a disgusted glance, and move on.

It’s the hard reality that accompanies the ministry of compassion. No matter how much you do, no matter how great your program or the size of your offering to the poor, you always come away feeling that you didn’t do enough. At least that’s always been my experience.

I’ve driven away from the motel after a Saturday afternoon where we’ve had a free bounce house for the kids, passed out free bread, diapers and water, had a game time, puppet show, music time and prayed with the families there, only to have a feeling in my heart on the way home that it was all for nothing…that we didn’t do enough. No matter how much I pour out, the insignificance of the offering is monumental and overwhelming.

Still, I can’t help it. I have to keep going. I have to keep in touch with these people. I have to know how their children are doing. I have to know if they’ve found a way out of their situation yet. I have to make them smile, I have to lay a hand on their shoulders and pray God’s mercy and blessing over them.

It’s the lack of this that has me in such a place of sadness lately. This is the pattern of life I long to return to.

We need to develop new patterns for our life now. The old patterns are gone. It’s this process of finding the new pattern that is so difficult for us to endure.

What I want is to have a life where I go to work and make a difference. I want to have time to stop the car and spend time with these people in our community who are homeless. I want to get back to visiting our friends in the senior centers. I want to start meeting in our home with other believers who are hungry for community and a relational form of Christian life. I want to see our friends at the motel on a regular basis. I want to preach and teach and pastor again…and for now we’re in a season where all we can do is to wait for God to open more doors and reveal the patterns to us.

There’s a senior home just about two miles south of us where about five or six of our friends from the Hacienda are living now. The activities director there called me just before our move to ask if I’d be willing to preach a Sunday service there once in a while, and to ask if we could bring the kids and visit them on Saturdays. Of course, I said yes, but now I wonder how and when we can actually begin to serve in this way. I long for it, I desperately want to make room in our new life for this, and maybe in a very short while we will see these patterns emerge again.

For now…we continue to wait…and to hope…and to dream.
"It is not how much we do but how much love we put in the doing that makes our offering something beautiful for God." - Mother Teresa



[orginally sent Nov.28th to the subversive underground subscribers]
The Biggest Loser? By Keith Giles

Yesterday I heard someone praying out loud that we could all live the ‘Victorious Christian Life”. It makes me wonder, where do we get that from?

I guess, on one level, I wonder where the phrase comes from? I honestly can’t remember Paul or Jesus or any of the disciples talking about living the “Victorious Christian Life”, and then I have to ask, “As opposed to what”?

I mean, if I’m not living this “Victorious” kind of life, doesn’t that suggest that I’m a loser?

Nobody wants that.

So, of course, when I hear this prayer for us to live the victorious life, I immediately must strive to either live that sort of life, or admit the shame of my failure to do so.

I don’t know exactly what this guy was referring to in his prayer, although he did mention our soaring with the eagles alongside Jesus and claiming the victory through the blood and things like this…but honestly, I’m not sure what the practical application is for our lives.

Now, I don’t want to pick on this person. I’m sure that I’ve prayed something just as vague and full of ‘Christianese’ myself numerous times before.

What I’m getting at is, where do we get this idea of what victory and success are in the context of following Christ?

Does the victorious Christian life mean I never experience frustration, suffering, temptation, or spiritual warfare? Does it mean I experience rest, comfort, and plenty because I’m a child of the King?

When I look at the life of the actual “Child of the King” Himself, I don’t see a life free from sorrow, opposition, temptation or pain. Far from it.

What about the cross? Didn’t Jesus say that it was impossible to follow Him without taking up my own cross daily?

Maybe I just have a knee-jerk reaction to statements like this because it smacks of the same old “easy believing, kick-ass” versions of Christianity I rebel against with all my being.


When I think of following Jesus I think of Paul’s statement that the power of Christ is revealed in our weakness, not in our success, or talent.

Where do we locate the victorious Christian life in our weakness? We forget that the soaring with eagles promise comes only after we’ve endured the long season of waiting upon the Lord, which everyone hates passionately.

I think what I am concerned about when I hear the success driven, prayer of Jabez stuff is that we are living within a culture where we attempt to shortcut true discipleship.

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever will lose his life
for my sake will find it. – Matthew 16:25

Maybe being a “loser” is the better life after all?

We want the joy, the peace, the fruit and the anointing without actually spending any time at the feet of Jesus, enduring suffering as He did, serving others without accolade, waiting for the answers, praying with bitter tears and holding on to Jesus like there’s no tomorrow.

I think our focus, too often, is on the good life that we think God owes us because we have prayed the prayer and paid our dues, instead of on the simple loving trust in God with our whole lives, no matter what.

David Ruis makes a great comment about how Jesus said He was sending us out like lambs among the wolves. But, we want to be the one’s who swagger in like the movers and the shakers, we want to snap our fingers and have God rain down fire from heaven. We want to pray in faith and receive the bounty of plenty, to the awe of our heathen neighbors.

That will show them.

We are enamored with the way of the wolf. Yet Jesus said he was calling us to be like sheep among the wolves; The weaker ones, not the ones with sharp teeth; The humble ones, not the ones with the cool factor; The vulnerable among those who snarl.

Does this mean we have to hang our heads and accept defeat? Not at all. But, if we are to actually learn to live a life of victory in Jesus, it will be found at His feet, in our weakness, shouldering a cross day in and day out, with our focus on the One we love, not on the victory party in the executive suite.

We must embrace the Truth. The Truth is that every life has moments of bliss, moments of joy, and every life has moments of pain, disappointment and sorrow.

So, rather than seeking after the elusive “Victorious Christian Life”, maybe I’ll settle instead for a walk beside my Master who said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart for I have overcome the World.”

blog updated several times a week


[subversive underground] SWEPT CLEAN

[orginally sent Nov. 26, 2005 to the subversive underground subscribers]

Hey there,

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

We celebrated with our usual "misfit" crew made up of friends who, like us, have no family nearby and need a place to spend the holiday.

It was so great to have our new house filled with people, friends and adopted family. Now it's beginning to feel like "home" around here.

I spent about five hours yesterday with my brother, Lito working on the new Soul Survivor "AWAKEN '06" website launch. It's nearly done...take a peek here if you're interested:

Today I drove back down to the empty storage unit in Tustin and swept it out. In the silence of the moment I began to reflect a bit more about how all that I own can squeeze into a 12 x 20 cubic space. Yet, my life is so much more than this. "Isn't life more than food and clothing?" - Jesus asks in Matthew 6:25.

Good question.

And the answer is that, yes, life is so much more than food, or clothing, or belongings.

I know that our family is rich in all the things that really matter...and even in a few areas that really don't.

God has taken us through a difficult time, and I'm thankful to Him...not only for getting us out of the valley, but even for the decision to take us through it in the first place.

We would never choose on our own to take a walk of faith. We all prefer the safety and comfort of life to the testing, trial and unanswered questions. That is why God chooses to take us down the path of uncertainty, because He knows we need to learn to walk by faith.

So...the lock in my pocket and the broom in my hand, I walk back to the old Saturn and start the engine.

Our old life now officially swept clean and closed shut, I leave slot number 578 for the next customer of life.

I need an oil change. Can't forget to run by the ATM machine and make a deposit before I nose the car back towards the city of Orange and into the new adventure God has lead us into.

Tonight we cook s'mores over a firepit with friends and share a pizza.

If you're curious, I've got two new articles published online now.

First is at SEED STORIES, a new site by The Ooze for church-planters and emerging network leaders.

It's here:

The other is online at RELEVANT Magazine here:

Granted, avid readers of my blog will recognize these two articles, but if you haven't read it before, it's new to you!

"Faith and Wealth" by Justo L. Gonzalez
"The Church Comes Home" by Robert & Julia Banks

Switchfoot-Nothing is Sound
Crowder- Beautiful Collision
Kids In The Way
Starflyer 59-Talking Voice



This blog is exclusively a place for me to post the contents of my weekly e-newsletter [subversive underground] online.

These articles are written specifically for those 30 or so people who are subscribed to the newsletter.

My main blog is here: SUBVERSIVE1

Some of these e-news articles sent out on the list have already been published, or may become published, elsewhere. However, I will not publish the articles from the e-newsletter here, or anywhere else, before they are sent out on to those on the list, in order to keep the list subscription "special" and meaningful.

Some of these are thoughts in progress and may one day become full-fledged articles on either my blog or on another magazine or website. I'm also preparing a manuscript for a brand-new book and those on the newsletter will receive those chapters-in-progress directly. I will probably not post those online here until the book is actually published.

Here is our first e-newsletter (sent November 23rd, 2005).
welcome to the first edition of the subversive underground.

this is will be an email newsletter/stream of consciousness/random thoughts signal sent out at various times each week. i will not bombard you, i promise.

if you want off now, or at any time, just hit me back and say 'please remove' and I'll take you off, no questions asked.

sometimes i'll send out questions where i'd appreciate feedback, of course you're always free to hit reply and tell me what you think about anything i send at any time.

so, let's start by a definition of what it means to be subversive:
What is “Subversive”?- It’s a systematic overthrow of one system or power by those working from within.

Jesus came to announce that His Kingdom was coming, and that, even now, is available to all who know Him. This was the Gospel message.

Now we, the followers of Christ, are compelled to make a difference in the old order by working from within, changing one person at a time, advancing this new kingdom with every tool, talent and resource available.

This is what I hope to inspire. This is what I personally aspire to.

Just last night, while watching the semi-dreadful "American Music Awards" I had this thought: "No one gives a crap what we believe. Show us your convictions in the way you live, not in the words you speak."

I think this is one of the main reasons that I love working for Soul Survivor, because they're mantra is 'actions speak louder' and they operate from this assertion.

We have to stop pontificating. We have to begin to simply love, not just with words, but in action and in truth.

We have to question. We have to ask why. We have to be willing to take a chance, to risk for the sake of the world that waits to see with their eyes if what they've heard with their ears is possible.

I hope that there's a growing number of people who are willing to make it possible.

I hope that together we can spur one another on to live a life of simple obedience to the words of Jesus.

Welcome to the underground.