Wednesday, December 26, 2007


[Subversive Underground]

by Keith Giles

I spent last week in the mountains of Arkansas with my wife's family. It was a wonderful time to decompress from the regular weekly grind of life and breathe in the crisp, clean air. We took long hikes to remote waterfalls and explored ancient native american caves. We took time to play games, talk, eat, relax in the jacuzzi and sleep late.

During this time I had an opportunity to finish reading a great book called "Walk On" by Steve Stockman. It's an inside look at the spiritual journey of U2's Bono and The Edge which reveals a pervasive and tenacious faith in Jesus.

I had started out this vacation week making a list of ambitious schemes for 2008. These included, of course, the upcoming NON-CON in March, with Jackie Pullinger and David Ruis, but I also compiled a long menu of dream projects for the next year.

Here's a bit of what was on my list:

*A Poverty in the OC art show with my friend Scott Laumann.
*Start the "Manifesto" gatherings - Quarterly, local dialog sessions on Kingdom issues.
*Host monthly Orange County House Church Leader gatherings in my home.
*Film a series of YouTube videos on [Subversive Underground] topics for viral marketing project.
*Coffee House acoustic concert with my friend Jacob Wright.
*Publish the first issue of "0.0 magazine" with Scott Laumann.
*Launch the first "Wormhole" scavenger hunt with accompanying website culminating in a private discussion group on Kingdom/Subversive topics.
*Host quarterly "Subversive Seminary" sessions- Day long seminars taught by myself and other Mission House Church leaders on Kingdom topics.
*Self-Publish five new books starting with "The Power of Weakness" and "Top 10 Things Every Christian Should Know" in first quarter of '08.
*Help my friend Heather Wright put together her first solo art show.

That was a formidable list of things to do in the next 12 months. I began to get tired just looking it over. How would I really find the time to do all of this, I wondered?

But, as I continued to read the book my list started to shift in priority. Reading about how Bono had postponed their most recent album for over a year in favor of visiting national leaders in order to relieve debt to African nations and to combat poverty made me question my project list for '08. I started asking what on this list I needed to do and what I just wanted to do.

I was challenged to stop asking God to bless my plans and instead to just look at what God is already doing and to start doing that because it's already blessed.

What is it that God is already doing? What is on God's heart? What are the things I can do that will actually advance the Kingdom? What can I do to have a lasting impact on the lives of people? What can I do to help the poor? What can I do to live out the values of the Kingdom as Jesus describes in his Sermon on the Mount?

So, I know that God does want me to do the NON-CON in March. He's made that clear to me by not allowing me to cancel it when I felt it wasn't worth the headache. So, the NON-CON can stay.

I also know that one of the main callings on my life is to write. This [Subversive Underground] is part of my weekly ministry and these articles have been a discipline for me personally. I've also received a lot of positive feedback from many of you about them, and many of these end up as articles at and other places online where people are challenged to think and to act out their faith. My books are also part of my calling to write, so those will remain.

Other than that, there are a few things I need to add to this list. I need to make it an ongoing, daily priority to love and pastor the families and individuals who are part of "The Mission" house church every week. These people have continually inspired me to follow Jesus and I am learning alongside these amazing people how to live out the calling of our Lord Jesus to "Love one another". These are incredible men and women of God who love me and help me to understand how to love and serve others as Jesus did. Whatever it takes for me to fan into flame what God has sparked among us, I will do it. I must do it.

Essentially I need to major on serving the poor, loving others and daily dying to myself in order to follow Jesus into the Kingdom way of life.

With a new perspective I was able to look at my original list and see it for what it really was. It almost seemed to create an invisible arrow that pointed to me and said, "Look at how cool I am! Look at all the cool things I'm doing for God!" and if I've learned anything in the last few years it's that God's idea of greatness and my idea of greatness are extreme polar opposites.

Jesus said that the greatest among us would be the servant of all. My list didn't include much serving of others and that needed to change.

"He has shown you oh man what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."- Micah 6:8

There are a few items on that original list that I will still most likely end up doing this new year, but the difference is that I will now try to keep my eyes on the needs of actual people around me. I will make decisions about what I do based on whether or not it's what God has really called me to do or what helps real people in need of God's Grace and Mercy.

I want to align my life with seeing what the Father is already doing and I want to throw myself headlong into loving the unlovely, serving the poor and touching the hearts of people in need.

Today I have officially abandoned all hope of ever being a Christian Celebrity. Instead I want to please my Heavenly Father by following in His footsteps and finishing the work that Jesus started here when He first announced the Kingdom of God had come to us.

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." - Luke 4: 18-19

As Jim Wallis once said, "Jesus came to announce the Gospel and he said it was good news to the poor. If our message isn't good news to the poor it may be a lot of things, but it's not the Gospel that Jesus preached."

Last weekend our house church partnered with another local church to provide Christmas gifts for over sixty children living in a local poverty motel. We had an opportunity to share the love of Jesus with many people and remind them that God sees them and knows them and loves them. That didn't make the local news, and most of those people don't know our names, or even the name of our church, but what matters is that the Kingdom is advanced and the message we bring is good news to the poor.

I can't wait to see where God leads us in the new year ahead.

"Conversatio Morem!"
Only 68 seats remain for this one-day conversation with Jackie Pullinger, David Ruis, myself and you!
Registration is only $40 and includes 3 shared meals.
Find out more and register online here:

FEEDACK:You can email me here: "ELYSIANSKY" (at) "HOTMAIL" (dot) "COM"
*remove the quotes and stuff and you can shoot me an email.
I love to receive feedback. Let me know what's on your mind.

If not, what are you waiting for?

Both of my books are now available as free PDF downloads for the rest of the year!

More info at my main site here:

About my books:

"The Gospel: For Here Or To Go?" - The Gospel is not for sale. Learn how to relate to human beings as a human being without all the memorized speeches and pretentious nonsense commonly associated with evangelism. Instead, learn how to be who you are in the place you already live, work and play. The Gospel is not just for "those sinners" anymore, it's for you and me too. (Note: We are just as sinful as anyone else).

"Nobody Follows Jesus (So Why Should You?)"- A devotional book for the MySpace Generation. This collection of 40 articles (over 200 pages) is a perfect guide for learning how to follow Jesus in your every day life without pretending to be the holiest person in the room.

Just stumbled upon this online. Kind of cool.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007


by Keith Giles

Several years ago a friend and I drafted a top-secret plan to communicate the Gospel of the Kingdom via subversive channels.

First we were putting together a twenty page magazine made up largely of graphic images which challenged the status quo in our churches, our community and our personal lives. Very few words would be included and our hope was to intrigue everyone who read it enough to notice the cryptic web address in the margin of every page of our magazine.

If someone were observant they would be taken to a secret web address where again a minimalist message would be presented in the center of the page, all by itself. In the first month the website would include only a single three minute video clip of a homeless family living in a motel in our community. That was it. The next month the website would include a simple directive which would lead them to seek out a specific edition of a certain book ("The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" for example) and ask them to find a hidden message on one of the pages which would lead them to the next clue found in a specific section of town. These clues would slowly lead the person through what we would term "The Wormhole" and culminate in a private conversation at a local coffeehouse at a specific time and date where only those who had demonstrated the perserverance to chase down the clues would be admitted.

At the meeting we'd present information regarding poverty in our county and allow participants to interact with these statistics in personal ways using the arts, scripture and quiet meditation.

The next month we'd release another magazine and change the rules again, and the website functions as well, and continue the experiment by turning everything on it's head and this time lead the curious to join us in a day of service to the poor in our community.

Even though this was all planned out years ago, the dream of doing this has never died for me. In fact, just the other night I felt a strong compulsion to revisit those ideas and even to share them here with you on the [Subversive Underground] list.

Maybe some of you on this email newsletter have the means to start your own "Wormhole" experiment in your town? Maybe this idea will inspire some of you to do something totally different, yet no less subversive in your own community to break outside the norms and begin a dialog of Kingdom issues with anyone who has a hunger to listen.

I have always been fascinated by the thought that the Messiah was a storyteller. I love the way that Jesus taught people about the Kingdom by telling stories which seemed simple on the surface, yet to anyone who was hungry for the bread of heaven it was like opening the warm oven of possibility and wonder.

A few years ago, largely out of this original "Wormhole" conversation, I started something called "The Parabolic Journal" experiment. You can see the results of that at

The idea was to launch these blank journals as conversations about life and death and evil and mortality and hope and the Kingdom. What began as one journal soon grew into an International version, a digital Journal, and more than five separate journals which scoured the nation from person to person as they shared their hopes, fears and dreams with everyone in the pages of the journals before mailing it off to the next person in line.

One of the most memorable entries was a woman who was dying of cancer. During chemotherapy she used the journal to chronicle her ordeal. She shared her memories of being a little girl and of being a mother herself. She thanked me via email for allowing her to express her pain in the journal.

A few months later she contacted me again and asked if I could send her another journal as she was having to undergo another round of chemotherapy as the cancer had returned. I sent her the journal and never heard from her again, until her daughter emailed me months later to apologize for not forwarding the journal onward. Her mother had died and she had found the journal in her mother's personal belongings. The daughter thanked me for helping her Mother endure her last days of suffering.

I did not know that woman, or her daughter. I have no idea if either of them were Believers or not. But I do know that I sent out each journal with a prayer that the Holy Spirit would speak to each person who received one and participated in the experiment.

As I look forward to next year I realize that there are hundreds of ideas like this one. Simple, out of the box, and if directed by the Holy Spirit, full of potential to touch hundreds of lives we may never know...but God does.

Perhaps this [Subversive Underground] could be a network of sorts, full of operatives like yourself who are inspired and empowered by God to creatively touch hundreds, or maybe just two or three, in the Name of Jesus next year.

If I can share an idea with you that inspires you to try something new, or if you are compelled by something I write here to go out into the World you walk through every day and carry the Kingdom in your smile, touch, or words, then I hope this encourages you to spend some time in prayer to God about what He would have you do next year to make a difference.

You are exactly the person God has chosen to be His ambassador in the place where you are right now. Only you can be who you are and have the impact you can have.

I hereby deputize all of you to go out into all the World and preach the Gospel. If necessary use words.

Peace (on Earth),

Register online and find out more here:


Thursday, December 13, 2007

You Who Are Evil

You Who Are Evil
by Keith Giles

"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" - Jesus (Luke 11:13)

This verse fascinates me. In it, Jesus is standing before a group of people who are listening to him speak about the Kingdom of God. As he instructs them on the mechanics of prayer he makes an amazing, off the cuff remark about the assumption of evil in the hearts of those standing in front of him.

What I like about this passage is that Jesus not only teaches us about how God loves us like children and loves to give good gifts to us when we ask Him, but also that God is not surprised by our sin. He knows we are evil. It's not a surprise to Him, and it's not a barrier to His gift of the Holy Spirit.

The United States Marine Corps used to have a great recruiting slogan: "We're looking for a few good men." But God is not looking for a few good men because He already knows there aren't any.

Yet God still gives. He doesn't withold good things from people because of their evil. If He did, none of us would have anything.

"There is none who is righteous, no not one" (Romans 3:11)

Jesus even uses the continual goodness of God as a basis for our calling for radical compassion and love towards others. He says that, because God brings rain on the just as well as the unjust, we also should show love to those who "deserve it" and those who don't. (Of course, Jesus would point out that none of us "deserves it").

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."

Because God is good to everyone, even the unrighteous, this is your basis for doing good to everyone, even those "sinners", because God does it...and because you're one of "those sinners" too.

I also love how Jesus ends this passage; "If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." - Jesus (Matthew 5:43-48)

We are called to an impossible standard of love that transcends the everday, ordinary version of what passes for love today. We are called to model the extravagant love of God to people who have not yet experienced this sort of "off the charts" love. Since we have experienced this kind of love, we are the one's expected to put it into practice and give it away to others.

"Freely you have received, freely give." - Jesus (Matthew 10:8)

Yesterday as I was driving home in traffic I reflected over some of the events of this year I and I realized what Jesus says here is true. We are evil. None of us is "Good".

More than once this year I have been confronted with the shocking truth of man's capacity for evil. I've received calls from friends whose marriages are falling apart due to infidelity. I've heard details of fellow pastors who have been caught in sexual sin. I've counseled people who are determined to hold on to their sin, even as they admit to me that they know they are hurting themselves or others with their behavior. I've watched in sorrow as people I love have willingly returned to patterns of bondage to sin in order to get a temporary high or traded away the riches of God's blessings to them for an empty illusion and emotional heartache.

I realize that any one of us is capable, in the right situation, of any sort of evil or destructive selfish behavior. None of us is immune. Not you. Not me. Not your Mom or your Dad or your Pastor or your best friend.

"For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God" (Romans 3:23)

There is, however, a diamond I've found buried in this dark, cold ground and it is this: God's Grace towards me is only "Amazing" in relation to the darkness and evil within my own heart.

So, if I believe that I am basically an OK person, then God's love and Grace towards me is "Kinda Cool". But if I realize that I am sinful, selfish and evil beyond description and that my capacity for destructive behavior is unlimited, then the concept of God's love and Grace towards someone like me becomes truly "Amazing" in comparison.

If I am not evil, then God's Grace isn't amazing, it's just nice.

But, I AM evil. You are too. And God's Grace is truly, gloriously, hilariously "Amazing".

"While we were yet sinners Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

So now, my evil friends, as you consider what it means to give good gifts this Holiday season, I'd encourage you to give as God gives; to the poor, to the broken, to the lost and the forgotten, to the just and the unjust, and to those who do not deserve mercy.

Happy Holidays.


If not, what are you waiting for? Both of my books are now available as free PDF downloads for the rest of the year!

More info at my main site here:

About my books:

"The Gospel: For Here Or To Go?" - The Gospel is not for sale. Learn how to relate to human beings as a human being without all the memorized speeches and pretentious nonsense commonly associated with evangelism. Instead, learn how to be who you are in the place you already live, work and play. The Gospel is not just for "those sinners" anymore, it's for you and me too. (Note: We are just as sinful as anyone else).

"Nobody Follows Jesus (So Why Should You?)"- A devotional book for the MySpace Generation. This collection of 40 articles (over 200 pages) is a perfect guide for learning how to follow Jesus in your every day life without pretending to be the holiest person in the room.

Saturday, March 15th, 2008
"More of a conversation than a conference"
With Jackie Pullinger, David Ruis, Cindy Reithmeier, John Thomas, Keith Giles, Spencer Burke


More info and online registration at:

Dec.16th. The Gap Protest adds 3 major cities as hundreds of protestors will return their Gap, Inc. clothes (including Old Navy and Bannana Republic) to speak out against the retail giant's use of children as slaves to create their clothing.

Gap Protest Locations:Costa Mesa, San Francisco, Miami and New York
Find out more at:


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Who Wants To Change The World?


"Who Wants To Change The World?"
by Keith Giles

A few years ago a good friend of mine and I were meeting regularly to work out strategy for having an impact on the culture around us. Our plan involved a series of guerilla marketing concepts ranging from an elaborate scavenger hunt called the "Wormhole", a cryptic website that would rotate content between video clips, challenging text, and thought-provoking graphics, and even a magazine that we would print and distribute covertly at area record shops and coffee shops to stimulate people to think about Kingdom-related issues. It was all great fun and some of those ideas influenced me to start this very e-newsletter.

But a funny thing happened to me as my friend and I plotted our subversive campaign to impact the culture- God kicked me in the teeth.

It wasn't a literal kick in the teeth, of course. God is much too subtle for that most of the time. Instead, as I was praying one night the Holy Spirit whispered this little nugget into my head- "If you want to change the culture, have an impact on a child."

Apparently God enjoys subversive campaigns too.

The sentence was simple, but the idea was more radical and pervasive than anything my friend and I had yet to devise or implement. The more I thought about this statement I realized that it was true. If we want to change the culture for Christ, we have to start with the next generation. The only way to change the future is to develop young people today to have a clear understanding of what the Gospel of the Kingdom is and teach them how to live it out in their everyday lives.

My oldest son turned twelve years old this week. It has caused me to stop and remember that sentence whispered in my ear by the Holy Spirit three years ago. It has made me realize that my son will be a teenager in just twelve more months. Have I done all I can to prepare him for the future? Have I made sure that my son understands the Gospel? Does he know how to live it out in his actual life?

I spend a lot of time and creative energy writing these articles for the [Subversive Underground]. I map out months in advance sometimes what I will write about here. On top of that I've recently published two books and I have another book project (or two) in the works at the moment. I've also got the "Non-Con" coming up in March that I need to plan for and, of course, two house churches that meet in my home full of people I am called to Pastor, lead, encourage and inspire.

I realized this week that my sons are more important to me than all of that combined. Nothing is more important to me than making sure that my sons Dylan and David have a clear understanding of The Gospel of the Kingdom. I want to be certain to teach them how to obey the teachings of Jesus. I want to make sure they understand how to handle temptation. I want to be careful to show them how to submit themselves to God and how to trust Him with everything. I want to give them the very best I could possibly give.

As much as I know I'm called to this ministry of writing and teaching others about the Kingdom and helping people understand what it means to follow Jesus every day, I'm called first of all to make sure that my own sons know this and live it out.

If you want to change the world for Christ, if you want to make a lasting impact on the culture, if you want to influence the future generations, be sure to focus your time, energy and passion on helping a child to know what the Gospel really is. Help them to understand what it means to follow Jesus with their every day life. Teach them to love others. Model compassion. Give to them what you have been given. Then, my friends, you will change this world.

That, believe it or not, is subversive.

Dec.16th Protest adds 3 major cities.

Hundreds of protestors will return their Gap, Inc. clothes (including Old Navy and Bannana Republic) on Dec.16th to speak out against the retail giant's use of children as slaves to create their clothing.

Gap Protest Locations:Costa Mesa, San Francisco, Miami and New York

Find out more at:

Read the complete Press Release:

Saturday, March 15th, 2008
"More of a conversation than a conference"
-Jackie Pullinger, David Ruis, Cindy Reithmeier, John Thomas, Keith Giles

More info and online registration at:


"The Gospel: For Here Or To Go?" - The Gospel is not for sale. Learn how to relate to human beings as a human being without all the memorized speeches and pretentious nonsense commonly associated with evangelism. Instead, learn how to be who you are in the place you already live, work and play. The Gospel is not just for "those sinners" anymore, it's for you and me too. (Note: We are just as sinful as anyone else).

"Nobody Follows Jesus (So Why Should You?)"- A devotional book for the MySpace Generation. This collection of 40 articles (over 200 pages) is a perfect guide for learning how to follow Jesus in your every day life without pretending to be the holiest person in the room.

More info at my main site here:


Wednesday, November 28, 2007


It's Your Funeral
by Keith Giles

There's something amazing that happens to me whenever I attend a funeral. As friends and family members step up to the microphone and share their fondest memories of the departed, I can't help but wonder who will stand up at my funeral, and what will they say about me when I'm gone?

I know what I'd like them to say. I'd hope that my best friends would tell stories of how I've encouraged them or about a time when I helped them in a time of need. I'd hope that my wife would share about how thoughtful a husband I was. I'd love to think my sons would stand and share about how something I taught them about life, or about character, or about integrity had stuck with them through the years and allowed them to grow as individuals. I'd love to think that the crowd would be full of people who were inspired by my writing or my books, or who were touched or blessed in some way by my acts of service or compassion.

I'd love to think that, on the day they put me into the dirt, there will be a church somewhere filled with people who were blessed and touched and inspired by my life.

But the question, of course, is will there really be anyone eager to say these things about me?

I recently watched a little-known film called "The Lookout" which I really enjoyed. In the film, the main character is a young man who made a mistake on his graduation night that took the lives of his best friends and left him with a severe brain disorder. In the film he struggles to remember simple instructions due to his brain damage. He has trouble with completing things in sequence.

There's a scene in the film where one of his friends gives him some advice on how to accomplish a simple task. He says, "Start at the end and work backwards from there." When he tries it he discovers that it works, and this becomes a great metaphor in the film for how all of us can cope with our struggles.

I think of that statement now as I ponder what my funeral will look like. I have a picture in my head of what I'd hope that day to look like and how I'd love for things to play out as friends and family gather to remember my life.

The best way for me to insure that my vision of that day comes to fruition is to start at the end and work backwards from there. It means I need to live my life today in a consistent and intentional way. If I want my wife to speak glowingly of my thoughtfulness at my funeral, it means I need to be sure to be thoughtful to her today. If I want my sons to tell stories about how I inspired them to be better men of God at my memorial service, it means I have to inspire them today to be better men of God.

What do you hope your friends and family will say of you on that day? Maybe we need to consider this as we live out our daily lives. Maybe we should start at the end and work backwards from there?

It's your funeral.


SEND GAP CLOTHES BACK- Dec.16th Protest adds 3 major cities.
Hundreds of protestors will return their Gap, Inc. clothes (including Old Navy and Bannana Republic) on Dec.16th to speak out against the retail giant's use of children as slaves to create their clothing.

Gap Protest Locations:
Costa Mesa, San Francisco, Miami and New York

Find out more at:

Read the complete Press Release:

Saturday, March 15th, 2008
"More of a conversation than a conference"
-Jackie Pullinger, David Ruis, Cindy Reithmeier, John Thomas, Keith Giles


Registered to date: 25
Seats left: 75

Attendance by State:
CA - 16
CT- 3
TX - 4
AZ - 1
OK - 1

GUYS- 12, GALS -13

More info and online registration at:

More info at my main site here:


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Defending The (Christian) Subculture

Defending The (Christian) Subculture
By Keith Giles

At the moment there are two articles over at on the evils of the Christian Subculture written by yours truly. So far the response has been largely favorable, but there have been a few vocal defenders of the Subculture who have risen up against my attack. To be honest, I did expect to get negative feedback on these articles. In fact, my greatest surprise came when I received such vocal support in favor of my position that the Christian Subculture must die.

As I ponder on the ferocity of such impassioned defense, I have to admit I don't understand what it is that people feel they are protecting. What is it they are defending? I wonder if those who oppose my attack on the Christian Subculture have blurred the line between the Christian Marketplace and the Kingdom of God?

One detractor said as much, " rant about destroying the Christian Subculture is nothing less than a call to destroy the church universal." (from 'b0bbieb0b' over at

But this is a great and serious misunderstanding of what the Christian Subculture actually is. The Christian Subculture is NOT the Church Universal.

This response is similar to what I hear when I suggest that the Church isn't a building or an entrepreneurial venture lead by professional clergy. People in the modern American Church have blurred the lines between corporate expressions of worship, the consumer-driven subculture, the actual Church, and the Kingdom of God.

For example, Biblically the only building spoken of regarding the Church is you and I.

"You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." - 1 Peter 2:5

The Church, then, as Paul and Peter describe it in their epistles, is made up only of people, not some structure built by human hands.

So the Church is not a specific building where believers gather each week. That is not "The Church". This means that if you were to leave First Baptist of Tulsa in order to start a house church in your living room, you have NOT "Left the Church" because you ARE the Church.

The only way to "Leave the Church" would be to walk away from Jesus and follow another religious belief system entirely.

The Christian Subculture is also not the Church. It is a man-made system of thought that encourages followers of Jesus to express their identity through the consumption of "Jesus-Branded" products and services. It exists to perpetuate its own existence and success through the sale of more and more "Jesus-Branded" products and services. It creates and encourages a climate of "Us vs Them" between Christians and Non-Christians in order to sell more product. The catch words for this Subculture are "Safety", "Comfort" and "Sacred".

Apparently people cannot imagine being a follower of Jesus apart from this Christian Subculture. Why is that? Is it that we've been conditioned for so long to exist and behave and participate in this way that the idea of being just a simple follower of Jesus is foreign to us? Why is it so unthinkable that you and I could enjoy a vibrant, deep and intense relationship with Jesus apart from the Christian Marketplace?

What I also find fascinating is how this Christian Subculture is largely an American creation. Friends of mine in England find it hilarious that we publish "Christian Phone Directories" where believers can call a Christian Plumber to fix their toilet or a Christian Pizza parlor to deliver their pizza.

I'm currently reading the book "Walk On" by Steve Stockman. It's a look at the spiritual journey of Bono, The Edge and Larry Mullen, Jr., who, collectively with bassist Adam Clayton, are known as the Irish rock band "U2". In the book Stockman points out early on that U2 managed to become the most spiritually relevant band in the world today because they managed to avoid the clutches of the Christian Subculture. Had they felt the need to create music that would be acceptable to the religious set, the band would have relegated itself, and its message, to obscurity.

There is a serious need in today's American Church for a re-education of terminology. We need to understand the difference between The Church, the Subculture, and The Kingdom of God. These are key elements for us to find clarity on, otherwise we will become confused and easily lead astray by the masses.

I suppose I can understand that this sort of thinking will take time to settle into people's minds. This is a new way of talking and it's against the grain for thousands of people and we're up against hundreds of years of tradition.

The exciting thing for me is that God is beginning to call His people out of this quagmire. He is burning away the dross and exposing the beautiful, radiant Bride underneath.

Let's get the fire started, shall we?

Saturday, March 15th, 2008
"More of a conversation than a conference"

At this point there are less than 74 seats still left available.
More info online at:

More info at my main site here:

For more info on the "Send Gap Clothes Back" Protest on Dec.16th go here:

On Dec.16th, 2007, hundreds of young people will gather at Gap Stores around the country to give back their GAP, Inc. clothing in order to protest the retail chain's slave labor practices.

"December 16th is the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party," said J.R., organizer of the planned protest. "We want to make a similar statement, as young people who have helped Gap build their clothing empire with our clothing purchases, that we no longer want to buy our clothes from an organization that supports or employs child slaves to produce their products."

The planned event will involve hundreds of young protesters who are encouraged to bring all of their Gap, Inc. clothes items (which include Bannanna Republic and Old Navy) to the nearest Gap store and drop them on the front doorstep with a note to the owners that they will no longer support the retail chain or purchase their clothes.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007


[Subversive Underground]

Jumping The Shark
By Keith Giles

A recent study by Barna Group, a Christian Research agency, reports a sharp increase in skepticism about Christianity and a resistance to the Gospel message among young people aged 16 to 29 years old.

*The full study is found here:

Some have suggested that Christianity in America “Jumped the Shark” a long time ago, but reports such as this one certainly give ammunition to fuel assertions such as these.

We have to face the fact that, by and large, our most popular leaders have communicated a message that is divisive and separatist in nature. Our churches have not engaged the community. Our focus has largely been on ourselves, our buildings, our programs, our talent, enlarging our ghetto. We’ve not loved our neighbor as ourselves. We’ve not put the needs of others above our own. We have not taught others to obey all that Jesus commanded us. We have failed to obey him ourselves. We have forgotten our call to be Salt and Light in this world and it’s time to repent.

According to the report by Barna (linked above) the younger generation is turned off by the anti-homosexual posture of the Christian Church in America. They are repulsed by our lack of concern for the poor. They are incensed at our judgmental attitudes.

Common negative perceptions (among non-Christians) include that present-day Christianity is judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%), old-fashioned (78%), and too involved in politics (75%) - representing large proportions of young outsiders who attach these negative labels to Christians.

Even among young Christians, many of the negative images generated significant traction. Half of young churchgoers said they perceive Christianity to be judgmental, hypocritical, and too political. One-third said it was old-fashioned and out of touch with reality.

Reading this makes me want to get on my knees and pray for pastors across America to wake up and smell the coffee. We need leaders in our churches who are willing to take a stand and start swimming upstream. We have to disentangle ourselves from the popular Christian Subculture that encourages us to remain aloof from the society around us. We have to disengage from the political component that co-opts the Republican Party under the banner of Christianity. We have to stop posturing ourselves as a people who are “Against” something and start getting involved in demonstrating what it is that we are “For” as followers of Jesus.

"Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." (1 Peter 2:12)

How we live is just as important, perhaps even more important, than what we say. Our message must be lived out, demonstrated in action, if we ever hope to regain the ground we've lost with this current generation of young people.

Hopefully by now we’ve started to see that it really matters what we say. It really matters what we do. Actions really do speak louder than words and our behavior as ambassadors of Christ over the last few decades has suffered greatly.

This is why I’ve recently written articles about the need to re-define what it means to follow Jesus. Calling ourselves “Christian” says nothing about who we really are or how we live our lives.

A whopping 89% of most Americans would call themselves “Christian” and do so without any real thought as to what that might suggest about how they should live out their everyday life.

We cannot hide behind a label and excuse the hateful behaviors of those who call themselves after the name of Jesus. We have to start living life against the grain.

This is the Christian life. This is what it means to follow Jesus. This is subversive.


Saturday, March 15th, 2008
"More of a conversation than a conference"

At this point there are less than 89 seats still left available.

More info online at:

In a recent article in Christianity Today’sOut of Ur” blog, is an article outlining the results of a “multi year qualitative study” into “what programs and activities of the church were actually helping people mature spiritually and which were not.”
Being a “program driven” and “seeker sensitive” church, Willowcreek has spent millions of dollars setting up all kinds of programs designed to increase participation and therefore making the participants better disciples of Jesus.
What the research actually showed is that all these programs did not lead people into a deeper relationship with Jesus. Having spent 30 years building this church model and advocating it to others, Hybels has called this report the “wake up call” of his life.
“We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.” - Bill Hybels

”Destroy the (Christian) Subculture Part 2” and “Consumption, Expression & Identity” are both online now at

More info at my main site here:


Tuesday, November 06, 2007


by Keith Giles

These are the 7 habits of the most highly ineffective pastors in America today.

1- Preach and go home. Let someone else do the pastoring. That's what "Associates" are for.

2- Follow what the bigger churches are doing. Why go to the trouble of listening to God's voice? Just copy what the big-guys are doing. It's bound to work, or at least put more butts in the seats.

3- Start a building fund. Nothing says, "Ineffective" like a pastor who pussy-foots over controversial sermon topics in order to keep those pledges rolling in. Don't forget the basketball courts!

4- Act as if your church is the best in town. Ignore those other churches as much as possible, unless you need to refer to them in the negative (see #6).

5- Use people to your own ends. Find gifted, passionate people and get them working as soon as possible. Don't be afraid to overload them, they'll tell you when they've had enough, but then you can probably still give them a few other things to do by teaching them to "delegate". There's a reason 10% of the people in church do 90% of the's pastors like you!

6- Lift your Church status by putting other Churches down. If you must address the fact that there are other churches in your area, make sure to make yourself look good by pointing out the ways you're not "like them". Works like a charm and keeps their butts in your seats doing nothing rather than in some other pew across town doing nothing. Think about it. (see #3).

7- Encourage "Pulpit Evangelism". You're the expert. You've got that seminary degree and those lay people are not equipped to preach the Gospel to their friends. They're likely to screw it up. Rather than waste time teaching them, let them bring the lost to church so you can put that degree to good use. The last thing you want is to make your people believe they can do this without your expertise.

In today's American church what matters is being successful and being successful means putting butts in the seats. Pastoring, caring for people, and being a servant to all takes valuable time away from attracting large crowds and making your services more entertaining for the masses.

To be an effective pastor, learn these 7 habits and do the exact opposite. Care for people, listen to God's voice, don't get distracted by building issues, bless other local ministries, empower your people (don't exploit them), teach more of your people to be disciples and then to make disciples. Multiply yourself and duplicate your ability to teach, train, encourage, disciple and serve others.

What would the "7 Habits of Highly Effective Pastors" look like?

1-Spend time with people. Learn to love them. Devote your time to listening to them. Find out where they are and what they are struggling with before you put together your sermon series. Make sure you're teaching them something they need most and take the time to get to know them. Being a pastor means being a shepherd who cares for the flock. Jesus asked us to feed His sheep and that means making sure they're healthy and that they can put into practice what they believe. It also means you have to practice what you preach as an example to them. Live it out more than you talk it out.

2-Spend time on your knees with God. Develop a habit of listening to God's voice in matters of leading your church. Don't be distracted by the "next big thing" at the mega-church down the street or the newest best-seller on the Christian charts. Remember that making disciples and teaching people to do everything that Jesus commanded is all you're called to do (see the Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20). Focus on that, it's hard enough all by itself with adding the flavor of the month idea to the mix.

3-Forget the building, remember the people. The New Testament speaks a lot about the Church building. In context, however, the building is revealed to be the people of God, not a structure or a facility where believers gather to meet, and the process of building this Church is the work of God Himself.

Paul the Apostle refers to the Church as the "Body of Christ" which is made up of many parts. Each part of this Body of Christ is identified as an individual follower of Jesus with a diverse set of gifts and talents bestowed upon each by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of building up and encouraging the entire Body. (see 1 Cor 12:12)

Peter the Apostle also refers to the Church as being made up of living stones as he says in 1 Peter 2:5 "You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." The Church, then, as Paul and Peter describe it in their epistles, is made up only of people, not some structure built by human hands.

4-Partner with other pastors and churches. If there's one thing that I believe God longs to see happen it's local congregations laying aside their petty differences, and their fears of losing members, in order to join hands and advance the Gospel of the Kingdom. I have never been as blessed as when our house church partnered with two other churches (one a mega-church, the other a small college congregation) to pass out free groceries and pray for residents at a poverty motel here in Santa Ana, California. When we stop seeing the other churches in town as our competition and start treating them as our brothers and sisters, even our partners in ministry, then I believe we can really change our world for Christ.

5-Empower your people, don't exploit them. Teach your people to become teachers. If you are in the habit of training others to become trainers of others (this is a very basic principle of discipleship), you will eventually end up with a church full of teachers and trainers who are training others to also be teachers and trainers. Over time your church will become so full of mature ("Graduated") leaders and disciple-makers that your small staff will act mostly as facilitators and not the one's who must always be "hands-on" for every single event/class/lesson/bible study, etc.

I have personally been shocked to see a lack of basic trust among most lead pastors to "give away the ministry" in this way. Many pastors are too afraid to actually empower and release others to do their job. Why? Well, it's pretty obvious that this threatens their authority and job security. But, it doesn't have to. I believe any pastor who actually put this into practice would quickly become the envy of other pastors in their community. They'd get phone calls from other pastors asking, "How do you do it?" and "Can you show me how to do this?"

Start empowering your people. Give them something to do, believe in them, love them, invest in them, give them what you have and provide freedom for them to step out and use their gifts and talents for the Gospel. Encourage their ideas. Make their dreams come true.

6-Bless other churches and ministries in your city. One church I know has a regular habit of tithing out of their General Fund to help other local churches and ministries succeed. They always make sure that they bless others in such a way that the gift does not residually benefit them for the donation. In other words, they give without any concern for how it will help them, only how it will help the sister church in need. That's a great way to practice what Jesus teaches us about loving one another and being known for our love. Bless other churches in your area and make it count.

7- Help your people understand what the Gospel really is and show them how they can live out their faith in practical ways. The important thing to remember is that you are not selling anything. The Gospel is not for sale. You don't need to be a salesman. Your people don’t need to memorize a pitch. You will not track their success on a chart. They will not have to pretend to be someone they are not.

As a free resource I've made my book, "The Gospel: For Here or To Go?" available as a free PDF download over at my main website (

Start empowering your people to "BE the church" and not just attend one. Mulitply your efforts and start deputizing your Church to live out their faith in practical ways every single day.

That's what it will take to make a difference in today's American Church.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! - In celebration of my birthday month (November) I will be giving the first 5 people who purchase one of my books online a free "Goodie Bag". To qualify you must purchase at least one of my books online and email me your order confirmation # at the end of the order, along with your mailing address. I will send out a free goodie bag to say "Thank You" to those first five people.

What's in the bag?
1) A copy of "The Noise" Magazine. Now out of print, this magazine includes my interview with Jim Wallis as well as articles by David Ruis and Alex Field, plus my articles "De La Soul" and "Lupita's Surprise".
2) Sermon Cd of "The Gospel: For Here or To Go?" - Recorded three years before I sat down to write the book, this is one of the best sermon's I've given on the subject of missional life and it makes a great companion to the book.
3) Jeremy Riddle Cd- Great worship. No charge.
4) "The Da Vinci Code:A Response" (booklet) - A great response to the controversy by Nicky Gumbel, founder of Alpha Ministries.
5) More surprises to be discovered upon opening up your box.

The first five people to email me with their valid order confirmation number will receive the "Goodies" box.

Email me at "elysiansky" (at) "hotmail" (dot) "com" can purchase either book at

NOTE: Only good for customers residing in the continental United States. Offer good only for purchases made in November of 2007.

*My articles "NOT A CHRISTIAN" and "CONSUMPTION, EXPRESSION, IDENTITY" are both up now at for your enjoyment.
*"WHAT ARE WE AFRAID OF?" is also online at

My friend Greg Russinger is one of the co-founders of this new non-profit dedicated to fighting poverty, exposing human trafficking and assisting orphans around the globe.Don't just sit there. Get involved now.You CAN make a difference!

My friend Bob Sears has a great resource website for people wanting to know how to start their own Simple Church/House Church.It's chock-full of wisdom and practical application. Go. See. Learn.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


"Everything Is A Rental" by Keith Giles

In light of the recent fires we've experienced in Southern California I've been thinking about the right perspective of our life here on Earth.

I'm reminded that Peter called us "aliens and strangers in the world" and urged us to indulge in the good things of God rather than the sinful desires of this Earth and that Paul teaches that "...Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

What does it mean to be content in our society? It's a lost art, I'm afraid. All of our marketing and advertising encourages us, at all times, to be discontent with the things we own and to pursue the newest and best item on the market.

Who knew we all needed to have a pocket-sized device that would carry over 6,000 songs? How did our ancestors live without Blackberry phones and DVD players in the backseat of every car?
I think sometimes that I would love to move to Amish country with my family and leave behind our modern conveniences. Or at least the television and the cell phone.

Jesus had the right idea when he reminded us that our lives are not made up of what we own or what we wear or what we eat. God knows our needs before we ask. He wants us to focus on His Kingdom and on having a good relationship with Him (righteousness).

After one of the largest fires was contained here in Irvine, California, a local news crew interviewed a woman who stood in the smoldering ashes of her former home alongside her husband and children. They extended the microphone under her nose and asked her to describe the sense of loss she felt at seeing her house reduced to embers. The woman looked into the camera and said, "I can't really think about what I've lost when I start to think about what I've gained." The reporter wasn't expecting this so she asked, "What have you gained?" and the woman replied, "I've gained a greater faith in God, I've gained a greater sense of community with my neighbors here on this street, I've gained a greater appreciation for my children and a love for my husband. When I count all of that, what I've lost doesn't seem like so much."

I wanted to have that answer blown up in large letters and posted alongside every major freeway in our State. This is what the fires have taught us. This is the wisdom that God wants us to develop.

As Paul says, "…we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it". How often do we forget that obvious truth? How often do we live our lives as if our joy and our happiness depended on seeing the latest film or attending the coolest party or owning the hippest swag?

Too often.

The Kingdom of this World is passing away. The Kingdoms of Pleasure and Entertainment and Fashion and Vanity are all soon to fade into Eternity. Jesus urges us to look up, to lift our heads and to realize that this blip of life here is soon to give way to an endless life in the presence of God Himself.

Start living for God's Kingdom today. Start investing in the values of His Kingdom where forgiveness and mercy and love and compassion are most important.

Everything you currently own is not really yours. Someone else will drive that car when you're gone. Someone else will wear your clothes when you're dead. Someone else will live in your house when you have left this life.

Everything is a rental.

Hold on loosely.

"NOT A CHRISTIAN" - The article is up on on Nov.1st. Be sure to check it out and leave a comment.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! - In celebration of my birthday month (November) I will be giving the first 5 people who purchase one of my books online a free "Goodie Bag".

To qualify you must purchase at least one of my books online and email me your order confirmation # at the end of the order, along with your mailing address. I will send out a free goodie bag to say "Thank You" to those first five people.

What's in the bag?
1) A copy of "The Noise" Magazine. Now out of print, this magazine includes my interview with Jim Wallis as well as articles by David Ruis and Alex Field, plus my articles "De La Soul" and "Lupita's Surprise".
2) Sermon Cd of "The Gospel: For Here or To Go?" - Recorded three years before I sat down to write the book, this is one of the best sermon's I've given on the subject of missional life and it makes a great companion to the book.
3) Jeremy Riddle Cd- Great worship. No charge.
4) The Da Vinci Code Exposed (booklet) - A great response to the controversy by Nicky Gumbel, founder of Alpha Ministries.
5) More surprises to be discovered upon opening up your box.
The first five people to email me with their valid order confirmation number will receive the "Goodies" box.

Email me at "elysiansky" (at) "hotmail" (dot) "com" can purchase either book at
Because of unforseen scheduling conflicts, Jackie Pullinger will not be able to join us for the Non-Con in March. Because of this I have decided to cancel the Non-Con as we have come to know it.

Everyone who had planned to attend the event based only on Jackie's appearance will no doubt be very disappointed by this. I regret the change and I apologize for getting your hopes up. Jackie is a wonderful person and one of my personal heroes. Her absence will certainly be felt by all of us.

In a few weeks I will make an announcement regarding a revised agenda and other changes in store for this same weekend in March, which will also be called the "Non-Con" but now, it seems, with even more "Non" than ever before.

It will be smaller. More intense. More intentional. A conversation, not a conference.

Those who still have a desire to gather in a small group with like-minded followers of Jesus, engage in conversation about the poor, missional life and following Him, and who are willing to step outside their comfort zone and serve people in the community for a Saturday will be thrilled to hear what we have in store on March 15th.

This is only the beginning of something more unique and grass-roots. God is in this. It is a very, very good thing.

More details at
If you've got the time you need to watch this debate between noted Atheist Christopher Hitchens ( author of "God Is Not Great") and Dinesh D'Souza ("What's So Great About Christianity?").

You need to know what the greatest (and loudest) voices in our world today are saying about Christianity and Faith in God.

Go. Watch:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


*APOLOGIES- Last week's [Subversive Underground] was delayed by Feedblitz and I had to send it out manually on Monday. This is the first time I have ever missed a single week of this free, weekly e-newsletter in over 101 consecutive weeks. I apologize for this. Because of last week's article spilling over into this week, I'm sending you two [SU] articles this week in order to keep the article count on track. From now on I will manually send each weekly installment so that this doesn't happen again.
Thanks- kg

[Subversive Underground]

By Keith Giles

As I sit here typing this I am breathing in the smell of smoke. All around me, hundreds of thousands of acres in Southern California are burning. Right now there are thousands of firefighters trying desperately to save people's houses from destruction with nothing more than a shovel, a fire hose and a prayer.

It's difficult to look at the map of California and see fire engulfing the center of the State, from the southern region of San Diego, through Orange County, and north to Riverside County, up into Los Angeles and even Ventura County, and not wonder if this is the end of the world.

I want to say that this is not God's Judgement on the State of California. When that comes I do believe we will know it and it will make this look like a trip to the beach. No, this is not God's Judgement on our State. I do believe, however, that is is a wake up call for many of us.

A few years ago, when I was still on staff at a local, traditional church, our offices burned to the ground. We lost everything. It was sudden and it was swift and it was merciless. It made us thankful for what we still had. It turned our attention away from what we wanted, and what we had lost, and onto what was really important in our lives. It made us grateful for the blessings in hand.

I don't think you have to have your actual house burn down in order to appreciate the lesson of the fire. You can see the devastation. You can watch people stoop to the ground and tearfully pull their damaged treasure from the ash. You can cry along with the elderly couple who had no insurance and now faces an uncertain future of homelessness, poverty, and destitution. You can take stock of your own life and the fire can redefine your definition of happiness.

My family has a saying we developed after enduring a season of prolonged unemployment. During those times we felt frustrated at the lack of financial freedom, or uncertain about where the money would come from to pay those upcoming bills, we would sit together and join hands and pray a prayer of thanksgiving to God for giving us all we need, and a lot of stuff we don't. Remembering that my life was already full of God's favor and that we all had what we needed for that day helped me to refocus my heart and settle my soul.

Most of you who are reading this right now have plenty of food in your house. Many in our world, even in our neighborhood, do not. Most of us have a job, or at least some realiable source of income to look forward to. Many in our own city do not. Most of us have friends who love us, or a family who cares for us, or someone near to us who genuinely enjoys our company. Thousands in our nursing homes and homeless shelters and hospitals are all alone, forgotten and unknown.

The fire serves to remind us that we are human. We are fragile. Life is mutable. Things pass away. People, relationships and family are more important than houses or cars or personal belongings. Love is better than stuff.

The fire reminds us to help others. It awakens our sense of compassion for our fellow man. It causes us to whisper prayers for mercy. It brings out the best within us and burns away the selfishness and the pride and the empty pursuit of things…or at least, it should.

Jesus was always talking about something called "The Kingdom of God". He urged his followers to seek this first, above all other things. He wanted them to remember that our lives are not about what we wear, or what we eat, or where we live. He reminded us that God knows we need those things to live, and that God would take care of providing our needs if we would turn our attention primarily towards seeking after His Kingdom and and being made right with God in our hearts. (Matthew 6:30-35)

There is a lesson for us all in these fires. Remember what matters.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." - Jesus (Matthew 6:19-21)

Remember, you have everything you need, and a lot more that you don't.

GET MY NEW BOOKS FOR FREE! Yes, I've finally published my two books, "The Gospel:For Here Or To Go?" and "Nobody Follows Jesus (So Why Should You?)" over at You can purchase a paperback version of either book or you can download them both as a PDF file, totally free of charge. My main goal is to spread the ideas and thoughts contained in each of these books. I only make about $2 per book sold, so getting rich is not my goal here. If you want to purchase the book, I will be a very happy man, but don't feel bad about downloading the free PDF and then forwarding the link to all of your friends either.
Spread the subversive goodness.
NOT THIS SUNDAY- I will NOT be speaking at Soul Survivor Church this weekend. That was last week. (See above). Of course, if you still want to join them over there, those guys are awesome and God is doing great stuff in their Church these days. Tell'em Keith sent ya.

GREAT COMMENTS: Over at there are 17 comments (so far) on my article "Destroy the (Christian) Subculture!" Part two will run on November 11th (two days after my birthday). Several people have told me that they've forwarded the article on to their own e-newsletter lists and some of those have also forwarded it onward. Viva la revolucion!

UPDATE ON HARBOR MINISTRY TO PROSTITUTES- Go read an update on our recent trip to serve the girls on Harbor blvd. at

NON-CON CANCELLED?? - Not yet. But I am praying about whether or not I should throw the switch or let it ride. You can pray for me that God would speak clearly about this and that I really hear from Him about doing this thing or not. More details are also at under "Weekend Update". Next week we'll either announce that it's cancelled or open online registration and go for it. Keep praying until then.

PODCAST SERMON: "LIVING THE MISSIONAL LIFE" - If you use ITunes you can search "Keith Giles" under podcasts and listen to my sermon last week over at Soul Survivor Church. It's more of a conversation than a sermon, really. I purposely tried to engage people in a dialog rather than deliver a prepared speech. I think it came out ok. If you listen to it let me know what you think.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Number 1- The Gospel Is Not About Going To Heaven When You Die

NOTE: This is the final article in a ten part series of monthly installments. Each month we've taken a look at one of the top 10 things that every true follower of Jesus should know but, I suspect, may not really know.
My plan, later next year, is to add supplemental material to each chapter and release this as a complete book under the same title.
I hope you've enjoyed reading these articles as much as I've enjoyed writing them. Maybe a second Top 10 list will show up starting next January? Hmm…

By Keith Giles

Number 1- "The Gospel Is Not About Going To Heaven When You Die"

If you read the words of Jesus you'll quickly begin to notice that all he ever talks about is something called "The Kingdom of God." In fact, the only Gospel that Jesus ever talks about during his entire ministry on Earth was the Gospel of the Kingdom. There is no other Gospel.

Anyone who reads Matthew, Mark, Luke or John (the Gospels) will come away hearing all about The Gospel of the Kingdom from the mouth of Jesus. Jesus announced that the Kingdom of God was for here and now. This was the "Good News" in a nutshell- Anyone who wanted to enter God's Kingdom could do so on the spot. Jesus demonstrated what life in the Kingdom looked like. The Beattitudes are a picture of what life in the Kingdom looks like. Nearly every single parable of Jesus is designed to explain a particular facet of the Kingdom. His Sermon on the Mount declares the values of this Kingdom. His teachings are intended to show us how to live within the Kingdom, and His life was a blueprint for us to follow as we ourselves enter the Kingdom and learn from Him.

The only Gospel ever preached by Jesus is the message of The Kingdom of God. It was the new order where God's perfect will is always done in the lives of His followers. We do not need to wait until we die to enter God's Kingdom.

Many of us have been taught that the Gospel is about praying a prayer so that you can go to heaven when you die. This is false. Jesus never explained the Gospel in these terms. Instead, he talked about what it meant to follow him. He spoke about being a disciple. He described a way of life that was meant for today.

Most of us would define the Gospel as a spiritual transaction whereby we who are sinners receive a ticket to heaven when we die because of the death of Jesus upon the cross in our place. Yet, if we take this definition of the Gospel and apply it to the scriptures, we can easily see that this was not what Jesus or his disciples had in mind when they went around proclaiming the Gospel.

Even someone with a basic knowledge of the disciples can agree that whenever Jesus described his imminent arrest, torture and crucifixion to his closest friends and followers, their constant response to this was confusion, denial or flat out dismissal. If this were a central part of the Gospel as Jesus was proclaiming it to them, and as they themselves were proclaiming, it would seem logical that they would be able to grasp it. But this is clearly not the case.

Let's be very clear, the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross is an essential element of our salvation and those who place their complete trust in Jesus are promised an enternity in God's presence because of this. This is part of the Gospel message, but it is not the entire message.

Part of the reason we've gotten so far off the track when it comes to an understanding of the Gospel of Jesus is because we've attempted to reduce the message into a quick bumper sticker slogan or a set of easy steps to salvation. Our efforts to market the Gospel have back-fired. Now there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of individuals in pews across the Nation who believe that they are Christians because they said a prayer once when they were nine years old and now they can go to heaven when they die, regardless of whether or not they intend to follow Jesus or surrender their lives to Christ.

Discipleship to Jesus, then, becomes optional, not essential. This is not what Jesus had in mind at all.

When we look at passages where Jesus sends the disciples out into the surrounding area to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, it doesn’t make sense that what they were sharing with the community had anything to do with a guy who was going to die very soon for their sins and, once he did that, if they repeated a careful prayer, then they could go to heaven when they died.

Obviously, whatever it was that the disciples went out preaching, it wasn’t anything to do with a subject they exhibited zero understanding of or agreement with.

So, what was it that the disciples went out preaching? It was simply the Gospel of the Kingdom. The same message that we see Jesus publicly proclaiming over and over again in the Gospels.

Here are just a few examples from Scripture:

"I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent." (Luke 4:43)

"The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15)

"Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness." (Matt 9:35)

"Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom.." (Matt 4:23)

What we must keep in mind, as we begin to explore the concepts found in the Gospel of the Kingdom, is that this new system of life is God’s system. It is not one way of living, but in truth it is the way of living. Even as these new ways of thinking and living and being confound our minds and defy our logic and reason, we must constantly strive to remind ourselves that it is not God’s system that is unrealistic, but it is our own pattern of thinking and living that needs to be reformed and renewed. (see Romans 12)

Most of us read the words of Jesus and see a version of reality that seems surprisingly alien.
The words of Jesus from the sermon on the mount seem to be for another world and another place, not for the actual world you and I live in and deal with every single day. But this is because the World around us is "upside down" to the values of the Kingdom of God. In God's Kingdom the greatest is the servant of all, the first is the last, the weak are stronger, and those who lose their lives find their life.

When Jesus came to preach the Good News of the Kingdom, it was for today. It was intended for the here and now of life, not for some mystical afterlife beyond the grave.

What Jesus was proclaiming was that we could live today under the rule and reign of Almighty God. Instead of waiting to have this quality of life, Jesus was presenting an alternative system of living whereby we could reap the benefits of a God-Ruled Universe right now.

This is why so many people followed Jesus. This is why his message, his Gospel, was so compelling, and therefore so dangerous, to those who held spiritual power over the masses.

In my own spiritual journey, from a nine year old convert in a small Texas town, to a licensed and ordained minister of the Gospel pastoring others in their walk with Jesus, I have to confess that most of my progress has assumed the more popular Gospel of Salvation and not the actual Gospel that Jesus himself actually preached while he was here in the flesh.

It was only a few years ago, as I was doing my very first interview for a brand-new online column on American Spirituality called "Subversive" that I quite literally had my little spiritual paradigm re-arranged forever. I was interviewing a gentleman named Todd Hunter. Some of you may know him as the former National Director of the Association of Vineyard Churches, and perhaps others of you as the President of ALPHA Ministries here in the U.S. To me, he was someone I had heard preach at various times on Sunday mornings when our main pastor was out of town or sick. He was a practical and real-world teacher of the scriptures, and someone I respected in the arena of modern church development.

At one point in the interview, I asked him what, in his opinion, was the single biggest problem or challenge in American Christianity today. I suppose I expected him to cite apathy, or a lack of humility, or perhaps a lack of observable spiritual conviction among the Western Church. But what he said in response to this inquiry literally rocked my world and I have never been the same since.

Here is an excerpt from the interview with Todd Hunter that day.

"I think America is largely inoculated against the Gospel now, against what it believes the Gospel is all about," said Hunter. "I don’t believe the Gospel is about saying a prayer and then when you die you get to go to heaven. I think the true Gospel is about the in-breaking of the kingdom into your life today. The Gospel is not, ‘Jesus paid the price for my sins so I go to heaven when I die,’ or at least it’s not the Gospel that Jesus announced. The Gospel that Jesus announced is the good news of the present availability of the kingdom through Him. When we only think of Jesus as an atoning sacrifice, then His life and teaching and modeling just totally go out the window. Discipleship then becomes optional," Hunter argued. "But, if the Gospel is the good news that you can enter the kingdom and receive a different kind of life now, then you’ve got a basis for discipleship, or ‘follower-ship.’
(NOTE: You can read this entire interview by searching "Todd Hunter" over at

It was this single concept, the Gospel of the Kingdom, that radically influenced the most significant spiritual re-education of my life in every area of my personal theology.
It's the whole reason I continue to write and blog and publish articles and (soon) books on the subject of discipleship to Jesus and the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Once you begin to understand the the Gospel is about living in the Kingdom of God here and now, everything else about the Christian life begins to fall into place. Scriptures begin to take on more robust and personal meaning. Humility becomese essential to your spiritual life. Jesus becomes your lifeline to this incredible way of living. Your entry into the Kingdom of God begins right now.

This is Good News. This is the Gospel of the Kingdom, and it's the only Gospel Jesus ever preached.
*"CONSUMPTION, EXPRESSION, IDENTITY" sort of a Part 3 article to the discussion of the Christian Subculture and our tendency to find identity in the products we purchase.
Online now over at

*DESTROY THE CHRISTIAN SUBCULTURE! -Part 1 : Online Friday, Oct 19th at

*"NUT IN THE SHELL" is my new blogspace for talking about sci-fi, comics, and whatever else comes to mind. Drop by at

I'll be preaching this Sunday at Soul Survivor Church in Costa Mesa, California on the subject of missional life. Come join us at 11am for worship and lively discussion about what it means to be a missionary in your actual life.
Come join us at:
Soul Survivor Church
1870 Harbor Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
-Directly underneath the Edwards Cinema, on the corner of Harbor and 19th



Thursday, October 11, 2007


NOTE: Part 1 of this series appeared on my [Subversive Underground] Newsletter last month and will also run online at starting October 19th. This is a continuation of that first article based on a recent email exchange I had with someone who disagreed with my militant tone of voice and the concept that the Christian Subculture was evil.


I think, at the core, my argument is essentially that it's anti-Christian for there to be any sort of "subculture" at all. In itself, the current Christian subculture is a direct contradiction to the words of Jesus and the teachings of Paul in 1 Corinthians.

Jesus prayed: "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one."(John 17:15) It was never God's intention to take us out of the world we live in. Why have we decided that it's ok to take ourselves out of the world? Paul the Apostle also agreed on this point when he wrote, "I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world." (1 Cor 5:9-10)

Basically, I want to ask you to consider, "Why is there a Christian subculture at all?" What is the root of that? What is the fruit of that subculture? Does this subculture help us to love people as Jesus commanded? Is it helping or hindering the Kingdom? I would argue that the subculture only hurts the message of Christ. It creates an "Us vs Them" mentality which is something that Jesus was absolutely not in favor of. Jesus was radically inclusive, not exclusive.

I am not directing my dislike of the Christian Subculture towards my brothers and sisters in Christ. It's the "safe and comfortable world" we've created that I hate. I hate that false concept of retreating from the culture instead of living in the world God made and bringing the Gospel to people who need it. This is why I believe the subculture is evil, because it prevents you and I, God's chosen agents of change, from actually being in relationship and dialog and friendship with other human beings He loves and that Jesus died for.

Anything that amuses us as Christians and locks us into an illusion of safety and comfort, pacifies us with Christian-branded trinkets and prevents us, out of fear, from actually being in loving relationship with those outside the Church is evil.

We have Christians making inroads into all fields of endeavor right now. Look at Sophina Brown from the TV series Shark. Look at Dallas Willard, USC Dept. Chair of Psychology. Look at Astrophysicist Hugh Ross. Look at artists like Lynn Aldridge, or Tim Hawkinson. Look at U2. Look at Jay Bakker from Revolution. Look at films like "Bruce, Almighty" and music like "Jesus Walks" by Kanye West.

These are all great examples of artists I applaud because they have escaped the false reality of the Christian subculture and have made an impact outside of the man-made Christian bubble. If they stayed in the christian subculture they would have zero impact.

So, to simplify it:
Staying in the subculture = No impact.
Jesus Commands = Be Salt and Light.
Therefore: Anything that hinders us from being Salt & Light is bad.

My concern is that this so-called "Christian" subculture actually contradicts the message of Jesus.

Just for background, I used to work at a Christian bookstore (5 years), and I worked for six years in the Christian Music Industry. I know about the world I am critiquing. Again, it's not the people who are evil. It's the system we've created which generates money in the name of fear. We retreat from the world we were born into, and called to have an impact on, and we create our own Christian-version of the world which is sanitized and drained of power, impact, relevance and meaning.

It's because I love Jesus and I want to see His Kingdom advance that I have to condemn this subculture of christian consumerism and bumper sticker sloganeering. One local Christian University has emphasized engaging the culture by learning to speak their language. Since most of our cultural language derives from advertising, the result was tons of "Jesus Junk" as Christians tried to speak the cultural language. This again is the problem. We've made the Gospel something that can be reduced to a slogan or a bumper sticker--It's not.

I'm days away from publishing a book about how this commercialization of the Gospel has damaged real evangelism. We need to stop trying to "sell" Jesus to people. It doesn’t work and it's sick. The Gospel is not for sale, and we need to stop treating the message of Jesus as a cute, clever, or slick advertising slogan.

In my previous article I argued that there is no "Sacred" or "Secular" division in the actual world, only the artificial reality we have created in our little subculture. My friend responded to this assertion by quoting Matthew 7:6 and and saying, "Jesus Himself told us 'not to give dogs to give dogs what is sacred…' (therefore) He recognized that there is a sacred element to life."

I disagree. The text actually says, "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." Let's be very clear: I don't argue that there is nothing "Holy" in my article, instead I argue against a man-made subculture that identifies certain styles of music, art, clothing, media, etc. as being "Holy" when only God is Holy. I believe that when we market the Gospel and Christianize beer ads, etc. we're breaking this command of Jesus in Matthew 7:6.

What Jesus is urging us to do in this passage is not to cheapen what is Holy. How does your Lord's Gymn t-shirt accomplish this? This passage could be paraphrased as: "Do not persist in offering what is Holy or of value to those who have no appreciation for it, because your gift will not only become contaminated and be despised, your generous efforts could also be rebuffed and perhaps even openly attacked." Welcome to the Christian Subculture.

My friend goes on to say "I can understand your frustration. There's no doubt that parts of the Christian cultural experience are outdated, and miss the mark. I realize this almost every Saturday when I sit in church and feel bored at the lyrics in the songs we sing."

Again, this entirely misses the point. The problem is not your lack of entertainment or stimulation. This is a symptom of the problem I am trying to point out in my article. We have become consumers of Christian subculture. We judge the worship service based on how well we were entertained. Worship is for God, not for us. There's no such thing as a "bad" worship service. You and I may not go home saying we enjoyed the sermon or that the band "rocked", but worship is for God's heart and His ears, not ours. We need to stop seeing things through the lens of consumption. This is why the subculture is evil. It has created consumers instead of worshippers.

Finally, my friend suggested that "(what) we need (is) a fresh breath of creativity that will spark real change. This is how art changes the world."

No, creativity is not enough. Art, the Gospel, our lives, can change the world when we start actually listening to the Holy Spirit and engaging the culture (the "real" culture) with our art, and our lives. If we only create art that is acceptable to a specific audience (the christian subculture) we will never impact the culture at large (those outside the church).

How can I create art that only speaks to and entertains Christians and expect that art to have any impact whatsoever on the World outside the Church? It can't. If it can, show me a few examples of such art. I can only see examples of art that offends the Christian Subculture having an impact on speaking Truth to the World at large; i.e.- "Piss Christ", "Kanye West's song 'Jesus Walks'", "Bruce, Almighty", "Signs", "U2", etc.

The dialog I had with this individual centered mostly on the idea of art and how artists of faith can have an impact on the culture. We talked at length about whether or not the Christian subculture was good or bad for the sake of art. Honestly, I believe that any artist's work would be liberated if it could be created outside of a subcultural context.

If we could see the world, those without Christ, as our audience, then we can begin to speak to them through our art. When you create art with a subculture in mind, which will only accept a narrow range of pre-determined content, (crosses, rainbows, doves, bunnies, etc.), you're not only limiting your art and your expression of Truth, you're preventing those outside the Church from joining the conversation.

So, if you only create art for the Christian subculture, we seasoned Christians may appreciate it and nod along to the inside jokes, but what impact does this have on the world we actually live in? I would argue it has no impact whatsoever.

If your desire is to create art for the select few who already "get it", then I guess you're art would be exactly on target. But, if you had the desire to impact the world around you with your art, it would have to take risks, it would have to offend the subculture if necessary, it would have to exist independantly of the subcultural audience.

My personal passion is to see artists of faith engage in an out of the box (out of the subculture) creative process that leans heavily on the Holy Spirit for inspiration and dares to destroy conventions that restrain the Truth.

The only reason I continue to write about this subject is because I believe artists of faith would be set free to accomplish amazing things for the Kingdom if they were less aware of the Christian subculture and more in tune with simply communicating Truth.

My militant approach in that first article was calculated and was designed to shake people up and force them to engage the issue. I am purposely militant in my language in order to communicate the urgency I feel and the importance of this topic.

Consider this: If Martin Luther had exercised grace, peace, patience and kindness with the Catholic Church of his day you and I would be paying indulgences to priests and there would be no Protestant Reformation. Sometimes we have to speak out strongly against things that are wrong.

To me, the retreat of God's people from the culture is wrong. I am speaking out against it. I am speaking out in order to encourage action.

Good art should also provoke us to action and point out areas where we need to change.

At least, that's my opinion.

[end of part 2]

Check out the awesome cover art for my first book, "The Gospel: For Here Or To Go?" by artist Scott Laumann right here:


Wednesday, October 03, 2007


NOTE: This is the 100th issue of [Subversive Underground]. I can't believe how this e-newsletter has grown. Watch for an exciting announcement in the next few weeks regarding a special offer only available to you, my faithful subscribers. Until then, on with this week's article…and thanks for reading. - kg

By Keith Giles

Last week I wrote about how overwhelmed I felt when considering my lack of resources available to adequately minister to prostitutes here in Orange County. While I see the need to reach out and express the compassion of Jesus to these young girls, I am paralyzed by my lack of real, substantial ability to provide counseling, shelter, or drug and alcohol treatment for them. I can see the incredible level of need here, but I am overcome by my own weakness.

Last Sunday at house church, God really spoke to me through several of our "Mission" family members regarding this. "Maybe all they need from us is a hug, or a few dollars for food? We can do that," said Liz. "It's really about being faithful in the mundane, everyday things that matters," said Leigh. "I think just being willing to step out and make ourselves available to God is what matters most," said Marlys.

One by one people around the circle began to encourage one another, and me, about how we simply need to obediently step forward and allow God to minister through us as necessary.

Slowly I started to see what God was doing. It was right in front of me all along, actually. As everyone continued to share I realized that this was exactly what God had been showing me for years now. Real ministry takes place outside our comfort zones. When we step out in our weakness we discover God's power because His power is made perfect in weakness. Slowly but surely I started to understand what God's heart was for me in this situation.

Last week, after I wrote the article about feeling overwhelmed by my lack of resources ("Mary's Prayer"), I attended an event in Torrance, California where the speaker shared a passage from Matthew chapter 14 and nailed me in my seat. The passage he read involved the feeding of the five thousand. When the Disciples saw the mulititudes were hungry they asked Jesus to send the people away. Jesus responded by asking them to feed the people, knowing full well that they did not have the resources necessary to do so. Next he asked the disciples to show him what they had, and although it wasn't nearly enough to feed five thousand hungry people, he instructed them to do one simple thing- "Bring it to me".

As I read that passage I could clearly see the parrallels to my own situation. I could see that there were girls trapped in a lifestyle of prostitution. I could see that my resources were impossibly weak. But Jesus was asking me to look at what I do have; Hands, feet, time, prayers, a smile, a few dollars, and a willing heart. He's asking me to give these meager resources to Him.

"Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds." - Matthew 14:19

Jesus took what little the disciples gave to him and he blessed it. He broke it, and he gave it back to the disciples so that they could feed the people.

For me this means we need to take the first simple, basic step of going out to the streets where these girls are and finding ways to simply bless them and pray for them and demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus to them. If we give it to Jesus, he will bless it and give it back to us so that we can provide what these girls really hunger for inside.

As our group continued to talk about this last Sunday, and as we prayed together about taking these first tentative steps toward serving these girls, I realized that all God was calling me to do was to go out there and be an ambassador of Christ to these girls.

What upset me early on in my discovery of this mission field was the total lack of Christian presence in this dark place. "Wouldn't Jesus be out here with these girls?" I asked. Yes, he would. And if we go out there and make ourselves available to them, as the hands and feet, and face and smile of Jesus, at least there will be a representative of The Body of Christ in that place. At least then no one could look at this mission field and lament the lack of servants willing to stand in the darkness and hold up their small flame of faith.

So, we will go out. We will take those first small steps of faith. We will at least give to Jesus what little we have, and admittedly it is very little, and we will wait to see what he does with it. We may not see a large number of conversions from this. We may not ever see a single girl turn from this lifestyle and escape this darkness. But the simple act of obedience to go and to serve and to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth is reward enough.

*"Judge Not" at
*"Better Than Me" at

CHRISTIANITY'S IMAGE PROBLEM (Time Magazine Feature):,8599,1667639,00.html?xid=rss-nation

(From the article)
"Kinnaman says non-Christians' biggest complaints about the faith are not immediately theological: Jesus and the Bible get relatively good marks. Rather, he sees resentment as focused on perceived Christian attitudes. Nine out of ten outsiders found Christians too "anti-homosexual," and nearly as many perceived it as "hypocritical" and "judgmental." Seventy-five percent found it "too involved in politics."
(More in link above)

House Church Resource Online:

This web site is a service to the explosive house church/organic church movement throughout the world. Today, over 112 million Christians worldwide do not attend a traditional church. Every year, one million Christians leave the institutional church in the United States. Presently, the number of adult Christians meeting in house church/organic churches in the USA is five million. This number is growing by the day. That is where this site comes in.

DO SOMETHING friend Greg Russinger is one of the co-founders of this new non-profit dedicated to fighting poverty, exposing human trafficking and assisting orphans around the globe.Don't just sit there. Get involved now.You CAN make a difference!