Monday, January 29, 2007

TOP 10 - Subculture

NOTE: This is the first of ten articles in a new series I'm writing. We'll start with #10 and count down to the big one together. It'll be fun.

(But Probably Doesn't)
by Keith Giles

A few years ago I taught a workshop for High School students at an annual Summer Camp. We began by taking a simple "True/False" test together to determine our basic Bible Knowledge. Here's the test we took:

Test your Bible knowledge
Mark answers below “True” or “False”

1- Because Eve was tempted by Satan and ate the apple, sin entered the world.
2- According to Scripture, Samson was a super strong, physically muscular man that God used to judge the enemies of Israel.
3- Jonah the prophet was swallowed by a whale because he refused to go and preach to the people of Nineveh.
4- The city of Sodom was judged by God because of the sin of homosexuality.

It seems like a simple test that any elementary age child should be able to pass with flying colors. The sad thing was that every single kid in the room failed this test.

They all answered "True" to every question. Did you?

*(If you'd like to know the reason why each of those questions is "False" be sure to watch my main website,, later this week for the answers)

My reason for having everyone take this little test was to illustrate how much we allow the popular Christian culture to influence what we think we know is true instead of studying things for ourselves.

Why don't we know what we believe? Why do we misunderstand even the most essential elements of our own faith? Have we allowed popular opinion or the Christian Subculture to blur the most crucial aspects of the Gospel?

Since most people fail my simple test, I'm tempted to guess that we have indeed allowed our faith to be compromised and polluted by the world around us.


We begin this series by looking at ourselves. The Christian Subculture has provided a safe haven for us to escape the world around us. We have created our own version of Heaven here on Earth so that we can safely enjoy quality, sanctified entertainment that is free from the secular world.

We have Christian television stations, radio stations, books, videos, films, breath mints, t-shirts, cartoons, socks, neckties, wristwatches, bumper stickers, jewelry, candy bars, coffee, and yes, even Christian underwear. I kid you not. (Google it at your own risk).

The real problem with this is that Jesus never intended His disciples to escape the world by creating a special, Holy version of the world that they preferred to live in while they await His return.

In fact, Jesus said something quite the opposite. When he was praying for those who would come after him he said, “I pray not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the Evil One”. (John 17:15)

The reason Jesus prayed this prayer was the he knew human nature and he knew that, in a few short years, his followers would want to remove themselves from the world around them.

We’re not comfortable hanging out with those sinners. More often than not, we treat those outside the Church, as if they have some sort of “Social Leprosy”. We’re afraid we’ll catch what they’ve got, so we avoid contact with them. We create Christian versions of the world so that we never have to interact with these “Social Lepers”.

Paul the Apostle echoed the prayer of Jesus when he instructed the Christians in Corinth about their interactions with non-believers. “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 Corinthians 5:9-10)

Have we removed ourselves from the world? If so, we’ve essentially decided to lay down and die. Of course, we've made sure to surround ourselves in a cocoon of safety, but that doesn't make us any less dead.

I've always wanted to host a "Burn Our Christian Crap" party to protest all the Christian Materialism we've bought into. There's something strangely beautiful about seeing swarms of Christian young people throwing their Carman Cd's and "Lord's Gymn" T-shirts into a giant bonfire behind the Church dumpster.

Whether or not we decide to box up our "Jesus Junk" and toss into the flames, the truth is that we still need to repent from taking ourselves out of the world we were intended to live in.

It’s time to awaken from our slumber and burst out of our Christian bubble. The world needs us to live out the transformational power of the Gospel right in front of their eyes.

We are not called to escape the World and its evil. We are supposed to be in the World, living open lives of faith before all Men so that they may see our good works and believe.

"Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." - (John 20:21)

"In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." - JESUS (Matthew 5:16)



"FUTURE FAITH" - Check out the last couple of articles on the main blog over at

MARCH 9 & 10, 2007

MARCH 9 & 10, 2007

"The Non-Con" (A Conference for people who never want to go to another conference again in their lives)
Watch this space for more details...



Tuesday, January 23, 2007


PATTERNS by Keith Giles

In my dreams I am writing a book. I am creating art. I am writing new worship songs on my guitar.

In my dreams I am deeply spiritual. I have an obsessive compassion for the poor. I daily die to myself and embrace the Kingdom of God.

But lately, when I am awake, all of this feels like an echo of a former life.

Scientists say that every ten years or so each cell in your body dies and gives birth to a replacement cell which is identical, yet not the exact same cell, as before.

I feel like I can remember the person I used to be, but I am having trouble "being" that person again today.

What happened to me? What needs to happen to me? Am I sleeping? Was I dreaming before? Or am I dreaming now? How do I wake up? Why are there so many question marks on this page?

Why do I feel so disconnected from myself lately? Am I just mourning the loss of my old life patterns?

In some ways I feel like something is wrong with me because I'm not daily involved with ministry to the poor around me. This affects my spiritual development. This challenges my self-imposed identity and my personal sense of ministry.

If I look at what God has done in my life over the last year I can see He has changed our former patterns and replaced them with a new algorithm of faith.

First He called us out of the traditional church pattern and into a new pattern, a new wineskin of sorts, called "House Church". Secondly, He called us to live missional lives, serving the actual neighbors who live along our cul-de-sac in our new house, in our new town. I cannot deny this. I cannot look away from this new pattern that has emerged in our lives over the last year.

Yet, I feel guilty because these 2 new patterns don't involve, specifically, caring for the poor.

I drive by the now abandoned senior home where we once served, where I used to teach a weekly Bible study, where we prayed for the sick and sang hymns with our friends. They are gone now. Some of them live in different senior homes, some of them have passed on. I mourn for that time. I miss that opportunity to give, and to share, and to be stretched, and to grow.

My family and I, along with one other friend, still serve each month at the motel in Santa Ana where we've been for about four years now. But most of the families we were closest to are gone now. Another church provides a weekly breakfast there on Sunday afternoons and in some ways our service there feels old and superfluous.

Maybe I am living in the past? Perhaps I'm needing to look to the future? Better yet, I think what I need to do is to live in the present; in the "here and now" of the Kingdom of God.

Maybe there's a better way to live out the patterns of House Church and Missional service to our community while still caring for the poor? Maybe these three things are not really three things? Maybe this is all one single pattern and I have yet to discover it because I'm on the upbeat of the previous pattern?

I am praying now that God would show me His new pattern. I feel like it's right here, just beneath the noise of my own breathing. Like a still, small voice, whispering to me in the darkness.

Until I can let go of what I have known before, I won't be able to see, or to hear, the new pattern that God has begun to tap out in my soul.

Quiet now....quiet...I can almost hear it....

Kent Williamson's amazing documentary film is not to be missed.
"If you've been born in the fog, how can you know that you can't see?"

*Os Guinness *David Ruis *Rick Muchow *John Thomas
March 9th and 10th in Anaheim, California
"We can only fail them if we do nothing..."

"It's time for the Church to listen first and talk later...if at all."


Thursday, January 18, 2007



by Keith Giles

What is House Church?

Most people who have never attended a House Church make certain assumptions about what it's all about, and many of them are incorrect. Until I started a House Church I wasn't exactly sure what it expect, but now that I've had about a year of experience under my belt I thought I'd take some time to spell out a few specifics of what makes the House Church distinctive.

To begin, let's talk about what a House Church is NOT.

It's not taking what happens in your traditional church on Sunday morning and duplicating it on a smaller scale in your living room. Some friends of mine have house churches that ARE bit like that, but as a general rule this is not what House Church is meant to be.
This means you won't see a single leader giving a lecture for 45 minutes while everyone nods their heads and looks at their watch.

It's also not a home group. Again, I know a few house churches that are like this, but by definition this is also not what House Church is supposed to be. This means that you won't experience ice breakers that take an hour for everyone to explain who their favorite Looney Toon character is and why.

So, what IS House Church?

Essentially, the House Church is modelled after the Biblical model we find in the New Testament. Specifically we see a format described by Paul the Apostle where everyone comes together and shares a common meal, partakes in communion, gathers an offering for the poor, and takes the time to hear from each person in the group who has something that edifies the rest as they each follow Jesus.

"What shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church." 1 Corinthians 14:26

So, in our Mission gatherings we start with a common meal. On Thursdays everyone brings something to share for dinner, and on Sunday mornings everyone brings something for breakfast and we begin by joining hands in the kitchen together and inviting the Holy Spirit to be our guest of honor for the time we have to share.

After the meal we eventually make our way into the den and everyone pulls up a cushion on a sofa, or sits on the floor, and we enjoy a time of singing worship songs together. There are several of us who are just barely decent enough to play chords on the guitar and between us all we modestly work our way through a few songs.

After the singing we usually share communion together and move into our "Share Time". This is where we allow each person, whether an elementary-age child or a single Mom, or even a former pastor, to share something that God has done or taught them about during the week.

Essentially, if you are feeling like you'd like to start leading a house church, don't picture yourself preparing a Bible lesson each week. Instead, get ready to facilitate as others speak and teach and share. Sometimes the powerful things we are taught come from the lips of one of our nine year olds.

In fact, in my case, I've learned that the more I shut up the better things go! I've even started to limit myself to no more than two "soap-box moments" for each meeting. This means I have to choose my issues carefully and it allows me to wait, listen, and sometimes even allow others to answer questions and explain scripture verses that I've had pat-answers in my head for the last twelve years.

The amazing thing I've seen is that, when we pray and ask the Holy Spirit to come and lead our group, HE DOES! (Especially when we actually let Him lead us and do our best to get out of His way).

As we've been taught by the Holy Spirit this way over the last year, I've been in awe of the fruit displayed in people's lives. In fact, in less than a year I was starting to see true repentance, maturity, and gifting blossom in our members. The best thing is that I know it has nothing to do with me!

The House Church is not a leader-based group. It is a peer-based group with a leader who prayerfully shepherds the people one at a time and mostly outside the meeting itself.

What fascinates me most about the House Church is how the designer, Jesus, inspired a family-based model where everyone was loved and honored equally. He inspired His disciples to create a system of Church that was totally unlike the Jewish Temple system or the Pagan Worship of the day. This humble, Spirit-lead group of mostly poor and simple people guarded our creeds and doctrines for three hundred years, turned the world upside down, and demonstrated the transformational power of the Gospel of the Kingdom.

To me, the design is genius, and the fruit of it is cleary evident in the Scripture and throughout the History of the early Church.

The Church that Jesus inspired and that the Apostles promoted was one where bigger wasn't better. Everyone person counted. Everyone's gifting was equally honored, not just those who had the outward gifts.

I'll admit, I am biased. But the fruit I've seen in my own life, and in the lives of the people who have been coming to our group each week, is enough to convince me that I never want to go back to church done any other way.

What I've learned is that Church is not a place you go, it's who you are. Our goal at the Mission is to "be the Church" not attend one.

I've also learned that Church is simply "God" plus "The People of God" and nothing more. The Church is not a building, it is about PEOPLE who love God and who love others.

Does this mean that traditional churches are "wrong"? Does this mean that only those in the house church really "get it"? No, it doesn't. There are just as many screwed up people in one as in the other.

However, whenever a church exploits people for its own gain, it is wrong. Whenever a church empowers people for the Glory of God, it is good. Whenever a church over-emphasizes one set of gifts over the others and devalues people, it is wrong. Whenever a church allows everyone a chance to be loved and heard and valued, it is right.

I can only speak for myself here when I say that, for me, the House Church is where I've actually experienced this level playing field. This is where I've seen disciples being made. This is where I am personally being challenged every week to get outside of my comfort zone and really live out my faith.

If you're experiencing this sort of vibrant spiritual life and you're part of a traditional church...Praise God! I know that God is at work in all forms and expressions of His Body and His Bride. The House Church has no corner on His power or presence.

For me, House Church is the best thing I've ever done with the word "Church" on it.


As part of the massive 2-day International "Children At Risk" Conference that I'm charged with making happen, I am making an appeal for volunteers on March 9th and 10th.

If you can help out, please take a look at the website and then send me an email to find out more about how you can help out.

My buddy Kent Williamson has put together a seriously amazing film called "Rebellion Of Thought". It features killer music from bands like "West of Verona" and my buddy "J.J. Plasencio" (formerly with "Sixpence" and my band "Elysian Skies"), and, oh yeah, it's got some talking in there about the fate of the modern Church in America, the need for radical change in Christendom and some theologians going on and on about "postmodernism"...(Seriously now, it's really worth checking it out if you can).

You can email me here:
*remove the quotes and stuff and you can shoot me an email

Saturday, January 13, 2007


This is Subversive

"What is Subversive? It’s a systematic overthrow of one system or power by those working from within. Jesus said the Kingdom of God was immediately accessible to all who follow Him. This is the Gospel message. This is subversive." - (from the main page at

Some of you on this e-newsletter subscription have been here from the beginning, some of you have only recently jumped on, some of you may still not really know just how you ended up getting this in your in-box every, I thought I'd take some time and make sure everyone on this list is caught up with the story so far.

My name is Keith Giles. I'm 40 years old. I've been a free-lance writer for over 16 years now. I've also been a licensed and ordained pastor for about as long. Incidentally it's also about how long I've been married to my love Wendy. We have two great boys, Dylan (11), and David (9). We live in Orange County, California.

My reason for starting this e-newsletter was so that I could create an audience for my various articles on faith, discipleship, social justice, spiritual transformation and missional life.
For me, all those things are wrapped up into one interconnected glob. I can't think of discipleship to Jesus without confronting the need to love and serve the poor, and this is part of my ongoing spiritual formation and outward-focused life.

This newsletter also provides me with a reason to write something every single week.

About a year ago I left the traditional church-plant that my family had been part of for over three years and we started a house church called "The Mission".

The story of how the house church got started and how it developed over time, what God taught us, etc., has been chronicled here and some of the basic info is online at the little-seen "Mission House Church" website:

I currently write a regular monthly column called "Subversive" (of course) over at GINKWORLD.NET

..and I post articles over at on occasion:

You can also find articles over at Neil Cole's CMA Resources,, and various other places. Honestly I find stuff all the time on websites that never asked my persmission to publish my articles. It's like Easter morning!

I used to get paid to interview comic book writers and artists over at and I had my own little comic book universe-in-progress called Plastic Animal Studios:

I also played with a little arts and culture idea called "Parabolic Journal" and the results of that are online here:

One day, after a God-ordained lunch meeting with friend and artist Scott Laumann (WWW.SCOTTLAUMANN.COM) I decided to scrap the comicbook/sci-fi stuff in favor of writing things that were more "meaningful" and for the Kingdom.

That's how I ended up writing a column called "Subversive" (what else) over at RELEVANTMAGAZINE.COM.

It was my very first interview for that column with Todd Hunter that blew my mind and set me on my current course pursuing The Kingdom of God, spiritual transformation, serving the poor and living an outward-focused, "missional" life.

About six months ago I left a marketing position with Soul Survivor USA ( and I've been doing contract work for the last six months as I wait to see where God will lead us next.

Currently I'm doing contract work for "Arms Of Love" ( trying to help them promote a 2-day conference in March called "Children At Risk" ( featuring Os Guiness, David Ruis and an army of others speakers and worship leaders.

Last year I spent my spare time writing a book, actually two of them, and my goal for 2007 is to publish at least one of them.

This will also be the year I discover a new full-time job (Lord willing) and I also anticipate that our house church will have to split into a second incarnation due to growth issues. (Our living room isn't big enough).

If you're curious you can download some of my sermons online by going to my main website ( and clicking on the left-hand side under "Podcasts". (You don't need Itunes or an Ipod, just click on the link and it will start playing in your web-browser.)

If you'd like to see my photos you can visit my Flickr site here:

You can email me here:
*remove the quotes and stuff and you can shoot me an email

I have a MySpace Account but honestly I'm hardly ever there:

I'm very excited about what God has in store for our family in this new year. I have dozens of articles I want to write, and I'm putting the final touches on those two books, so please keep reading these things as they come.

I also really enjoy the dialog and feedback from you people so don't be shy about sending me an email now and again to let me know what you think about what I've written.

Happy New Year!


Saturday, January 06, 2007


RESPOND by Keith Giles

"God does not respond to our pain, or our tears. He responds when we seek after Him," my friend said.

At first I wanted to disagree with him. Something about that statement didn't seem right to my ears. How could that be true? How could a loving God not be moved to action by our tears or our pain? Isn't He a compassionate God? Isn't Jesus in fact Love Incarnate?

But after a few moments pause I began to realize that my friend might be on to something. One by one I recalled verses of Scripture where God rewards those who seek after Him. Jesus was always telling his disciples to "seek first the Kingdom of God" and that everything else would be added to their lives in the process.

Maybe my friend was right after all? If so, the implications were monumental for us both. My friend has been enduring one crushing blow to his life after the other for the last several years. As much as I've learned through my own period of suffering and trial, I wouldn't trade places with him for anything in the world. Yet this kernel of wisdom he was sharing with me held an upside down logic that fit directly into the message of The Kingdom that Jesus came, and died, to proclaim.

Only a few days later I was sitting in the living room of a single Mom who had just undergone brain surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. She had little income and an uncertain future ahead of her beyond the Holiday season and into the new year. As we sat together and prayed for her about her challenges, she said something that stunned me. She actually, in a very simple and straightforward way, remarked that she was very thankful for her tumor. I blinked at those words. Thankful? How could she be thankful for something so painful and crippling? "Because of this I am able to see how I've missed out on being a mother to all of my other sons," she said. "Now I have only one left at home with me and for the next five years I want to be able to really enjoy him and to be his Mom. This is what the tumor has taught me," she said.

When we come to God and demand our healing, our focus is not on God. It's on ourselves. Our pain becomes the focus. Our rescue is all we can think of. Because of this, our attention is not on God, or His Kingdom, it is simply on our own comfort.

In Matthew chapter six, when Jesus teaches his disciples not to worry about clothes or food, he's not saying that these things are unimportant. He knows, of course, that without these things we will perish. These are not frivolous pursuits or concerns, they are life and death necessities. Yet Jesus urges us not to worry about these things at all. Instead, he says, we are to seek first The Kingdom of God, and His Righteousness, and his promise is that all of these necessities will be given to us.

Understanding these teachings is one thing, but living them out is quite another. This is what faith is necessary for. Faith is for those who are living a dangerous life. In fact, it's only necessary for those who are on the front lines. Those who sit in comfort and avoid the real pain in life have no need for faith.

For the last six months I've been working various temporary jobs to help pay our bills here in Orange County, California. On paper I've been earning roughly half of what I was bringing home the first six months of the year. There have been seasons of uncertainty and frustration and fear.

Day after day I have gone to work doing the most brain-numbing, boring, pointless work you can imagine. I've processed thousands of return mail envelopes, stuffed and labeled hundreds of marketing kits, and generally performed the most monotonous tasks imaginable. It has been painful.

At first I thought of this as "soul crushing" work. However, I soon discovered that it wasn't my soul that was suffering here, it was my flesh.

Most recently, I've realized that God has been using this time to help me put to death my own selfishness and to crucify my pride on a daily basis.

These last few days the Holy Spirit has been speaking to me about my need to die to myself and to learn humility. The temporary work I'm doing now is God's instrument of death to my flesh, my self-love. My flesh is what cries out for any sort of escape or stimulation or rescue. But it is my flesh that needs to lay down and die upon this cross of daily humiliation.

This is good for me. This is God's amazing grace for me. This is "Conversatio Morem!" or "Constant Conversion!". Today I bend the knee and submit to Jesus as my Lord. He knows what is best for me and what is best for me is to humble myself before Him and to let him crucify my flesh as quickly as possible.

"Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness."- Hebrews 12:7-10

I came across this great quote today while reading a chapter in the amazing book, "Let Go" by Fenelon and I wanted to share it.

"Many are deceived into thinking that the death of self is the cause of all the agony they feel. But that which is dead does not agonize. The more finally and completely we die to self, the less pain we experience. Death is only painful to he who resists it. Self always resists death, because of its intense desire to live! The imagination works overtime, exaggerating the terrors of death. The self argues endlessly that the life of self is simply the natural thing."

So now I must say that I really do agree with my friend when he says that God responds, not to our tears or our pain, but when we seek Him and His Kingdom.

Certainly God does cry with us when we cry and He hates to see us suffer, but even more than this, He knows that we have need of discipline that has the power to transform us, if we will allow it.


Arms Of Love International Presents:

(Strategies for Global and Local Impact)

Featuring author and speaker, OS GUINESS
March 9 & 10, 2007 - at the Anaheim Vineyard


According to recent estimates:

120 million street children
15 million AIDS orphans
10 million child prostitutes
2 million deaths/year from treatable diseases
500,000 child soldiers

We have heard their cry. We feel compelled to respond.

But we cannot do it alone.

Keynote speakers:

*Os Guinness - author or editor of more than 20 books, was Guest
Scholar at Woodrow Wilson Center for International Studies

*Phyllis Kilbourn - editor of six books on ministry to
children-at-risk, founder of Rainbows of Hope and president of
Crisis Care Training International

*Johan Lukasse - founder and director of Rescue and Restore Urban
Missions and a YWAM Children-at-Risk School in Belo Horizonte,

*Bryant Myers - Professor of International Development at Fuller
Seminary, was V.P. of International Program Strategy at World Vision

*Olara Otunnu - U.N. Special Representative for Children and Armed
Conflict 1997-2005, was Chairman of the UN Commission on Human

*Tri Robinson - Pastor of Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Boise,
Idaho and author of books including Revolutionary Leadership.

*Bert Waggoner - National Director of Vineyard USA and Pastor of
Vineyard Church of Sugar Land, Texas.

ALSO ON-HAND: Representatives from World Vision, The Viva Network, International Justice Mission, Rainbows of Hope (WEC International), Justice for Children International, Fuller Theological Seminary, the ECFA, The United Nations, Soul Survivor, Orange County Rescue Mission, Olive Crest Homes & Services for Abused Children, and KidTrek.