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.