Saturday, December 27, 2008


by Keith Giles

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.

Since this is the final [Subversive Underground] for 2008 I thought I'd take a moment to bring everyone up to speed about the newsletter and provide a bit of background on things, as well as offer up a few hints about what's in store for 2009.

This is the 166th edition of my weekly e-newsletter. Some of you on this e-newsletter subscription have been here from the beginning, some of you have only recently jumped on board. There are approximately 276 of you on the Underground signal. Welcome.

My reason for starting this e-newsletter in December of 2005 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 an attempt at an outward-focused life.

This newsletter also provides me with a reason to write something every single week. I hope it has been a blessing to you in your walk with Christ.

A few months ago I felt like God asked me a question: "What would you do if you didn't write the Subversive Underground each week?"

It was a question that I am still grappling with. As I've struggled to answer this question one thing that has intrigued me has been the idea of ending this newsletter at the 200th issue which will be in August of 2009.

What happens after that? I don't know. Will these weekly newsletters end completely or will they take on a new focus and direction? Again, I am not yet sure.

This newsletter and my main blog have always been about inspiring others to become subversive. Largely I have attempted to do this by writing about my own attempts at being subversive, freely sharing ideas, provoking the comfortable, asking hard questions and stirring up the waters as much as possible.

I've done my best these last three years to challenge the status quo and to encourage you to do the same. What I don't know is if I've been successful in this or not.

I've written a series of articles about how to start a ministry to the poor in your community, but I have no idea if anyone actually took these ideas to heart or implemented any of them.

I've written at length about our journey into house church, but only a handful of you have written to me about your own desire to do the same. For those who have I am blessed beyond words to hear your stories and to encourage you on your way. Thank you for allowing me cheer you on.

I've written about the importance of standing against the false security of the Christian Subculture but I have no idea how many of you have actually taken steps to do this in your own life.

For the last 3 years I've written an article each week to inspire and encourage Christians to resist the culture, be the Church and touch the poor, but has it done any good? I have no clue.

As I've considered what to do after the 200th article, one possibility I've entertained has been to shift my focus from sharing what I've been doing to live a subversive life and start reporting on others, perhaps even on your attempts, to live a subversive life. Maybe reading about how others are being subversive in their own community and workplace will inspire the rest of us to step out and make a difference?

Another idea is to write articles aimed at those who do not share our faith. Instead of writing to inspire the Church to be the Church, maybe I could write articles to engage the culture directly and find avenues for addressing Christianity in contemporary America by speaking to those who oppose or misunderstand our faith?

Honestly, I still don't know what to do. Perhaps when we reach the 200th article in August of '09 I will simply decide to turn out the lights on this weekly newsletter and take some time off to listen to God's voice?

It's taken me 3 years to build this list up to over 275 subscribers. It's such an honor and a blessing for me to be able to speak to a group of people like this via the Internet about the Gospel of the Kingdom, Justice, Discipleship to Jesus and the Church. The idea of wadding it all up into a ball and tossing it away is very frightening for me, and yet, at the same time, it's also very exciting. Letting go of this could actually be the best thing possible in the economy of the Kingdom.

As much as I love telling my stories about being subversive, none of it means anything if you, the reader, doesn't also decide to live your life outside the box and engage your culture in a subversive way with the tangible, living power of Christ.

We have to do more than intend to be subversive. We have to actually live our lives in such a way as to provoke action, inspire others and engage the poor. We have to become agents of change in a world desperate for an end to the status quo. Reading about it will not bring change. Thinking about it will not bring light. Talking about it will not make others thirsty for living water. We must be the change we hope to see in our world. We must fulfill our God-given calling to change our world, even our small part of it, so that the subversive Gospel of the Kingdom can take root and grow.

For the last 3 years now I have written an article a week to inspire you towards that end. Now I am asking each of you to discover your own calling. I am asking each of you to live a subversive life in your neighborhood. I am asking each of you to creatively use your talents to make people consider the Gospel message. I am asking you to take up the torch and run with it.

Will you start your own blog? Will you use your talent to engage the culture? Will you organize others to serve the poor? Will you take that step that you know God has been calling you to take?

Now is the time. We can't afford to just talk about it any longer.

For now I will continue to pray about what our next steps should be, but August is a long way away and I know that God still has a lot in store for each of us in the meantime.

Thanks so much for each of you who have faithfully read this newsletter and encouraged me over the last few years.

We're not finished yet.

Conversatio Morem!


I'd love to hear your thoughts. You can email me here:

My first two books are currently available for free download over at my main website and you can also purchase the actual print versions there too.

Happy New Year!

Peas (on Earth),




Friday, December 19, 2008

The Church of One Another

[Subversive Underground]
Issue # 165

The Church of One Another
by Keith Giles

As I've studied the New Testament Church one thing that overwhelms me is the fact that the Body itself was always encouraged to minister and serve everyone else within the Body.

In the book of Romans Paul exhorts the community of believers to:

"be devoted to one another" - Romans 12:10

"honor one another" - Romans 12:10

"live in harmony with one another" - Romans 12:16)

"love one another" - Romans 13:8

"edify one another" - Romans 14:19

"accept one another" - Romans 15:7

"instruct one another" - Romans 15:14

"greet one another" - Romans 16:16

What is also amazing is that Paul never instructs Pastors to do these things.

In the New Testament Church the ministry to the Body was done by and through the Body, and in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Todd Hunter recently said that "In the early church the Holy Spirit was not a controversial subject. It was simply the continued ministry of Jesus being released to the Church."

As we, the people of God, begin to embrace the notion of being a priesthood of believers, we can start to use our God-given gifts to bless and serve and instruct and edify "one another" for the Glory of God.

Perhaps part of what's wrong with our churches today is that we've shifted the "one another" aspect of Church life into a system where one man, or one team of people, is expected to perform all of these various functions alone. Clearly, this isn't the way God intended His Church to operate, and yet we've become complacent with a man-made system of church that allows many to opt out of ministry and sit back to be fed by the chosen few.

If we look through first and second Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, and all the other new testament epistles we'll see a continuing list of "one anothers" where the Apostles spurred the people of God onward to be the Church that God always dreamed of.

I would echo that same encouragement to all of us today.

Let's become the Church that actively and enthusiastically embraces our calling to be the people who minister to, and love, one another.

"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth" - 1 John 3:18.


Only 35 issues remain. What's after that?

We all find out on 8/28/09



Saturday, December 13, 2008


[Subversive Underground]

by Keith Giles

For the last several weeks I have struggled with an inner sense of unrest that I cannot quite shake or define. I'm not sure if it's related to my own personal "three year itch" or if it's something deeper, more psychological or even spiritual in nature.

Every three years something changes in my life. In the 15 years we've lived in California I have changed jobs approximately every 3 years. People who look at my resume can discern the pattern for themselves. It's nothing I've done of my own volition, but certainly God has established an almost circadian rhythm in my life where every three years I change jobs, or a door closes, or an opportunity arises.

Our house church, "The Mission" is in its 3rd year now. This makes me wonder if changes aren't around the corner, although I cannot anticipate what those changes, if any, might entail.

I also can't discern whether my sense of unrest is related to this or if it's something God is doing in me, or to me, or in spite of me.

Our house church is very strong. Everything continues as it always has, and people are continuing to grow and mature and learn to love one another as we move along. It's not a sense of dissatisfaction with any person or any aspect of the house church at all. Yet, it is a sort of dissatisfaction within myself that I cannot quite name.

This afternoon I had some time to myself to pray about this and allow God to search my heart on this matter. I tried to hear God's voice on this and trace the feelings of unrest to their source, but all I came up with was this- Maybe the empty feeling I have is God?

Maybe I've been looking for people, or experiences, or activities to feed my soul when I should have found my sustenance in Christ alone?

The more I meditated on this the more it seemed to resonate. In fact, it was the only thought that brought me any sense of hope or comfort or relief. The empty feeling inside me is God.

Or better yet, the emptiness I feel is the gaping hole where God longs to find His home and settle within.

I've been working hard lately to finish up my book about God's heart for His church and His vision from the beginning to have intimate fellowship with His people. I've marvelled at verse after verse where God promises that a day will come when no one will ever refer to the Ark of the Covenant again, or even remember it again, because all of creation itself will be the place where God dwells.

I've been astounded to see God's plan to tear down the Temple made with human hands in order to build for Himself a new temple made of people who love Him and embody His very Holy presence throughout the Earth.

Even as I've studied and pondered and considered these amazing things, God has been whispering to me in a deeper, almost imperceptable voice - "I am here"

If there's one thing I've learned over the last few years it's that there's a great difference between knowing something is true in God's word with your mind and knowing that something is true with your life.

Practicing the astounding truth of God in your actual life is so much more amazing than knowing that same truth in your head.

Now that I know these things, I know that I will be blessed if I do them, and live them, and declare that they are true by the way I put them into practice.

"Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?" - Isaiah 66:1-

The only cure for unrest is rest and I long for God to find His resting place in me.




We'll all find out on 8/28/09


Friday, December 05, 2008


[Subversive Underground]

by Keith Giles

I am the victim of my own convictions. I hold opinions that most do not agree with. I am often insulted and ridiculed for my positions and attitudes.

Do not feel sorry for me. I have made my own bed and so I must lie in it. I fully understand that if I write the things I write and if I say the things I believe that many will not like what I have to say. I say these things anyway.

Still, I do struggle within myself on many of these issues. It seems the more I learn about church history and the more I discover about God's Word the more painfully I suffer outside in the cold.

The other day I was having coffee with a friend and I told him that, in my opinion, I am a fundamentalist. The things I believe about Church and the Gospel and God's heart for the poor are the most foundational and Biblically supported views possible. For me it's everyone else who is "emerging" or "creative" in their practice of faith. Yet many look at me, and at our house church, as if we were the "new" form of Church. To me we are the most ancient and Biblically authentic form of Church possible.

My struggle comes mostly when I consider how many good friends and family members are still involved in traditional church. Not because I feel that they're wrong and need correcting, but because I don't want to damage my relationship with them because of my views. In other words, I hope that they will love me even if I don't agree with them.

Yesterday I had coffee with a local Presbyterian minister. He was writing a book on the emerging church and he wanted to interview someone who was doing the new "house church" thing. As we spoke together and shared our different viewpoints he said something to me that blessed me deeply. He said, "You and I have very different opinions about Ecclesiology. You think you're right and I think I'm right, but that shouldn't prevent us from being friends or loving one another as brothers in Christ."

I wish that everyone felt the same way as this man did. However, I am also cognizant that many who hold me in contempt do so because of the articles that I write. I suppose if I stopped being so vocal about my convictions they might accept me. Or if I kept quiet about what I've learned they might embrace me more as a brother in Christ and love me. Maybe. Maybe not.

As I have affirmed numerous times in this weekly newsletter, and on my main blog ( the traditional church is still a place where God's Kingdom is advanced, the Gospel is preached and lives are transformed by the Holy Spirit. Many who criticize my articles respond to me by itemizing for me all of the wonderful things that their traditional church is doing for the Kingdom. These are all awesome works of God and I take nothing away from the ways that these Churches are reaching out and using their resources for the good of others. I also have no contempt for pastors who have responded to God's call on their lives and serve faithfully seven days a week.

However, just because those churches and those pastors are filled with love for others and are motivated to share their resources with the poor and serve the Body faithfully (all very good things), says nothing about how much better their ministry could be if they empowered every believer to be a priest of God and allowed every member to fully use their spiritual gifting for the entire Body, and disposed of the professional clergy who is expected to do most of that work in their place.

Again, these are not my ideas. If they were I would fully expect everyone to dismiss me and turn away and have nothing more to do with me. However, these grand ideas are not my ideas. They are God's ideas. It was God who created Adam and Eve to walk in fullness of fellowship with Himself. It was God who spoke directly to the people of Israel out of the cloud. It was God who told Israel that He would be their King. It was God who told Isaiah and David that no man could build a house for Him, but that He would build a house for Himself and that it would be the heart of man.

It was Jesus who destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. It was Jesus who tore the veil of the Temple. It was Jesus who became the ultimate sacrifice so that no further blood sacrifice would be required.

Jesus made each of us His Holy Temple. Jesus called each of us to be priests of God. Jesus called each of us to become the daily, living sacrifice. Not me.

So, when I see us rebuilding the Temples, and I see us reconstituting a priesthood, and I see us returning to an Old Covenant system of tithes to pay for a place of worship and support a priestly hierarchy I cannot help but scream and cry and shout - "This is not what God wanted for His Church!"

Because it's not.

So, I will continue to speak and to shout and to cry and to write these messages to God's Church, for as many who will listen, that God's plan for His Church is something radically different and profoundly more astounding than anything mankind has dreamed up on its own over the last few thousand years.

God has a plan for His Church. It's a good plan. It's the best plan. It's the only plan that fully realizes His long-standing dream for His people to encounter Him personally and know Him intimately and relate to Him as a Father and to one another as brothers and sisters in the Family of God.

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." - 1 Peter 2:9-10



We'll all find out on 8/28/09



Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Glorious Now

[Subversive Underground]

The Glorious Now
by Keith Giles

What if you knew you only had a few months to live? Are there any people you'd call one last time to apologize to? Are there any places you'd travel to see before you passed away? What are the things you would do that you always intended to do but never got around to? Maybe you'd paint a picture or finish your novel? Maybe you'd teach your children a story, or take a vacation with those you love and soak in every last ounce of their presence while you could?

Wouldn't food taste more exquisite? Wouldn't laughter be deeper than before? Wouldn't color and sound and simple moments take on new significance?

Just holding a dear one's hands in your own would resonate with meaning. Just looking into the eyes of your children would bring you to tears. Just drawing a breath deep into your lungs and exhaling slowly would seem like drinking in the universe and exhaling your soul into the sky.

But what if you really only have one more week here on this Earth before you're gone? What if tomorrow you discover a lump, or get sick, or suffer a heart attack or a stroke? Do you know for certain how many days you have left upon this Earth?

None of us does, of course. So, we try not to dwell on the thought because it makes us uncomfortable to pause and listen to the clock over our head as it ticks down the remaining hours of our life. We are happier, more at ease, when we imagine ourselves to be invulnerable to the effects of entropy.

Yet, this is not the truth. We are not immortal. We are not immune to time. Death may have lost its sting, but death still retains its bite and every one of us alive this very moment will one day breathe our last.

"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
- Psalm 90:12

When we face the reality of our own mortality and accept that we are finite and limited, it gives us freedom to love and to forgive and to share with glorious abandon.

If we really understand that nothing we have will come with us to the grave, then we can open our hands and share what we have with those in need.

If we truly understand that in a few days our time here will be over, we can freely forgive those who have offended us and set ourselves free to enjoy the time we have left on this Earth.

All things created by God have a beginning and all things created by God have an end. Our time here is limited. Every one of us will come to the moment when we know our life is done. What matters is that we accomplish what we have been placed here to accomplish. What matters is that we live today as if it were all we have to live.

Our focus should be, not on yesterday which is over and done, and not on tomorrow which may never come, but on this glorious gift of now we call "today" where we live by the grace of Almighty God to love and share and reflect His Glory.

"Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days
a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Each man's life is but a breath. Selah
Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro:
He bustles about, but only in vain;
he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.
But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you." - Psalm 39:4-7


8/28/09 - "Behold, all things are made new!"



Friday, November 21, 2008


[Subversive Underground]

by Keith Giles

In the beginning God revealed His pefect will for mankind by creating a universe where every man and woman could walk with Him in the cool of the day and have intimate communion with one another.

We know that sin entered the heart of mankind and that this original plan had to be scrapped and a separation between God and man was formed because of this sin.

As God blessed Abraham and his descendants, the chosen people of the Earth, He again revealed His perfect will for mankind and loved them and led them as their King, leading them out of bondage to slavery, appearing to them in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

But the people rejected God's intimacy and hands-on approach. They asked if Moses could be their go-between. They were frightened whenever God spoke to them directly out of the cloud. So, God allowed another degree of separation to come between Himself and His children because of their sin.

Later, the people grew tired of being unlike all the other nations around them and asked if God would give them a King to rule over them. Again, God's people rejected Him and so God allowed another degree of separation because of the sin of man's heart. He gave them a King to rule over them as they had asked, but even in doing so He was grieved.

When King David, a man after God's own heart, wanted to build a house for God to rival his own palace, God's response recalls his word from Isaiah, "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?" and in fact He takes it a step further and says, "When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son." - (2 Sam 7:12-14)

God made a promise to David that a King would come from his own seed who would build a house for God not made with human hands, where once again He would be our God and King and we would be His people.

When the angel announced the birth of this Messiah, he called his name "Emmanuel" - the God who is with us. When Jesus came he opposed the man-made religious systems of the day. He threatened the status quo and he fulfilled the promise by building a temple not made by human hands; a people who were themselves the living stones of an eternal household of God.

Jesus restored God as the King of every human heart and invited all who wanted to live under the rule and reign of the Father to come. The doors of God's Kingdom were now open wide.

Jesus fulfilled God's original desire to have intimate, daily communion with Him. He tore the veil of the man-made temple and made it possible for the Holy of Holies to spill out into every human heart and to encompass all of planet Earth with the tangible presence of God.

Because of the work of Christ upon the cross, all of the Earth is now potentially the Eden of God where mankind can walk with the Creator and know His presence and hear His voice. Because of Jesus, God's new temple has a heartbeat, and hands that can help and feet that can travel and a voice that can proclaim His goodness a million times each day to hundreds of millions around the Globe.

God has broken ground on a new temple for His glory, one not built with human hands. We are that temple. We are the house He has built for Himself. His Holy Spirit is within us. We are carriers of God's Presence.

The Good News that Jesus proclaimed announced access to God's Kingdom. We know that this Kingdom is still growing. We know that it has not yet been fully embraced by every heart and mind, but we have received the Good News that the door to this reality is now wide open. Every single person who has the desire to enter this Kingdom, and to live under the rule and reign of a loving, intimate God and Father can do so at any time.

Today the door to the Kingdom of God stands open. The opportunity to return to Eden is available. God wants to be your God. He wants to be your King. He wants to walk with you. He wants you to become the Temple where His Holy presence will rest and breathe and find a home.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" - 1 John 3:1

This is the Gospel. This is Subversive.



READ "More Love, Less Politics" over at Next-Wave Magazine

READ "Women as Pastors, Elders, Deacons and Overseers" over at


*Mark Main's "The Untried"


We'll all find out on 8/28/09



Friday, November 14, 2008

What Is An Apostle?

[Subversive Underground]

What Is An Apostle?
by Keith Giles

As I've been studying the early church the question came to me, "Where did the word 'Apostle' come from?" Looking at the New Testament the word simply appears out of nowhere as the twelve disciples are suddenly, without explanation, referred to as apostles. I started to wonder, "What was the origin of this word? What did it mean to those first century followers of Jesus who heard the word? Was it foreign or strange to them? Did it carry the same meaning for them that it does for us today?"

A quick search online revealed the following over at Wikipedia:

Apostle - Ancient Greek: (ἀπόστολος) or "apostolos", which is translated as "someone sent out", or "missionary".

According to the Bauer lexicon, Walter Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon of the NT: "Judaism had an office known as apostle (שליח)". The Friberg Greek Lexicon gives a broad definition as one who is sent on a mission, a commissioned representative of a congregation, a messenger for God, a person who has the special task of founding and establishing churches. The UBS Greek Dictionary also describes an apostle broadly as a messenger.

With this we can understand a little more about how the early church viewed the apostles. They were church-planting missionaries who preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and continued the ministry of Jesus, the Messiah.

When we look at the New Testament we see plenty of evidence to support this. Peter, James, John, Paul and the other apostles were primarily concerned with traveling to share the Gospel, plant churches and establish a framework for what it meant to be a follower of Jesus.

Christians today seem to hold the apostolic gifting as one above and beyond the common persons of Christendom. Many even go so far as to suggest that there are no apostles in today's church Bbody, which is to suggest that there are no longer church planters or missionaries who are called by God to evangelize the nations and establish the Church of God in the community.

When we read passages like Ephesians 4, verse 11-13 with this in mind it should give us a new perspective on the term "apostle" and the way the early church thought of these people within the Body itself - "It was he (Jesus) who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."

Apostles (church-planting missionaries) were necessary to communicate the Gospel of the Kingdom and establish the Church in Jerusalem, and Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the Earth. They were "first" in a chronological sense because, unless there is someone to go out and preach the Gospel and do the work of an evangelist or missionary, the Church couldn't be established. Once the Gospel is preached, people respond, groups are formed and the Church is established within a community, THEN the Holy Spirit provides for some to become their teachers, their shepherds, and to do the works of service.

I've been involved quite a bit lately defending the idea that the early church had no hierarchical form of leadership and this practical understanding of an apostle further solidifies the position that hierarchy wasn't part of the original Christian experience. Instead, we see Jesus commanding the disciples (future apostles) not to be like the secular Romans or the religious Pharisees who love to "lord it over" their followers. Instead, Jesus both commanded and modelled a bottom-up form of servant leadership, not a top-down form of CEO leadership. (SEE NOTE BELOW FOR MORE)

Another surprising discovery in the New Testament is that the apostles are not limited to just "The Twelve" we usually hear about on Sunday morning. These additional Apostles (or "Missionary Church-planters") include Barnabas (Acts 14:14), Andronicus and Junia (Romans 16:7), Silas and Timothy(I Thessalonians 1:1; 2:6, Acts 15:40), and Apollos (1Corinthians 4:6; 4:9; 3:22; 3:4-6).

It's quite fascinating also to consider that many scholars believe that the apostle Junia was female (see Romans 16:7) which gives further weight to the idea that the apostolic gifting was simply about doing missionary work and planting churches.

Even more interesting is that Jesus himself is named among the apostles in Hebrews 3:1 where he is referred to as the "apostle and high priest of our professed faith". In this passage Jesus is identified as the first missionary church-planter who called the twelve disciples to follow him so that he could teach them to be "fishers of men".

While there is a special and unique connection between the original twelve disciples who walked and talked with Jesus personally, and even Paul who encountered the risen Christ in a vision, the actual functional position of an apostle is nothing special. Apostles were very simply and practically the ones who did the work of missionary evangelism and planted churches, and God is still calling His people to be missionaries into the community and plant churches that interact with the culture.

Apostolic succession, then, is simply a continuation of the traditional preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom, making disciples, planting churches within the community and raising up others who will continually do the same.


NOTE: For an extensive exploration of the subject of church hierarchy please read the following articles and the resulting commentary found within.

"Where Are The Pastors?"

"First Century Pagan Talks to First Century Christian"

and Here:
"Biblical Scholarship in Support of Non-Hierarchy in the Church"

The PDF version of my book "The Gospel:For Here Or To Go?" has been downloaded 506 times so far, and my second book, "Nobody Follows Jesus (So Why Should You?)" has been downloaded 424 times.

You can still get them both free of charge

Stay tuned to this channel for news and updates.


Friday, November 07, 2008


[Subversive Underground]

By Keith Giles

Our Christian faith was born under the world's most violent, immoral and pagan flag- The Roman Empire. Jesus, our Lord and our example, did not spend any time teaching his disciples to oppose the pantheistic government of the day, nor did he ever cry out against their political policies, their unjust use of force or their sexual deviancy. Not even once.

After His crucifixion and resurrection, the Church that Jesus inspired endured 300 years under this same oppressive, anti-Christian Government. Even as this Empire of Evil arrested them unjustly, tortured them to death, confiscated their property and created an entertainment industry around their public executions by sword and wild animal, the Christian Church remained full of love and continued to preach and live out the Gospel of the Kingdom.

After 300 years of such oppression, these faithful followers of Jesus overcame the darkness - not by violence, not by revolution, not by free elections or political pressure, but simply by the hand of God alone and the power of the Gospel to change hearts and transform lives.

If our DNA was founded under such darkness, and if those first Christians remained hopeful, rejoicing in their sufferings, and living out their faith on a daily basis, how much more should we, in this free country, take a positive outlook on our future and live lives of hope no matter who is in the White House?

Over the last few months I have received an inbox full of email telling me to "Vote Like A Christian" and suggesting that I must pray for God to work a miracle and defeat the "Baby-killing, closet Muslim" who opposed our conservative, Republican values. Since the election I have heard Christians around me saying that "America is being judged by God" and moaning about the horrors of living under the oppressive rule of the Democratic party.

But our faith was founded under oppression much greater than this. We still live in a country where everyone is free to worship, free to speak, free to protest, free to sing and pray and read their Bible without fear of being arrested or killed for sport or thrown into jail. Our New Testament brothers and sisters would hardly be able to contain their joy at living in a nation such as ours where our freedoms abound and our faith is not a death sentence.

Is it really so horrible to live under a Democratic President? If our hope is in politicians, then perhaps I could understand this sense of gloom and defeat among God's Church today. But we do not place our hope in men, or in the political systems around us. Our hope is in Christ. Our God is still in control. The Kingdom of God is still advancing. The Gospel of Jesus is still true. We still have cause to shout and praise and celebrate.

Our New Testament is a story of believers who lived such extravagant lives of love among their pagan neighbors that slowly they turned the world upside down- one life at a time, one family at a time, one household at a time, one community at a time.

"Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 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 2:11-12

My advice to us is not hang our hopes on any political candidate, party platform, or governing body. They will always fall short of their promise and they will never bring the deep, lasting sort of change we all so desperately need and hope for.

Politicians are people who have placed their hope for a better tomorrow in the political system. They believe that progress will be made primarily in the political arena and therefore they place the majority of their time, passion, energy and hope in effecting change from that vantage point.

I am not a politician. Nor am I primarily focused on a political solution to the problems and challenges that face our communities, our nation, or mankind.

Instead, I have placed my hope for mankind in Christ Jesus and in the Gospel of the Kingdom. Because of this, I do not believe that politics will ever bring about real and lasting change in this nation, or in the hearts and minds of mankind.

I believe that our problems, society's problems, are deeper than any law or policy or proposition or measure can touch or effect. We can change laws but those laws will not change hearts. In fact, every year our nation writes thousands of new laws, and yet we do not see any improvement in our society due to the ever-increasing laws being passed by our legislature.

Does that mean we don't need laws? Of course not. Does it mean we, as followers of Jesus, should not participate in the political process? No, it doesn't. We should vote and speak out wherever necessary, however we should be careful not to forget that the hope for mankind isn't to be found in politics. It's only found in Christ Jesus and in the Gospel of the Kingdom.

This means that God is not a Republican or a Democrat. It means that, although we may continue to be proud citizens of America and participate in the democratic process, our ultimate focus is not politics, our hope is not in politicians or laws. No, our hope is in the Gospel of Christ. Our desire is to bring change to one person at a time, and to campaign for hope in the lives of the broken, the poor, the outcast and the forgotten in our society.

Our participation in the campaign for hope and change does not end at the polls, nor does it express itself in the forwarding of partisan e-mail messages endorsing a specific candidate for office. Our participation begins at sharing our lives with those around us. It begins with loving people as we have been loved. It begins with learning to relate to people; not as a Christian to a Non-Christian; not as a Republican to a Democrat, not as a Liberal to a Conservative, but simply as one human being to another human being.

"Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king." - 1 Peter 2:13-17

Our calling is simply to love others more than we love ourselves and to demonstrate the power of God's love to transform us from the inside out.

If our faith was birthed in the crucible of oppression and persecution, I believe American Christians can certainly endure four years of unfettered religious freedom to proclaim the Gospel far and wide without fear of attack.

This is a day of rejoicing. Let us give thanks to God that He is still on His awesome throne.

If you haven't yet downloaded the free PDF versions of my books - What are you waiting for?

Both are still available as free, downloadable PDF's

-The Gospel:For Here Or To Go?
-Nobody Follows Jesus (So Why Should You?)

*The Mission House Church
*Poverty In The OC
*OC House Church Network


Friday, October 31, 2008


[Subversive Underground]

by Keith Giles

In what way am I a Christian if I do not follow Jesus?

"Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." - Luke 9:23

"Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." - 1 John 2:6

In what way am I following Jesus if I don't obey Jesus?

"If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching...he who does not love me will not obey my teaching." - John 14:23-24

In what way do I obey Jesus if I don't serve others?

"Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." - John 13:14-17

In what way do I love God if I don't love others?

"If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother."
- 1 John 4:20-21

In what way do I love Jesus if I don't love the poor?

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" - Matthew 25:40

In what way do I love the poor if I don't share what I have?

"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." - 1 John 3:17

In what way am I saved if I don't know Jesus?

"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent" - John 17:3

In what way do I know Jesus if I don't know God?

"If you have seen me, you have seen the Father" - John 14:8-9

In what way do I know God if I don't share with the poor?

"He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" - Jeremiah 22:16 (GOD, speaking of King Josiah)

In what way is my church better than unbelieving pagans if we have no concern for the poor?

"Now this is the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were proud and did detestable things before me. Therefore, I did away with them as you have seen."
-Ezekiel 16:49


When Jesus tells his disciples that they will always have the poor among them, many have concluded that this statement is meant to downplay the practice of giving to the poor in order to focus on more important things, like corporate worship and giving to the building fund.

Nothing could be further from the truth.


Who would hunker down in the hood when they can afford the heights? Tom and Bree Hsieh. That's who.

The couple belongs to a club made up of people who donate at least half their salary to charity for at least three years straight.

It's called the 50 % League and it grew out of Bolder Giving, an organization started in 2007 by Boston suburb philanthropists Anne and Christopher Ellinger.


The Orange County Board of Supervisors has voted to spend the following amounts in the new $5.56 Billion Budget:

$54,463 for a company to test fire alarms at Juvenile Hall once during the year.

$45 an hour through 2009 for one man to perform "Rodent Control Services" at the county's flood-control channels.



My friend and sister in Christ, Alicia Laumann is an amazing dancer who now teaches Pilates in Fullerton. Her innovative approach blends traditional and modern Pilates techniques to create a customized program that's made just for you.

Tell her Keith sent you and receive a free 60-minute private session. (Actually all her new clients get a free session so it doesn't matter either way).



[End Transmission]

Friday, October 24, 2008


[Subversive Underground]


Where are all the Pastors in the New Testament? Why are they absent if they are so crucial to the life of the Body? Why is the word only used once in the entire New Testament? Why are no letters addressed to them from the Apostles? Why are the Elders (plural) the main form of leadership we see in the New Testament? What were the qualifications necessary to be an Elder or an Overseer? What do these words even mean?

First of all, there is no direct correlation in the New Testament to our modern pastors. None. The word only appears once in the New Testament and it is never unpacked adequately for us to understand exactly what a pastor did. However we can extrapolate based on the root of the word which means "To shepherd". Therefore, pastors were to shepherd the flock and care for them, spiritually. Beyond that we have no other instructions regarding a pastor.

Make no mistake, the leaders of the early church were not the pastors. The most common of all of the New Testament references to leaders are either "Elders" or "Overseers" and the two are used almost interchangeably throughout the epistles. The term "Elders" applies to those who were "Old" or "Mature". Essentially they were to be followed because they were wise and they deserved respect. The "Overseers" were simply those who helped to "oversee" or "facilitate" the gatherings of believers.

From what we see in the New Testament, every church had more than one Elder and numerous Overseers who helped to guide the church and lead them to follow Christ.

It's fascinating to me that the letters to the Churches in the New Testament are never addressed to the leaders directly, but instead to the Church as a whole. (Exceptions are letters written directly to people like Timothy or Titus or Philemon. It should also be noted that, although many pastors assume that Timothy is an example of a Biblical pastor, in actuality Timothy was engaged in work similar to that of Paul who was busy travelling and preaching the Gospel and planting churches. Timothy is told to "do the work of an evangelist" – not a pastor. He certainly didn't stay in one place and teach the same people week after week. Therefore, Timothy is an example of an evangelist or apostle, not a pastor as we would know one today).

The church in Corinth is a fascinating example of a church with numerous moral and ethical failures, yet when Paul writes to correct them he doesn't address their Pastor and command him to fix things. In fact, he doesn't even address their Elders or Overseers to respond to this by exercising their authority over the people. Why were the pastors, or for that matter the Elders of the Church, not commanded to exercise their authority and deal with the very serious moral failures within the Church in Corinth? Perhaps because Paul understood that the Body itself was capable of coming together to correct the problem themselves. Something he hints at when he says, "Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?" – 1 Corinthians 6:3

I would like to humbly suggest that "Authority", and "Submission" do not necessarily imply organizational structures are at work in the New Testament Church. Submission is something that all believers are urged to do, and authority is only to be submitted to if it is in line with God’s Word and not on the basis of an office or appointment.

"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." – Ephesians 5:21
Everyone is urged to submit to everyone else. It's a shared submission among brothers and sisters in Christ who are equals and who humbly care for one another. Only Christ is the head, or the leader, of the Church.

Many are of the opinion that Jesus actually taught and promoted hierarchy in the Church, something I find alarming and dangerous. But, just for a moment, let me ask, "What would we expect to see in the New Testament if Jesus DIDN'T want His Church to be run like a hierarchy? Wouldn't we expect to see Jesus condemning this practice? Perhaps he would have pointed to a hierarchical system and commanded His disciples not to follow that example?

"Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." – Jesus, in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 10, verses 42-45.

Does Jesus command his disciples not to exercise authority over people? Yes, he clearly and plainly does. What, then, are today's pastors doing if they are not exercising their authority over their church members? Isn't this a fair question to ask? Am I allowed to point out the disconnect between what Jesus says and what His Church actually does, or does not, do?

Here, in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus points to the Roman Government (a secular hierarchy) and commands his disciples not to imitate this system of lording it over people or exercising authority over those who follow.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus points to a religious system of hierarchy and instructs them (again) not to imitate this system of hierarchy where the "Teacher" is exalted over the student. Instead, he says, remember that you are all brothers:

"But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." – Matthew 23:8-12

Next, let's look at the Apostles themselves. If they heard Jesus commanding them to avoid the hierarchical system of leadership, wouldn't we see evidence that they obeyed this command? Did they take his words to heart? Let's see:

"Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm." - 2 Cor.1:24

Paul the Apostle obeys Jesus and refuses to "lord it over" those who follow Christ alongside him. Instead he works with them, as a brother, not as an authority figure.

"To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away." – 1 Peter 5:1-4

Here, Peter identifies himself, not as an Apostle, but as a fellow elder among the brethren. He then urges these elders (plural) to serve as overseers because they are willing, not because they have been handed a title or an appointment, and especially urges them to be careful not to "lord it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock" – as Jesus commanded him several years earlier.

Having said all of this, doesn't the New Testament ask that we submit to our leaders and their authority? Yes, it does. For example:

Hebrews 13: 17- "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you."

Let me be clear, I am not arguing against leadership here. Not at all. Every church needs leadership, and this is also clearly taught in the New Testament, however I would like to ask us to consider the possibility that leadership doesn't automatically mean top-down, authoritarianism. Jesus modeled something different than this, and then he commanded his disciples to emulate his example.

So, going back to our verse above, you might read this and ask, "What is the basis for our submission to our leaders?" Does their authority rest in the office they hold, or is it found in something else? Are we to submit to these leaders only because they hold an office? Or are we to submit to them as they point us to follow Christ? Hopefully we do not blindly follow people because they are "the Pastor" or because they have a title of authority. Hopefully.

No, the only authority we are to submit to is Christ Himself. To me, this truth is self-evident when we look at the NT as a whole.

Earlier in this same chapter, the writer of Hebrews, in chapter 13 and verse 7 says, "Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith."

Here we are told to submit to our leaders as they speak the Word of God to us. Not to them as authorities in and of themselves, but as humble servants who lovingly teach us to follow Christ, and who then demonstrate this by their actual lives of faith.

Submission then is to Christ and to the Word of God. If our leaders handle and teach the Word of God wisely, and if they faithfully live lives that reflect Christ, THEN we are to submit to their authority. But only if. Their authority is not automatic and it is not based on the office they hold. Otherwise, we would be accountable to obey leaders simply because they held that office, regardless of whether or not their lives reflected Christ or their teaching of God's Word was true.

If we follow the policy of hierarchy for the sake of itself we can end up with someone holding an office within the Church and exercising authority even if they are not followers of Christ. Such a person should have no actual authority in any spiritual sense over the life of believers. What counts is character, not the office or the position. However, someone with no organizational office may, because of gifting by the Holy Spirit and sincere love for others, have actual authority to speak and teach and lead his brothers and sisters in Christ (who are his equals).

Institutional Churches that employ such a man-made organizational method can only hope to mimic the kind of leadership such as the "rulers of the gentiles" possess, something that Jesus expressly commanded us not to do - "It shall not be so among you!" - Matthew 20:25-26.

The Holy Spirit is the only source of spiritual authority and accountability in the Church through real-life relationships, not titles handed down by men.

Did the Apostles depend upon the authority of men or did they give any weight to the opinions of men? Apparently they did not. For example, Paul says, "Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody." - 2 Corinthians.3:1-2

If hierarchy was so important in the early church, why don't we see them exercising it? Why do we see them operating as a Body and not as a business? Perhaps the answers are right in front of us? Are we courageous enough to answer truthfully?

As Biblical Scholar Richard Halverson has said, "When the Greeks got the Gospel, they turned it into a philosophy; when the Romans got it, they turned it into a government; when the Europeans got it, they turned it into a culture; and when the Americans got it, they turned it into a business."

I pray we can help God's people to see that they were never intended to be run like a business, and instead to help them see that, according to the Word of God, they are simply a Family, a Body, an Organism, and a Bride.



"When Jesus established the Church he did not build something with a physical temple or a daily animal sacrifice or a special group of elite clergy. The Church that Jesus built was out of the ordinary. It was radical. It was unlike anything that had ever come before it."




Friday, October 17, 2008

Every Believer a Priest of God

[Subversive Underground]

Every Believer a Priest of God by Keith Giles

Chances are that, unless you are a pastor, you don't consider yourself as being qualified to baptize a new believer, lead others in the Lord's Supper, or pray for someone dying of cancer in the hospital. You are not alone. Most people who attend Christian Churches today would not feel it was their place to baptize a new believer or perform any of the functions normally reserved for the clergy.

The sad thing is, your Bible suggests otherwise. In fact, Paul the Apostle says on several occasions that every member of the Body is competent to lead, to instruct, to exhort and to share.

For example, in Romans 15:14 Paul says, "I myself am convinced, my brethren, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another." and in 1 Cor 14:31 he says, "For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged". This last verse specifies a shared prophetic gifting within the Body, but this shared dynamic is not limited to that specific gifting, especially when compared to what Paul has previously communicated in chapter 12 of this same epistle.

One of the most famous verses of scripture in the New Testament which gives us a clear picture of what the original New Testament expression of Church looked like is found in 1 Corinthians 14, verse 26 which says, "What then 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."

Here we see a gathering of Believers who all partake of Christ together, sharing their God-given gifts with one another in love for the common good.

The fact is that Jesus gave birth to a Church that was radically different from anything that had ever been known before, or since. It was a Church where every believer was a priest of God and every member was a Temple of His Holy Spirit. The only daily sacrifice was performed by average, everyday people like you and I who were filled by the Spirit of the Living God and empowered to live radical lives of love in demonstration of the Gospel message.

The Doctrine of the Priesthood of the Believer is nearly unheard of in today's Churches, and rarely preached on. Mainly, I would suspect, because for any traditional church to follow through with the implications of this doctrine, many pastors would soon find themselves out of a job. Nevertheless, the New Testament reveals an early Church where everyone participated and shared their spiritual gifts openly with the rest of the Body.

In 1 Corinthians 12, verse 4, Paul says, "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men." Notice here that Paul doesn't say, "...but the same God works all of them in ONE MAN." If he did then we might have a Biblical basis for the all-in-one religious professionals that we currently employ today. Instead, as numerous Biblical Scholars have clearly remarked, the early Church knew nothing of a clergy class of leader we see today.

These Biblical Scholars include FF.Bruce, Gordon Fee, Robert Banks and Howard Snyder who said:

"The clergy-laity dichotomy is a direct carry-over from pre-Reformation Roman Catholicism and a throwback to the Old Testament priesthood. It is one of the principal obstacles to the church effectively being God’s agent of the kingdom today because it creates a false idea that only 'holy men,' namely, ordained ministers, are really qualified and responsible for leadership and significant ministry. In the New Testament there are functional distinctions between various kinds of ministries but no hierarchical division between clergy and laity. The New Testament teaches us that the church is a community in which all are gifted and all have ministry."

Another Biblical Scholar, William Bausch, himself a Roman Catholic, freely admits that the New Testament Church knew nothing of the One-Man-Pastorate that we employ in today's modern Christianity:

"Our survey has shown us that no cultic priesthood is to be found in the New Testament. Yet we wound up importing Old Testament Levitical forms and imposing them on Christian ministry . . . Nevertheless in practice there is no denying that there has historically been a gathering into one person and his office what were formerly the gifts of many . . .[This practice] goes astray, of course, when it translates to mean that only ordination gives competence, authority, and the right of professional governance. It goes further astray when eventually all jurisdictional and administrative powers in the church come to be seen as an extension of the sacramental powers conferred at ordination. In short, there is a movement here away from the more pristine collaborative and mutual ministries of the New Testament." - William Bausch, from his book "Traditions, Tensions, Transitions in Ministry", Twenty-Third Publications, 1982, pp. 54, 30.

Whenever someone suggests that it is unbiblical for the average Christian to teach, preach, baptize, or prophesy on a regular basis they are dead wrong. While the New Testament teaches us that not all Christians are specifically gifted as teachers, prophets, or apostles, (see 1 Cor 12:29) it also teaches that every Christian is a minister, a functioning priest, and is capable of instructing, prophesying, and exhorting in the church.

The truth is that if you are a spirit-filled child of God then the Holy Spirit living within you has already licensed, ordained and empowered you to begin your ministry as a Priest of God in the Name of Jesus Christ, and the function of the Body is to encourage and equip you to walk out that Divine calling every day of your life.

It doesn’t take much digging around to uncover a host of Biblical Scholars who freely admit that our modern divide between Clergy and Laity is not a New Testament concept.

"In the Catholic Church there are two classes, clergy and laity...This structure does not correspond to what Jesus did and taught. Consequently it has not had a good effect in the history of the Church ...Among his disciples Jesus did not want any distinction of class or rank...In contradiction to this instruction of Jesus, a “hierarchy,” a “sacred authority,” was nevertheless formed in the third century - Herbert Haag (a Roman Catholic), Upstairs, Downstairs: Did Jesus Want a Two-Class Church?, Crossroad, 1997, p.109.

Jesus was quite clear when he pulled his Disciples aside (many of whom would go on to become the Apostles who would shape the New Testament Church) and said to them: "(The Pharisees) do all their deeds to be seen by others...But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers." – Jesus (Matthew 23:5)

What did Jesus mean by this? Did He seriously intend to communicate that He was the only head of His Church? Could He really mean that they were not to set up a hierarchical system of Church government?

Let's ask ourselves the following questions:

Where in the Scriptures can we find anyone other than Christ who is called the head of the Church?

Why didn't Jesus name a human leader to take his place before ascending into Heaven?

The truth is, Jesus never relinquished control over His Disciples or His Church, to any human being. But, you might ask, didn't Jesus assign ANYONE to lead the Church in His absence? Yes, He did:

"But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you...But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you." - JESUS, see John 14:7; 13-15

Here we see that Jesus did leave someone in charge in His absence - The Holy Spirit. Therefore, Jesus continues to lead His Church today, as His people (the Body) respond to His leadership in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Some have suggested that this radical picture of "every-believer-a-priest" goes too far and leaves us with a leaderless Church founded on anarchy and chaos. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

Every Church requires leadership and God has not left us without it. The truth is, I believe in a plurality of leadership within the Church because every Believer is a Priest of God. For example, whenever anyone in our house church is sharing he/she is leading us. It may be a seven year old girl, a twelve year old boy, a forty year old man, or anyone in the room. Even so, this is still not the end of leadership. In a larger sense, Christ is still the leader of His Church, not me or anyone else. He might lead through us as we submit to Him and respond to His Holy Spirit, but it is still Christ who is leading us.

So, what is at stake? Do models really matter? Can't God work through us no matter how we gather or who our leader is? Yes, of course. God can, and does, work through any and all means to advance His Kingdom and communicate His Gospel. We are all unworthy vessels and in the end God's perfect will is accomplished no matter where or how we gather.

But, I would simply ask, if you knew that God had something special in mind from the beginning, and if you could see Biblical evidence for a form of Church that did more than give lip service to the concepts of family, and brotherhood, wouldn't you at least want to give it a shot?

If there was a way to enter into the kind of community we read about in the book of Acts, why wouldn't you want to entertain the possibility that it could be within our grasp? Why wouldn't you be willing to surrender anything it took to have a Church like that?

Certainly those of us who have made the decision to worship in our homes and step into the priesthood of the believer are in the minority, for now. But according to Leadership Magazine, Christianity Today, Focus on the Familiy and Rev Magazine, approximately 1,500 pastors a month leave the traditional pastorate in the United States alone, and a recent Gallop poll showed that 1 million adult Christians per year leave the institutional church in the U.S. - and that number is growing.

I believe that God is up to something. I believe that many of the one million people who leave their pews this year are being lead by the Holy Spirit to enter into a form of Church which Jesus inspired from the beginning, and even now is calling some within His Body to experience today.

As author Reggie McNeal, an authority on Church Leadership, has said, "A growing number of people are leaving the institutional church for a new reason. They are not leaving because they have lost their faith. They are leaving the church to preserve their faith."


"As you come to him, the living 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 2:4-5

"Biblical Scholarship In Support of Non-Hierarchy in the Church" by Keith Giles


WDJD? - What Did Jesus Do?
by Daniel and Heather Cosby

Did Jesus Say...

A) That the Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed.

B) That the Kingdom of Heaven is just like the Roman Empire, only nicer, and with crosses instead of pagan symbols, and church buildings instead of pagan temples.

Read more of this great article:



"If we were General Motors or Coca-Cola and had messed up our brand this much, we would change our name and logo and start all over."

Read the full, and amazing article right


Friday, October 10, 2008

Permanent Faith

[Subversive Underground]
Permanent Faith by Keith Giles

I was reminded recently of a story about a young policeman in Virginia who was sent out to warn residents to evacuate their homes just before Hurricane Isabella hit.

The young policeman was surprised to find that most people refused to leave. "We'll be just fine," people said. "We've lived here for twenty years and no Hurricane is gonna make us leave now."

One of the more experienced policeman, a seargant, found out what was happening and invited him to watch as he went to knock on the door of the next house in line. When the person answered the door the seargant explained that they were being advised to warn residents to leave the area because of the severity of the Hurricane which was only hours away from landfall.

"No thanks," the homeowner said. "We're gonna ride this one out, officer."

The seargant nodded and reached into his shirt pocket. He handed the man a Sharpie permanent marker and said, "Not a problem, sir. Just go ahead and write your social security number and a phone number for your next of kin somewhere on your torso for me."

The homeowner stared back at the officer. "Excuse me?"

The seargant explained, "Well sir, when we pull your body from the wreckage we just need a way to identify you and notify your family."

The man paused a moment and then handed the Sharpie back to the seargant. "Hang on while I get my things."

This story was orginally told to illustrate our need to let go of our worldy possessions and embrace the Kingdom of God. However, as I listened to this story I couldn't help but sense another application to the Kingdom of God. I think God is looking for a generation of people who would gladly take that Sharpie and write on their bodies because they have made up their minds to give up their lives for the Kingdom of God.

The people in this story who left their homes in the Hurricane did so because they loved their lives more than they loved their possessions- which is a great lesson for all of us to embrace. However, those who follow Christ are called to love Him, and the Kingdom of God, more than they love their own lives. For us, the followers of Jesus, the only real choice we have is to take that permanent marker, give notice to others who find our bodies, and continue living out the surrendered life in the midst of the storm.

We, the Church, have been called to stand our ground. Jesus promised us that that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against us. We have been called to count the cost and to give up anything - everything, for the Kingdom of God.

We have to be a people who are willing not just to live for Christ, but to lay down our lives and take up our cross, daily, to die for Him as well.

When Japanese Kamikaze pilots took to the air they only had enough gas in the tank for a one way trip. Their last will and testament had already been written. Their funeral was held on the airstrip before they took to the skies.

"When Jesus calls a man, he bids him to come and die." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Those of us who call ourselves follower of Christ have a high calling. Not just to love our lives more than we love our possessions, but greater still to love Jesus more than we love our lives.

Would you be willing to take that marker and sign away your life on this Earth in order to weather the storm? Can we trust God to carry us through it all? Or will we run for cover when they come and knock on our door?

I hope, when they find my body in the wreckage, they will know that I have lived for Christ until my very last breath.

I pray for God's Grace to make it so.
Over at my main website there's quite a dialog going on about the nature of leadership in the Church and God's design for His Church. I welcome you to join the conversation if you're interested.

There's also a bit of the same debate that spilled over into last week's [SU], "Out of Business"

Our first HC101 class was awesome. You can read about it

Our next one will be on Saturday, November 1st.

Find out more


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Wednesday, October 08, 2008


[Subversive Underground]

By Keith Giles

It's time the Church went out of business. Close down the bank account, lay off the pastoral staff, cancel the utilities, sell the building, auction off the sound system and the digital projector and turn out the lights. The Church needs to get out of the business of being in business because it was never intended by its founder to be run like a business in the first place.

The Church as Jesus imagined it has always been a living organism, not a soul-less organization employing a team of spiritual experts. The Church that Jesus died to give birth to isn't a business, it's a family of equals who all love one another in a way the world can only dream of.

If acting like a business prevents us from being the Family God intended, let us joyfully put ourselves out of business and learn what it means to be the Body of Christ in our community. If operating as an organization holds us back from spending time with the neighbors we are commanded to love, then let us resign our pastoral positions and refuse our stipends so that we can share the vibrant love of Jesus with the people living in darkness right next door to us.

Instead of hiring accountants to handle our books, let us join our hands together and walk outside where Jesus always intended His Church to thrive - among the everyday people, the ordinary citizens, the sinners who would never feel at home in our temples.

Instead of investing in retirement plans for pastors, let us get down on our knees and wipe the dirt from the faces of the impoverished children who live in our very own cities, just a few miles from our own doorstep, and let us love them as Jesus would have loved them.

Instead of raising millions of dollars to buy a larger building with giant flat-panel television screens in the rotunda, let us give of ourselves, our time, our talent, our energy, our passion and our very best in order to bring the Kingdom of God to a world that so desperately needs hope.

It's time for the Church to go out of business.

I quit playing Church. I quit going through the motions. I quit pretending to have it all together. I quit the status quo. I quit denominationalism. I quit trying to convert people. I quit.

I begin to be the Church. I begin to take up my cross daily. I begin to relate to humans as another human being. I begin to practice my faith. I begin to put the words of Jesus into practice. I begin learning to love people. I begin.

Let the religious professionals have their tax exemptions and their weekly pastor's lunch meetings and their salaries if that's what they want, but I will not contribute to any of that any longer. I will invest in the lives of the broken, the forgotten and the hungry who live in my community, even in my own Church family. I will work with my hands to support my family. I will treat human beings as human beings, regardless of their denomination, or faith, or lack thereof.

I will surrender my need to be entertained and embrace the uncomfortable silence. I will surrender my comfortable chair and exchange it for a few hours on my knees in prayer for a friend who is dying from cancer. I will surrender my need for a tax write-off and freely share what I have been given with the stranger on the street corner and the family in the motel. I will surrender.

It's time the Church started living like the people of God. It's time the Church started learning what it means to follow Jesus, and how to help others do the same. It's time for the Church to go out of the business of being in business.

Turn that building in to a home for forgotten seniors, or a sanctuary for children dying of cancer or AIDs. Break apart the asphalt parking lot and plow it under to grow affordable food for the families living in poverty downtown. Find a way to use that resource for God's Kingdom and for the people He loves enough to die for instead of allowing it to sit empty between services.

Part of what Jesus was doing on the cross was to provide a quality of life for those who would follow after Him. That quality of life is connected to His vision for His Church.

He died to create a people who would stop meeting in temples in order to be the Temple of God.

He died to create a people who would stop submitting to the man-made authority of an Earthly priest in order to become members of the Priesthood of Believers.

He died to create a people who would stop offering a sacrifice for their sin and start living as sacrifices for the good of others - as loving servants who act as Ambassadors of Christ and His Kingdom.

Why would you trade God's vision of Church for the "sermon and a song" we've made it out to be?

Let the Church get out of the business of being a business and let the Church start being the Church that Jesus intended us to be.

It's time.


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Friday, October 03, 2008


[Subversive Underground]

Merely Followers by Keith Giles

"(The Pharisees) do all their deeds to be seen by others...and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others," Jesus said to his disciples. "But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers." – Jesus (Matthew 23: 5)

These instructions from our Lord Jesus are all but forgotten in today's Church. The organizations that dot the fruited plane with His name over the door have not followed the advice of their founder when it comes to leadership.

In fact, not only do we have numerous "rabbis" and "teachers" clogging the airwaves and bookshelves in our modern version of Christendom, we have also become obsessed with the concept of leadership in the Church. We have Leadership Conferences and Leadership Study Bibles and Leadership sections in our bookstores – all devoted to making you and I better leaders.

With all this special attention placed on leadership and raising up leaders, it's almost as if we’re doing all we can to avoid the idea of being merely a follower. Our obsession with leadership suggests to everyone that to be a follower is to be pathetically average. To be a follower is to be lazy. Only those who lack ambition are just followers. It's only the serious Christians who desire to be successful and to be successful in the Body of Christ means being identified as a person with leadership skills and the potential to lead others.

In our lust for position as leaders we've convinced ourselves that being a leader is part of fulfilling our command to make disciples and preach the Gospel to every creature. Yet we cannot truly make a disciple (a follower) unless we ourselves are also disciples and followers of Jesus. This means we must first become devoted to the idea of humbling ourselves daily, taking up our cross, and following Jesus before we dare to instruct someone else in this path.

If our desire to lead is based on the idea that we're a better speaker or teacher than someone else, or if it's based on the feeling we get when people treat us like leaders, then we're in leadership for the wrong reasons.

I can remember being at pastors conferences where the idea of being seen as a great leader in the eyes of all the other great leaders was the only thing on anyone's mind, including my own. All the posturing, the off-hand remarks about the size of my church or the casual references to the innovative approach we were taking to ministry were all calculated to raise my stature in the eyes of the other pastors in the room. It didn't seem so bad to me at the time because everyone else was behaving the same way. Today I realize there's more to leadership than being perceived as the one with all the answers and I fully repent of this self-centered pursuit of man's approval.

Our ultimate model for leadership is Jesus. He demonstrated a leadership style that flies in the face of our popular ideas of what it means to be a leader. Jesus laid aside his great authority and power and humbled himself from the very beginning, taking on the role of a servant, making himself nothing. Our attitude should be the same. (See Philippians chapter 2).

Even in the House Church Movement we have started to fall into this leadership-centric mindset with authors and experts being sought after to speak at large conferences around the country. We're beginning to create our very own house church celebrities now, and this troubles me. If there's anything our movement can contribute to the Church as a whole it's the concept that everyone matters, not just the leaders among us who instruct and guide us.

Jesus was the one who told his disciples that the one who wants to be the leader has to be willing to wash feet, and serve others and put their needs ahead of their own. "The greatest among you shall be your servant," Jesus said. "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (see Matthew 23:5-12)

It may not be sexy to merely follow Jesus today, but it's the main thing each of us is called to be – a humble follower of Jesus who teaches others how to humbly follow Jesus too.

I pray each of us can learn to embrace the simplicity of following Jesus in our daily lives.

More than anything else, I hope I can.


Find out more at OCHOUSECHURCH.COM



Saturday, September 27, 2008


*NOTE: As I am overcome with projects at work, dealing with a broken vehicle, and attempting to prepare for a sermon this tomorrow, this week's [Subversive Underground] will feature a blast from the past. Hope this blesses you.

By Keith Giles

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had….There was no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”- Acts 4:32-35

As I read about the early church in the book of Acts I am amazed at their simple devotion to one another, to the poor, and especially to Jesus.

Reading about how “there was no needy person found among them” I am humbled and inspired. As I see their eagerness to share, not just to give an offering, but to take what is their own and give it away to others who are truly in need, I long to know this kind of “koinonia” or “Agape Community”.

How did they do it?

As someone who has been involved in ministry and on staff at various kinds of churches over the last sixteen years, I know first-hand the frustration of reading the book of Acts and then trying every possible program and gimmick available to duplicate this kind of simple Christian life within the congregation I’m helping to pastor.

Anyone who’s ever tried to lead a group of believers, or to pastor a church knows the pain of this same frustration. We attend seminars taught by high-powered business executives turned church consultant gurus. We buy their books, their tapes, and we try every possible way to produce the fruit we see in the book of Acts within our own church body.

What happens is, we get larger churches, we get happier churches, we get culturally-relevant churches, we get hip and cool and slick, but the one thing we don’t get is more like the people we read about in the book of Acts.

Why is that?

Here’s my oversimplified explanation. Let’s pretend that what the early Christians in Acts were great at was making waffles. They made the best waffles known to man. Their waffles were legendary. We read about those amazing waffles and we determine to make waffles like they did. So, we go to the successful culinary experts in our modern world and we ask them for advice. They tell us to buy the biggest Barbecue Grill we can find, the one with dual propane tanks and the built-in meat thermometer. They tell us to get the complete serving dish set, all the chrome cooking utensils and even a chefs hat and matching apron. We buy it all and we even put a cross on it to make it holy. Next we start trying to grill up some waffles, and of course, those waffles are lousy. No one wants our waffles and we can’t understand why.

Why won’t we accept the fact that, unless we start trying to make waffles the way the early church did, we’ll never ever be any good at making waffles?

Very simply put, I feel very strongly that if we don’t do what they did, we’ll never get what they got.

That’s why we’re starting “the mission”, so that we can begin to learn from The Holy Spirit how to actually love, and share, and give, and live out our faith the same way the early church did for over 300 years.

Even the big business executives agree-“The systems you currently have are perfectly designed to give you the results you are now getting” (Peter Senge).

If we want different results than what we’re getting, it means we’re going to have to completely change the system we’re using.

I’ll be mixing up the batter in the kitchen, please don’t forget to bring the syrup.

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”- Acts 2:44-47

[orginally sent to the subscribers of the underground newsletter on Jan 24th, 2006]



Saturday, September 20, 2008

Lead, Follow and Get Out Of The Way

[Subversive Underground]

Lead, Follow and Get Out Of The Way
by Keith Giles

I've been challenged and inspired this week in regards to leadership.

Last week I shared a little about our house church and how we were entering a critical phase of our development where we need to find a way to grow and plant a new house church or we will die.

After I wrote that article, our house church had a meeting to further explore this issue and as a result we determined that what has been holding us back all this time: It is me.

As painful as it was for me to hear these words, the reality is that everyone needed to realize this truth, especially me, in order for our church to take the necessary steps forward.

How am I holding us back? By holding on to leadership too tightly and not giving away more of the responsibility to others.

In last week's [Subversive Underground] I shared about how our house church isn't all about me because I don't preach or lead a Bible Study and everyone shares in our teaching, including elementary-age children, and no one is attending because they read my books or my blog.

While all of this is true, what I failed to see was that even though people don't come to our house church because of me, our house church continues and survives because of me, and that was a gigantic blind spot.

When we asked our house church members if they would continue meeting this way should my family move away, nearly everyone said that they would not. This was painful to hear, I have to admit. My ego was bruised and I felt like a failure for not seeing this sooner, but at least now we have devised a plan for overcoming this problem of leadership.

Here's the plan: For the next two months I will be taking a vacation from The Mission. Instead of directing our meetings, facilitating our gathering, leading communion time, etc. I will be sitting in the back of the room as an observant guest while the rest of my brothers and sisters in Christ step forward and utilize their gifts for the common good.

So, I feel like God is teaching me a lot about true Leadership and what He expects from those who tend to His flock. What I've learned has humbled me and inspired me to become a leader who gives himself, and his leadership, away to others so that they can grow into the people God has made them to be.

Jesus had a lot to say about leadership. To his Apostles-in-training he said, "The Gentiles lord it over their people. Not so with you. The greatest among you will be the servant of all" (See Mark 10) and when He washed their feet He told them to wash one another's feet. He commanded them to love one another and to be known for their great love.

Jesus established a pattern of leadership in three simple steps: First Jesus modeled the way to serve, then he let the disciples serve while he observed, and then he sent them out on their own. In other words, first Jesus lead them, then he followed them, then he got out of their way. This is what I am only now learning to do.

I am learning to lead by laying down my life for my friends, and encouraging them to spread their wings and fly. My hope is that they will experience what it means to "Be the Church" even more.

Tomorrow I will be leading a session on house church for a local conference. Part of what we will discuss is leadership within organic church settings. I can't wait to share what God has taught me so far.


Saturday, Oct. 4th at Triangle Square
10am to 11:30am - F R E E
Visit OCHOUSECHURCH.COM for more info and to RSVP

Just this week I read a great post over at my friend Lionel's Blog about real Leadership. Here's the part that blessed me:

"If you desire to be in leadership to express your gift, share your vision, have a following, or because you think you are best fit for the job, or because you think you are the better teacher or even if you feel called (which I have issues with) you are in leadership for the wrong reason. However, if you love the people of God and those you plan on leading (remember apart from relationship this is impossible) then I believe your "vision" is in line with Christs."

He goes on to say:

"Our Pastor Calvin once asked us, "How many times does Jesus directly tell the disciples that he loves, them?" Or, in other words, how many times does Jesus have to reaffirm His love for the disciples? The answer is He doesn't. Jesus spends very little time talking about love and all of His time loving. The Disciples have very little trouble understanding this, but we do. If leadership is critical to the local gathering, and if love makes up all of the commandments, (then) these two must intersect or we have a problem."

You can read more of Lionel's article

Earlier this month another one of my favorite bloggers and friends, Brant Hansen, shared an inspiring list of contrasts between "Servant Leaders" and "Leader-Man" type leaders who take the CEO approach with their congregation.

Here's a brief look at Brant's list:

Servant Leader: Has something to say
LeaderMan: Wants a platform on which to say something

LeaderMan: Wants you to know he's a Leader
Servant Leader: You're not sure he knows he's a leader

LeaderMan: Loves the idea of the Gospel, and the idea of The Church
Servant Leader: Loves God and the actual individual people God brings across his path

LeaderMan: Helps you find where God is leading you in his organization
Servant Leader: Helps you find where God is leading you

LeaderMan: Gets together with you to talk about his vision
Servant Leader: Just gets together with you

LeaderMan: Wants the right people on the bus
Servant Leader: Wants to find the right bus for you, and sit next to you on it

LeaderMan: Invests time in you, if you are "key people"
Servant Leader: Wastes time with you

LeaderMan: Gives you things to do
Servant Leader: Gives you freedom

You can read the whole thing

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