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


[End Transmission]

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.


[End Transmission]

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.


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