Wednesday, October 08, 2008

OUT OF BUSINESS

[Subversive Underground]

OUT OF BUSINESS
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
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
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
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
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.

-kg
www.KeithGiles.com


**
[End Transmission]

19 comments:

Ordinary Guy said...

WOW. Outstanding post!

Would you mind if I post it on my site just as it is and link viewers to your site?

I'm sure it will force many people to think a few things over.

Keith Giles said...

Of course you can!

Like a Mustard Seed said...

You know, this is the closest thing to a "manifesto" for the living church that I've come across, and I'm usually not into those. I think we too are gonna keep a copy of this, to use whenever God might prompt us to bust it out.

We are proud to be quitters too...

In Christ, Daniel

Todd said...

Holy Mackerel!!!!

keith, appreciate what you posted....

cheers,

todd

Robert said...

Uhhhh...

Hmmm....

Where will the millions of growing, encouraged, "real" disciples meet? Is your yard big enough?

I guess everyone who goes to a building is really just "playing" church. None of them really care about the poor, the oppressed or the outcast right?

And those churches that are sending millions to the poor of the world should stop meeting together. They should forget church because some guy who thinks God is too poor to provide for His beloved children. How rich is God anyway?

Has your home church given one-one-millionth of the amount of money to the poor as a mega church?

Excuse me while I vomit.

karissa said...

My husband just lost his job at our church as a traditional pastor where we've served for 10 years. I am secretly excited (though fearful of course) for the possibility of moving out the mega church setting into something smaller and more real where people's live are transformed in community with other believers without the enormous building, parking attendants, and flat screen tv's everywhere (I cringed the day those were installed in the lobby).

Major run-on sentence sorry! Love perusing your blog, it has given me so much to ponder.

Keith Giles said...

Robert- Where will the "real" disciples meet?

Under a tree in the park, in their living rooms, at local coffee shops, or anywhere they can exercise community and koinonia.

Of course they won't meet in my back yard because I'm not trying to attract people to myself, I'm trying to get people (Christians) to follow Jesus.

I'm also not trying to suggest that those who attend traditional church are not concerned for the poor. If you read my article I'm saying that we should throw off the business aspect of Church if that prevents us from seeing our true nature and calling.

You ask: Has your home church given one-one-millionth of the amount of money to the poor as a mega church?

No, but thankfully Jesus doesn't measure our generosity based on how much we give - He measures how much we keep.

Granted, our house church hasnt' given anywhere near as much as your church has to the poor - but we've given 100%, not 5%.

What was Jesus saying to his disciples by pointing out the widow who gave her two coins when the rich dropped in hundreds and thousannds? He was saying that God measures our hearts, He doesn't add up the total amount.

Yes, I freely admit that traditional churches accomplish amazing things for the Kingdom of God. My friends in the Lutheran church have built schools in Africa, my friends at RockHarbor have built churches and dug wells for orphans in Uganda, these are things our little house church could never do. I recognize their incredible efforts- but I also know that as amazing as all of this is that they could do more if they changed their priority and shifted their value from a Sunday morning entertainment experience and embraced a Biblical model of community and family.

Again, these are my personal convictions. It's my blog and my newsletter. No one has to agree with me.

Sorry to make you nauseous.
-kg

Paul said...

Well said, Robert. I like the bold stance you take to protect the our churches from these kinds of hateful and haphazard attacks.

Keith, the tone here is deliberate. I will continue to confront your generalized assaults on churches, including mine.

Overall, I wish you'd have the insight to recognize that there are many church models. Each are beautiful models of worship--each have their own respective strengths and weaknesses.

I also wish you'd have the prudence to stop these attacks.

"The Church as Jesus imagined it has always been a living organism, not a soul-less organization..." You you have special insight on the way "Jesus imagined it"? Hmmm. What other insights into Jesus' imagination do you have? And, the church is "soul-less"? Interesting. Does that include my church too?

Your dualism between organism versus organization (business) is both illogical and based in base ignorance. It is also hypocritical. Your own house church administers money. No, not on the scale of a larger church, but, nonetheless, the funds are administered. Does your house church make bank deposits? If not, is it counted, distributed, saved?

The gift of administration is specifically for lovers of Jesus with callings to use their business skills to further the kingdom by...administrating!

Further, find me any thing, ANY THING, that is not organized. (Think about this for a few minutes. Even homeless shelters and Birkenstocks are organized missions.) You imply that the NT leaders were a bunch of unintentional nomads. Not so. There were doctors, theologians, business owners. And rich people (Choloe). They used their gifts to build the church. Organized, intentional, and structured.

They owned no buildings because...um...the only religious buildings in existence were synagogues and pagan temples! In its infancy, the church was (thankfully) moving toward organization. Acts makes this clear. They knew the number of their members (Ac 2:41; 4:4), practiced the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper (2:41-42, 46). They did still gather in the temple for some functions, but going house to house (2:42) also implied an organized system to reach as many as possible. They ADMINISTERED the property in common at that time (2:45; 4:32-37) and exercised discipline (chap. 5). (I love the fact that they were concerned with numbers. It undermines the ridiculous notion that numbers don't matter. They were even doing accounting back then!)

They also enlisted the aid of seven men to care for the poor (chap. 6). The 12 found other people to care for the widows. They were the ones to defer sharing "the vibrant love of Jesus" so that they could lead the church, and focus on teaching and prayer.

THEY were the ones who instigated form, hierarchy and structure.

Your accusations about a "Sunday entertainment experience" is so sad. Do you have the courage to look your friends in the eye--those who work in these churches--and tell them their model is un-biblical? Courage please.

I know young believers in many of these "traditional" churches. (I think by traditional, you really mean "non-house-church.") Perhaps these young seekers aren't quite as radical as you'd like them to be; but because of the amazing services these churches facilitate, their faith is being strengthened. And the programs are building up the body of Christ, in accordance with Paul's numerous exhortations.



You are so steeped (though I don't think you realize it) in liberation theology that you rival the vitality of teaching, encouragement, exhortation, THE WORD to humanitarian work. Your either/or mentality has you intoxicated to actually write for public consumption that buildings (where millions of believers hear God's word, receive spiritual food, counseling, prayer, healing from additions, molestation, abuse, encouragement, training on marriage, parenting, etc.) should be torn down.

(I'm waiting for you too write a blog that you're using hyperbole.)

The "sermon and the song" was precisely what the early believers practiced. Hello?

There are so many sophomoric errors in your grasp of history that it's difficult to even respond anymore. I only do so for those who I care for.

Keith Giles said...

Paul,

I have to admit I'm feeling a bit hounded by you now. First your comments at theOoze.com and then over at my main website and now here.

Just so everyone reading these comments is aware, let me explain that Paul and I have known each other for over 10 years now. I recently worked with Paul as an on-staff pastor at his church in Costa Mesa (which incidentally started out as a house church before transitioning into a more traditional church model).

I have interviewed Paul Martin and preached at his church and I respect him as a friend and brother in Christ. We often had these sorts of stimulating discussions in the privacy of his office and now, for your edificaton, we get to continue this discussion on my various blogs and websites.

Having said all of that, I suppose I'd simply like to ask a few questions for Paul, or anyone else, to consider:

Why didn't Jesus appoint another leader to take his place?

Is there a reason that House Churches today gather and practice the way they do?

Where do they get their inspiration from?

What are the benefits from meeting in the House Church model as opposed to the traditional model?

Is the house church model different from what we see practiced in the traditional Church today?

If the traditional church model is different from the House Church model, which one is closest to what we see in the NT and throughout the history of the early church?

Do the answers to these questions suggest malice or condemnation, or do they rather suggest an opportunity to examine the practice of the early church and ask "Why?"

Why did the early NT church meet this way? Why didn't they follow the examples of their Jewish heritage or the Pagans around them?

Did the early christians not own or have access to large amounts of property? What was being sold and laid at the Apostles feet for distribution to the poor if it wasn't land or resources?

Did hierarchy and clergy class always exist in the Christian church or did it develop and intensify over time?

I believe that these questions, and the honest answers to these questions, are necessry for us to explore.

I also would say, as I have said here and other places many times, that I have nothing but love for the traditional church and that I have many friends (like Paul) who are traditional pastors and who are doing phenomenal work for the Kingdom of God within the traditional church structure.

However, this doesn't mean that I cannot use my own blog to ask questions such as I'm asking here, nor does it mean that by asking these questions I am "assaulting" my brothers in the traditional church.

Have I said these things to the face of my friends in traditional church? Yes, I have, and shockingly many of those are pastors in traditional churches locally and they have mostly agreed with me on these points but feel powerless to change the status quo. Courage indeed.

Rather than go into another long discussion about this, let's continue to discuss over at www.KeithGiles.com under the thread already in progress at the "Response to 'Exploitation or Empowerment?' article, please.

We've already laid a good foundation over on that thread that we don't need to lay again here.

Blessings,
Keith

Paul said...

Keith, I will boldly "hound" anyone who incites divisive rhetoric, especially when it influences believers I know and love. I believe Paul (the Apostle) would have done the same.

Your methods, thus far, grossly generalize. Then they mock, both explicitly and implicitly, any believer not following your narrow house-church model. Your theology (if we can call it that) has been sloppy at best, heretical at worse.

And calling ANY believer "soul-less" is wrong; calling pastors who give their lives to ministering Jesus' love through word and action "spiritual experts" is shameful.

So my stern tone was not inspired by the posting of interesting questions. It was not generated by your aim to merely promote dialogue. And it was certainly not because you encouraged believers to--as Professor Bartchy does--work from within their institutional worshipping communities. I have never heard you encourage in this manner; please tell me if I'm wrong here.

In fact, you encourage believers to "stop submitting to the man-made authority." You accuse pastors of valuing a "Sunday morning entertainment experience" over "community and family."

Need I go on?

You have been publicly cynical and condemning of 2,000 years of Jesus' church. And though you choose to make your cynicism public via blogs, you seem to imply frustration with my public response. (Perhaps this is my misinterpretation of the term "hounded.")

Ultimately, my earnest prayer is that you reconsider your methods. Your model of church polity is rejected by virtually every--TRAINED--biblical scholar today and over the past 2,000 years.

I contend that all pastors do see the inherent problems with hierarchy, structure, and organization. The house-church model is thus a very good remedy to the traditional modality. (I know from experience.) In time, people will leave their house-churches because they desire structure, organization and, yes, hierarchy.

Respectfully,

Paul
www.martinpost.com

Keith Giles said...

Paul- So much to respond to in your previous comment. I've tried to take you point by point and address the concerns you raise one at a time.

To begin, if we take this statement at face value: "The Church as Jesus imagined it has always been a living organism, not a soul-less organization..." would you agree with this or disagree?

Did Jesus intend for his church to be a living organism? Read 1 Cor 12 before you answer. I don't think anyone needs to lay claim to any special psychic powers to answer this question. It's plainly revealed in the NT.

You say: "Your dualism between organism versus organization (business) is both illogical and based in base ignorance. It is also hypocritical. Your own house church administers money."

Response: Yes, we do administer money but does that mean we are therefore an "organization" or a business? When I give $20 to a homeless person am I now a business? Is my family a business? Aren't there implicit differences between an organism (living thing) and an organization (a business)?

You ask: "Does your house church make bank deposits? If not, is it counted, distributed, saved?"

Response: We do not make bank deposits. We do cash out checks if people need to write them but we are not a 501(c) 3 organization. Again, taking money our brothers and sisters have shared in order to buy groceries for the homeless doesn't mean we are now operating as a business, does it?

What is a business? How does it operate?

Is there a difference between the way businesses operate and the way families operate? What would happen if your family started acting like a business? How would your family begin to change if this started to happen? Would the changes be good or bad?

You say: "The gift of administration is specifically for lovers of Jesus with callings to use their business skills to further the kingdom by...administrating!"

Response: Again, is it possible to administrate something without being a business? Can't average people use their gift to administrate without becoming part of a business operation?

You say: "Find me any thing, ANY THING, that is not organized. (Think about this for a few minutes. Even homeless shelters and Birkenstocks are organized missions.) You imply that the NT leaders were a bunch of unintentional nomads."

Response: Again, operating in an orderly fashion doesn't automatically assume a business structure does it? I think the disconnect is that you assume I am arguing for zero structure or organization and what I am actually suggesting is to operate more the way a family would. Families have a level of organization and structure without exploiting the members of that family (if we're talking about a healthy family). I would recommend the book "The Starfish and the Spider" as an excellent overview of the power of "leaderless organizations" since it's not a Christian book and it's not about Church per se, but the principles discussed can really help us get a handle on alternative (and successful) forms of operating in groups that don't mirror Wall Street but instead follow more organic lines of family and mutual edification.

You say: "Your accusations about a "Sunday entertainment experience" is so sad. Do you have the courage to look your friends in the eye--those who work in these churches--and tell them their model is un-biblical? Courage please."

Response: As I said previously, I have said these things to my friends in traditional church. Most of whom agree with me and/or bring it up before I do. It's not a very debatable issue that our modern American Churches are filled with people who have little to no accountability with other believers, much less their pastors. We have a Church in America that caters to this desire for an anonymous worship experience. Is this really such a scandalous observation?

You say: "You are so steeped (though I don't think you realize it) in liberation theology that you rival the vitality of teaching, encouragement, exhortation, THE WORD to humanitarian work."

Response: I have heard you level this accusation against me in the past and having read and studied up on Liberation Theology I would have to say I am not a supporter of that theological position. Liberation Theology holds that the Gospel is mainly about the poor and doubts the salvation of anyone who is wealthy. I would not agree with this position, nor do I believe I have ever suggested as much.

You say: "Your either/or mentality has you intoxicated to actually write for public consumption that buildings (where millions of believers hear God's word, receive spiritual food, counseling, prayer, healing from additions, molestation, abuse, encouragement, training on marriage, parenting, etc.) should be torn down."

Response: I am not calling for churches to be torn down. My article "Out of Business" is suggesting that we abandon our pursuit of Church-as-a-Business if it prevents us from accomplishing what Jesus called us to accomplish. If you don't feel that your Church is hindred by this business of Church then by all means continue as you are. However I have stacks of email from traditional pastors around the US (and some overseas) who have come to the conclusion on their own, with no help from me, that the practice of running their Church as a business is not working. This is why they are willing to either step down from their paid staff position to start a church and/or to transition their traditional Church into a more organic, first century form of church.

You say: "The "sermon and the song" was precisely what the early believers practiced. Hello?"

Response: What I mean by using this phrase is that I know pastors who only think of their church as what happens on Sunday morning. They evaluate the health of their church based on how many were in the seats on Sunday, how many Cd's of the sermon people took home and how often people laughed with the speaker or how many people came up front at the end of the sermon or how many people were standing during worship with their hands raised up to heaven, etc.
Isn't Church more than what we do on Sunday morning? Isn't the Church the people of God? I have become convinced that Church is all about the people of God and God, nothing else. We have a command from Jesus to love one another and to make disciples and to teach one another to do all that Jesus commanded. That is Church to me, not a "sermon and a song".

You say: "There are so many sophomoric errors in your grasp of history that it's difficult to even respond anymore. I only do so for those who I care for."

Response: Thank you for taking the effort to respond to me, Paul. I apologize if I am exasperating you here. My aim is not to provoke you to anger, although I do admit that the tone of my articles on the [SU] are calculated to "afflict the comfortable" rather than to "comfort the afflicted". I mean you no harm and I wish you well.

So..I am looking forward to that coffeeshop meeting you've agreed to. Hopefully we can share with one another in love when we are face to face. I'm afraid the tone of our debate here on the blog has been less than friendly at times and I want to apologize for my contribution to that combative language. I really do love and respect you Paul. I really do and I think you know that, in spite of what you may read into my responses here.

Peas,
kg

Ken said...

Keith,

As a former home group co-leader and co-laborer in ministry with you for the sake of Christ and having spent many a good weeknight in your home, working by your side, both Thursday nights and very early Sunday mornings to help you facilitate the readiness of all your Sunday School rooms, I'm frankly shocked by your ping pong game of prideful and painful comments.

My heart has fallen to an all time low for you, reading this article. What has happened to you buddy? Your words have become bitter water.

Your comments make me feel that you hold no value for the former seasons with others whom have labored with you. We have traveled and invested together as brothers yet this simply, bottom line, comes across as insulting to the body of Christ, and to those who have given themselves up for the sake of the call.

I came from two strong christian family lines, both sides a little different from each other, however both gave much of themselves "in love" and have helped lead thousands into the knowledge of Christ through the larger "church structures" blessed by God that you seem to despise so much. While their small groups, had their places in time, I can not ignore the place and impact that the greater part of the structure has made in history.

As a child of about 12, I was there the night the spirit of God came into the room and told 150-200 of us, through prophecy, that He was going to expand us beyond our wildest dreams, and how we would see thousands, and tens of thousands be added to our numbers including all around the globe. He told us that we would grow massively and be known "by name" world wide.

After we all pealed ourselves off the floor that night from the many revelations, and went home in a wonderful state of shock, it seemed to begin the very next week. Drug addicted, and homeless hippies began coming into the "Church" and they were invited to sit front row with the pastor himself.

I saw miracles with my own eyes and saw demonic deliverance throughout my years at this place. I saw people who had formerly cursed the name of God, become pastors and preachers and church builders. This was not a divine home church movement, it was simply called Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa located on a hardly know bean field at the city limit line.

Every single prophetic word came true, right down to it's detailed specifics. The man and best friend of my parents, Chuck Smith, will stand before the Lord with the "well done" line stated to him I'm pretty sure.

While in my later years I had been led in new directions, I will always honor and give respect to the many men and women who co-labored together with Christ in that very large movement. It has also been a wonderful place to send my kids to school to support what we have taught them at home.

If your going to be effective in the home church approach, reaching out to others in need, then go be effective and let the testimony of the movement tell of it's greatness and wonders in the days ahead.

Has God really sent you Keith to do this? If so, then be glad in it, without the bad taste. Your labor in this, if not in vain, will be tested by the very same fire that the rest of body will be tested on that day. If you have truly loved...then your service to others will stand firm and spotless. If you come to that day and you have forgotten the love part...

If you have truly found a key that unlocks a wonderful new door to Christ's heart for the world, then don't waste your time blogging the arguments of it. It will simply speak truth on it's own. If you didn't hear from God on this, you will grieve the time you've lost caught up in storm of pride.

Kicking the body of Christ silly because their hands don't look like feet, only brings blindness to the eyes and maybe the eyes of others around you.

I have never seen a movement of God, attached with a bitter taste, succeed for very long. Walk in truth and love and put your huge and "massive loving heart" to work for the sake of His cross however he leads you.

How great is He to you? Does He need "you" to fix his church? Are you fasting for the bride, praying and calling on Him? Are you putting your brothers and sisters above and before yourself through this work?

While I'm really grieved bud, it will not change the fact that I will always love you massively.

Love his bride Keith! He picked her, you didn't. Hugs to you my good friend, and love from the bottom of my heart always and forever.


Ken Ezell

Ordinary Guy said...

Keith,

I've put a link to your Subversive Underground blog on my blog. I trust you dont' mind.

I found your blogs a couple of weeks ago so I've not read everything. I've listened to the Non-con mp3's and this morning, I read the latest feedback on your Out of Business post. I don't know how long you've been doing this. I don't know how much support you have. I just want you to know that I'm committed to pray for you and what you are doing when you come to my mind.

I've not been out of i.c. for long, so I've not had to deal with to many people that may not understand what I'm doing. I know it has to hurt when people don't understand what you're trying to do.

You're in my prayers brother

Wendy Giles said...

I've read this blog and been deeply saddened. I hear brothers in the Lord who are supposedly even friends say some incredibly unloving things.

I can't help but feel that there is so much more going on here than just an argument over church models.

First, let me say that I have noticed that at times Keith says things a bit harshly or to the extreme to try to provoke thought and dialog. If that is the main problem here I'm sure it can be addressed. But let's look at the real issue without all the emotional baggage.

Yes, there is structure and order in church. Of course there are deacons and elders. I don't think this is the kind of hierarchy Keith is talking about. Just as a cell has structure and an incredibly complex system of parts working together so does the church body.

However, the nucleus of a cell isn't in a higher position or more important than a vacuole, they work together, and EVERY part of the cell is important. If anything, I'm reminded of the verse "the greatest in the Kingdom is the servant of all".

To those pastors who pour out their hearts and lives in serving and leading their flocks, I'm sure you understand this. Pastoring is a very self-less and often thankless job. God bless each of you as you seek to lead and care for your flocks.

Let's get real. Church as it is today is not what church was like many centuries ago. It's not even like what it was when I was a child. We used to go to Sunday School, Church Training, Prayer Meetings, Business Meetings, and Sunday morning service. It was all to make sure we knew what we believed and why we believed it, and of course, to enjoy the fellowship of the Believers.

It was good stuff and a lot of fun. Your church family was like your extended family. You loved each other and maybe sometimes you argued like family members do, but you also forgave each other because there weren't 20 other churches to choose from in a 10 mile radius if you got offended.

So, now people have lots of options and it seems like there's this idea that we have to do something to make our church bigger/better/different from the one down the street. And, YES, in this culture bigger and better are thought to go hand in hand. Look at the enormous amount of Church Growth Conferences out there and tell me it isn't true.

As Christianity grew out of Judaism people formed a new Family of Believers. This is nothing we should argue about, it's the reason that you all continue to refer to yourselves as "brothers" even while you accuse.

We know all about Companies and Big Business in America. Most of us either work for one or own one, and you know the difference between a Company and a Family. I'm sure you've seen it and felt it. So let's start nit-picking over words. Are WE, the Church, each and every one of us, inward and self-focused? Or are we truly trying to reach out and serve one another in love as Christ demands?

I personally have found it very easy to be invisible in a large traditional church. Is that my fault? Maybe. It's very hard to know and be known by so many people.

In my limitations I also must admit that I am unable to see - let alone serve - the needs of so large a group. But a Family is manageable. We eat together, talk together, learn together, laugh together, cry together, share one another's burdens, joys and cares. We are blessed and we are growing. I think this idea of Family is what I'm drawn to in the book of Acts. I want the Family of God, and not just a couple of hours to sit anonymously through a worship service and then go home to my "other" real life.

Does it have to be like that for everyone? Of course not. It's a yearning God put in my heart that I finally had to say "Yes" to. Am I happy I did? You bet I am! Do you have the right and blessing by God Himself to enjoy your tradition of worship as you feel called? Of course you do! Do you think your way is best/most informed/most correct? You most likely do or you wouldn't be doing it in the first place.

So what's Keith's blog for anyway? I believe it's for processing thoughts and ideas that he's struggling through and the things he's learned along the way. I know I personally have read him say, over and over, that he affirms the whole Bride and that he sees God's Kingdom advancing in every form. So what's going on? Can I filter through the way he says things to to the heart of what he's saying?

In humility we can all try to say the things we want to share in love. In humility we can also listen in love to hear if God has something He might want to speak to us about through Keith, even if we don't like his choice of words.

I pray that all of you can forgive each other and allow the Lord to restore your brotherhood. I know I'm not a theologian and I hate to blog, so in advance forgive me if I have offended you and understand please that I am not going to continue with this discussion any longer.

May God give you all wisdom and Grace.

Love,

Wendy Giles

Anonymous said...

R.T
I really enjoyed this piece. However, I am really saddened by some of the comments. I wonder if they actually read the whole blog or looked at the first paragraph made an assumption and then spewed forth their venom. Sometimes the truth hurts and people react by "killing the messenger". Also, yes, mega churges may send millions of dollars, but it's easy to send money especially if you have so much of it. Much easier than doing something yourself. So that argument is a cop out. The church leaders didn't like what Jesus said either, that's why they had him killed. If you had lived when Jesus lived, what side would you have been on? Be honest,it is something we should all think about. I'm sure none of the dissenters will probably revisit the page to find out what the responses were to their unwarrented words but I hope they do. I think they need to go back and reread the blog without prejudging it and maybe the New Testament too. But first I suggest that they take the plank out of their eyes and the cotton out of their ears.

Like a Mustard Seed said...

Paul,

"Your model of church polity is rejected by virtually every--TRAINED--biblical scholar today and over the past 2,000 years."

It is statements like this that REEK of the very elitist mindset that so often perpetuated by elevating certain individuals to positions that are above the rest of the "laity".

"Your theology (if we can call it that) has been sloppy at best, heretical at worse. "

Comments like this which seek to discredit someone on the basis of their "weak theology" is a worldly attack that is never seen in the bible, (appealing not to the matter of truth but of scholarship...) but has been used throughout the centuries in the attempt to silence any regular person daring to question the intellectual "giants" who know best...

It is true however, like you said, that people desire hierarchy, it is a basic human weakness that has been exploited in the name of God ever since Christ ascended. People DO so often prefer to follow a man rather than God himself, remember, the Israelites wanted a King, and so they got Saul, instead of just following God himself...

If you're going to continue to engage with this back and forth wrestling match with Keith, than the least you can do is address any of the points or questions he raises. Instead you choose to ignore them and deride him for daring to question the practices of the church.

Why is it so infuriating to question the practice of taking people's money to pay for the professions of "trained" Pastors?...Hmmmmm, I wonder..... The internet is full of millions of people publicly spouting plenty of stuff that is far more "heretical" than anything Keith writes about. I mean, do you go around and post on the blogs of Mormons and such, who deny the true identity of Christ? Probably not. But I suppose the main difference is that most of that material doesn't ultimately threaten the livelihoods of people who find themselves financially dependant on the practices often discussed here... Why all the fuss over one guy's blog? If it is such nonsense, why is there such an intense effort to silence him? If the bible truly defends such practices, why worry about what a few crackpots here and there are saying. If it is a bunch of nonsense, then it's not going to matter in the end. It's just a bunch of bitter, crazy people with a chip on their shoulders... But... If there really is something to it, and I'd say that more and more people are being awakened to these truths, then there is indeed a massive shift that is on the horizon. If it is from God, then it will be accomplished with or without the blessing of the "trained" leaders, the theologians, the scholars, or the historical precedents of the past....

Daniel

Paul said...

Daniel: if you are insinuating that I receive my salary from a church, you are mistaken. I work for an institute that is funded by a large non-religious foundation. My apologies if I misunderstand you. I don't defend churches and pastors because of my own vested interests, but because I love them and believe they are doing the good work of the kingdom.

Nick said...

I appreciate this message, and am a little concerned that the core of Keith's point has largely been ignored, both by his opponents, and in my view, by himself, in the following debate.
Like Keith, I long ago gave up on the traditional form of the organized church, because I noticed some disturbing trends in organized Christianity that I did not feel like I was yet strong enough to fight. I chose, instead, to distance myself and gather my spiritual strength.

Of these trends, among the most disturbing is the concept of "Church as Business." Not all organized churches behave this way, and I think it's unfair to Keith to generalize his statements to the entirety of Christianity outside of his narrow model. The problem with the Church as business model, is that it introduces a number of dangerous rubrics for salvation. For starters, it tends to produce the idea that if you contribute to the church and attend the services, then you have done your duty as a Christian. I cannot tell you how many people I know, agnostic and Christian alike, assume this is the entirety of Christianity. We all know that being a Christan requires far more sacrifice than this.

Second, the Church as business model helps to obscure the single most ignored feature of Christ's message. Christ was a radical non-materialist. He furiously rejected the old religious system based upon physical sacrifices and a physical temple, for one based on spiritual sacrifice and Jesus as a spiritual temple. In the Christian ethic material goods are totally irrelevant, and the desire for material things is a sin. After all, Jesus commands us to build up treasure, not on earth but in heaven. He says that it is more difficult for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. This doesn't mean that the rich cannot be saved, but that anyone who holds wealth in a special place in his heart, a place closed of from God, is not a true follower of Christ. He orders his followers to take no heed for the morrow, to forget about clothes and food, and by extension all our absurd modern luxuries, and to seek him and his righteousness.

I'm not saying we shouldn't have churches, I'm saying churches don't need comfortable chairs and flat screen televisions and church retreats in pretty locations and the like. Organization is fine, but a Church should be organized in a way that is very different from a business, a government, or any other sort of organization we are familiar with.

Also, can we please toss away the anger. Paul, I have no doubt on the basis of your comments that you are a very sincere Christian who has given much of your self for the sake of the Cross. I am sure the same is true of Keith. The last thing we need in modern Christian discourse is more anger. I have many atheist friends, and most of them see modern protestantism as nothing but a cesspool of anger-mongering pundits. We, as Christians who have not yet lost our senses, should not further this perception.

Sorry about all the awkward grammar and the like.
-Nick Bailey

John_85 said...

I believe a church should be on a quiet beach around sunset time with the holy bible, a blanket to keep warm with loved ones. No TVs pa systems, fancy lights, tv broadcasting, or offering buckets. Just a camp fire or candles for lights. A natural speaking voice, eyes and ears.