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