Tuesday, November 27, 2012

JOHN WIMBER: "WHAT GOD WANTS"


What God wants is a living body where the Holy Spirit is free to operate and the body is ordered in such a manner that it can accomplish much. This body is quite complex, because the process of evangelism and discipleship is an involved one. A key, though, is that God’s order—not our own—has to be established. Sometimes, He tips over our order so He can establish His.
— John Wimber

Saturday, August 4, 2012

REVIEW: Anthony Mathenia

Keith Giles adds his voice to the growing number of those who identify as Christians, but have objections to how churches operate in today's society.


This Is My Body: Ekklesia as God Intended calls for a return to what Giles refers to as a 'New Testament Christianity' and he repeatedly draws attention to Bible passages which describe a kind of church that would be foreign to many today. He bluntly writes, "I believe it's time the Church went out of business." 


The book envisions a church that does not operate as a business enterprise with a 'CEO leadership' at the helm. Rather, Giles calls for a body of believers where all are empowered to act as ordained ministers in service to one another and society. 


In This Is My Body, Giles provides a well researched basis and personal experience from which he draws his observations in a conversational easy-to-read manner. 


The book is worth a read, especially for those who have fallen out of love with church.



Thursday, March 15, 2012

REVIEW BY ROSS RHODE



So often when one reads about the Church nowadays we end up with a work that doesn’t really question the status quo. The assumption is that this is what we do, and therefore it is pretty much how it ought to be. Then we get a slightly new twist on some cool iteration of the status quo, perhaps a change in the standard order of service or a new trendy way of doing worship and we are done.

For anyone who is aware of how Jesus actually designed His Church, as described in the New Testament, what the Church was like in the first few centuries, how the church has changed through 2,000 years of history compared to how it is today, the typical analysis leaves a whole herd of elephants standing in the room. Keith Giles in This Is My Body: Ekklesia as God Intended graciously and passionately takes us on an elephant hunt.

Jesus designed His Church for a purpose, and the purpose was not looking in the mirror at itself and admiring its own beauty. Nor was it to be insecure about itself finding every flaw. It was to be His people on mission with Him to extend His Kingdom. All the while it was to be His loving bride, the receptor of his loving affection and the bride who loved him back. There was a design and there was a purpose.

The Church has strayed away from her God given design and she has become distracted from her purpose. When God’s people Israel strayed away from their design and their purpose God sent prophets to call them back to what they were really supposed to be and how they were really supposed to live. Keith is doing the same for the Church today. Keith told me recently that he almost titled this book something like Jesus Called and He Wants His Church Back. He decided that title might drive away the very people who needed to read it so he refrained. But I do think it’s about time someone told us Jesus wants His Church back.

Keith is not angry. He is not trying to merely poke holes and express pet peeves. Nor is he the prophet of doom shouting on a street corner in a tin foil hat. Instead his is that wise yet passionate voice; the voice of Jimmy Stewart speaking to the Senate in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  We may not necessarily want to hear it but know when we do we are listening to solid wisdom and truth.

If you were an athlete in training for the Olympics what kind of coach would you want to have? Would you want a coach that constantly praises you and tells you whatever you do is just fine? Or, would you want a coach that while being encouraging, takes you back to the fundamentals, teaching you step by step how to excel? Honestly, some of us just want to be praised and don’t what their status quo questioned. If you are that person, this is not the book for you. Others of us, though, long to learn how to be the bride that Jesus deserves. They long to be with Him as he goes about His world setting things right. And they long to be the bride He lovingly describes, to be on mission with Him as He designed it. If that expresses your heart, you have found your book.

One last thing; Keith is an excellent writer. His book is a pleasure to read. I found myself wanting to post quote after quote on Twitter and Facebook. I quickly realized I was republishing Keith’s book a Twitter snippet at a time, so I tried to restrain myself, not completely successfully. You are going to find a lot of gems in this book; enjoy the search and recommend it to your friends.

This Is My Body: Ekklesia As God Intended is Keith’s work of love. He is so passionate about his message that he has made the book free to anyone who wants it. If you want a free e-book version you can download it here.

If you want a paper version you can hold in your hands you can order it here> along with Keith’s other books.

*Do you think it is right to question the status quo of the Church we’ve always known?
*Do you want to hear what Jimmy Stewart has to say at the town hall meeting or are you content with the status quo?
*Do you sense that Jesus wants His Church back?

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Ross Rohde is the author of Viral Jesus. He and his wife are actively cultivating Jesus Communities in the Bay Area. He blogs at http://www.thejesusvirus.org/.

Meet Ross Rohde, Keith Giles, Neil Cole, Scott Underwood, Ken Eastburn, Bob Sears, Bill Faris and many other Organic Church Practitioners at Momentum 2012 on March 30 & 31, 2012.
Find out more and register today>


Monday, March 12, 2012

REVIEW FROM THE MIDDLE EAST




Dear Mr Giles,

Wow.  I was on an "exam" night for my English classes [country name removed], and was able to read your book during their test taking.  

Wow. Thank you for the words.  I have been re-reading "Reimagining Church" from Viola, and had forgotten I had your book on my kindle.  Right now we have begun to help a small house group in our country.  The large "institutional" group is not only an extreme example of institutional, but also is the "legal" authority for the country.  This tends to extreme control and excess.  This group started not as a "leaving" but as a group from another country that moved here and started something new.  

As someone who has worked for the past few years in the institutional church here in [country name removed] and in [another middle eastern nation], I have become the "resident" theologian of the group.  

As we began to get involved in leadership, I have had thoughts of exploring ordination (I'm a youth worker for the past 20 years) and was trying to understand how to best serve this community of people.

Having read your book and Viola's book, I am at peace for the first time in a couple of weeks.  No longer do I feel the burden to become something that I didn't think was necessary, but I also feel much more confident in explaining an alternate way to explore our "church" life.  I was very impressed with your story and your journey.  Thank you for writing this book and for allowing it to be made available for the kindle.

Blessings to you and your community.

Todd [Last name removed by request]



Friday, February 10, 2012

BOOK REVIEW BY RAD ZDERO

A REFRESHING LOOK AT GOD’S ORIGINAL DESIGN FOR THE CHURCH


Keith Giles’ book “This Is My Body: Ekklesia As God Intended” is 167 pages long, it has a foreword by well known house church leader Dr. Jon Zens, and it has several pages at the end of recommended resources. Its main premise is that God actually has an original intention for the church, as prophesied in the OT and as described in the NT, which we would do well to consider once again as modern day Christians.


From a scriptural and practical point of view, the book challenges the method and the mentality of the traditional/denominational church system, and calls us all back to God’s original design for Christ’s body.
There are a number of strengths to this work. I found myself metaphorically nodding in agreement on a number of points. It is very easy to read and could be considered almost a “conversational theology” on the house church movement. There are some personal stories, feelings, and thoughts the author gives, rather than just “theory”, which makes it a very accessible and practical book.
Giles provides a generous tone toward the institutional church and those who might disagree with him on some scriptural interpretations. Giles, however, does demonstrate a clear conviction that the New Testament does provide an actual model for the church’s form and function. One thing I found particularly interesting is Giles Old Testament analysis about prophecies concerning the nature of the Church to come, which is something that is almost never discussed in most simple, organic, house church books, which usually stick to the New Testament only. There is also an excellent contrast between what the New Testament church is and is not, as well as an excellent teaching and encouragement of the priesthood of ALL saints. I also appreciated much about his scriptural analysis about local and translocal leadership in the church.
There are several areas, however, I wish could have been addressed better. I felt that Giles’ discussion on several issues was not entirely convincing to me (and sometimes was absent), such as the decision making and organizing role of apostles and elders/pastors/overseers (ex. Acts 15:6,23; 1 Tim 3:4,5), the teaching and rebuking role of leaders (1 Tim 4:11, 5:17; 2 Tim 3:16,17; Titus 2:15), and the need for larger public meetings and cohesive networks of multiple house churches like in Jerusalem in Solomon’s Porch or in Ephesus (ex. Acts 2:41-47, 5:12, 5:42, 20:20).
Also, I felt there was too much fuss made against things like bank accounts, technology, etc, as tools to accomplish the tasks of the church. In light of Giles’ prior role as an ordained denominational pastor, it may be understandable that he is perhaps reacting a little too much to things that remind him of the institution, but in time perhaps he may come to a more moderate view on these items.
Overall, this is a refreshing book on the growing house church movement, it offers some personal and practical insights, it provides a fresh look at the scriptures about the form and function of the church, and it would be a good introductory read to those asking questions about whether God is calling them into this spiritual revolution. I give it at 4 out of 5 stars.
-Rad Zdero 
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RAD ZDERO, author of LETTERS TO THE HOUSE CHURCH MOVEMENT and THE GLOBAL HOUSE CHURCH MOVEMENT , www.scribd.com/rzdero, www.twitter.com/radzdero, www.facebook.com/radzdero

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Review: Josh Morgan

Keith Giles, an organic/house church advocate who offers all of his books for free electronically, recently released This is My Body: Ekklesia as God Intended. First off, this book is a very easy read. The way Giles separates the chapters makes it feel like you are moving the book quickly and easily.

The book itself is intended to examine a biblical basis for what the institutional church and worldwide Church should look like. Long story short, Giles provides a wonderful, well-thought-out argument for the priesthood of all believers in a way that is accessible to most people (rather than heavy theological language). He notes important implications for what that looks like institutionally, including the lack of hierarchy. One of my deep spiritual/ecclesiastical values is an egalitarian organization, so I really appreciate the many angles Giles approaches this, from the role of pastor to the relevance of a "spiritual covering." There are so many wonderful things he says that I could elaborate on, but that would take forever and probably be redundant with his work. :)

There were a couple of parts that I struggled with. At one point, Giles mentions that he so dislikes it when churches raise so much money to put into creating or buying buildings rather than going to people. His rationale for this is wonderful, and I agree. When I was an elder at The Gathering, we talked about ways to make sure all of our income would go back out, which is what Giles' community succeeds at.

At the same time, I can and have seen the value of larger communities (Giles argues for very small groups) and church campuses. I grew up in small church communities and am currently drawn to the philosophy of house/organic churches. At the same time, I have been a part of some very large congregations lately. Particularly as one has been in the news lately in part because of poor financial planning related to their building, I have seen first-hand how much time, energy, and money goes into buying and maintaining church property. A lot of time, energy, and money that could go into people.

At the same time, my wife and I have come to appreciate the opportunities available with a larger congregation. While a lot of money may flow into administrative and building costs, these communities provide a lot of services to the world around them that smaller groups could not do. While the churches themselves may spend less on administration and building if they were small and without a building, then other organizations and businesses would have to pick up the slack on service. This might not happen at all. When it does, it usually occurs with non-profits, who also will often rely on donations and have the same administrative and building costs as churches. They frequently have more, as churches can often more easily be staffed by volunteers. In the end, more money may reach people if the institutional church does the work and includes the overhead. I get and agree with Giles' philosophy, but practically, biblical times were quite different than modern times when it comes to interpersonal service.

Further, church buildings can be services in themselves. While I hate the waste of space many sanctuaries are, many well-planned buildings can and are used for many activities and offered to the community to use. Further, appropriately thought-out buildings can teach spiritual stories and inspire people to go out and serve more. Yes, it is difficult to watch tens of millions of dollars go into a new building when people are starving. Yet what is the cost if that new building becomes a refuge for people to relax and become rejuvenated to then go out and help those starving neighbors? While I am very much a utilitarian with many things, I have come to value the importance of space that is life-giving. I've been to more utilitarian church buildings and those that are intended to be a sanctuary. I am much more open to people after spending time in the latter.

The other part I struggled with was a section on women leaders. Giles argues for the equality of women in the church with some excellent arguments. But then he ends by stating, "However, the authority to rebuke or confront a believer caught in sin seems to rest on those male elders and overseers who were recognized as having a Fatherly position within the Body" (p. 142). This statement stood out in stark contrast to the rest of this section and his book, which all provided examples and support for his claims. While the complementarian/egalitarian debate was not really the issue here, this statement just seemed unsupported.

While I spent most of my time here on the parts I did not fully agree with, they were actually relatively minor parts of the book. For anyone interested in organic church models and thoughts on hierarchy in ecclesiology, I highly recommend this book.

Josh Morgan
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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Review by Ken Eastburn

About a month ago I began reading my copy of This is My Body by my friend Keith Giles. As I read the first chapter I began to realize that this is an important book not only for me personally but for the entire church and for the growing house church movement.

There has been so much emphasis on the New Testament Church model and little understanding that this was God’s ultimate design all along for the beginning of creation.

During the time that I was reading This is My Body I was also preparing for a trip to the North of Ghana, West Africa. I have been working with “simple” church planters in Ghana for the last few years. They are using the simple/house church model in villages and other areas where it is almost impossible to raise the funds for a church building. Since the population of northern Ghana is about 95% Muslim the average villager is very hesitant to convert to Christianity.

As I read This is My Body I realized how well it would fit with the training I would be doing. So, I spent the next two weeks reading and preparing for the leadership-training seminar that my team and I were to conduct.

When I arrived in Ghana I was a little perplexed to hear that our seminar had been reduced from two days to one. But, being the rainy season here it would be difficult for many leaders to travel two days.

For the first session I used the first section of the book to establish the meaning of the Temple and the Old Testament Jewish system. It then became very easy to make the leap to the reality that these were shadows of what was to come. After looking at various passages in the Bible I divided them into groups to discuss the implications that this had for the church in Ghana. We also spent some time talking about the Priesthood of all Believers. It led to a lively debate about the need or lack of need for a church building. Since almost every village here has a mosque and almost every believer a former Muslim, the goal to have a building is the norm, much like in America.

For the second session I used the New Testament Leadership section of This is My Body. I started the session by asking how many leaders we had in the room. Every hand went up. Then I asked how many followers were present. There were a few hands raised and some embarrassing giggling that followed.

The concept of a hierarchical leadership system is very powerful in Ghana. Every village has a chief and we have learned that the first thing we do when arriving is to visit the chief and ask for his permission to be there. Pastors are well respect in Ghana and are used to being at the top of the pyramid. Some of them did not accept the fact that they were not the head of the church even after establishing that Jesus is the head.

At one point as we discussed leadership submission I brought a pastor up in front of the room to stand next to me. Then I asked the group, since we are both pastors, should I submit to him or the other way around? I then told them that if he came to me for help or advice then I would be honored to ascend to the highest point in the room. I then knelt down at his feet and looked up at him. I told him that it would be my honor to help him do whatever Jesus was asking him to do. This was a very difficult thing for most of them to grasp. One man even stood up and said that it would be good if we both knelt, but not one to another. I have to give credit to my friend Thomas Wynn for this illustration that I have seen him use before.

In the end I believe that this teaching is what God wanted to bring to these leaders in Ghana. There were a couple of times when there were so many hands up in the room and people speaking over each other that it got pretty chaotic. But it was a lively conversation and incredibly fun to lead.

I highly recommend reading This is My Body. Since I was dissecting it to find the parts to emphasis for my presentation I had the opportunity of reading most of it several times. I contacted Keith before leaving for Africa to ask permission to share the material and add my own examples and illustrations. I believe that this book has the potential to be used to train church planters all over the world in the world.

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Ken Eastburn is the founder and lead servant at The Well, a house church network throughout Orange County, California and at various other places across the USA. Find out more at THE WELL GLOBAL

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