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
**


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.

**
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

**

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Reader Review: Brent Kollmansberger

Hey Keith,

I took your book with me on vacation and really enjoyed it. The Lord definitely guided you on the tone, which enabled you to present challenging and provocative concepts without your tone being challenging or provocative. I think it will help someone who is being guided by the Holy Spirit to explore this paradigm shift without becoming overly defensive.

As for me, it helped clarify in my mind what the priesthood of the believer is all about. Not just that all believers are part of the Body and have a real role to play, but that we are the priest, the temple and the living sacrifice.

Amen.

Thanks,

Brent Kollmansberger

Thursday, July 21, 2011

FOLLOW-UP RADIO INTERVIEW ABOUT "THIS IS MY BODY"

My second radio interview with Randall and Stacy Harp of Active Christian Media about my book, "This Is My Body:Ekklesia as God Intended" is up now.

Listen
HERE

-kg

Thursday, June 30, 2011

READER REACTION: Michael Cooper

[About your book] I really loved it and recommended it to everyone in our organic home church. We've had to miss a few meetings due to two families vacations but we came together tonight and briefly discussed it. Three people didn't finish it yet and they have printed it out on paper to finish reading it instead of on the computer for when we next meet.

I must say that your perspective filled in a few gaps missing from all the other works I've read so far. No one can completely cover any subject about Yahweh so I enjoyed your explanations and insights tremendously.

Anyway, thank you for your service to God and the work you do. Whether we ever meet in person here on this side of Heaven or not until the other side, I'm glad to be serving with you I this.

Michael Cooper
**
DOWNLOAD A FREE E-BOOK VERSION OF "THIS IS MY BODY: EKKLESIA AS GOD INTENDED"
HERE


**

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

READER REACTION: Paul Luttrell

I finished your book, and loved what you had to say. As I read, I could not help but think of all the people I know who would benefit greatly from your thoughts.

After receiving it from you Thursday night, I was 1/2 way finished by 5:30 the next morning.

Don't stop "bringing it" to us.

-Paul Luttrell

Monday, June 27, 2011

Reader Reaction from South Africa

Hi Keith

In South Africa I'm finding extremely limited amount of resources in regard to organic/simple church. Thank you so much for your ebook (This Is My Body:Ekklesia as God Intended). It has affirmed so much in my own heart and it is a great resource. What I enjoyed about it is the manner in which you condensed and affirmed much of what Frank Viola and Felicity Dale have said in this regard. I'm referring others to this book for this reason.

If I may add some thoughts out of my reading this morning from Matt.9:14-17. If organic/simple church is a new wine, it would explain why existing church structures cannot contain the fermentation of this new wine. The existing structures have already been stretched, possibly to their limit. They have the inability to contain this new wine due to their inflexibility. Because the structures are already in place, there would be no accommodation for this type of flexibility and unpredictability of organic church.

There will be those who would try to accommodate this idea - they would be a type of reformer where they would just move the furniture around in the same house. They would not have a revolutionary mindset where an entirely new house needs to be built.

I came across a saying a while ago; "Man's idea, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions."

I hope you don't mind me sending you this via email. I'm one of your 'silent' followers on Twitter and regularly receive your blog post. You will not know how much your thoughts are valued.

Blessings,
Your name sake
Keith McLachlan
KwaZulu Natal, Africa

Sunday, June 26, 2011

UnInstitutional by Jon Zens (Guest Article)

We expect the proliferation of institutions and hierarchies in the human realm — business, government, the military, education. But there is no place for such things in the Lord’s ekklesia because it is not a human organization. It is a spiritual temple whose Builder and Maker is Christ.

Probably most of us have been part of some group in school, college, church or society that started out with excitement and verve, but after a period of time ended up in stagnancy and micro-management. The members found themselves maintaining the shell when in fact the original vibrancy was gone.

Bob Lupton makes some astute observations along these lines in his article, “The Cycle of Life.” However, there is one fatal flaw in the article: he assumes that when a group moves from its organic beginnings to its institutionalization that it somehow always remains organic. Not so. Becoming established as an institution is a retrogression that kills organic life. Listen carefully to what Bob says:

The Western church is in such a decline. Viewed against the backdrop of history, however, the current demise of denominations is predictable. In time, all institutions follow a similar pattern. They begin as fresh movements, new and exciting, abundant with vision and creativity. But in order to survive, a movement must development structural strength – mission statement, doctrinal distinctives, leadership structure, decision-making processes.

Vigorous change takes place during this organizational phase as a seedling becomes established, sinking its roots and spreading its branches. Staff are hired, budgets are created, policies are instituted, goals and objectives are set, property is purchased. As the organization matures it becomes a source of security for its employees. Health insurance, vacation pay, cost of living raises, retirement benefits are negotiated. Gradually the mission shifts from the founding visionaries to hired employees and with each subsequent ring of management the passion that originally inspired the movement becomes slightly diluted. Marketing, management, and funding consume increasing amounts of organizational energy. With its own sturdy root system, it now commands its fair share of sunlight and space on the forest floor.

By the time the organization enters the institutional phase of its development, it is fully vested in its own self-preservation. Instead of a movement spending itself on behalf of a noble cause, it has become a respectable institution consumed with preserving its own viability and legacy. It may still use the same stirring language of its past movement days, and it may still perform important work, but it spends the lion’s share of its energy on buildings, communication systems, internal politics and self-promotion to ensure its longevity. Good stewardship demands its preservation. It is the way of all institutions” (Bob Lupton, “Cycle of Life,” September, 2010, http://fcsministries.org/urban-perspectives/page/2/).


I think an overview of human history would justify the observation that people have a propensity to move from simple beginnings to bureaucratic mazes at the end of the day. This is certainly what occurred as history moved on from the early church to the post-apostolic church.

Take the Lord’s Supper, for example. What began as believers remembering the Lord in a simple meal morphed into a complicated liturgical “sacrament” which had to be officiated by a specially ordained religious person. Emil Brunner documented many such occasions where simplicity was overtaken by complexity in The Misunderstanding of the Church (1952).

James D.G. Dunn noted that “increasing institutionalism is the clearest mark of early Catholicism,” and that “such features were absent from first generation Christianity, though in the second generation the picture was beginning to change” (Unity & Diversity in the New Testament, Westminster Press, 1977, p. 351). Bob Lupton suggests that “in order to survive, a movement must development structural strength – mission statement, doctrinal distinctives, leadership structure, decision-making processes.” These are the crucial questions we must face: Must the communal life of Christ in believers be institutionalized in order to survive? Was the movement from early church simplicity to later church bureaucracy inevitable and good, or a terrible distortion and tragedy?

The truth is that in our practice we have tried to institutionalize the living Christ. That which is organic cannot thrive in an institutional environment. The DNA does not match. Of course, it must be said that there are people in many church-institutions who are expressions of the living Christ. But the living Christ is not a fit for institutional structures. It would be like hoping that an orchid would flourish in a barren desert, or that a cactus would do well in a rainforest.

If we believe that the simplicity of Christ is truth worth continuing, then we must resist our tendency toward institutionalism with every fiber of our being. If believers were satisfied with Jesus Christ alone, institutions wouldn’t have a chance of taking over.

Frederick Buechner pointed out that churches could learn a lot from support groups like AA. They do not own buildings and have virtually no overhead. “They make you wonder,” he went on to say, “if the best thing that could happen to many a church might not be to have its building burn down and to lose all its money. Then all that the people would have left would be God and each other” (cited in my A Church Building Every ½ Mile: What Makes American Christianity Tick? 2008, p.72).

Mary Pipher perceptively noted, “Too often [health] institutions are about the needs of the institution, not of the patients” (Another Country, 2000, p. 167). Jesus did not come to start another religious institution with every candle and pulpit in its proper place. By giving his life in crucifixion, taking his life back in resurrection, returning to Father by his ascension, and pouring out his Spirit on the day of Pentecost – he assured that his people would express his life in them as the Body of Christ on earth – organically, not as an institution.
– Jon Zens

**
Originally appeared on Jon Zens' personal blog. Republished here with permission.
Visit Jon's blog
HERE

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Steven G. Owen Responds to My Book

Keith, thank you for presenting how the New Testament church is supposed to function, in a way that the Lord originally ordained. Using the Old Testament references and tying them into the New Testament in showing how God always intended to build his church was great.

I have a great appreciation for what the Lord is doing in his church and your book is a great tool for those who want know more about the Body of Christ.

There is definitely a voice on the hill declaring the truth and you are one of them.

Thank you,
Steven G. Owen

Friday, June 24, 2011

CRAIGSLIT AD: CHURCH GOING OUT OF BUSINESS



GOING OUT OF BUSINESS
The Christian Church in America is (finally) going out of business.
EVERYTHING MUST GO!

The Christian Church needs to liquidate all worldly assets including:
*The pulpit
*The building
*The giant screen plasma televisions
*Even the pastor!

DETAILS:

WHEN: As soon as the Christian Church realizes that God doesn’t live in temples built by human hands. (Acts 17:24)

WHY: Because every believer is already the living temple of God and priests in His Kingdom. (1 Peter 2:5)

HOW: By the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

For more information, download a free e-book
HERE


“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.”
– Richard Halverson

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Review: Crissy Brooks






Keith Giles’ latest gift, This is My Body: Ekklesia As God Intended is an invitation to be the family that the Church was meant to be. In a time when it is hip to be down on church and many of us are sure we can plant the next great congregation, Giles speaks softly, calling us back to the Scriptures and the One who first invited us to partake at the table together.

In the last decade we have been barraged with well-intentioned models and plans to get Church right. This book is not another model. It is an important reminder to the people of God of who we are to be as His people and how we are to act in the world. This book is a gift from a prophetic leader who has lived out the teachings of Jesus for decades and lucky for us, shares his discoveries here. Had this book been written by anyone else, I am sure I would not have picked it up. But I know Keith Giles. I have seen him make intentional choices to be The Body with and in his community. I have witnessed his Spirit inspired creativity and experienced his empowering influence.

When the temptation could have been strong to breakdown all that is wrong, Giles instead leads us with grace and gentleness through the Scriptures outlining the design of the Body of Christ. When it could have been so easy to be sarcastic, Giles instead points out what should have been obvious as if opening a door and letting light in. While there is plenty of material to bash church leadership, Giles instead invites us to imagine what leadership in the Body could be when we fully understand the Word and stop justifying our misguided traditions.

While Giles’s style is one of grace and invitation the book does not shy away from the controversies that have torn Christ’s Body a part in the past. With clear truth and studied evidence, Giles calls out the abuses and selfishness that have worked in our favor and harmed so many. He challenges the hierarchy and business we have come to accept as necessities and in the process holds up the good we should cling to.

This is My Body gives a clear call for us to “go out of business” and be the Family outlined in the New Testament. Perhaps the most beautiful part of this book is the invitation to live in the mystery of The Body of Christ. Giles fully challenges us without sending us running. He sheds light on such a beautiful Bride that I am drawn in more deeply and vow again to live in a mystery of family, love, submission, provision, grace and healing. This book gives me courage to hope that the Body of Christ really can transform our world.

-Crissy Brooks Executive Director & Co-Founder of Mika CDC
Crissy grew up in Costa Mesa and has come to love her city deeply. Her leadership development journey began in the Brooks’ home as the daughter of a police captain and PTA president. Her faith and leadership were further shaped by involvement in her Church. Her youth pastor, Mark Orphan is highly influential in her life and along with Laura Johnson and Lindsy Harris, they founded Mika in 2003. Through her studies at Azusa Pacific University, three years living in Caracas, Venezuela, and now engaging with immigrant neighbors, Crissy has developed a love for Latino culture. She lives in the Shalimar neighborhood with two amazing roommates and one crazy dog. They like to run together and connect over long drawn out breakfasts on Saturdays.

Crissy also writes a regular column for the Daily Pilot newspaper called "A View From the Mesa".

Frank Viola Reviews "This Is My Body"

"Skimmed it. Looks good."

- Frank Viola, author of “Pagan Christianity”








*
*
NOTE: For those of you who are comedicly-challenged, this is a joke. Also, the sky is blue, grass is green and money does not grow on trees.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

ADVICE ON STARTING A HOUSE CHURCH

I received an email from an old friend who is seeking advice on how to start a house church group among college students. He asked me, "What would Keith do?"

This is an intriguing question and I realized I haven't published a lot of my ideas on this anywhere so here's a bit of what I said to my friend.

Honestly, I lean towards a "less is more" approach and I'm usually reticent to give people step by step instructions. However, I'd basically suggest gathering those who are interested in this together and sharing a meal together (potluck), sharing communion together, and sharing from their actual lives what God has been teaching them in their daily walk with Christ.

Our house church follows this general pattern based on 1 Cor 14:26 - "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."

So, our assumption is that everyone in our house church is already a follower of Jesus. Most of them, like me, have grown up in Church and have heard thousands of sermons and bible studies and can fill in the blanks on any discussion on the Scriptures. What we're not so great at is actually putting all of this into actual practice in our daily lives.

The purpose of our house church is to encourage and motivate everyone to live out their personal mission and calling according to their individual gifting. It's different for all of us. So, we don't tell them what it is, we help them to discover it and then we encourage one another every time we gather to continue living out that personal mission.

When we gather each week we all bring something to share - food and encouragement. During the share time I try to keep my mouth shut and allow people to talk. I also try to make sure that everyone is given equal time to speak and I try to keep us on target with encouraging one another in our walk with Christ. (This means re-directing complaints, gripes, politics, etc. to the end for prayer, or for another time).

In general, I'd suggest empowering people and not attempting to control or direct people.

For me, one of the most amazing things has been discovering that when Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth, and when Paul and Peter said that we were the Temple of the Holy Spirit and the priesthood of believers, they were all dead serious.

In our house church we have kids who open their Bibles and their mouths and speak such words of simple truth that only God could have revealed it to them. Sure, we have to safeguard the essentials of our faith, and there are times when I may have to speak up and correct a misconception theologically, but most of the time I'm the one who is learning from the Holy Spirit through everyone else in the room.

It can be very challenging for someone like me (and maybe you as well) with a gift to teach and a heart to preach to actually shut our mouths, invite the Holy Spirit and then just wait quietly in the uncomfortable silence for Him to speak. But, I'm telling you, if you can, and if you will, He actually does...and it's pretty amazing.

I've written a few things about my philosophy of house church at the links below. Take a look over at www.OCHouseChurch.com

Monday, June 20, 2011

Six Things You Need To Start A Traditional Church

Here are six things you need to start a traditional church in America today:

1) Money - Lots of it. One church-planter suggested it would take as much as $18,000 to get started.

Another pastor emptied his savings account and spent $50,000 of his own money to start his church and some have suggested it could be as high as $8 Million.

Of course, depending on the size of your church, and your paid stafff, your numbers may vary.

2) Trained Professional Pastor - At least one charismatic, credentialed teaching pastor and visionary is necessary if you want to start a church. Chances are if you're seriously thinking about planting a church this person is you. Go ahead and check that one off your list.

3) Worship Leader and Worship Band - They should be made up of talented, experienced and professional-level musicians and largely volunteers, except perhaps for the worship leader who may receive a minor stipend each month.

4) A Building - Whether you rent, lease or decide to purchase a building you cannot have a successful traditional church without a building large enough to grow into. Must have a nursery, children's Sunday School rooms, and youth area.

5) Volunteers - Lots of them. These will be the people who handle child-care, set-up, tear-down and clean-up, and ushering. You cannot have a successful traditional church without a small army of loyal and dedicated volunteers.

6) Marketing - A website is a given, but you might also invest in postcards, door-hangers, invitation cards, bumper stickers and outdoor signage to attract the unchurched, or those who are shopping for a new church. Let them know your'e there or you will die a quick, yet painful, death.

*Notice that nearly all of these things are focused on developing the Church itself. Almost none of it is directed at making disciples, developing the spiritual health of those alongside you, or loving people in the community.

Three Things You Need To Start A Typical House Church

1) People - At least one other person than yourself.

2) God - Be sure to invite the Holy Spirit every time you meet and then wait for Him to speak and lead you.

3) A Place to meet - It could be a living room, a park, a coffeehouse, or any place large enough for the people who gather.

*Notice that having trained leaders, volunteers, thousands of dollars and an army of volunteers is greatly reduced. Also notice that worship leaders, buildings and marketing are completely unnecessary.

Just thought I'd share this with everyone.

Blessings,
Keith

Friday, June 17, 2011

Charles Spurgeon on Organic Church

"I want you to notice this, that they were breaking bread from house to house, and ate their food with gladness and singleness of heart. They did not think that religion was meant only for Sundays, and for what men now-a-days call the House of God. Their own houses were houses of God, and their own meals were so mixed and mingled with the Lord's Supper that to this day the most cautious student of the Bible cannot tell when they stopped eating their common meals, and when they began eating the Supper of the Lord. They elevated their meals into diets for worship: they so consecrated everything with prayer and praise that all around them was holiness to the Lord. I wish our houses were, in this way, dedicated to the Lord, so that we worshipped God all day long, and made our homes temples for the living God."
-An excerpt from Charles H. Spurgeon's sermon entitled "Building the Church" concerning Acts 2 which he gave on April 5, 1874.


*Thanks to Neil Cole and CMA Resources for finding this one.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

LISTEN: Bruce Collins Radio Interview for "This Is My Body"



In case you missed it, here's the link to listen to my interview with Bruce Collins Radio Show in Boston last week.

Listen
HERE

**

Download My Book for Free!

"This Is My Body: Ekklesia as God Intended" is available now as a free ebook download for Nook, Kindle, iPad or other book reading device at the link below.

Download a free ebook (Nook, Kindle, iPad) or PDF copy
HERE

Read endorsements and reviews below.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kent Williamson on "This Is My Body"



“This Is My Body is a much needed treatise about the state of the church in North America. My hope is that this book will become required reading in seminaries and bible colleges across the land. Unfortunately, it's more likely that it will be added to the bonfire by the hoity-toity elite who see their security being threatened.” – Kent Williamson, Director of “Rebellion of Thought”, Founder of Paladin Pictures, Inc.

Download a free ebook (Nook, Kindle, iPad) or PDF copy
HERE

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Alan Knox on "This Is My Body"



"Giles calls the church back from its preoccupation with business models and encourages believers to embrace spiritual relationships with one another and dependence on the Holy Spirit as we read about in Scripture." - Alan Knox, Doctoral Student, Biblical Theology.


Download a free ebook (Nook, Kindle, iPad) or PDF copy
HERE

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dr. Scott Bartchy on "This Is My Body"


"In this book Keith Giles presents us with the powerful example of his own life as he has dared to live out the prophetic insights he has discovered into the nature and mission of God's culture-challenging community. Read and gain courage to risk following his inspired and dynamic servant-leadership." - Dr Scott Bartchy, Professor of Christian Origins and the History of Relgion in the Department of History, UCLA


Download a free ebook (Nook, Kindle, iPad) or PDF copy
HERE

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Jon Zens on "This Is My Body"



“It has been such an encouragement to my heart in the past fifteen years to see one book after another critique the status quo, challenge assumed traditions, and present a fresh vision for a functioning Body of Christ on earth. The Bride of Christ is such a beautiful and multifaceted organism that the nuances and insights that each author brings to the table can never exhaust the riches Christ has deposited in his Ekklesia on earth. This Is My Body is another wonderful, refreshing addition to the collection of writings in our generation that will help believers practice Christ-centered assembly life.” – Jon Zens, author of “A Church Building Every ½ Mile” and editor of Searching Together Magazine.


Download a free ebook (Nook, Kindle, iPad) or PDF copy
HERE

Friday, June 10, 2011

THE PARABLE OF THE FOURTH TALENT

Then the Master turned to the man with the fourth talent and he said, "Show me what you have done, my servant."

The man with the fourth talent replied, "Master, I knew you were a savvy business man and that you require a substantial return on your investments, and so come and see the building I have purchased for many millions of dollars. See, I have placed photograhps of you throughout the facility and there are 46 inch flat panel plasma screens from which hundreds of people may watch me as I tell them to send me their money so that you can bless them. On Super Bowl Sunday we can even use this as an outreach to the community," he said. "Master, look here, we have recently installed a thirty thousand dollar sound system with a state-of-the-art mixing board and flipping sweet Bose speakers powered by a killer amplifier."

The Master looked at the man with the fourth talent and said, "You foolish man. Did you not realize that no one can build a house for me? In all the years you have served me did I ever, even once, ask that any of you build a temple for me to live in? All the Universe belongs to me, and Earth itself is my footstool."

The man with the fourth talent scratched his head, "Did I mention that the building seats 3,000 people and has a heated baptistry?"

The Master rebuked him and said, "This building was built with money that could have fed the poor, comforted the sick and provided shelter for the homeless. Take this building and rent it out to the local rescue mission so that my people can have a warm place to sleep and safe place for their children to live, for whatever you have done for the least of these you have done it unto me."

The man with the fourth talent replied, "Can we still have the Super Bowl Party in January?"

-kg

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

NEW MODERN CHURCH TRANSLATION

NEW: Modern Church Translation - Matthew 28:19

Announcing a brand new "Modern Church Translation" of the Bible!

Finally the words of Jesus have been re-translated for our modern Christian lives!

Here's an example of how this new translation modifies the old, stuffy text into a new, more comfortable version we can all enjoy.

New Living Translation Version:
"19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." - Matthew 28:19


Modern Church Translation:
"19 Therefore, stay put in your churches and pray that people will walk through your doors. In this way your pastor can preach to them so that they will become disciples. Baptize the rare convert that walks through your door in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Choose a method and ritual for your baptisms. Ensure that you criticize those whose method differs from yours. You may even choose to question the salvation of those that were not baptized by your preferred method." - Matthew 28:19

*Special thanks to my dear friend Mark Main for bringing this to my attention.

Monday, June 6, 2011

ARCHIVED RADIO INTERVIEW FOR DOWNLOAD

Hey, brother,

Thank you for your time last night. It was a strong hour and one that I think will bless the listeners. We had about 100 who heard it live last night, but statistically, we should have another 4,000 or so by this time next week.

One of our good friends, Sam Miller from Charlotte, North Carolina sent me a note and said the interview was "a gem". He downloaded two of your books before going to bed last night.

In Christ,
Derek

A View From the Bunker BlogTalk Radio Show
Archived Interview "This Is My Body"
HERE

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Soren Kierkegaard Quote

The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand it, we are obliged to act accordingly.

Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. 'My God,' you will say, 'if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world'? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.

-Soren Kierkegaard, from Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard, edited by Charles Moore.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

GUEST ARTICLE: ALAN KNOX

NOTE: I've posted a slightly edited version of Alan's brilliant article here. For the complete article be sure to visit the direct link below.
-kg

**

AND THEY DEVOTED THEMSELVES
by Alan Knox

Acts 2:42 is often called a summary verse concerning the early followers of Jesus Christ. Luke records:

"And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." - (Acts 2:42 ESV)

Luke says that the believers were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers. This does not mean that they were “devoted” to listening to what the apostles were teaching. Instead, it means that these early Christians were continually persevering in living according to the message that the apostles taught, as well as continuing to fellowship (share life) break bread (eat together), and pray.

Think about it this way: If the phrase “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” conjures up an image of people sitting around listening to the apostles teach, then the translation is NOT communicating the image to you properly.

On the other hand, if you read that phrase and picture the early believers attempting to live their lives in accordance with the message that the apostles taught, then you’re understanding what Luke wrote.

We see that Luke helps us understand what he means in the following verses:

"And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." -(Acts 2:43-47 ESV)

This passage demonstrates how those early believers lived according to the gospel (the apostles’ teaching), and how they shared their lives and their meals with one another. On the day of Pentecost, God did not create individuals who loved to sit and listen to teaching. Instead, God created a new community who now lived new lives – lives that were not lived for themselves any longer. Instead, they lived their lives for God by sharing their lives with one another and with the world around them.

The world noticed...and the world found favor on this new community and new way of life.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT ALAN'S BLOG
HERE

Friday, June 3, 2011

VFTB RADIO INTERVIEW w/ Derek Gilbert

Listen to internet radio with PID Radio Network on Blog Talk Radio

Download All My Books For Free!

I've written a total of 5 books over the years and from the beginning it's been my policy to give them away for free.

No strings. No surveys to complete. No need to enter your email address. Just free books about the Church, the Gospel of the Kingdom, Missional Life and Discipleship.

My latest book, "This Is My Body:Ekklesia as God Intended" is also available as an e-book (Nook, Kindle, iPad, etc.) and also on PDF, but my other books are still available now as free PDF's too.

To download a free e-book or PDF version of "This Is My Body" the link is
HERE

For my other books, please visit my online bookstore where you can either buy a physical copy of all my books if you like, or simply download the PDF file for each of them at no charge.

To download a PDF of all my books go
HERE

About my other books:

*Nobody Follows Jesus (So Why Should You?)
A devotional book for the next generation. This 205 page collection contains forty inspirational articles that address what it means to really follow Jesus, not just attend a service or agree to a set of beliefs. If you desire to know more about following Jesus and less about how to join a program or a religious organization, this is the book you've been waiting for.


*The Gospel: For Here or To Go?
(Foreword by Neil Cole, author of "Organic Church" and founder of CMA Resources)
The Gospel message is one we must embody with our whole life. It's not a bumper sticker slogan or a call to repeat a prayer of confession. Discover your mission field and learn what it means to be an ambassador of Christ to your world, every single day. The Gospel is a way of life. It's more than telling people that Jesus loves them, it's loving them because He has loved us.

NOTE: Also available in French language edition!

*[Subversive Interviews]
A collection of subversive conversations with Dallas Willard, Neil Cole, Frank Viola, Walter Kirn, Matt Redman, Jim Wallis, Todd Hunter, John Fischer, Dr. G.K. Beale and Dr. Scott Bartchy.

*The Top 10 Things Every Christian Should Know (But Probably Doesn't)
- (Now back in print!)
I've been a follower of Jesus for over thirty years now, and even as a licensed and ordained minister of the Gospel I only recently learned these 10 important concepts about what it means to be the sort of disciple that Jesus had in mind. This book will challenge you, inspire you, frustrate you and possibly even anger you to some degree. If so, then I have done my job to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. If nothing else, you will see Jesus, the Gospel and the act of being a disciple in a completely new way.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

JON ZENS: Radio Interview

Gottalife Radio Capture The Moment - A Church Building Every 1/2 Mile with Jon Zens



Great Interview with Jon Zens (who provided the foreword to my book) with Gottalife Radio.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

BUSINESS AS USUAL?

A few years ago I received an email from someone who had a question for me regarding the mounting debt issues at their church.

The email read:

"Our church is in debt. We owe the bank thousands. We now need the debt to function. We have become dependent on it. My spouse challenged the finance person, in private, about this and got no where. We suggested we stop doing stuff and paying so many people to run the church. These suggestions feel on deaf ears."

Now, my perspective may be different than most in this situation, but since the question has been asked, and since I believe that many other Churches will soon find themselves in the same boat very soon, I wanted to take the time and respond here.

For a bit of background on my personal situation, let me make it clear that my wife and I have fairly radical views when it comes to the Church, and especially when it comes to church finances, offerings and tithes. For our family, it is our conviction that the offering belongs to the poor and not to the Church to spend on herself and her own comforts. This is why we left our on-staff, paid pastoral positions and started a house church where 100% of all offerings could go to the poor in our community. I do not take a salary. We use every penny received in our basket to buy groceries for needy families and to help people in need.

However, many churches, if not most, do not operate in this way. Most churches in America today are operating as a business. Because of this, these churches, like every single other business, are suffering financially and facing economic hardships that force many to make difficult decisions about staff, expenses and programs.

Like every other business, Churches around the nation are laying off workers, cutting back on programs and down-sizing to make it through these uncertain economic times.

Could it be that God might be allowing the Church as we know it to go out of business so that she can realize that He has never intended her to operate as a business in the first place?

Most Christians today cannot imagine Church without a paid professional clergy, a large building, a state-of-the-art sound system, and programs for youth and children. However, the historical evidence is that people have been operating without these things for literal centuries. These churches have been making disciples and preaching the Gospel and serving the poor and worshipping Jesus just fine, thank you. All without a building, a paid professional clergy, or programs or a thousand dollar sound system. Seriously.

Furthermore, the New Testament tells us that Jesus refers to His Church as a Family, a Body, an Organism and a Bride. He never treats her as a business and, in my opinion, the Scriptures reveal a very different DNA for Church than we've adopted here in the West.

One pastor friend recently shared that he had approached his board of directors at his church about not continuing to take a salary for his services. He wanted to take a job in the real world and not be a burden to the Body financially. This, I thought, was a wonderful idea. However, they wouldn't allow him to work for free or to take his salary elsewhere. This response puzzles me in many ways, but sadly, most cannot conceive of running the Church in any other way than as a business.

Over the last few years I have met three different pastors, here in California, who have found it necessary to let go of their church building and their paid staff due to financial hardships. In each case, these pastors made the decision to re-organize as a series of house churches. All of them have since discovered the joy and the freedom of "Being the Church" rather than asking their people to attend one. None of them would ever go back. None of them would have taken the step towards House Church if their bank accounts were bursting either.

Now that they have made the leap towards organic forms of "being Church" these three pastors have also discovered that, instead of shrinking in size, they are growing, in maturity and in numbers. Instead of hurting for money they cannot help but generate money, because they have little to no expenses. Instead of spending thousands of dollars a month on utilities and bills, they now spend hundreds of hours in community and in fellowship with one another and have discovered what it means to really be the Family of God.

Our house church, The Mission, has been together for just about 5 years now. I have been very blessed to grow alongside others who share our passion for living outward-focused lives of love. My family has been blessed to open our home and discover true Koinonia fellowship and community with people who have a sincere desire to follow Jesus. We've all been blessed to encourage one another in our faith and to spur one another on to do good works which God has prepared in advance for us to do.

We've been blessed to share our finances with one another, and with those we encounter in the community, who are in need. We've been amazed to connect every dollar we give with actual people whose lives are blesssed because of what we share.

Of course, this is no way to run a business, and that's the whole point. Our passionate desire is to live our faith and share what we have been given without allowing profits or corporate strategy or ROI to muddy the waters.

Perhaps God has other reasons for allowing financial pressures to put the Church out of business? Perhaps our economy will rebound soon and all of this will go away? Who knows?

I just cannot help to see God at work in all of this, especially when I hear joyful reports of pastors who are seeing growth and maturity in their church as the walls come down and the people discover what it means to be the Church they were always meant to be.

My hope and prayer is that the people of God here in America would really begin to fully understand what it means to operate as a family, and to share what they have, and to embrace one another, and the poor, no matter what the cost.

-kg

THIS IS MY BODY: REVIEW BY WILL ROCHOW

The central message of Keith’s book is now for many of us a familiar one. A few short years ago we would have been hard-pressed to find many books at all on the theme of deinstitutionalizing the church and returning her to a more simple and organic format. Today there are now many, many such books, including this one. Soon there will no doubt be several others.


Early on in his book Keith makes the statement that “the Church in the West is desperately in need of a revival” (p. 11). At first I took a bit of an exception to that statement, because when we often speak of revival, we tend to speak of it in terms of returning to some sort of golden era of yester-year. We usually refer to revival as a return to a time that the church was, in our opinion, better than it is today. However, in reading further, it becomes evident that the “revival” that the author has in mind isn’t a return to the 1950’s church (or some other era), but rather a return to the way that the church functioned way back in the pre-Constantine era.


Keith addresses many of the ways that the early church (before Constantine legalized Christianity) was different from our modern church. One example of this is that strange (and non-biblical) dichotomy between clergy and laity. The author reminds us that, “every baptized believer in Christ was automatically ordained by the Holy Spirit into the ministry of Jesus. There was no separation between clergy and laity” (p. 51). As a matter of fact, both the words “clergy” and “laity” aren’t even biblical concepts. For many of us who have already left the traditional and institutional form of the church, this is nothing new. Still, the message is important for those who still find themselves in these systems and are having issues with some of her forms.


To further paraphrase Keith’s book, the central message is that we in modern Christendom have left the path that the early church before us had trod, and in a very real way, we no longer even look anything like the church of Acts. This I wholeheartedly agree with. If the early church were to look at our typical worship services today, at the very least I’d doubt they would even recognize us as the Christian church at all. More likely, however, I think they might actually even wonder what religion we are a part of. The point Keith makes is that there is a very stark difference between the church today and the church that Jesus founded. The two do not resemble each other at all.


Keith also does a good job of showing us the difference between a business organization and a family organism. The church that Jesus started was definitely of the family organism variety. Unfortunately, Keith says, in many ways we’ve made it into a business organization instead. The early church was much more focused of the communal lives of brothers and sisters than the church of today often appears to be. They would spend significantly more time together, much like normal families do. Contrast that with the business organizational type church that is common today, in which so much is money-based and is run very much like many other secular businesses. Modern churches may speak of being a family, but when we look at the amount of quality time they spend together, theirs is a dysfunctional family at best. The early church knew nothing of this type of church model.


Keith goes so far as to say, “If the world needs anything today, it desperately needs a return of the New Testament form of church and a New Testament brand of Christianity” (p.82). I like that. How can we do that? Keith writes further, “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” (p.91).


To many that may sound harsh and maybe somewhat extreme. Personally I like it, for I’ve said similar things before myself. The point that Keith is trying to communicate is that, if we really want to look more like the church that Jesus built, then we have to begin chopping at the root of that business organization that we’ve turned Jesus’ church into and get back to being the family that God intended. If, on the other hand, we’re content with the status quo, then we need do nothing and everything will continue on pretty much as it has. But then too, we won’t be the “Ekklesia As God Intended.”


I’ve come to appreciate Keith Giles. I follow him on Twitter and regularly explore the links to his various blog posts. Keith is definitely a gifted writer, and a cherished brother in the Lord. It is obvious to me that God is using Keith in some wonderful ways. If you have not yet read Keith Giles’ “This Is My Body: Ekklesia As God Intended,” I would encourage you to do so. You won’t be sorry that you did.

READ THE FULL REVIEW
HERE

Monday, May 30, 2011

Shine

The Bible uses several metaphors to describe the Church. We are called the Bride, the Family of God, and the Body of Christ.

We are never referred to as an organization, a weekly meeting or a business.

In God's heart, we are a living organism. We are a Body made up of interdependent parts with Christ as our head.

We are a family, adopted sons and daughters who are blessed beyond measure to call the Creator of the Universe "Papa".

We are a Bride, the fiancee of the Son of God, radiant by His Glory, madly in love with the Groom, being made ready for a wedding feast at the End of Time.

We are carriers of the Kingdom message, empowered by His Holy Spirit, called from the four corners of the Earth, on a mission of love and service and daily sacrifice.

We are sons and daughters. We are fathers and mothers. We are housewives and computer engineers. We are musicians and artists. We are mathematicians and scientists. We are poets and truck drivers and marketing executives and elementary school teachers and airline pilots.

We are the global ambassadors of God's love to a hurting and dying world.

We are the Church when we are awake and when we are asleep. We are the Church when we are driving on the freeway and when we are talking on the phone. We are the Church when we are in line at the Grocery Store or eating a cheeseburger in the food court.

We are the Church - Agents of change who have one simple command to fulfill; "Love one another".

If we could really understand this. If we could really see who we are every minute of every day, there is nothing that could stand in our way, not even the very gates of Hell.

Can we defend the cause of the orphan and the widow? Can we speak up for the abused and the enslaved? Can we share what we have been given with those in our own community who have nothing? Can we lay aside our petty differences and learn to forgive and love and befriend those who are right in front of us?

Can we learn to love others as Jesus loved? Can we give the way He gave? Can we lay down our lives, our wants, our needs, our comfort, for the good of someone else?

All of Heaven holds it breath in anticipation, awaiting the outcome of this drama of life we find ourselves in.

The Kingdom is in motion. Your assistance is required.

Don't miss your chance to shine.

-kg

Friday, May 27, 2011

A.W. Tozer on Corporate Christianity

We in the churches seem unable to rise above the fiscal philosophy which rules the business world; so we introduce into our church finances the psychology of the great secular institutions so familiar to us all and judge a church by its financial report much as we judge a bank or a department store.

A look into history will quickly convince any interested person that the true church has almost always suffered more from prosperity than from poverty. Her times of greatest spiritual power have usually coincided with her periods of indigence and rejection; with wealth came weakness and backsliding. If this cannot be explained, neither apparently can it be escaped.

The average church has so established itself organizationally and financially that God is simply not necessary to it. So entrenched is its authority and so stable are the religious habits of its members that God could withdraw Himself completely from it and it could run on for years on its own momentum.


- A.W. Tozer, Tozer on Christian Leadership

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Frederick Buechner on Today's Church

"They make you wonder if the best thing that could happen to many a church might not be to have its building burn down and to lose all its money. Then all that the people would have left would be God and each other."
- Frederick Buechner, from "Listening to Your Life," Harper, 1992, p.331

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

BILLY GRAHAM PROPHECY

The following quote was authored by Billy Graham in the year 1965. Turns out it was a prophetic word that has come to pass in our time.

"Multitudes of Christians within the church are moving toward the point where they may reject the institution that we call the church. They are beginning to turn to more simplified forms of worship. They are hungry for a personal and vital experience with Jesus Christ. They want a heartwarming personal faith. Unless the church quickly recovers its authoritative Biblical message, we may witness the spectacle of millions of Christians going outside the institutional church to find spiritual food."
-Billy Graham, quoted in “World Aflame”, pp. 79-80.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. On the Early Church

"There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period that the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was the thermostat that transformed the mores of society.

"Wherever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being 'disturbers of the peace' and 'outside agitators.' But they went on with the conviction that they were 'a colony of heaven' and had to obey God rather than man.

"They were small in number but big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be 'astronomically intimidated.' They brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contest."

-Martin Luther King JR:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

BOOK RELEASE PARTY











Thanks to everyone who came to the book release party last night. It was such a blessing to share this evening with so many of my dear friends and brothers and sisters in Christ.

Special Thanks: Mike McNichols and Fuller Seminary for the use of the classroom and to Jon Philpott for helping me get the PowerPoint slides to work.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

You've Got To Give It Away

As of today I've given away 518 ebook copies of my new book, "This Is My Body: Ekklesia as God Intended"!

Get yours free!

Friday, May 13, 2011

READER REACTION TO MY BOOK

"I love how punk rock my friend Keith Giles will always be. Unlike most of the christian world, when he writes a book he loves to give it away for free! He is a writer, philosopher, activist, provocateur and a servant to all. He truly believes in the church and wants it to be at its best. Download his free book now for your ereader/ipad!" – Jarred Lawrence Romley

"WooHoo! I am loving it - thanks for putting it out there!" - Kim Tacheny

"Downloaded it last night, and am enjoying it today. thanks for the blessing."
- Larry Roy Woodsmall

"Pick up Keith Giles’ new book. Just read the intro and I'm ready for more!" -Josh Epperson

"A lovely sunny day here in Leicester UK. Spent a little time in the garden, eating a good bagel and passable strawberry jam, drinking Yorkshire Gold tea and reading Keith Giles latest book. This is the nearest I will get to pleasure today..... on page 97 already and it is very good. Really. Honest. Would have paid more for it....!" - Alan Rees


"Keith, thank you for presenting how the how the New Testament church is supposed to "function" in a way that the Lord originally ordained. Using the Old Testament references and tying them into the New Testament in showing how God always intended to build His church was great.

I have a great appreciation for what the Lord is doing in His church and your book is a great tool for those who want know more about the Body of Christ.

There is definitely a voice on the hill declaring the truth and you are one of them." - Steven G. Owen


"Keith, we are glad for what you are doing...and hopefully you saw in today’s CMA Tools & Trainings email...that your books were featured. We are glad to support you that way!

Thanks for who you are...and all you do."
- Mike Jentes, Church Multiplication Associates & CMA Resources

*

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

THE DISCIPLES ON LEADERSHIP AND HIERARCHY

The disciples of Jesus were very concerned with leadership. Early on they spent a great deal of their time discussing issues of hierarchy with one another. For example:

"An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest." (Luke 9:46)

Even at the Lord's Supper, when Jesus announced that one of them would betray him, and that he would suffer in order to establish a new covenant between God and man, the disciples took a break from discussing which of them might betray Jesus in this way in order to discuss the very important topic of leadership:

"A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest." (Luke 22:24)

Earlier on in Jesus' ministry the mother of James and John came to him to engage in a dialog about leadership, saying:

"Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom." (Matthew 20:21)

Of course, James and John themselves were also quite eager to move up in the hierarchy of the Kingdom and so they also came to Jesus to talk about leadership issues when they said:

"Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory." (Mark 10:37)

Even when they traveled from town to town, the disciples loved to talk about which of them was the greatest of all.

"They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, [Jesus] asked them, 'What were you arguing about on the road?' But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest." (Mark 9:33-34)

Yes, the disciples were extremely fixated on the topic of leadership and hierarchy. But Jesus wasn't. In fact, in every single one of these cases, Jesus took the time to stress to the Disciples that, in the Kingdom of God, leadership didn't have anything to do with being top dog. In fact, if they wanted to be great in the Kingdom of God, they would have to get used to washing feet, being everyone's servant and acting like simple children.

In the Kingdom of God, the only boss is Jesus. He is still the head of His Church and no one else. All the rest of us are brothers and sisters in His Family.

Jesus reminds all of us that the least among us is the greatest of all.(Luke 9:48)
He models a servant style of leadership for all of us to follow (John 13:4-17)
He boldly declares that, unless we can become humble like little children, we will never enter the Kingdom of God.(Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17; Matthew 18:3-4)

"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:5-8)

Jesus pointed to both Jewish (Religious) and Roman (Political) hierarchies and made a point to contrast those systems with his own model. He sternly warned his disciples not to “lord it over” one another as the Gentile rulers did.(Mark 10:42-45) He also commanded them not to follow the example of the Jewish leaders who loved the praise of men and built their own kingdoms to glorify themselves. (Matt 23:8-12).

Eventually, the disciples got it. They abandoned their pursuits of hierarchy and they embraced the loving, servant leadership posture that Jesus so beautifully modelled for them.

We see this when Peter appealed to the Church as a fellow laborer in Christ and referred to himself as a "fellow elder" rather than as an Apostle:

“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.” – 1 Peter 5:1-4

Paul echoed this also, saying:

“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

People love leaders. We love leadership. We flock to those with the greatest talent and ability. But this is exactly what Paul warns the Church about when he rebukes them for identifying themselves as followers of Appollos, or Peter, or even of himself. (see 1 Corinthians 1:11-13)

Instead, Paul warns all of them not to become disciples of any other man, or leader, but to fully submit to Christ alone as Lord and Savior and Teacher.

When Paul was preparing to return to Jerusalem he wrote a letter of farewell to many of the churches he had helped to plant and nourish. As he encouraged them he took the opportunity to remind them of something that had been burning in his heart for three years. It was something that, in his own words, he “never stopped warning each of (them), night and day with tears.” – (Acts 20:25-31)

What do you suppose it was that concerned Paul so much? What could bring him to tears like this? What could compel him to constantly remind and warn those first Christians “night and day”?

Was it false doctrine in the church? Was it the coming persecution? No, it was something far more devasting to the Body. The rise of teachers and leaders who would draw disciples after themselves rather than pointing them directly to Christ.

“I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.” – Acts 20:25-31

What troubled Paul most of all was the knowledge that, after he was gone, men would rise up “to draw away disciples after themselves”. Paul was broken-hearted to think of the Body submitting to the authority of men rather than to the authority of Christ.

Think about this. Paul is mainly concerned that men will rise up from within the Body itself and, in his absence, set themselves up as leaders and draw disciples to themselves.

Why would this concern Paul so much? Why would it cause him such anxiety and emotional turmoil? Perhaps because Jesus made the issue of leadership within His Body very clear: It was designed to be a family, an organism and a community, not a hierarchy.

In the Church, our only Head and Leader is Jesus.

"Christ is the head of the body, the church; Christ is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,that in everything Christ might be preeminent." (Colossians 1:18)

"And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way." (Ephesians 1:22-23)


-kg

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A First Century Pagan Talks To A First Century Christian

Imagine the conversation between an unbelieving Pagan in the first century and a follower of The Way:

Pagan: "I would like to know more about this Christ you speak of. Where is your temple?"

Christian: "We don't have one."

Pagan: "What? Then where does one go to meet with your God?"

Christian: "We are all the Temple of the Holy Spirit, so God meets with us wherever we are."

Pagan: "Hmm...then where do you conduct your sacrifices?"

Christian: "We have no animal sacrifice at all. Jesus became our sacrifice so that we could be free. Our only sacrifices are our own lives as we surrender to Him and His will every day."

Pagan: "Fascinating! I would love to meet your Priest to learn more about this."

Christian: "Well, I am a Priest."

Pagan: "You are?! But I thought you sold pottery in the marketplace? How can you be a Priest in this new religion?"

Christian: "You can be one also if you submit your life to Christ and place your trust in Him. We are all Priests of God."

Wasn't it a radically different system of faith that Jesus breathed into life 2000 years ago?

Isn't this a radically different system of faith than anything we have today?

Can someone explain to me why it should be different than what Jesus taught, inspired and promoted for His Church?

-kg

Monday, May 9, 2011

BEING CHURCH

Those of us who are part of a house church or an organic church often speak of "being the church" rather than "attending a church".

A fellow house church leader recently emailed me and a few other house church practitioners to ask us how we would answer this question: “How are your house church communities doing at ‘being the Church’ rather than ‘going to Church’?”

Here’s my response.

Over the last few weeks I've had conversations with several in our house church family and they’ve indicated to me that they've started to experience a paradigm shift between "going to church" and "being the church". Here's how some of them have expressed this phenomenon:

*"Once I realized that being who God created and called me to be was all that He expects of me, I started to realize that I have a ministry to children already. I don't have to travel to Africa or even to Mexico to minister to children who don't know the Gospel. They're in my 5th grade class I teach every day."

*"I had only been coming to this house church for two weeks when I offered to host the next meeting in my home. Everyone was like, 'That's great!' At first I thought, 'Don't you want to see my house first?' but then I realized that it didn't matter to anyone what my house was like. They were all eager to allow me the freedom to contribute to the Church in whatever way I wanted to."

*"All my life at other churches I was always on the outside of that myterious inner circle of leadership, but now I'm one of the many other contributing members of the Church. Suddenly my voice counts for something. My gifts are relevant. My family is truly known and loved. This is what Church is all about!"

*"Growing up in Church I never understood what the pastor was saying. But now I'm free to ask questions and people are free to question me and to challenge me in my walk with Jesus. It's the Body of Christ that has changed my life where all those sermons never did."

*"For the first time in my life as a Christian, when I think of "my church," I now think of the people in it. Not the building or the pastor because we don't have any. The faces of the people I fellowship with come to mind."


*"Instead of going to church and attending a meeting, the house church experience has allowed me to see that all of my life is a ministry to God. No matter where I am or what I'm doing, the Spirit of the Living God is alive in me and that's where 'Church' can happen."

Our house church is called “the Mission” because we hope to encourage everyone to see that they are missionaries equipped by God to minister the Gospel in their own neighborhood, workplace, community, etc.

In addition to these statements, I’ve personally witnessed individuals in our house church family as they discover their own personal mission. Some have felt a calling to start a weekly prayer meeting in their home. Some have felt compelled to take regular trips to an orphanage in Mexico. Some have taken it upon themselves to put together survival kits for the homeless. Some have responded to God’s calling to use their teaching gift to lead weekly Bible Studies with people outside our house church family. Some have stepped out to help teach Chinese students how to speak English as a second language. Others are still trying to understand what their personal mission is and we’re patiently standing by them and encouraging them as they continue to follow Jesus daily.

While no one in our house church family feels pressure to participate in anyone else’s ministry, they do know that they are free to join in if they want to. No one feels pressure to start a ministry of their own either. Unless God is genuinely speaking to them about stepping forward, we’re content to meet them wherever they are.

Our house church family has a saying that goes, “We’re all in process.” That means we recognize that none of us is in exactly the same place in our walk with Christ. While we encourage everyone to grow deeper with Jesus, we don’t set our own expectations of what that should look like. We allow the individual person to listen for God’s voice and to respond accordingly. We strive to have grace for one another and not to impose our passion on others.

For example, my family has been serving at a local motel for nearly 9 years now. We go every month and pass out free groceries which our house church family purchases using the offerings that are freely given to help the poor. Not everyone in our house church goes with us when we serve at the motel, but they know we'd love to have them join us if they wish. They also know that they don't have to give their offering to this cause if they don't want to. No one forces them to give or looks to see who is giving or how much. We don't impose our vision and mission on them and they don't try to convince us that their personal ministry should be everyone else's.

Rather than exploit one another to benefit our ministry, we empower one another to step out and serve others in whatever way we feel called. We help when we can. We encourage one another, and we cheer each other onward.

So, in a nutshell this is how our little house church family is learning to “be the Church” to one another and to people we come into contact with each and every day.

How are you learning to “be the Church”?

-Keith Giles

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Church of One Another

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.

Amen.

-kg

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A review by Kent C. Williamson of THIS IS MY BODY

Allow me to start by saying This Is My Body is FANTASTIC! And I’m not just saying that because I’ve known the author for nearly 25 years. I say it because This Is My Body is a much needed treatise about the state of the church in North America. As most of those who claim to follow Christ know, the church is not made of brick and stone, it is made of spirit, of flesh, of bone... for the church is made of nothing more than the Spirit of God dwelling in those who seek Him. How His followers connect with each other is the essence of the greek word Ekklesia and the topic that Giles explores within this book.


Giles reminds us that one of the most mind-blowing elements of the crucifixion of Christ was the mysterious tearing of the temple veil. Prior to that historic event the high priest alone had access to the Holy of Holies. Only on special occasions could he enter the dwelling place of God behind the veil, which had to be an amazing event for the lone participant. But the symbolism and substance that springs from the torn veil is even more amazing... that we all can now approach the One who for so long was unapproachable.


Giles asks the question, will anyone dare pick up a needle and thread to repair the torn veil? It's obvious that only an extremely arrogant person would attempt such a thing, but unfortunately the institutional church has had their share of such men who desperately attempt to repair the veil, mainly because their livelihoods depend on it.


The days of "Professional” Christianity are over! The Holy Spirit is reclaiming it for the common man and Keith Giles is helping to blow the trumpet! I can hear pastors of the institutional church screaming "heresy" as they desperately cling to their salary, their staff, and their beloved "book funds"! My hope is that This Is My Body will become required reading in seminaries and bible colleges across the land. Unfortunately, it's more likely that it will be added to the bonfire by the hoity-toity elite who see their security being threatened.


As much as I loved reading This Is My Body, it is not perfect. There is one missing chapter of this book, which should be called Exit Strategy. Giles does a great job setting up the problem with the typical top-down church structure in America, but I would have liked to see a section devoted to helping people move from the comfy pews of “spectator Christianity” into this brave new world where the only safety net is the Holy Spirit. A chapter where the reader could gain valuable information on how to leap from the train known as the institutional church... a train that, as my brother and I pointed out in our film Rebellion of Thought, is tragically on the wrong track, barreling blindly toward the wrong destination. (I might add that Rebellion of Thought didn’t offer that type of help either!).


When the Sunday Morning Business Men take to their pulpits to drone on-and-on "teaching the Word of God", my prayer is that the brave few who get their hands on This Is My Body will move out into their communities and neighborhoods "living the Word of God", being Christ to those who need it most. Only then will we experience the sense of Ekklesia that our New Testament brothers and sisters knew so well.

**
Originally posted at Kent's blog
HERE

Every Believer a Priest of God

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.

WHAT ABOUT LEADERSHIP?
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."

-kg