Tuesday, April 25, 2006



What an amazing Saturday conference we had at ENGAGE.

I can't even begin to describe all the cool stuff we did and experienced.

There's a cool picture journal and blog of the day's events over at:

Go check out some of the workshops, arts entries on the graphitti wall, the service projects we went out on, etc.

All in all, the day exceeded my expectations.

There were people who had never done anything like this in their spiritual life before, and this was my target audience. So, I was thrilled to have so many people take their first steps outside their comfort zone to serve the least and the lost at ENGAGE.

The workshops were all well received and all of the feedback I got was glowing.

The service projects were all very successful. People were blessed, and our participants were excited to be putting their hands and their feet into action for the Gospel.

David Ruis did a fantastic job. I am so honored to call this guy a friend and a brother. He delivered two challenging messages to our group that inspired and blessed us.

The Arts Interactive was the most ambitious part of the day, and in hindsight I think I wouldn't have done so much on setting it up as I did for this day. Next year will be cool, but not as "over the top" as this one was. The best thing was that people really did pick up a brush and a pen and began to share their thoughts and experiences on paper for all to see. I was happy about that.

1. I would make it a two day event. Start on Friday afternoon/evening and extend the experience and the dialog a bit. Maybe even have it spill over onto a Sunday morning also.

2. I will make the next ENGAGE event small on purpose. This year's event was about 70 people and that's about right. I'll cap next year at 100 or less to keep the interaction and the intimacy level high.

3. I'd like to have David Ruis return, but I'd also like to involve other voices like Greg Russinger, Crissy Brooks and my buddy Scott Laumann (who had planned to come this year but couldn't make it at the last minute).

4. Arts Elements: I like the artistic elements very much, but maybe this should be a separate track? I'm not sure. The other option is to do a separate arts conference that specifically focuses on art and justice. This would be small and highly creative, which I love.

5. Involve other area ministries more. I have good friends who work for some incredible ministries here in the OC and I'd love to have them enjoy a larger presence at the event. The OC Rescue Mission, MIKA, the OC Interfaith Shelter, Teen Challenge, Side By Side Ministries, MoreOfJesus.org, and many others, are doing great work for the poor in the OC and I'd love to have a roundtable with reps from each of these groups to come and share together about the face of poverty in Orange County and how we can all work together to improve the quality of life.

6. More volunteers. I did the entire conference pretty much on my own. This is why I am exhausted. This is why I didn't see my family for most of the last week. I will gather volunteers and empower them much earlier in the process next time. I promise.

7. Speaking. I think I'd like to actually take one of the sessions to share next time. I had originally planned to share at this ENGAGE, but because of all the pressure on me (due to lack of volunteer involvement) I decided to let David do all the talking...and it was awesome! But next time I want to share about what I've learned specifically about dealing with poverty in the OC over the last three years or so.

All in all, it was a great day. I'll have podcasts/downloads of David Ruis' messages at ENGAGE pretty soon for everyone to listen to for free. It was a wonderul experience and I can't wait for next year.

Now I turn my attention to MOMENTUM and the Roadshows in June.

Back to work!

Thursday, April 20, 2006


I'm running ragged trying to get everything together for this one-day conference for Soul Survivor called ENGAGE with David Ruis.

The biggest challenge has been the Soliton Interactive Arts Room we're (that means "I am") building in the large fellowship hall at St. James.

Tomorrow I'll lead a small army of volunteers to set up cardboard walls, lay down drop cloths, set up tables, art supplies, paints, paper, etc. for one giant arts interactive experience on Saturday.

I'm a little bummed out that my buddy Scott Laumann won't be able to join us for ENGAGE. I do have Karen Schmidt (an amazing sculpture artist), and Heather Wright (an amazing painter) for the workshop on arts and justice.

David Ruis is ready to go. We should have the lights, sound, video projector, etc. ready to go in time also.

Plus, we've got the NOISE service projects from 2pm to 4pm. This has been a little challenging, but I've reduced the number of projects from five to four, and one of the projects has two sponsors/partners helping out, another has one partner and a very capable team leader (Carrie Yarborough), and actually all of our team leaders are excellent...so that should be fine.

I'm trying not to stress about the things I can't control. I'll do the best I can do and let God handle everything else.

I'm going to feel soooo good after this is all over.

Wish you could all join me for ENGAGE!

If you're near the O.C., check out the website and try to come down for as much as you can:

Must sleep now.


Thursday, April 13, 2006


The good folks at SeedStories.com just published my article "RISEN?" just in time for Easter.

Please go check it out and make a comment if you would over here:


Thanks for your support!


Thursday, April 06, 2006


"The mathematician goes mad.
Not the poet.
Because the mathematician tries
to build a bridge across the infinite.
When the poet can swim in the sea."

G.K. Chesterton


LIGHT VS HEAT by Keith Giles

Most everyone who has read my blog here, or who receives my weekly [subversive underground] e-newsletter, knows how I feel about the corporate church model.

It’s no secret how I feel that our modern versions of “doing church” have corrupted the Biblical model where everyone who follows Jesus “is the Church” and gets to participate, use their gifts, interact with everyone else, be ministered to and minister to others, and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit in His Power along with everyone else.

Honestly, as we’ve been doing house church now for about two months, I realize that “Koinonia” is something I think I never experienced before now. Everything before “the mission” was just playing church to me.

I also feel that there is way too much emphasis placed on “Leadership” (as defined by the Big Business World and now co-opted into the Bride of Christ).

Why are there no “Follower’s Study Bibles”? Why so much emphasis on leadership? How about encouraging “Followership” since that’s what Jesus called us to do in the first place?

I can remember being so frustrated as an on-staff pastor that our mandate was to make sure we visited with our significant leaders every month. I wondered, “Who will visit with our forgotten, poor and insignificant people if we’re all focused on those leaders?”

*If I’m not careful, I could run off on a rant myself here...so, I’ll take a deep breath.


So, the other day I received an email from a friend who had written a scathing attack on this exact issue and he wanted to share it with me, knowing that I lean hard in this direction, I suppose.

As I read my friend’s email, blasting the corporate structure, attacking the cultural distortions of the Biblical form of “being Church”, I guess I saw myself from a distance and it troubled me.

In response to my friend, whom I agree with about 99%, I had to admit my own failures in this area of criticism versus grace.

I know we have a very real need for urgency on these issues, and I applaud the truth and the passion of someone who desires to see things change for the better.

To be clear; I am not arguing for the value of “dispassionate conversations”, but let me point out that “less passion” doesn’t equal “No passion”, right?

I struggle, personally, with these same issues/passions, and how best to make people see what’s going on in the Christian culture around us. It makes me sick. It makes me crazy. I long to see people “get it”.

For example, on the one issue; the sickness of the modern/corporate-inspired version of “Church-as-a-franchise” I am especially passionate...maybe too much for my own good, or the good of the issue itself.

I have written several critical articles on this problem, not for the sake of being critical, but just honestly venting my own revulsion and excorcising my own guilt for having been part of this system for so much of my own Christian life and pastoral “career”.

However, I am starting to think that this sort of language only serves to polarize people on one side of this issue or the other, and that doesn’t serve my passion.

What I really, deep down, desire passionately is for people to start to really see what I have seen.

I think Jesus does this masterfully when he uses parables to illustrate points of eternal significance. I mean, if anyone had a right to be angry/passionate/urgent about the state of his people, the corruption of the Word of God, etc., then I think it was Jesus. But only once did he resort to violence, and only once did he publicly rebuke the Pharisees for their misguided behavior. Instead, Jesus spent MOST of his time/energy/passion on helping people to really UNDERSTAND the things they’d been told by “blind guides” and “empty tombs”, and he did this in a very simple, creative, loving and even brilliant way.

This is my personal goal. I want to teach like Jesus. I want to help people consider things they’ve overlooked, and probably have even known all along but have forgotten it because of the corruption within the corporate church systems.

Are you feeling me?

I’m trying hard now (and this is hard, it’s not the easy path that’s for sure), to listen to the Holy Spirit and to use my gifts to communicate this astounding truth of the Kingdom of God to those who have not yet seen it, or who need to see it again.

As for me, I am working to communicate to others more about the pure JOY of living in the Kingdom, of being truly FREE in the Spirit to BE THE CHURCH. I believe that if I can paint a more clear and accurate picture to others about what astounding and amazing freedom there really is in Christ, outside of the structure of corporate church systems, that God will woo those sheep who hear His voice.

The old saying is true, “You attract more flies with honey”, and I’m trying to follow Jesus in His example to accomplish this very thing.

I still believe that Jesus is the ultimate leader and that his style of leadership should be our model. That means not only his servanthood and his “others-focused” ministry, but his tone and his style of communication as well.

I have come to believe that making positive changes within our own lives and modeling this new way of “being the church” we all hold dear is much more effective, and Biblical, than simple criticism, no matter what our tone may be.

It’s partially why I gave up on the whole Apologetics thing a while back. I realized that I had never once argued someone into the Kingdom, but when I shared with others what God had done and was doing my life, then my life became the Apologetic, (which is way more challenging), and besides, no one can argue with the Truth of what God’s Spirit is doing in your life, or in mine.

So, as I struggle with this inner passion, I pray that I can maintain the heart of Jesus and love those brothers and sisters in the Church, no matter what model or form they prefer to worship in.

After all, didn’t Jesus command us to “Love one another, even as I have loved you?”



Wednesday, April 05, 2006


by Keith Giles

There was rhythm in the air that morning
a seed-planting rhythm in a land
of broken ground. It traveled
from my heel to
my fingertips and
circled in my neck until
I bowed my head in submission. The beat
continued, echoed across
the arid stretch
of the hillside and all
of the faceless people stood
swaying to the rhythm
the compelling metronome
of hammer and nail and
the crescendo mounted until the blood
the blood gushed hot and wet onto the grass
we held our breath until they lifted
the crossbar over our heads, until the sky
turned to black cloud, until he whispered that it was finished and the soldiers took him down.
But the rhythm never left my feet
kept time with
the beating in my heart, turned
my blood to wine.

*more poems in the link at lower left