Friday, June 29, 2007

THE GOSPEL: FOR HERE OR TO GO?

Last year I set a personal goal to finish writing at least one book project. I ended up writing two book projects.

This year my goal was to publish at least one of those books. In about a month I will self-publish my first book, "The Gospel:For Here Or To Go?" through Lulu.com.

At the moment, Neil Cole (author of "Organic Church") is helping me to edit the book and he has also promised to write a forward to the book for me, since the idea for the book came from a series of six articles I ran over at his website last year.

The complete book is about a hundred pages long and includes about nine new chapters, in addtion to the previous six articles (which were mostly re-written for the book version).

If all goes to plan, I will soon offer the book online here at my website, as well as to the faithful subscribers of my weekly e-newsletter, [Subversive Underground]. If I can I'll try to offer the subscribers a little bonus above and beyond the regular online purchase.

Later this year, or early next year I will make the second book project available, "The Power Of Weakness: God's Amazing Plan To Change The World" which is largely made up of material that has never appeared online or in print in any form. This book is about 90% complete right now.

Looking ahead to a third book project, it is my intention to compile the current ongoing series of articles, "Top 10 Things Every Christian Should Know (But Probably Doesn't)" into a book eventually, as well as other collections to come of my interviews (with Matt Redman, Todd Hunter, Dallas Willard, John Fischer, etc.), and articles compiled by subject like social justice, spiritual formation, and Christian Culture.

For now, the first book project is enough to keep me very busy. I'm very excited about getting it published and made available to everyone.

Thanks to everyone who has encouraged me and my writing over the years.

I hope this first book can help people to see God's calling on every Christian's life to be a missionary wherever God has planted you, and provide practical coaching on how to fulfill that calling in your actual life, neighborhood and workplace.

More later...
kg

Thursday, June 21, 2007

SHANE CLAIBORNE'S COMMUNITY DESTROYED BY FIRE

Philly Fire Destroys Simple Way Community Center
"Fabric of our community life changed forever."
http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliveblog/

DONATION INFO AT
http://www.thesimpleway.org/

**More from Shane's "Simple Way" blogsite-
This morning, a 7-alarm fire consumed an abandoned warehouse in our Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia. The Simple Way Community Center at 3200 Potter Street was destroyed as well as at least eight of our neighbors’ homes. Over 100 people were evacuated from their homes, and 400 families are currently without power. Despite this tragedy, we are incredibly thankful to share that all of our community members and every one of our neighbors is safely out of harm’s way.

This fire will forever change the fabric of our community. Eight families are currently homeless, and in many cases have lost their vehicles as well as their homes. One of our neighbors, the Mahaias Family, lost their three cars as well as the equipment one family member uses for her massage therapy business. Teenager Brian Mahaias is devastated not because he has lost his belongings, but because he fears that this fire will force him to move away from this neighborhood that is his family as well as his home.

*More in link at
http://www.thesimpleway.org/

*thank god no one seems to have been injured - but there's a great opportunity here to help our brothers and sisters in their hour of need.

peas,
kg

Thursday, June 14, 2007

REFORMATION OR REVOLUTION

REFORMATION OR REVOLUTION?
by Keith A. Giles

Many in the House Church movement are calling themselves “Revolutionaries” (mostly due to Barna’s book of the same name, I am guessing). However, this name disturbs me to be quite honest. I mean, I resonate with the sort of images such a word conjures up. I love the rebellious, subversive nature of the word. I love to challenge the status quo and to throw off man-made entanglements in order to get at the meat of the matter.

However, I feel that the term “Revolutionary” also carries the connotation of conflict. I do not want to be part of an uprising. I do not want to join a movement where violence and screaming and conflict rules the day. I’d rather be part of a “Reformation” where we can have an open dialog with those in the organized church about the things we are passionate about. I’d love to see the traditional church have a change of heart in many areas and embrace some of the community and family-based forms of fellowship we enjoy in the House Church, for example.

Still, there are various barriers to this sort of discourse among brothers and sisters in the Church. Here are some of my thoughts about that.

LEAVING THE CHURCH?
We, followers of Jesus, ARE the Church. Church doesn't make us Christian. A Church is a body of Believers, not a building, or an institution, or an organization with a non-profit status. According to the Scriptures, YOU are God’s building (1 Cor 3:9), and YOU are God’s Temple where the Spirit of God lives (1 Cor 3:16), and YOU are an important member of the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27).

So, at the risk of repeating myself, if you are a follower of Jesus, you cannot “leave the Church” if you stop attending a service at a building on Sunday morning. You ARE the Church. The only way to “Leave the Church” would be to renounce your faith in Christ and to go you own way, abandoning your hope in The Way.

Many suggest that those of us in the House Church Movement have “left the Church”, which is of course, impossible. We have simply responded to God’s calling on our lives to “Be the Church” rather than to attend one.

I have been a licensed and ordained minister of the Gospel for over 16 years. I currently pastor a house church called "The Mission" in Orange, California. My reasons for leaving the organized church (but not "The Church") were honestly based on a calling of the Holy Spirit to step out and lead a group of people who would give 100% of their offerings to the poor. The only way to accomplish this was to have a house church.

However, as I've continued forward on this journey outside traditional church, I'm noticing that there are plenty of things that are just "not right" about the way our institutional churches work. As I share this, I know I need to confess that there are scores of very good, Jesus-following, Disciple-making, Social Justice oriented churches out there who are doing incredible work and are surrendered to Christ and are doing awesome Kingdom-building in their community. I admit this. Not every traditional church is broken. However, there are a few fundamental problems inherent in this traditional system which I feel need to be addressed and brought out into the open.

I guess I want to have a Family Talk about our household of faith among my brothers and sisters in Christ.

So, let’s talk.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH TRADITIONAL CHURCH?
We exploit people. We elevate a select group of leaders (and giftings) above everyone else. We have a man-made system of organization that deviates from the family-based group that was inspired by Jesus and promoted and built by the Apostles in the New Testament. We have become a "Sermon and a Song" each week in order to entertain the masses and keep them coming back and dropping money into the plate. We have largely abandoned our calling to care for the orphan and the widow and to remember the poor and instead we have focused our resources inward and spent millions of dollars on carpet and pews and flat-screen monitors and sound systems and designer coffee, etc.

I believe we have to get back to the basics. I believe that if we want the sort of community that we read about in the book of Acts we will have to do what they did; share everything, meet weekly in our homes, allow everyone to speak and teach equally, encourage everyone in their gifting and honor them as our own flesh and blood, read and study the Word of God, make disciples, and share our money with those who are in financial need among us.

At least, that's a good place to start.

OPEN DIALOG?
How do we have an honest conversation about the institutional church without slinging mud or unpacking our garbage from a bad experience?

I believe there are some very fundamental problems with the traditional church system, although I have friends who are lead pastors and family members and dear friends who are active and vital members of a traditional church. So, how do I critique these problems without it sounding like I'm calling them "false" or attacking the Bride?

There has to be a place where followers of Jesus can have an honest discourse about the very real problems within our organized church, and to do so with civility and clarity.

I think, to begin with, we have to get beyond the idea that we cannot criticize a man-made system for its flaws and excesses. The Church system is separate from The Church Body. We ARE the Church. I am not critical of the people of God, but I am critical of the system and structure of the organizational unit.

I believe it is time for a structural reform and a paradigm shift. I think the Holy Spirit has already begun to implement such a shift as He has called thousands of people to leave the organized church and start House Churches in their community. People are breaking bread with their actual neighbors. They are opening their living rooms up to people who would never go to an organized church service. The Gospel is being preached and lives are being changed. Best yet, we are learning again how to be disciples and how to make disciples, as Jesus commanded us.

For me, house church has been the greatest thing I've ever done with the word "Church" on it.
Watch the video clip below if you want a better picture of the Movement being lead by the Holy Spirit (not Barna or Cole or Simpson) here on my website.

I hope I can share these things without offending someone who is not in a house church. I hope I can be honest about what I see and hear without being accused of "attacking the Bride".

Martin Luther, in his day, saw a church that had strayed from the Biblical framework, adding man-made conventions to what God intended and it pained him to see it keeping the masses from The Gospel, and from Jesus. He spoke out. He criticized the Church for these practices and became very vocal and eventually even lead a reformation of Christians who felt they could no longer find God in the Church, so they left to find God.

I, for one, am glad that Martin Luther had such courage. I wonder if we need another one just like him today? Or maybe we just need a safe place, a neutral ground, to speak honestly and openly about our flaws and admit that some things in the traditional church really are broken.

I confess I struggle with this. I struggle with how to lovingly express these ideas and how to reconcile these thoughts in my own head.

Let the dialog begin…

Kg

Friday, June 08, 2007

NON-CON '08

[Subversive Underground] Presents:
The Non-Con 2008 -
"A Conference for people who never want to attend another conference again."

WWW.NON-CON.COM

A two day conference in March of 2008
with facilitators:
*JACKIE PULLINGER (Missionary and author of "Chasing The Dragon")
*DAVID RUIS (Songwriter and author of "The Justice God Is Seeking")


WHAT IS THE NON-CON?
*An intentionally small gathering of 100 people who are curious about living out their faith outside their comfort zone.
*A time for serving the poor in the community together.
*A dialog-driven, interactive discussion with front-line practitioners of Justice and Mercy.
*Shared meals.
*Simple worship with one guitar in the center of our circle.
*Time for Artistic expression and interaction.

WHY "Non-Con"?
*The aim is to create something unlike any previous conference experience. We want this to be small, hype-free, intentional and interactive where everyone who attends is free to speak, to minister and to become involved with our leaders, and others.

FOR MORE INFO:
WWW.NON-CON.COM

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

GOD IS ON THE MOVE



This makes my heart beat faster! It's an awesome look at the House Church Movement around the world. What I love is that this movement is not built on a person's book or because of a personality or a celebrity leader, it is built on the individual calling of each person who has heard the voice of the Holy Spirit to leave the traditional structure of church in order to really "Be" the Church.

Love it!
kg

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

OUR POOR

OUR POOR
by Keith Giles

Poverty in America has once again become a hot topic these days. That's probably because the election campaigns are all in full swing now, I suppose.

As I hear what people are saying about poverty in America, I always have to mention that, although poverty in our country may not be as "severe" as what we see in Africa or India, etc., it is not any less poverty.

For example, if you were to give air conditioning or color television to one of those families living in a cardboard box in the Sudan, would they cease being poor? Of course not. And families in America with color tvs and air conditioning are no less poor because of their level of comfort. They are still poor. And they are "Our Poor".

I belive that there is a Biblical difference between how we are called to serve the poor in other countries and "our poor". The poor in India, Mexico, Ethiopa, etc. are seriously, desperately poor. No one argues that. This is why I've served on the board for groups like Arms of Love (www.armsoflove.org), a ministry that builds orphanages in the poorest nations of the world to provide homes for street children who live in the city dumps and are forced into prostitution, etc.
So, please, let's be clear; I'm not saying don't help the poor who are "out there".

But the poor in your city, in my city, down the street from me, they are "our poor", and what we're called to do, Biblically, is something about it. Not to solve poverty. Not to cure it. Not to erase poverty forever, but to do what we can to help a few, in the name of Jesus and with the compassion of Jesus.

Actually, as I've said before, the point of serving the poor is not to "cure" or "solve" poverty, but to befriend people who are in need and to learn to love and serve them as we would serve and love Jesus. We are the one's who are most changed in that relationship, by the way.

The quote from Jesus in Matthew about "the poor you will always have with you" was Jesus referencing Deuteronomy 15:7-11. You should seriously read this passage. The point is that God, the Father, is commanding the Jews to not have a hard-heart or a closed fist towards the poor, the stranger, etc., but to give generously, freely to the poor among them. At the end of the passage, God say, "There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land."

That's what Jesus means when he says what he does in Matthew.

Read Matthew 25. At the Judgement Seat of Christ the one criteria is whether or not those who call him "Lord" had any regard for the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the homeless, the prisoner. The Sheep almost unconsciously care for these poor, not because they think it will get them into Heaven, but simply because they have genuinely been transformed into the people of God. The Goats, who also call Him "Lord", have the same unconscious attitude, but towards the existence of the poor or their needs.

The people of God, redeemed by the Blood, saved by Grace, seem to have an inability to walk past someone who is naked, poor, hungry, thirsty, lonely, etc. and do nothing. They cannot do that. It's not in their new nature.

We have a Biblical mandate (and it's alllll over the Scripture, both Old and New) to care for the poor..."our poor"...and that takes more than writing a check.

Again, this is my very biased conviction. I've been hammered by God on this issue and I cannot let it go because it won't let me go.

Do you know what the sin of Sodom is? Read Ezekiel 16: 49. It's not what you think. "Now this is the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were proud and did detestable things before me. Therefore, I did away with them as you have seen."

Wow.

How about this one?

Galatians 2:10- "All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do." (Paul being sent out as the first missionary by Peter, James and John).

or...

{God is speaking of King Josiah:}
"He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" (Jeremiah 22:16)

Wow.

"Is that not what it means to know me?"

What does it mean to "Know" God? This verse suggests that it means to care for the poor and the needy.

and of course we could also look at, Isaiah 58:6-7, Amos 5:21-24, 1 John 3:17-18, James 2:14-17, etc., etc.

God has called us to care for the poor, not to justify their poverty or our lack of compassion by comparing them to the "real poor" in third world countries.

So..how are we doing with serving and loving and befriending "Our Poor"?

kg

SOLITON SESSIONS 2007

SOLITON SESSIONS INFO

 

Hello everyone,

This is your friendly reminder that the Soliton Sessions are just 2 months away. Can't believe this is our 5th year together, truly amazing. Read the updated information below. Looking forward to seeing you...

Visit our site at

www.solitonnetwork.org

 

Soliton Sessions in Ventura, California

August 9-12th

 

Conversation: "Dangerous Living"

 

Guides:

Kester Brewin (UK)

Pete Rollins (N IRE)

Christine Pohl (US)

Ched Myers (US)

Barry Taylor (US/UK)

and many others, including you!

 

Cost:

$100.00 per person (which takes care of evening common meals, and 'gift' to cover guides and hosting)

Two ways to pay;

1. By check. Make check out "the bridge" and send it to PO Box 909, ventura, ca 93002. Please send a list of people names.

2. By Pay Pal, there will be a $5.00 service charge included. go to website for this www.solitonnetwork.org

 

Location of SESSIONS:

This year we are sharing times of learning, friendship, conversation at HUSH Restaurant and Lounge in downtown Ventura.....

Check out this amazing space www.hushlounge.com

 

During the evening we shall dine together in a house.

Any and all questions regarding places to stay, the schedule, or any other inquiries contact Greg Russinger at 805-701-0079...

 

PS The Soliton site will be under construction for a few days, needing a face lift, will send another email letting you know of its progress...

 

Blessing...

soliton network

www.solitonnetwork.org

 

 

 

Friday, June 01, 2007

HYBRID? (A Response)

My good friend, Brent Kollmansberger sent this response to me today and it is so brilliant I needed to share it with everyone.

My initial question to Brent dealt with my frustration at seeing so many Christians who attend traditional churches being abused and mislead and basically not cared for or pastored properly.

This is not a criticism, this is a fact. I can give you the names and phone numbers of the people I am speaking of. They are going through severe emotional and spiritual crisis and their churches and their pastors are totally useless and unavailable to help them or disciple them.

This makes me angry. So, I quietly complain to my friend Brent to bounce some of my ideas off of him.

Quickly, my ideas were: A)Build a better traditional church or B)Host a local conference for pastors to kick them in the butt over these issues somehow or C)Morph a house church into a “Hybrid” church (which is basically something between a traditional church and a house church and I’m not even sure what that looks like to be honest).

Brent’s response to me is below. I find it inspiring and dead on-target. Whether you agree or not, I share it with you here.

Kg
***
FROM BRENT KOLLMANSBERGER
TO KEITH GILES
6/01/07

Hey Keith,

"SO...what WOULD help facilitate change?"

I think the real question is not what WOULD facilitate change, but what
IS facilitating the change?

Just a few short years ago there was no house church movement in the U.S., and all the people that are now
gathering together with other believers in the context of house churches were part of traditional churches. So why did you change? What has so completely shaken me and altered my spiritual direction?

What is causing these believers to share with you their stories of abuse and
dissatisfaction with traditional church? The answer is simple. The
Holy Spirit. God is facilitating the change himself. God is drawing
people in directions that cannot be followed in the traditional church.
Everyone I speak to who is now part of a house church has a completely
unique story about their discovery of house church or more broadly -
their spiritual awakening.

We may see the spiritual corruption and the wounded spirits caused by
our religious organizational culture, but to charge right in and try to
fix it may be presumptuous on our part. God is already working on it,
and he is already using us to play a part. I'm trying to learn how to
stop asking and demanding of God what he wants me to do, and instead
simply tell God that I am here and available for him, and listening
should he desire me to do something for him. I think of myself as a
ready reserve. I'm standing by, refreshed and ready to go. If I
already dove in on my own and am super busy waging war, I'll never hear
God tell me what he really wants me to do - or I won't be available to
do it. I think that's the real problem of identifying a need, seeing
that I have the skill set and presuming that I'm supposed to solve the
problem. This is what it would mean if you launched a seminar or
crusade - unless of course God spoke and told you to move.

Before we can honestly talk about fixing a traditional church or
creating a hybrid church we need to clearly articulate what exactly is
wrong with the traditional church in the first place. We then need to
focus on what behaviors and principles do encourage true spiritual
development. If a house church doesn't create an atmosphere where
spiritual life can be modeled and practiced, then it too needs to be
fixed.

I'd like to believe a traditional church can be fixed without becoming a
house church network, but since the professional clergy themselves are a
big part of the problem I don't think many of them will sign up. The
key would be admitting what power, prestige and money do to us humans
and stripping those things away and enabling elders to share in ministry
together with mutual accountability. The next difficult hurdle would be
to recreate the church culture so that all believers are encouraged and
expected to minister to one another. This would be amazingly difficult.
It would be far easier to start a new traditional church with this DNA
from scratch.

Now, concerning a hybrid organizational structure - I'm sure you are
already familiar with cell churches. These are churches where much of
the ministry is conducted in small home groups, but they maintain a
large building for weekly celebration meetings. The large meeting ties
everyone to a common identity and places them beneath the senior pastor.
Their strength over a traditional church is that members may be allowed
and encouraged to minister to one another within the small groups. By
liberating saints to BE saints God is able to get more work done by
working through all of the body. Their weakness is the organizational
bureaucracy that exists solely to maintain control over this partially
decentralized organization, and the inevitable jockeying for position
and power that accompanies it. I believe this whole control, career and
pride thing is poison to anyone who would attempt to lead a church.

I see the current church situation as very similar to that in Jesus day.
Jesus didn't waste any of his energy reforming or fixing the existing
church culture. He didn't spend his time trying to get people to leave
the existing church structure and join him. Instead he went to the
sinners, the poor and the uneducated - those whose needs were not
getting addressed by the existing church system and he planted seeds of
the kingdom - whose DNA had nothing to do with the existing church
system. As his work grew, so did the jealousy and venom directed at him
from leaders of the religious system of his day. In time, the seeds he
planted grew so large that the traditional church of his day became more
and more irrelevant until its destruction 70 years later was just a
formality of what had already occurred in the spirit.

If the house church / organic church system cannot replicate what Jesus
did in the lives of the disaffected - sinners who are not members in
good standing of traditional churches, then I do not believe it is the
answer. We need more than a reformation of how we do church - one more
model of doing church. The church needs to be able to facilitate
spiritual reproduction in the fertile soil of the broken lives all
around us - and to do so naturally without conscious effort - its just
what and who we are. House church may just be the best organizational
vehicle to help facilitate this, but if it fails it will become just
another stepping stone toward the true spiritual awakening God is
drawing us to.

Wow - look what you drew out of me. I'm going to have to meditate on
these things.

God bless. Your friend and fellow adventurer,

Brent
***