Friday, January 25, 2008

How To Start A Ministry To The Poor In Your Community

For the last five years or so I've been leading teams of people to go out into the community and serve the poor. Over time I've learned a lot, and I thought it would make sense to publish what I've learned online so that others can benefit from my experience.

A lot of what I've learned I learned from doing it wrong the first few times. The rest I gleaned from people who were much more experienced than I was at the time, and from watching others do it and deciding that wasn't the way for me.

So, there's enough material here to fill up at least three, possibly four, articles on the subject. I started sketching out some basic ground rules for serving the poor, and then put together some tips for how to minister to people. After that I listed out the types of ministry that can be done in your community and then culled ideas from other ministries like Sjogren's and Soul Survivor, and a few others.

This series could end up being very long, but hopefully very valuable to anyone who wants to start serving the poor where they live, and/or for someone who wants to start a ministry with their small group or church.

Of course, I've already started putting together a book about Compassion Ministry called "Secret Service: Developing A Heart Like Jesus" which will undoubtedly benefit from this upcoming series when all is said and done.

At the moment, over at the [Subversive Underground] (my free, weekly e-newsletter) I'm finishing up a series on the subject of Trust and how fundamental it is for us to not only understand it, but to have it towards God.

After that series is done (next week), I'll start this new series "How To Start A Ministry To The Poor In Your Community".

I hope to provide some practical guidance to ministry towards the poor and assist people in getting involved in their community- sharing the love of Jesus with the least among us in tangible ways.

To sign up for the [SU] see the link at the left and make sure you don't miss it.


Monday, January 21, 2008


Mmmm.....Crucifixion Never Tasted So Good

Another reminder why we need to

Part 1:
Part 2:



Thursday, January 17, 2008


As of today there are only 43 seats remaining for the Non-Con Conference on Saturday, March 15, 2008.

Anyone thinking of attending should quickly register today before it's too late.

Visit the main website for online registration and details at:

[Subversive Underground] Presents
"The Non-Con '08"
Saturday, March 15, 2008

More of a conversation than a conference.

With facilitators Jackie Pullinger, David Ruis and Keith Giles
With worship leaders Cindy Reithmeier and John Thomas

Only 100 people, in a circle, engaged in open dialog about issues of social justice, missional life, Being Church, the Kingdom, the Arts, and more.

Shared meals. Simple worship. No hype.

More info at:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The More People You Reach The More Likely It Is That You're Reaching The Wrong People

Who vs. how many.
*from Seth Godin's blog today

Seth Godin is one of my morning ritual blog reads each day. His insights into guerilla marketing, the cult of advertising, the change in the wind, and uncommon sense keep me grounded and help me realize that much of what I have suspected about our society, our christian sub-culture and our churches is evidenced in the very fabric of our society as a whole.

In short, the Church has become "of the world but not in it". As Christians we are more a product of our culture than agents of change within this culture.

Seth's quote today underscores the problem we've adopted from taking our cues from Big Business leaders rather than from our founder (Jesus).

Jesus is always attracting a crowd and then doing all he can to either thin the crowd or to escape them and find real followers in another town.

Jesus wants followers, not spectators. Jesus wants disciples, not believers. Jesus wants people who will put his words into practice, not people who will memorize those words and repeat them behind closed doors to others who already know the message.

Christian leaders in the 20th, and now the 21st, Century were enamored by the "Bigger is Better" approach to ministry. Putting more butts in the seats equated with success. Growth became the new Holy Grail of ministers across the fruited plane, and the size of your congregation became the new yardstick of a healthy church.

As our focus turned to attracting crowds we soon learned to identify the myriad challenges associated with putting butts into our seats. Eventually we surrendered our pulpits to a Gospel of positive thinking and reduced the dangerous words of Jesus to self-help rhetoric for improving your lifestyle and personal happiness.

As our Churches focused on getting more, our people began to pick up on the message and began to pursue getting more too. Soon televangelists emerged to offer up what our itching ears wanted to hear about how Jesus wants us to be rich and have all we want because we are, after all, "King's Kids".

What gives me hope these days is the fact that twenty or thirty individuals have emerged from the shadows over the last few years to email me and share with me their unrest at this State of the Modern Church in America. They have walked away from the private club mentality of Traditional Church and embraced a pioneer calling to go outside the four walls of Christendom and discover that being the Church is far more important than attending one.

You don't know their names. You won't find their books at the local Christian Bookstore. They will never grow famous and the churches they've planted will never advertise on Christian Radio or on the local billboards near the freeway. Yet in the Spirit, these unknown followers of Jesus are slowly being joined by hundreds and hundreds of others around this Nation, yes even around the World, as the Holy Spirit begins to call them out of the "Pattern of Church" and into the freedom of "Being Church" with others in their living rooms, in parks, in coffee shops, in lunch rooms, and anywhere God calls them to live out the Gospel...which is everywhere.

Jesus wasn't interested in the large crowd, he was always interested in the one person who the crowd pushed aside. He sought out the woman with the issue of blood. He singled out Zacheus and escaped the crowd by joining him for dinner in his home. Jesus gave us a fine example to follow, and the Disciples followed through when they planted hundreds of simple, house churches across Jerusalem, Judea, Corinth and beyond.

The early church grew one person, one family, at a time. They valued each person for who they were. They ate together. They shared everything with one another. The loved one another. Growth wasn't their goal, it was love. And yet, growth was the natural by-product of this love and simple obedience.

For 300 years the Church practiced being family throughout the known world. In spite of persecution, secret meetings, lack of evangelistic crusades, absence of witnessing tracts and zero marketing the early church grew from 25,000 in AD 100 to about 20,000,000 by AD 310.

While our Churches have focused on becoming Bigger over the last several years, they've ironically become more empty at the same time. In a crowd of hundreds of worshippers, many are feeling isolated, ignored and forgotten.

We've grown larger Churches where many feel anonymous and lonely. We call ourselves a family but no one knows our name. We call each other "Brother" and "Sister" in Christ, but we have no one to share our pain with.

Last Sunday our house church, "The Mission", celebrated our two year anniversary. If I've learned anything over the last two years it's that everyone matters. The definition of "Church" is simply the people of God plus the Holy Spirit and time to listen to one another and share all that we have.

Let's go and "Be the Church" now. However you meet. Wherever you gather. Let us not forsake the calling we have to live out the Gospel in our daily lives.

"To get something you've never had before you will have to do something you have never done before." I'm not sure who said that, but I know it is true. If we expect to experience Church in a different way, I am convinced that we will have to do (and be) Church in a different way too.


Seth Godin's blog entry is here:


Monday, January 14, 2008

Trust: The Key To Everything

The other day a friend of mine made the comment that trusting God seems to be the hardest thing for us to do, even as followers of Jesus who should find it easy...or at least fundamental to our daily practice.

Several thoughts splinter outward from the impact of this statement. First, I wonder why it is that we find it so hard to trust God. Second, I wonder if this isn't the central key to everything.


There are several possible reasons for this. One being that we may have a problem with trust in general. Meaning, all of us have been manipulated by the media, society, politicians, teachers, lovers, parents, etc. all of our lives. After a while we simply lose the ability to completely trust anyone or anything 100%.

There is no logical reason not to trust God. After all, if you could name only one being in the entire known Universe whom you should be able to trust with absolute certainty, it is God.

The question then becomes, if we can't fully trust God with our everyday life, why not? What is it that prevents us from trusting God? Why is it so hard? What can we do that will make us more capable of trusting God with everything?

More on this later this week over at the [Subversive Underground]...

keith giles

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Let me start out by saying that I have nothing against worshipping God in song, nor do I have any particular beef with any group of people who love to spend hours and hours singing songs to God in arenas packed with thousands of people. There's nothing wrong with gathering together to worship God in song. Nothing at all.

What I do have a problem with is the idea that if I spend hours and hours in God's presence worshipping Him in song that I will somehow be transformed into a more devoted follower of Jesus. It's a lie.

The only thing that will make me a more devoted follower of Jesus is simply to obey His teachings in my everyday life.

Jesus was pretty clear on the idea that if you love him you will do what he says. Obedience, according to Jesus, is the best measure of whether or not (and how much) you actually love him.

"If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching...he who does not love me will not obey my teaching." – JESUS (John 14:23-24)

So, when I see a worship conference with the name "One Thing" being advertised it sort of irks me because the suggestion is that this is the one thing we are called to do as followers of Jesus. Yes, we are expected to worship but what does that look like?

According to Romans 12 our "spiritual act of worship" involves becoming a "living sacrifice" where our entire lives are surrendered to Jesus, not just our lips.

I can find two places in the New Testament where the phrase "One Thing" is used; once by Jesus and once by Paul.

Jesus uses it when he tells the Rich Young Ruler that there is "one thing" he lacks and instructs him to sell all he has and give it to the poor and follow Jesus. In that case the "One Thing" was a heart of compassion for the poor and a willingness to surrender everything for the sake of Christ.

Paul uses the phrase in Galatians 2:10 when he reports that the "One thing" that Peter and the other Apostles expected of him was to remember the poor. It was also the "one thing" he was most eager to do.

Service and worship are linked together in Scripture. Worship is more than singing songs and crying and jumping up and down to declare with your lips that God is good. It's also, Biblically, about surrendering your whole life to God (Romans 12), and about caring for the poor (Amos 5, Isaiah 58, James 2:14, 1 John 3:17-18, etc.), and about obedience to God and to Jesus' words (John 14:15; Matthew 7:24, etc.)

So, while I applaud the idea of gathering to throw ourselves into hours of singing songs of devotion to God, (and I really do), I also want us to remember that the kind of worship God is seeking asks more of us than a few hours of song. He asks us for our whole life, and he wants that life to be surrendered to him in obedience, and he wants that life to be spent on the poor and the needy.

Jesus and Paul both agree that "One Thing" is needed, and that's a heart for the poor and a desire to please God through our obedient hearts.