Friday, December 18, 2009


by Keith Giles

After over twenty years as a licensed and ordained minister of the Gospel under the auspices of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, I have finally achieved something extraordinary – I am now a fully licensed and ordained minister of the Laity.

It all started about four years ago, I suppose. My wife and I felt God calling us to step away from our on-staff pastoral position at a local church we had helped to plant with some of our friends in order to plant a house church where 100% of the offering could go to the poor.

I’ve always said that Wendy and I have “backed into house church” because our original desires for starting this house church weren’t the typical ones people usually express. We weren’t reacting to any feelings of disenfranchisement in the traditional church. We weren’t reacting to any books we’d just read about the pagan rituals embedded in our institutional church. Instead, we were consumed with the excitement of being part of a church where all of our offering could go to the poor, like in the New Testament.

It wasn’t until we began actually practicing the priesthood of the believer, and then re-learning a lot of what we thought we knew about God’s design for His Body, that the scales began to fall away. Now we can totally see where the traditional church restricts the life of the Body as Paul describes it in 1 Corinthians 12, and how the 58 “one anothers” in the New Testament aren’t really possible when only one person is allowed to speak or teach while everyone else sits passively listening.

“Being the Church” has become more real to us than attending church ever was. We’ve discovered how following Jesus in our every day, actual lives is actually easier when we begin to see the Church as the people who gather throughout the week and not a building we rent or a meeting we attend.

Still, I passed another milestone a few weeks ago. I finally stopped being the pastor of the Mission House Church and started realizing that I am really only a member of the church body that meets in my home. It’s not “my church”. It’s really God’s Church. Jesus is really our pastor, not me. He’s the one who is our head. He is the one with the agenda. He is the one who shepherds us, and leads us, and makes His will known to us by His Word and His Spirit. Not me.

Part of my revelation involved pulling back from the duties that some in our house church expected me to always perform such as leading communion, or prayers, or leading our open share times. For several months I sat at the back of the room and refused to speak or lead in any way. This allowed everyone else in our body to step forward and take initiative, and ownership, of life in the Body. As I exercised restraint, I began to observe what God was doing in our times together more. I began to listen more. I suddenly found myself to be superfluous in some areas, but necessary in others. My true place in the Body was being redefined as I stepped outside the spotlight and allowed Christ to be our Head.

The final steps in my ordination into the laity involved realizing two simple truths: First, that Jesus is alive and fully capable of communicating his will for us. Secondly, that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we, his sheep, are capable of hearing his voice. By exercising this truth, it became more and more clear that whenever we, as a Body, took the time to stop and ask Jesus to lead us and to speak to us (and then we actually waited for him to speak and lead), that Jesus would be faithful to do this.

While we’re still just beginning to scratch the surface of what it means to surrender to the Headship of Christ in our regular gatherings together, I have to believe that a significant aspect of our ability to explore this was only made possible when our founding pastor finally took his God-given place as the head of His Church. That pastor, our good shepherd, is Jesus.

As soon as I gave up being the leader, and began to realize that this was not “my church” but that I was simply one of the members of His Church, our chances of experiencing the Headship of Christ jumped exponentially.

So, please celebrate with me my official ordination into the ministry of the laity of Christ. I am one of many gifted members of the Body of Christ in a Church that belongs to Jesus and happens, for now, to meet in my home.


“If God ‘visits’ a church, it betrays the fact that it doesn't belong to Him. A homeowner doesn't visit his own home. He lives in it. In a divine visitation, God will bless His people. But He will eventually move on and search for a home that He can call his own. Thus if the headship of Jesus Christ is not fully yielded to any given place, the best of Lord can do is visit. He cannot take up residency.”
– Frank Viola; From Eternity to Here


Anonymous said...

This is awesome to here. I am so excited for you and your family.

My prayers are with the brothers and sisters in Christ out there being His Body wherever they are.

God Bless.


Keith Giles said...

Just so everyone understands what I'm saying here: I'm celebrating my entry into "not being a pastor" anymore.

I've finally become just one functional member of the Body of Christ and I'm allowing Christ to be the Head of His Church.

Anonymous said...

Good word Keith. Thank you for sharing this. See you soon.

savy consumer said...

Excellent...I think some over time have had a need to emphasize the clergy - laity gap and to officiate.
But I think a much more beautiful thing occurs when He lives his life thru us...the whole dynamic is changed. The context becomes more about what we have and share in common (very Acts-like)...and much less about politics, roles, positions, and short a beautiful alternative to some of the contrived contexts out there today.