Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wrong About Church Buildings 2 | Out of Ur | Conversations for Ministry Leaders

you should read this article about church buildings. It's a good one! I've personally wrestled with the idea of church buildings since it's been a blessing and a burden. We opened our doors as a church in September 2003 without the hassle of setting up and tearing down as a typical church plant would do. We've had the opportunity to regularly meet bi-weekly since that time. It's allowed us to provide classes and a meeting place for pre-marital counseling and other great things. Being a full time staff member up until July of this year I can see that it can be a burden. Would I still be a paid staff member if we weren't in a building? Not sure. But the rent and utilities does add up along with paying for projectors, sound system, children's and student ministry programs, etc. Does this limit the opportunity to help those in our community with serious needs? Maybe. Read these articles and i'd like to hear your thoughts on them as well!

A few weeks ago, pastor and author Dan Kimball posted an interesting entry here about church buildings. In the introduction, he notes that eight years ago he would have said, “Who needs a building? The early church didn’t have buildings, and we don’t need them either!” Today, however, he notes that he was wrong.


I think he still is.

Here is my official response to Dan Kimball.

click the link to read more... Wrong About Church Buildings 2 | Out of Ur | Conversations for Ministry Leaders

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


DISCLAIMER: Please read the following article VERY CAREFULLY before you do anything
at all. There is more going on here than meets the eye. You have been forewarned. -

As most of us are aware, Christians today need to be more vigilant than ever before.

This is why what I am about to tell you is SO CRITICAL for each of us. I'm tempted to ask everyone to forward this to EVERYONE IN YOUR ADDRESS BOOK right away. (Especially if you "really" love Jesus).

What I'm about to tell you is SO ALARMING, it could seriously threaten Church in America forever!

There is new legislation in motion, at the earliest possible stage, which I need to let everyone know about now before it gets out of our control.

First, many of you are already aware that there are forces out there that threaten to take away the non-profit status of Christian Churches in America whenever messages of a political nature are delivered from the pulpit. As desperate as this is, there is a new development brewing now that is EVEN WORSE.

There are people who want to propose legislation that would challenge the non-profit status of any Christian Church simply based on whether or not that Church actually gives a significant percentage of its funds back to the community, as most other "non-religious" non-profits are required to do.

WHAT THIS MEANS is that your church could be in DANGER OF LOSING ITS NON-PROFIT STATUS simply because little of the tithe money goes to help out those poor families who live around the community. EVEN IF THEY DON'T ATTEND YOUR CHURCH!

Of course, there are plenty of churches in America that do care for the poor in their community. They pass out free groceries, they provide free oil changes for single Moms, they host after-school programs for kids in the area at no-charge, etc. Churches who are already "giving back" to the community in this way and serving others the way Jesus would would have NOTHING TO FEAR!

However, if a church in the community were to spend 70%, 80%, or even 99% of its tithe on ITSELF, it would be in danger of losing that non-profit status and would have to pay taxes JUST LIKE ALL OTHER LARGE CORPORATIONS.

This means that a church spending most of the tithe for salaries, or a new building, or the new flat-screen plasma televisions for the announcements in the nursery, or the Starbucks Coffee bar at the back of the Church, or the new carpet, etc., would have to justify their non-profit status on the basis of whether or not they were actually performing any actual "service" to the poor around them. If they couldn't demonstrate a tangible connection between their church and the community around them, their NON-PROFIT STATUS would be REVOKED FOREVER!

REGARDLESS OF THE FACT that Matthew 25 suggests that Jesus takes our concern for the outcast seriously, this attack on the non-profit status of our big, fat American churches is just NOT FAIR!

We've earned the right to collect as many hundreds of thousands of dollars as we like in the name of Jesus and it should be totally up to us how we spend that money. Especially if it's for our OWN NEEDS, WANTS AND DESIRES.

Just because we're not really involved in the needs of the poor around us, the Church SHOULDN'T BE PUNISHED IN THIS WAY.

Regardless of the fact that the Church in America HAS THE POWER and the ECONOMIC RESOURCES necessary provide affordable housing, long-term community development, and primary health care to everyone who needs it, the US Government should NOT be the one to force this upon us through legal means. That should be left up to a Higher Power.

Even though Universal primary education would cost $8 billion a year, which is about half of what parents in the US will spend THIS YEAR on TOYS FOR THEIR OWN CHILDREN, this has nothing to do with those of us who are called by the name of the One who humbled Himself and surrendered His life to demonstrate the compassion of God to the World, and especially to the least and the lost.

So, if you want to protect your church from this kind of judgement, I urge you to write to your pastors, your elders, your deacons and your church leaders and let them know how you feel about this very serious issue that faces the modern Church in America.

We, the Church in America, are dangerously close to the SIN OF SODOM!

Do you know what the Sin of Sodom is? Read Ezekiel 16: 49:

"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."

Obviously, the issue facing the Church in America today is WAY MORE SERIOUS THAN SIMPLY OUR NON-PROFIT STATUS! If the Church were to rise up and spend their money this way, THAT WOULD BE AN AWESOME THING, and yes, a lot of people would probably stop calling us HYPOCRITES and maybe they'd take us seriously when we tell them that Jesus loves them, because we've demonstrated that (just maybe) we love them too.

As you may have guessed, this legislation IS TOTALLY FICITIOUS! I have made up the entire thing with the help of my good friend Jarred Romley who first suggested the concept to me.

I couldn't resist mimicking the style of those alarmist Christian email messages we all get forwarded telling us that we must send it on to everyone we have ever known in order to prove our love for Jesus. Please, also forgive me for all the CAPITAL LETTERS I USED!

Seriously, I think if my friend Jarred were to introduce a Bill like this one to our Congress it might put a fire under our churches to wake up and realize that their Bibles are full of commands to care for the outcast, the poor, and the needy who are all around them. If nothing else, it would create an amazing open dialog in the media between the leaders of the Church, the members of the community, and the man on the street about issues of compassion, Christian charity, and the calling of Jesus to care for the poor as we would care for Him. (see Matthew 25)

Until that legislation comes to pass, I will have to resort to stunts like this to try to wake people up and realize that God's heart is for the poor and that He has taken this issue very seriously.

The truth is, the idea of their church losing its non-profit status is more likely to spur Christians to action than the fact that there are thousands of homeless, and poverty-stricken human beings suffering a few blocks from their front door.

"He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?"- GOD, speaking of King Josiah in Jeremiah 22:16

Keith Giles

Monday, December 7, 2009

Big love in November.

This past month was full of love. But before we got to November Life Bridge has been preparing to do great things. It started this past summer when our student ministry took a trip to Holland, Michigan for the CIY MOVE conference. This year at the conference \the students were challenged to go out and MOVE in the kingdom of God and serve something more than themselves.
This year, sealed envelopes were handed out which contained cards with a mission written on it. Those with an envelope were asked to pray about it and asked NOT to open the envelope unless they were sure that they were going to complete the mission God had called them to do.
Adults could grab an envelope, but were not compelled to. Jeni Bolton, who has been working with me as a Sr. High Youth Leader, grabbed one. It read:


Organize a food drive for Thanksgiving this year. Make it your goal to raise enough food and funds to feed 500 families.

The goal was to raise 500 turkeys but she took it way past that. She was able to raise enough money and other donations to provide 500 turkey dinners including all the fixins’ for Thanksgiving. You can read more about the process and the organization of it all at and in the local newspaper here,01n5001126.article.

All the while this was happening, our community group that meets at my house felt compelled to raise some funds for the Rapha House. The Rapha House is committed to rescuing young girls who are victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and prostitution. They provide these young girls a safe home to heal; receive an education; and to empower them to make good life choices.

Our community group thought about all the ways we could go about in raising funds and awareness and landed on the idea to put a race together. Since a few of us are active runners we were able to start spreading the word about it to our running circles. We were able to work with the guys who run the timing to organize a 5K run/walk and 10 mile race. The race was able to raise almost $2000 to help the Rapha House. With over 100 runners we were able to promote awareness and rally together around mission and justice. You can read more about it at and in the local newspaper here,01nwoycik1112.article.

Valparaiso may not seem so diverse of a city but if you look close enough, you can see many sub-cultures dwelling within it. We have commuters traveling to Chicago via the train or car. Local business owners making a buck or none. Veterans of the steel mills. Farmers growing and maintaining their crops. Local and out of state students attending V.U., PNC or Ivy Tech. The economic balance within the city is askew and you'll see pockets of racial diversity as well. Just a few blocks south of Life Bridge "the Hill" is known for it's poverty and low-income housing.

As Christians we're called to be sent out into our hurting world and join God in the renewal of all things. Bearing the image of the invisible God, being His Ambassadors, called to peace, mercy and love. Just as Jesus was sent, so are we.

As we recognize the diversity in Valparaiso we also need to recognize who it is we're being sent to. We are to do this by engaging our culture (in the world) without being absorbed by the culture (of the world.) This means we need to tear down our private fences and open up opportunities to know and love our neighbors.

Our mission exists for that purpose: to engage our culture with the image of the invisible God building relationships that transform lives. Each community is unique as is the diversity Valpo has to offer. But at her core are the Word of God and a nurturing community building each other up. When we rally together around mission you see God at work in our community and outward, even to Cambodia.