Book Review- This is My Body: Ekklesia As God Intended by Keith Giles

Recently a great friend asked me to review his latest book.  If you have questioned anything about Church, you will find truth, solace, and guidance in this book.  You can download it for free at This Is My Body

Here's my review:

Keith Giles’ latest gift, This is My Body Ekklesia As God Intended is an invitation to be the family that The Church was meant to be.  In a time when it is hip to be down on church and many of us are sure we can plant the next great congregation, Giles speaks softly, calling us back to the Scriptures and the One who first invited us to partake at the table together. 

 In the last decade we have been barraged with well-intentioned models and plans to get Church right.

Why Do Students Come To Faith At All?

I heard Kenda Creasy Dean speak several years ago in Indianapolis and I was impressed by her ability to articulate some uncomfortable truths. I have taught a course in student ministry and I used one of Dean's books as a required text. Her new book, 'Almost Christian' has received press on CNN and elsewhere. As usual, she backs up her observations with solid research and questions status quo with intelligence and grace--the status quo inside and outside the church. You can find some of her reactions to the recent press on her blog. Now, stay with me a moment because I am going to switch gears a bit. After all, this is a blog that speaks often of globalization and of the interconnected world in which we live in as people of faith. 

What happens if you take the research of Kenda Creasy Dean and now read it with a global eye, particularly in light of the now famous statements made by Philip Jenkins, such as, “Global denominations are going to have to figure what to do when the bulk of the power and money is in the North and the bulk of the people is in the South.” The moral decline of the West has been well documented and the rise of China and India as ecnomic powers has also been well documented. Dean speaks to the weak faith or no faith being inherited by our children. An ever growing Biblical illiteracy that is teamed with an expanding social network that allows us to make 'friends' with people from around the world. A rather large percentage of new marriages are now happening between people who meet online and this will likely increase as current students age. And in a world of increasingly virtual relationships, we are now concerned with the virtual disapperance of intimacy within the church between parents and children, between children and God, and between parents and God. Let me just ask this: why do students come to faith at all?

Recent books like UnChristian and Almost Christian sound some alarms, loud enough for CNN to notice, but these books are also aimed at people inside the church and to many churches, this is hardly news. No doubt there are concerns abounding all over about the shallow faith of so many families in the West. Most of us fight against pain, sacrifice, and patience with great vigor and civil rights. Yet, remember Jenkins and remember that most of the global, worldwide, body of Christ doesn't live in the U.S. Now, what are your thoughts? Do you see a church in decline or a church on the move? Do you see young people falling away or standing strong in the face of epic poverty and disease?

There is now an estimated 150 million University students in our world today and over 120 million of them live outside of the U.S. Perhaps, Dean and others are correct in that many young people are leaving the church in record numbers due to their apathetic parents and pathetic preachers they are sitting under week after week. I won't disagree. Yet, this isn't the whole picture anymore. The whole picture must include the whole world because the whole Bible speaks to the whole world. After all, the authors of Scripture probably looked more like the immigrants fueling contemporary debate than the middle class, white children leaving church. It is true, many young people need to be taught a more robust, more Biblical, and more grounded faith in the West. And part of that teaching should include the sacrificial example of young people in the global south and east. We may now be living in a time when the U.S. will continue to ask 'why do students come to faith at all?' while young people from the other side of the world set their sites on North America as the next great mission field. I am guessing we're in a transitional phase where we are sometimes almost chrisitan, post christian, or pre christian, but at the end of the day, we will have to have a more global view of what it means to be Christian if we're going to follow Christ.

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Generation Z

Asked in a recent interview what I thought churches should do to keep their college students coming, I answered, “Let them go.” The interviewer looked at me like I was high.

For all intents and purposes, college is a time of exploration, and “walking away” from the ideology that’s held you for eighteen-odd years. That is a fact. And frankly, I don’t think a negative one.

Embarking on any dream, let alone new life stage, requires loosing from that which is current. As I understand it then, our question cannot be one of “keeping” any particular part (age-stage, interest category, etc.), invested in our movements. Rather, it needs to ask our most beneficial investment in their movements and exploration. How can we as “the Church,” serve into another’s journey? How can I, as part of the Church, see dignity enough in another’s journey to validate its ways and embrace its movements as part of my own?

Like it, or not, we are one Body. All who claim to follow Jesus are part of one Bride. That means the rebellious college student, who is unsure, or even resistant to his/her role, as much as the elderly usher whose the first to arrive every Sunday. We get tripped-up walking down the aisle though, because we prefer uniformity and want our stride to be the one who’s chosen.

But that’s not the way love walks.

God calls us His Bride. Not His sick, incomplete, or naked Bride, until dressed in uniformity, but His Bride. Period. She is. We are. No part is greater. No voice is partial. And all parts make the only whole. The question is not about holding-on to anybody, but letting go enough that everybody feels free to fly.

The Church’s job is not to put walls around people—it’s to love.

Judging by history, Generation Z will be no different than any who has gone before. They’ll rebel against the generation who raised them, including the Church. They’ll want to be different. They’ll want us to be different. And God will be at work, in spite of our differences.

What would it look like to reserve our usual energies of becoming more relevant, or becoming less different, and actually start learning how we might relate in our differences—not because one is necessarily right, but because maybe being right doesn’t necessarily matter? Maybe being the Body of Christ isn’t about trying to make all our parts one, but learning to see one Body in all our parts.

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