Glenn Kaiser : 2005-08-19I interviewed Glenn Kaiser after a GKB show in Loveland, CO on Aug 19, 2005. See my concert photos.
Glenn: Good to see ya! Glad to see you are well and your family is well. Are you still out there with them theologues?
Randy: Oh yeah, I'm keeping busy on the web and I am going to address one of those areas with you, too. Our last interview was May of 2003. We hung out a little bit at the Quinn show but we didn't do an interview. The last one was 2003 with GKB at Resurrection Fellowship.
Glenn: Sure, sure.
Randy: I wanted to start out with something related to that and the theological stuff. You had mentioned at our last interview an area that I have gotten into studying, this whole emerging movement. I have been doing some reviews of some of the books and I have got some philosophical issues but I was curious where you are coming from.
Glenn: I wrote something on my blog site about that. My biggest concern about the emerging church is that they emerge. The church is an assembly and that is all it means. It's the called out ones. It's the gathered believers local and through out the world. Those that have gone to be with the Lord before us. I mean the church is us, it is the people of God, the family of God. When you talk about a church emerging, the concept that I immediately go to is, come up out of the shadows, be salt and light in the culture in society. I think that the best of the emerging church is really trying to roll out the welcome for people that are pre-Christian who are seekers, who are at least open. Maybe even to speak to atheists but certainly to speak to agnostics. You might agree with me that there are no atheists. People think they are but they are really agnostics.
The bottom line is that it is a relationship. Therefore, they are trying to do more than drive-by-evangelism. I'm an evangelist. It's about the gospel, trusting in what Jesus did on the cross for our sins and the fact that God raised him from the grave for justification. Jesus's blood alone our righteousness. That's the truth! It's never changed! Most people in the church movement would agree with that. But how do we communicate it? I think what they are trying to be onto is new language and new methodologies, breaking out of the frame, getting outside the form and format.
Randy: I recall someone from the Jesus people saying bust out of the frame. I forget the band.
Glenn: That's right. The band was Cauzin' Effect. The bottom line is the best of the emerging church is that (see above). The worst are the refugees with a chip on their shoulder, a bad attitude, unforgiveness, feeling like they have been burnt by church X,Y,and Z. They are going to recreate the wheel.
Randy: Philosophically, I have got a problem with that truth thing. Some emergents are asking, Can we know truth? They are also getting into the whole area of anti-foundationalism.
Glenn: Well I will tell you the best example I have heard and it does make sense. It is a philosophical idea but it's a concept that I think holds some water. Your car is dented on one side but there is no dent on the other. I'm standing on the side that is dented and I say, "Man, your car is dented." You don't realize it and you have never looked at that side of your car. You are standing on the other side of your car saying; "No, it isn't, I'm looking right at it." It's the same car but we are looking at it from different vantage points.
Years ago, I was in a meeting at one of the Mecca's of Christiandom in the US. I won't repeat the town. It was a bunch of leaders and we ended up in a long series of seminars and panel discussions. Then we all went to lunch. There were 12 or 13 guys around a table. They happened to be guys and all pastors. Somebody made a comment about struggles they were having pastoring their church. He just basically asked for prayer in an honest way without a nasty attitude at all. I said I'm afraid I hear that all too often. I said something like I think the scripture says thus and such and I maybe added a story to go with it. The chat went on a little longer going off on other things and other issues. Then somebody else made some comment about some struggle at their church. I said, you know sometimes we just don't want to be honest about all the tough stuff that Paul and James and Peter said in the letters of the New Testament written to the church about the church. Finally, after about the third comment I made about this (about 20 minutes of discussion) one guy about jumped across the table and said, "That's enough!" Everybody kind of looked at him. He said, "I have had it with that. I'm tired of hearing you attack the Church."
I said, "I'm sorry, bro. I didn't mean to offend you." I said, "Maybe I am in the flesh going off the top here? Am I out of balance or being rude?" Then I said, "The church is in us. From one vantage point things are pretty good. It's true that you don't always need to look at the hole in the donut but there are holes in the church that shouldn't be ignored."
Randy: Yeah, skepticism in the church.
Glenn: We are not perfect! We are not sinless! We are not flawless! The church (I mean me us, every local expression for the last 2000 years)…
Randy: As it has ever existed.
Glenn: …has flaws. O.K. The emerging church is trying to answer some of those problems. Are they doing a perfect job? No. You are right, truth is the Word of God. I just heard Brian McLaren at Cornerstone Festival. I didn't catch all of his seminars. I caught the very last one on Sunday. He was very specific and very point blank. Now, I haven't read everything he has written and I haven't read every interview. I have read some of what he has written and a lot of interviews. I have heard him speak several times. I don't agree with everything he has to say. You know what, nobody is going to agree with everything I have to say. Here is what Brian said point blank, "The Bible is the Word of God, it's always been the truth, it will always be the truth. What I'm saying and what some Christians (brothers and sisters) in this movement and outside of this movement are saying is that we are not God we don't have the complete and full revelation personally of The Truth. There is a limit to our ability to understand and write and interpret the Word of God. That's all I'm saying." A verse I have often quoted, "I have in part, now we have in part." Unless you take the position that some do in the church. Some fundamentalists and strong dispensationalists will say, that which is perfect has come and that is the scriptures. They say now that we have the full canon of scripture, we have the truth now (it has come). They would say we don't have in part anymore we have the whole since we have the scriptures. I would say I disagree with you.
Randy: I think that is a pretty small percentage, though.
Glenn: I agree. So you know what we are talking about here? Humility, Brian McLaren called for it for himself, for the emerging church, and for the entire body of Christ. He said it five or six times in one hour. He said, "I'm simply calling for all of us to have more humility. We can't think that we really and truly have the full revelation of the knowledge of God in everything that the scriptures teach." He said, "I'm not saying that we should all be Hindus and Buddhists. I'm not saying that I believe there is salvation in anybody but Jesus Christ. The Word of God is the Word of God. We are not talking progressive revelation here. The Word of God is the Word of God. It is the truth. I'm simply saying nobody has the full and complete knowledge of what that is. We are not coming across with that humility and I think we have shot ourselves in the foot." I agree with him on that.
Randy: I agree on that part. When I have heard him ( I haven't heard him in person but on webcasts) he comes across as a very likable guy and more humble and everything else. I don't know if it is for the point of argument or what; but, he comes across pretty extreme in some of the books.
Glenn: On occasion, I would agree that he makes some statements that he does not explain completely enough for me. I am sometimes reading a line or two going, Whoah! That is a big slice of pie; could you give me a little more elaboration on that one?
Randy: Is he trying to get a response and therefore he is pushing it more? You know it is the old self-defeating proposition saying we can't have the truth but in the same breath say here is what truth should be. If you do that you are falling into the same trap of claiming to know complete truth. It bears watching and I think there is good stuff in the movement. However, I think there are some real dangers just as there has been in any other movement.
Glenn: Of course, they said this about the Jesus movement and they should have. You know, if you want live ammo I was there. We have heard it in doctrines, we have seen it in methodologies, and various revivals. Some of those revivals were with a capital R and some of those were the lower case.
Randy: A lot of the New Testament wouldn't have been written if there were no problems in the church; look at Corinthians.
Glenn: This next statement can get you in trouble too. I believe we as individuals and as the body of Christ are in process. Nobody's arrived and we are not going to until we see His face and this world is rolled up like a scroll. When it is over with, we shall know even as we are also known. Then we will be face to face; however, now we see through a glass darkly. That's humility! That honesty is sometimes lacking in the body and I think that is the probably the strongest thing I have heard him add recently to the discussion.
Randy: It will be interesting to see how it develops over time.
Glenn: Time will tell; it always does.
Randy: I have got another one and as soon as I mention this you are going to go off for a while. Tell me a little bit about Project 12.
Glenn: Jesus People USA has been around for about 34 years. We have worked and continue to work in a rough area of Chicago, a poor area, an area that is one of the last melting pots of race and ethnicity in the whole city. Chicago is made up of many neighborhoods including Greeks, Jews, Pakistanis, Chinese, and Hispanic people. Uptown, where we live, is a super melting pot of every kind of race and ethnicity. I love it. One of the things that we have learned about is community (relationships). The whole body of Christ has talked a lot about community, particularly in the last 15 or 20 years. This has resulted in the emerging church, the house church movement, small group concepts, cell groups, and cell churches. You know it's about relationships, relationship, relationship.
Well, we have learned a few things. At JPUSA we have a lot of folks who have been there for some time and then we have tons of brand new Christians. Some are seekers kind of on the bubble (don't know quite where they are with Jesus but they are learning). We are praying for them and trying to be kind and loving. The bottom line is when you live together 24/7, 365, you really get to know one another. This includes everything-- the goods, the bads, flesh, spirit, weaknesses, and strengths. We have a sizable number of leaders and really committed people, probably a bigger percentage than the average local church. This is because we look at ourselves as an intentional Christian community as well as a local church which is a part of the Evangelical Covenant denomination. We also look at ourselves very much as a mission field. The accent has always been on evangelism, discipleship, and outreach ministry to the poor . We are about 90% self-supporting with businesses that we operate. Well, most of us joined the community single, then we got married, had kids, and some of us now have grandchildren. Others throughout the body of Christ including other communities and mission churches have gone through the same exact things. You get to a point where you are married, you have kids (or grand kids maybe). Additionally, your sphere of influence has widened because of music or preaching or teaching or whatever it is that you are doing in ministry. We have influenced a lot of people but there are only so many hours in a day. You have to sleep sometimes, keep your personal walk with God straight, spend time getting discipled. You also need to take time for prayer as well as confession and accountability for your own life and your own family. I am wearing 4fouror five hats and that's true of a lot of us. I am starting to see folks at the community that are so busy that it is really hard for them to structure and find time to really give quality teaching. By quality I mean direct intentional teaching to the younger/newer brothers and sisters that are coming into the community. There is a pile of them. About five years ago I had a vision and a real burden to do something within the community. Wendy, my wife, came up with the concept of Project 12 as a title.
We are going to start this year with maybe 10 or 12 students. This will include probably half guys and half girls. It will include a very structured environment for three trimesters. It's going to cost about $1,000 per month per person. We are going to do some scholarships. We want people to basically say I am here; what can you give me in the way of solid Bible teaching, solid mentoring host families, and small group prayer partners? It will include intentional one-on-one mentoring, accountability, and discipleship. We will also focus on practice (practical work), to answer the question, How can you plug in? Our focus will start with the person and then we will very quickly aim a lot more towards outreach and mission to others. Finally we will focus on long-term relationships with others. This is an extremely intense and very structured training course. Even your free time is going to be structured. We will know what's going on but a lot times they won't. It is a little bit of an MTV experience. We are purposely not doing lots of lecture. There is going to be some of that because some courses require that. We will use six or seven different approaches to teaching. In some instances, I can show you a 10-minute movie clip and discuss it with you for 10 minutes and you will get more out of it than expository teaching by lecture. It will all be focused on scripture. Instead of having some guy going blah, blah, blah, a different approach may absolutely nail and illustrate the scripture as well as apply it in a practical real life situation. I will then say, now we are going to discuss it. I will throw out a question, sit back and listen and I will only moderate it if I think I should.
Randy: It sounds like a certain amount of everyone in the group getting together.
Glenn: You got it, plus a computer lab that is focused really in depth in the classes. It goes very deep. There is also a lot of art and creativity involved in it also. There will be lots of different approaches to discipling and teaching. We are talking everything from missions and evangelism to personal discipleship. Its core is community and provides a real flavor of what JPUSA is about and then a graduation at the end. If the Lord leads them to stick around, they can apply to stick around. They will know what they are getting and we will know what we are getting.
Randy: They are all people who are not currently part of the community?
Glenn: Yes, but we are going to open it up to just a few people this first year who are at the community now. Those who are willing to do the work. They can apply like everybody else applies. They will need a pastoral reference.
Randy: You will have a better sense of evaluating them.
Glenn: Absolutely! The bottom line is we are starting small. The second phase (there are three phases) is getting commitments from all the people that need to get on board with the teaching. We have got some incredible people. When Wendy and I are flying around the world ministering, I am always quoting our leaders and other folks that have taught and discipled me for years. They have really taught and ministered to me. I am trying to help them work out their schedules so they can make time and so they can't refuse. It gives them an opportunity to really minister now. All of this is going to be video and audiotaped so it can be available on the web. There is going to be a boat load of very direct discipling, teaching, and encouraging from people who are serious about Jesus, the Word of God, missions, and really living out Christian community in the context of spiritual leadership in Chicago. Some of this will relate to your local church. However, some of the teaching you won't agree with. Some of it you won't run across in a local church setting. Baptists are still fussing with the Lutherans, the Lutherans are still fussing with the Catholics, the Catholics are fussing with the Presbyterians, Presbyterians are fussing with the Arminians, the Arminians are fussing with … go down the list. So we are not all going to agree but I think it is past time for us to pass on what we have learned and encourage other people in the body of Christ to think and apply what we have been doing. We are a repository of so many broad streams of the body of Christ and we have different cultural, age, and maturity backgrounds.
This first year I am focusing on the three-point shooters, the slam dunk more mature older leadership pastoral people and other leaders in the community. The second year we will add a few other teachers. The third year we will add more. However, we are going to have some younger people involved right from the start. Lord willing (if the Lord tarries) three to five years down the road instead of 10 or 12 people maybe we will be seeing 24 or 36 people. Currently, we have a core staff of six and then a pile of teachers so all included we are talking around 30 to 35 people who are involved. There are going to be more than that involved three or four years down the road.
The third part of this is reaching out to multiple churches with this project. We don't want to duplicate JPUSA anywhere; that's not the point! However, there are certain core things that we have lived and have taught that people want to hear us talk about. They fly me and Wendy all over the world to do seminars, teaching, and ministry. We have standing invitations at a number of Bible schools and seminaries around the world. Some of these people need to come to us instead of Wendy and I going there. When we put this stuff up on the web that will make it available.
The other vision is that three to five churches in a given area get together for a conference and host several of our key leaders and teachers and maybe a couple of our bands Friday through Sunday morning. It will not be, here come the big shots who know it all. Instead it will be, here comes a group of folks who have been living in community and have had to learn to apply these things. We have learned from mistakes and we have made plenty of those. We have no problem passing them on and sharing them with people. There are just tons of folks that want to understand how to live in community and have more of a community sense in the local church. They want to know, how do you guys get along? What do you do with cross cultural ministry? How do you make it work? How do you guys not kill each other living so closely together? They say you know we can't hardly keep the same number of people committed in the congregation four years down the track. There are number of things I think we can pass on. We are not going to franchise this and I would be the last person to run the flag up for JPUSA. I have never done this and I am not going to now. We don't preach community, we preach Christ and Him crucified.
The point is the people were discipled. They were not all the pastoral team, although a lot of those folks. There are many gems in the community at JPUSA they are deep, they are wise. I know their commitment to their marriage. I know their commitment to their kids. I see how they interact with people of different colors, races, cultures, sub-cultures and age. I have seen the years of love and commitment as well as the depth of teaching. I have seen their ability to communicate. I am quoting these folks all the time when I am speaking. I thinking this is nuts, we have treasure and that treasure is the people. Some of the key people have only been in the community for five or six years and some have been in for almost as long as I have (some as long). Very few of those people teach more than once a year at Cornerstone Festival or something like that. That's wrong! We simply want to bless and encourage people in the body of Christ. We have done a lot wrong and a lot right. God, by His grace, has helped us to be strong in the walk. We simply want to pass it on and we want to pass it on more intentionally.
Lastly, it's time to find those young Timothy's. It's time to focus on those young Priscilla's. It's time for us to really and truly give all we can in a nine-month frame. After that, if they want to apply and stick around, we will accept their application. That doesn't mean they can automatically live with us anymore. We are open to that, though. If we send them out and they can bless some other church somewhere that's fine. Whatever the Lord leads them to do God bless them that's fine also. We will also open the door to broken people as well as dyslexic people and people that are seriously disabled including mental issues. I bet you 80% of the people down the road actually stay long term with JPUSA.
Randy: Great, I knew a little bit about it but that helps me understand more. Last time we ran out of time and I wanted to make sure we discussed hobbies. So soccer is a passionate hobby for you?
Glenn: Yes, I just watched the USB tournament down in Tobago. I loved it, the Fire erupted and are in second place right now as we speak (the Chicago Fire--major league soccer). I was in the Faro Islands (an island nation between Ireland and Scotland) where I watched probably two hours of football (real football or soccer) my favorite sport.
I actually pulled a scrimmage off last week this old man (me) assisted and that was actually more fun than the goal I scored. I had so much fun assisting. I got a great pass from a guy and I was able to chip it right off to him and he popped it into the net. It was a blast! So yeah, I am having a good time.
Randy: I played hockey last night. We ended up losing in overtime.
Glenn: And you have your teeth?
Randy: Yeah, we have a face shield. You have got to have the wire mask. I have got a playoff game coming up this weekend that was in the young guys league and also played in an older guys league.
Glenn: That's great! Every now and then I am playing out there. I love it and I love to watch it! The World Cup is coming and it looks like the U.S. is going to be there.
Randy: It is good to have…I follow it to some extent but my real passion is hockey. I am excited hockey is back
Glenn: I tell you …Peter Puck and Hockey Night in Canada .
Randy: Chicago signed some good players.
Glenn: We will see what happens.
Randy: It's good to check that out again. I have a subject that is dear to Wendy's heart when I talk to her. You had another grandson that I would like to talk to you about.
Glenn: We have a five and a half year old and a one and a half year old, both boys. We see them just about every day when we are home. You know and they are just gems.
Randy: My dad always said you never feel too bad to keep your grandkids; you can always send them home when you get tired.
Glenn: You just have so much fun. They are a lot of work--we have them for hours on end.
Randy: Are you getting them into soccer too?
Glenn: Well yeah, we kick the ball together.
Randy: Starting young!
Glenn: It's fun.
Randy: Well, I guess we will wrap things up here. We have covered the main things I wanted to get.
Glenn: My pleasure! Thanks to Cort Via for transcribing this interview.