About Chris L. Rice

From 1996 until July of 2010 I was a member of Jesus People USA Covenant Church(JPUSA) in Chicago, IL where I served full time doing things like book publishing, custom sheet metal fabrication, cleaning and cooking. In July I moved back to work with my family at New Life Evangelistic Center in St. Louis, MO. I was ordained as a pastor at NLEC on July 21st and now serve along with my wife on full time staff. This has been my blog since 2003. I still find time to read and review books. Since I’ve mostly cut TV out of my life I have more time for that. I like working with my hands and expanding my mind. I find that the two are complimentary. Ideas without a strong back are devoid of any real intention. The best projects take time, with a long hopeful view of both the need and God’s provision.

I am a writer. Not the kind William Faulkner referred to with these words:

“The good artist believes that nobody is good enough to give him advice. He has supreme vanity. No matter how much he admires the old writer, he wants to beat him.”

More the kind Thomas Merton was referring to with these words:

“If you write for God, you will reach many people and bring them joy. If you write for people, you may make some money and you may give someone a little joy and you may make a noise in the world for a little while. If you write for yourself, you can read what you yourself have written and after ten minutes you will be so disgusted you will wish you were dead.”

I value writing above many other forms of communicating, but I know its limits, especially in this day and age. Words have power, but great weakness.They are subject to the whim of the reader. Words are never indelible. They communicate, but never completely.

Who do I write for? God. To claim to write for God is to subject my mind, my attention, my ability to the endless task of surrender. To prayer. To the humiliation of allowing all my energies to be transient, human, forgotten—like blowing bubbles in the wind for a child. What are my words to God? They are nothing he hasn’t heard or seen. They are gifts. They are my duty. They bear witness to my state as sinner, but I pray also to my state as redeemed. My words mock me even as they tempt me with praise. Thus, they must be surrendered.

I was born and raised in a Jesus Movement commune in St. Louis, Missouri (NLEC). In 1982 that ministry went on the air with a full power television station. I appeared on telethons singing the Amy Grant song “Angels Watching Over Me.” After countless hours of singing that one song, I managed to destroy the tape never to appear and sing it again on live TV. That was my beginning with music and I still love it. I learned on my mother’s guitar (the one I scribbled on with permanent marker as a child) and then bought myself a Martin years later. I took some classes at the illustrious Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago.

My interests include the lives and writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer , Karl Barth and Johnny Cash, most of what No Depression Magazine calls good Country music, and Recovery related material (dealing with the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of AA).

I have a beautiful wife and three wonderful children. I have lived, worked, grown up, and  journeyed at Jesus People USA, a community on Wilson Ave., only blocks from Lake Michigan in Uptown Chicago.  Now I’m continuing the journey back at my place of birth, New Life Evangelistic Center, among folks who are still serving the poor in Missouri as they have been for close to forty years. I have a huge group of friends who help keep me on the straight and narrow. I really I have nothing to complain about—ever.

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18 responses to “About Chris L. Rice

  1. Hi Chris —

    I met you at the Ekklesia Project gathering last summer (I was running the book table for our Press/Bookstore, Doulos Christou Books)

    On June 1-2, we will be hosting a gathering and conversation on New Monasticism and intentional forms of community in the church. I have a feeling that this gathering will be of much interest to you and probably other folks at JPUSA. Our main speakers will be Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (Rutba House, NC) and Tim Otto (Church of the Sojourners), and we will be having workshop leaders and participants from around the country.

    I have provided the conference URL above…
    Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions…

    Chris Smith
    Englewood Christian Church /
    Doulos Christou Books
    Indianapolis

  2. Chris,

    I am very interested in this but I can’t say where I’ll be June 1. I’ll spread the word around JPUSA and try to come.

    Thanks for the invite!

    -Chris

  3. Brian

    Chris,

    Hello. I grew up in St. Louis (on the Illinois side actually) and probably saw you on TV while channel surfing, perhaps. Nice to read your blog.

    Take care.

  4. Thanks for checking in! You got a nice blog there yourself Brian. I grew up in the LCMS (among other things) and recently had a great time for six weeks at a Lutheran congregation (ELCA).

  5. I found out about your blog through Benjamin Myers’ blog after googling Karl Barth. I am also a great fan of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Have you recently tried to get onto the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Society website? It’s not there anymore.

    I know of Jesus People. I came to Christ in the 1970s when that whole movement was huge.

    Peace.
    Ivy

  6. julia

    I found your blogs extremely interesting. Have you ever thought of contacting Eberhard Bethge’s wife, although quite old, she is still alive in Germany and speaks English. Maybe she could help you with incite into Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life.

  7. Well Julia, I haven’t really thought of contacting her simply because I don’t know what I’d say. “Hi, I’m reading your husbands book, what was Dietrich like?” I’d feel rather foolish. I just want to finish blogging through the book you know? I would like to interview Victoria Barnett for the blog someday. She edited the last edition of Bethge’s work. I hope my blog encourages people to do the work to read Bethge. I’ve met only a handful who’ve actually taken the time. If I can get just another handful on the journey with me I’ll feel its worth it. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Marlene

    Dear Chris,

    I found your blog by an unusual way…I googled ‘Nancy Larson’, I used to watch her show in Chicago, way back when. I love your blog! The link took me to your 2006 reference to Nancy. I have so many deep responses to your writing that I don’t know where to begin.
    First your “Desperate Kind of Faithful” quote about Mary Magdalen is great. I was raised an atheist, in high school in 1974 I was ‘evangelized’ and became a Christian through three Catholic friends. Not realizing I could join the Catholic Church I became part of a ‘non-denominational’ church. Our little church was accused of being a ‘cult’ and I was disowned by my father when I married a man from ‘the cult’. Thus, your blog on cults struck a cord with me. I was also thankful to read that you wrote a paper on the Catholic Church Not being a cult. In 1994 I became Catholic. In the Catholic Faith I have found the fullness of the faith…of that longing to live for Jesus alone. In a little book written by a Catholic nun she opens with the Scripture about Mary Magdalene annointing Jesus’ feet then she says ” Jesus, I want to pour out my whole life to love You Lord’ The depth of love of Jesus…to give everything to HIm. In my years of non-denom Christianity I came across so much anti-Catholicism, which now breaks my heart. There is so much we have in common…the love of Jesus.
    I noticed that you are a Talbot Brothers fan…my husband and I are too. In the ’70’s I wondered why on earth John became Catholic…now I understand. I also loved your piece on seeing Jesus in the poor…that was Mother Theresa’s life and message.
    Our journey to the Catholic Church began with Francis Schaeffer’s series of books. He encourages people to look to history…we ended up reading the early Church Fathers. Frankie Schaeffer ended up in the Orthodox Church.
    My husband read a lot of Dietrich Bonhoffer’s books…another connection to your blog.
    So, thank you for your blog…it made my day. I am greatly encouraged that one day all Christians will be united when we see Jesus face to face…which begins as through a veil here on earth.
    By the way, my husband and I got a great laugh over the incident with the fast forward button on Nancy Larson’s jumping jacks.
    In the love of Jesus,
    Marlene

  9. Thanks so much for sharing your story Marlene. I’m so glad my blog is a blessing to you. One of the neatest things about our earliest history here at JPUSA is that the early revivals in upper Michigan resulted in many of the young people getting active in their local Catholic churches. I’ve always felt a part of the Universal Christian church, which God knows. I find that ministry among the poor seems to necessitate finding common ground, and that’s priceless.

    Peace,

    Chris

  10. I’ve been *enjoying* a stroll through your blog. I’ve always appreciated JPUSA and have spent several summer vacations at CStone with the kids.
    The Fellowship of Rolls-Royce Jesus Scoffers caught my eye (although I thought it would address something quite different) and I’m not sure what a working class wannabe is (John Lennon may have been one too), but your response to Rev. Ray Dubuque clinched the fact that Chris L Rice is a voice that I want to hear.
    This Desperate Kind of Faithful has eluded me for far too long and am often at once ready to give up or surrender all. I do neither and am left with this frustrated longing and apathy.
    anyway thanks, joe

  11. Hello Chris, my name is Jody Conrad. I met you a while back at the NLEC fund raiser in Illinois. I happened across channel 24 one evening earlier this year while channel surfing and being very depressed at the vulgar, demeaning television shows that I found. Upon finding channel 24, NLEC worship had just started featuring your wonderful dad, the Rev. Larry Rice. I was absolutely mesmerized by his words and
    preaching, it went straight to my heart Chris. I am 38 years old, and finally came to God around october of 2009. Then the first week of January 2010 I joined a local church where I live here in Troy, Missouri. My wife and I have lost our first 2 sons at childbirth in 2005. But God blessed us with a beautiful baby girl in 2006 to stay here with us. I guess after the loss of our babies I was so lost and distraught that I had to do some serious soul searching. To make a long story short, your dad has moved me tremendously, moreso than even my Church
    here has, or any other broadcast evangelist has. After I had the privelege to meet Larry and have my p
    icture taken with him at the fundraiser dinner, I came to New Life 2 weeks later fo
    r the friday afternoon worship service. Once again I was so moved by Rev. Rices’ words it brought tears to my eyes. Your dad is a great man Chris, and I am very excited to have found out that you are now ordained. I hope to come and worship alongside you also in the near future. Its an hour and 10 minute drive there ( and almost double that going home in 4:00 p.m. St.louis traffic)! But I would do it every week if I could. I plan on becoming a Club 24 member soon so I can help your ministry and all those in need. God Bless you Chris and your family and everyone involved at New Life. Jody Conrad.

  12. Chris,

    This is a great site! It is so interesting how those who are drawn to the common life come to the same common conclusions. I was searching about Charlotte von Kirschbaum and hoping to find that Karth´s relationship with her was pure which seems is not verifiable. It seems that was a bad move on his part but also shows the longing for intellectual companionship which I find absent in my life. More often than not a true armor bearer for a gifted man is no where to be found. I grew up seeing your dad on the tv. I am from St. Louis, went to “church” and the youth groups but because I was worldy saw your dad´s station as boring and poor quality and was not concerned for the least of these. Now I see that I was so lost. Now I realize that right in front of my eyes was the real Gospel and I could not recognize it. Can you write me or call? I would like to hook up with you. I have been in Mexico for the last 23 years. I think we will connect brother. Seriously. jason

  13. This website truly has all of the information I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  14. Dorothy Jones

    Chris, I was brought here after spending much time in search of videos of ‘Shape Up’ with Nancy Larsen/Larson. Your article, ‘This Little YouTube Video’ mentioning her – gave me hope. Under what title is this video on YouTube? Also, would you have any additional information on how to obtain the actual ‘Shape Up’ videos? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you in advance, and God Bless…

    Dorothy R Jones

  15. Dorothy, Shape Up still airs in the mornings on KNLC Tv 24.1 in St Louis, Mo.

  16. I’m curious to find out what blog system you are using?
    I’m having some small security problems with my latest website
    and I’d like to find something more safe. Do you have any solutions?

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