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The constructive follow-up to Pagan Christianity, this book is a theology of church as organism rather than church as organization. Official website with supplements http://www.ReimaginingChurch.org The constructive follow-up to Pagan Christianity, this book is a theology of church as organism rather than church as organization. Official website with supplements http://www.ReimaginingChurch.org


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The constructive follow-up to Pagan Christianity, this book is a theology of church as organism rather than church as organization. Official website with supplements http://www.ReimaginingChurch.org The constructive follow-up to Pagan Christianity, this book is a theology of church as organism rather than church as organization. Official website with supplements http://www.ReimaginingChurch.org

30 review for Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity

  1. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    If you have ever found yourself thinking, “I just can’t stand organized religion” or have simply found yourself with a nagging malaise sitting in a pew on Sundays, then this book may be for you. In Reimagining Church Frank Viola argues that not only are today’s organized, denominational, hierarchical, clergy-laity divided, audience driven churches unhealthy, they are unbiblical. Viola contends that the churches set up by the apostles were home based, non-hierarchical, community focused churches If you have ever found yourself thinking, “I just can’t stand organized religion” or have simply found yourself with a nagging malaise sitting in a pew on Sundays, then this book may be for you. In Reimagining Church Frank Viola argues that not only are today’s organized, denominational, hierarchical, clergy-laity divided, audience driven churches unhealthy, they are unbiblical. Viola contends that the churches set up by the apostles were home based, non-hierarchical, community focused churches where members interacted as a healthy family, routinely caring for and encouraging each other. Perhaps the most compelling aspect of Viola’s experience with home churches is the absolute reliance on Christ as the supernatural head of the church. He frames the question like this. Imagine a run of the mill traditional church, what he calls an institutional church. Now suppose the Holy Spirit left that church. Would anyone even notice or would business keep moving as usual? Now imagine a small group of believers meeting together in a home without a minute by minute worship plan, without paid clergy to direct the service, and with the mindset of having a spontaneous time of fellowship and worship. Imagine that organic church with and without the spirit of Christ. The difference is day and night. In that sense, the thought of an organic church is terrifying -- and inspiring. The book fails to convince that the organic church model is the only biblically correct way of doing things, but it does convince it's a valid option and possibly a really good option. (Caveat: While the ideas in Reimagining Church are engaging, the writing is not. It reads as a sermon with a smattering of scholarship. Viola mixes metaphors like Shakespeare in a blender. If you can wade through the morass of language to uncover the conceptual gems within, I recommend this book to you. If that last sentence drove you nuts, look for another book on home churches.)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Jost

    This book was challenging and unsettling. I agree with Viola that in most church, pastors carry far too much of the weight and many members are too content to be passive. However I disagree with Viola in his claims that church cannot thrive as long as there is clergy and a structured meeting. I don't think methods and structure are the real problem facing the church, and scrapping them won't fix our problems. The real problem with a lifeless church is a lack of clear vision of the holiness and m This book was challenging and unsettling. I agree with Viola that in most church, pastors carry far too much of the weight and many members are too content to be passive. However I disagree with Viola in his claims that church cannot thrive as long as there is clergy and a structured meeting. I don't think methods and structure are the real problem facing the church, and scrapping them won't fix our problems. The real problem with a lifeless church is a lack of clear vision of the holiness and majesty of God, and a loss of wonder at the power of the gospel. I think when we place the hope for revival in the church in changing structure or methods, we will just end up being divisive. I think true "organic life" that is found in awe of God, and through spiritual formation led by His Spirit through His Word and humble fellowship with other believers, is a truly powerful force that will thrive in many different organizational structures.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Erika

    I'm reading this book to review it for PRISM magazine (esa-online.org/prism) and I am blown away, so far (I'm only on chapter two!), by the new paradigm shift in thinking about how church should -- and could -- be. Think Jesus and his first-century believers and how they practiced church. There was no hierarchy, no sole pastor, no worship service in which the majority of people sat back to watch or listen. It was participatory, spontaneous, and people were okay to interrupt one another if they h I'm reading this book to review it for PRISM magazine (esa-online.org/prism) and I am blown away, so far (I'm only on chapter two!), by the new paradigm shift in thinking about how church should -- and could -- be. Think Jesus and his first-century believers and how they practiced church. There was no hierarchy, no sole pastor, no worship service in which the majority of people sat back to watch or listen. It was participatory, spontaneous, and people were okay to interrupt one another if they had a moment of clarity or insight (let's call it prophecy). Pretty radical and different from what is experienced now in church. The Word of God never fails, but religious tradition can stop it if mankind clings to the latter rather than the former...

  4. 5 out of 5

    John Barbour

    In Re-imagining the Church Frank Viola gets us back to God's original intention for the church. This intention involves an organic, communal expression of the Holy Trinity in His followers. The "organic" church looks much more like a family, which is the dominant metaphor in the New Testament, and less like the corporation that modern "churches" have become. The modern, institutional church has a pastor that leads a predominantly docile congregation from the pulpit. He is the CEO. It is a c In Re-imagining the Church Frank Viola gets us back to God's original intention for the church. This intention involves an organic, communal expression of the Holy Trinity in His followers. The "organic" church looks much more like a family, which is the dominant metaphor in the New Testament, and less like the corporation that modern "churches" have become. The modern, institutional church has a pastor that leads a predominantly docile congregation from the pulpit. He is the CEO. It is a command-style, hierarchical business like structure. The authority is positional and official. The organic church, on the other hand,

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brian Stevenson

    This is Frank's reconstruction of what a New Testament church would looks like today if it were to follow the New Testament DNA. Using his previous book (Pagan Christianity) like a springboard, he demonstrates why he thinks today's model of church usurps the priesthood of all believers and creates a two-caste model of clery and laity. He argues that the hierarchy of professional Christians in the institutional church must be abolished. He introduces a radically different model of "church" where This is Frank's reconstruction of what a New Testament church would looks like today if it were to follow the New Testament DNA. Using his previous book (Pagan Christianity) like a springboard, he demonstrates why he thinks today's model of church usurps the priesthood of all believers and creates a two-caste model of clery and laity. He argues that the hierarchy of professional Christians in the institutional church must be abolished. He introduces a radically different model of "church" where all Christians function as clergy (though, not in a traditional sense).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    The companion/sequel to Pagan Christianity, this book takes the idea of the "organic" church and expounds on it with ideas and concepts of how the true church is supposed to work. For anyone who is getting dissatisfied with the "institutional" church, this book is a must read. This is how "church" is supposed to be. The companion/sequel to Pagan Christianity, this book takes the idea of the "organic" church and expounds on it with ideas and concepts of how the true church is supposed to work. For anyone who is getting dissatisfied with the "institutional" church, this book is a must read. This is how "church" is supposed to be.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Fantastic! Enormous research to show the church of today doesn't even resemble the church of Jesus in the New Testament. Fantastic! Enormous research to show the church of today doesn't even resemble the church of Jesus in the New Testament.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bart Breen

    Powerful Followup to Pagan Christianity Reimagining Church by Frank Viola is the follow-up to Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna. Where Pagan Christianity deconstructs the Institutional Church and hierarchical clergy system, Reimagining Church positively asserts and builds up a description of what the early church was and what it can be again. In presenting this review, I have to disclose that I received a copy of this book from the author to review after establishing contact with Powerful Followup to Pagan Christianity Reimagining Church by Frank Viola is the follow-up to Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna. Where Pagan Christianity deconstructs the Institutional Church and hierarchical clergy system, Reimagining Church positively asserts and builds up a description of what the early church was and what it can be again. In presenting this review, I have to disclose that I received a copy of this book from the author to review after establishing contact with the author as a result of a review that I did on his earlier book, Pagan Christianity. No promises were made as to the review I would provide. I expected I would enjoy and appreciate this book based on the first book, but I did not read this book with any predisposition toward giving it a positive review other than what is mentioned above. I've done my best to read and evaluate this book on its own merits with no promises made or implied to the author. Reimagining Church does a very effective job of not falling into the trap of imitating the early church by sanctifying or advocating those things that are cultural. By a careful examination of Scripture, principles are expounded and drawn out that can in turn be applied today in a manner that supersedes culture or which can be applied in the context of culture without compromise. The book divides into two parts addressing those components that are most often (wrongly according to the author) associated with "church" in American culture, namely location (a church building) and clergy (hierarchical leadership). Community and gatherings, addresses first the basic truth of what the New Testament (NT) proclaims is the "church". Church in the NT, "ecclesia" in koine Greek, is never indicative of a set location. It refers to the organic body, or in simpler terms, the people. While this is a commonly accepted truth, in practice, most people still think of Church as a place where you go. The theory doesn't have much impact of most of our practice in this realm. Reasserting this truth, a case is built from the ground up to imagine what a church might look like that accepts this truth and discards the tradition, the smuggled-in pagan temple practice and the institutional substitute for grass roots, personally and communally experienced faith that Christ seemed to assume, the apostles delivered and confirmed and the early church practiced. Following this reimagining and definition of what the church is (not where it is or how it does things) the issues of meetings, communion, gathering places, family like nature of the church, unity and how this ties into God's overall purposes and plans are examined with much reference to Scripture as well as continual reinforcement of the basic principles which underlie it all. The second section of the book deals with Leadership and Accountability. In particular it demonstrates how such a church can function without the presence of hired clergy, offices of elders or deacons and without established hierarchy where an artificial distinction is drawn between clergy and laity. Addressed in this section are the issues of leadership in general, how oversight and authority reside within the body as a whole, decision-making by consensus, a repudiation of the popular "spiritual covering" practices and understanding of many Christians over the past several decades, authority and submission in the context of no formal hierarchy (apart from the headship of Christ) an examination of the apostolic tradition and then some thoughts and examinations on where the reader who accepts most of these premises can go in their desire to move in this direction. All in all, this is a book that will challenge many readers and in this reviewer's opinion it bears more than one reading with time taken to reread and examine the claims to determine in one's own heart and mind whether what is taught is in fact grounded in the word of God. I suspect the author himself would encourage this strongly because accepting what is said on the authority of the author would in the end be no better than what the book warns against in terms of the passive acceptance of "truth" within today's institutional and hierarchical churches. 5 stars. I wholeheartedly recommend this book. Other books to consider if you find this book helpful in my opinion would include Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore The Shack The Untold Story of the New Testament Church: An Extraordinary Guide to Understanding the New Testament From Eternity to Here: Rediscovering the Ageless Purpose of God and Revolution Bart Breen

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

    Thoroughly enjoyed this follow-up to "Pagan Christianity." It's amazing when you examine the Scriptures historically and contextually to see just how far our Western traditions and concepts of "church" have strayed from God's original design. Thankfully He still works through broken systems and imperfect vessels, but "good is often the enemy of great." Viola was a bit redundant in places, so I don't think it was necessary to make it a 308 page book. After reading this I'm very curious to experien Thoroughly enjoyed this follow-up to "Pagan Christianity." It's amazing when you examine the Scriptures historically and contextually to see just how far our Western traditions and concepts of "church" have strayed from God's original design. Thankfully He still works through broken systems and imperfect vessels, but "good is often the enemy of great." Viola was a bit redundant in places, so I don't think it was necessary to make it a 308 page book. After reading this I'm very curious to experience first-hand what Viola repeatedly refers to as an "organic, open-participatory" church meeting. It would probably feel a bit awkward, seeing that it would be so different from what I've experienced as being "church" or even "small groups" for my entire life. This is most definitely a paradigm-shifting read. The question is, where do I go from here? Many things to pray about, wrestle with, converse w/ others, and contemplate.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ruben

    I saw this book as an examination of the way organized religion functions and embraced it as a book that challenges believers to trust God to build his church, without theological paradigms that hinder and erode the individuals ability to find Christ in the context of other believers. It's a profound book that also showcases the love of God for humanity: minus the religious trappings that send humanity dodging for cover at the very sight of religious followers. I think generation ahead of su, wi I saw this book as an examination of the way organized religion functions and embraced it as a book that challenges believers to trust God to build his church, without theological paradigms that hinder and erode the individuals ability to find Christ in the context of other believers. It's a profound book that also showcases the love of God for humanity: minus the religious trappings that send humanity dodging for cover at the very sight of religious followers. I think generation ahead of su, will have a far better slant and review of this gem. It'll be a masterpiece in years to come: long after this generation has passed through the halls of time. I'm grateful to have gotten my hands on it in my lifetime. It has given me a deeper look at Christ in a broader, open way and has allowed my heart to deepen towards my follow man.

  11. 4 out of 5

    John Rock

    I have been shaken to the core by this book, much of Viola's research resonates with me on a very deep level. From the very beginning when he admitted that he began his journey because he was "painfully bored" with traditional church I felt that I had met a kindred spirit. Then when he described people in the institutional church as being merely "cogs" in the machine he accurately pinpointed the way I feel that I have fit into the modern day church. I am left hopeful that God has more - much more I have been shaken to the core by this book, much of Viola's research resonates with me on a very deep level. From the very beginning when he admitted that he began his journey because he was "painfully bored" with traditional church I felt that I had met a kindred spirit. Then when he described people in the institutional church as being merely "cogs" in the machine he accurately pinpointed the way I feel that I have fit into the modern day church. I am left hopeful that God has more - much more - for His people. He emphasizes the leadership of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit and I am ready for this new journey.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laura Rogers

    This is the practical application to think about after reading, "Pagan Christianity" (by the same author). So far, I am very taken with it and feel that it puts into words my own experiences with organic church. This is the practical application to think about after reading, "Pagan Christianity" (by the same author). So far, I am very taken with it and feel that it puts into words my own experiences with organic church.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    I also read his book "Pagan Christianity" which discusses how most of what the modern day church does has its roots in paganism, not Scripture. In this book the author imagines how we can return to the practices of the early church, which would be more intimate and caring. I also read his book "Pagan Christianity" which discusses how most of what the modern day church does has its roots in paganism, not Scripture. In this book the author imagines how we can return to the practices of the early church, which would be more intimate and caring.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Glesnertod

    What does the Bible have to say about how the Church should congregate? Lets find out.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Richard Wright

    Great book for people who think church needs to be reimagined.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    Great book on the weakness of current christianity and on the community Christ really wants to build; and has wanted to build since creation.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Hadid Boneta

    I'd recommend reading this AFTER having read "Pagan Christianity". It reconstructs and speaks about a way to think about Church as the "something else" we all find ourselves longing for. I'd recommend reading this AFTER having read "Pagan Christianity". It reconstructs and speaks about a way to think about Church as the "something else" we all find ourselves longing for.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tony

    REINTERPRETING CHURCH AND CHURCH LEADERSHIP A few months ago a very good friend passed along a copy of a book he said made a big impact on him. My friend is very passionate about home groups and home churches. His family and mine served in the same church for about four years until my wife and I moved away. We were in a home group together, which felt more like a family than anything else. The book: Reimagining Church, by Frank Viola. Its premise is to persuade Christians to return to what Viola REINTERPRETING CHURCH AND CHURCH LEADERSHIP A few months ago a very good friend passed along a copy of a book he said made a big impact on him. My friend is very passionate about home groups and home churches. His family and mine served in the same church for about four years until my wife and I moved away. We were in a home group together, which felt more like a family than anything else. The book: Reimagining Church, by Frank Viola. Its premise is to persuade Christians to return to what Viola refers to as the "organic church"--a church radically different than what most of us belong to today. For my friend, it's this small, intimate, familial congregation that appeals to him, and understandably so. While I will address specific examples, I also want to cut to the chase: I did not like the book for two main reasons. First, Viola sets up a dichotomy you are forced to choose from. Either you buy into his exact view of what church should look like ("organic") or you are in a church that does not fit the mold of scripture ("institutional"). He returns again and again to these two ideas and how his organic church is right and your institutional church is wrong. Personally, I am not keen on teachers who believe they and only they have the one true truth on nonessential issues. (And by nonessential, I mean in this case the structure of one's church does not impact salvation.) The second reason this book fails is simple exegesis. Specifically, the writer mixes prescriptive text and descriptive text whenever it suits him. Prescriptive instructs us on what something should be, while descriptive describes what happened. When we read the Bible, prescriptive text should form our doctrine, our theology, our ecclesiology, etc. Descriptive text, however, gives examples. They could be good examples or bad examples. Often Viola uses descriptive text to say this is how it should be. He uses passages that are good examples of church assembly for sure, but are not prescriptive. Be it Jesus, Paul, John, Luke, or Peter, the writer's support is time and again simply an example of what the early church looked like in the first century, not what it had to look like 2,000 years later. As I say this, I am convinced studying Acts (as well as Paul's letters) is imperative for building a church congregation. There are many examples that seemingly worked well and should be incorporated into our practices today. And to Viola's credit, much of his criticism of what he calls the institutional church is fair, if not completely accurate. For instance, there is often too much power concentrated in one or two people in the church. Also, many churches suppress the giftings of its congregants. Additionally, everyone should "amen" when Viola writes, "The New Testament envisions the church as a family that takes care of is members. Not only spiritually, but physically and financially--in every way that a nuclear or extended family takes care of its own." These all are the things that drew my friend into this book. Unfortunately, while Viola's diagnosis of the symptoms is on point, his prescriptions are more on par with blood-letting and snake oil than any actual cure. ELDERS One topic especially irritating is that of elders. Viola's larger point is that there are no offices in the church aside from Jesus as its head. He introduces the topic of elders by stating, "In the Greek language, elder (presbuteros) merely means an old man." This is true, but it is also a term meaning a rank in an office of leadership. The writer's entire premise is off, which mars his on-going dismissal of elders as anything other than older Christians passing along the occasional bit of wisdom. As far as teaching goes, it was not only elders who were able to teach the church, according to Viola. Using 1 Corinthians 14:24-26, Viola argues, "teaching could come from any Christian who had a word of instruction for the church." Unfortunately for Viola's eisegesis, this passage reads: But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he his called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you. What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. This does not support Viola's argument. It does not say "any Christian who has a word of instruction" can stand up before the congregation and teach. It essentially says, each person has a gifting to offer the body. Further complicating his line of reasoning are verses 33 and 34, which read: As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. Now most complementarians will not even take this so literally to forbid women from ever speaking in church. Some contextualization is necessary, and it's understood to mean that this is a matter of order and submission to church authority. After all, earlier in the same letter Paul assumes women are praying and prophesying in gatherings. Yet, if Viola is taking a strict understanding of verses 24-26, then to remain logically consistent, he needs to take the same approach a few sentences later. And if he wishes to remain logically consistent, then this approach to verses 33 and 34 actually contradict his argument surrounding verses 24-26. I also want to address Viola's view of the terms "overseer" and "shepherd." In the writer's mind, these roles lack any real authority and decision-making responsibilities. In fact, Viola writes that elders, "never made decisions for the church." Leaning into the metaphor, he stresses that shepherds cared for their flock. While this is true, the shepherd literally led his flock. He made decisions of where to graze. Even Jesus speaks of the shepherd leaving the 99 to locate the one missing sheep. Sticking with the parable, this shepherd decides to bring the sheep back to the flock. He didn't stand next to the fluffy bovidae advising, "you know little lamb, in my experience going over that hill there and separating oneself from the safety of the flock is usually dangerous, but you do you." No, the shepherd dragged the dang thing back to the rest of the herd. The point is, eldership is most definitely an office in the church instituted by holy scripture. And the role most definitely is tasked with making decisions. Although Viola is right to warn of abusive elders and leaders who lord their authority over others, one could not be an overseer or a shepherd without making any decisions for the church body. Finally, in regards to elders, Viola writes, "'Elder' means mature man. 'Shepherd' means one who nurtures and protects a flock. And 'overseer' means one who supervises." Shortly later, he continues, "New Testament leadership can best be understood in terms of verbs rather than nouns." In case you are not a grammartarian or keen on observation, Viola uses and defines (in his own way) the words "elder," "shepherd," and "overseer," which all happen to be, in fact, nouns. MUTUAL SUBMISSION Aside from misunderstanding the role of elders, Viola also gets wrong the trinity. Like many of his ilk, the idea of a three-personed God mutually submitting to themselves creates "an absence of hierachical structures" to be followed in church life. The writer attempts to argue there is no leadership within the trinity. That idea of mutual submission lays the foundation for such an argument. Yet, is mutual submission within the trinity real? I would argue no. As would many others much smarter than me. First, the Father sends the Son. The Son never sends the Father. We see the Son praying to the Father, but never the Father to the Son. Also, even the names Father and Son indicate some form or hierarchy. An adult son is under no legal obligation to submit to his father, yet within the context of Judaism and Christianity, we know the son still honors his father. Therefore, if Viola's view of the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the foundation of how he views leadership within the church, but this view of the trinitarian relationship is wrong, then his view of leadership within the church is also wrong. COMMUNION The poor hermeneutics in Reimagining Church do not end there. Viola takes on a puzzling and disconnected view of communion. He writes, "The Lord's Supper was never meant to be a morbid reminder of Christ's sufferings." Viola, however, is contradicted by none other than Jesus himself, who instituted the Lord's Supper by referring to the wine as, "My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matt. 26:28). Additionally, after breaking the bread and giving thanks, he told his disciples, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19). The body broken. The bled shed. Perhaps not "morbid" but certainly somber. And very clearly Jesus instructs us to remember him as we participate. HYPOCRISY Reimagining Church is also littered with hypocrisy. For instance, Viola questions the idea of unity through doctrine, asking, "Which doctrines and whose interpretations of them?" Yet here is a book describing what Viola believes to be accurate interpretation of what the church should look like. Further, he creates the dichotomy of the "organic" and "institutional" churches, with only the former being the correct view. The reader is left confused, though, since Viola also says there should no division on something like doctrine. Does that somehow not include doctrine related to the church? As noted, Viola severely admonishes the so-called institutional church. But somehow, with a straight face, praises the Athanasian Creed in arguing for his view of the trinitarian relationship. How can a creed, written 300-400 years after the close of the canon, not be institutional? A third example of Viola's hypocrisy is his attempted arguments against denominations. While I would agree with denominations not fitting the model of church instituted in the first century, it's a natural result of fallen men trying to follow Christ. Like Viola, I agree there would ideally be no denominations, but I do not believe we will see this until we are all reunited in the New Jerusalem. In his writings against denominations, Viola attempts to use quotes from John Frame and Charles Spurgeon to support his reasoning. Unfortunately for Viola, Frame is a well-known Presbyterian and Spurgeon was a committed Baptist. BITTERNESS What is most sad about this book is Viola's clear bitterness towards church that falls outside of what he sees as church. Time and again, the broad-sweeping narrative of organic versus institutional is marched out for the reader. Be clear: Viola sees little to no distinction between any churches that do not fit his organic model. It's either his way or the highway, and the highway is full of potholes, incorrect signs, and is most certainly headed in the wrong direction. Viola condescendingly writes, "if the Spirit of God were to ever leave a typical institutional church, His absence would go unnoticed." He then names his imaginary institutional church "First Presbycharisbaptist" and criticizes it for requiring members to hold similar doctrinal views as the church. The nerve! Viola continues his arrogance when he writes that "most modern 'church' [scare quotes around the word church are frequent] buildings reflect the boastings of this world rather than the meek and lowly Savior whose name we bare." He refers to any sort of hierarchical leadership as "ego-massaging models." Additionally, "Protestant denominationalism has too often descended into a human institution that cracks the whip of despotism before its dissenters." And Viola notes that any Lord's Supper led by a clergy apart from a family-syled meal "does violence to the mutual participation that's present in the triune God." This all seems a bit overkill to me. All of Viola's bitterness makes sense, when he reveals he, "Used to belong to one of the largest Pentecostal churches in the state of Florida." The combination of Pentecostalism and megachurch structure would push me towards radical church views as well. Unfortunately, Viola takes these views too far. Rather than a helpful critique of errors and abuse found in many churches today, Viola leaves us with a bitter screed against anything that doesn't fit his predetermined view of ecclesiology. To use his own term, this book is purely "ego-massaging."

  19. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    The content is solid. Viola could have used a tougher editor, I think, to veer him away from rambles and an overuse of certainty (or at least more references).

  20. 4 out of 5

    Scottalberts

    Excellent follow-up to "Pagan Christianity?" I am feeling both the thrill of freedom from guilt about not DOING enough church, AND the enormous responsibility of BEING the church — you can't hire somebody else to take care of the God stuff! Excellent follow-up to "Pagan Christianity?" I am feeling both the thrill of freedom from guilt about not DOING enough church, AND the enormous responsibility of BEING the church — you can't hire somebody else to take care of the God stuff!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ánderson

    This is a short provocative book about the way in which we do church and how it differs from the practices of the Early Church as described in the Bible. PROS: Author Frank Viola has done his homework and each page shows a deep understanding not only of the biblical text, but also of the different practices of the contemporary Christian church. Viola explains his position from the very beginning and he develops a multitude of arguments to support it throughout the book. This is partly due to a ni This is a short provocative book about the way in which we do church and how it differs from the practices of the Early Church as described in the Bible. PROS: Author Frank Viola has done his homework and each page shows a deep understanding not only of the biblical text, but also of the different practices of the contemporary Christian church. Viola explains his position from the very beginning and he develops a multitude of arguments to support it throughout the book. This is partly due to a nicely crafted structured that approaches the issue in question from different angles. His writing is well articulated and appealing for casual readers and scholars alike. CONS: Viola is unashamedly convinced that most Christians are "doing church" in the wrong way. Out of this conviction the reader does not only get interesting arguments, but also a certain feeling of "radicalism for freedom," if there can be such a thing. For the reader, Viola may feel "pushy" and repetitive on occasions, though, again, these can be signs of his obvious passion for the topic at hand. CONCLUSION: This was a nice and challenging reading. I think Viola rises questions that any committed Christian may have asked him/herself at some point. Though not every reader has to agree 100% with his thesis (I actually don't), the presentation is compelling and most of it is just the plain truth. Precisely because of this, I encourage people to read and respond to Viola's arguments, I would expect positive outcomes of engaging in doing so.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Carey Green

    I was very hopeful when I first picked up this book. I sympathize with the author's belief that today's churches are not as healthy or vital as they should be. He advocates home groups, which I do as well. But how he describes that looking is where I have issues with the book. There was an underlying expectation communicated that the Spirit will "lead" in a church group, so leadership and structures are not very needed. I can't buy that. Scripture talks about "gifts of the Spirit," and one of th I was very hopeful when I first picked up this book. I sympathize with the author's belief that today's churches are not as healthy or vital as they should be. He advocates home groups, which I do as well. But how he describes that looking is where I have issues with the book. There was an underlying expectation communicated that the Spirit will "lead" in a church group, so leadership and structures are not very needed. I can't buy that. Scripture talks about "gifts of the Spirit," and one of them being leadership. I tend to think that if the Spirit is going to lead, He will surely use the gifts He's placed in the church. I'm not sure the authors meant to communicate that, but it's what I got, loud and clear.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    A very good corollary to Pagan Christianity. In P.C. Viola explained the differences between how the west practices church and how church is presented in the New Testament. In Reimagining Church he fleshes out what he thinks church could look like today, if we were to loosen the vice grip of tradition and read the New Testament afresh. Being in the midst of wrestling with these questions, I appreciated Viola's tone in R.C.. P.C. had an touch of something that could come across as belligerence, A very good corollary to Pagan Christianity. In P.C. Viola explained the differences between how the west practices church and how church is presented in the New Testament. In Reimagining Church he fleshes out what he thinks church could look like today, if we were to loosen the vice grip of tradition and read the New Testament afresh. Being in the midst of wrestling with these questions, I appreciated Viola's tone in R.C.. P.C. had an touch of something that could come across as belligerence, which I had to work to get past. However, I think that tone was an unintended byproduct of his passion. Either way, I really enjoyed Reimagining Church!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ren Jones

    Excellent follow up to the Pagan Christianity. I loved Pagan Christianity because it told the truth and the scholarship was great, but this book gives workable solutions. The only agenda is the desire to find out what Jesus and the apostles taught about church. George Barna and Frank Viola, authors of the prequel, recently did a great interview explaining their views and books on church. You can read it here: http://frankviola.org/2012/06/04/geor... - I also recommend "From Eternity to Here" and Excellent follow up to the Pagan Christianity. I loved Pagan Christianity because it told the truth and the scholarship was great, but this book gives workable solutions. The only agenda is the desire to find out what Jesus and the apostles taught about church. George Barna and Frank Viola, authors of the prequel, recently did a great interview explaining their views and books on church. You can read it here: http://frankviola.org/2012/06/04/geor... - I also recommend "From Eternity to Here" and "Jesus Manifesto" by the same writer.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brenda Torres

    Growing up in the American institutional church, I simply took for granted that that was THE model for church. This book has not only challenged my assumptions, but skillfully explained the New Testament vision of church. I closed the book, longing to find this truer expression of church that mirrors the unity and non-heirarchical relationship of the Trinity. Frank Viola never condemned the church or those who continue to be a part of the current church culture, but he gracefully paints a vision Growing up in the American institutional church, I simply took for granted that that was THE model for church. This book has not only challenged my assumptions, but skillfully explained the New Testament vision of church. I closed the book, longing to find this truer expression of church that mirrors the unity and non-heirarchical relationship of the Trinity. Frank Viola never condemned the church or those who continue to be a part of the current church culture, but he gracefully paints a vision for a church that is truly a body, a family, and not an institution.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Excellent. The best chapter was "Reimagining the Family of God" where he describes the way the church should be like a family. 1. The members take care of one another 2. The members spend time together 3. The members show one another affection 4. The family grows 5. The members share responsibility 6. The members reflect the triune God in their relationships "True renewal, therefore, must be radical." Excellent. The best chapter was "Reimagining the Family of God" where he describes the way the church should be like a family. 1. The members take care of one another 2. The members spend time together 3. The members show one another affection 4. The family grows 5. The members share responsibility 6. The members reflect the triune God in their relationships "True renewal, therefore, must be radical."

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tim Ogle

    Viola continues to inspire a complete rethinking of how we have accepted the current form of "church." He does this with a spirit of unity, appreciation and gentleness that is passionate not preachy. I'm thankful for a writer who does not have a spirit of rebellion, vindictiveness or perceived wounds he is lashing out from. Viola continues to inspire a complete rethinking of how we have accepted the current form of "church." He does this with a spirit of unity, appreciation and gentleness that is passionate not preachy. I'm thankful for a writer who does not have a spirit of rebellion, vindictiveness or perceived wounds he is lashing out from.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andy Johnson

    Very well written book discussing many of the current ills of the American institutional church. Asking the right kinds of provocative questions. This book is advocating for a return to "organic church." Well worth the read for everyone who is trying to figure out a direction forward in the American Christian community. Highly recommend it. Warning: This may tweak with some sacred cows. Very well written book discussing many of the current ills of the American institutional church. Asking the right kinds of provocative questions. This book is advocating for a return to "organic church." Well worth the read for everyone who is trying to figure out a direction forward in the American Christian community. Highly recommend it. Warning: This may tweak with some sacred cows.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Graham

    I was very impressed by the detail and research that went into this book. Skeptical at first coming from a loyal Southern Baptist background, the points and questions raised in this book ring so true to the character of Christ that I don't believe those who love Him can turn a blind eye, sweep the topics brought up under the rug, and walk away. Life-changing and well worth the read. I was very impressed by the detail and research that went into this book. Skeptical at first coming from a loyal Southern Baptist background, the points and questions raised in this book ring so true to the character of Christ that I don't believe those who love Him can turn a blind eye, sweep the topics brought up under the rug, and walk away. Life-changing and well worth the read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jared

    Frank brings a different And needed perspective of church but the book seems to be written to push an agenda. He uses many fallacies and an incomplete spectrum of scripture. Very frustrating to read. I would not recommend this book.

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