“For those who are not threatened by the idea that church must change, Reimagining Church is an absolutely timely and much-needed perspective, delivering a solid biblical vision for the body of Christ. Using the entire scope of New Testament church life, Frank Viola lays out the core values and the essential principles that must form the foundation of life together as the body of Christ. The book delivers an exceptionally hopeful, visionary picture of all that church can and should be.”
An Important Book
In Reimagining Church, Frank provides scriptural background for a deeper expression of church life that reflects the nature and relationship of the Trinity. He masterfully paints a picture of being the church in a way that is organically relational, participatory, and mutually edifying rather than programmatic, institutional, and hierarchical.
Ultimately, whether or not you agree with every conclusion of the author, you will be inspired by the principles and values of our identity as the church that are described in the pages of this book. To be honest, I think this book is ideal for this time in the life of the church.
A Sneak Peak
To whet your appetite…
Chapter 1 – The Church As An Organism – An emphasis on the church as a reflection of the triune nature of God and the shape of the church as an expression of its organic DNA.
Chapter 2 – The Church Meeting – Expresses the elements of gathering – Spirit-led, open participation, one-anothering, mutual edification, every-member ministry – and how Christ is more fully reflected in gatherings as every member participates.
Chapter 3 – The Lord’s Supper – Beautiful description and explanation of the Lord’s supper – a shared meal – as a means of forming community.
Chapter 4 – The Gathering Place – The meeting place shapes the nature of church life and informs our identity. The lack of a multimillion-dollar building is certainly an alternative witness in today’s landscape of consumer Christianity.
Chapter 5 – The Family of God – Great chapter reflecting on what has hindered the church from functioning as a family and what aspects would be present if we were living in the reality of being a family.
Chapter 6 – Church Unity – A thorough explanation of sectarianism – excluding as brethren those whom God has accepted. The indwelling life of Christ is the basis for unity of the Spirit with one another.
Chapter 7 – God’s Eternal Purpose – This chapter is rich and deep, describing the many facets of the church in God’s eternal purpose. Frank paints a vivid picture of the spiritual reality of our identity as the Bride of Christ.
Chapter 8 – Leadership – Challenges hierarchical and positional structures of leadership and the passivity that develops under a clergy system.
Chapter 9 – Oversight – Describes eldering as an organic function of trusted members within the body whose leadership is made evident by example and service rather than position. Responsibility for pastoral care and ministry is shared by all members.
Chapter 10 – Decision-Making – An explanation of communal decision-making as a scriptural and organic method of leading the church and how this process strengthens community and relationships.
Chapter 11 – Spiritual Covering – Right on the money. Covering = power and control. Fear is the tactic used to enforce this control. If you have experienced this false teaching, this chapter is a must-read.
Chapter 12 – Authority and Submission – An indepth look at the idea of mutual subjection governed by mutual love, addressing false ideas of hierarchical authority within the church and the trinity. Words and deeds reflecting the indwelling Spirit of Christ carry inherent (organic) spiritual authority. Great chapter.
Chapter 13 – Denominational Covering – Did Paul rebuke the Corinthians for denominating themselves? Denominationalism is an accepted component of church culture today. Hierarchical systems of denominational structure are substituted for relational mutual subjection.
Chapter 14 – Apostolic Tradition – Calls for being faithful to the theological and spiritual components of organic DNA of the early church.
Chapter 15 – Where Do We Go From Here? – For those who are truly interested in incorporating organic practices in their gathering, the adjustments involved will be much deeper than surface, cosmetic changes.
What’s not to like?
These are the topics that I hear about daily on blogs. They are the issues that need to be discussed in the church today. There might be some disagreement about how the values are expressed. For example, an ethos of mutual sharing and familial love could be developed in locations besides a home.
The question remains whether the features of organic life are possible in every model of church. That depends on whether those involved are willing to ask the hard questions about what will be necessary to truly allow the aspects of organic life into their existing model.
Reimagining Church is a great guideline for asking important questions about existing practices. Frank does an exceptional job of providing scriptural background, sound theology, and a clear vision for incorporating these values into the expression of church.