Just finished reading a great book: Reimagining Church

March 5, 2009

It has been a while since I have posted on my blog – unfortunately illness has slowed me down. I have had a lot of sinus problems that has been causing me a bit of grief, but am feeling much better now. If you have a spare 15 seconds, your prayer for my health would be most welcome 🙂

What I have been doing lately is reading. I  just read Frank Viola’s (Author of the popular “Pagan Christianity”) book, “Reimagining Church”(my reading list). I think it’s a brilliant book and presents a very ‘radical’ view (but perhaps only relatively radical) on how Viola thinks the Church should operate. The book is very challenging to those who are currently in a ‘traditional’ church structure, as is clear from these key points that I drew out of the book:

  • An outsider should enter a Church meeting and not be able to identify a specific ‘leader’.
  • The existence of Church ‘denominations’ is tantamount to heresy.
  • There is no basis for paid clergy (or clergy at all, for that matter) and their presence actually inhibits the spiritual development and ministry of the ‘laity’.
  • Christians get too hung-up on petty differences and if you really embrace only what is fundamental to being a Christian (i.e. the bare minimum), then we should be more embracing of other people who seemingly hold very different beliefs, yet still proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
  • Having ‘covering’ over a ministry is through the Lord Jesus Christ alone. A ministry is not legitimised simply because it is under the ‘covering’ of a denomination or a spiritual guru (like a senior pastor). Likewise, a small house church (such as I belong to) needs only the covering of the Lord Jesus Christ and not an earthly church institution or spiritual elder.
  • The church is not a democracy, but decisions should be made on the basis of consensus. Elders are very important for providing guidance and persuasion to less mature brothers and sisters, but they do not ‘run’ the Church.

These are just a few points which really struck me when going through the book, but I recommend you read it because there is a lot more in there that may speak to you.

Viola uses many biblical references to support his opinions, and after talking to a friend who is also reading the book, perhaps he over-justifies his position. Sometimes it seems that what we argue about God and the Church should be justified and precisely supported through biblical insight. I have a problem with this process, because as good at the Bible is, it is a poor substitute for the communion and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Bible need not be contradicted, but I believe that we can receive much deeper and fuller revelation of the nature of God and the Church, through the Holy Spirit. Of course, this needs to be done with others, so that the words of the Holy Spirit can resonate between believers – we are not capable of receiving God’s full revelation as individuals but as a Church the fullness of Jesus Christ is possible.

Another related point that I have been thinking about lately is on the Holy Spirit leading the Church. I was brought up with the teaching that Jesus Christ is the heard of the Church, and leads us through the direction of the Holy Spirit. Yet, it seem that key individuals such as senior pastors are leading the Church. I think we need to put aside the rhetoric and actually let the Holy Spirit lead the Church. The fullness of Jesus Christ cannot be revealed through one person (or even a leadership team), but it is revealed through the whole body of believers. So unless we give opportunity for the quietest and most unassuming people in our congregations to impact the Church, when the Holy Spirit moves them to, we are not experiencing the fullness of Jesus Christ.

Many of Frank Viola’s points and opinions resonate well with the spirit within me, what about you? Whether you have read the book or not, let me know your thoughts.

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3 Responses to “Just finished reading a great book: Reimagining Church”

  1. Laura said

    What you’ve written sounds really good & I think it resonates with what I think of church. I’ll be interested to talk about this stuff with Roger as he reads the book. Thanks for posting it!
    Maybe you should lead a discussion at church one night about this stuff – I think there’s some things there we need to go through

  2. Canaan said

    sounds good to me, but obviously i havent read the book. i started reading a new kind of christian, and its good so far. but im only a few chapters in.

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