15 August 2008

Reimagining Church

I've just finished the preface and introduction of Frank Viola's book 'Reimagining Church'.

Reimagining ChurchIt's a good start so I'm much looking forward to reading the rest of the book. Here in the summerhouse at the end of the garden it's shady and cool and conducive to reading but there are other things waiting to be done - maybe one more chapter then I must put the bookmark in.

So why am I excited to be reading this book?

There are several reasons.

1 - It's the sequel to 'Pagan Christianity' that Frank wrote with George Barna (a book I could hardly put down). This examined the origins and history of the church and describes how things changed until what we think of as church today is barely recognisable as a descendant of what Christ started almost 2000 years ago. The source of the rituals, buildings, emblems, practices, structure, management - it's all there.

'Reimagining Church' picks up where 'Pagan Christianity' left off and considers where (and how) we might move on from here.

2 - This has been my own journey for more than thirty years, much that Frank writes in the early pages of the book ring true in my own experience. He provides quotes from others whose experiences are also much the same. Take this short extract as an example...

As we loved Christ together our hearts were knit with each other. True change was being made in our lives as we were learning of the Lord's eternal purpose. I saw that the church really is Christ's body, and He is the Head. Only as we allow Him to have His rightful place will we experience His life as we were meant to. Church life in this way is the Christian's natural habitat where we grow and flourish, being nourished by all the riches of Christ. I could go on and on because there is so much more!

Wow! Yes! This is absolutely what I feel myself.

3 - It has the loud and persistent ring of truth about it. More than that (here comes some Christian jargon, please excuse me), the Spirit of Christ witnesses with my spirit that truth is being shared. These are things that nobody could invent. They are things that have always been revealed to a few, but now they are opening up in the hearts and minds of many. This is exciting!

4 - It's a practical help and an encouragement to those who are already meeting simply and organically as well as to those who feel something is missing or awry in institutional church.

And finally...

5 - It might open the eyes of some who haven't yet realised there is an alternative to institutional church.

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