At first glance I thought this book was entitled “Reimaging Church”, which I suppose could have been a relevant title but it is, however, entitled “Reimagining Church”. Written by Frank Viola this is considered by the author to be, in effect, the ‘Part 2’ following on from Pagan Christianity. Pagan Christianity is offered as the ‘deconstructive’ (author’s word!) critique of what has gone wrong in the churches and Reimagining Church is the ointment to soothe the sores (my terminology not the author’s) by being the ‘reconstructive portion’. In short, it’s a picture painted of a church that has returned to its New Testament roots.
If you are a believer, as I am, that Christians should still follow the practices of the first century church, as portrayed in the New Testament, then you’ll happily apply the ointment and give a gentle sigh at the relief of someone else speaking the same language. If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool churchianity traditionalist then you’ll probably wince and wriggle uncomfortably – perhaps even angrily – in your chair as you read it. The beloved ‘church building’ is replaced with humble living rooms, the comforting security of Sunday morning ‘services’ are replaced with slightly less fluent and much less predictable ‘one-anotherings’ (another of my tautologies!), and most outrageously of all… the revered ‘Pastor’ is replaced with a few modest ‘elders’ who may or may not be fantastically educated and function with a mostly under-the-radar approach to things.
Well that’s the simple summary of it all. In broad terms, yet another book and another man speaking out and saying the same things as a trickle of others in this generation. Let’s stop playing the 1700 year old game of ‘church’ – built on the ‘traditions of men’ – and go back the extra couple of centuries and start doing again what the Bible shows us about how church was first done.
Final note: There’s a very good little section towards the back of the book explaining the ‘over-churchy’ and ‘over -authoritative’ words used in the translation of the King James Bible; and the reason why (politics!). Final, final note… just to be clear I think the KJV version is a beautiful and inspired version of its time but one should always be aware of the politics of the day.
Related Reading ~ Bible Study: His Church (study on Biblical Church)