Frank Viola (Author)
Book Review by Simon Walpole
What does an authentic New Testament Church look like? It’s an argument that seems to have been going on for decades, perhaps even centuries. Each varying congregational stream seems to claim at least a small degree of ‘authenticity’. It’s a conversation that has great relevancy at the moment, especially if we believe the reports that traditional ‘Sunday service’ congregation numbers are dwindling.
Enter ‘Reimagining Church’ – a passionate cry to restore authenticity to the modern church scene. Its part of a trilogy of books concerning ‘Church’ and what it means. Frank Viola looks at central aspects of what we understand to be church and looks at them from a New Testament perspective, such as the ‘Lords Supper’, unity and what our gatherings could look like. I think books such as this, and others like them are important because they provoke the reader to look at church practices and in some cases things that we consider to be Biblical, but are in fact our own congregational traditions.
He then goes to on to explore what leadership is all about from a scriptural point of view. Again it makes for interesting reading because some of his points of view challenge the view of leadership structure and the very nature of it. Whilst I accept that another book on church life and leadership could take an opposite point of view to Viola and justify it scripturally, the author in question makes compelling arguments and in many cases a lot of sense.
If you want some of your ‘holy cows’ or cherished beliefs on church challenging, I would heartily recommend it. It’s not a tame ‘pat on the back book’, but who wants to read a book like that anyway? It will provoke alternate thinking if you are open to it and lead to discussion. That said I’m not convinced there is ‘one way’ to true church as some authors would suggest, but certainly different points of view are worthwhile considering if you are up to the challenge.