My newest book, Reimagining Church, officially launched August 1st. Four days later, Amazon.com went out of stock. Then the publisher informed me that they ran out of all copies of the first printing. Amazon.com just got the book back in stock. So it’s available again.
(For those of you who don’t purchase books online, it’s also being carried by Family Christian Stores, Borders, and Barnes & Nobles.)
Here’s the story behind Reimagining.
I’ve been working on this book for the last 12 years. It seeks to answer the following questions:
*If the traditional church isn’t God’s best or the only alternative to church life, than what can and perhaps should stand in its place?
*What does an organic church look like in the 21st century & is it possible?
*Does the Bible really give us enough information about church practice?
*How do you reconcile the arguments that you and George Barna made in Pagan Christianity with this verse and that verse? (The “this verse” or “that verse” will vary for each reader.)
* What about contexualization? What about “covering”? What about being under authority? What about submission and accountability? Etc.
In the words of some other authors . . .
“In Reimagining Church, Frank Viola is at the top of his game, showing a serene, soaring mastery of the theology of church as organism rather than organization.”
Leonard Sweet, author of Soul Tsunami, Soul Salsa, and 11
“Dissent is a gift to the Church. It is the imagination of the prophets that continually call us back to our identity as the peculiar people of God. May Viola’s words challenge us to become the change that we want to see in the Church … and not to settle for anything less than God’s dream for Her.”
Shane Claiborne, author of The Irresistible Revolution, activist, and recovering sinner (thesimpleway.org)
“True to form, this book contains a thoroughly consistent critique of prevailing forms of church. However, in Reimagining Church, Frank Viola also presents a positive vision of what the church can become if we truly reembraced more organic, and less institutional, forms of church. This is a no holds barred prophetic vision for the church in the twenty-first Century.”
Alan Hirsch, author of The Forgotten Ways and The Shaping of Things To Come
As the constructive follow-up to Pagan Christianity, Reimagining Church seeks to paint a picture of what church can and (in my judgment and experience) should be. The book roots the spiritual principles of church life in the New Testament and in the nature of God Himself. It also contains real-life stories and practical examples from my 20 years of meeting with organic churches.
In addition, it addresses such issues as contextualization, spiritual authority, “covering”, leadership, accountability, as well as the current trends that have sought to reform the church. And in one chapter, every verse in the Bible that is commonly used to justify hierarchical leadership, a clergy, institutional leadership, etc. is addressed.
In short, the book is an attempt to present a readable but thorough theology of organic church life under a single cover.
In Jeremiah 1:10, we read: “I have this day set thee . . . to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.”
Pagan Christianity was never meant to be a book that stands alone. Rather, it’s the first part of a fuller argument. To borrow language from Jeremiah, it’s the part that seeks to “root out, pull down, destroy, and throw down.” Reimagining Church is the second part of the argument, and it begins the process of “building and planting.”
Sixteen years ago (1992), Christian Smith wrote an outstanding book entitled Going to the Root. For me, this was THE book to hand to people who wanted to understand a new paradigm for church. Sadly, this book is no longer in print. I may be stretching it here, but I’m hoping that Reimagining Church will replace the role of Going to the Root.
You see, since Smith’s book went out of print, there’s been somewhat of a vacuum. There’s been a great need for a single volume to cover the waterfront of what organic church life looks like and how it’s solidly rooted in the New Testament and in God Himself.
While there have been many fine books written on the church over the years, to my knowledge, there really hasn’t been one that covers the whole gamut and answers common objections.
This was my goal in writing Reimagining. I very well may have failed to pull it off, but I gave it my best shot.