Here’s a song that was written by one of the groups that attended a Body Life Conference recently. It’s a re-write of You’re Amazing (Just the Way You Are). The lyrics follow the video.
Yesterday, George Barna and I did our first interview together since Pagan Christianity released four years ago.
Recently, Tyndale House released the paperback (softcover) edition of Pagan Christianity. I love that the softcover edition is the same size as the constructive follow-up books, Reimagining Church, From Eternity to Here, and Finding Organic Church. So they look nice on a bookshelf. 🙂
After the hardcover edition of Pagan Christianity sold 100,000 copies, Tyndale sent me a special leather-bound, gold-leafed edition of the book commemorating the sales mark. This was very classy of Tyndale to do, and I wanted to thank them publicly for this thoughtful gesture.
What follows is the new preface to the softcover edition followed by a list of free resources for the book. I’m publishing the preface here because it’s so important to the conversation.
It’s been four years since George Barna and I released Pagan Christianity. Joe Miller recently caught up with George and me, giving us our first exclusive interview in four years. Joe’s questions were excellent.
Here’s the interview. (Note: Reposting this interview is not permitted. But you are free to place a link to it on your blog or share it on Facebook or Twitter via the share buttons below. Click here to review our copyright policy.)
Joe Miller: Before we get to your current life, can you tell us, what has been the most enduring and positive legacy of your book, “Pagan Christianity?”
George Barna: The book has helped many people to open their minds to the fact that the organized, localized, congregational form of ministry commonly known in the west as “the church” is a human construct that was neither dictated by God nor described or found in the Bible. In that sense I think the greatest legacy of the book, based primarily on Frank’s extensive research, is giving people an awareness of the truth about the history of the modern local church body and the tremendous possibilities for more meaningful ministry experiences and expressions.
Frank Viola: One of the most enduring qualities (and effects) of the book is that it has given millions of Christians permission – biblical and historical permission – to question cherished church practices and traditions in the light of God’s written Word. It has effectively driven many believers – including pastors – to reexamine the way they practice church in view of New Testament principles and church history.[Continue Reading…]
Once in awhile, people will ask me questions about leaving their church. They want my advice and opinion on it. This happened again very recently.
Because I’ve received this question countless times over the years, I’m posting my general response here. Before you read what follows, I want you to get clear on this: there are always special circumstances and exceptions to what I’m about to say.
What I’ve written here is merely my personal opinion for those who desire to hear it. It’s based on the last 30 years of watching people leave churches (of all different kinds) and the results I’ve witnessed . . . both good and unmentionable.
Five points to begin with:
1. I have never asked anyone to leave a church nor have I encouraged a person to leave one. It’s simply not my place to do so. Except in rare situations where someone was being abused, I actually encourage people to stay in their church. Unless God specifically and clearly leads them out. Or it violates their conscience to stay involved.
2. I’m of the opinion that you shouldn’t leave a church unless the Lord clearly directs you to leave and your family has come to a consensus on the matter. I’ll simply add that I will never understand why some people leave beautiful churches while others stay in abusive or dead churches. See my post on What Ever Happened to Perseverance? where I give examples.[Continue Reading…]
The following article comes from the book Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It applies to any church, community, or relationship. It is one of the most profound and helpful things that Bonhoeffer ever wrote.
Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves.
By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. He does not abandon us to those rapturous experiences and lofty moods that come over us like a dream. God is not a God of emotions but the God of truth. Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all its unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God’s sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it. The sooner this shock of disillusionment comes to an individual and to a community the better for both.[Continue Reading…]
This blog post has been revised and turned into a chapter in The Rethinking Series.
The series includes each book in PDF, Kindle, and Nook formats.
You don’t know what you have until you no longer have it.
Ever since I began living in organic church life, an observation I’ve made is that when people no longer have the experience of body life, they virtually always say:
“I really didn’t know what I had! This is so rare. I long for that experience again.”
Note that I’m not talking about the vanilla house church experience. I’m speaking of the organic expression of the church of Jesus Christ in all of its depths, multifarious splendor, sublime realities, light, shade, and varying seasons.[Continue Reading…]
Farewell Church Buildings (some, at least). Click here to see what the Wall Street Journal is saying about it.
The untold story of the church building is fascinating. And the astronomical figure that Christians spend on buying and maintaining them is astounding (the data is listed in Pagan Christianity, Chapter 2).
Sometimes the economy has a way of making us rethink things. And today, many are being forced to rethink their edifice complex.
Way, way back in the year 1998, I delivered one of my first conference messages. The subject was the developmental stages of an authentic church. The message : “A City Whose Builder and Maker is God.”
“For he [Abraham] looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:10)
In that talk, I traced the five steps of King David as he built the city of Jerusalem. Those five steps serve as a stirring and insightful shadow of how God builds His church today in a particular locale.
The New Testament Is Plural (Us) Not Singular (Me)
by Jon Zens
As folks listen to local and media Bible teachers, most miss the fact that Christ’s body is missing from their use of the New Testament. More often than not the approach taken is individualistic – “how can Christ help me live the Christian life?” However, the NT was not written to individuals but to groups of believing people in various cities and regions. This does not come across in English translations for the most part because the word “you” in the Greek can be singular or plural. For example, the “you” in “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” is plural, and has in view the Body of Christ.
Think about it. The NT letters were sent to ekklesias (assemblies) – “when you come together as an ekklesia.” Even the letter sent to an individual – Philemon – still has a corporate (body) dimension to it – “to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the ekklesia in your house.”[Continue Reading…]