Atlanta Journal Constitution — Interview with Frank Viola – 7/2009
Editor: I am interviewing members of a 15-year-old So. Baptist Church who have their building up for sale. They want to free themselves from costs/maintenance and have the money avaiable for local and interntional mission. How unusual is it for an established congregation to go wall-less? (It seems to me more of these type of churches start from scratch, no?)
Frank: A decade ago it would have been highly unusual. Today, it’s happening much more often. My coauthor George Barna calls this trend a “revolution.” Many churches are moving from buildings to homes, and many are beginning in homes and other “sacred-less” low-cost spaces from ground zero.
Editor: How quickly is the non-building church movement growing? Ten years ago, was it a blip on the radar? Now, is it a bunch of blips? a blob?
Frank: Ten years ago it was a small blip. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of such “blips” that span the globe. George Barna’s research shows that there are over 11 million adult Christians in the United States who exclusively meet outside the institutional church.
Editor: What is driving the movement, why is it happening now? And is it largely contained in the evangelical movement? Roman Catholics? Mainliners?
Frank: The bulk of this “revolution” began among evangelicals. However, we’re seeing it move beyond evangelicalism to liturgical traditions as well. It’s happening because people are waking up to the fact that the conventional form of church is in many respects unbiblical and ineffective at transforming lives and impacting society. George Barna and I demonstrate this both biblically and historically in our book, ”Pagan Christianity.” The book is a bestseller. What makes that surprising is that five years ago no publisher in their right mind would have put out a book like that. The paradigm it espouses would have been far too controversial.
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