Friday, December 26, 2008
Book Review: Reimagining Church
I knew the topic of the book before I picked it up to read. I expected to be informed, inspired, and affirmed. I am not disappointed after the reading.
Reimagining Church is readable, well organized, and thorough on the topic of the Body of Christ experiencing itself as an organic gathering in communion with the Holy Spirit. Divided into two parts, "Community Gatherings" and "Leadership and Accountability," Frank Viola discusses the spiritual and practical aspects of church as organism versus organization.
This morning I woke knowing among my projects for today was writing this review. Two words popped into my thinking as I reflected over my thoughts and inclinations from the reading of Reimagining Church: wholesome and holistic. Allow me to clarify those terms as applied here.
By wholesome I mean healthy and sound. The words of the book are beneficial for the spiritual health of a body of believers. Even those who strongly identify with an institutional church but recognize the validity of a small group gathering will profit from thinking through what Viola discusses in the chapters on the "Family of God" and "Church Unity." Those of us who no longer seek out fellowship in the IC also will find ourselves guided in healthy ways to a fuller understanding of the relational way our Father both initiated and supports the growth of koinonia among believers.
By holistic, I depart from the original coinage of the word in 1926 within psychology and choose it here more in line with a broader meaning currently of emphasizing the organic or functional relation between parts and the whole. This is, in fact, the nature and thrust of the book: a discussion of the mystery of the Body of Christ as an entity built on communion between individuals who grow in a corporate communion with the Holy Spirit; in other words, the church as the dwelling place of God and vehicle whereby believers pass through this life as aliens on our way home. The discussion is supported by a plethora of scriptural references in fair hermeneutic interpretation, a breadth of quotes from Christians revealing a consensus of thought among brethren, and substantive documentation verifying the book is not merely conjecture.
I recommend the book for anyone who desires a greater depth of love between believers than is currently experienced but is unsure of how or where to search. The book is also highly recommended for those who have launched into a such a journey already but need a refining of purpose and direction. I have received just that by my time spent in the pages of Reimagining Church.