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Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity
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Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  1,084 ratings  ·  102 reviews
The constructive follow-up to Pagan Christianity, this book is a theology of church as organism rather than church as organization. Official website with supplements ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 1st 2008 by David C Cook (first published April 1st 1997)
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Jan 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
If you have ever found yourself thinking, “I just can’t stand organized religion” or have simply found yourself with a nagging malaise sitting in a pew on Sundays, then this book may be for you. In Reimagining Church Frank Viola argues that not only are today’s organized, denominational, hierarchical, clergy-laity divided, audience driven churches unhealthy, they are unbiblical. Viola contends that the churches set up by the apostles were home based, non-hierarchical, community focused churches ...more
Jesse Jost
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book was challenging and unsettling. I agree with Viola that in most church, pastors carry far too much of the weight and many members are too content to be passive. However I disagree with Viola in his claims that church cannot thrive as long as there is clergy and a structured meeting. I don't think methods and structure are the real problem facing the church, and scrapping them won't fix our problems. The real problem with a lifeless church is a lack of clear vision of the holiness and m ...more
Oct 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I'm reading this book to review it for PRISM magazine ( and I am blown away, so far (I'm only on chapter two!), by the new paradigm shift in thinking about how church should -- and could -- be. Think Jesus and his first-century believers and how they practiced church. There was no hierarchy, no sole pastor, no worship service in which the majority of people sat back to watch or listen. It was participatory, spontaneous, and people were okay to interrupt one another if they h ...more
John Barbour
Feb 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
In Re-imagining the Church Frank Viola gets us back to God's original intention for the church. This intention involves an organic, communal expression of the Holy Trinity in His followers. The "organic" church looks much more like a family, which is the dominant metaphor in the New Testament, and less like the corporation that modern "churches" have become.

The modern, institutional church has a pastor that leads a predominantly docile congregation from the pulpit. He is the CEO. It is a c
Brian Stevenson
Apr 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is Frank's reconstruction of what a New Testament church would looks like today if it were to follow the New Testament DNA. Using his previous book (Pagan Christianity) like a springboard, he demonstrates why he thinks today's model of church usurps the priesthood of all believers and creates a two-caste model of clery and laity.

He argues that the hierarchy of professional Christians in the institutional church must be abolished. He introduces a radically different model of "church" where
Jan 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The companion/sequel to Pagan Christianity, this book takes the idea of the "organic" church and expounds on it with ideas and concepts of how the true church is supposed to work. For anyone who is getting dissatisfied with the "institutional" church, this book is a must read. This is how "church" is supposed to be. ...more
Feb 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic! Enormous research to show the church of today doesn't even resemble the church of Jesus in the New Testament. ...more
Bart Breen
May 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Powerful Followup to Pagan Christianity

Reimagining Church by Frank Viola is the follow-up to Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna. Where Pagan Christianity deconstructs the Institutional Church and hierarchical clergy system, Reimagining Church positively asserts and builds up a description of what the early church was and what it can be again.

In presenting this review, I have to disclose that I received a copy of this book from the author to review after establishing contact with
Jan 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed this follow-up to "Pagan Christianity." It's amazing when you examine the Scriptures historically and contextually to see just how far our Western traditions and concepts of "church" have strayed from God's original design. Thankfully He still works through broken systems and imperfect vessels, but "good is often the enemy of great." Viola was a bit redundant in places, so I don't think it was necessary to make it a 308 page book.

After reading this I'm very curious to experien
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I saw this book as an examination of the way organized religion functions and embraced it as a book that challenges believers to trust God to build his church, without theological paradigms that hinder and erode the individuals ability to find Christ in the context of other believers. It's a profound book that also showcases the love of God for humanity: minus the religious trappings that send humanity dodging for cover at the very sight of religious followers. I think generation ahead of su, wi ...more
John Rock
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have been shaken to the core by this book, much of Viola's research resonates with me on a very deep level. From the very beginning when he admitted that he began his journey because he was "painfully bored" with traditional church I felt that I had met a kindred spirit. Then when he described people in the institutional church as being merely "cogs" in the machine he accurately pinpointed the way I feel that I have fit into the modern day church.

I am left hopeful that God has more - much more
Laura Rogers
Feb 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spiritual-stuff
This is the practical application to think about after reading, "Pagan Christianity" (by the same author). So far, I am very taken with it and feel that it puts into words my own experiences with organic church. ...more
Mar 15, 2009 is currently reading it
I also read his book "Pagan Christianity" which discusses how most of what the modern day church does has its roots in paganism, not Scripture. In this book the author imagines how we can return to the practices of the early church, which would be more intimate and caring. ...more
Mar 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: church-planting
What does the Bible have to say about how the Church should congregate? Lets find out.
Richard Wright
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Great book for people who think church needs to be reimagined.
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Great book on the weakness of current christianity and on the community Christ really wants to build; and has wanted to build since creation.
Hadid Boneta
Oct 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'd recommend reading this AFTER having read "Pagan Christianity". It reconstructs and speaks about a way to think about Church as the "something else" we all find ourselves longing for. ...more
May 01, 2019 rated it it was ok

A few months ago a very good friend passed along a copy of a book he said made a big impact on him. My friend is very passionate about home groups and home churches. His family and mine served in the same church for about four years until my wife and I moved away. We were in a home group together, which felt more like a family than anything else. The book: Reimagining Church, by Frank Viola. Its premise is to persuade Christians to return to what Viola
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
The content is solid. Viola could have used a tougher editor, I think, to veer him away from rambles and an overuse of certainty (or at least more references).
May 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christianity
Excellent follow-up to "Pagan Christianity?" I am feeling both the thrill of freedom from guilt about not DOING enough church, AND the enormous responsibility of BEING the church — you can't hire somebody else to take care of the God stuff! ...more
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a short provocative book about the way in which we do church and how it differs from the practices of the Early Church as described in the Bible.

PROS: Author Frank Viola has done his homework and each page shows a deep understanding not only of the biblical text, but also of the different practices of the contemporary Christian church. Viola explains his position from the very beginning and he develops a multitude of arguments to support it throughout the book. This is partly due to a ni
Carey Green
Jan 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
I was very hopeful when I first picked up this book. I sympathize with the author's belief that today's churches are not as healthy or vital as they should be. He advocates home groups, which I do as well. But how he describes that looking is where I have issues with the book. There was an underlying expectation communicated that the Spirit will "lead" in a church group, so leadership and structures are not very needed. I can't buy that. Scripture talks about "gifts of the Spirit," and one of th ...more
Dec 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christianity

A very good corollary to Pagan Christianity. In P.C. Viola explained the differences between how the west practices church and how church is presented in the New Testament. In Reimagining Church he fleshes out what he thinks church could look like today, if we were to loosen the vice grip of tradition and read the New Testament afresh. Being in the midst of wrestling with these questions, I appreciated Viola's tone in R.C.. P.C. had an touch of something that could come across as belligerence,
Ren Jones
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Excellent follow up to the Pagan Christianity. I loved Pagan Christianity because it told the truth and the scholarship was great, but this book gives workable solutions. The only agenda is the desire to find out what Jesus and the apostles taught about church. George Barna and Frank Viola, authors of the prequel, recently did a great interview explaining their views and books on church. You can read it here: - I also recommend "From Eternity to Here" and ...more
Brenda Torres
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Growing up in the American institutional church, I simply took for granted that that was THE model for church. This book has not only challenged my assumptions, but skillfully explained the New Testament vision of church. I closed the book, longing to find this truer expression of church that mirrors the unity and non-heirarchical relationship of the Trinity. Frank Viola never condemned the church or those who continue to be a part of the current church culture, but he gracefully paints a vision ...more
Nov 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. The best chapter was "Reimagining the Family of God" where he describes the way the church should be like a family.
1. The members take care of one another
2. The members spend time together
3. The members show one another affection
4. The family grows
5. The members share responsibility
6. The members reflect the triune God in their relationships

"True renewal, therefore, must be radical."
Tim Ogle
Apr 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Viola continues to inspire a complete rethinking of how we have accepted the current form of "church." He does this with a spirit of unity, appreciation and gentleness that is passionate not preachy.

I'm thankful for a writer who does not have a spirit of rebellion, vindictiveness or perceived wounds he is lashing out from.
Andy Johnson
May 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Very well written book discussing many of the current ills of the American institutional church. Asking the right kinds of provocative questions. This book is advocating for a return to "organic church." Well worth the read for everyone who is trying to figure out a direction forward in the American Christian community. Highly recommend it. Warning: This may tweak with some sacred cows. ...more
Katherine Graham
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was very impressed by the detail and research that went into this book. Skeptical at first coming from a loyal Southern Baptist background, the points and questions raised in this book ring so true to the character of Christ that I don't believe those who love Him can turn a blind eye, sweep the topics brought up under the rug, and walk away. Life-changing and well worth the read. ...more
Jul 29, 2012 rated it did not like it
Frank brings a different And needed perspective of church but the book seems to be written to push an agenda. He uses many fallacies and an incomplete spectrum of scripture. Very frustrating to read. I would not recommend this book.
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[Viola doesn't use GoodReads. If you wish to contact him, you can write to him directly with a question or comment at]

Frankie V. (Frank Viola) trains people in the craft of writing through his annual SCRIBE training.

He has written some books in the past on the love, grace, and mercy of Jesus Christ and against the harsh, cruel, toxic, unforgiving,

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