Last week’s “Pagan Week” has been held over in view of the extended conversation I’ve been having with Frank Viola, which began yesterday, talking about the book and the reactions to it, both the fair and unfair critiques plus the positive reactions. This all follows my own review of Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices ran all of last week. If you’re just tuning in you might want to catch up on part one of the interview; if you’ve been following along, you’ll recall that we’re all sitting around a table in your favorite independent local coffee shop, and have just poured coffee refills. As yesterday, Frank and I will converse for a bit an then you’ll get your comments in. Have another biscotti; try the chocolate-covered one, they’re delicious — perfect with coffee.
“Pagan Week” carries on — this week I’m working through Frank Viola and George Barna’s Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices. If you’ve been following along, I know that you’ll be expecting to be reading an interview with Frank Viola in this space today, but I’m changing things up just a bit — Pagan Week is going to be held over. The conversation I had with Frank was excellent, and he provided a lot of material in his responses… good stuff, clarifying stuff. I didn’t want to cut anything, so the conversation will be split over a couple of posts… and it didn’t seem right to have a whole weekend between parts one and two, so the conversation will be posted starting Monday. In the meantime, we’re going to look today at three parts of the book I hadn’t planned on covering because they’re not part of the book. But in a sense, they are.
Welcome to “Pagan Week” — this week I’m working through Frank Viola and George Barna’s Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices. If you want to see what you missed, you can catch up with the prolegomena and yesterday’s post, Pagan Christianity II: Buildings & What Happens Inside. Today we have our sights set on the pastoral staff, the money, and the sacraments.
Before diving in, we’re at the halfway point in my working through the book material and I want to drop a reminder not to draw conclusions until we get to the end. Although I am offering a number of concerns or highlighting my points of disagreement with the book, this is not the full story, and we’ll get there. When we do, I hope to be able to offer some thoughts on how the reactions to the book came to be so strong from some quarters, and why even some of my own objections need to be viewed this understanding as well as an appreciation of the authors’ thesis and purpose in writing. With that material covered, I’ll be able to explain to whom I will recommend the book.
Welcome to “Pagan Week” — this week I’m working through Frank Viola and George Barna’s Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices. If you want to see what you missed, you can catch up with yesterday’s prolegomena before proceeding. Today we’re going to skip past all that intro stuff and dive in at chapter two… which, so nobody has to ask why I can’t count, is item number five in the series outline.
Welcome to “Pagan Week!” This week we’ll be hitting the themes in Frank Viola and George Barna’s Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices, and wrapping up the week by interviewing Frank Viola.
On the whole, the book sounds a lot more Frank than George. No surprise there, as it’s a reworking of some earlier material by Frank Viola and represents a long-time project for him. Knowing the subject matter in the book and the subject matter of this blog, it would be fair to conclude that I am going to land on the same page in most areas and quickly recommend the book. Not so fast… you’ll have to wait for the exciting conclusion for that. I do have some concerns with the book that give me pause. In most cases, these have less to do with the conclusions reached than the manner they are arrived at and the language with which they’re stated… but we’ll come to all that.
I’m thinking about small group ministries that so many churches offer these days. Many seem to be based on good principles of mutual care, and some are based around the idea that the small group or cell is the basic building-block of the church. At one time I might have said that a church without a small group ministry is missing out on a critical element of church life. In my CLB, we were all about small groups, at least in the earlier days (they became more mechanized than organic nearer the end). I remember a lot of the cell church material as well, and the attempts at hybridizing the purer forms of cell church and the megachurch mentality. I wonder now if a church with a small group ministry isn’t sometimes an oxymoronic expression of community, an attempt to replicate in smaller units the thing that’s fundamentally missing from the larger context… but since it’s fundamentally a program, its makeup cuts across the formation of organic relationship and true community.
We had some good discussion last week on my post on Measuring Converts in Simple / House / Missional Churches, and a late comment by Joe slipped in today:
Having stumbled onto this website, could I ask you for some help? I am new to world of simple/organic church, and remember fondly my early days as a Christian, when I held an after church meeting in my home, it was everything a traditional church is not, anyway could you recommend any books, websites, or authors that would help me to flesh out my understanding of simple/organic church life.
I thought I would highlight it as a good question… many of the resources I’m thinking of are books I’ve not actually read. The latest Frank Viola book is controversial but is more of a defense of organic church than a how-to. So what practical blogs or books are out there for home / simple / organic churches?
Alright, pop quiz time! Can you find the church in this picture? (Hint: it’s a trick question.) There was some discussion following Philip Edwards’ post on the End of the House Church? last week, as well as on my own post on the subject. Philip has posted some followup thoughts today, and I wanted to do the same, as I don’t think we’ve yet gotten to the heart of the real conversation we could be looking at on this issue… which I hinted at in my opus reply to the comments there.
By the way, if you were cautious about my question concerning the church in the photograph and said “both”, you’re wrong. Bzzzt!! Thanks for playing. The church is a people, not a building. The image shows two of the types of buildings where the church sometimes gathers. (Hey, I warned you, it was a trick question.)