I have already done an introduction to Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola & George Barna, so now I want to get into a little more of the book. besides the one chapter on tithing & clergy salaries, the book is not about stewardship, but I do think the book overall has made an important impact on my thoughts about the Church that I feel the need to write about it.
Without reading far into the book you get the notion that Barna and Viola are into the house church/organic church movement. What would anyone have against a biblically pure organic, home Church? One of the statements that caught my attention in the book was this,
“The Christianity that conquered the Roman Empire was essentially a home-centered movement.”
It strikes me because we think that the bigger our footprint on creating religious real estate, than the bigger influence we will have in our society. History disproves this theory. The first-century Christians turned the world upside down without the organizational and structural presence that we hold on dear today (Acts 17:6). Essentially what Frank Viola and George Barna are saying is, we don’t need this stuff like we think we do. Most of us think what would we do without a church building? The same goes for tithing. What would we ever do if everyone just gave as they felt led? We think everything would just fall apart.
Pagan Christianity basically takes everything we practiced about Church and throws it all away. It is very radical indeed. I think that we need something radical anyways. If you were smart you would keep your mind open to radical thoughts. When Jesus entered this earth, he was very radical. He took everything that the Jews knew about God and his laws and threw them out the door. This upset many people. The Jews had every reason to say, “but we’ve been doing it this way for 2,000 years. This man (Jesus) is a heretic.”
Put away the fancy clothes, the pews, the pulpit, the altar calls, the hymn books, the praise and worship team, the ushers, the 1-2-3 or 4-man pastoral show, the hype, the buildings, the fancy architecture, the high overhead, the order of the service, the outlined sermon, the religious hierarchy, the ordination & seminary requirements, the choir, tithing & clergy salaries. Put away all of that because it is not a biblical requirement. What do you have in Church beyond all of that? You have Church at the very roots of what God wanted it to be about. . . -Him.
One last quote from the book,
“Granted, Christ may be able to express Himself through one or two members of the church-usually the pastor and the music leader. But this is a very limited expression. “
You see what happens is we go to church, get comfortable, and we become spectators. Everyone does not have an opportunity to use their gifts and talents in the body. We are practically shut up. What Pagan Christianity is saying is that Christ is only expressed through the pastor or music leader when we come together, and this is not how God intended the Church body to function. Romans 12:6 says, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them” Also in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” And in 1 Peter 4:11, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God.” Lastly, in 1 Corinthians 14, we can see that God set up an order in the Church for prophesying and teaching.
Typically on Sunday when we come together, there’s only 1 or 2 people sharing, admonishing, or teaching. I think we all need an opportunity to share. Not just 1 or 2. The way our Church is structurally set up today does not stimulate growth and participation. Actually, it prohibits it. This is the heart of what Frank Viola is getting at in Pagan Christianity.
What do you think about the house church/organic church movement? Do you think there are some positives? Do you think there are some negatives?