Book Review: Finding Organic Church
I’ve had this book, Finding Organic Church, on my bookshelf for the better part of a year. While I’ve flipped through it and skimmed it, along with other works from Frank Viola (I’ve been a subscriber to his blog for a few years now), I only recently sat down to read and think through it. I found it very thought provoking and full of extremely practical insight. I don’t think my perspective is in complete agreement with the model that is purposed in this “guide,” but I am sure that I will be able to incorporate many of the ideas and practices shared by Viola as I continue to pursue the yearning hunger in my own heart for organic church.
Everything and everyone must have a starting point and foundation to work from and that is what Viola does with the first to parts of the book. He lays the groundwork for his reasons why he believes “authentic Christian communities” start and mature in a certain way. These first two parts of the book are an encapsulation of some other works from Viola which serve as the backdrop for Finding Organic Church. While I don’t necessarily disagree with the Biblical record presented in the first half of the book, I’m not sure that it should necessarily serve as a universal template for every “organic church.” I might be wrong; I don’t have twenty plus years of experience to draw from, but the template presented in the book comes off rather narrow and strict as a one-size-fits-all approach… especially when I consider the interpretation of organic. I did find the first half of the book interesting and informative, but I consider the real value of the book (for me) being found in the second half.
The second half of the book (around page 170), was also experiential insight gleaned from two decades of practiced ministry in the house church—organic church movement by Frank Viola. I found the wisdom of experience and practice he shares to be extremely valuable. Again, I don’t expect the information shared will be used as a step-by-step guide by me, but I do think there are a number of reminders and practices that could be implemented in a faith community for its health, maturity, and overall well-being.
I appreciate the passion of Viola for Christ and his church. It comes through in the book. I’m sure I’ll be drawing on his wisdom in the future and I’m grateful for the time and effort he has taken to share his knowledge. I would recommend the book for what it is, a guide…not a rule. There is much to be gleaned from it, regardless of whether or not you agree with every word written.