Jesus Manifesto, a review received this book for free in exchange for agreeing to review it. I shouldn’t have made that deal — but it was an honest mistake. You see, I’ve read some of Frank Viola’s books, and he usually writes well-researched, intellectually meaty books — exactly the kind of books I like.

But Jesus Manifesto is really more of an inspirational or devotional book — and I just don’t like that form of literature. I’ve read the reviews at Amazon and throughout the internet, and that seems to be the split. Reviewers who are into serious theology find the book shallow and even say things like

As for me, I have read the first several chapters and each time I read a chapter it is hard to work up any enthusiasm for going back to read the next chapter.  It’s not that they are saying anything I necessarily disagree with, in fact much of it is spot on.  But the book insinuates that these authors are telling us something new in telling us that the Christian life is all about Jesus. Continue reading


Renewing Our Worship: Getting Organized

Maybe this is too obvious. I apologize if it is. But doing worship well requires organizing the right way. And I think the reason we so often do worship badly is, in part, because we so often organize badly. Let me explain.

In the typical Church of Christ, worship planning goes this way —

* The preacher plans his sermon.

* The song leader picks 6 or so songs, which may or may not connect with the sermon.

* The deacon over worship calls someone and asks him to lead communion.

* The deacon over worship calls someone else and asks him to lead the “main” prayer.

* The deacon over worship calls one last person and asks him to lead the closing prayer.

The deacon’s job is pretty miserable because most people say no. The ones who say yes are often not very good at what they do. Worship deacons usually burn out pretty fast. Continue reading

Pagan Christianity and Congregational Autonomy, Part 1

Pagan Christianity is a new/old book by George Barna and Frank Viola. Viola wrote an earlier version called, confusingly enough, Pagan Christianity, which attracted much less attention. But this edition, with the well-known statistician George Barna listed as co-author, has attracted much more (Amazon rank of 1,667 vs. 215,610).

I’ve not read this edition, but I read the earlier one, and it’s very much in line with the thinking of the Restoration Movement, seeking to find a purer, better form of Christianity by getting back to First Century roots. However, unlike Restoration Movement churches, the authors make a strong push for house churches as truer to the scriptural pattern. Continue reading