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Finding Organic Church: A Comprehensive Guide to Starting and Sustaining Christian Communities Paperback – 29 May 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 319 pages
  • Publisher: David C Cook Publishing Company (29 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 143476866X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1434768667
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 16.1 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 200,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

FRANK VIOLA has helped thousands of people around the world to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and enter into a more vibrant and authentic experience of church. He has written many books on these themes, including "From Eternity to Here," "Reimagining Church," "Pagan Christianity?," "Jesus Manifesto," "Jesus: A Theography," "Revise Us Again," and "Finding Organic Church." He blogs regularly at, which is rated in the top 10 of all Christian blogs on the Web today.

Product Description

What is an organic church? It's a community of people framed by a common life in Christ, not religious programs. A community whose foundation is birthed by God, not built by methods. A vibrant family of Jesus where genuine, authentic relationships are fostered. Influential leader and author Frank Viola is calling the church back to its biblical and spiritual roots. It's a call grounded in a profound truth: In all things spiritual, origin determines destiny. This is why so many religious congregations today are struggling to survive. It's not because of bad planning, but poor planting. So how do we return to God's original plan and purpose for His church? Viola presents an essential guide for finding, planting, and nourishing organic church communities. Within this comprehensive guide, he unearths rich spiritual insights from God's word and revisits the original design for His church. Drawing from both scripture and real-world experience, this comprehensive guide offers fresh and practical tools for finding and planting life-changing churches that won't just grow, but thrive.

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A generally good read, but I think the author has adopted a prejudiced view of mainline churches and then seeks to squeeze the New Testament evidence to fit his preconceptions. But it contains some useful insights for the pattern of church life needed in today's society.
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I keep buying this book and giving it away to Church Leaders ab
Nd people wanting to start churches. Viola's other books are great and challenge the status quo of todays church format, but this book shows you how to be a simple, organic, NT type church.No frills, just transformation and life!
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By M. Neale on 30 Jun 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Whilst this is biased to the American culture I recommend this to anyone investigating Organic Church. Frank Viola has the balance right; he can talk about church practicalities without forgetting that life is all about Jesus.
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By Amazon Customer on 17 Sep 2014
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An extraordinary exploration of Jesus' heart for his body in the 21st Century.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 56 reviews
39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
A new look at planting and sustaining organic church 1 Sep 2009
By Chad Estes - Published on
Format: Paperback
"Finding Organic Church" is Frank Viola's newest book in his growing library of resources for understanding and operating as the Body of Christ. This book builds upon the work done in the series by detailing how an organic expression of the church is started and can be sustained. It is easy enough to jump right into the discussion with this newest offering, but it will make you hungry for what has come before. Save your pennies, you will want the whole set.

Viola again has done his research on the topic; the chapters are full of quotes and footnotes from other authors. It makes this book an extremely valuable resource for students or potential church planters who have immersed themselves in this discussion. At the same time the writing is friendly and does not read as an academic book. It is both thorough and passionate.

Rather than build a view of church planting around theories, Viola presents principles that he finds in scripture as well as his own church planting experience. His presentation encouraged me to ask questions and to try to understand how I had previously interpreted these passages. He suggests that "most Christians are stuck in the prevailing paradigms that dominate the religious world today." I for one do not want to be a slave to paradigms, but want to be free to discover God's purposes for his beloved bride. This book is helping me in that regard.

Finding Organic Church is presented in four sections:
* Planting the seed - Biblical principles for church planting
* Tilling the ground - answers to questions
* Cultivating the soil - practical steps for beginning
* Pulling the weeds - health and development

Whether you are a student, pastor, church planter or just see yourself as the average, Joe Christian, there is value in this book for you. Even if you don't agree with all of Viola's premises you will be challenged with this discussion and will find great values to hold fast to.
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Radical Church Restoration 5 Oct 2009
By David D. Flowers - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Radical Church Restoration
Finding Organic Church: A Comprehensive Guide to Starting and Sustaining Authentic Christian Communities by Frank Viola
A Book Review by David D. Flowers

Frank Viola says, "The church is a living organism." Many Christians would concur with Viola that the true nature of Christ's church is born out of the soil of His finished work and moves forward in the power of the Holy Spirit. However, as Viola has pointed out in his radical church restoration series, many believers have no problem speaking of the church as organism, but they are quite content to go on practicing the church as an organization.

The series begins with The Untold Story of the New Testament Church: An Extraordinary Guide to Understanding the New Testament Church. Viola relies on some of the best New Testament scholarship to vividly retell the story of the first-century church in Acts. The New Testament comes alive in one sweeping narrative to give us a clear picture of the life and nature of those first Christian communities.

Pagan Christianity? Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices is the second book in the series, but the first to really capture the attention of Christians across the country. Frank Viola and George Barna team up to give their readers a critical examination of the last 1700 years of church history.

Does the institutional church have any biblical and historical right to exist? Viola asks, "Are the practices of the institutional church God-approved developments to the church that the New Testament envisions? Or are they an unhealthy departure from it?"

As I have stated in my review of PC in January 08, this book "may very well be the most important book written on the Christian church in the last two millennia." I still stand by this statement as it speaks a great challenge to the organized church. I believe we have yet to see the full impact of this book. In the coming days, I think you can expect to see it nailed to the door of an organized church near you.

Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity is the follow-up to the controversial PC. It is in this book that Viola offers a new vision, which is truthfully an old vision, of the church as organism.

RC is a proposal that the church of Jesus Christ mirror the very image of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If you agreed with PC and it left you clueless as to the alternative of the organized church, RC paints a new picture of a church that looks like the community of the Triune God and can truly be characterized as every-member functioning, familial, and organic.

It is in From Eternity to Here: Rediscovering the Ageless Purpose of God, the fourth book in the series, that Viola takes a step back to show us the bigger picture. It is in this book that he communicates the driving passion behind the work of planting organic churches.

Viola simplifies church life as an act of gathering around Jesus Christ. Yet, much of the Body of Christ has been forced into an institution and she has forgotten God's eternal purpose. She has lost sight of the grand narrative and the great landscape of God's love story. She has been preoccupied and polluted by an ecclesiology that leaves out the ageless purpose of God.

If you're more right-brained and you just can't seem to sit down to read a book on the church, then read From Eternity to Here and have your eyes opened to God's eternal purpose. This book is bound to be a favorite among many readers.

Finding Organic Church: A Comprehensive Guide to Starting and Sustaining Authentic Christian Communities is the final book, and probably the most anticipated, in the radical church restoration series. It is in this book that Viola offers up a practical guide to understanding and implementing organic church life.

Viola writes this book for three different audiences. First, for those who desire to meet organically and would like some practical help. Second, it is written for all those already involved in alternatives to the traditional church (missional, emerging, house church movements, etc.). Third, it has been written for everyone interested in planting churches.

What is an organic church? Viola says,

"By organic church, I mean a church that is born out of spiritual life instead of being constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs. Organic church life is a grassroots experience that is marked by face-to-face community, every-member functioning, open-participatory meetings (as opposed to pastor-to-pew services), nonhierarchical leadership, and the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ as the functional Leader and Head of the gathering" (p. 20).

There are four models of church planting in the New Testament. Viola begins by discussing these models and also addresses the spontaneous expressions of church life that spring up without the work of a church-planter. Viola thoroughly covers the New Testament pattern of church planting and church growth in the first half of the book.

There are four parts to this book. Throughout the first two parts of the book, Viola helps us to rediscover the purpose and function of the itinerant worker. He deals with questions concerning this largely discarded and often controversial role of the itinerant worker. He has even devoted a chapter to the book entitled "Wasn't Paul the Last Apostle?"

He skillfully presents his case for the restoration of traveling church planters (i.e. apostles) and their task in empowering and equipping the church to function organically by the indwelling Christ. Can the New Testament model work today? Viola believes so. And he testifies to experiencing it personally over the last 20 years.

In the third part of the book, Viola discusses how to gather and gives practical steps for beginning to meet organically. Maybe you are presently meeting in an organized church but would like to begin meeting organically. It could be that you have left the institutional church and would like to begin meeting with others who are interested. And there are those who are already meeting in homes but are in need of some guidance. You will find this book a great help in moving forward.

How do you sing without a "leader" to direct you? What about teaching? What about giving? What about evangelism? What does it all look like in this new paradigm? And the most often asked question of all, "What about the children?" Viola addresses these concerns and so much more. He gives practical exercises and suggestions in getting started.

In the final part of the book, Viola discusses the seasons and stages of growth within organic church life. He also mentions the diseases and pitfalls of gathering around Christ. His descriptions of these periods no doubt come from his own personal experiences.

Finally, Viola gives a call out to his readers.

"I believe the need of the hour is for Christian who are called by God to raise up the church as a living, breathing experience. Christians who are broken and tested. Christians who refuse to take shortcuts but who have first lived in an organic expression of body life as brothers and sisters before they ever dare plant a church."

He continues...

"The need of the hour is for such a people to wait on God until they are properly prepared and then sent. And once sent, to plant the church in the same way that all first-century workers did: by equipping it and then abandoning it to the Holy Spirit" (p. 306).

And to those pastors who wish to make the transition, Viola writes...

"As I have said elsewhere, transitioning from an institutional church to an organic church is not cosmetic surgery. It's a complete overhaul" (p. 311).

For pastors, he closes with three steps to take in moving your church to functioning organically. But you're gonna have to get the book to see what those steps call for.

Are you satisfied with shoulder-to-shoulder religion or are you looking for face-to-face community? It's not for those that aren't willing to endure the cross. Are you ready to dive in to an exciting journey of experiencing the indwelling Christ in familial community?

Then take a bold step outside the walls of institutionalized religion and recline at the table with others who hunger for more of Jesus.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A Unique Balance Between the Spiritual and the Practical 16 Sep 2009
By Damanzu - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book will undoubtedly come as a much needed resource to all those who are seeking to live out their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ organically outside the religious systems of today. It is unique in that it gives a balanced discourse between the spiritual and the practical side of organic church life. For example, Viola early on lays out the spiritual principle that organic church life is rooted in the Godhead in eternity past where three things were occurring: an exchange of divine life, an exchange of divine fellowship and a divine purpose to enlarge that life and fellowship. It was amazing to see these three elements unfolded and passed down from the Father to Jesus, then to his disciples and eventually to the church in the book of Acts. If a church is not living and being sustained by divine life, then what you would ultimately end up with is something man made. This is what "authentic" means to me: that something is actually `of the spirit' originating in the very life of God through His body. Have you ever hungered for something authentic?

There are other extremely significant spiritual principles laid out in the first few chapters of the book related to the restoration of true apostolic workers, and biblical church planting methods. In a world today with endless missionary/evangelistic methods that have probably touched us all at one point or another, Viola finally comes to draw the line between our ways and God's ways of raising up churches and church planters. Even though I have read the book of Acts and the Epistles many times before, I somehow failed to see/understand the apostolic activities of the 1st century. Something `of old' is being dug up and restored today.

Finally, this book redefines the meaning of the word `practical'. I have never read a book so practical that it even suggests the optimal room temperature for a house church meeting! Believe me, you won't be left stranded with spiritual principles and questions like "How do we do this?" or "How do we start?" Viola gives us a lot of help in actually finding organic church life as the book is so appropriately titled.

One of the lines that impacted me the most occurs in chapter 19 which reads: "If you focus on the church, you will get division. But if you focus on Christ and embrace His cross, you will get the church."
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
'organic' is just that: fresh, new, alive! 8 Sep 2009
By Tim Martin - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Frank Viola continues his quest to challenge all 'church-goers' to think and rethink what 'church' is! Wow! very well-researched and well-written.... I read a couple books a week, and this - for me - was like a "can't-put-it-down-novel"! Got it last week and finished it over the Labor Day weekend...kudos and well done, my brother! still digesting, and am about to re-read it! thank you for your passion for this foundational work!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Something very new, yet very old in church planting 11 Sep 2009
By Milton Rodriguez - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Frank Viola has presented for us here a very comprehensive look at organic church and organic church planting. However, I feel that there is much confusion about those terms in the alternative church landscape right now. What does it mean that a church is "organic"? And what does it mean to plant these types of churches?

Frank does a great job in describing both in this new work. He draws from three sources to make his case: the New Testament, church history, and his own 21 years of experience both being in and planting such churches.

I have recently seen than many in the so called "house church movement" are drawing from other sources such as the business world and the internet to make their cases for network marketing the church and rapid church multiplication. This tells me that perhaps there are no other sources to back up these methods.

How about if we get back to the New Testament story and the history of those who have gone before us to find out what "organic church" really is? Viola does exactly that in "Finding Organic Church" and it is a very important contribution to what God is saying to the church today.
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