Both of these books gave me plenty to think about, although much of Rick's book was familiar ground but still very helpful. In fact if you haven't read anything on evangelism for a while and if you've never thought of evangelism as more than a guilt driven task that you ought to be doing but just can't bring yourself to engage in, then this might be the book you need to read.
For a long time now I've thought in terms of a spiritual journey that begins well before "conversion" occurs, for most of us at least. Personally, I can trace God at work in my life back to being 4 years old when I rejected believing just because an adult told me I should. And there were many other transformational moments, some small some big, until I finally understood the extent of God's love for me and the response I needed to make. The book helped underscore these thoughts.
Reimagining Church was a tougher challenge. there were times when I thought about putting the book down because I almost felt it was too critical of the established church. But Viola's heart is in the right place and the established church needs to be challenged. I think he shares a passion for the local church just as much as I do or as a Bill Hybels does.
And let's face it, the business model or military model of doing church hasn't been massively successful in the grand scale of things. We can't all aspire to big budget mega-church programming and neither should we. Small churches have a lot to offer if they can get the model right for their setting. Being set free from understanding the church as a pastor-led, top down, building bound, budget driven organisation that demands constant maintenance is something towards which we should be moving with rejoicing and expectation. At the end of the book there is a really helpful and interesting critique of many of our current models of church. It doesn't set up any particular model as a straw man, and because of this, it is possible to think about what makes for a good model for the church of today.
So, Amazon should drop off a couple of new books today and I'm still trying to get into Allender's To be Told. So I shouldn't run out of things to read this side of Christmas. Although knowing me, I'll need to make sure I have something to do on Christmas Day. I'm usually pretty bored by about 2:00pm!