Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus
by C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison
Reviewed by Clint Walker
A few years back, a documentary named Super-Size Me, created by Morgan Spurlock, took the nation by storm. In the show, he ate at McDonald's for a month straight. Most people did not think it would have that drastic of an effect, but in the end McDonald's food had adverse effects on his physical and psychological health, and led to difficulties with sexual functioning as well. Fast-food values of immediate gratification, ease of use, low-cost caused all sorts of problems--many of which were unanticipated.
C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison argue that in many ways, the contemporary church has embraced fast-food values to their detriment. As a result, many churches offer a spiritual fare that satiates and sells to many, but in the end does little to fortify participants' souls or to build a healthy body of Christ. They argue for slow church instead of fast-food faith, offering a non-anxious, patient way of being the people of God.
Slow church is grounded in its local community. It does not chase after every trend in church development. It sees church community as a mission station not a fortress. Slow church calls us to savor the gospel instead of simply consuming it. It calls for a unique, organic connection of the church family to the community around them, as well as the same kind of connection between participants in local church communities. It calls people to a healthy rhythm of work and rest, instead of using people up to meet objectives, goals, and institutional needs. It recognize the unique assets around the community of faith, instead of grasping for a one-size-all quick fix from an organization outside of the local community. The idea of "slow church" has, I believe, always been around. The metaphor of "slow church" calls us into a counter-cultural, non-anxious way of being the people of God.
As I read this, I am reminded that God's call is not always easily measured by human standards. And I am challenged to renew my faith that the narrow, faithful road is the right one.