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Saturday, June 3, 2017

"Slow Church" by C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison. A Short Review

Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of JesusSlow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus by C. Christopher Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Let's be up front. On one hand this book was disappointing to me, especially the left-of-center positions politically and (sometimes) theologically. On the other hand "Slow Church" scored big points and made great observations! Patterned after the "International Slow Food Movement" model, "Slow Church" takes on the MacDonaldization of "Fast Church" and the homogenization principle of the Church Growth Movement. "Many churches, particularly those driven by church growth models, come dangerously close to reducing Christianity to a commodity that can be packaged, marketed and sold" (14). It's a book meant to challenge assumptions and encourage new/old aspirations.

The authors are not advocating moving to the inner city, or to a two-thirds world nation, or voluntary poverty, but rather "we're advocating...that we live more deeply into the ordinary patterns of our lives, considering and talking with others in our church about how and why we do the things we do" (223). To complete this project Smith and Pattison lead the readers strolling along the pathways for cultivating community (inside and outside the church) in the patient ways of Jesus. Very much in tune with Wendell Berry and Eugene Peterson, the authors carefully and slowly build the case for place, savoring where a church is, work and rest, abundance, gratitude and hospitality. The strength of the book comes through the authors' examples from their own practices and those of others. As a matter of fact, the manuscript is loaded down with real life suggestions and ideas that will get the imagination percolating.

"Slow Church" will likely ruffle feathers and disturb some shelves in your thinking. Nevertheless, it is a book worth snatching up, reading and thinking through. It should find it's way into the hands of church-planters, church-renewers, and pastors. With my concerns stated at the beginning, I still recommend the book.


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