2014 Readers' Choice Award Winner2014 Best Books About the Church from Byron Borger, Hearts and Minds Bookstore Fast food. Fast cars. Fast and furious. Fast forward. Fast . . . church? The church is often idealized (or demonized) as the last bastion of a bygone era, dragging our feet as we're pulled into new moralities and new spiritualities. We guard our doctrine and our piety with great vigilance. But we often fail to notice how quickly we're capitulating, in the structures and practices of our churches, to a culture of unreflective speed, dehumanizing efficiency and dis-integrating isolationism. In the beginning, the church ate together, traveled together and shared in all facets of life. Centered as they were on Jesus, these seemingly mundane activities took on their own significance in the mission of God. In Slow Church, Chris Smith and John Pattison invite us out of franchise faith and back into the ecology, economy and ethics of the kingdom of God, where people know each other well and love one another as Christ loved the church.
Foreword by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove Introduction 1 A Theological Vision for Slow Church FIRST COURSE: ETHICS 2 Terroir: Taste and See 3 Stability: Fidelity to People and Place 4 Patience: Entering into the Suffering of Others SECOND COURSE: ECOLOGY 5 Wholeness: The Reconciliation of All Things 6 Work: Cooperating with God?s Reconciling Mission 7 Sabbath: The Rhythm of Reconciliation THIRD COURSE: ECONOMY 8 Abundance: The Economy of Creation 9 Gratitude: Receiving the Good Gifts of God 10 Hospitality: Generously Sharing God?s Abundance 11 Dinner Table Conversation as a Way of Being Church Conclusion Acknowledgments Recommended Reading Notes
"At long last, a book I relish giving away to the vast number of people longing for an alternative between 'McDonald Church' and the end of the church altogether. In neighborhoods across North America there are hundreds of thousands of Christ-followers trying to experiment with a new way of being the church in everyday life. Now there is a hopeful guidebook that is rich with empirical and anecdotal research, historical depth and theological savvy that can guide their way. This is the book you rush out and buy a dozen copies of to give hope and help to your friends who want to follow the way of Jesus."
"Smith and Pattison marshal the wisdom of our greatest cultural thinkers—people like Berry, Heschel, Pollan and Vanier—in this tour-de-force manifesto. This smart book reveals the vacuity of fast church and realigns us with the locality, rest, unpredictability and simple delight that comes with the way of Jesus."
"In this agitated and anxious world, our worth is determined by our productivity and our value is measured by how much we can devour. Without much thought, even our churches have become tangled up in our quick-consumption mentality. In the midst of the greedy mindlessness of ministry, C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison evoke a different vision—one of a careful community of deep relationships. As a pastor, I lingered over the words of Slow Church with delight as they inspired me and made me welcome what we might become."
"Hurry, worry, stress and striving have come to dominate human consciousness in the twenty-first century—the logical consequences of a society built on individualism and productivity at any cost. We long for a pace of life that allows us to enjoy deep relationships, meaningful work, spiritual vitality and the simple pleasures of life. In Slow Church, Pattison and Smith offer a hopeful vision of the future, rooted in the Christian gospel, that provides a comprehensive orientation for pursuing a more integrative path. This book tenderly calls common assumptions about the church and society into question, carefully synthesizing Christian theology with emerging ecological consciousness. For the sake of our souls, our grandchildren and the planet, I hope we pay attention to Smith and Pattison's conclusions and take action."
"All of our churches are shaped by our cultural environments, and Smith and Pattison note how forces such as fragmentation, impatience, commodification, branding, hypermobility, individualism and efficiency too often dominate our practices and priorities. So we strive for control in the midst of fears and self-protection. Slow Church provides theology and imagination that connect gospel embodiment with place and neighbors, calling us to slower lives around tables and conversations that nourish and interweave gratefulness, listening, work, hospitality, justice and the biblical trajectory toward the reconciliation of all things. Less of McDonalds; more of sabbath feasts."
"Slow Church spurs imagination for God's patient, diligent working in the small everyday peculiarities of our lives together with him. It's a call to the simple goodness of life--made possible with God in community and neighborhood. Read it and be cured forever of programmed church."
"James Houston once wrote, 'the speed of godliness is slow.' In a culture that values speed and worships efficiency, Christopher Smith and John Pattison show us the graceful rhythms of fully embodied presence. Food, farming, faith and friendships cannot be rushed; neither can the church. Quality is more important than quantity. Slow Church reveals that there is a better, freer and more hope-filled way than frenetic ministry and exhausted lives. It sees slow not as lazy or bad but as rich and meaningful. This book challenges us to savor--not devour--the blessings of God in the midst of community. Ecclesiologically, patience truly is a virtue. Food tastes better when it marinates. Church is no different."
"The only way the church can be the church as God wants it is when the people of the church slow down enough to become the church. Good themes, excellent quotations, compelling stories and solid research mark what is one of the freshest alternatives to church life as it is today. Buy this, but don't read it fast. Read it slow."
"Recognizing the destructive consequences of church structures and individual lifestyles built around efficiency, control and hypermobility, Smith and Pattison challenge us to recover the social significance of God's slow and patient work in the world. This beautifully crafted book offers perceptive analyses, asks crucial questions and provides gracious wisdom for finding ways to live more fully attentive to God and to our particular time and place. Slow Church, like a well-prepared meal, provides nourishment and delight, and invites long and fruitful conversation."
"In this timely book Smith and Pattison lead us into the habits and practices that are essential if churches are to savor, mobilize and celebrate the gifts of God's goodness all around. Read it with friends and then be prepared to discover the grit and the grace that make life together a foretaste of the kingdom of God. Slow Church is a beautifully conceived book that challenges us to live more deeply into community and in discipleship of Jesus Christ."
"The internet providers have persuaded us that 'fast' is better--about everything. As a result, 'slow' is a deeply subversive, countercultural notion in a culture of 'fast.' This thoughtful, discerning book advocates 'slow' in faith and in life. This advocacy is a recognition that faith is a practice of relational fidelity that cannot be reduced to contractual or commodity transaction. The authors ponder and reflect on this summons with both pastoral sensitivity and missional passion. Readers eager for an evangelically paced life will pay close attention to this advocacy."
"Chris and John have done a fantastic job of envisioning a wholesomely sustainable, spiritually alluring and thoroughly kingdom-centric church that is simply fulfilling its purpose of witnessing to Jesus in the rhythms of God's grace. I just have to join in! An inspiring read."