Slow Church: How to Practice It

slow-church-bookI recently received a review copy of Chris Smith and John Pattison’s new book, Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus. Much appreciation to the kind folk at IVP, such as Adrianna Wright!

I looked forward with great anticipation to the release of this book following both my reading of the Slow Church blog and Chris Smith’s initial e-book release, The Virtue of Dialogue: Conversation as a Hopeful Practice of Church Communities (I reviewed the book here).

I appreciate what Smith and Pattison are looking to communicate about a necessary foundation for the church – not because it’s something so greatly counter-cultural to “the world,” though it is. Rather because it is counter-cultural to the church of the west. I simply love the subtitle: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus. We cannot microwave relationships, community nor discipleship. Well, we can try. But we all know what that will look like.

In a recent blog post, Pattison offers 10 practical ways of how to begin cultivating “slow church.” Read them below, but also check out the book!

  1. Create space for open, honest conversation in your church community.
  2. Find ways to regularly eat together with your church and your neighbors. Perhaps work your way through Maggie Stuckey’s fabulous cookbook, Soup Night: Recipes for Creating Community Around a Pot of Soup.
  3. Identify a few of the people, places, rhythms, and shared beliefs that give your community its unique taste and texture. Talk about how your church can tease out some of the delicious flavors already present there.
  4. Create an asset-map of your congregation and neighborhood. Pay particular attention to the gifts of those we tend to marginalize: the young and the old, those with physical or emotional challenges, and so on.
  5. Play together. Our kids can remind us how it’s done. (This is inspired by our friends at Fountain Parish in Bellingham, Washington. They do this well.)
  6. Carefully study the history of your church and its neighborhood. Where do those stories intersect?
  7. We often practice Sabbath as individuals, when we practice it at all. Explore what it might mean to practice “Sabbath rest and delight” as a church community.
  8. Find creative ways to orchestrate the diverse skills and gifts of your church’s members (plumbers, writers, entrepreneurs, teachers, everyone) in the local mission of the church.
  9. Think about the how and why of what you’re already doing. For example, does your faith community sing, pray, and study scripture together in order to be productive and “get something done”? If so, how can these practices be re-oriented toward deep presence?
  10. Designate someone as your church’s “memory keeper,” someone to record the stories of God’s faithfulness in your church and in your neighborhood. At least once a year, recite those stories, rehearse them together, and remember well God’s provision.
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