“Slow Church” Movement Advocates for a Church Culture Tightly Connected to the Local Community

“Slow Church” book cover photo courtesy of InterVarsity Press.
“Slow Church” book cover photo courtesy of InterVarsity Press.

Going to church these days can be a bit like eating at a fast food joint.

It might be quick and tasty.

But it won’t satisfy your soul.

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You can’t franchise the kingdom of God, say the authors of “Slow Church,” a new book from InterVarsity Press that applies the lessons of the slow food movement to congregational life.

C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison, the book’s authors, are part of a loose network of writers, friends, theologians and pastors worried about what they call the “McDonaldization” of church. They say too many small churches try to mass-produce spiritual growth by copying the latest megachurch techniques.

Instead, Smith and Pattison advocate for “slow church” — an approach to ministry that stresses local context and creativity over pre-packaged programs.

About 15 years ago, Pattison said, leaders from his home church in Lincoln, Neb., tried to import some programs from Willow Creek, a megachurch outside of Chicago.

But those programs didn’t fit in their small town, he said. And he sees other churches doing the same thing today.

Neither writer is a fan of megachurches, which they say can allow people to remain anonymous rather than being part of a community.

Smith said megachurches are often disconnected from their geographical neighborhoods.

“Our biggest concern with megachurches,” he said, “is the fact that they typically draw their members from such a large area that they become churches of nowhere, not belonging to any particular place.”

Both Smith and Pattison are members of small urban churches that have reinvented themselves in recent years.

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Religion News Service

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