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Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus
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Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  638 ratings  ·  107 reviews
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 pr ...more
Paperback, 247 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by IVP Books
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  638 ratings  ·  107 reviews

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Jul 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The real strength of this book is in it's ability to get you brainstorming. The authors aren't experts on the topics being presented - rather, they take what most would agree to be important biblical rhythms for the life of the church (Sabbath, hospitality, work, etc), and then send them out into practical directions, exploring what it has (or could) look like for many people to try to live them out in their congregations and communities. I could see this being a great book to read through with ...more
Bob Henry
Jan 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Slow" could describe turtles, or retired folks on the highways of Florida, but John Pattison and Chris Smith have given us the heart of the word "slow" - more like the first long kiss you gave to your future spouse. "Slow Church" is an intimate longing, a reality that must begin to be embraced. It is a lifestyle for the church today. This book is about how we can enjoy again all that the body of Christ can offer our families, communities, neighborhoods, and our world.

Personally, I had to find
Paul Sparks
Apr 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
At long last, a book I relish giving away to the vast number of people longing for an alternative between ‘McDonald’s 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 ...more
Michael Philliber
Jun 03, 2017 rated it liked it
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 c ...more
Susan C Lance
Oct 05, 2014 rated it liked it
We read this for our small group (life group) at church. As we all agreed in the group, this is a book that needs to be read and discussed as a group. We didn't all agree about the "local" issue discussed in the book such as going to the closest church and shopping and working as close as possible to home. We did agree that living in Southern California makes "local" take on a whole new meaning compared to rural Oregon where one of the writers lives. A book that led to some great discussions. ...more
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommended, own
What a wonderful, new-for-me look at what church can look like. Instead of just a building to drop in and out of on Sunday mornings, church can be a community of people, from all different backgrounds- worshiping, eating, growing, cooking, planting, shopping, knitting, crying, laughing, playing scrabble and just about any other activity- together . That is the key theme in this book- living a life in a community of believers. In 20th century Western culture, our life is so compartmentalized; we ...more
Oct 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: church-life
I enjoyed the chapter on gratitude and celebration, but aside from that, there wasn't much to implement. This read more as a treatise of what was wrong with the church. I'm assuming if you're picking up a book with this title, you've already bought into their premise, that we're suffering from an epidemic of bigger/faster/more in the church. I was looking for ways to cultivate good, and just didn't find that here.

I couldn't help but compare this while I was reading it, with Playing God by Andy C
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: church
I liked a lot in this book, and I think comparing the corporatized church to fast food is helpful. The bibliography is excellent though they tend to draw on a few names quite often.

Some pushback: Though offered as a critique of “technique” books that promise results, the book offers techniques, and though it eschews results, it does not shy away from offering numbers to describe successful ministries.

A worthwhile read, however, especially if you are have anabaptist and/or Quaker sensibilities. I
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
"You can never franchise the blessings of God" (41).

And yet, it is hard to deny the effort the church has made to franchise church life. In fact, a church in town has started offering a "30 minute worship experience"--the equivalent of a drive-thru pit stop for spirituality, not the organic communal church life I've enjoyed my whole life and see demonstrated in the Scriptures. Authors Smith and Pattison compare the "mega-church" phenomena to the methods of food production and distribution that h
I love this approach to church. I love how holistic it is! I think this is so needed and necessary and a great antidote to past-faced, modern, capitalist, consumerist life. It's slow though and the results take time. (Slow church I mean, not the book. The book is easy to read.) Patience is required. Commitment is essential. In fact the kind of I Corinthians 13 love we talk about at weddings is necessary for the local and broader church community. I started this book some time ago and then got di ...more
May 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Slow Church by C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison, Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2014.

Summary: This book argues that the church has been "McDonald-ized" and that just as the Slow Food movement has returned to embracing food that is good, clean, and fair, so the church needs to embrace an ethic of quality, an ecology of reconciliation, and an economy of abundance.

Slow church. That's not what I wanted when I was growing up. I wanted to get my weekly dose of church and get on to more inter
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Slow Church was written for this reason: "Instead of cultivating a deep, holistic discipleship that touches every aspect of our lives, we've confined the life of faith to Sunday mornings, where it can be kept safe and predictable, or to a 'personal relationship with Jesus,' which can be managed from the privacy of our own home. Following Jesus has been diminished to a privatized faith rather than a lifelong apprenticeship undertaken in the context of Christian community." Against an efficient an ...more
Pat Loughery
Jul 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes you pick up a book and know you'll like it because you know you agree with it, and you know you'll review it well to support the authors and get the ideas out there with some more traction. And that's not a bad thing.

But occasionally, something from that stack REALLY jumps out to you as IMPORTANT. This book is that way. It's IMPORTANT.

The co-authors build from the themes of the Slow Food movement into a general Slow Church movement, while saying "this isn't the next big thing. it's ju
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
It might just be where I'm at in my life, but this book hit so many buttons for me. The idea of cultivating gratitude and a sense of satisfaction that I have enough is just so crucial for me. I was especially blessed by the encouragement to cultivate stability. Our modern desire for more and for mobility doesn't necessarily add value. As a church planter, I'm grateful for the reminder that the arc of the kingdom is long and that our job is to plant and water. There were lots of good practical ti ...more
April Yamasaki
Jun 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Slow Church offers a more holistic and hopeful vision for the church. The book’s combination of story telling, biblical study, theology, and practical example is engaging, and makes me want to be more intentional in relating to my church and community too. See my complete review: ...more
Jul 30, 2014 rated it liked it
I came away from this book encouraged by the creativity of its authors and excited for the conversations it will instigate as my community reads it together throughout the autumn. It's not about doing more things in a new way. It's about being responsible with the life we're already living—not just as individuals, but as a church. And that's a good conversation to be having. ...more
Casey Phillips
Dec 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
We've been formed by a culture of speed, but if we recognize our malformation, and the selfishness and fearfulness that are fueling it, perhaps we will become less resistant to God's transformation.

Simple. Encouraging. Practical.
Catherine McNiel
Mar 08, 2014 marked it as to-read
I'm just beginning this but it looks Really Good.... ...more
Jeff Elliott
The first two thirds of the book were really good but somehow I got lost in the last third as to what the chapters had to do with the topic.

p. 13-the principles of the fast-food restaurant are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as the rest of the world.” 4 Ritzer identified four dimensions of McDonaldization: efficiency, predictability, calculability (quantifiable results) and control— or at least the illusion of control.

Following Jesus has been diminished to a
May 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
“We are impatient, anxious to see the whole picture, but God lets us see things slowly, quietly. The Church [has] to learn how to wait.” - Pope Francis, quoted in Slow Church.

Slow Church, written by C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison (IVP, 2014), is a book that encourages an alternative way of living as the church today. This alternative isn’t new, it’s actually quite ancient, quite rooted in Jesus. But it’s an alternative to what is causing a great deal of spiritual exhaustion today, an exh
Feb 10, 2020 rated it liked it

“Church cannot be franchised”

What is the goal of church? Is it just to fill seats? Or is there a deeper purpose. This is the question I see the authors asking essentially. However, it seems they spend more time telling the audience how not to do church, then giving practical advice on how to do it well. That's not really fair, as they do spend some time on how to practice slow church, but my impression is that too much time was spent on the negative.

As far as the actually issues they see w
Rachel B
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: christian, nonfiction
2.5 stars

The positive aspects of this book could be summed up by stating that it's good to invest time in your surrounding community and develop relationships with people (which takes time!).
Serving, as we do, a God who acts in time but is unbound by it, we can afford to enter a neighborhood with the posture of the listener. We can linger at the table. We can start work we won't see the end of. (p 52)
The fact that we are called to follow God in community is a hedge against the waywardness of ou
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read this book. I did and it felt like the authors had taken everything I’d been reading and thinking and caring about and gradually beginning to try to live over the past ten years and put it all together in one place with beauty and their own experience. Church, place, stability, reconciliation, wholistic gospel, work, Sabbath, economics, household, hospitality, Eucharist, common table, potlucks, conversation, lay empowerment, scripture as drama, salvation as part of a people being gathered, i ...more
Preston Stell
Jun 19, 2017 rated it liked it
This began exciting because of its philosophy and the names in the endnotes. If I was able to only read the first 1/3 of the book, it may have played out differently. Unfortunately the case studies, examples, and praxis sections all played out into the traditional variety of "church." If you are from that tradition, then this will play well into your model. However, it is a little discouraging to read this and try to apply the principles the authors put forward into a less traditional system. I' ...more
Feb 09, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was recommended by my pastor, and it has taken me a couple of years to finally read it. I really like the idea of "slow church" - a church that is deeply rooted in a specific community, that knows and engages with the community where they are planted, a church that takes the time to build relationship within the congregation, and where every person is an important and valued member with something to share. However, at times I found the book very wordy and difficult to follow. I also ha ...more
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
The "attractional church" will not continue to be effective.

We need an "incarnational church that disassembles itself and seeps into the cracks and crevices of a society in order to represent Christ to the world."

Joy in sharing food together is a foretaste of heavenly joy.

Rootedness grows community, like an old apple tree is surrounded by its own ecosystem of insects, birds, animals, plants, etc.

Rhythm is essential to learning.
Rhythm is essential.
Know the rhythm of a place.

When we have overcome
3.5. So many good ideas in this book but then alternated with “my church is doing this.” The application part just felt a bit self serving. However, the ideas of combating a fast society with community by living close to other members, eating together and making decisions where all parties are heard, even the dissenting and negative, are worthwhile and needed. A space where everyone is welcome and conversation is integral. This part is what makes the book higher than 3.5 because having hard conv ...more
David Westerveld
Dec 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The book is part of a conversation that I wanted to dive into even moree. I think I added 5 or 6 more books to my wish list based on quotes referenced in this book.

There was a good balance in this book between biblical grounding and theory and practical ideas. Not everything in here would work for everyone, but that's kind of the point isn't it? Come up with something that is fits the particular place you are in. I probably don't fully share the author's views of industrialization and mass prod
Doug Dale
The final chapter was what I had hoped the whole book would be

When I started this book, I had hoped for some practical ideas of what it looks like to meet and live as a 'slow' church. I am currently a part of a group that is trying a different way (for us at least) of approaching living as the church. I expected some theological ideas as background, but it turns out that most of the book is that background with only a little about the 'how' (with the exception of the excellent final chapter).
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a house church leader I was excited to dive into the thoughts of Slow Church and reflect on there practices with my own tribe. What I found was a deeply enriching call for my community to draw close to the Holy Spirit's presence and find revelation in his "Slow" Kingdom work through our simple neighbourhood relationships and activities. Deeply loved reading this book and hope to resource it to the other leaders and members of The Edge House Church Network! ...more
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