The Slow Lane
Time is an elusive concept. It is something we want to “manage” but often fail at. It’s that which “slips by” and that we work ever so much to “save.” We have slow time and fast time, both based on “savings time.” From about the beginning of our stay on this earth we are taught to worry and be concerned about the “end of time.”
Our jobs want us to “multitask” in order to accomplish more things at the same time. We attend our minds our calendars, and our agenda making sure they are full and hopefully well managed. Some of us like fast food, fast cars, fast women, and fast living. We want our kids to be fast learners. We get up early and go to bed late, and take pills to wake us, and then again to put us to sleep.
Our kids grow up before our eyes. Quickly they begin to live, like us, in the fast lane in so many different ways. And so we race through life with our foot on the accelerator, maybe without really knowing why or where we are heading. And before we know what’s happening to us, we have a foot in the grave.
Our spiritual lives and the churches we attend have also often been captured by this madness. And, as a result, we have, according to C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison, the “McDonaldization” of the Church. This has happened because the church itself, influenced by the church growth movement, fallen for the cult of speed. They state it thus
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. 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 Christ,” 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. 1
This is the thesis that Smith and Pattison have carefully worked out in their book Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus. The book is about slowing down, looking at those around us, seeing our communities, its peoples, and talking to each other once again. It calls for patience, place, sabbath, and conversation among other things. When this happens we might once again hear more clearly the voice of God. Importantly, it is not a new program for churches to follow.
Smith and Pattison again saying
Slow Church is a call for intentionality, an awareness of our mutual interdependence with all people and all creation, and an attentiveness to the world around us and the work God is doing in our very own neighborhoods. 2
They take the reader through chapters concerned with the attitudes of heart and practices of life that will help us to recover a vision of what it means to be Church. For a further idea of what this book is about look here: Contents.