UPDATE: A great place to start getting to know more about Chris and his church is with his book, The Virtue of Dialogue: Conversation as a Hopeful Practice of Church Communities. It describes how his inner-city congregation made conversation among themselves and with their neighbors a primary practice in the church. It’s available as a Kindle book for only $2.99 at the link above.
Note from CM: My friend Chris Smith is a bright young thinker here in Indianapolis who believes the church must slow down and become more personal and less programmatic in order to truly share the life Jesus has for us. He asked me to help promote a conference that’s coming up in the spring, so I’m happy to have him tell you about it today.
In addition to promoting this conference, I’d like for us to discuss the whole idea of “Slow Church” today. Keep reading after the conference information, where you will find some additional thoughts to consider and talk about.
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As co-author of Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus, I am excited to invite you all to a conversational event on Slow Church that my co-author John Pattison and I will be curating on April 3-5.
The aim of this event is to introduce participants to Slow Church, through lectures by theologians whose work has given shape to Slow Church and by creating ample spaces in which participants can engage in conversation with the speakers and with one another around the themes of the lectures.
Slow Food and the other Slow movements hold important wisdom for our churches. They compel us to ask ourselves tough questions about the ground our faith communities have ceded to the cult of speed. And they invite all of us—clergy, theologians and laypeople—to start exploring and experimenting with the possibilities of Slow Church. Not as another church growth strategy, but as a way of re-visioning what it means to be communities of believers gathered and rooted in particular places at a particular time. Just as Slow Food offers a pointed critique of industrialized food cultures and agricultures, Slow Church can help us unmask and repent of our industrialized and McDonaldized approaches to church. It can also spur our imaginations with a rich vision of the holistic, interconnected and abundant life together to which God has called us in Christ Jesus.
We hope that you can join us for this important conversation with some of the theologians whose work has given shape to Slow Church!
SLOW CHURCH CONFERENCE – INDIANAPOLIS
April 3-5, 2014
Englewood Christian Church / 57 N Rural Street
More Details and Registration: http://slowchurchconference.com/
Willie James Jennings (Duke Divinity)
Christine Pohl (Asbury Seminary)
David Fitch (Northern Seminary)
Phil Kenneson (Milligan College)
Carol Johnston (Christian Theological Seminary)
When: April 3-5, 2014 (Thursday evening through Saturday lunch)
Where: Englewood Christian Church/Indianapolis
Cost: $99 (Earlybird, through Feb 7) / $149 (Feb 8 and later)
Starting Feb 8, students can register for the special Student Rate of $99
(using the promotional code: STUDENT2014)
This price includes 6 locally-sourced meals during the conference
Praise for the Slow Church book:
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.
– Walter Brueggemann
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, telling 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.
– Scot McKnight
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.
– Alan Hirsch
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Chris Smith wrote a post for us last summer called “A Joyful and Vibrant Life: Cultivating Community as Slow Churches.” I encourage you to go back and read that post again today, and then let’s talk about its ideas.
Here’s an important quote from it:
When we start to think about cultivating community in our churches, one of the first steps is coming to realize the ways in which our theology has been hijacked by the ideologies of the modern age (particularly individualism and consumerism). Essential to the vision of Slow Church is that the people of God are at the heart of God’s mission for reconciling creation. We have therefore intentionally chosen the language of Slow Church, as opposed to Slow Christianity, Slow Faith, or similar label. Part of the slowness of our calling is that we are called into the life and community of God’s people. We are so accustomed in Western culture to living and acting as autonomous individuals, that the idea of being God’s people in the world, as Israel was the people of God in the age of the Old Testament, can be a foreign one for us. Being God’s people is messy at best. We are broken human beings with fears, prejudices, addictions, and habits that are harmful to ourselves and others. It can seem more practical and convenient to keep to ourselves and minimize the risk that we’ll get entangled in the lives of others. And yet, as much as we are formed by Western individualism, and though we have allowed that individualism to shape the way we read scripture, our calling in Christ is to community, to a life shared with others in a local gathering that is an expression of Christ’s body in our particular place.