Saturday, June 07, 2014

Slow Church -- Local Flavor


I am reading Chris Smith and John Pattison's Slow Church (IVP, 2014).  I'm just starting, but a key point came into play that I felt like should share.   I should note -- Slow Church is a spiritual parallel to the Slow Food movement, which is a response to our prefabricated fast food culture.

After noting that many churches have looked to McDonalds as their model, so as to envision the church as a "spiritual filling station," where we make our "Sunday morning pit stop before we head back into the rat race," he makes this comment about the nature of the Slow Church and its local flavor.

He points to the 17th century French phrase le gout de terroir, translated as "taste of the place."  The idea is that places provide context and flavor to food and wine.  Thus, they write:

Thus, a Pinot noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley takes on the taste and texture of the grape, the soil, the barrel, and the late frost.  In the same way, Slow Church is rooted in the natural human and spiritual cultures of a particular place.  It is a distnictively local expression fo the global body of Christ.  "The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood" (John 1:14 The Message.)  (pp. 42-43)

In our search for success and church growth, we often give into the temptation to the standardization of the franchise model, where everything looks, smells, and tastes the same.  There is reason to utilize such food establishments -- but is this the way church is to be?  Or, should we let the local flavors emerge?  

1 comment:

Steve Kindle said...

Bob, as you know, I am a refugee from the fundamentalism of the Church of Christ. One book, in the model of "From Fear to Faith" was enormously helpful to me. It is "Voices of Concern," edited by Robert Meyers. He is the father of Robin Meyers, author of "Saving Jesus from the Church," etc. I would say "Voices" was the single most important literary voice that helped me understand my situation and what to do about it. "Fear," I suspect, will have a similar impact for many people. If you could acquire "Voices," you will have a unique look into an aspect of Restoration history little commented on. My copy left my hands for other seekers years ago.



I'd like to add that the Church of Christ, now some 40 years later, is quite a different church from the one I remember. Oh, the same fundamentalist streak is still there, but quite downsized from my time. Evangelical theology seems to be the norm these days. There are even a few congregations with women clergy. Times, and people, do change.