Is the small neighborhood parish a sign of a dying church or the next big thing in mission?
In the what’s-old-is-new-again-department, C. Christopher Smith and John Pattison are evangelicals have ditched the mega-church model and advocate small, community-oriented ministry focused on mission and worship in the context of human-scale relationships.
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.