Is ‘slow church’ good or bad?

The book Slow Church ought to be an interesting read. (See notice of it here.) We’d likely agree with much of it. The mega-church to us appears a creation of something far from Scripture. Jerusalem in the beginning might have been called a mega-church, but it did not long remain so. Even at that, it did not then have the marks of the massive overhead and top-heavy beasts of today.

Having forecast our agreement with the basic idea of the book (I say forecast, since we’ve not read it), the name of slow church doesn’t seem to be a good one. At least one of the authors works with a post-mega-church, after the deflation occurred. One wonders if the book isn’t something of a justification or defense of going from 1000+ to 180 members.

The only slowness I can recall offhand that Scripture recommends is being slow to speak and slow to get angry, Ja 1.19-20; see also Pro 16.32 etc.

Slowness is bad in many ways, such as being slow to believe, Lk 24.25, or slow to develop as teachers of the Way, Hb 5.11-14.

Being a slow church, then, leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Nor should we think that being a small church means being slow. Smallness often empowers agility, both in relationships and in multiplication.

Long and rightly have many spoken about being quick to obey, quick to act, urgent in our mission. We want many souls to be saved, the gospel preached with urgency since the Lord is near and death hovers constantly.

I imagine being a “slow church” makes for a catchy title. If they mean that we must take time with people, be true community, as the article notes, that is a good thing. Patience, mentioned in the subtitle, is necessary, especially for those who take up the urgent task of Jesus’ mission. It takes time to make disciples. And, as the song goes, we should “take  time to be holy.” The sweet hour of prayer turned into the one-minute devotional and the lightning supplication.

The original church-growth movement launched by Donald McGavran had many good points. American practicality derailed it. Then came Pentecostalism to effectively kill it. But at the heart was the move away from generic good deeds to the knife-edged proclamation of the gospel. Even if they didn’t understand what the gospel was completely, they got that truth right.

It’s a truth that the small church guys seem to be in danger of giving up, from the short read of the article. The church is not a divinely appointed relief agency. We weren’t sent into the world to grow vegetables. Rather, it is God’s agent for salvation by means of the teaching of the truth of the gospel.

There should be nothing slow about the church that occupies its time and devotes its energies to saving as many people as possible.

Leave a Reply