Reimagining the Economics of Church and Seminary

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Several weeks ago, The Atlantic ran a much-discussed article on the high cost of seminary, amidst the struggling economy of churches.  The article reminded us of a question that John and I have been getting often as we are out on the road talking about Slow Church:How can our church afford to be guided by a Slow, "Small is beautiful" philosophy when the economic pressure -- either from denominations or from the personal load of debt that our pastors bear -- is driving us to take the tempting shortcuts of "fast church"?Let me begin by saying that we don't have any easy solutions to … [Read more...]

The Christology of Slow Church?

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My friend Tato Sumantri, of Church of the Servant King in Eugene, Oregon (which incidentally hosted one of the Slow Church events that John and I did in the Pacific Northwest in June) recently sent me an email with a couple of very thoughtful questions about the Slow Church book.  This is the second and final post in response to Tato:[ AND HERE is Tato's first question on Sin and Repentance ]  “What does Jesus have to do with any of this [in the Slow Church book]? What is preventing a slow church movement from being just another sociological phenomenon, like the slow food movement? We ar … [Read more...]

J.R. Briggs – FAIL [Patheos Book Club]

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[ This post is part of the Patheos Book Club discussion of FAIL ]Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure. J.R. Briggs IVP Books, 2014One of the characteristics of McDonaldization named in sociologist George Ritzer’s important book, The McDonaldization of Society, is the desire for control. As John Pattison and I have argued in the  Slow Church book, the effects of McDonaldization have become deeply entrenched in churches, just as they have in the broader culture.  One of the bitter fruits of the desire for control that I have observed in churches is a deep ave … [Read more...]

The Spoken Word vs. The Written Word

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I've been writing about lectio divina this week, as part of my next book project on Reading for the Common Good.  I'm fascinated by the early monastic practice of (almost always) reading aloud, which not only was common practice in that day, but also served to engage the body as well as the mind in learning and meditating upon scripture.  As part of my research, I encountered the following passage from Eugene Peterson's Eat this Book.I had never really thought about how important the spoken word is and how the written word is a reduction of the spoken word, eliminating such important c … [Read more...]

The Parable of the Old Runner

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There's an old runner I know who recently shared a story that I think will be helpful for churches that desire to be healthy. (Actually, it probably would be helpful for all communities: neighborhoods, other faith communities, etc., but this is the Slow CHURCH blog after all and our audience here is mostly Christian).  The Old Runner realized earlier this year that after over a decade of pretty-much-not-running, he had grown fat and out-of-shape. So, he worked hard for several months, and started running regularly, and felt himself getting back into decent shape, and worked up to … [Read more...]

Jen Pollock Michel – Teach us to Want [Patheos Book Club]

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 [ This post is part of the Patheos Book Club discussion of Teach Us to Want ]Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition, and the Life of Faith Jen Pollock Michel IVP Books, 2014In her debut book, Jen Pollock Michel offers us an exquisite meditation on what it means to be human, to walk the tightrope between dismissing our desires as evil and wholly abandoning ourselves to them. Teach us to Want is a compelling mix of personal narrative and biblical reflection that ever-so-gently nudges us into deeper contemplation of our desires, the God who created us to desire and the ends towards which … [Read more...]

Celebrate Interdependence Day 2014!

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7 Essential Books for Understanding Interdependence as Christians  I've recently read Fred Lehr's book on Clergy Burnout.  What's striking about this book is that he describes burnout not simply as function of unhealthy clergy, but as a codependent relationship between pastor(s) and laity. Congregations that expect their pastors to over-perform are often enabled to do less work than we have been called to do as members of Christ’s Body. Lehr also suggests that the journey from unhealthy congregations to healthy ones is marked by a shift in the clergy/laity relationship from co … [Read more...]


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