Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Slow Church

It could be just because I'm 63, but I'm thinking slow these days. Partly, it comes from listening to the CBC a while ago and hearing someone talking about the slow food movement which, I understand, all started out of a protest about a McDonald's restaurant opening somewhere in Rome.

What has remained with me is something whoever it was on the CBC said. Don't eat anything that:

has ingredients you can't pronounce
you can't cook in your own kitchen
won't rot
people weren't eating it in 1900.

Why not a slow church movement, I thought?

Simple Ingredients

We won't use ingredients that we can't pronounce, either. If what we're cooking can't be expressed as straight talk in plain language, then we won't cook it. I did a television program on Emily Carr, the painter and writer, once. Something she wrote has stuck in my mind ever since: "Never use a big word when a little one will do." Amen.

Our Own Kitchen

If God wants us to cook something, it'll be in our own "kitchen" using the ingredients he has already brought together here. There is no point and trying to imitate what people are doing in other kitchens (like Willow Creek or Saddleback, for example). God has something unique with a particular flavour which can only be cooked at StB. We just have to get the recipe from him.

Rot

Our ingredients are not supposed to last forever. They have a shelf life. When they start to lose their effectiveness (rot, in other words, like choir pews, perhaps?) then they must be discarded and we must get fresh ingredients.

The Same

Jesus and his message, however, does not change. The dish we prepare is the same as was being prepared and enjoyed in 1900 and before. Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, Saviour of the world. Way, truth and life. Bread and wine. Word and sacrament. Church.

There are some folk on to the idea already. For example:
So we are a slow church. It is our nature. Many of us are tired of churches that have freshly printed agendas at every meeting and high energy, executive types barking orders and getting things done. We tend to attract wounded, introverted sorts who need to sit in the woods for a while. Maybe for 2 or 3 years. The average time it takes to get a project completed at Covenant Baptist Church is three years. Someone brings up an idea. It gets talked about for a few months, maybe put on the elders’ agenda. If it is still being talked about a year later, we might talk seriously about it. (The rest here)
Slow Going

I think we're doing slow church at StB. I've been trying to do fast church, but it hasn't worked. We're slow. It's taken us a long time to get where we are—all the way from mid 16th century Church of England via 1884 in Medicine Hat. I'm only the fourth priest at StB since 1949. Slow going. It will take us a long time to get where the LORD has us going. We're in it for the long haul.

Slow is not for everybody. Especially in this high speed age. StB is slow and our worship is not particularly convenient. We're not like the new "seeker friendly" churches with bands and lights and pastors in shirt-tails (mind you, the hem of my alb hangs even lower; all the way down to my ankles).  I'm not knocking them, by the way. They are doing what God is calling them to do in their particular "kitchens." At StB you don't get to sit and be entertained. You have to participate. You have things to say and do in the worship. You have to use a book and sip real wine from a common cup. I'll nag you to bring your own Bible (BYOB).

Slow and steady…