In recent years we have been offered all sorts of options for church: organic church, messy church, simply church, total church.
Let me add another: slow church.
There is a slow food movement that extols the merits of hand-cooked food made from local ingredients cooked for as long as takes – an antidote to fast food. The slow food movement has extended so that people are advocating slow cities.
I’ve reading through Proverbs over the past few weeks and have been struck by how many call for us to slow down. The books of Proverbs extols the virtues of:
See 10:19; 12:18, 23; 13:3; 17:27; 18:6-7; 21:23; 25:15; 29:20. It’s an idea picked up and encapsulated in James 1:19-20: ‘My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.’
See 11:18; 20:11; 22:8, 16; 28:20, 22. ‘Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.’ (Proverbs 13:11) This is an important reminder after the credit crisis. Get-rich-quick schemes either destroy you or someone else (and Proverbs has plenty to say about exploitation). Wealth earned slowly through diligence and hard work – and given away quickly – this is creditable in God’s sight.
Of course Proverbs also warns against those who are too slow – the sluggard who is lazy. See 10:26; 12:24, 27; 20:4, 13; 21:25: 22:13; 24:30-34. (for more on the imbalance between work and rest see my book, The Busy Christians Guide to Busyness .)
See 14:16-17; 15:18; 16:32; 19:11. ‘A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.’ (Proverbs 14:29) Also character takes time to form so grey hair is honoured (16:31).
Our culture is always in a hurry. We want to achieve everything today. It is striking that Jesus waited for 30 years before beginning his public ministry. I wonder if most of us had had our way we would have urged him into ministry earlier.
A former boss once used to say, ‘We over-estimate what we can do in a year and under-estimate what we can do in five years.’