Thursday, August 20, 2015

John Pattison Slow Church Northwest

Above all, trust in the slow work of God,
our loving vine-dresser.
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

I’m deeply grateful to receive support from the Pickett Endowment for Slow Church Northwest, a pilot project based on my book, Slow Church: Cultivating Community in thePatient Way of Jesus (IVP, 2014).

Through this project, four monthly meetings in the NorthwestYearly Meeting will come together to form a learning community to collaboratively explore and experiment with a major theme from the book: how churches can slow down to further root themselves in both the pace and place of their neighborhoods. Specifically, participants—including released ministers, staff, and laypeople—will dive into the following topics:
  • Why it’s time to “join God in the neighborhood”
  • How we are spiritually formed in our neighborhoods
  • Neighborhood economies and the “Law of God’s Household”
  • The challenges and opportunities of neighborhood leadership

Slow Church is inspired by the language and philosophy of the Slow Food and other Slow movements to rethink the ways in which we share life together in our church communities. It helps us unmask some of our industrialized approaches to being the Church. It paints a picture of the holistic, interconnected, and abundant life together that we believe people have been called to in Jesus. This includes collaborating with neighbors to weave a fabric of care in our communities.

Slow Church Northwest has the enthusiastic support of Northwest Yearly Meeting’s Board of Local Outreach. Because of the widespread interest in the program, we are accepting applications throughout the month of August from monthly meetings who want to participate. Our hope is to choose churches from diverse contexts: urban, suburban, and rural; multigenerational meetings; new churches and churches that have been around a while, etc.

Slow Church Northwest is built around a pedagogy that is conversational and practical, and that embraces the local and particular. We will immerse ourselves in the past, present, and future of our neighborhoods. We will discover the assets already present there. And we will work to discern how we can join the work God is already doing in our neighborhoods.

As the learning community gathers—both in my town of Silverton, Oregon, and in the home neighborhoods of the participating churches—I look forward to posting updates on the Pickett Endowment blog. I welcome your feedback as well.


The Slow Church book has gone places my co-author and I never dreamed it would go. It received a coveted starred review from Publishers Weekly. The book sold more than 15,000 copies in its first year. It is being used in colleges and seminary classrooms around the country. Over the last 14 months, I’ve been able to speak to thousands of folks about Slow Church in nearly forty venues across the country. One highlight for me was sharing the stage with the president of SlowMoney, the president of Slow Food USA, and the vice president of Slow Food International during the closing session of the 2014 Slow Money Gathering. (The conference even concluded with ten minutes of Quaker-style silence!)

In short, there are a growing number of conversations happening around the country about what it means to reclaim some of the ground churches have ceded to a “McDonaldized” culture characterized by unreflective speed, dehumanizing efficiency, and dis-integrating isolationism. The Slow Church Northwest pilot project is an important next step in that conversation. I’m excited to see how it will unfold.

If you have questions about the project, or would just like to stay in touch, please feel free to contact me through one or more of these channels:

Twitter: @johnepattison
Instagram: @johnepattison

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