An apple tree is more than a tree. It bears fruit, holds honey, provides shade for other flowers to grow and even provides a setting for song and celebration. Good metaphor! The diversity of the planet in all its beauty and wonder means that one size (church outreach) cannot fit all. Ok. Jesus was born in a particular time and place and thus community and everywhere he went as well as the disciples who came after him developed communities. The Slow Church approach provides the possibility of the types of communities God wants with His Church at the center. Bringing the tree and community images together there must be a rootedness that provides stability for a community to flourish. Monasteries and nunneries are used as examples of the importance of stability as these institutions required a life long commitment. I don’t know how well evangelical Protestants are moved by such examples.
Chris identifies the problem of western culture with the terms hypermobility and individualism. Hypermobility is our ability and willingness to pick up and move from community to community. His statistics prove his identifications to be accurate. He uses a line by Ron Swanson a character in the television show Parks and Recreation (a show I love) that well states how people use other people and when they are done they walk out of your life. As a pastor I have painfully experienced this. A quote from Dr. Willie James Jenning of Duke Divinity school to prove this point is filled with so much liberal speak that although I wanted to agree with it I could not avoid the political agendas underneath it. At this point it would be helpful for the author to step back and examine each argument by itself. The premise that automobiles make people more mobile does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that it is the cause for why people don’t worship near where they live. From my experience there are factors that play a much larger role. The point that automobiles and individualism make it easier for people to look for a new church when conflicts arise is most important. Working through conflicts overtime builds trust. I like that.
It is a great point to make when Chris says that the hypermobility is a problem with churches as well as individuals. Churches up and leave communities because they want to be bigger or more affluent. Such reasons are no less shallow that parishioners who want different styles of music.
After each writer shares a personal story about their church experiences the point is made that a long stay allows parishioners, the leaders and the church body as a whole to get to know the area and thus know its needs and is peculiarities. The beauty of this point is that the focus is not just on building up the church but the community that is around the church. Thus it is “others” focused.
Abuse of rootedness is when we think we are superior to those who are new to our community and using position for financial gain and political power. It is labeled entrenchment rather than rootedness. To prevent abuse we are to practice biblical hospitality which places the needs of others before our own and welcomes the stranger.