We all know—to some extent—that we live in a globalized world. More than ever, we are seeing the impact of what seems far away, changing the reality of our neighborhoods. The recent COVID-19 pandemic reminds us of the reality that we can no longer hide behind the veil of feeling safe ‘way over here’, the realities that shape the world around us, sometimes thousands of miles from us affect us in profound ways.
What I remember thinking backing in 2001, is clearer today than at any other moment in my life. Where Friedman uses the term to describe the modern phenomenon of comprehensive connectedness between technology, travel, vocation, business, communication, and the like–I was now seeing the world flattening in a new way. Not just in a Friedman sense where we realize we are no longer isolated villages, but more like a blown-out tire that has gone just about as far as it can and is digging deep into the asphalt pavement. What is happening to our world? How do we now describe our reality? A new civilization — “Glocalization” — has been subtly emerging and has been accelerating in the new millennium. Around a decade ago, this term caused some confusion, yet many now see the truth in the coalescence of global and local.
“Glocal” is another term for the seamless integration between the local and global, and it is not surprising that this term originated in the East. This term was popularized in the early 1990s by Roland Robertson, a sociologist from Scotland and a pioneer in the study of globalization. Leonard Sweet later introduced it to the Christian world. If Friedman is right about living in a new flat world — and he is — what does it mean for the church and for believers?
In the past, we have been content to live in blissful ignorance. Acts 1:8 instructs us, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” We, as the church, have interpreted it to mean the very opposite of a globally connected world. Our premise has been this: First, we build a strong and big church here. Second, when we’re big and strong, we go to our whole country. Third, we go to those near us when we’ve reached our country — maybe Canada or Mexico. Finally, when we’re really strong, we take on the world.
This is not how the church worked in Acts, nor is it the way the world will be transformed for Christ. Acts 1:8 describes glocal in action. This passage was not describing the one-two-three steps but the dimensions in which the church must be working at all times. It wasn’t determining the sequence, but the spheres.Acts 1:8 describes Glocal in action. This passage was not describing the one-two-three steps but the dimensions in which the church must be working at all times. It wasn’t determining the sequence, but spheres. Click To Tweet
We live here and serve here; yet we also go and serve there. For the most part, the church has innovated her Sunday morning worship and programs. It’s time to go deeper. What does this look like for believers and the church? What are the implications of how the church and believers will relate to the world and one another? What opportunities for mission does a glocalized world present?
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