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Forgive the cliché, but Bob Roberts is a revolutionary. Really. Roberts's simple but powerful idea may get the church to revolve, turn around, and carry out its ministry in a fundamentally different way.

The idea is outlined in two of his books, both published by Zondervan: Transformation: How Glocal Churches Transform Lives and the World and Glocalization: How Followers of Christ Engage the New Flat Earth.

Roberts's idea (that a local church must be a global church—thus "glocal") may indeed transform American church life, because it is timely: We live in the age of the flat earth, when we can not only communicate around the world, but more Americans than ever have enough disposable income to travel the world. His idea is also simple: It assumes that the main players in overseas kingdom work are not trained cross-cultural missionaries or NGO professionals, but laypeople who take their current expertise (whether it be teaching, plumbing, electronics, or so forth) and use it to serve people in other nations.

This revolutionary idea is something Roberts's church, and a number of others, have started to live out. I traveled with him to Vietnam last year and saw a water project, a clinic, and a school for the mentally disabled that laypeople from his church had helped start. While there, I interviewed him. The best way to introduce Roberts and his ideas is to let him speak for himself.

Roberts is the pastor of Northwood Church in Keller, Texas, a congregation with a weekly attendance of more than 2,000. He has a reputation for being a prolific church planter (more than 100 congregations planted out of his church), but his church-planting work in America is very much connected to his global vision. So we start there.

How ...

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July 2007

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