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Throughout 2007, Leadership and sister publications Christianity Today and Books & Culture will be exploring the theme of "The Church and Mission," specifically addressing the question: "What must we learn, and unlearn, to be agents of God's mission in the world?"

One Sunday Pastor Bob Roberts asked everyone in the congregation at NorthWood Church in Keller, Texas, to invert the collar of the person in front of them, find the label, and call out the nation where the shirt was made. China, India, Vietnam, Mexico, Chile, Kenya, Dominican Republic, and Spain were all mentioned before someone finally said "USA."

The shirts on their backs came from all over the world. It was Bob's way of reinforcing his recurring theme of glocalization, synonymous with Thomas Friedman's "the earth is flat." It describes today's seamless integration between the local and global, a comprehensive connectedness produced by travel, business, and communications.

"Glocal is as important a term to the 21st century as postmodern and seeker were to the 20th century," says Roberts, who has written two books, Transformation: How Glocal Churches Transform Lives and the World (Zondervan, 2006) and Glocalization: How Followers of Jesus Engage a Flat World (Zondervan, 2007).

He has applied the concept in quiet but effective ways at NorthWood, a church of 2,000 in suburban Fort Worth that has helped plant some 89 other churches in the last 15 years. The focus of NorthWood and all the daughter churches is not gathering people inside the sanctuary; it's clearly missional.

"We aren't about weekends," Bob says. "We aren't just trying to get people into church. It's 'kingdom in, kingdom out.'"

This means each church emphasizes weekday ministry in local neighborhoods as well as ongoing ministry with a particular nation overseas. NorthWood, for instance, has continuing ministries in Puebla, Mexico, and sends people several times a year to both Vietnam and Afghanistan to help with orphans, education, clinics, small businesses, water purification, and more.

Over three days, including both a weekend and a weekday, Leadership interviewed Bob about life in a glocal church.

What is the mission of NorthWood Church?

Glocal transformation.

You mean transformation of individuals or of communities or what?

All of it. It starts with individuals. But it can't stop there.

Societies are built on several domains:

The family, from which we get our values.
The tribe, from which we get our culture.
The city, from which we get our livelihood.
The nation, from which we get our security and our trade.

Finally, the world. And all of that is within the realm of the kingdom of God. We use the word glocal, meaning the kingdom encompasses all of this, local and global.

The number one result of God's kingdom is transformation of all the sectors.

Wow. That's some purpose …

No, that's our mission. Our purpose is to glorify God. I'm still Augustinian in my theology.

Okay. So what's your church's role in this transformation?

We're a ...

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From Issue:Going Missions, Winter 2007 | Posted: January 1, 2007

Also in this Issue: Winter 2007

Dissing IllusionmentSubscriber Access Only

What unhappy 20s want from church.

Preaching with Half a BrainSubscriber Access Only

Does your sermon prep employ both the left and right sides of your skull?

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Displaying 1–2 of 2 comments

Ralph Boyle

August 16, 2007  2:54am

Dear Bob, Not sure you will read this, but jus wanted to say have so enjoyed your writings. I interviewed you for a seminary course in about 1995, maybe earlier. I live and serve in Tanzania with the IMB, working with studeitlents and Muslims. You hit so close to where I believe, in fact my seminary thesis was titled, : "Community Development Evangelism that Transforms Communities". Will continue to use much of your material to challenge others I work with. In Him who is abundantly able, ralph boyle

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John Lanferman

August 07, 2007  12:03pm

Very provoking, we have planted several churches over the past few years and I find a certain dissatisfaction in the way we have been doing this. We are in the process of making adjustments based upon the values discribed in this interview. Our church planting internship training is going to be different. Thanks Bob, you are in inspiration.

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