We Aren't About Weekends
An interview with Bob Roberts

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.

February 05, 2007

Displaying 1–6 of 6 comments

phil jones

February 12, 2007  4:32pm

I follow Bob's church and it appears they are really doing it. Their church blog (www.mynorthwood.org) in addition to Bob's personal blog has given me good insights on what i want the church I am involved in to look like.

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Tim Hallman

February 06, 2007  8:32pm

Beautifully stated...what a fascinating and helpful interview. The picture he paints of the word "glocal" is inspiring. As our church reconsiders how we are doing/going to do ministry, we are taking an approach similar to what Roberts articulated. His robust and mature ministry helps me imagine where our church can go. I am intrigued by his comments on church as a Sunday event or as a sending kind of place. We seem to becoming more of a sending kind of place. And now I have a better understanding of how to view these changes. Thanks for the interview. Three cheers to Roberts, and I'm looking forward to the coming Reformer of the Far East!

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Allie

February 06, 2007  6:34pm

Indeed, Eric. Western (particularly American) Christianity and consumerism are all too cozy in some manifestations (particularly the upper-middle to upper class varieties). Sometimes I wonder if we've made comfort and status our gods. That's why I appreciate an approach like that of NorthWoods. I applaud them for what they're doing, focusing on getting people out into the mission field, and aware of what's going on around them. We need a massive wakeup call, and churches like NorthWoods can give it to us.

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Barbi

February 06, 2007  3:47pm

Many of us don't live in suburbia, never have, and never will choose to. Hearing critiques of this small minority gets old. But we are called to glorify God wherever we can, and to call others to do so wherever we can, whether it's in small towns, among the jet set, among bored wives-of-professionals, shopping, with agency leaders, in the courtroom, campaigning for change, contacting politicians, online, or in offering a cup of cold water. This well-written tome drives it home.

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Kat

February 06, 2007  2:09pm

The early church didn't begin to fulfill Christ's command to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth until persecution encouraged them to do so, and then they continued to meet persecution wherever they went...and the church thrived. What will it take to move today's church out of Jerusalem? What do we not understand about "go"?

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Eric Hogue

February 06, 2007  11:40am

Upper class, suburbia Christianity has entered the realm of overindulgence (a different 'gates of hell'). We all need a major dose of "graceland." No better place than inside of a mission effort - with your entire family, take the kids. Gas up the SUV (I have one too), and really get your dollar's worth; use it on the off road journey to get to the village of God's perspective. Returning home to suburbia will never be sweeter, especially for the kids who attend the new $45 million high school.

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