Going Glocal

In the last several centuries the world, and the Western World in particular, has been changing rapidly. Both technological advance and sweeping pluralism have made their mark on nations and cities. Increased technology has brought about not only a plethora of new ethical and social questions, but with it an awareness of the global community. Television and the Internet have been two of the primary mediums for increased global awareness by the average American. Along with this increase has been the growth of immigration in American society. Of course America has always been a home for immigrants, but in the last several centuries much of that has changed so that now almost every community in the U.S. is receiving the addition of new cultures by immigrants. Dr. Ed Stetzer has documented some of this change in his book Breaking the Missional Code. He writes:

In the 90s, while the general U.S. population grew by 6 percent, Asians grew by 107 percent, Hispanics grew by 53 percent, Native Americans grew by 38 percent. Twenty-five of the largest U.S. cities are now majority ethnic. Ethnics make up 61 percent of Chicago, 73 percent of New York, and 78 percent of Los Angeles (p.11).

The make-up of the population is changing rapidly and along with that the culture.

The nature of this change has brought about a massive shift in the city so that to speak in terms of a “local” context really must include an awareness of the global context. When the majority of your city, or even a significant portion of it, is composed of various ethnic groups from various cultures your local context has taken on the flavor of the larger world. This shift from the local to the global has led Dr. Stetzer to utilize the term “Glocal” as a new way of thinking about city contexts. He writes:

One of the biggest cultural barriers [the church now faces] is the emerging “glocal” context. We use this term to refer to the convergence of the global reality with our local reality. North America has become a “glocal community” requiring new strategies for effective ministry (p. 5).

This emerging glocal community has profound affects on the cities themselves. Everything from economics, politics, and community life, to religion, the family, and education are being shaped by this change.This new glocal community means significant things for the ministry of the church, and should cause us to pause and contemplate how those of us in North America are going to do ministry in these new contexts. Does “going glocal” impact the “doing of church” in North America? I believe it does, though I confess I don’t know exactly how just yet.


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