I was picking up my daughter and her friends from high school to take them shopping for homecoming dresses. Rest assured, I was only the driver. My wife and other moms would take over later.
Backing up the car after loading the crew, the difference was in the mirror. My daughter’s friends were global – my anglo daughter had friends from Israel, India, Mexico, Nigeria and Iran and we were all in the same SUV off to buy dresses for a dance.
My daughter’s world is global.
Or…what I call global is local for her.
This is the millennial shift and it changes the terrain. For the church – no local church can afford to be exclusively so. While the church will always need to love the neighborhood, diversity means that even our local neighbors are connected globally. Families cross oceans, jobs are international, the millennial generation has access to anyone on social media and the capacity to develop and organize on a global scale – this is the new ‘local’.
The churches that survive the next century will be those which bridge this ever-shrinking global gap. Churches that love their neighborhoods and the village or block across the world its people are connected to will be the thriving churches in the century ahead.
A pastor friend of mine is learning how. Just before preaching the main Sunday morning worship service in Houston, via Skype he leads an evening Bible study with Christians in Pakistan. The local congregation in Houston has people from that Pakistani neighborhood, and the church is drawing strength by figuring out how to be in ministry to both.
It has always been this way. In 1 Corinthians 16:5 Paul writes,
After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia. Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits.
It is a very personal note and one common to Paul’s letters. He is on a global journey, yet he greets people by name in Corinth. The church is designed to be a part of more than one neighborhood, and the best churches will continue according to this plan.
(thank you for reading, if you found Jesus in this please comment and share!)