Blog: NorthWood Church Becomes A Little Bit More Global
Many in the Western church would see themselves as global because the Western church sends missionaries, resources, and various forms of help and assistance around the world – but that doesn’t make it global. It isn’t global until it’s connecting and receiving. It must connect in humility as a learner – not as big brother and provider, putting strings on “gifts”. It must also learn to receive from the global church, which is growing – while we in the West are not.
There are three expressions of the church. The first is the cell/house/organic unit of a dozen or less which functions with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, for equipping, building up and spreading the Good News of Jesus. The second is the congregation – the coalition of the cell/house/organic to strategically engage the city requiring equipping and releasing from the pastors and disciples. Then, third, is the global or universal church – from which the whole church in the whole world takes her cues. The future of the church as a whole is always on the fringes of the global church, which today means more Asia than anywhere else in the world. China isn’t just rising economically – but spiritually as well and we need as the Church in the West to listen. India isn’t far behind if not neck and neck with the church in China.
No church can “force” itself or its members to be more global, and for sure it doesn’t happen because of a vote or decision on the part of church members or staff leadership – it happens incrementally. I would say Northwood is a global church – but not totally there either, it’s a process.
Sunday we took another step at being a global church – we called John Murray to be the Worship Pastor. He’s African American. We didn’t call him because he’s black, but neither did we call him because he’s white. God has gifted him at leading people into worship and that’s why we called him. He grew up in Philly and plays a mean guitar – that also helped! He came from a church of 30,000+ members to a church of 3,000+ members. I asked him why he would even be open to that – why a church at least 75% Anglo and a lot smaller. He told me, “It’s not about that – it’s about God sovereignly bringing me here.” We both will have some learning to do – but we’re excited. We want to create our own “global” NorthWood sound – I’ll write about that tomorrow.
John isn’t the only non-Anglo staff member at NorthWood. We have and have had several Vietnamese on our staff, Arabs, Hispanic – etc., why would that make a church more global? Because if you don’t love the races around you and care about them, then why are you going to care about them around the world. The church has a major disconnect here – we will fund “missionaries” to reach others of different races, etc., but not love those of different races or religions right next door to us.
I’m sorry to say I speak from experience. I like and love everybody – but until I began to work around the world, I didn’t realize that I really wasn’t engaged with people of other ethnicities right in my own back yard. The more global a church is, the more racially and ethnically engaged the church will be in its own back yard.
I know many would say, “Well that’s just not our makeup racially or ethnically.” I would say it isn’t ours either. Yet, we send white missionaries to be sometimes the only white people or at least a huge minority in cities and nations. Why wouldn’t that be good for us back home? Neither do I mean merely to make a statement that we love all races, but to receive the gift of race with a varied perspective and broader views in how we interpret people and the world. Our area is overwhelmingly Anglo – 80%, only 20% non-Anglo – but that 20% makes up 60,000 to 80,000 people. Where do they go to church? Do they matter? How would they be a blessing to local churches if they were engaged versus driving across town if they do go to church still isolated from their local community? I believe faiths most powerful expression is in the local community – that’s why we start so many churches and why so many of them are right around us.
Sunday was interesting – I met three African American families at our church for the first time and three Hispanic families there for the first time – they said they came either because they had heard of our global and inner city work or because “they heard” we had just brought on an African American worship pastor and we were primarily an Anglo church and they were intrigued. It’s time for the church to not just be hip and relevant – but intriguing as well.
Bob is the founder, senior leader, and chief spokesman for Glocal.net . His primary focus is to connect leaders and estabish relationships to explore transformation. Follow Bob on Twitter at @bobrobertsjr.