RobGloc 08-08-120 


How Followers of Jesus Engage a Flat World


Bob Roberts, Jr.

Zondervan, 2007, 208 pp., ISBN 978-0-310-26718-8


Bob Roberts Jr., is the founding pastor of NorthWood Church in Dallas.  He has been involved in planting 100 congregations in the U.S.  Bob also works in several other countries helping with development and global engagement.  He is the founder of Glocalnet ( and author of Transformation. 


"A flat world is connected like never before through technology, travel, business, and communication…but what does that mean for the church and individuals?  Glocalization explains how the work of the church must shift from the pulpit to the pew, from the church building to the community and world at large.  It must glocalize." (flyleaf)  Roberts sees himself as an explorer (rather than a professor), trying to find and use the best ropes and sails for the journey. (19)


Chapter 1.  The Whole World Has Gone Glocal!

"Nothing local is purely local and nothing global is purely global."  "Glocal means everything is becoming decentralized, especially in the church.  Glocalization puts everyone center stage. Glocal implies a new set of values changing the culture and the world.  (21) 


Glocal is a great opportunity for the church.  Decentralization means every person in every domain of society in the pew connects with domains and people glocally.  "It's not about missions; it's about globalization.  People have become global beings."  "It's way over there and here at the same time.  That is why it's glocal." (27)


Chapter 2.  It's All about the Kingdom--Not Missions (From One-Shot Evangelism to Comprehensive Domain Transformation)


"Missions was through the eighteenth to twentieth centuries.  The twenty-first century is about glocalization.  The old missions metaphor does not communicate because it only 'worked' as a religious response to an unconnected world."  "We have to move…to a radically different faith response where one is unabashedly proclaiming the gospel, and serving, and loving." [There seems to be a current mood that missions has come through a period of not serving and loving. dlm] (34)


"…the kingdom itself is a viral, organic response.  It's societal, as opposed to religious, skeletal, and institutional."  "…we use all the domains of society to operate."  (34)


"The kingdom is about people wanting to make a difference."  (34)


"As followers of Christ, we are to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God and engage society so it can see kingdom principles lived out in our individual lives and communities." (38)


"He [Jesus] doesn't want to know how many converts, how many new churches, how many institutions, or how much the budget is.  He wants to know how we are helping the hurting in society." (39, commenting on Matthew 25:35-46) [This seems to be a hugely growing perspective in the church today.  The pendulum is swinging.  Do we risk swinging from neglect on one end to omission on the other? dlm]


"When the church glocalizes, it acts as a connection center between believers and all of society's domains.  It focuses on training the people in the pew how to view their vocation as their 'Jerusalem' in terms of ministry.  From there, it motivates them toward how they can use that vocation to intersect a domain locally--and globally--throughout the ends of the earth!  The church connects to society through the natural infrastructures, equipping and sending people through their jobs to affect a particular domain.  (41)


"Realizing that God intended our faith to lay across all of the infrastructures of society is one of the biggest issues today." "Effective faith is a voice in every domain, and it's an influencer of all domains."  (42)  [In the past] "we have made faith skeletal instead of viral,…an institutional response to society."  "Viral is more organic--it involves individual believers using their jobs in society as Christians on a daily basis." (42)  "It's a return to how the early church accomplished the spread of the gospel…."  (43)


The formula: "Inject the DNA of what it means to be transformed in Christ, connect the body of Christ to the domain of society, infect the whole of society for Christ." (45)


Chapter 3.  Born in a Family, Called to a City

"Global is the result of connecting four related spheres: families, tribes, cities, and nations.  Glocal is the idea that we are connected from our most initial connection of family, to members of a specific tribe, to citizens in a particular city, all the way to points around the globe." (50)  The one word that will describe the next 50 years is "connected." (55)


You can't manage the future, you must rely on your values to be your compass. (56)


Chapter 4.  Every Nation under God--and Then Some (The Purpose of Nations)

"You also see the creativity of God and the beauty of his handiwork in the uniqueness of each nation and people." (63)


"The Great Commission to 'therefore go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them' was given to the whole church, not just to pastors, missionaries, denominational agencies, or parachurch groups." (74)


Chapter 5.  Send the Whole Church

"What better way to be the missionary in today's world than through laypeople's jobs?" (78)  "Believers today are already everywhere--exactly where we need them.  Ironically, we spend much of our time trying to find new places for missionaries." (78)


The Antioch church was started by believers coming together.  "The first missionary church is founded by nonmissionaries!"  "Churches are the result and proof of the kingdom being present, not the instigation of it." "Go out and live it, and serve others.  As you speak, lives are transformed and the church is established." (79) 


"…the church is the missionary…."  "…every believer is a missionary and …my job as pastor is to help them to figure out beyond prayer and giving how they connect with the world…." (80)  "For it to be viral means it moves outside religious professionalism." (81)


People are longing to do more, to change the world dramatically.  "Why not let them do what they do best and use it to bring about transformation?  Why not give them a big, wild, purposeful, meaningful challenge?" (82)  "…because of their job, they have access to people and places most religious professionals never would." (83) 


"Proclamation is the starting point, but not the ending point."  "…feeding the individual, giving water, shelter, and clothes, healing, and administering justice are all pieces or domains of society.  They are opportunities for us to touch people for Christ."  "I'm convinced that when we begin to love people as Jesus loved them, our behavior will change dramatically.  It will change others as well.  We must live the gospel beyond the Sunday event." (84)


"As a pastor, my call is to get the people sitting in our pews to use their vocations in a natural way to connect locally and internationally.  That's my call.  If you are a pastor, this is your gauge of effectiveness: 'How many laypeople am I mobilizing?'  My strategy sits in the pews." (85)


"The infrastructure of education is often the ticket out of poverty."  "What if we became intentional about reaching people through universities around the world?" (88)  "…one of the most neglected areas to engage people is at the point of governance with diplomats and politicians." (91) "I have found banging on the front door first to be helpful." (93)


"A church of only a hundred members can start a school in a poor, unreached place.  That church will have enough teachers and laborers to make a difference." (93)


Chapter 6.  Follow Jesus on CNN (Being the First on the Scene of Desperate Situations around the World)


"Following Jesus on CNN means we should see famine, war, hunger, and ignorance as opportunities for Christ to work through us to bring hope to hurting people." (99)


"God is calling the church to the hard places of the world, not just the safe, easy, or welcoming places." (95)  "What would it look like if a whole church mobilized around a hurting place in the world for the next five, ten, or twenty years?"  "What if we categorized and strategized our congregations by expertise and abilities and engaged a society head-on at their legitimate points of need?" (96)


"I believe…a church should hear the call of God to work in a specific place." (97)


"I believe that we have to be radically concerned about the 'whole world.'  That means patience, diligence, and long-term thinking must become a part of our whole repertoire of how we reach the world." (100)


"…let each person raise the money for his or her own trip, planning a year in advance." (100)


"Stop thinking of short-term trips!  Instead, think of global business, education, health, art, and so on.  People live globally and make money globally and are involved all around the world in networking.  Why should faith not be the same?  Just do business in the country your church has adopted." (103) 


"As people in our church go on trip after trip, they come to know the nationals, build relationships, and answer questions."  "Hundreds of members at NorthWood travel every year on multiple trips to the nation and city we feel called to serve." (103)  "Our business folks are involved in business projects; our dentists are in dental clinics; our doctors are in medical clinics.  Some do water purification and wells some are into art, some help write curricula and teach professors…."  "We go straight to the front door first and engage the government in a certain area their [sic] society needs." (104)


Chapter 7.  Bang on the Front Door First

"…our commitment to staying focused in one spot until we see transformation keeps us from jumping quickly to wherever we see a need.  We do allow people to go anywhere God is leading them, of course." (106)


"When you go through the front door, you develop legitimate relationships with gatekeepers who can make incredible things happen.  The world runs on relationships more than anything--for good or bad." (112)  "When people from other nations know we love them and care about them, you will have many conversations about Jesus and what he means to individuals." (115)


Chapter 8.  Decrease the West So the East Can Increase:   How the East is Shaping the Church and What We Must Learn from Them


"…we must partner together as the body of Christ.  Candidly, I'm convinced that we in the West need them more than they need us.  They understand how the world works; they get globalization and the church's need to respond glocally.  Their sacrifice and understanding of God goes beyond what most of us have ever experienced.  If we allow them to, they can redefine the lost art of discipleship to us and prepare us for the future, come what may.  We thought missions was for 'them.' I think it is more for us.  It changes us and gets us on God's agenda.  I also believe it is the greatest tool for discipleship and one of the best ways to stay at the front edge of what God is doing." (124)


Chapter 9.  Create Culture instead of Fighting It

"When the world is transformed, it will be because we respect all faiths and treat others as fellow travelers, as opposed to viewing them as the enemy." (131)


"Paul started where they were, not where he was.  That's one of the biggest mistakes we can make when we encounter people of another faith, to start where we are and fret about the distance between us." (132) 


Work within the culture, not outside it.  "If I viewed differing cultures as enemies or unenlightened people for me to 'save,' then I could never respect them or listen to them, and they definitely wouldn't work with me.  But if I could view them as God's children--people the Father loves with all his heart and has sent me to give some of what he's given me--I can view them as brothers and sisters whom I am to serve." (133)


Chapter 10.  Serve Not to Convert but Because You Have Been Converted: The Motive of Jesus Is Serving Others, Not Using the Gospel as Religious Bait


"We serve because Christ has changed us.  He's made us different.  He's made us servants to people who are hurting.  We love people and long to see them healed, educated, and given the same opportunities we al have.  I would gladly give my life to see every person on earth come to faith in Christ.  That cannot, however, be the motive for what I do.  If that is the motive, I'm no different than any other salesperson peddling their goods." (139)


[I believe the above paragraph could generate considerable discussion.  For example, one might ask, "If you want people to come to faith in Christ, to experience forgiveness of sins and the knowledge of God--if that is your motive, are you really no better than any other salesman?"  Or someone might ask, "Is it really more noble to wish people healed and educated than to wish them reconciled and enjoying fellowship with their creator?"  dlm]


"The real question is, Why do we share our faith?"  (140)  "Motive determines the message."  (141)  "Motives are crucial both for the converted and those who would be converted." (142)


"As we love people and hang out with them long term, we do more than the evangelist who thinks it's only in the presentation."  "Bringing people to Christ is far more than presenting religious facts, theology, and presuppositions to people.  It's life-on-life." (144)


Chapter 11.  Be Gandhi's Best Friend: As You Stay True to Your Own Faith, What Religious Tolerance Will Look Like


"…we don't lose who we are and what we believe when we try to change the world.  We just focus our beliefs in a way that makes us 'intensely practical' about human needs." (154)


"The key to surviving multiple faiths on this planet is to hold our faith tightly while respecting opposite viewpoints.  Tolerance doesn't mean I have to agree or compromise my own beliefs; it only means I must respect others." (155)


Chapter 12.  Get Over Your Call to Preach:  Advance Soldier-Diplomats, Not Preachers

"Your focus on reaching the lost should stay as it is; just expand it beyond your local church locally and globally."  "Your primary job as a pastor or leader is to lead an army, not lecture a class."  (167)


"…when God gives you relationships, you must keep up with them." (168)  "Collaboration is the key to getting things done in the age of globalization." (169) 


"Continual learners must be reflective.  They just can't take all the information in; they have to think how it relates, how it impacts their work, and what they will do with it." (170)


"Bobb Biehl helped me understand the power of a single word focus for your life."  "John Maxwell challenged me to identify four things I do better than anything else and are more gifted at doing than most people?"  "Wayne Cordera helped me understand the importance of clarifying my roles." (171)


Chapter 13.  Face Your Fear of Death: The Gospel is Still Dangerous

"The fallen world is a place that will not love us or necessarily treat us any better than it did him.  Don't be lulled into believing that when you show up to serve people, they're going to be thrilled to see you." (178) 


"If we were honest with ourselves, most of us would admit that we don't really depend on the Holy Spirit for our ministry."  "…most of us have learned the simple dynamic of cause and effect to get results.  When we move forward into the new global era, that will no longer cut it." (183)


Chapter 14. Depend on the Holy Spirit

"The purpose of this book is to see communities transformed…." (187) "When the Holy 'spirit invades our personality, he transforms our behavior, thoughts, actions, and attitudes."  The early church "changed the world by their life-changing faith." (188)  "There is a direct relationship between the power of the gospel being lived out in the lives of people in a community and how much that community is altered by the gospel." (189) 


"We must live in a way that can only be explained by the power of God." (193)



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