Several times in the past few years I have been sitting in mountain top restaurants listening to those around me, and very few conversations have been in English. An article a couple of years ago in the Denver Post had this to say, “The Colorado Tourism Office on Wednesday reported that 77.7 million visitors to the state in 2015 spent an all-time high of $19.1 billion, generating $1.13 billion in state and local taxes, an increase of almost 7 percent from 2014.” It would seem that people from all over the world are coming to Colorado in greater numbers than ever before. We could call this a coincidence, or we could call it an opportunity; an opportunity to introduce millions of people from all over the world to the greatest gift of all, life in Christ Jesus.
There is much written and discussed these days about Globalization. If one gets on the Internet, looks at seminars for leaders in the business world or even watches CNN, FOX or any of the video news magazines, the term is used frequently. The difficulty comes when we try to nail down exactly what Globalization is. Webster’s New World Dictionary lists it as: glob-al-ism (iz|m) n. a policy, outlook, etc. that is worldwide in scope—global-ist n. , adj. Or glob-al-ize (globl iz) vt. -ized, -iz|ing to make global; esp., to organize or establish worldwide— glob|al-i-zation n. Most business writings characterize it as a “global village” or “one world government.”
What would we see if we looked at globalization in a Biblical sense?
Christianity, or better yet the Kingdom of God, is Globalization in its purest form. Since its inception, the Church has been global in nature. God is the author of Globalization in His establishment of the Church. We have evidence in Scripture that one day there will be a “one world order”. The direction of secular world governments toward that end should not surprise or alarm us. The difficulty is that we, the Church, do not see ourselves as truly global in nature. We see ourselves in the U. S. church as a sending agency to establish churches in other countries, but that is not a true global view. Thomas d’Aquino, president and Chief Executive of Business Council on National Issues, in writing for the Executive Excellence Magazine described a global view or globalization this way:
Stage IV companies are truly global. They are local players in a diverse mix of foreign markets and have extensive foreign experience in tailoring products to overseas markets. They manufacture or conduct some technical development activities in foreign countries and fulfill all service needs locally. They have R&D in multiple regions of the world. They source financial requirements globally and their stock may even be traded on multiple stock exchanges.
These companies are country neutral, but they are at home and typically competitively advantaged in their key markets. They have developed a highly interdependent and geographically dispersed organization that creates, maintains, and shares distinctive strengths throughout the company. Resources are fluid and exchanged efficiently among parts of the company. They tend to be pacesetters or leaders in multiple locations; they set and influence standards globally.
Effective localization is the starting point. Localization is based on identifying and addressing the different needs of customers in local markets while leveraging the resources of the organization. Success in a foreign country requires that the company adapt local demands in product or service offerings, business processes, and technology. Globalization is the result of successful localization, or local building-blocks strategy.
Could we restate it this way?
Stage IV The Church (made up of churches) is truly global. They are local players in a diverse mix of foreign countries and communities and have extensive foreign experience in tailoring methodology to minister to that diversity. They research, develop and conduct some teaching and training activities in foreign countries and fulfill all service needs locally. They have R&D in multiple regions of the world. They source financial requirements globally.
These churches are country neutral, but they are at home in their communities. They have developed a highly interdependent and geographically dispersed organization that creates, maintains, and shares distinctive strengths throughout the world. Resources are fluid and exchanged efficiently among parts of the church. They tend to be pacesetters or leaders in multiple locations; they set and influence standards globally.
Effective localization is the starting point. Localization is based on identifying and addressing the different needs of people in local communities while leveraging the resources of the church. Success in a foreign country requires that the church adapt local “uniforms” in the methodology, processes, and technology. Globalization is the result of successful localization, or local building-blocks strategy.
We make a mistake thinking we are “Taking God to Hungary” or training our youth groups to “take Jesus into the inner city” or to Mexico or wherever. He is already there. He is already working in those places. No matter where we travel there are already Christians. We are really going to assist our brothers in Hungary or Mexico or Denver with being the Church in that locale. In order to do that adequately we will need to have some guidance as to local customs and attitudes. We are not taking them the western church or our church philosophy. They know the people. All we can do is go to assist them to be successful locally so that the Kingdom will be more successful globally.
There was a time when “we” wanted all churches to look pretty much alike. I believe that “we” have come a long way in that regard, especially here in Colorado. Churches are experiencing a resurgence in numbers as they continue to find needs that relate to new people groups. People from all over the world come to Colorado to visit and live. People move to Colorado for the lifestyle, many taking jobs that they are over qualified for, just so they can live the lifestyle. When visiting with people it is becoming more important to find out how and where they play, than what they do for a living.
Our churches have recognized that it is vitally important to the Kingdom of God that we as Southern Baptists meet people where they are. If we are going to evangelize this nation and the world, we will need to do a significant amount of our witnessing in the resort and leisure environment.
I dream of the day when Colorado is one of the greatest missionary sending states ever in the history of Southern Baptists. This will not happen through conventional missionary sending systems, but in more of a global sense. We have millions of people visiting Colorado from all over the United States and the world. Many will settle down here for a period of time. Some will be in our colleges, some in our big cities, many in our resort communities. Most will one day move “back home.” Our Colorado Churches recognize that tens of thousands of their neighbors flock to the mountains each weekend. Thousands spend the weekend at events in the cities, towns or communities. Several thousand others spend their leisure time at city, county and state parks. Churches have the opportunity to share Jesus with many of these – because they are intentionally where the people are. Churches are intentionally in the “market place” finding and ministering to the needs of people. Visitors to our state as well as those who live here are responding to the loving and caring contextualized ministry of our churches. Those who are responding are discipled by the churches. Many of these disciples are “commissioned” as missionaries of the church when they decide to move “back home.” They will be “local missionaries”. They will know and fit into the culture because they are a part of it. Those who have chosen to remain in Colorado are helping begin new churches in their communities or in other communities. We are making a difference in the world from our churches in Colorado. We are thinking and acting locally and globally.