By: Mitzi Villegas Carmona
Where does the term “glocal” come from? Glocal comes from the combination of two terms: global and local. Reformed missiologist Charles van Engen speaks in this regard that: “In the twenty-first century, the church of Jesus Christ needs to be self-aware of something that it already is: a glocal church… [A] healthy congregation of disciples of Jesus living their Catholicity intentionally and actively participates in the mission of Christ that dynamically fosters glocal interaction between the global and the local.” (Van Engen, 2006, 157) But what implications does being glocal have?
Being a Local Church with a Global Reach
God wants his message to be known to the whole world. We can see this from the Old to the New Testament: Jesus commands us and the Holy Spirit moves us to go and announce the good news and get out of our comfort zones (Matthew 28:18-19, Acts 1:8, Acts 2:1-13), following the example of Jesus, walking as he walked (1 John 2:6).
The universal church is made up of each local church. We are part of a diverse body, with many gifts, talents, and ministries that help us build each other up. Many times, as local churches we fall into focusing on our needs and do not look outward, falling into comfort. However, God wants the local church, through service and preaching, to go out and be a means of restoration and extension of the kingdom of God on earth, bringing hope to every nation, culture, ethnic group and urban tribe.
Being Aware of Diversity
Jesus came to fulfill the law in the most perfect way (Matthew 5:17), teaching us that the attitude of our heart is very important. Many times, our churches focus more on external things, that is, cultural things like singing standing up without clapping, using certain types of music or the way worship is done. But God cares more about the inner things: that we really live a gospel-centered life.
A glocal church recognizes great diversity, richness, and cultural plurality. It recognizes that God is creative, therefore he does not have an ethnocentric, racist or nationalistic mentality because he understands that his citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20-21). A glocal church considers culture as it presents the gospel. For example, the apostle Paul, when he went to Greece and appeared on the Aeropagus, did not modify the gospel, but used elements of Greek culture to share the message of Christ (Acts 17:22-24).
So, are we a glocal church?
What do we need to do to become more glocal?
Van Engen, C. E., (2006). “The Glocal Church: Locality and Catholicity in a Globalizing World”, in Craig Ott and Harlon A. Netland (eds), Globalizing Theology: Brief and Practice in an Era of World Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker Academic), p. 157.
Dyrness, W. A., García-Johnson, O., (2015). Theology without Borders: An Introduction to Global Conversations. Baker, Academic.