Thinking Globally as a Church

Churches are in a unique position to give a clear, resounding, echoing voice to work that matters for the kingdom. In this generation, spurred on by millennials who are cause-driven, churches with an external focus have taken their mission from “know God and love people” to “know God, love people and bring that news to the nations—scattered across the world, bringing the hope of Christ to those who haven’t heard yet.”

Thinking globally as a church is incredibly important. The state of the world today presents Christians with challenging issues: human trafficking, the persecuted church, refugee and immigration crises. But many churches don’t know where to start having a real impact on these global issues.

My challenge: If you want to be a global church, find a way to bring your global mindset into a local mission focus. Then do the mission you choose with excellence.

Frederick Buechner said once that “the place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Churches should have a deep love for their city, whether it’s churches in Houston organizing Hurricane Harvey relief, or churches across the nation serving their cities well in foster care, prison ministries and more. But the churches I see that have vibrant global mission portfolios are not ones that sponsor missionaries here and there. Instead, they look at their local community and see a global issue within it that moves them. It’s the place where their deep gladness and the world’s hunger intersect. That’s where community-changing work is done.

When I was first starting out as a pastor, I was a police chaplain serving at a small church in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Two major interstates intersect in Hendersonville, making it a tremendous hub for cocaine trafficking. Some churches in town started thinking about how to address substance abuse in our town. It became a global issue rooted in local work. It started at home but gave people a place to start that rippled outward.

If you’re having trouble finding a local issue with a global impact, search within your congregation. Find one or two really deep affections for a cause within your congregation and focus on ways you can tangibly make a difference. For one church in Houston, their focus is helping solve the water crisis. For another, it’s providing meals for the homeless. The most effective global efforts happen when they start in the context of home so that your congregation can see the direct impact of being the hands and feet of Jesus in your community.

Thinking globally as a church begins right where you are. A deep love for the world begins in the rows of your sanctuary and in the hearts and prayers of your members as they put their faith into action.

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William Vanderbloemen
William Vanderbloemen

William Vanderbloemen (@WVanderbloemen) is the president and CEO of The Vanderbloemen Search Group and the co-author (with Warren Bird) of Next: Pastoral Succession That Works. He holds degrees from Wake Forest University and Princeton Theological Seminary.