By Jeff Finley
Bob Roberts Jr., a Southern Baptist pastor, offered a prophetic message Thursday to Free Methodists and used his hosts’ theological heritage to urge them to become more involved at the global and local levels.
“Wesley had it right. The world is our parish. We just forgot it,” said Roberts, the pastor of NorthWood Church in Keller, Texas. “We thought our parish was our tribe, our church, our city. No, it’s all the world.”
Bishop David Kendall said that Roberts, the author of “Glocalization: How Followers of Jesus Engage a Flat World” among other books, was chosen to speak at General Conference 2011 because Free Methodists “seek to reorient every church to become glocal.”
“We asked Bob Roberts to consider a role in helping an entire denomination assume a glocal shape,” Kendall said.
Roberts explained how he has made contacts and formed partnerships in Muslim countries and Vietnam. He has become a friend of Muslims, Buddhists and Communists without compromising His evangelical Christian beliefs.
“People aren’t going to come to Christ unless we explain it to them, unless we have a relationship with them,” Roberts said.
Despite being open about his Christian faith, Roberts has built schools and brought other pastors into previously closed nations, such as Afghanistan and Vietnam, by befriending people in those countries, including leaders. He also has formed relationships with Muslims in the United States.
“There are 1.3 billion Muslims in the world,” Roberts said. “Today, if you love homosexuals and Muslims, you’re in trouble. If Jesus was here and he was in America, that’s who He would love.”
Roberts reminded Free Methodists that people around the world are now watching Christians via the Internet, and they are not getting the message that we love them.
“You don’t have to vilify another person’s religion for the gospel to move forward. Exalt Jesus,” Roberts said. “If we have the truth, we don’t have to be cocky, arrogant, mean-spirited bullies.”
Roberts offered seven game changers:
1. Seize an open world.
2. Connect and collaborate with the global church.
3. Release the whole body of Christ.
4. See the emergence of global theology.
5. Start with the hands, not the head.
6. American evangelicals need to become close friends with Muslim Americans.
7. Stop giving the plan of salvation, and invite people to Jesus.
Roberts concluded his message to the Free Methodists in prayer with another reference to Methodism’s founder, John Wesley.
“Let the words of Wesley – ‘the world is my parish’ – become not a motto to these people, but literally their action plan. In Jesus’ name, amen.”