How do we approach mission work in a context of hyper-individuality and globalization?
Many church leaders do cultural studies and wrestle with the sociology of place. On a different track, others try to get their heads around the social imaginaries that make up the personality of our cities (sometimes referred to as a horizon or a space).
We need to help ministry practitioners across North America put these two approaches together so that in examining one’s context as a place, we are also learning to look very closely at the social concepts that are reflected in the urban context. Place is space with historical meanings, different identities, varied societal preoccupations.
As we explore the mission of God in our North American contexts, we recognize that we are in an era of two realities: Hyper-individuality and globalization. These are two unquestionable dimensions of the emerging social imaginary of city dwellers. But you will also notice the term for which Charles Taylor is well known – the autonomous self.
At times, Taylor refers to this as expressive individualism, self-sufficing individualism or in terms of exclusive humanism and the buffered-self. Today, there is a near categorical rejection of any source external to the individual to serve a basis for ethics.
This culture of authenticity is “…the understanding of life….that each of us has [for] realizing our humanity, and that it is important to find and live one’s own way, as against surrendering to conformity with a model imposed on us from outside, by society, or the previous generation, or religious or political authority.”
So how are we to “think” in an era marked by secularity and pervasive hyper-individuality? Or what is often referred to as the privatization of beliefs? In large …
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