mission shaped church
be in several networks, but some people will now be in none due to the
collapse of the neighbourhood as a friendship base.
Ulrich Beck has observed:
To live in one place no longer means to live together, and living together
no longer means living in the same place.
And Martin Albow comments:
The communities of the global age generally have no local centre.
People living in the same street will have fleeting relationships with each
other, having widely differing lifestyles and household arrangements.
Information and knowledge have speeded up, shrinking the world, but
these have not conferred a sense of community. In 1996 the Henley Centre
commissioned research to discover with whom people thought they had
most in common. Top of the list were those with the same hobbies, then
family, then work colleagues. Bottom of the list were those in the same
area and neighbours. Geography no longer seems to be the primary basis
of community. People define their communities through leisure, work and
It is not that locality, place and territory have no significance. It is simply
that they are now just one layer of the complex shape of society. It has
been said that `All boundaries are tenuous, frail and porous'.
We live in a society that is both fragmenting and connecting at the same
time. It is not healthy or possible to escape all sense of place. Few
people belong to `no place' many now belong to a variety of `places'
simultaneously. The social and personal significance of the place where
they live has diminished.
Greater mobility, freedom of choice, and the creation of identity and
community around shared interests is the way of life of large proportions
of the population, and is no longer the privilege of the very affluent. Part
of the deprivation experienced by the poor is their exclusion from a mobile
Mobility has become a major marker of inclusion or exclusion. Those who
cannot move increasingly identify their deprivation in these terms. They
are `stuck' where they live, and feel they cannot enjoy life or express
themselves fully or get a good job without the ability to maximize the
opportunities that are available to mobile people.
The gospel has to meet people where they are, before it can enter and
affect their lives. The planting of churches among the mobile and among