When we, as the people of God live in our own little ghetto, closed off from the world holding on to their own set of behaviours and beliefs we communicate our rejection of the world and the community that they inhabit. Thus, we are viewed as ‘bad news’ as far as the local community is concerned, and we will remain ‘bad news’ unless we radically reconstruct our relationship to the world around us. If this is to happen, we, as the people of God in the local community, need to understand anew who we are meant to be in relation to the world.
In the Scriptures, the term ‘church’ or ‘ecclesia’ referred to a group of citizens who were set a sided from their work and life in the community to worship God. They then return to the community in which they lived and worked with a new vision and a greater degree of responsibility for the wellbeing and welfare of the community as a whole. Unless we take our responsibility to seek the wellbeing and welfare of our community and our neighbourhood, seriously we will fail to be what we are called to be the people of God in the world, but not of it.