2. Sings of the Times
2.1 Missionary challenges for SVDs
Touched and affected by the realities of our globalizing and secularizing world, we arechallenged and urged as a congregation to give an effective response to the concerns andneeds of our times.We ourselves are not immune to the impact of globalization and secularization. Thespeed of change, the flow of information, the conveniences of travel, the availability of material goods, the focus on personal comfort and individual rights, the diminishingrespect for life, the mobility of people, the fragmentation of families and societies, thesearch for meaning in life, the breaking down of national and cultural borders througheconomic and interdependence, and the struggles of peoples to maintain their rights,dignity and identity touch us as persons and as community. We are urged to reread thesigns of the times.
2.2The passing of Christendom
In more and more places, active church-going Christians will live as a minority. Thistrend is nothing new. This is observed in many traditional Roman Catholic countriessince Vat. II. While the change is coming quite unevenly in various parts of the world, itthreatens many Christians. We live increasingly among neighbors who feel no pressuretoward religious affiliation, and many of the children of religious parents are notchurched in any active way. In these changes, Christians are being forced to question if they are to have a religious future at all. How can we make an appeal to this section of the population without the benefit of a position of privilege or advantage?
2.3The unchurched as formerly churched
The task is greatly complicated by the fact that so many of the people who are outsidethe church were at one time church members. It is a great challenge to take the Christianstory to those who have never heard it, but a double challenge to convince those withearlier and negative experience of the Christian community to give the church another try.
2.4Residential religious pluralism
Our world mission is now a local mission in the cities, and even to some extent insmaller towns, as one's neighbours and co-workers may be Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or adherents of other traditional religions. When people are co-workers, children attendschool together, and intermarriage looms as a real possibility, the confident sense of living as a Christian is deeply challenged. I see many more signs of conflict at this pointthan evidence of local congregations dealing positively with how to live together in thisnew situation. The minimal first step would be to provide opportunities to learn moreabout the religions of these neighbours.
2.5 Challenges posed by Globalization and Secularization2.5.1Globalization and Market economy
: With its extreme focus on profit, a marketeconomy fosters competitiveness that leads to greater gaps between rich and poor. Thenumbers of socially excluded people – like immigrants, refugees, the imprisoned,asylum seekers, the homeless, street children and the detained continue to increase.Trafficking of women, prostitution and the spread of HIV/AIDS are among thesymptoms of market economy trends. Environmental destruction and ecological