Sixteen Shift Predictions in 1993
By: Bill Easum
Recently, I received a phone call from an old client I had not heard from for several years. He called to ask if I had given any thought to making a new list of predictions about the future. He had just re-read my 1993 book entitled Dancing with Dinosaurs and was impressed that the list of 16 shift predictions made in the book had all come true. He said, “Those of us in the trenches could use some new commentary on the future and what it might mean for Christianity. Have you given any thought to a new list?”
I had to admit I hadn’t specifically thought about it, but over the remainder of the day, his question haunted me until I finally decided to make a few notes. Soon the notes became blog posts, and in time they may turn into a book entitled Dare Peeking into the Future: The Future Condition of the World and What It Means for Christianity.
That same day, I was doing a coaching call with a church planter, and the condition of his denomination came up. Like all mainline denominations, it was frustrating him because of its decline and failure to adapt to the times. He asked me what I thought about the future of his denomination. I replied, “There will be only one or two denominations left in the next 50 years." “If that is true," he replied, "why am I planting a church in a dying denomination? I may be the last generation of my tribe."
Those two conversations pushed me to begin researching for clues to what our world might be like 50 years from now and what it might mean for Christianity.
No one can predict the future every time. That holds true for this author, as well. But one can look at the world as it is and extrapolate clues about what it might look like in the future. I encourage you to get my book Dancing With Dinosaurs and look at the 16 shift predictions I made in 1993 about the world of 2014.
As we examine these predictions, keep in mind that the target date for them to be in effect was 2014. Here’s what I wrote in 1993.
“North America is caught in the crack in history between what was and what is emerging. The crack began opening in 1960 and will close sometime around 2014. This crack is so enormous that it is causing a metamorphosis in every area of life. I call the 1990’s a crack in history.”
In order to prepare ourselves for a new set of predictions, let’s take a brief look at the original 16 shift predictions and see how they have fared.
• Prediction One – “North America is moving from a world dominated by clerics to a society dominated by the laity." In most of the growing churches I know, the laity do most of the ministry.
• Prediction Two – “North America is moving from a churched to an unchurched society.” I doubt now if anyone can debate this prediction.
• Prediction Three – “The age of discovery is over; the age of discernment is beginning.” The 20th century saw so many discoveries that it will take years to unravel their meaning and impact on our daily lives.
• Prediction Four – “Few people will believe in any form of ultimate truth in the emerging world because the definition of truth is changing. Truth is now believed to be based more on personal opinion than fact.
• Prediction Five – “Moral standards are like chameleons in the crack, constantly in a state change … Whatever is done behind closed doors is considered acceptable conduct.” In the crack, we have entered a world of gray where sin doesn't really exist.
• Prediction Six - “Belonging is more important than joining while in the crack.” My experience working with churches is that 25-30 percent of those who attend regularly are not members of the church.
• Prediction Seven – “More knowledge, appropriated faster than ever before, will make for more unpredictability in the crack … Speed will rival quality.” We have seen the rise of the adaptable and flexible organization that is able to quickly make the changes necessary to stay ahead of the culture.
• Prediction Eight – “The evolution of wealth is disappearing during the crack. The average family's income is steadily declining, the ranks of the poor are steadily increasing, and the middle class continues to shrink in size.”
• Prediction Nine – “The end of the Cold War, the rise of the Pacific Rim, and the continued movement to a European currency is redefining the traditional roles played by nations and superpowers in the crack of history.” As I write this, European currency is firmly in place and the U.S. struggles to keep its dominance in the world.
• Prediction Ten – “In the crack of history, North America’s fascination with the automobile and travel has diminished the emphasis on neighborhoods and will lead to the development of a regional mentality.” Consider the death of the family grocery store and the rise of the big boxes like Walmart.
• Prediction Eleven – “Sights and sounds dominate the crack of history … If something cannot be seen and experienced, it will not be heard or accepted.” Consider that many newspapers have shut down and more people get their news from TV than any other source.
• Prediction Twelve - “Decentralization is required in the crack of history.” We see this lived out today in skunk work groups and an emphasis on teams.
• Prediction Thirteen – “The transmission and reception of knowledge and information are experiencing a series of quantum leaps. Computers are totally changing the way we treat knowledge and process information. Consider search engines, spell checkers, the Internet, and artificial intelligence.
• Prediction Fourteen –“By the year 2001, one in four people in America will be non-white, making the emerging society the most diverse ever.” As of 2014, white Americans represent 77.7 percent of the population.
• Prediction Fifteen – “The male-dominated world is disappearing in the crack of history … the glass ceiling that has kept women out of top-level jobs will disappear.” The definitive ranking of America’s biggest companies boasts some 24 female CEOs … more than at any point since Fortune started compiling executive gender in 1998.
• Prediction Sixteen – “…characteristics such as obligation and duty are being replaced with compassion and empathy.” Anyone who has been around young adults under the age of 30 doesn’t need this explained.
Well, there you have it, all 16 predictions. You can judge for yourself their accuracy. I still stand by each of them and feel that they have come or are in the process of coming to fruition. The 21st century will be nothing like the 20th century.
If we are to design a strategy to meet a new day, we must do our research so we understand the shifts occurring in the world and how they might impact the future not only of the church, but also the world; otherwise, we will fall into the crack never to be heard from again.
Bill Easum is the founder and president of 21st Century Strategies, Inc. a full-service church consulting group since 1987 whose mission is to equip Christians for global impact, www.effectivechurch.com.