By Ron Luce
Imagine that you lived your whole life in a remote village in the jungles of Ecuador. You have never seen a car, a stove, a refrigerator, a doctor, a skyscraper, an airplane (close up) or a television. This is exactly what we found to be true when I went to visit Minkaye and his friends in 2001, in the very village where he and his friends met and killed Jim Elliot, Nate Saint and their coworkers in 1956. Most people know the end of the story, how their martyrdom rallied many thousands to go to the mission field, and how the wives of the martyred men stayed on in Ecuador to reach the very people who had killed their husbands.
As we got to know Minkaye, we began to see the world through his eyes. After he and most of the village came to Christ, they began to learn about the developed world. They were quite amazed at the idea that the tiny object in the sky they would see from time to time (an airplane) could carry people. He was shocked when he went into the capitol city, Quito, for the first time and walked into a tiny room (an elevator), and when the doors opened again they were in another, bigger place!
When he first watched television and saw a building explode into flames, he was sad that so many had died, but then was shocked to see the same people (actors) alive and on the screen again. Minkaye did not understand the concept of a movie. He had never seen such a thing before!
As batteries, medicine and other advances came to their village, life began to change for Minkaye and his people. They did not have to hunt all day, every day, for food, as it would keep cold and preserved in a refrigerator. Their lives were prolonged by doctors through modern medical practices.
The world as they knew it completely changed as they began to learn what had been developing for many years, even though they were unaware of it all. It was not simply that they learned about the rest of the world, but their way of live was turned upside down. They had barely gotten their mind around the fact that a man could fly in a plane, when they learned that man had actually gone to—and landed on–the moon. It was Big Shift for them–in their thinking, in the way they understood the world, and in their way of life.
Try to imagine how that affected them. All that was normal in their lives was altered. The more they learned, the more change took hold of them and upended their lives. Many of the changes were good, but still a shocking accelerated metamorphosis of their concept of reality. A Big Shift.What if we are all living in a similar kind of village scenario right now?Like it or not, we are about to come out of that village and discover changes happening all around us that are about to impact all of our lives. We are all about to experience a Big Shift.
A man named Buckminister Fuller (Critical Path, 1981) created the, “Knowledge Doubling Curve.” He noticed that until 1900 human knowledge doubled about every hundred years. Today all total knowledge is doubling every year. Think about what that means for all the science, medicine, and technology that is affecting, and will continue to affect, our lives.“
Every technology is doubling in processing power, storage, and capability every twelve months. It is a guiding concept, as is the hyper-connectivity of people, devices, systems, markets, and technology” (Canton, James, 2015, Future Smart). What is different from any other time in our lives (or in the history of man) is the accelerated speed of the acquisition of knowledge and change. It is specifically exponential change and it refers to an acceleration in the rate of change—the velocity.
More innovation and more disruption demands faster adaptation.
• Self-driving cars are already being tested, and Uber is introducing self-driving taxis in Pittsburg this month. (Bloomberg News)
Why it matters: The average child under five years old will never drive a car; it will save one million lives a year; a different paradigm of transportation, as well as new productivity, will be introduced.
• Electric cars are becoming more popular: Tesla is already manufacturing them, along with many hybrids and all-electric cars , such as VW is developing. Norway has already passed a law that by 2025 only electric vehicles will be allowed in their country (http://ecomento.com/2015/08/06/norway-all-new-cars-electric-by-2025/)
Why it matters: With doubling of solar and other green power efficiency every year, as early as 2040 we will have more electricity than needed. (http://news.stanford.edu/news/2011/january/jacobson-world-energy-012611.html) A few of the implications include a cleaner planet, a shift away from oil and other fossil fuels, and a balance of wealth that will change in the world.
• DNA Sequencing services will be able to map all 23 million genes in a person to determine every disease he or she will ever get. (http:// www.reportlinker.com/p01013573/Top-Ten-Companies-in-DNA-Sequencing.html)
Why it matters: If people know what diseases they will develop, especially cancer, heart disease and dementia, they can start early preventive treatments, and predicted lifespans will increase to an average of 100 years old. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11348561/Average-life-expectancy-heading-for-100.html)
Changes Almost Here
• Private groups plan to send shuttles to the moon (2017) and asteroids to mine minerals, such as gold and silver, creating fuel while on the moon, and bringing mined goods back to earth (http://www.space.com/30720-moon-express-private-lunar-launch-2017.html); Medical research plans to reproduce vital organs by means of stem cells to replace failed organs.
• Rapid deployment of free internet by Facebook and Google to cover the whole earth by 2020 (http://www.wsj.com/articles/google-invests-in-satellites-to-spread-internet-access-1401666287)
• By 2020 a billion people will be online, and eight billion by 2025; all will have smart phones and be literate (http://learning.xprize.org/press-release/xprize-announces-its-next-moonshot-bringing-literacy-250-million-children)
• Click-Streamers— always online, (100 hours a week) digitally savvy, connected, and mobile. These are the customers who wear their computers in the form of contact lenses, the surface of which acts as a screen upon which they can conduct business, play video games in their driverless cars, or navigate the web (Canton, James. Future Smart: Managing the Game-Changing Trends that Will Transform Your World ,p. 102. Da Capo Press. Kindle Edition).
• The creation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) whereby human-looking computers (androids), which think faster than we do, are infused with moral and decision- making power and interact with humans. These AIs appear so life-like, we don’t even realize they are computers (https://mic.com/articles/123027/moores-law-explained-computers-more-powerful-than-human-brains#.pftq5yLiG).
• Chip implants in the brain will control epilepsy and other conditions/behaviors, and boost intelligence to create superhumans (I know it sounds like a sci-fi movie but it is imminent) (http://www.thenewamerican.com/tech/item/18184-will-microchip-implants-in-humans-become-mandatory).
Some have said that the rate of change is increasing so rapidly, that it is going to totally redefine the human experience on the planet. As radically as Minkaye’s life was changed once he left his village, all of our lives are about to undergo a similar shift. Just as life in the 1700s was very different from life today, life in the next 10-15 years will fundamentally change for us all.
Our opportunities lie in becoming aware of the trends that may shape the future, and in how we can use these trends to further shape that future.
We will either manage the future or the future will manage us. This is our opportunity.
Disruptive changes happen when breakthrough discoveries have an unpredictable impact on the main industry or other unrelated industries. They produce fundamental change that require businesses to rethink how they operate. It is estimated that 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies will not make the changes needed to survive, and 25% of all businesses will go under. Most of the products that will be sold in 2030 have not even been invented yet.Some of the smartest people on the planet are looking at all the opportunities these potential breakthroughs offer and are determined to solve the world’s greatest problems.
• World hunger: With all the developments in food production, nutrition , and agriculture, people are working to eliminate world hunger within 20 years (http://bioscience.oxfordjournals.org/content/52/6/523.full)
• Education: The X prize is being awarded next year for the group that develops a gamified tool to take a person from illiterate to literate and teach essential mathematics within 18 months. With one billion donated old smart phones, and global internet connectivity, global literacy is predicted (http://learning.xprize.org/press-release/xprize-announces-its-next-moonshot-bringing-literacy-250-million-children)
• Poverty: With changes in education, the internet, and redefining the global workforce, poverty is being targeting for elimination by 2025 (http://www.nbcnews.com/id/6837045/ns/world_news/t/report-world-can-end-poverty/)
Standing on The Threshold
What an incredible moment in history! And we get to participate in it. All of the revolutionary discoveries create significant opportunities through which to communicate the message of the Gospel in fresh ways!
We must ask now, How will these changes impact my church? How will they impact the next generation? How can we leverage technologies to get the Gospel to all people? How can we complete the Great Commission more effectively with these tools? How can Christians be part of solving the world’s biggest problems? How do we train our children now to be the ones who will carry the gospel into a completely different human experience? How will this impact parenting now?
We are not talking about a future that is 20 or 30 years away. These changes will occur over the next 5 to 10 years. The changes are already happening all around us,if we would just come out of the village long enough to notice. The Big Shift is now. Those who notice and engage in creative ways will have the opportunity to shape the way in which it will all unfold.
WE ARE ISSACHAR
1 Chronicles 12:32 tells of the “sons of Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.”If we purpose to be like the sons of Issachar, we must be:
• Hungry to learn: Instead of burying our heads in the sand, we must aggressively learn as Minkaye did when he left his village, so we can spot trends in advancements and not be surprised by them.
• Determined to be Innovative: Just as companies must initiate change to survive, we must be innovative in how we serve people. Of course we don’t need to change the message, but how we deliver the message, and how we leverage the changes in communication happening at an exponential level. Constant Innovation must happen at all levels in our local churches–youth ministry, children’s ministry, Sunday morning services, in staying connected with the body all week, and in ongoing discipleship. This continued innovation will become the adventure for all church bodies that survive this BIG SHIFT.
• Authentic Christian Living: In the midst of all these changes, while we are trying to innovate, we must help maintain the most genuinely intimate walk with Christ in order to pierce the exaltation of technology and mental superiority. For none of the great breakthroughs in science or technology can really help mankind answer the question of purpose, of why we are here. Only God can do that.
This is our seminal moment. What is about to happen is more significant and will occur much more quickly than the onset of the Industrial revolution. We can shape how the future will proclaim the gospel by how we engage in the process right now. Let’s make sure that the people of God have a say in how the human experience will be redefined.
Let history record that when the Big Shift happened, the people of God were right in the middle of shaping the new realities of the world as we know it. Let it record how we seized the moment–and that the Gospel spread exponentially as a result!
Let’s stay fervent and, like the sons of Issachar, we will know the right things to do to bring God the highest glory in our season on this planet. It’s time to come out of the village for good.
* * * * *
Ron Luce has written 30 books for youth and their parents and hosts a weekly TV program/you tube channel. He has spent 22,000 hours face to face with more than 3 million youth as he hosted Acquire the Fire conferences. He led Teen Mania for 30 years before transitioning to focus on helping global leaders engage the 1.8 billion youth of the world. Ron can be reached at [email protected]