I am a hopeless trend-watcher, and so I find myself paying very serious attention to younger people. Just as I believe that fads hatched in California will invariably show up in Richmond, Virginia months or years later, I also believe that trends born among youth very often find their way into broader culture. This is very important to followers of Christ around the world, as we seek to model and speak the gospel message to rapidly evolving cultures.
So, when I read in a recent Boston Globe article about changing communication patterns among young people, it got my attention. The statistics are stark: the average amount of time that people aged 18 to 24 spent talking on their mobile phones dropped by 17% between 2009 and 2010, and they sent 45% more text messages. The same trend holds true with older people, but to a lesser degree. The article’s author noted that most college students view voice mail as “a waste of time” and that many rarely have phone conversations at all.
This trend will invariably affect Christian ministry, in the U.S. and around the world.; how, then, should followers of Christ prepare and adapt? We’ve got generations coming our way who are less accustomed to conversation and small talk, are less likely to be inspired by means of telephone or even email, and want their messages concise and personalized.
I’d love to know about good examples of ministries that are adapting to and even capitalizing on these trends. Any ideas?