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People’s attention is valuable resource, LifeWay strategist tells state exe

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–In the world of the 21st century, the most precious resource will be people’s attention.
As technology enables an increasingly global society, the number of languages likely will decrease significantly.
The focus of learning will be more on where to get a vast array of information than on personal knowledge of a limited amount.
Technology will lead to a greater gap between the cyber savvy and the cyber klutz.
These “future possibilities” were among about 60 listed in a Dec. 2 presentation on trends analysis to state convention executive directors meeting at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Tenn.
Steve Blount, manager of LifeWay’s strategic information and planning section, said the possibilities are drawn from monitoring of books, professional organizations and the Internet on strategy, innovation and change.
Drawing from demographics, education, societal change, entertainment, health, home and work, he said church and denominational leaders need to understand “items that are having an impact on the people in our churches and on the lost people we are trying to serve.”
Bottom line, Blount said, trends indicate “we’re building an unprecedented capability to do whatever we want to do.”
That’s the positive side.
On the negative, “we don’t know how to use these newfound capabilities wisely.”
He emphasized leaders have a choice in relating to the world of the future.
“We can choose to accept whatever comes our way or we can decide to influence the shaping of our world,” Blount said.
Demographically, he said the population of the world is expected to increase at a rate of 80 million persons per year, with the United States becoming a decreasing percentage of the population due to a slower growth rate. In the United States, Hispanic and Asian culture groups will grow at the fastest rates.
The size of the American household will continue to get smaller, 2.3 persons in the early 21st century, Blount said. Also, the traditional family unit may no longer be the principal societal unit. The population will continue to get older, along with the average retirement age.
In the area of social change, there will be an emergence of a global culture with a corresponding decline in local cultures, he noted. In the United States, the populations of rural and resort areas may boom as information technology allows more people to work at home. Information media will de-socialize people, making them more prone to antisocial behavior. More persons could become electronic hermits, “unable to work with others because they don’t play with others.”
Educationally, Blount said there may be an increase in bilingual day-care centers, entrepreneurial camps for teenagers and spiritually based camps. Virtual libraries and distance learning will become more popular as people increasingly access information electronically. Information technology will allow students to complete courses at their own pace.
People will be bombarded by more entertainment options, making their attention an even more valuable resource, he said. Privacy will be harder to maintain. A growing amount of Internet resources will include a charge.
The field of health will include a myriad of ethical issues — euthanasia, cloning and genetic engineering — to name a few.
In the field of work, Blount said information technology will deprive some workers of their jobs and many will find themselves stranded in cyberspace, unemployed on a long-term basis. Equipping workers for new types of work will become a higher priority.
The importance of getting an education will be replaced by keeping an education through constant retraining. A higher premium will be placed on entrepreneurship, he said.
In business, there will be increases in electronic commerce, home delivery and virtual corporations with no home offices, Blount said.
In an increasingly global economy, the rich will get richer, but the poor will not necessarily be poorer. Technology will reduce the hierarchy in organizations.
Corporate spending on facilities will be outpaced by spending on information technology. Global computer networks will be considered the biggest machines ever made.
To minister effectively in the 21st century, Blount urged leaders to “take a wide angle view of the world. Spend 30 minutes a day broadening your horizon. Get out of your box. Do this for a month. Keep a journal. Reflect on what you have learned.
“Incorporate your trends analysis into your prayer life,” he urged.

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  • Linda Lawson