Come writers and criticsThe Times They Are A-Changin’
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.
By Bob Dylan
Our culture has changed tremendously since Bob Dylan wrote those lyrics. But I don’t believe Dylan could have prophesied the changes we’ve seen during the last couple of decades.
What has radically changed our culture keep on changing culture at a faster pace than many of us are ready for.
“Keep your eyes wide,” Dylan said. “The wheel’s still in spin.”
Innovations in communication technology
Some folks like Brady Shearer of Pro Church Tools say a major shift in culture happened when smartphones and social media appeared on the scene. He says we’re experiencing “the biggest communication shift in 500 years…the single biggest communication change since the printing press.”
That’s huge. And I agree with Brady. More on his perspective in a moment.
The thing that is driving communication change is what Peter Diamandis calls “exponential technologies.” It’s a chain reaction of many innovations in technology “that always leads to enormous upheaval and opportunity.”
When you look at these six stages, take a close look at the second stage.
He says early growth of exponential technologies is deceptively slow. It almost appears there’s nothing happening, nothing changing.
The doubling penny
It’s like that old question, “Would you rather I give you a million dollars right now OR one penny today and double it every day for a month?”
And let’s say that month is February.
When you start out, the value is very small.
Day 1: $0.01
Day 2: $0.02
Day 3: $0.04
Day 4: $0.08
Day 5: $0.16
Day 6: $0.32
Day 7: $0.64
After a week, you only have 64 cents. That’s not much change.
Day 8: $1.28
Day 9: $2.56
Day 10: $5.12
Day 11: $10.24
Day 12: $20.48
Day 13: $40.96
Day 14: $81.92
Now the change has increased dramatically. And we’re only about halfway through the month.
Day 15: $163.84
Day 16: $327.68
Day 17: $655.36
Day 18: $1,310.72
Day 19: $2,621.44
Day 20: $5,242.88
Day 21: $10,485.76
More than $10,000 since starting with one penny three weeks ago. That is significant change.
Day 22: $20,971.52
Day 23: $41,943.04
Day 24: $83,886.08
Day 25: $167,772.16
Day 26: $335,544.32
Day 27: $671,088.64
Day 28: $1,342,177.28
Now that little penny has made a massive change in your bank account. It’s almost unbelievable that one penny doubled could become more than a million dollars in just 28 days.
The exponential technologies at work
In the same way, the change in communication technologies started small.
It’s like the early days of Facebook and YouTube. College kids are joining, sharing status updates, and poking their friends. People are watching cat videos. Smartphones allow those college kids to snap photos of their parties while parents and educators worry about their potential job opportunities once they graduate—if they graduate.
How will these fun, silly apps change culture?
Early growth is deceptively slow.
Go back to Peter Diamandis’ six stages and look at Stage 3:
As the doubling of exponential technologies continues, suddenly the growth begins to skyrocket. That’s when disruption begins.
That’s when 2 billion people are hanging out on Facebook.
That’s when Blockbuster goes bankrupt.
That’s when we never leave home without a smartphone.
That’s when we stay at home still tied to our smartphones while at the same time watching movies and tv shows without cable or satellite.
Disruption is when what you thought you knew about how to communicate with people no longer works.
Disruption is when what you thought you knew about building communities seems quaint.
Still don’t see it
Despite the disruption that has already happened, many still don’t notice it. And there is much more disruption to come.
We all will eventually realize we have to change how we communicate to reach a new generation.
Social media to the rescue?
One way to communicate with the new culture is social media. That’s what Brady Shearer emphasizes when he talks with churches specifically.
His example is this.
There are 168 hours in a week. If your Sunday church service is one hour, how is your church reaching people in the other 167 hours?
Brady strongly urges churches to “seize the 167.”
How are you making use of the 167 to reach and teach people? This is also not just about churches. It’s about educational institutions. It’s about your business. How could you make use of the 167 to survive, perhaps even thrive?
I appreciate the work Brady is doing to help churches realize culture has changed.
What else can you do to communicate clearly?
There’s another way to reach people that goes beyond social media soundbites, live video that’s only watched for a few seconds, and, of course, the memes of the month.