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2020s Foresight: Three Vital Practices for Thriving in a Decade of Accelerating Change

2020s Foresight: Three Vital Practices for Thriving in a Decade of Accelerating Change

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2020s Foresight: Three Vital Practices for Thriving in a Decade of Accelerating Change

263 pagine
3 ore
Sep 1, 2020


In 2020s Foresight, authors Tom Sine and Dwight Friesen seek to "wake up" Christian leaders and those whom they serve to the realities that leaders in other fields must deal with all the time. We are no longer simply living in changing times. We live in the reality that we are racing into a new world of accelerating change. The authors want to enable leaders in churches and Christian organizations to learn how to lead in this time of acceleration. They focus on three vital practices: foresight (analyzing the accelerating changes and anticipating new opportunities and strategies for addressing change); reflection (discerning biblical purposes for times like these); and creating innovative ways to engage new challenges so as to advance God's purposes in our lives, congregations, and organizations in the 2020s.

The book is intended to equip Christian leaders to anticipate some of the new challenges in the 2020s; discover God's shalom purposes for our lives, the church, and God's world; and create innovative new possibilities for our lives, communities, and congregations that both engage new opportunities and advance God's purposes.

Sep 1, 2020

Informazioni sull'autore

Tom Sine has worked for many years as a consultant in futures/innovation for faith based NGOs, Universities and community development organizations. He and his wife Christine founded Mustard Seed Associates to invite followers of Jesus, churches and Christian organizations to create innovative ways to both be a difference and make a difference in ways that both advances God's purposes and engages tomorrow's opportunities. Tom earned his Ph.D. at the University of Washington. He has worked as an urban social worker, headed up a community empowerment project in Haiti for World Concern, taught at the University of Washington, and at Fuller Theological Seminary in Seattle. Tom and Christine are enjoying collaborating with The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology in preparing a new generation of changemakers to serve God in times like these. He also serves as a volunteer in a community empowerment initiative called Lake City Future First. Tom's most recent book, to be released in April 2016, is Live Like You Give a Damn: Join the Changemaking Celebration! In this book he celebrates what God is doing through a new generation of changemakers to make a lasting difference in the lives of our neighbors and invites us all to join them. His other publications include The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed At A Time, Mustard seed vs McWorld: Reinventing Life and Faith for the Future (Baker 1999). Cease Fire: Searching for Sanity in America's Culture Wars (Eerdmans 1995) and Live It Up! How To Create A Life You Can Love. (Herald Press 1993) Together he and Christine co-authored Living On Purpose: Finding God's Best for Your Life (Baker 2002). Tom and Christine live in an intergenerational household in Seattle. They enjoy sharing a meal and a liturgy every week, the community gardens together once a month and raise 30% of their produce on an urban lot. Tom's favorite thing is cooking food from all over the world from people all over the world. He reports that most have survived.

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2020s Foresight - Tom Sine



Having been co-conspirators, co-teachers, co-facilitators, and friends, it seems only right to follow our friendship into writing together. The two of us first met in the mid-1990s shortly after Dwight moved to the Seattle region. Tom had heard rumors that there was a young church planter who was trying to listen deeply to his new context while experimenting with innovative expressions, approaches to community, worship, and whole-life formation. One of my (Tom’s) own life commitments has been to search out young, innovative followers of the Jesus Way to learn from them and to encourage them. So I reached out to Dwight, and we’ve been friends ever since.

While we are both white males, we are also very different, born of different generations and in different countries. Dwight was raised with deep roots in the Christian Anabaptist tradition on the prairies of Canada, while Tom came to faith in Jesus the Christ later in life, having spent his formative years in San Francisco. Dwight is a parish pastor and practical theologian, Tom a historian and futurist; yet together we spur one another on to discover and live even more faithfully present in the Jesus Way within the everyday stuff of ordinary life while looking with resurrection hope to the reality of accelerating changes in our culture and faith communities. We are profoundly grateful for the gift of each other.

Thank you for joining us in this vital forecasting dance. It is our prayer that you and your group will find encouragement and be emboldened to look into the future with hope as an outcome of attending to this book. The two of us love Christ and the people of God, and it is the desire of our hearts to serve both. If there has ever been an era in which you and your group of local Jesus Way followers were needed, this is it. This is your time, your era.

We would love to hear about the things you find useful in this book and how it may be having an impact on how you are planning and implementing innovation change. You can share comments with us at


Three Vital Dance Steps: Welcome to the Dance of Anticipation, Reflection, and Innovation in a Decade of Accelerating Change

Blindsided by Change

Have you been blindsided by change? Surprised by the unexpected? Are you among the growing number of those experiencing that being two-weeks-behind feeling? Commentators tell us it isn’t our imagination. We are all indeed racing into the 2020s—a new decade of accelerating change . . . ready or not!

This decade of accelerating change is one of opportunity for a new generation of church leaders, Christian educators, and nonprofit executives. It is an opportunity to enable you, and those you work with, to learn how to both anticipate and creatively respond to some of these new challenges in ways that reflect the ways of Jesus. In this book, we will show you practical ways to anticipate these incoming waves of change so you can ride these waves instead of being hammered by them.

This book is written for Christian leaders who are looking for new resources and new ideas on how to not only guide their churches and Christian organizations in this decade of accelerating change, but also enable those they work with in their congregations and neighborhoods to create innovative ways to live and make a difference in times like these.

It is essential to stress that this book is also written for all educational leaders who are looking for resources to enable Gen Next to launch their lives in this much more daunting decade. These leaders include educators in our colleges, seminaries, campus ministries, and, of course, parents looking for resources. It is also written for a new generation of leaders, many of whom are compassionate, creative, and future-oriented.

Many Christian leaders have recently referred to Tod Bolsinger’s book, Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory, as extremely helpful for leaders who are increasingly discovering that canoeing the mountains in these rapidly changing times simply isn’t working very well.[1] Leaders in many of our faith communities, whether they are doing formation with our young, empowering families, caring for our growing number of seniors, or seeking to make a difference in our increasingly divided communities and neighborhoods, feel like they cannot keep up with the demands of the work and the pace of the changes they experience.

As we have been doing field research with pastors, denominational executives, and new generations of leaders, we find people looking for resources to navigate this new decade of accelerated change. One pastor told us, I think I have been planning like it will always be the ’90s. I am certainly tired of being surprised and seeing those in my congregation being surprised by change that none of us expected. I want to learn to anticipate some of these incoming waves, so both my people and I have lead time to create new ways to live, empower our young, and make a real difference in the lives of our neighbors.

An Age of Acceleration . . . Ready or Not!

Tom and his wife, Christine, spent several weeks just before Christmas in 2019 visiting her family in Australia. While we were there, the most horrific firestorms in the history of Australia started spreading across the entire country. As Tom writes in early January 2020, it is clear these are the worst fires in Australia’s history. The fires have killed at least 20 people, torched more than 14.8 million acres, and 900 homes since September.[2]

And they are not done yet. Two of Christine’s friends were evacuated from a town destroyed by the fires. We are no longer simply facing climate change, we are facing a climate crisis. In fact, the 2020s could easily be the make-or-break decade in confronting this climate crisis. For the past two years, as Dwight and Tom have worked on this book, we have been increasingly alarmed by the ferocity of fires in Canada and California.

When the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) came out in 2018, there was widespread media coverage of the headline that we have 12 years to avert climate catastrophe. Where does the ‘12 years’ come from? This is based on the number of years we have left until the carbon budget is used up for 1.5C of warming—the level needed to save most of the world’s coral reefs.[3]

As you may know, seventeen-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg has motivated millions of young people all over the planet to become activists for climate action because they want to have a viable world to live in. What you may not have heard about is that recently in the United States a new group of young people have launched Young Evangelicals for Climate Action. They not only want to influence climate policy, they want to influence Christians of all backgrounds to join them in creating a sustainable future for the planet.

In this book, we will take you on tour of a number of these accelerating challenges, including the environmental problems likely to face all of us in the 2020s and beyond. We will show you how Christian leaders can join those working locally to promote innovative actions, from rain gardens to recycling initiatives.

As concerning as the growing climate crisis is, we have recently discovered in early 2020 that we are facing a new global virus that is likely to be worse than the SARS epidemic. This new coronavirus that started in China has rapidly become a global threat to countries all over the planet. It is also resulting in a shutdown and slowdown in industries all over China that serve factories and consumers worldwide. At the time of this writing in March 2020, Italy’s government has placed more than 16 million people—a quarter of the population—under lockdown in a drastic bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus.[4] Increasingly, COVID-19 is spreading to nations all over the planet, which will have a growing negative impact on the global economy.

2020’s Surprise: Coronavirus Goes Global

and the Economy Goes Chaotic

The major alert we announce in 2020s Foresight is that we are no longer simply living in ordinary changing times. Suddenly, we find ourselves living in a decade of accelerating change. However, just as we were completing this book, we were surprised by a tidal wave of this accelerating change called the coronavirus pandemic. This enormous wave is impacting lives of people all over this troubled planet.

At the point of publication, here are the huge new challenges we are facing. On March 30, 2020, the Washington Post reports that the United States could record 100,000 to 200,000 deaths and millions of infections.[5]

In Europe, Spain and Italy still face death tolls in the hundreds despite lockdowns. Australia has told people not to go outside in groups of more than two as the infection proliferates in every corner of the world.[6]

Those in Syrian refugee camps in Turkey and urban communities throughout the African continent are particularly at risk because of the density of their communities and the extremely limited healthcare resources. Denominations, Christian nonprofits, and congregations need to launch a healthcare campaign under the leadership of Christians in those countries.

Pope Francis offered his homily against the dramatic backdrop of an empty St. Peter’s Square, glistening in the rain. ‘We find ourselves afraid and lost . . . We were caught off guard by the unexpected turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented . . . all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other.’[7]

We have already been blogging on creative ways churches are rowing together, such as people in our churches shopping for seniors and offering child care for parents who are still employed. Check out and

The deadly pandemic is steamrolling the economies of the US and Europe as central banks and governments sweep into action to help lay the ground for a recovery from an almost-certain global recession. In the US, a record number of individuals are filing for jobless benefits while consumer pessimism increases.[8]

In chapter 2, we outline ways that church leaders, and those they work with, can immediately start preparing for a recession that is likely to be more daunting than the 2008–2009 recession. For example, members of Gen Z are already expressing concern that they may have an even more difficult time launching their careers and lives than millennials did during the last recession.

People all over our troubled planet are going to be dramatically impacted by this global coronavirus pandemic and global recession. It is urgent that all of us who are followers of Jesus create a rich spectrum of ways to reach out to our neighbors locally and globally and to Gen Next.

Webinars on Pandemic and Recession Prep

We will be offering webinars (see below) for church leaders, educators, and those they work with to create innovative ways to respond in your church, the lives of people in your congregation, and your neighborhood.

(1) Pandemic Prep Webinar for Life and Community Changemaking

(2) Recession Prep Webinar for Life and Community Changemaking

Church Leaders Are Already Changing

Church leaders everywhere are already switching to online and Facebook services. Thankfully, a growing number are reaching out to seniors and other vulnerable neighbors. However, much more is needed. Follow some examples of compassionate action on and

Christian Leaders Frame Guidelines

for Churches Encountering COVID-19

A number of churches are altering worship by removing the wine and only offering bread at communion, and in passing of the peace by replacing the handshake with an elbow bump. Saint Andrews Episcopal Church in Seattle, for example, has encouraged members over the age of sixty to consider staying home until the threat level subsides. A growing number of evangelical churches are exploring streaming their services online. One place to confront these twin challenges is for Christian leaders to draft some guidelines. Even more important is the need for churches to develop essential practices in serving both their congregation and the larger community. There are a number of resources for churches on how to deal with COVID-19. One of the best we have found at their website,

It Is Essential That Every Church Create

a Ministry Preparedness Plan

As we have seen, the coronavirus epidemic in China and other countries is very disruptive, resulting in the closures of schools and the shuttering of businesses. One place to begin is to create a Preparedness Committee that includes not only clergy but also leaders with medical and business backgrounds.

It is essential that church leaders focus on the needs of the elderly and low-income families in both their congregation and neighborhoods who will be hit the hardest because many of them do not have health insurance. It is estimated that there are 27.9 million uninsured and 44 million underinsured people in the US. Nonprofit health care foundation the Commonwealth Fund defines ‘underinsured’ as adults whose health care deductible equals 5% or more of their income, or whose out-of-pocket costs over the past year were 10% or more of their income (or 5% or more if they earned under 200% of the poverty line). By contrast, in the UK, which at the time of writing has 19 COVID-19 cases, healthcare is free at the point of delivery, meaning that people tend to see a doctor when they need one.[9]

Drawing on a range of plans recommended for church leaders in these daunting times, here is one that focuses on the needs of not only those in your congregation, but also in your neighborhood, who are not always included. Start by securing the most recent medical data from the public health organizations in your community that can inform your team about the current level of threat that the coronavirus poses. Also, contact the CDC for the most recent governmental information.[10] Use all of this information, as well as your own research of the challenges likely to face both members and neighbors, to enable your team to design your plan. Medical and financial assistance may also be available through your local government and Christian nonprofits in your community.

Learn from other congregations and communities about new ways to enable individuals and families to prepare for the impact of the coronavirus. As a part of the plan, create supplemental steps to deal with unexpected disruptions as well as community resources that might be available for emergencies. It might be essential for your team to create a supply of food and household and medical supplies to serve the needs of members and neighbors. Most importantly, it is important to create a personal care team of clergy and laity, including members with medical training, to work more personally with those in the congregation and community.

You and your team might also consider creating a website to keep both members and neighbors informed about what is happening and how they can not only pray, but also be a resource to one another. It is important in times of sustained crisis, like many communities are experiencing, to take time to celebrate every step forward. Celebrate every recovery and restored family.

Brian Walsh, an editor for Time magazine, recently released a provocative book called End Times: A Brief Guide to the End of the World—Asteroids, Super Volcanoes, Rogue Robots, and More. And no, this is not a book about the end times. Walsh’s book takes the reader on a sometimes-overwhelming journey through some of the most dire challenges that await us in the 2020s and the 2030s. Walsh’s chapter on the possible threats that artificial intelligence poses for our lives is particularly alarming. However, while Walsh has written a very arresting book, he offers readers few suggestions on how our communities can prepare for and engage many of these daunting new challenges in the future. Unfortunately, there seem to be few books by Christian authors that provide creative ideas on how we can engage some of these potential crises.

Christian Leaders Preparing to Engage

a Decade of Accelerating Change

In this book, we will not only introduce Christian leaders to some local, national, and global challenges on the horizon, but will also share examples of imaginative ways that leaders, congregations, and Christian organizations are creating innovative ways to engage these new challenges. We will also share examples of how church leaders, Christian college educators, and campus ministry leaders (in groups like IVCF) are enabling those they work with to begin creating imaginative responses to some of tomorrow’s challenges that clearly reflect the way of Jesus.

This book is designed to be a study resource for colleges, seminaries, campus ministries, church leaders, and study groups. It is intended to serve as a resource in churches that want to empower their members to explore and engage in innovative ways of responding to rapidly changing times in their lives, neighborhoods, and congregations that reflect the way of Jesus.

We have included questions at the end of each chapter to help individuals and groups use this as a study book. We also hope to hear how leaders and those they work with in congregations or neighborhoods are responding innovatively to these turbulent times. We are particularly interested in how those in Generations Y and Z are finding new ways to be a difference and make a difference. That is why we would also like to hear about the innovative new possibilities you and your group have created. We will post some of your innovative ideas on Tom’s website, We look forward to learning about your innovative responses to these turbulent 2020s.

Racing into the Turbulent 2020s . . .

Ready or Not!

Thomas Friedman, a forward-looking author and columnist for the New York Times, has said that recent advances in the speed and scope of digitization, connectivity, big data, and artificial intelligence are now taking us ‘deep’ into places and powers that we have never experienced before—and governments have never had to regulate before.[11]

Friedman makes a compelling case that we are no longer simply living in a changing world, but are suddenly living in a world of accelerating change. Friedman made his case while addressing an audience of British leaders on April 11, 2019, in an Intelligence Squared forum. He asked his audience the same question he had asked earlier in his last book on the subject: What in the hell happened in 2007?

He answered: The iPhone happened. Big Data happened, Twitter happened, Amazon produced Kindle, and Facebook moved off campus.[12] A remarkable amount of tech change happened in less than a decade. As you know, in the 2020s, we are just beginning to identify not only the opportunities but also a host of new challenges that we

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