I’ve never been big on making predictions for any particular New Year. I suppose it has something to do with not wanting to be wrong, but 2012 seems different (and it’s not just because the Mayan calendar has the world ending on December 21). Because there are so many significant global trends that seem to be converging in a way that could produce more change and opportunity than any of us have seen in quite some time, I’m very interested in the future.
So, for what they’re worth, here are seven “trend forecasts” for 2012, and why I think they matter:1. The 2012 U.S. elections will be contentious and bitterly fought (like it takes a genius to predict this one). We’ve all been disheartened at the way the political process has been working in the last few years, and the elections in 2012 may hit a new low point.
Why this matters: As Christians called to be responsible citizens, we can’t give up on the governing process God has put into place, no matter who wins and no matter how much we disagree with some of our leaders, laws, and public policies. No matter who’s in power, we need to submit to and pray for those in authority over us (Romans 13:1-7).2. The European financial crisis will have an impact on our own economy. Several countries—Greece and Spain in particular—are teetering on the brink of a full financial meltdown.
Why this matters: Besides the effect such collapses could have on our own financial markets, a full-blown disaster in Europe could dissuade many on this side of the Pond from steering our own country towards a European socialistic model of governance.3. Persecution of Christians will continue in many parts of the world. The killing of dozens of Nigerian Christians by Islamists on Christmas Day is a stark reminder of the kind of violent opposition that awaits countless Christians in the coming months and years.
Why this matters: Our hearts should break anytime Christians are killed simply because they follow Christ. At the same time, we need to remember that Jesus warned His disciples that if the world hates Him, it will also hate those who follow Him (John 15:18).4. The assault on marriage will continue. It isn’t just the gay issue and the relentless push to redefine marriage as a covenant between two people rather than between a man and a woman. Marriage itself is falling out of favor as more and more people seem reluctant to make covenant relationships of any kind.
Why this matters: According to the way God set things up in His created world, marriage between a man and a woman isn’t a right. It’s a divine model established by God for human flourishing and as a picture of our own relationship to His Son.5. The Charismatic church will continue to outpace all other faith traditions. At the present time, one in four Christians in the world is Pentecostal/Charismatic, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down.
Why this matters: People are longing for a deeper experience with God and a touch of the miraculous. The Western Church in particular has promoted a pragmatic kind of faith that excludes the supernatural work of God in the world. We need to live as if the supernatural is real and the miraculous is possible, and that begins by embracing the promise and the power of the Holy Spirit.
6. People are reaching a level of social media exhaustion. Facebook will grow to 1 billion users in 2012, but users and usage have leveled off in this country. Twitter is still growing, but many users don’t tweet all that much if at all. The bottom line is that many are growing weary of the social media rat race.
Why this matters: Is it possible that people are getting tired of relating to other humans digitally rather than directly? Technology has brought us so many opportunities, but it’s no substitute for face-to-face connections. As those who are called to love our Creator and our neighbor, we have an opportunity to wisely use both social media and personal social interaction to bring the light and life of Jesus to a world hungry for authentic relationships.
7. Books and publishing will continue to be transformed. 2011 was the year of the ebook reader—most notably Amazon’s Kindle and Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook. More than half of all fiction sales are digital, and in all categories the ebook is growing as a percentage of total book sales.
Why this matters: I
believe we’ve reached a “tipping point” in terms of people being comfortable
reading books on a screen. Print is not going away, but ebooks will continue to grow in influence. This trend poses enormous challenges and opportunities for
publishers and writers alike.
There you have it. Seven trend forecasts for 2012. I admit they aren’t bold or surprising, but I hope they prompt some reflection as you ponder your own life in the New Year.