Scanning the horizon for what's changingI happened to be talking with a friend of mine who owns a bike store. He told me that historically, Thanksgiving through Christmas was a major busy season. He barely had time to ride—it was crunch time for taking orders and assembling bikes. Now it’s different. It might be a little busy the week before Christmas, but now people aren’t buying their kids bicycles for Christmas in the same way they used to. Now they’re getting Xboxes and iPhones.

That’s a fundamental change. What are the implications of that for ministry? What does that mean for us now that kids are more likely to be online gaming than outside moving?

Given the fact that I love riding bikes and have been doing so for many years, one easy default response would be for me to nostalgically look back and say that the good old days are gone. But that’s not terribly helpful.

What’s more helpful is to ask the question, “What opportunities does this give us?” We can accept what is, knowing we cannot change the culture, but we can adapt. We can look at what is changing and make adjustments accordingly.

As ministry leaders, we always need to be scanning the horizon, looking out the window to see what’s different and what’s changing in the culture around us.

Another friend of mine tells me that her teenage daughter listens to music from all eras. Thirty years ago, people listened to radio stations that played music geared specifically for different age groups. Now everything from all eras is available in the same place and it’s not pre-selected for you. What does that tell us about ministry? We can’t make the same assumptions about musical taste these days that we used to.

If we look for what’s different and what’s changing in our culture, we may not like all of it, but we can often find opportunities. For those of you who want to get ahead of the curve, I recommend Peter Drucker’s book Innovation and Entrepreneurship.