I know the world is changing and will change more quickly than I know. My grandchildren at 2, 3, and 4 years of age open the laptop and go online to network games, mouse around and use the keyboard. In time they will be youth and teens. Holy Smoke, then what! Look at the teens now.
They are instant messaging each other when they wake, walk, eat and drive, yikes! A major shift is occurring along demographic fault lines in the use of technology. It is a shift in how younger people are interacting with one another. Of course those who are thirty years and older are using IM and Facebook and other networking venues to stay connected with colleagues and friends and their own children. However, teens and twenties today are using technology as no other generation before them has done and for that reason they will change the way work is done. They process tasks at incredible speeds. They write essays while tweeting. They hang out at MySpace not Starbucks. Their use of digital technology is changing society, organizations and the way business is done. It cannot be held back. And this young generation is entering the workforce.
Richard Leyland of Unwired in an article entitled, "Prepare for the Next Generation – Today’s Teens will Change the Way We Work," asks four questions in order to describe what we can expect from the IM Generation.
1. How do they use technology? IM is foundational to their lives communications rather than additional as with older generations. They have developed the skill of absorbing relevant snippets while surfing connections.
2. What skills will they bring? They will multitask, make complex immediate connections, quickly create, access and swap information and collaborate with one or many people.
3. What won’t work? Traditional authority structures, formal communication style, daily office presence and reporting, dull and repetitive jobs will not work. The IM generation wants to contribute and influence outcomes, operating informally and immediately, work nomadically from home, café or beach being utterly dependent on technology and information accessibility.
4. Should this worry us? Yes and No. Yes, because it requires every organization to adjust to these realities and take advantage of them. No, because their skills are suited to this emerging knowledge economy.
Can the church close the gap between its Message and the IM generation?
If the bottom line is that the Church must embrace new technologies, then what kind of personnel will the church need to employ?
In the ever-changing technology landscape, churches wanting to maintain their relevance, have to consider new options to be the connected family of God.