Bob Dylan’s classic song “The Times They Are A-Changing” was written years ago, but it is so appropriate for today. He sang, “Come gather round people wherever you roam, and admit that the waters around you have grown – and accept it that soon you will be drenched to the bone. If your time to you is worth saving, then you better start swimming or you will sink like a stone, for the times they are a-changing.”
The times are a-changing. The water is growing. The people who are not able to figure out how to swim are sinking like a stone. Businesses, churches, and organizations that are successful have figured out new ways to swim to navigate the change.
One example of change is the cell phone. How many of you used a cell phone 15 years ago. Some of us still have trouble with them today. The International Telecommunication Union estimates that there will be 7.1 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide by the end of 2015. This is up from 2.2 billion in 2005. Remember that the current global population is about 7.2 billion.
Six years ago one of the most popular cell phones was the Blackberry. I remember debating as to whether I should get a Blackberry or an iPhone. I picked the iPhone because I was told it was easier to use. Seven years ago Blackberry accounted for roughly half of the smartphones in the North American market. Blackberry didn’t change with the times – today it accounts for just 0.6%.
Using new tools like the cell phone to live in today’s market does present challenges. The overwhelming use of the cell phone has prompted “cell phone loss anxiety” which is referred to as “nomophobia.” According to a report, 73 percent of people said they panicked when their cell phone was misplaced; 14 percent responded that they become desperate; and 7 percent said they become physically sick. Change can be helpful, but it can also be challenging.
Cell phones have changed the way I do things. I travel most every week and stay in a lot of hotels. The way I pack my suitcase has changed. Because of noise in hotels, I always packed a noise maker, an alarm clock, a legal pad for making notes, a Dictaphone, a flashlight, and a camera. Now I don’t have to pack any of those things because they are all on my iPhone. It has changed the way I travel.
The cell phone has enhanced the use of social media. It has changed the way we do a lot of things. A few years ago people dressed up if they were going for a special picture at graduation, a wedding, an awards banquet, etc. Today you better be ready to have your picture taken anytime, anywhere, by anybody.
Businesses and organizations are relying heavily on social media to get their message out. So much of business today is done online. How well are we willing to use social media in the church? How willing is the church to change to current opportunities to expand the gospel?
The change in today’s culture among young people is very noticeable in the use of video games. It was recently reported that this year video games will bring in more money ($92 billion) than films ($62 billion) and recorded music ($18 billion) together. Is there some way that the church could utilize the immense popularity of video games to communicate the Good News?
Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changing” points to the situation today. There is an answer! It is in another song we sing in church which says “Change and decay is all around I see, Oh Thou who changest not, abide with me.”