Have you ever almost been blown over by the wind on a stormy day? Even if you haven’t, you’ve witnessed the effects of this invisible force in the world in some way. The wind is uncontrollable and often unpredictable.
Scripture tells us that it “blows where it wishes” (John 3:8). The wind can cause erosion, launch projectiles, and decimate cities. Its capability is evident in the funnel of a tornado and causes havoc if we aren’t prepared. For sailors, the same wind that powers their vessels can also destroy them if not correctly navigated.
We have always loved the visualization at hint.fm that helps us track the invisible force of wind as it moves around the globe. It’s mesmerizing to watch at a macro level as the wind moves across the Earth in real time. We can observe with wonder as the wind follows the contours of forests, skims across bodies of water, and sweeps through mountain ranges.
Just as the wind erodes rocks over time, transforming them into new landforms, there are invisible forces that are shaping us, our communities, our organizations, and our churches in significant ways. We are all aware that we live in a world that’s rapidly changing. We see the change all around us. The change is organizational, demographic, structural, and technological. But which one of these forces is driving the chaos? There are four key forces at work—and you may be surprised to learn that you’re already familiar with each of them.
The Four Forces
Throughout the book, we show you how to use the eight elements of the Futures Framework to better respond to the four forces of purpose, people, place and technology that are causing chaos in the world around us. Those forces interact in all different ways and combinations. For example, what does it mean when a younger generation grows up fiercely focused on purpose in a world wholly immersed with technology? What happens to how people develop community online and in virtual worlds? It’s not merely one force that’s shaping our world, but rather the reality of living under the impact of all of them at once. On top of that, the forces themselves change and evolve. While each of the four forces presents its challenges and opportunities, it’s the interplay of these forces that are most helpful to us in understanding the future.