Friday, March 23, 2012

Yesterday’s Science Fiction is Today’s Reality

Can you imagine a world without the Internet? What about cell phones or satellite television? I’m not sure most of us could survive without Facebook or Twitter. It’s almost impossible to imagine such a world.

But the fact is all of these amazing technological wonders really haven’t been around that long. When I was in school back in the 1970s, we had no cable, VCRs or, for that matter, DVD players. Those things were in the realm of science fiction. You might remember in the old Star Trek television show in the 1960s where Captain Kurk and Spock would pull out there trusty communicators to talk to their ship the Enterprise. Nowadays, we use our cell phones to talk to anybody on the planet.

Futurists have coined a term called ATAWAD—any time, any where, any device. That means you can have access to your media whenever you want, wherever you want, and on any platform. Another term which has become popular in the last couple of years is called screening. Experts tell us that practically everything we will do in the future will require some type of video screen. But not only will we be watching the screens, they will be watching us. These screens will have the capability to anticipate our needs and wants by tracking our eye movement and other sensory responses. Our relationship with media is becoming more symbiotic. We are becoming one with technology. Yesterday’s science fiction has quickly become today’s reality because these things are already taking place today.

But what has all of this technology brought us? Today, we live in a new age of communication. And that has enormous implications. For centuries, we have communicated by a verbal language. And for the past 500 years, thanks to the printing press, we have communicated by the written word. As the old song goes—Times are Changing. Today, we are primarily communicating by visual image. What does this mean for you and me as communicators of the Good News? What challenges and opportunities does this present for Christians?

First of all, a new people group without borders has emerged. A 12 year old boy in Egypt and a 16 year old girl in middle America are now speaking the same language. They have more in common than you can imagine. They share a common identity. They are likely to engage in the same rituals, practices, customs and beliefs.

What is their common language? They speak the language of media. They speak the language of visual image. They speak the language of visual story. Where do they learn this language? It originates mostly from Hollywood through the entertainment media that is distributed throughout the world.

If we want to continue to spread the Gospel, we need to understand their language. If visual image is now the future, we must raise up visual storytellers who can speak that language. Unfortunately, for the most part, we are not speaking their language. So the question is how do we raise up visual storytellers who understand the power of story and have the ability to communicate it with a missional approach

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