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Demographics hold the key

Photo by Flavio Takemoto
IN HIS book The Four Big Shifts leading Australian social scientist Mark McCrindle said it is demography, not technology, which shapes the future.

Mr McCrindle recently told a group of business, church and ministry leaders on the Gold Coast that they face an enormous challenge engaging staff, volun-teers and members as Australia fast approaches the point of peak labour.

Census figures indicate that in 2011 there will be more Australians leaving full-time work than entering.

The demographer, who has advised Toyota, McDonalds and the Australian Tax Office, sees enormous impacts for organisations, including churches.

Mr McCrindle pointed out that those now entering the work force expect a “portfolio work life” with five careers and 20 employers before retirement.

There will be significant implications for denominations such as the Uniting Church, which reflects the oldest church demographic.

Is it realistic to expect members to graduate from Sunday School to Youth Group and remain in the pews of one congregation for a lifetime?

“Occasionally in history demographic change coincides with relentless technological change,” said Mr McCrindle. “We are living in such an era.”

He cited the example of Microsoft approaching Encyclopaedia Britannica with the idea of moving their content onto something called a CD-ROM. Reportedly their response was, “Who do you think we are, Funk and Wagnall?”

Encarta accepted the offer and it became the largest selling CD of all time. Encyclopaedia Britannica sales collapsed.

New technology and organisational intransigence brought about generational change.

The public was still seeking truthful information, but delivered in a new way. The old organisation became irrelevant.

Photo : Photo by Flavio Takemoto