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Environmental scanning only makes sense in the context of a set of trends. Each scanning hit should either support or detract from an established trend or serve as evidence of an emerging trend. Below is our current list of  trends that we use to help us find material for Signs and Wonders. It is intended to grow and change as we gather data and compare notes with the futures community. So, as we gather evidence of emerging trends through our envronmental scanning and your contributions, we'll update the contents of this page.

Meanwhile, if you know of a trend we missed or have a comment on the items below, please let us know, In the future, we'll make feedback on these trends more convenient and automatic, but for right now we'll just use good old low-tech email.


Trends in Religion 
Title Summary Status Reference
Persistence of religious intolerance Over 1.6 million people a year are estimated to be persecuted and killed for their religious faith alone. sustaining World Network of Religious Futurists
Growth of Militant Fundamentalism Religious fundamentalism is on the rise, not just within Islam or Christianity, but is also being felt among Buddhism and Judaism. increasing World Network of Religious Futurists
Rising growth rate of Islam Islam ranks as the fastest growing faith. Worldwide, the number of Muslims has doubled since 1970 to 1.2 billion adherents. Projections put the growth of Islam at roughly 2 billion adherents by 2025 out of a projected world population of 8 billion. increasing World Network of Religious Futurists
Shift to non-white Christianity Today more than 60% of all Christians come from non-white races outside Europe and America. increasing World Network of Religious Futurists
Growth of Pentecostal and non-denominational Christianity Counter to the decline of the mainline in the U.S., Pentecostal Christianity is resurgent. Estimates put the number of new non-denominational churches in this country at 100,000 since 1980. increasing World Network of Religious Futurists
A decline of Tribal Religions By 2000, the tribal religions will have shrunk from 6.5% in 1900 to 1.6% of world population. increasing World Network of Religious Futurists
Growth of Nonreligious Persons The non-religious population of the world is holding its own at 15% of the world's population, and will continue so as we enter the 21st century. stable World Network of Religious Futurists
Increase of Pluralism in society Driven by multi-culturalism and internationalization of the West, increasing cultural diversity and interfaith contact can offer opportunities for growth and dialogue. On the other hand, the challenge of post-modernity continues to undermine traditional beliefs that once informed shaped various common creeds, producing culture wars between traditionalists and progressives.
growing World Network of Religious Futurists
An increase of Women in pastoral roles Women in pastoral roles have increased from 1% at the turn of the century to more than 5% of all clergy worldwide. In the U.S., women comprise 10% of all clergy. And for every woman in the pastorate, there are 30 others working in ministry roles, whether in religious education or outreach. growing World Network of Religious Futurists
Spritual but not religious in the U.S. Spirituality is ever popular, but mainstream religions are declining in attendance. The number of people who describe themselves as "Spiritual" but not "Religious" is growing.
growing Leonard Sweet, soulTsunami, 1999


External Trends Affecting Religion 
STEEP Category Title Summary Status Reference
Social Rise of the Global Teenager Demographic trends indicate that there will be 2 billion teenagers globally by 2001. That's 500 times bigger than the post-war baby boom in the U.S. increasing in prominence Peter Schwartz, Art of the Long View, 1991 Global Business Network
Social Rise of Postmodernity in Western Scoiety Society and culture is becoming more pluralistic and relativistic. With the advent of gen-X and the millennial generations, postmodernism is hitting mainstream culture. increasing in prominence Leonard Sweet, soulTsunami, 1999
Social Aging of Western populations With lower birth rates and longer lifespans, the average age of populations in developed nations is decreasing. increasing in prominence *
Economic, Political Globalization Increasing power and influence of supranational organizations and multinational corporations.. increasing in prominence *
Technological  Continued growth of the Internet The continued boom of the online world is changing everything. Churches will not escape unfazed. increasing in prominence *
Technological  Advent of revolutionary technologies Revolutions in genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and materials science will provide opportunities as well as moral challenges for people of faith. increasing in prominence *

*We try to include references for the trends, giving credit where credit is due, but references are not given for trends that are widely cited by many of today's futurists.

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