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Is Faith a Change Driver?

by Dr Jay Gary, April 2, 2007

I’ve been teaching forward-thinking leadership to graduate students for nearly four years now. I am indebted to those I’ve worked with from mid-career backgrounds. Since Regent draws a variety of people from various faith backgrounds, I’ve observed a wide variety of styles that people take toward becoming more forward-looking and proactive.

Recently one of my students from the School of Business & Leadership asked me what role religions play in the future, if the future is not pre-determined. To me, faith or tradition and memory are conserving, preserving and nuturing factors, rather than experimental, innovative, and disturbing factors in society. This has been the norm, but religion has also served to undergird the conscience and mobilize collective dissent, as we saw Catholicism positively undergird Poland in the late 1980s, or as we see radical Islam negatively doing now in Iraq. Whether conserving or disturbing, a religious worldview often leans more toward idealism than materialism in thinking about the nature of society.

In other words, behind our commerce and economy are culture, values and intangibles, and ultimately, the Divine. This multi-layered view of reality serves to “frame” the issues, sometimes “restrain” the issues, and finally “resolve” the issues. Like technology, politics, economy, environment, or culture, religion then is also a player in society, on the front end and back end.

In the Fall of 2007, I hosted Foresight 2007–the 5th annual futures conference for Christians leaders at Regent University. Mr. Graham Molitor was the featured speaker. Molitor is the president of Public Policy Forecasting. For over 40 years Molitor has been at the forefront of helping business, government and military understand how to track and monitor change.

molitormodel_lEach issue is first framed by innovators and the victimized, advanced by champions and intellectuals, and then resolved by synthesizers and societal legistlation.

Faith can play a vital role as salt and light in public life. We need to ask, “What is happening?”, “What will likely happen”? and “What do we want to see happen?” The earlier we engage in this issue monitoring process, the greater the influence we have on the issues, rather than taking just reactionary postures.

If you would like to learn more about issues management, emerging technologies, and social forecasting, consider enrolling in one of the graduate Foresight programs I teach, whether Masters, Doctorate or PhD. We also offer a Strategic Foresight certificate program for those only needing professional development. Graham Molitor’s lectures are available to all our students for their professional use in forecasting patterns of change in their own professions and industry sectors.

Dr. Jay Gary is president of, a foresight consulting group. Over the past twenty years Jay has helped non-profits, foundations, civic leaders, and strategic alliances to create more promise filled futures. He also teaches strategic foresight, innovation and leadership at the graduate level and through professional development courses.

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