David Lose, a theologian and practioner of faith, several months ago wrote a blogpost title “Ten Things the Church can learn from the Apple Store”[i] He makes some interesting comparisons between Apple…the brainchild of Steve Jobs…and the church.
Stop selling Stuff
Apple Interpretation: Steve Jobs did not ask “how will we grow our market share from 5% to 10%”. No, he asked, “How do we enrich people’s lives?”
Stop worrying about membership and about whether people will join
We don’t sell stuff.
Instead, ask people why they’re here,
why they’ve come, what they’re looking for,
and how this congregation can aid them in their walk with God.
Apple’s philosophy is to engage “kids” of all ages…to spend as much time with a customer as needed to help them see why Apple will enrich their lives. They do not work on commission.
Church Application: Strengthen faith.
What would it mean if before each action, decision, or vote you asked the question, “How will this help strengthen the faith of the people who come here?”
Hire for Smiles
Apple: The Apple Store cares less about your technical proficiency and more about how you love people
Church: People may decide in the first two minutes whether they’ll be back. Before the first hymn…before the sermon…people want to know they are genuinely welcomed and not feel like they are being recruited in order for the church to survive.
Apple: Mohawks, tattoos, piercings are all acceptable at Apple.
Church: Have we created a place where our kids and their friends feel welcome even if they’re dressing differently than when we were young?
Have we created a place where neighbors who may look different, or have different levels of education, or dress differently feel welcome?
Look around – does everyone look the same? Then maybe we need to work harder at making room for all kinds of different people to find their place in our congregation.
Unleash the inner genius:
Apple: Teach your customers something they never knew they could do before coming to the store
Church: Everyone in your congregation has something of value to offer your congregation. (Now, say this 5x!)
So when something needs to get done at the church, don’t call any of the first 3 people that come to mind.
Call the 4th, 5th, or 6th person, because they can do it too
Apple: Employees are not pressured to make a sale; they are empowered to do what they believe is the right thing to do…even if it does not create a sale
Church: If it matters, don’t let the pastors do it!
Really. How else will our people be equipped and empowered to read the Bible with confidence, to connect their faith to their daily lives, and to share their faith with others if the only persons who ever do these kinds of things are the pastors. We learn by doing, so if it matters, invite everyone to do it!
(Okay, so pastors can do some of this too, but if it matters, don’t let them be the only ones who do it!)
Create Multi-Sensory Experiences:
Apple: The brain loves multi-sensory experiences
Church: The church is the original “multi-sensorial experience” – so let’s reclaim that.
We’ve got music, and words, and images,
and bread and wine,
and stained-glass windows,
and (lest we forget) actual, physical flesh-and-blood people around us.
Appeal to the buying brain:
Apple: Create uncluttered environments instead.
Church: What are we doing – in our meetings, in Sunday School, in worship – that we don’t need to do
I wonder what would of happened n
-the “dish-drying” church
-the “green-bean” church
-and the “forgotten members” church
If they had taken even one of these ideas into consideration?
Why would you consider inviting someone to the ice cream social next Sunday at 6:30?
Why would you consider inviting a family with young kids to bring their kids to Sunday school in September…and invite them to stay for church?
Why do you come to church?
Do we come to church so we can call ourselves Christian just as they did in Antioch?
Do we come to church so that future generations will have a church?
Do we come to church so there is someone to marry and bury us?
I cannot answer those questions for you…
–and each of will have a different reason for “why church”?
The Wednesday evening group wrestled with the question:
“What would happen if this church ceased to exist?”
As we shared, it became clear…we would still worship
-it may be in a different way
-or it may be with different people
-but practicing Christianity was still the answer
We even went as far as to suggest
-that every person has an instinctive and inherent desire for God
-from the moment of birth
-this “treasure” in their heart
-for a relationship with God
-whether they ever recognize it or not
The paradox of the church is that while we plan and strategize for the future
-that future is not set in stone
Our Book of Order reminds us
-the church is to be a community of faith, entrusting itself to God alone, even at the risk of losing its life.[ii]
I don’t know about you…but it helps me lose a whole lot of baggage…knowing that none of us is single handedly responsible for Christianity…thanks be to God.
We are only called to be faithful
-to prepare for future generations
-to tell our stories
-to treasure the love of God
-to always be moving forward…dressed for action
-to be a community of hope
If we have lived out Jesus’ invitations
-loved our enemies
-break bread with those who different from us
If we have worked on our own brokenness
If we have asked the hard questions
If we have shared the wealth of our time, talents, and treasure
We do not “go” to church
We ARE the church.
May it be so for each of us…this day and every day.