What the Church Can Learn from Apple

I’m already blown away by the pending Fall release of iOS 7, the new iPhone operating system from Apple (Check it out for yourself – there’s a preview video on their site).  If anyone continues to push the envelope in areas of creativity, relevance and innovation, it’s Apple.

The sad thing is, it should be The Church.  There is no one who ever was, is or will be that is as creative as God Himself.  He literally created “creativity”! Yet as a pastor and leader in the church world that I live, I can’t help but think about some important lessons we can pick up from Apple.

Let’s take a look at a few mindsets we must overcome that are killing the creativity, relevance and innovation in The Church today:

Mindset #1: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Apple didn’t wait until the product was obsolete before releasing the next iPhone.  They didn’t wait until there was a decline in sales or mass exodus of people before they released the next big thing.  Instead, they continue to create momentum with their audience by continuing to create.

On the contrary, we often operate on the principle that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  The bigger problem here is, often it actually is broke.  However, we don’t try to address any problem until half the church family is gone and we have trouble paying the bills.  By that time it’s often too late to do anything different.  Are we really willing to be that stubborn and lazy at the expense of the eternity of others?

Mindset #2: It’s OK to just be “OK”.
We demand excellence in so many different areas of our lives. We stay in the nicest hotels, eat in the best restaurants, shop in the coolest malls, expect the best customer service at all times and enjoy the excellence of our culture.  Yet, when we create environments within the church, we move the goalpost.  We lower the bar of excellence.  What happened to the command of Colossians 3:23?

I often feel like I’m walking back in time when I walk through the doors of a church. Why is it that the church is lead by the Holy Spirit of God, yet we are light-years behind an organization led by the late Steve Jobs?  Are Apple geniuses more creative than God Himself?  Of course not! Why then is true creativity in the church such a rare commodity?  Why do we settle for “just enough to get the job done” or “ok is ok for us”?

A famous Jim Collins quote comes to mind here: “Good is the enemy of great!” And if God is great (which He is), then our mediocrity is an enemy.

Mindset #3: If people don’t like the way we do things – tough luck.
Do you want to know the real reason Apple continues to improve the iPhone?  The reason there’s an updated operating system every ten months or so, or that the product continues to be more user-friendly or they continue to create more efficient applications?  They are listening to their community.   They are listening to the needs of people who use their product and they continue to do whatever it takes to reach their audience.

Obviously you can’t make everyone happy, but are we willing to at least listen and respond to the needs of our community?  Are we willing to do whatever it takes to share the love of Jesus with believers and unbelievers in our city?  Are we willing to do what’s needed to carry out The Great Commission – the mission of Jesus and The Church?

If not, as leaders we need to either get back on track fast or get out of the way.  God will move in our communities and our world regardless.  We have the awesome opportunity to be a part of that, but we’ve really missed the mark if we become a hindrance and not a help.

Mindset #4:  We’ve always done it this way.

As a church leader, please stop allowing a few people (there’s always a few!) to keep you from reaching a wider audience for Jesus.  If (and by “if” I mean “when”) we are regularly investigating and evaluating the areas of our ministry, and we find that a change is necessary, embrace it!  What if Steve Jobs had refused to create the second installment of the iPhone or the third of fourth because the audience was so attached to the first that they didn’t want to let go of it?

Instead of an organization refusing to change, Apple has become an institution whose audience waits in great anticipation and even camps out for days, longing for that which is coming next.  May the church be so creative that our audience is not only waiting, but also longing for what’s still to come!

DISCLAIMER: It’s important to know that in all of this, I’m not in any way suggesting we change the message of Jesus. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever.  The message never changes; it is non-negotiable.  However, the method by which we share His message is ALWAYS up for alteration and creativity. The Church has to be both willing to try new things in order to carry out the Great Commission, and also brave enough to kill those things if they’re not working.

Refuse to let anything get in the way of sharing the love of Jesus and the truth of His Word with people.  Be innovative.  Be creative.  Be relevant.  Do whatever it takes!

Continue the conversation.  What mindsets-to-overcome would you add to this list?

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