In 2007, Apple changed the world by introducing one simple device: the iPhone. It’s not like there weren't smartphones before the introduction of the iPhone, but any smartphone available prior to it was clunky, hard to use, and not an experience that anyone but tech nerds would want to deal with.
As a leader and pastor in the church, I often look at what Apple did to change an industry forever. Not only is the iPhone something that is still the gold standard today, but it remains the catalyst that fuels a billion-dollar industry forward.
And yes, the church itself is not a business that can simply mimic what other successful businesses do, but in practice and principle, we can take tried and true examples of success and look for the implementation behind it.
1. Make Church for the “Average Joe”
Arguably the best thing that Apple did to make the iPhone successful was to make a device that did complicated things without making it a complicated experience. There were tons of phones in 2007 that could browse the web, take photos, and listen to music, but the experience was difficult and daunting to use.
Far too often we make church the exact same experience. Church becomes something that is intimidating, and even once someone is in the doors, we make it difficult to understand and strenuous to be a part of the community. Yes, the church should want people to grow deeper in their faith and understanding of God, but if we truly want to reach people for Christ, we should make church an experience that the average Joe can understand and implement into their lives. Following Christ is not going to be “easy” by any stretch, but too often we make the initial idea of church and Christianity way more unappealing than it needs to be.
2. Every Detail Matters
The phrase “paint the back of the fence” is a term heard a lot around Apple. Steve Jobs originally heard this phrase from his father, instilling in Steve the importance of detail in everything. When you look at an iPhone--even the internal parts--everything is made and scrutinized down to the tiniest detail (even the screws).
Sadly, many people attending church today see it as a place where people haphazardly throw together an hour and a half on Sunday because they’re obligated to do so. But when we realize the God that we serve—One who is excellent and holy—we can truly see the importance of preparing a place for people to come and experience God. We as church leaders should look and see that every detail matters to those who are coming to church. If we are going to reach those who are skeptics, let’s at least show them through our action and care how much we love Jesus.
3. Presentation is Everything
Back in 2007, no one but tech enthusiasts and business people used smartphones. When Apple presented the iPhone, everyone and their dog wanted one. Why? Because Steve Jobs was able to show that this product, when done right, was perfect for anyone to use. Fast forward 9 years later, and almost everyone who has a cell phone has some sort of smartphone. Apple was able to show people what they wanted before they even knew they wanted it.
The church should take the same kind of action. The church is great for everyone, but too often we present it as something that only certain select people want. We do a horrible job at showing people that the love of Christ is applicable today to everyone. If we truly believe that, then why do we go out of our way to make church something that is inaccessible to someone who doesn't have a degree in Theology? Christ reached people where they were at and often went out of his way to use stories and analogies that normal people could understand to explain complicated truths. Shouldn’t we follow suit and do the same?
There’s a lot we can learn from other people's success. We can learn principles and culture that drive people forward. If we truly want to spread the Gospel around the world, let’s take every bit of successful advice we can and use it to furthering the love of Christ. Let’s marry the vision and date the model. Let's continue to reach people for Christ but be willing to change the method to be more effective.
Adam Jones is the location pastor for Next Level Church's Salisbury, MA location. Adam graduated from Moody Bible Institute with a BA in Youth Ministry. When he's not meeting with people from his location or pastoring his volunteer teams, Adam can be found playing volleyball, going camping, or writing. He and his wife, Maribeth, live in Portsmouth, NH.