Church, computers

Learning Something about Ministry from Apple

Today, Hewlett-Packard announced that they were stopping production on webOS devices and they were spinning off their PC manufacturing division. These announcements came on the heels of the completely underwhelming reveal of the HP Touchpad – a tablet designed to run webOS and compete with Apple’s iPad.

Last week, it was announced that Sprint dropped plans to sell Research in Motion’s Blackberry tablet called Playbook because of its meager sales results. And while the Android-based tablets have sold better than webOS and Blackberry, they hold only a sliver of the market despite multiple builds, styles and distributors.

Apple’s iPad sits securely on the mobile computing world’s throne.

How? Why?

Simply put, Apple engineers don’t build devices. They create an experience. They let design drive mechanics rather than the other way around. Without worrying about technical specifications or price breaks, Apple designs something people will feel immersed in. Everything is subject to the connection a consumer makes with the product.

As a result, Apple is sitting on a larger cash reserve than even the United States government. They are the number one manufacturers of mobile computing devices in the world.

Steve Jobs sees the future because he realizes what people ultimately care about is not tech or numbers or price. People want to feel connected. They want their devices to be an extension of their own thoughts and beliefs. This breeds into the device users a sense of community and commonality with other users.

Even I find it happening. When I sit down at a table and there are other iPad users there, I can’t resist the temptation to talk about the experience. It is infectious. In short, Apple has become viral – in the best possible way.

There’s something to be learned from Apple’s philosophy that can be applied to ministry.

The days of bigger equals better are gone. The era of the megachurch is over. Numbers and programs are not enough for people designing connection and feeling as if they are apart of something.

People are more than willing to have a big corporation make their products. (Apple is the richest company in the United States after all.) But they don’t want to feel like they are a number. They want to be connected. To be known and know.

Just like Steve Jobs could see the connections people needed to make and then created devices to make those connections happen, those in ministry need to be willing to look beyond programs and strategies. These things are not ends in themselves. They are simply means. Strip all of that away, see the connections people need and then make it a reality – at all costs.


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