An Apple For The Church?

"Jesus was the greatest marketing genius to ever live" - David Kuo

In the Beliefnet.com blog of June 29, 2007 there is an interesting discussion about ten things churches could learn from the iPod manufacturer, Apple.

The blog writer, David Kuo, provided a few suggestions to start off the list and further suggestions were supplied by his readers. The list of suggestions distilled to the following:

1. Be innovative - This was actually once true of the church. The early church changed the world by being totally original - caring for widows and orphans, caring for the graves of the dead, caring for discarded babies. Churches need to be original again - not just reflecting popular culture but driving it in compelling ways.

2. Be excited - Apple is unabashedly excited about being Apple. Churches need to be more excited about being loving, caring, original, important representatives of God.

3. Excel in marketing - Jesus was the greatest marketing genius to ever live. He played to peoples' curiosity. He answered questions with questions. He was mysterious. Apple gets this. Apple excels at mystery.

4) Stay positive and learn from your failures – Apple has been a little slow on this one.

5) Thrive on word of mouth. Let the message be carried by disciples more than leaders – iPods are sold by iPod users.

6) Trust that people know their own needs. Let the ministered lead the ministry – Need an iPhone?

7) Remember what you're good at and do it – Simplicity of message and design. Don't get involved in things with which you have little experience or expertise.

8) Resist jealousy- listen to those outside the church with genuine curiosity, as Apple does with ideas that originate outside the company.

9) Resist arrogance- embrace change. As Jesus teaches, let the dead bury their dead.

10) Come with cool accessories – Is the King James version of the bible 'cool'?

Could any of these suggestions reinvigorate a moribund faith?

Posted July 2, 2007

10 comments:

Peter said...

I have made this point in earlier threads so please forgive me for being repetitive.

In my opinion the churches are not doing a good job about developing a more modern and scientifically compatible message for teenagers and so as young adults they quickly drift away from any church involvement. The word ‘cool’ in item #10 struck a chord with me – teenagers do not find church ‘cool’. In my opinion there needs to be a complete rethink of the form of worship, the music in the service, the interpretation of the bible etc if this decline of interest in spiritual matters among teenagers is to be reversed.

Take care,
Peter

Pianoman said...

Peter – I agree and I too have commented on this theme before that the place to start is with the worship service which to teenagers can seem dull and to most of the older people it is routine.

Let’s get some modern and exciting new music into the churches!

Pianoman

Brenda Moorhead said...

Number 5 (“Thrive on word of mouth. Let the message be carried by disciples more than leaders – iPods are sold by iPod users”) is touching on the subject of evangelism which is something most church goers are reluctant to do. Somehow it has become something of an embarrassment for people to talk about their beliefs. I think this is because most people are not well-read to any extent in the belief system they profess. Hence, they are unable to give a well-reasoned argument to their position.

I agree with the earlier comments that this is a particularly acute problem for teenagers who are certainly not going to go out and tell their friends about their belief in virgin births or raising from the dead. They will find a more rational belief (at the moment it has become secular humanism) if there has been no development of a rational belief for them in the years that they were held somewhat captive by their parents and their church.

Diana Malcolm said...

Brenda:

I teach college level philosophy and I have noticed that my students are much more scientifically literate than in former times. I think this has paralleled the growth of the internet. It is much easier for them to get an answer for any question that arises in their lives be it something to do with philosophy, science or indeed arcane points of Italian opera!

I am not a church attendee but I’m quite sure that the youth who are attending church today are no different than my students. I can not see how they would possibly accept a 6,000 year old earth, the story of Noah’s ark, virgin births, walking on water etc.

From what I understand in reading this blog and from other sources there are several very positive developments in the interpretation of the biblical stories i.e. moving away from a literal interpretation to a more metaphorical one. I have followed the discussions surrounding the writings of Borg, Spong, Holloway etc. and I agree with comments I have read that the Christian church will decline in the U.S.A. (and has already declined in the U.K.) unless the ‘Christian’ youth are instructed in some radically new way.

Di Di

Helen Wright said...

I am in agreement with most of these comments. The first point about the churches being innovative strikes me as a good place they might start. Good ideas are hard to come by and harder to get accepted across the wide variety of age levels and belief levels in most churches.

Probably, one could forgo innovation for those older than 30. Beyond this age level if they have left the church they have probably left for good so the age group to be targeted would be the teenagers/young adults.

Personally I think one has to start with programs that relate Christianity to issues that are relevant to this age group. I’m not an expert in suggesting how to do this but I can see that the need is there and Christian educators should be thinking about them

Helen

Philip Kurian said...

Here is my thought on ‘innovation’ ….

Give the teenage kids books about atheism to read as part of their religious instruction classes. For example, have the kids read Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion’ or Hitchens’ ‘God Is Not Great’ and then have a discussion on how they would respond to the points both authors make.

This way it permits the teenagers to openly consider these ideas within a format wherein the theological response can be provided. Further, I think the youth would find the books extremely interesting and I would bet they would probably be very interactive in the subsequent discussions of the books.

Phil

Brian McKay said...

Phil – That idea is both innovative, exciting, trusting, and cool!

It meets four of the proposed points in my humble opinion!

Brian

Roger Spenser said...

Phil,

That is an intriguing idea to have the youth read one or other of those books and then have a group discussion.

I would like to build on this with the idea of intergenerational discussion groups. Why not involve parents in such a discussion? Maybe the discussion group could be divided into smaller sub-groups where family members would be in different groups from those of their own relatives.

I think this approach could strengthen not only the young adult group but also help older people to understand the trends that are influencing the upcoming generation.

R

Duncan Clemens said...

I read one of the comments on the original Beliefnet.com website in which the writer pointed out that “Religion comes from the word religio - the binding together” which led to the question “What binds us together?”

With this in mind another approach to involving youth in a fruitful dialog would be to discuss some of the difficult world problems within the context of what binds us together in coming to a specific unified approach to tackling the problem.

For example, the Israeli – Palestinian conflict could be discussed in this way or what approach we should take to the present problems with fundamentalist Islam.

Duncan

Andrew Wilson said...

In the Daily Mail published here in the U.K. there is an excellent piece entitled Won’t Anyone Stand Up For God?

I quote a section that is relevant to this discussion:

I am astounded that in the face of so much aggressive atheist attack no one in the ranks of believers or in the Church has stood up to reply. Why has no one joined in the battle against these warriors for atheism? Where are the Defenders of the Faith that they ridicule? Are our bishops and cardinals, our preachers, imams or rabbis too supine, too complacent or too scared to argue back? Have they no arguments?

In the past there have been eloquent fighters for Christian belief: churchmen such as Cardinal Newman and Archbishop Temple, writers like G. K. Chesterton or C. S. Lewis, of Narnia fame. Where are their successors? I know of only one: Oxford professor of theology Alister McGrath - who is also a bio-physicist - who has made a substantial refutation. In a little book called The Dawkins Delusion he takes apart the arguments of his fellow Oxford professor and chides him for his unscholarly ignorance of theology. But though excellently argued, this is hardly likely to become a bestseller. Where are the intellectual guns of the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England? The Pope, as Cardinal Ratzinger, wrote intelligently combative books. Why does he not show that the Papacy can argue as well as act as a figurehead? The Church of England, mired in a squabble over homosexual priests, should wheel out its guns on a more important front.

This lack of response is dangerous, especially in the eyes of young people seeking enlightenment. It looks as though the battle will be conceded by default. Speaking up for faith should not be left to the lunatic fringe - such as the American televangelists who declared that 9/11 was God's judgment on America for tolerating abortion, or to the Fatwaissuersof Islam who threaten the life of Salman Rushdie for even questioning the Koran. Apart from fanatics of all religions whose rigid minds leave no room for questioning, we live in an age of doubt and scepticism. It is not enough for complacent pastors to feed their dwindling flocks with anodyne repetitions of old platitudes and the assurance that God is in his Heaven waiting for them personally. People are too educated and sophisticated for the old messages.

What are needed are speakers and writers of vision ready to address with open mind the questions and difficulties that would-be believers meet in their spiritual searches. And to show up the blind spots and black holes of both religion and atheism. It is time for some honest debate.

Peace,
Andy