What if church was more like the Apple Store? 

On Boxing Day, I dropped my iPhone and shattered the glass.  Although still useable, I delayed getting it fixed, because I knew it would cost about £100.  This week though, after another little chunk of glass fell out (and I was leaving little trails of glass slithers behind me), I finally made an appointment to get it fixed.

As I walked into the store, all around me buzzed Smiley Apple people in cobalt blue shirts.  I checked in and was met by my own dedicated Smiley Apple Person (SAP?) who started to assess the phone damage. Tutting (genuinely) sympathetically over the gaping hole in my poorly phone, he asked if I had any other problems with it.  “Well,” said I, “it sometimes gets a bit hot…a little over-heated”.

“A-ha…” he said, seizing upon this additional info with gusto. Whipping out an iPad, he tapped a few icons and through the power of bluetooth magic, told me my phone had a malfunctioning antenna.

“Regretfully,” he said “because of this, we can’t repair the glass for you…we’ll have to replace the phone”.

(Clunk, clunk…as my heart sank…)

“Free of charge…”

Err, wait? Free? No need to pay £100?  Trying to not appear too excited (I am British, after all), I thanked him enthusiastically and did a little mental jig instead.

Now, lest you think this is just a big ole advert for the gloriousness of Apple, it’s not.  There’s actually a point to this tale.

Later, I was thinking about Smiley Person and the way he almost wanted there to be something wrong with the hardware.  He wanted to give me a new phone for free – he was starting from a position of ‘yes’.

All too often in Christian/church circles, we start from a position of ‘no’.

No, can’t go to prayer meeting, as I’m too tired.

No, can’t help with serving as I’m too busy.

No, can’t do extra, already got too many other commitments.

But what if, like Smiley Person, it was all about ‘yes’? All about making sure that everyone who walked through our doors, felt the buzz, the warmth, met a community of people who were there to serve and to say ‘yes’.

Like or hate them, Apple has always (as far as I can see) concentrated on building a tribe.  Their philosophy goes beyond getting people through the door,  but is about making those same people fans for life. 

Meet an iPhone user and you’ll probably find that somewhere in the background is also lurking their iPad/iPod/Mac.  They buy one product, they like it, they are treated well, they buy others.

Ok, I know there’s a cult-like fascination with their stuff (and yes, I think the people who camp outside stores all night, just to get their hands on the latest/newest/coolest thing are crazy), but their business model of ‘yes’ makes a lot of sense to me.

Imagine a church full of people, buzzing, excited and genuinely enthusiastic about their ‘product’.

Imagine a church full of people who started from a place of ‘yes’. Churches would be packed, visitors would keep on coming back, drawn by the warmth, drawn by the truth of the message.

Some churches are like that (mine is one) but many aren’t.   Steve Jobs (the guy behind my phone’s wizardry) once described his products by saying;

“It’s like giving a glass of ice cold water, to someone in Hell”.

Sounds like a pretty good way to do church, to me.


 

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