Yesterday, Apple announced their new iPad…simply called, ‘the new iPad’. But I don’t really want to talk about that. Instead, I want to talk about Apple.
Love the company or loathe it, it’s impossible to deny their success in the last decade or so. The ‘i’ brand has lifted Apple from the brink of collapse and relative obscurity to the trend-setting forefront of consumer technology. According to various articles including this one from the BBC, Apple is even holding more cash than the USA. Not bad going, although it’s not really the money part I’m interested in.
So you’ve probably read the title of this blog and, having read the first few lines, wondered why on earth the church should study Apple. Well…
Apple has risen from under the Microsoft juggernaut and challenged people’s perceptions of what technology can look like, what it can do and what we can expect. It has infiltrated the music industry, revolutionised the mobile phone industry and manufactured a brand new industry in downloadable ‘apps’. They are at the head of all they do rather than being at the tail, trying to catch up. This is what the church should be like.
We are living in a world where Christianity is no longer the accepted norm. The juggernaut we face is secularism. But the difference between the church and everything else is God; if our God is with us, who can stand against us? We can rise up and we can make a difference to the world. Apple challenged perceptions of technology – why can’t we challenge perceptions of faith? Church is more than the stereotype it has been assigned. Why is it unusual to see Christian music like Worship Central’s latest CD and Matt Redman’s recent song hit the charts? Why can’t the church be at the head and not the tail?
I’m not for one second saying that we need to build and sell the next iFad. That would be crazy. But we can be the forefront of design and social media – we can raise people’s expectations of the ‘human’ aspect of church and help people to connect with God in a way that they’ve never experienced before. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple has gained more disciples in the last decade than the Christian church. However, whilst Apple has great products, it doesn’t have a life-changing message. It doesn’t have the good news of Jesus Christ. I believe that Apple could teach the church a thing or two, but ultimately I believe that as Bill Hybels says: “the local church is the hope of the world”. With God, we will be the head and not the tail.