Apple is in the disciple-making business, but it has nothing to do with the mission of the church. The eternal significance of Apple—or any tech company—is zilch apart from Christ, that’s for sure.
But what would it look like if Apple, all of the sudden, turned their innovation toward making real Jesus-following disciples? What would their process look like? How would it be different?
It’s more of a fun question than a serious endeavor. I don’t expect to come up with die-hard strategies to transfer to the church, but I think there’s value in the exercise.
Because the church is (or should be, depending on your perspective) the most innovative institution on the planet. We have the very Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead living in us. The same Spirit who hovered over the waters of creation. The same Spirit who is working in and through the church to bring heaven to earth. And the work we’re doing is the most important work in the history of mankind.
So, here are 7 leadership thoughts about making disciples with the passion and innovation of Apple. Each of these thoughts comes complete with a Steve Jobs quote.
For starters—Apple wouldn’t do it like everyone else.
If Apple stays consistent with their passion for innovation they would ignore current discipleship trends. Apple would likely start from the ground up (Matthew 28; Acts 2) and envision a new way to connect people to Christ in a language this generation understands. Simple, back to the basics but packed with strategy and purpose.
Who knows what Apple would venture to try—Facebook churches, an app that mentors you with a Jesus hologram? A directions app that points you to new mission fields? Snapchat churches? I don’t know, but one thing’s for sure, it would be different.
“We’re gambling on our vision, and we would rather do that than make ‘me too’ products. Let some other companies do that. For us, it’s always the next dream.” – Steve Jobs
Apple would pour a ton of energy into backend design.
Apple would expect their staff to stay up nights, work long days (and weekends)—not out of duty, but out of passion. The energy, initially, would be poured into the backend experience. Making sure that every tiny detail of the mission was effective, efficient and uniquely valuable to the user.
“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” – Steve Jobs
Apple would have a high-quality ministry filter.
Apple would encourage creativity and new ideas within their staff, but they would also have a tough ministry filter. Apple would say “No” to a thousand ideas and “Yes” to only a few. Apple wouldn’t collect ineffective ministries or suffer inefficient models.
“I’m as proud of the products that we have not done as the ones we have done.” – Steve Jobs
Apple would cast a big vision.
For certain, Apple would create a new vision meant to inspire a disciple-making movement that would probably break most (if not all) the current discipleship rules and principles. Information, growth, and transformation would all be redesigned and simplified to create clear and consistent ways to connect people to Christ.
“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me…Going to bed saying we’ve done something wonderful…that’s what matters to me.” – Steve Jobs
Apple would hire/partner with the best.
Apple would look for smart, creative leaders, but more than anything, they would hire leaders with a prophetic passion. And with all the ruthlessness of the Apostle Paul, Apple would likely cut ties quickly with team leads who lost the vision.
“When I hire somebody really senior, competence is the ante. They have to be really smart. But the real issue for me is, are they going to fall in love with Apple? Because if they fall in love with Apple, everything else will take care of itself.” – Steve Jobs
Apple would innovate out of a slump.
When things weren’t working out, Apple wouldn’t necessarily ask for more money or shrink the budget to keep the church or ministry afloat. Instead, they would use prayer (the ancient-new innovation?) to create an alternate path out of a declining ministry.
“The cure for Apple is not cost-cutting. The cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament.” – Steve Jos
Apple would know when to pass the torch.
“I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know.”
Steve Jobs spent years making Mac disciples—working tirelessly to come up with the next revolutionary tech invention. There’s a lot we can learn from a man—and a company—with an uncompromising vision. We don’t need to break all the rules to be successful—that’s not the point—but we do need an undying commitment to the cause of Christ and a radical desire to see God work in and through his Church.
Besides, our job to make “real” disciples carries much more weight, and the power behind it, well, is truly capable of making today’s church…revolutionary.