In my workshops, I often show a slide of Steve Jobs introducing us to the first iPad. Then I ask the question, “How should we design our life together, as a congregation, so that we become what Christ has in mind?” The analogy is simple. The success of Apple Computer stems from the vision that Steve Jobs had for insanely great products. He was a tyrant, constantly berating people who were content to make “pretty good” computers and cell phones. The corporate culture that grew at One Infinity Drive, Cupertino California, is exactly the same culture as we desire for the church, only with Jesus at the helm.
Now there is another reason to pay attention to Apple. It has been nearly three years since Jobs passed away and Apple is still going. More than just surviving, it posted an insanely great profit in the first quarter of 2014. Two years after Steve’s death, Apple broke into the Fortune 500s top ten list. While the succession plan for Apple wasn’t smooth (the leadership faced a lawsuit for lying about Job’s illness to investors), it worked.
Steve Jobs was intentional about choosing Tim Cook to follow him as Apple’s CEO. It is hard to imagine a more opposite personality. Cook’s leadership style is calm and detail oriented. The only thing they shared, was a vision for making insanely great products. As pastors come and go in the church, we need to stop focusing on how different their personalities and leadership gifts are. We need to ask simpler questions like, “Do they love Jesus with all their heart?” and “Are they committed to helping others become disciples?”
In his final days, Jobs told people, “When I’m gone, I don’t want you to ask what would Steve do? Be creative.” We are often tradition bound in the church. There is a fundamentalist philosophy in even the most liberal congregation that says, let’s return to the first century.
Disciples of Jesus are not bound to past interpretations of Christian practice. We instead commit ourselves to make today's church insanely great. I am convinced this involves bringing to our neighborhoods the promises that Jesus made in the beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-16). As insanely loving followers of Jesus: We bless the poor. We comfort the mournful. We partner with the meek. We fill those who are hungry. We show the full depth of God’s mercy. We honor our souls and seek for spiritual purity in our motivations. We act as peacemakers. We accept persecution without desiring revenge. We are humbled and honored when people treat us as they did Jesus, Gandhi, or Martin Luther King. We live as salt. We shine as light. We don’t hide. We abide.