I have a confession to make. I am writing this on my MacBook Pro, while my iPhone rests next to me. At home, my wife is probably working on her Mac. Maybe I’ll dial her iPhone when I’m finished. All told, our family has several iPods, an iTouch, five iPhones (six if you count the broken one that’s in a drawer), three MacBooks, 2 iPads, and a partridge in a pear tree. Or something like that. So far, our dog Joy is Apple-free, but give me time.
So, yes, I am biased. It didn’t used to be this way. In fact, as a Cisco and Microsoft guy, I was openly derisive of the “cult of Apple.” But I was won over and now I readily drink the Kool-Aid and find my thirst well-satisfied. But this isn’t about the merits of OS X vs. Windows, or Android vs. iOS. Whether you are pro- or anti-Apple, there’s little disputing they are good at what they do. Very good. A few recent interactions with Apple made me realize there is much that we as Christians can learn from the folks who work at Apple.
Apple stores are brilliantly designed, transparent both literally and figuratively. The prominent use of glass creates a very open atmosphere. The products are front and center, and readily available to try out, and they don’t limit you to a prescribed “demo” either. Want to check your email or perform some other on-line task? Go right ahead. They make no apologies for who they are (or are not), don’t try to hide in a carefully-controlled environment, and don’t make you enter their own specialized “world.” Rather, they basically say, “We’re Apple. Come check us out for yourself."
How refreshing would it be if the church was like this? Are we making the gospel as easily accessible as possible for our guests, or are we putting up barriers? Are we using unecessary insider jargon (narthex), when simple words everyone understands would suffice (lobby)? Do we spend more time on guests conforming to our needs (“You need to check your child in over at that kiosk"), rather than meeting theirs (“Welcome. How can I help you this morning?)?
I have heard a few people say they are put off by the casual appearance of Apple employees in their stores. It can be very difficult to distinguish a worker from a shopper. Still, almost without exception they are knowldegeable, generous with their time, and patient. It is immediately apparent they enjoy talking about Apple. They believe in the product, and trust in its ability to perform. They share their experiences using Apple devices, and you get the impression they would still use them even if it wasn’t how they earned a living.
Seems like a pretty good example for us. When we share the gospel, we do more damage than good if we pretend to know all the answers, or pretend to be anything other than who God has made us to be. Be yourself and just share with them how you have experienced the love of Christ in your own life.
Next time you have the opportunity, look through the window of an Apple store. You will see people of all descriptions: Teens who have literally grown up with technology all around them, and retirees buying their first smart phones. You will see I.T. pros and people unsure of how to turn a computer on. It doesn’t matter. With the I.T. person, Apple is happy to talk “speeds and feeds,” while with grandma, they will keep things really simple. In short, they relate to the individual they are working with, and meet them at their level.
The next time you have the opportunity to speak with a non-believer, try the Apple model. Listen to the other person to learn what is going on in their life and where they might be spiritually. Then meet them where they are. You shouldn't try to recite everything you have ever learned in Sunday school. Save the canned spiel and just have a conversation.
I was recently in one of their stores to upgrade my phone. While one salesperson helped me, another approached my daughter, who was at the next table over. She was exploring the new camera features. When he asked if she had seen the new slo-mo option, she replied “oh, I’m just playing with it. I’m not buying anything.” His reply was awesome. “So what, it’s really cool! I’m going to run in place and you film me!” Which he did, right in the middle of the very busy store. No sale resulted, but he definitely got her attention and created a ton of interest.
As Christians, we have the opportunity to share the greatest story. Ever. Are we passionate about telling others about it? Are we ready to share it at every opportunity, even when a “sale” doesn’t seem likely? How much do we really trust our story, or more importantly, the Author? We should be thrilled to share even a part of Christ’s love for us. After all, it's a whole lot cooler than slo-mo.