Is Your Church Microsoft or Apple?

For many years I was a Microsoft devotee. I laughed at all the Apple fanboys to the point that when I met one of Steve Jobs right hand guys I proudly announced, “I’m a PC”. (I’m special that way) But in my old age I have seen the light. I now have a Mac and two iPads, my only non-Cupertino inspired device is my Samsung Galaxy S III. I kind of like the Google map app that actually gets me to my destination. Which sort of gets me to my point.

Microsoft and Apple have two very different philosophies about when to ship. Microsoft ships as soon as its good enough and then offers patches and fixes as bugs are discovered in the software. Microsoft software always kind of sort of works. Apple, on the other hand, ships when its perfect. They have a near zero tolerance policy for bugs and defects. Steve Jobs was always willing to stop everything until they got it exactly right. It is this dedication to perfection that led to my defection to the cult of Apple.

The challenge with the Apple approach is that it absolutely, positively has to be perfect right out of the box. Us fanboys won’t tolerate iterations, updates or patches. We want excellence served in an exquisite black or white box. That’s why Apple Maps was such a crushing disaster. If it were Microsoft we would expect the Denver airport to be missing the first time, we’d know they’d find it eventually. For Apple that kind of imperfection is intolerable.

Over the past 20 years we have seen the Apple-ification of the church. We have convinced ourselves and the attenders that God deserves, nay, demands excellence. The lights, the sound the video should be the best of any venue in town. Every weekend should be more amazing than the weekend before. (“I’m so excited about this weekend I’m about to wet myself!!”) The sermon should be spell-binding and funny and heart wrenching every week. As pastors we can be transparent and authentic as long as everyone knows that under that veneer of “real” is a substrate of “really good”.

I’ve come to realize that as much as I want to be Apple I’m really Microsoft. I put out the best that I can, but my best will always have flaws and be full of bugs and it will need frequent updates, patches and fixes. My best never comes in a shiny white box with invisible flaps and secret compartments, my best comes on a paper plate with pizza stains on the edges. Its kind of a relief to be honest. Trying to be Apple all the time is exhausting.

Right before my pastor went on stage this past weekend I asked him if the message was going to be any good? He responded immediately, “Not really, mediocre at best.” He was wrong, it was an amazing message, but I love attending a church with a Microsoft attitude. They do their best, but we all know its never perfect. And that’s ok, that’s how we all are.

Just don’t take away my iPad.

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Geoff Surratt

Geoff Surratt

Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Sherry (CEO of MOPS International). Geoff and Sherry have two awesome kids (Mike and Brittainy), a wonderful daughter-in-law (Hilary) and the most beautiful granddaughter on earth (Maggie Claire) Geoff has served on staff at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church. He is now the Director of Exponential and a freelance Church Catalyst and Encourager.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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