What Every Church Revitalizer Can Learn from Steve Jobs


In his battle with cancer, Steve Jobs co-founder of Apple said: “Remember that I will be dead soon is the most important tool I have ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything just falls away in the face of death leaving only what is truly important.”

Steve Jobs knew that his suffering influenced the choices he made.

There was one in the New Testament who understood that at times suffering is a tool to make ones life count for something. His name was the apostle Peter (1 Peter 4:1-8). Peter reminds us “since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind” (1 Peter 4:1). He wanted the Lord Jesus’ suffering and death to inspire them to accept the spiritual conflict and persecution that would result from bearing the wonderful name of Jesus. Because they loved the Lord Jesus, suffering was going to be the normative. As we make choices we need to remember that as Jesus suffered and died to forgive us of our sins, it should inspire all of us to make our lives count for all of eternity.

I realize that Steve Jobs was not a church revitalizer nor had he worked in the arena of church revitalization and renewal. Yet he was an incredible innovator. Church revitalizers need innovation if they are going to being their churches into the twenty-first century.

Jobs was a very successful businessman and along with a few of his other fellow innovators and there are a few items we could learn from Steve Jobs:

· It takes time for the journey to be achieved! Do you know who Ron Wayne is? Most do not! Ron Wayne was the third apple partner who got cold feet just eleven days into the journey. He was bought out for a mere $2,300. But if he had stayed the course his share of Apple would have been worth 2.6 Billion dollars. Staying the course is a big lesson church revitalizers must learn. It takes time to turn around a stuck or polarized church.
· Your church participants cannot tell you what they need only what they want! “Apple market research” is an oxymoron. The Apple focus group was the right hemisphere of Steve’s brain talking to the left one. If you ask church participants what they want, they will tell you, “improved, renewed, and inexpensive”—that is, better sameness (keep us the same but we expect rapid growth). Notice that most do not seek revolutionary change and transformation. Customers for Macintosh can describe their desires only in terms of what they were already using—around the time of the introduction of Macintosh, all that people said they wanted was a better, faster, and cheaper MS-DOS machine. Do you remember the old MS-DOS system? The richest vein for tech startups is creating the product that you want to use—that’s what Steve and Woz did. Church revitalizers must seek to develop what the participants as well as prospects need over that which the participant wants.
· The biggest challenges beget best work. One worker for Macintosh feared that his work would be seen as poor in front of others. Fear is a huge challenge to do ones very best. Changing the world was a big challenge. Apple employees did their best work because they had to do their best work to meet the big challenges. For the church revitalizer the bigger the obstacles the hard we often work.
· “Value” is different from “price.” Woe unto you if you decide everything based on price. Even more woe unto you if you compete solely on price. Price is not all that matters—what is important, at least to some people, is value. And value takes into account training, support, and the intrinsic joy of using the best tool that’s made. It’s pretty safe to say that no one buys Apple products because of their low price. For the church revitalizer there is a high degree of commitment necessary to see a church transformed and renewed. A new value is necessary and a large part of the future vision of the turnaround.
· Changing your mind is a sign of intelligence . When Apple first shipped the iPhone there was no such thing as apps. Apps, Steve declared, were a bad thing because you never know what they could be doing to your phone. Web apps by Safari, were the way to go until six months later when Steve decided, that apps were the way to go. Apple came a long way in a short time from Safari Web apps to the common known phrase, “there’s an app for that.”
· Real CEOs know how to pull the trigger. For all his perfectionism, Steve could pull the trigger and ship product even if it was not perfect yet. Maybe you product as a church revitalizer is not perfect, but it is almost always great enough to go. The lesson is that Steve wasn’t tinkering for the sake of tinkering—he had a goal: shipping and achieving worldwide domination of existing markets or creation of new markets.
· Marketing boils down to providing unique value . For example, the IPod was unique and valuable because it was the only way to legally, inexpensively, and easily download music from the six biggest record labels. As a church revitalizer when you can provide unique value to a rapidly declining church you are in demand.
· Real CEOs showpiece their product . Steve Jobs could demo a 'Pod, 'Pad, 'Phone, and Mac two to three times a year with millions of people watching. Why is it that many CEOs call on their vice president of engineering to do a product demo? Maybe it’s to show that there’s a team effort in play. I would suggest that it is more likely that the CEO does not understand what the company is making well enough to explain it. For the church revitalizer if you do not know your product well enough to explain it you are probably not the revitalizer.
· Experts are clueless. There are so many people wanting to be consultants. Every week I get untrained and un-experienced individuals who want to volunteer to be a consultant for me in church revitalization and renewal. I have those in retirement looking for a gig to keep them busy. Consultants want to tell you how wrong your situation is over giving you ways to create change. They can tell you how to sell something, but they cannot sell it themselves. They can tell you how to create great teams, but they only manage a secretary. For example, the experts told Macintosh that the two biggest shortcomings for Macintosh in the mid 1980s were the lack of a daisy-wheel printer driver and Lotus 1-2-3! As a church revitalizer the lesson learned is: hear what the consultants say, but don’t always listen to them.
· Jump to the next curve. Big wins happen when you go beyond better sameness. The best daisy-wheel printer companies were introducing new fonts in more sizes. Apple introduced the next curve: laser printing. Church revitalizers know that as everyone is jumping on the second pitch it is parmount to throw a second curve. Mix it up for the cause of Christ.
· Leaders who are “A” players hire “A+” players. Actually, Steve believed that “A” players hire “A” players. They hire people who are as good as they are. I believe that “A” players hire people even better than themselves. It’s clear, though, that “B” players hire “C” players so they can feel superior to them, and “C” players hire “D” players. If you start hiring “B” players, expect what Steve called “the bozo explosion” to happen in your organization. Church revitalizers must hire people who are better than they are.
· Design counts. Steve drove people nuts with his design demands—some shades of black weren’t black enough. Mere mortals think that black is black, and that a trash can is a trash can. Steve was a perfectionist, and he was right: some people care about design and many people at least sense it. Maybe not everyone, but the important ones. When you as a church revitalizer emphasize everything you emphasize nothing. Care to specifics and particulars will help you grow.
· You can’t go wrong with big graphics and big fonts . If you take a look at Steve’s slides you would be shocked. The font was 60 points. There’s usually one big screenshot or graphic. Look at other tech speaker’s slides—even the ones who have seen Steve in action. The font is 8 points, and there are no graphics. So many people say that Steve was the world’s greatest product introduction guy. Don’t you wonder why more people don’t copy his style? When you have a big idea as a church revitalizer pronounce it boldly and not timidly. BIG is the best! Speak up! Look Out! Declare Boldly.
· Some things need to be believed in order for them to be seen. You will need to convince people to believe in what you are doing in order to see your efforts come to fruition. People needed to believe in Macintosh to see it become real. Ditto for the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. Not everyone will believe but that does not matter. Nevertheless the starting point of changing the world is changing a few minds. As a church revitalizer perhaps the greatest lesson of all that I have learned from Steve Jobs is change your world one mind at a time.

What are the big take a ways from this blog in relation to what Steve Jobs can teach us as church revitalizers:

1. Don’t Wait Go and Go Now!
2. Make Your Own Reality Each and Every Day
3. Control Everything You Can So You Can Keep the Throttle On.
4. Own Up to Your Mistakes
5. Know Yourself
6. Leave the Door Open for the Incredible, Astonishing, Fantastic and Surprising
7. Do Not Hold Back
8. Surround Yourself with Intelligence, Wisdom, and Brillance
9. Build a Team of “A+” Players
10. Do Not Try to do Everything Yourself
11. Be Yourself
12. Be Persuasive
13. Show Others the Way
14. Trust Your Instincts
15. Take Risks
16. Follow Up Great with Even More Greatness
17. Make Tough Decisions Sooner than Later
18. Presentation Can Make a World of Difference
19. Find a Way to Balance Your Passion and Intensity
20. Live for Today, Prepare for Tomorrow, Learn from the Past
21. Share Your Wisdom with Others Expecting Nothing in Return

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