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10 things churches can learn from Apple Stores

10 things churches can learn from Apple Stores

In the meantime blog compares Guy Kawasaki’s 10 things you can learn from Apple™ Stores and church.

1. Stop selling stuff.

Translation: Stop worrying about membership and about whether people will join – the church’s equivalent of selling stuff. Instead, ask people why they’re here, why they’ve come, what they’re looking for, and how this congregation can aid them in their walk with God.

2. Enrich lives.

Translation: Strengthen faith. Set your congregation the vision of imagining that every aspect of their life – worship, education, facilities, newsletter, and all the rest – is intended to help people strengthen their faith and grow in their lives as disciples. What would it mean if before each action, decision, or vote you asked the question, “How will this help strengthen the faith of the people who come here?”

3. Hire for smiles.

Translation: Statistics show that visitors to churches make up their minds within the first two minutes whether they’ll be back (way before they hear the sermon!). The most important factor? Whether they feel welcome and believe people are genuinely glad they’re there. Not everyone has the gift of hospitality – of making someone feel incredibly welcome – but lots of people do. Find these people, name their gift (not everyone realizes they have this gift), and get them out front on Sunday morning to welcome everyone who walks in the door.

4. Celebrate diversity.

Translation: Just how welcoming can we be? Really. Have we created a place where our kids and their friends feel welcome even if they’re dressing differently than when we were young? Have we created a place where neighbors who may look different, or have different levels of education, or dress differently feel welcome? Look around your congregation this Sunday – does everyone look the same? Then maybe we need to work harder at making room for all kinds of different people to find their place in our congregation.

5. Unleash inner genius.

Translation: Everyone in your congregation has something of value to offer your congregation. (Now, say this 5x!) Moreover, there is no single factor that contributes more powerfully to someone feeling connected to an organization than feeling that his or her gifts are appreciated and will be used. So when something needs to get done at the church, don’t call any of the first 3 people that come to mind. Call the 4th, 5th, or 6th person, because they can do it too, and, moreover, they need to have their gifts put to use. Imagine if the church was a place where everyone from our youth to our retirees felt that their creative gifts were not just valued but were vital to the health of the congregation.

6. Empower employees.

Translation: If it matters, don’t let the pastors do it! Really. How else will our people be equipped and empowered to read the Bible with confidence, to connect their faith to their daily lives, and to share their faith with others if the only persons who ever do these kinds of things are the pastors. We learn by doing, so if it matters, invite everyone to do it! (Okay, so pastors can do some of this too, but if it matters, don’t let them be the only ones who do it!)

7. Sell the benefit.

Translation: Practice talking about what we love about this congregation. Many of us may feel uncomfortable with the word “evangelism,” having had too many encounters with someone who wanted to know if we “knew where we’d go after dying.” But can’t we practice talking about what we really enjoy about this congregation, about why we come out on Sunday mornings, about what we receive from our community of faith. If we practice this in church, it may be easier to share outside of church and won’t, I promise you, feel like we’re stuffing our religion down someone else’s face.

8. Follow the steps of service.

Translation: Take hospitality seriously. Invite folks to practice welcoming people at church. And then practice inviting people to church. If it’s sincere, and if you always respect the persons with whom you are in conversation, this is does not have to be manipulative. But practice is important because we’re not used to doing this (whether or not you choose an acronym is up to you ).

9. Create multisensory experiences.

Translation: Are you kidding – church is the original “multi-sensorial experience” – so let’s reclaim that. We’ve got music, and words, and images, and bread and wine, and stained-glass windows, and (lest we forget) actual, physical flesh-and-blood people around us. Let’s keep worship simple, clean, and richly multi-sensorial, inviting a faith that goes deeper than our brains to reach the whole person.

10. Appeal to the buying brain.

Translation: What are we doing – in our meetings, in Sunday School, in worship – that we don’t need to do? How can our space and our activities be simplified? Another question to ask before each decision: Is there a simpler way to do this?

The three pillars of enchantment are likability, trustworthiness, and quality. Apple’s engineers take care of quality, and the Apple Store experience personifies likability and trustworthiness. I’ve never left an Apple store without being enchanted—in fact, I seldom leave the Apple Store on University Avenue in Palo Alto without being enchanted and buying something too!

An idea for #7 Start with developing your “elevator speech” – a short statement of why you love your church and what it means to you and the community.


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David Allen

Actually, the Apple Retail Stores are not the brain child of Steve Jobs. Apple hired a retail guru to design and run Apple retail. That is why they are the success that they are.

Brother David

Apple fanboi

C. Wingate

OK, so American Catholic music takes its cues from advertising jingles, and we are going to take ours from a tyrannical boss who didn’t accept that rules applied to him: the perfect model for a bishop, yesirree. Look, the one “lesson” that we aren’t going to take away from this is to have to courage of our convictions to do things our way instead of following some secular fashion (and if Apple isn’t one of those fashions, may UMCP revoke my CS degree).

Lois Keen

You know, the first time I walked into an Apple store, I was dumbfounded. I said to mi esposo, “Good God, this is a church!” And I’ve been struck by that visual model ever since – the “genius bar”, the many areas to try things out, other areas to learn how to use the products, areas to gaze on “holy” things. I’ve been prayerfully working on how that could translate to an actual church ever since. These “ten things” is very timely! Thank you.

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