Yes. I know what you’re thinking. How can Steve Jobs possibly be a church communications hero? As reported in the recent autobiography, Jobs was a Zen Buddhist and he was highly dysfunctional in the way he interacted with those around him. So why on earth would I choose him for being a church communications hero?
It’s simple really. I’m a firm believer that we can learn how to be better at what we do if we are willing to look outside the existing paradigms of the tiny church bubble.
Jobs understood what it meant to think differently, beyond the marketing slogan. He didn’t want to be just another carbon copy out there. Here are a few principles I’ve learned from Jobs that I think I can apply to what we do:
1. Vision: Jobs had a clear picture of what he wanted Apple to be.
It wasn’t to be like Microsoft. Or Dell. He had clarity right down to the brushed aluminum screws on his products. He wasn’t influenced by the biggest player in the market. In fact he was very vocal about what was wrong with Microsoft and what was right about Apple. Unfortunately, too many churches have a creative and communication vision that look, feel and sound the same. Your vision for your church’s communications should distinctly represent the values and voice of your church. They should not be a carbon copy of the big church up the road. Too often we settle for the mediocre and unremarkable rather than creating something that changes peoples’ lives. What’s your vision of what your church should look and sound like? What’s the compelling story you need to tell?
2. Confidence: Jobs thought that Apple could make a dent in the universe.
Even at its lowest point, Steve Jobs believed in Apple. One hundred and ten per cent. In the late 90s when no one had heard of an iPod and Apple was an after thought, Jobs had a vision. I don’t know about where you are, but the church is shrinking in Australia. Attendance is at an all time low. Christians are perceived as weird, hypocritical, judgmental and brainless.I may be living in a post-Christian age, but I still believe I can help my church make an impact in our corner of Melbourne for Jesus. What we do matters. The way the story is told, the typeface, the paper, the word choice—it all matters. Especially when we’re at our lowest point.
3. Imagination: Jobs could spot and then dominate the big picture product trends.
Digital music, smartphones, tablets—Jobs saw the future trends and then created a product to dominate. As communicators its our job to keep imagining what the future communication trends will be. How people relate to the church. How they will connect with one another through social networks. What the next communication tool will be. It’s our job to tell our leaders about them and demonstrate why they should adopt them. Whatever communication tools you are using now will change in five years (Twitter and Facebook were just getting started five years ago). Even the humble church bulletin. What can you see on the horizon?
4. Drive: Jobs wasn’t satisfied with the ordinary.
He repeatedly wanted to create something remarkable. There are numerous stories of Steve Jobs not settling for the mediocre. He wanted to create insanely great products. There is one story where he even had a tantrum about using brushed aluminum screws over standard screws in a place no one would ever see. What you are creating doesn’t have to be mundane. You can make it great. Remarkable. Memorable. Life changing. Whether it’s graphics, copywriting, video or web. You can put in the necessary focus and the white hot passion (though maybe not the tantrum) to create something remarkable. Something that communicates and connects and leads someone into their next step toward Jesus.
Despite all his frailties, failings and faults, Steve Jobs did it. You can too.Photo by Joi