Church Communication Hero: Steve Jobs

Church Communication Hero: Steve Jobs

April 11, 2012 by

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.

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Photo by Joi
Post By:

Steve Fogg

Steve serves as the big cheese of communications at his church in Melbourne, Australia; he married way above his pay grade and has three children. Connect with him on his blog or on other social networks.
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13 Responses to “Church Communication Hero: Steve Jobs”

  • Chris
    April 11, 2012

    I have to agree there’s a lot in the Job’s biography about how not to lead and how not to treat yourself and others around you. The one thing that you touched on here is not taking things for granted and pushing in a healthy way to be the best we can be all for Christ. As long as we are doing this for Christ and not for the praise of others or to boost our ego or to be “relevant” we can as a church help make disciples.

    • Steven Fogg
      April 11, 2012

      Thanks Chris, completely agree that we should be doing it for Jesus and not for ourselves. That’s certainly why I’m serving in a church.

  • T
    April 11, 2012

    While I appreciate the amazing design aesthetic of Jobs’ Apple, I’m not a fanboy (as evidenced by my Windows Phone). God is deliberate. He is a God that in in control all of the time and although we may not understand his actions, He is deliberate in all he does.

    Jobs was the same way. Every decision he made for Apple was deliberate with a specific outcome in mind. Design should be the same way. Yes, sometimes unexpected results will happen (aka the Happy Accident) but it should have started with a deliberate action.

    Though, maybe intentional would be a better word than deliberate. Either way, don’t just wing it.

  • Kristina
    April 11, 2012

    I love how you brought the focus into being something more than just mediocre. Aren’t we as the church called to more than mediocrity? Yes, I believe we aree. While we all see the finished website, what we don’t see is the hours of work and time that other people like copywriters, digital artists, and html gurus put into it.

    • Steven Fogg
      April 12, 2012

      Thanks for the comment Kristina,

      If you put the right people involved on a comm’s project, it’s my experience that it is nearly always more than mediocre. (We need to be careful that the goal isn’t being more than mediocre. Being more than mediocre isn’t the end, it’s just the start.)

  • Dan Smith
    April 11, 2012

    As a sort of minister-at-large, meaning I don’t have a church to minister as pastor (only as a lay-minister/volunteer), marketing myself like Jobs would have is an interesting prospect. It is true that I’d never market myself like a church would anyway, but that should free me to be more innovative than a church can be as well. I can change faster and ditch things that aren’t working.

    I’m not Steve Jobs of course, but it might be interesting to discover what I can come up with.

    • Steven Fogg
      April 12, 2012

      Hey Dan,

      I’d agree, you wouldn’t market yourself like a church.

      Have you ever heard of personal branding? It’s probably more what you need if you need communications support.

      There are many great examples online of people who really understand their own brand. is one such example.

  • Kevin Shorter
    April 12, 2012

    Dear Steve, I liked your post here about Steve Jobs. You pulled out some great points about how he marketed Apple well. One additional aspect I would add to your first point is how well Jobs continued to keep the vision out there. He did not say it once and assume people got it. He kept casting the vision to make sure it took. If a church can solidify the purpose God called them to, then they should make sure that the people who want to join with them have no doubt about what they are about.

    With regards to Dan’s comment above, Steve Job’s is a good example of personal branding. Jobs was the iconic figure of Apple so some feeling about Jobs overlapped with Apple. But for some simple aspects, Jobs had his own brand. Branding is the consistent repetition that creates expectations in your customers. People knew when they hired Jobs to speak he would be prepared, polished, and be wearing a black shirt. When giving a presentation, he would used powerful images with short phrases. What can a congregation know to expect of you when you come? How do you want to be remembered?

    • Click
      May 10, 2012

      Do you guys realize that Steve Jobs was not a Christian. It was noted in his journal on many occasions that he is agnostic.

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