As a user of the elegant products Steve Jobs created to revolutionize how humans interact with technology, I wonder what would happen if we unleashed his brilliance on the malfunctioning behemoth called the United Methodist Church. What would Steve Jobs say about an organization that lives off its ability to meet about meetings while accomplishing nothing but the perpetual illusion of reinventing itself? Steve Jobs held less staff meetings at Apple (in total) during his second than I attended as an associate pastor almost twenty years ago. There’s something fundamentally wrong with an idea of leadership based on the idea of meetings, paper, and creative inertia.
How might Steve Jobs dissect our “Rethink” of church; when nothing, absolutely nothing has been rethought? Would the man in the black turtle neck tell the assembled masses that buying emotionally manipulative and misleading advertisements at Christmas and Easter isn’t rethinking anything? Would Steve Jobs call us liars? (Many of our churches aren’t willing to deliver on the open minded, open hearted, or open doors being “sold” in such ads. Imagine an Apple Store never receiving the new iPhone or iPad after an intensive marketing campaign.) What would Steve Jobs say to those who quote paragraph, page number, sub paragraph, and clause in an effort to stifle creativity, innovation, and growth? He might remind us that Jesus never had a Book of Discipline and then physically throw it at our heads. He might fire us for getting in his way. He might then take our, or what was our church, in a brilliant new direction and meet the needs of billions of people.
If we want to rethink what we do and offer something to the world that’s intuitive and easy to use, I think Steve Jobs might tell us, “You’re doing the exact opposite”. However, if you want to put up road blocks and do everything to maintain the status quo without thinking different, you’re doing great. I think Steve Jobs, genius and revolutionary, would say those words to the United Methodist Church. But who’s listening to geniuses and revolutionaries hovering beyond our comfortable walls, especially when we have United Methodists with “plans”.