What the Church Can Learn from Apple: Less is More

I remember the first time Hillary and I purchased an iMac and unpacked it in our home office.  It felt so weird to set the monitor on the desk and realize that we didn’t have to plug multiple cords into a tower below the desk.  Compared to our old Dell desktop, this new iMac was a breeze to setup and get going.  I loved walking people to the iMac table at the Apple Store and seeing their amazement that there wasn’t a tower below the table.  Everything was inside the monitor!

Apple has been driven by the minimalist principle that “less is more.”  Ever since Steve Jobs returned to Apple, he and product designer Jonathan Ive have been driven to bring a simplicity and easy of use to Apple products.  Read more in detail about Jonathan Ive here.  This simplicity is apparent in Apple Retail Stores and the minimalist nature of the wooden tables, even down to the small details such as the product descriptions.  On Apple’s website it is clear that there are five main Apple products:  Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad and iTunes.  Even these products interact with each other in a very simple manner.  Steve Jobs doesn’t even want a cashier sign in the store because it distracts from the other elements in the store.

Take a look at your church’s website and see if you can pick out what the main “products” of the church.  What is your church committed to?  Take a look at the church calendar.  How many events take place on a weekly basis?  I think that too often we think that the busier we are as a church, the more productive we are.  We have so many programs and outreach opportunities that we spread ourselves too thin.  Jason Fried and David Heinemeier write in their book Rework, “Cut your ambition in half. Lots of things get better as they get shorter. Getting to great starts by cutting out stuff that’s merely good.”

In the church we need to ask some important questions about each of our programs.  Here are a few:

1.  What is the purpose of this program/group?

2.  What would happen if we cut this program/group?

3.  Are we keeping it going because it meets a need or just because we have always done it this way?

4.  How does this program/group fit into the greater mission of the church?

5.  Does this program/group overlap with another program/group?  How can we merge these groups and make them more effective together?


About joelnewton

I am a husband to Hillary, a father to Anna and Norah

Posted on August 23, 2010, in Church Leadership and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Great post Joel. I think that many of these questions fall under a larger question of “Is this program relevant or not?” Perhaps the breakdowns of these questions is a good way to look at relevancy.

    But I also think that relevancy is hard to get a grasp on. Relevant to who? you or me? someone older or younger? This all fits into (4) I think. And keeping a church more tightly focused seems to be very very hard.

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