Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Should Churches Dream Like Steve Jobs?

Yesterday, I listened to a talk from Steve Jobs from 1983.  I’d encourage you to at least play it in the background or give it a skim listen at some point:

Did I mention that he gave this talk in 1983?!?!  In this hour he predicted the world that we live in today.  And he did it with passion and confidence.  It felt as if Steve Jobs had time travelled to the year 2000 and then went back to 1983 to tell people what he witnessed.  Amazing! 

As I listened to Jobs I couldn’t help but wonder whether or not churches ought to dream like Steve Jobs?  Jobs stood before these people and said, “This is what the world is going to look like in 10-15 years because of what we are doing at Apple”.  This got me wondering, should pastors stand before their churches and say, “this is what the world will look like in 10 years because of the impact of our church”? 

Maybe Not

My first instinct is to balk at the idea of a pastor or church speaking in this way about the work of God in their community.  There are several things that are different about what Jobs is doing and what a church is tasked with doing. 

For one, there is very little that is offensive about an Apple Computer (apart from maybe the price).  The gospel on the other hand is offensive.  Convincing someone of buying an Apple isn’t the same as convincing someone of the beauty of Jesus.  One requires the work of the Spirit the other is something that man can do. 

Secondly, the folks at Apple hand-picked the people that worked for them.  They only took the greatest of people.  The church is much different.  Christ does not look for the best and the brightest.  The church is not structured like Apple nor should it be.

Third, after I listen to this presentation from Steve Jobs I cannot help but marvel at the amazing Steve Jobs.  That seems opposite of what a Christian preacher ought to do.  James Denney was correct when he said, “No man can bear witness to Christ and to himself at the same time.  No man can give the impression that he himself is clever and that Christ is mighty to save". 

For these reasons and more I do not think it is wise to uncritically latch onto Steve Jobs’ passion and say, “church we ought to dream like this”.  People can build computers, only Christ can build His Church. 

At the same time, I do not think we ought to dismiss the passion of Steve Jobs.  There is something here that ought to be emulated. 


There is something about Steve Jobs that ought to humble churches.  He had a vision, albeit one created in his mind, to change the world.  He believed that dream so much that he “gambled everything on it”.  He gave his life to the vision of Apple.  He could talk about 10-15 years down the road because he knew that he was going to still be at Apple.  The average pastor in the SBC barely stays for two years in one place—so how can he dream about 10 years down the road? 

There is also something to be said about the fact that Jobs would not settle for something that did not fit his vision.  If it was not ready he was not going to roll it out and sell people garbage.  He had a dream and rather than settling for what could be done today he kept plodding until his vision became reality.  There is certainly a sub-biblical way to follow Jobs in this way.  Yet, there is also something to be said for not comfortably camping out in a world that doesn’t yet reflect the heart and mission of Jesus. 

This leads me to ask, why can’t we take God’s story and His mission and dream like Steve Jobs?  If God is working to fill the world with his glory by rooting out of his kingdom all sin and unbelief and replacing it with passionate worshippers then why can’t we be like Steve Jobs in seeing this “dream” come to fruition?  We might not be able to say, “in 10-15 years” but we can certainly say with confidence “this is the world that God is creating”.  And let’s be like Steve Jobs and not rest until God’s vision for the earth is accomplished. 

If a man can be this passionate and confident about a dream of computers why can’t believers be that confident and passionate about the sure promise of God’s redemption? 

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