Is your church Microsoft or Apple?

For many years I was a Microsoft devotee. I laughed at all the Apple fanboys to the point that when I met one of Steve Jobs right hand guys I proudly announced, “I’m a PC”. (I’m special that way) But in my old age I have seen the light. I now have a Mac and two iPads, my only non-Cupertino inspired device is my Samsung Galaxy S III. I kind of like the Google map app that actually gets me to my destination. Which sort of gets me to my point.

Microsoft and Apple have two very different philosophies about when to ship. Microsoft ships as soon as its good enough and then offers patches and fixes as bugs are discovered in the software. Microsoft software always kind of sort of works. Apple, on the other hand, ships when its perfect. They have a near zero tolerance policy for bugs and defects. Steve Jobs was always willing to stop everything until they got it exactly right. It is this dedication to perfection that led to my defection to the cult of Apple.

The challenge with the Apple approach is that it absolutely, positively has to be perfect right out of the box. Us fanboys won’t tolerate iterations, updates or patches. We want excellence served in an exquisite black or white box. That’s why Apple Maps was such a crushing disaster. If it were Microsoft we would expect the Denver airport to be missing the first time, we’d know they’d find it eventually. For Apple that kind of imperfection is intolerable.

Over the past 20 years we have seen the Apple-ification of the church. We have convinced ourselves and the attenders that God deserves, nay, demands excellence. The lights, the sound the video should be the best of any venue in town. Every weekend should be more amazing than the weekend before. (“I’m so excited about this weekend I’m about to wet myself!!”) The sermon should be spell-binding and funny and heart wrenching every week. As pastors we can be transparent and authentic as long as everyone knows that under that veneer of “real” is a substrate of “really good”.

I’ve come to realize that as much as I want to be Apple I’m really Microsoft. I put out the best that I can, but my best will always have flaws and be full of bugs and it will need frequent updates, patches and fixes. My best never comes in a shiny white box with invisible flaps and secret compartments, my best comes on a paper plate with pizza stains on the edges. Its kind of a relief to be honest. Trying to be Apple all the time is exhausting.

Right before my pastor went on stage this past weekend I asked him if the message was going to be any good? He responded immediately, “Not really, mediocre at best.” He was wrong, it was an amazing message, but I love attending a church with a Microsoft attitude. They do their best, but we all know its never perfect. And that’s ok, that’s how we all are.

Just don’t take away my iPad.

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6 Responses to “Is your church Microsoft or Apple?”

  1. Michael Reid December 7, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    Wow! Geoff, thank you for this post. It’s amazing how spot on your analogy is. I guess I just have to fess up to and accept the PC in me and my church!

  2. Geoffrey Mitchell December 7, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    You are a PC guy? I thought we were friends.

  3. Geoff Surratt December 7, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    As I type on my Mac and check Twitter on my iPad I must confess that my internal software is more Windows than Mountain LIon. Sigh.

  4. dave anderson December 7, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    Dude I love this. So freeing. I am an apple fan boy I guess. I own 3 macbooks, 3 iphones, 2 ipads and our church has so many apple products I lost count. We get caught in the trap of being perfect sometimes too. But one time I heard Guy Kawasaki say that when he was on the first Macintosh team their motto was “dont worry – be crappy”

    The first mac shipped without a hard drive. It was black and white. It wasn’t fully cooked. What it did it did well.

    I have a hard time saying the words microsoft or PC without throwing up. I can embrace the “don’t worry – be crappy” motto of the early apple days though. It’s freeing.

  5. Oswaldo Otero December 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    I am an Apple fanboy myself and I absolutely understand what you are mentioning here. We Pastor a cluster of hispanic churches and one thing I always sort of preach to the leadership is excellence. But excellence has nothing to do with perfection. Excellence to me is being able to do my best with what I got. We’ve accustomed our people to expect a better experience every sunday but that kinda gets the focus out of Jesus and puts it on the media and the jokes. Thanks for this post.

  6. Joel Zehring December 7, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    Linux is the foundation for a third desktop computer operating system, developed as an “open-source” project. This means that the entire collection of code is available to anyone, at anytime, for free, to modify and adapt to their particular uses. Linux-based operating systems power many of the web servers from which websites on the world wide web are served. Linux is also the foundation for the popular Android mobile operating system.

    I’ve used OS X, Windows, and Linux, and I think following Jesus with other believers is best for me when it’s like running Linux.

    I love that we don’t need any permission or license to follow Jesus or worship him together. All we need is the Holy Spirit and a Bible and each other. I love that starting with obedience to Jesus can result in an infinite variety of miracles and ministries, all perfectly suited for each neighborhood and community and people group.

    Linux is really powered by a robust community of contributors and collaborators that connect through email, websites, blogs, social networks, forums, and even face-to-face meetings to support each other and encourage one another and spur one another on to try new things with their computers.

    That’s the kind of church I want to be a part of.