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3 Church Communications Lessons from iPhone Launches

3 Church Communications Lessons from iPhone Launches

“If people are lining up to give you money … you are doing something right.”

– My Dad

It seems like every 6 months Apple does it again. Somehow they are able to capture the imagination of literally millions of people to get them to line up at their stores to purchase the latest version of their devices. It’s breath taking. It’s beyond just a successful business and is moving into a cultural defining experience. “Have you stood in line for an iPhone?” Just this past Sunday I heard of a kid who is going as a “Mac Genius” for Halloween this year!

What lessons can we pull out from the way that Apple rolls out it’s new iPhones for the way we roll out launches at our churches?

  • Earn the Right to be Heard Again. // When the first iPhone came out the world celebrated that Apple sold 1 million units in 74 days. The iPhone 3g took just 3 days to get to 1 million units. The iPhone 5 sold a staggering 5 million units in the first 3 days. Apple has successfully released multiple generations of a “wow experience” to it’s users. This has earned them momentum and creditability for every subsequent release. Apple does more than just hype it’s release … it delivers on an excellent experience. They are known for that delivery and therefore people believe the hype the next time around. Are we delivering an experience that matches our hype? Is that event really “an amazing spiritual growth opportunity?” Will the kids day camp really “make memories that will last a lifetime?” When our execution matches our communication it creates a virtuous loop where people are more willing to listen to our communication in the future. 
  • Their Solution Matches Our Problems // Apple has always had a keen ability to see through the typically “technobabble” and actually communicate to the public that their solution solves our problems. [Watch // Apple’s 1987 “Knowledge Navigator” concept video … it’s stunning how well they understood where this was all headed.] The features of their products line up with real world needs (or wants) of real people. They are masters are connecting the dots between what they have made and how that will help us in our lives. Are being clear “what’s in it for our them” or are we simply describing our solution to our people? Do people really want a 10 week study on Biblical financial stewardship or do they really just want to know how to get out of debt? Our small groups are great places to meet people, grow spiritually and serve the community … but do folks in our church perceive that they want to meet people, grow spiritually and serve the community? Do we spend enough time explaining the benefits of our ministry to people and not just the features that it includes? Our communication needs to framed primarily from the place of those people listening to it and not from our position as the communicator.
  • Hype Works. // Apple focuses the release of products to generate hype. They understand that the picture of people standing in lines to buy their product is a powerful image for creating purchasing momentum and craft their launches around that hype. During a previous iPhone launch they even set up a temporary store within walking distance from a massive tech/culture conference to make sure that those clients could stand in line and wait for a phone. When Hollywood releases a movie they gear their marketing efforts to focus a response from the public on opening weekend. Even authors have picked up on the fact that generating a lot of initial sales for their books is a way to earn credibility and sales. Do our launches create this sense of urgency? When we announce the upcoming massive community service opportunity do have laptops waiting the lobby after the service to sign people up right away? Or what if when students signed up for that retreat they received a killer t-shirt they’d actually want to wear to build interest and identification? If it matters to the future of your church … generating and focusing anticipation needs to be a tool in your communications belt.

Our “product” is so much more important than a 0.5 inch bigger screen on a smart phone. Our job is to help people connect with Jesus in a way that sees life transformation that ripples beyond them to their family, community and the world!

I look forward to the day when people are lined up around the block to get into your next ministry initiative! 

[Join the conversation // What have you learned from Apple over the years that you’ve applied to communication at your church?]


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