I stumbled upon this video of a 25-year-old Steve Jobs in 1980 talking about this new thing his company was selling called the personal computer. It is a fascinating peek back in time. In it, we see the singular vision that helped shape everything Jobs would do.
He describes the personal computer as a tool for expanding human capacities — the same way a bicycle allows to move with speed and efficiency well beyond our natural ability. And he describes the way a computer should be designed so that you do not have to learn a lot about computers in order to use it to work on the problem you want to solve. He talks about computers of that day getting between the person and the problem so that you could not solve the problem until you put a lot of energy into learning how to use a computer. He wanted to eliminate that issue.
Here is the fulll video if you are interested:
It got me thinking a little bit about whether we make church something that gets between people and their spiritual problems. You have to learn “church” and put energy into that before you can begin to work on the problems that bring people to church in the first place.
This question, of course, envisions church as a tool, a means to an end. This may be a category mistake. But as an exercise in creative thinking about what we do and why we do it, I think it has some merit.
What would it mean to make the church as user-friendly as an iPhone?
What would it mean if we conceptualized the church as being a tool — llike a bicycle — meant to expand our capacity to connect with God?
NOTE: My daughter called to object to the premise of the post. She said an iPhone is not easy to use. She may be right. I do not own one. But I do know that using the early Mac was a big upgrade from having to learn DOS. It depends on when you born, I suppose. If you never lived before Apple, then you don’t see how it changed things. A good lesson. Insiders never see the world the way newcomers do.