I had the pleasure to work at an Apple Store for a few years. Yes, it has amazing products and an impeccably designed space, but more than anything, it works to cultivate a culture.
Best I can tell, “Church Membership” is a remnant of Christendom denominations use to distinguish themselves. The idea was that you become a member of a certain local church. This was usually denoted by a formal catechism or a conversion experience. You are more or less a member for life, and are expected to transfer said membership to a church of the same denomination if you move. More recent churches that can be traced by to the Church Growth movement of the 80s developed membership classes, which seem like basically a soft catechesis.
The world desperately needs our churches to be the Church well. This means clearly articulating how one learns and follows the way of Jesus in our culture (a disciple), and then articulating what it is that a disciple does. Discipleship cannot happen in a vacuum. Church is the community that naturally occurs because following Jesus always has relational implications. All communities have a culture.
Church membership (for lack of a better word) should describe the expectations of a person who has chosen to associate with the framework for discipleship that a local church uses. The process of discipleship cannot be extricated from the culture it takes place within.
Many aspects of the way of Jesus are unique. Creating culture, on the other hand, is not. Churches can and should learn from anyone who does culture well. Here are seven ideas that I learned from the Apple Store that will help.
1. Onboarding is EVERYTHING.
When I started at Apple, I wasn’t allowed anywhere near a store. They took us offsite, where we learned about Apple history, our expected behavior and each other. We didn’t even touch computers for the first week! Sometimes, it feels like churches are saying “sign here, and you’re a member”. Apple takes a few weeks. Jesus spent three years. Why don’t we take time on the front end to create a culture? Continue Reading…