Remember when Apple was an innovative company? Steve Jobs would be speaking at a keynote, flash that sly grin, and then say to the audience: “Oh, one more thing…” Those days are sadly behind us it would seem. For the entirety of my life, I’ve been Apple Fanboy #1, but after the presentation this September, I am willingly relinquishing my Fanboy status. I will no longer claim to be an Apple Apologist. In search to become the most cash-rich corporation in the world, they’ve lost some of the principles Apple was founded on, innovation.
Church, there’s a connection here for you. If you can hold on past my (Jeff’s) tirade against Apple, hopefully, there’s a worthwhile lesson in Church Innovation and new methods needed to reach new people.
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Jeff Reed: 00:00 All right listening audience, you're probably gonna realize that Episode 26 here of The Church Digital Podcast, I, Jeff Reed, am a little more hyped up than normal. It's a little more of a passionate subject than normal for me, as weird as it may sound, as much as I love Church Online because I am Apple's number one fan boy and have been for close to four decades now. Unfortunately, some of the things that I've seen recently have brought me to the point that I started saying some things on social media on how the company is struggling with this lack of innovation and how I will no longer be an Apple apologist for this company and some of the decisions that it's making because I'm releasing them of their innovation call in my life. Yeah, that does sound kind of angry and passive aggressive and bitter even when I say it.
Jeff Reed: 00:57 But hey, it's my podcast. It's cool. So here's what I'm doing. I'm bringing in Tom Pounder from YM Sidekick podcast. Tom has been a great guy. We've been on each other's podcasts off and on. But we really want to dive in. Here's what we are, we both have a passion for church online. I can guarantee that I've never breathed the same air as Tom Pounder in my life and I know that man is passionate about seeing church online happen. And so I'm bringing him in and we want to have a conversation about Apple. We're going to talk about innovation and we're going to talk about discipleship and all this is going to fit together. And I promise you it's going to be an awesome podcast. So here you go. Tom Pounder, YM Sidekick Podcast, online pastor, youth pastor, a man of many, many talents and myself, Jeff Reed with The Church.Digital in a conversation in Apple, Innovation and Discipleship. Here y'all go.
Tom Pounder: 01:46 Hey everyone. Today I am with my friend, Jeff Reed, or Jeff's actually with me. I mean, we're together online, today and we are talking about innovation and we're talking about the church. And to give you the context of this, you know, Jeff and I are big apple fans. We love Apple.
Jeff Reed: 02:06 Well, we used to be or maybe I used to be. I'm not really sure how far down the rabbit hole I'm going, but I'm not happy.
Tom Pounder: 02:15 See Jeff is talking about this right now in the context of, he has his AirPods in right now and I'm sure he's recording this from a mac or whatnot, but yeah, so Apple just had their big iPhone event and they released some new iPhones. They released a new iPad, new watch and Jeff, let's just start with you. How did you feel about this recent event then that Apple had?
Jeff Reed: 02:45 So like, I want to put it in context. You're right, Tom. I have probably six different apple devices within arm reach of me sitting here at the table. Everything from my iPhone, my iPad, my apple pencil, my Mac computer, my air pods, my Apple Watch that I'm wearing. If there was like Apple underwear, I would probably be wearing it at this time. I do own fruit of the looms, if you are worried and want to go that deep. But here's the problem, is that, I kind of posted on social media that I'm done being an Apple apologist because for years Apple has been doing this incremental update, incremental update, incremental updates and just bits and pieces rolling out some minor updates within their product lines. And that's nice. That's great. Ironically my phone dies every couple of years so like it's very appropriate timing for me to go out and buy the next phone.
Jeff Reed: 03:46 I've got the XR by the way, cause I refuse to spend $1,000 on a phone. $750, I guess seems to be okay. But this is part of the thing because Apple at the end of the day has figured out almost as good as any other company. Maybe Disney aside to separate money from you in your wallet. Cause at the end, they have more cash than any other company out there. Their brand is higher ranked than anybody else out there. But here's the news flash, they haven't really done anything innovative in years. I mean, so the AirPods that I now have in my ears, which sound phenomenal, guess what? They're freaking $20 earbuds with the cables cut off. If I didn't have these AirPods I'd have a little tiny eighth-inch cable connected to my laptop. Actually I wouldn't because Apple took away the adapter forcing me to buy the AirPods cause I can't hook them up straight into my laptop.
Jeff Reed: 04:48 My Apple watch, they come out with a new feature and they make the old one older. The new iPhone. Hey, you know what we're going to take away, we're going to make it a more expensive, we'll make the old one a little cheaper, but we're going to add, guess this. We're going to add a third camera, so this way you can do super slow motion selfies. The iPad itself, the bestselling 9.7 inch business, the one that's awesome. The pro level iPad. We're not going to sell that one guys, anymore. Sorry. We're gonna make it a fraction of an inch bigger jumping it up to 10.2 and we're going to charge you as much if not more money for it. This isn't innovation and this is what's got me exploding and it's already the stock boomed as a result of the meeting because at the end of the day, Apple, the only thing that they're judged by is how much money they're making.
Jeff Reed: 05:41 And honestly, just transparently, we're sheep in this process buying this stuff. Now I have bought this stuff my entire life. My first computer was an Apple 2 GS. That was even before the Macs. So like if some of you old school guys, you can buy into that Apple 2 GS with a three and a half inch disk drive on it. And I used to code using that computer. And so I've been Mac my entire life. There was that stretch where Steve Jobs, left the company to go do Next and was with Pixar and doing all that stuff. I got to confess openly. I wavered a little bit during that time. I experimented with PCs. I didn't like it. I didn't like the way that it felt, but I did. I experimented. Like Steve Jobs came back and it was great.
Jeff Reed: 06:26 I've been a stock holder with the company since, since 2000, maybe 1999, but at the end of the day where that company is, it's not innovative anymore. And I'll just go ahead and say it. They're incremental updates on what they have. And the real question that I'm asking and struggling with is they're spending all this money on research and development, but I don't understand where it's going. The biggest innovation they've got is they want to be a Netflix competitor. Guess what? Like I'm not looking for a Netflix competitor and if I was, Disney Plus has already like, got it. I'm not gonna spend money. I'm not going to get excited. I'm not going to become a fanboy over a Netflix competitor. It's the innovation that has me jumping head over feet for this and Apple just hasn't done that in a long time.
Tom Pounder: 07:19 Well, what would you say would be the last thing that Apple innovated because I will say this like when the iPod came out, man, that was innovative. That, I mean, because you took something that was, people were messing around with cassette players, the MP3 players, nothing was really good. And then the iPod came out and man, like we were not, my family was not Mac fans until the iPod. Then we went to iPod and we bought a Mac and were like this is gold. Okay. So what would you say would be probably maybe the last thing they innovated?
Jeff Reed: 07:56 The last thing that I was like, this is something that I've never seen before. It was the marriage of a iPad pro with an Apple pencil. And so like, I bought this and I'm a writer. So like and I've had probably three or four different versions of iPads in my life. And I would always download either Good notes, Good notes is actually what I use right now. Once again, I'm kind of a hypocrite. I totally acknowledge that. Good notes. I've used Evernote maybe a dozen times in my life. And if you are an Evernote apologist, I don't understand you cause I can't figure out that software. But I've always been trying to write it because in the end I'm like an analog guy using digital technology, writing out my notes, even the notes for this podcast I wrote on my iPad.
Jeff Reed: 08:48 And as a result of that, the marriage of the pencil and that release with the iPad pro, the smoothness of like the 650 megahertz refresh rate that you're seeing on that. It was phenomenal. It was something I'd never seen before. Anytime I tried to ride with a stylus with a pencil, it's jerky, it's jagged. Like a second or two seconds later, you see the letter, the pencil little tip tip is like falling off and it just, it never, never worked well and so this did. Hey, congratulations that's great. The year was like 2016 when that released and so once again, I'm a hypocrite. Apple. It's been three years. What else you got? I mean, I'm sorry. Credit card. Hey, great. Apple is helping us get even more in debt by charging a 3.5% interest rate.
Jeff Reed: 09:38 Just so we can get a really cool feature on our phone where it'll show blah, blah, blah. Like I don't understand where we went from this company that was innovative, that was edgy, that was working in garage, that was tackling companies like Microsoft, usurping them, challenging them, utilizing almost guerrilla warfare tactics to release products like the iPod. That was phenomenal. That was better than anything else on the market. Do you remember what else was on the market MP3 wise? Back then it was like those was it sonas. No, it wasn't sonas but it was like a 32 megabit card MP3 reader. You could literally load one CD on a digital music player. You could load one CD or you could carry around 500 songs in the pocket of your hands on a hard drive that was like the first iPod. Brains are exploding. Nobody's exploding on this. It's a third camera that does slow motion selfie so I can be really slow when I'm doing something.
Tom Pounder: 10:50 We're giving kids more opportunities to be creative with their selfies in their snapchat stories and Instagram and everything like that. So all right, well this is good. I love this rant. I will say, anybody who listens Jeff and says, okay, well the pencil, no big deal. Every tablet's got a pencil. Well, not all pencils are created equal actually because I've experimented with this. The Apple Pencil is by far the most superior pencil or pen that you can put on a tablet. I've had a variety of different ones I've tried to use on iPads or tablets before. They're just not as good as that pencil. So I would say it is very innovative and it continues to be that way to this day. So. Okay. But again, you and I are not here just to talk about Apple innovation. We want to translate this a little bit into church innovation. And in particular where you and I are both, fan favorites of online innovation.
Jeff Reed: 11:52 Wait, Tom, are we doing bait and switch right here? Did we just Jesus Juke this podcast?
Tom Pounder: 11:57 We did Jesus Juke you. Hey listen, that's the story of my life man. I do. I like, Hey, I tweet out something like, Hey, learn what happened with the Super Bowl this week? And then I juke em' into talking about our super bowl party or something like that. So yes, I do that all the time. But so, okay, so let's talk about Church and innovation. What is your thought on this? Or is the church innovative of enough right now or are we failing in this area? Are we succeeding? What do you think from a general context here?
Jeff Reed: 12:30 So I think the church is innovating in certain areas. So the church defines itself right now by the one hour service that happens on Sunday. The majority, and I don't mean to be insulted, but the majority of effort of staff, people, volunteers across this country, the majority of the effort goes into producing that one hour on Sunday. And I do believe that the church is being innovative in context of that. Like let's parallel to apple. We're making fun of the three cameras and I love that Apple. Hey, let's slap a third camera on there and see what can happen with that. So Apple's being innovative with their devices. Similarly, I think the church is being innovative within that. Hey, what if we introduced cameras in here and include Imag and worship with multisite movement streaming to video teaching the different different campuses.
Jeff Reed: 13:23 Churches are trying to be more expressive in context of lighting, of creating worship environments, of utilizing drama or other videos. Pastors even, I remember maybe 10, 20 years ago where a pastor would show a movie clip, like in a sermon was like, really controversial idea and now more and more pastors are being more and more visual with that trying to connect culture with the message that they have. And so I do think there's been innovation within that one thing. What I would challenge though is that church is more than just the one hour on Sunday. Apple, there's more potential than just what's happening with your iPhone. And so what if the church expanded, you said innovation in other areas, not just to reach that one hour on Sunday, but to really reach and impact people 168 hours a week.
Jeff Reed: 14:20 What if instead of just creating that worship environment church, what if you were innovative to try to create an opportunity to disciple someone, to train a disciple who's capable of leading others to Christ and discipling them? What if we created a series of disciples that were capable of making disciple makers out there? The money and the effort and the innovation into that one hour on Sunday wouldn't be necessary. And interestingly, we see that culture is changing that way. People don't to go to your church to learn things spiritually because they don't want to learn things spiritually. They're not interested in learning from you, church body, church building, what they are interested in, they are interested having a spiritual conversation with their friends. We know this from Lifeway 2016, so empowering your church body, providing innovation for them with evangelism and empowering them to go out there and share and invested with their friends. That's how the church is going to grow in the future. That's the innovation that we have. But as a church, we're afraid of that model for whatever reason.
Tom Pounder: 15:29 Yeah. Well, you know, it's really interesting. It was actually really empowering. I think for me in my perspective, that our church really put an emphasis in the past year or so. We've always talked "discipleship", but we've never really said, okay, go out there and go and make disciples. You know, we've talked about, okay, let's talk about discipleship. Okay, now go, let's figure out what's happening on Sunday. And we make Sunday a very expressive form and we use the lightings, the smoke machines, the movie clips, the great things, we go online. You know, we're trying to be creative and innovative that way, to reach those people. But it's only that one hour of the week like you said. And so what was empowering recently was when our senior pastor said, who are you investing in? Who are the people that you're investing in and how are you reaching them?
Tom Pounder: 16:16 And then I've spent more, honestly, like when I first started out doing ministry, it was so great for me as a student minister, young guy, to go out and be with students. Like that was my job to go out and be with students. And now I feel like my job is to go sit in my office and figure out the best lesson to do, who I can email, yada, yada. And I've really gotten it back in the mold lately of saying, okay, who are the two people I'm hanging out with today? Who am I taking out the to lunch? Or who am I meeting up with and working on discipleship that way, both from a leadership perspective but also from a student ministry perspective where I'm hanging out with kids like it is like I think we get trapped in, we're like, wow, we're going to be innovative on Sunday but then do nothing during the rest of the week. And that's why actually that's why honestly so many people I feel like asked me, hey, what do you actually do? Is your job actually full time? And I'm like, yeah, it's full time. I do lesson preparation and write a talk and what else do I do? Like I've thought that before and I'm like, that's where I need to go out and be with people and disciple other people.
Jeff Reed: 17:24 Yeah. And sadly, a lot of churches out there, Tom and we've both felt this, you're not evaluated on that discipleship piece. You're evaluated on the weekend. And what happens on the weekend? Success is measured on the weekend. I went off on this tirade and it wasn't that you can find it on social media. It was out of character for me. And so like I had people calling me, texting me, honest to God, wanting to make sure that I was okay because it was so out of character for me to start slamming Apple because I am a number one Apple fanboy. Yeah. My mother calls me and she's really worried and my mom's been on the podcast, Linda, that was awkward, I just called my mom by her first name, mom, I love you. That's great.
Jeff Reed: 18:13 But she emails me a Fox News article the next day and it says stock store as a result of Apple's announcement and okay and her response was, and she's a business woman and this makes sense. Her response was, well, Apple must be doing something right. And what's interesting is yeah, if Apple is being measured on generating cash, launching a credit card, launching a Netflix replacement, moving to a service model instead of a product model, you're right. If that's the end game there, that's making sense. And here's the thing, church, I want to challenge you with. If all you're being evaluating or all your evaluating is that one hour on Sunday, then what you are doing may be making sense but that doesn't make it right. If Apple is measured as an innovation company, then, innovate. If you are no longer an innovation company and you just are going to be measuring off the dollar.
Jeff Reed: 19:10 Tim Cook, businessman, I'm kind of talking to you, although I doubt you're listening, all your measuring yourself is by the dollar, then that's a completely set of rules and what you're going to lose is fanboys like me, who for decades have been drooling over the phrase, oh one more thing coming out of an Apple announcement. They're not happening anymore cause they're not trying. You know, and Church, let me spin it to you. If all you are doing is trying to boost or struggling to boost the attendance records that are happening at your physical campus because you're measuring that metric as opposed to creating disciples, then we're measuring the wrong thing and you need to evaluate. And maybe some of your innovation doesn't need to go into creating a more flashier show Sunday 9:00 AM and instead figuring out how to motivate people and how to train and equip and empower people to be a disciple 168 hours a week.
Tom Pounder: 20:10 Yeah. I love this, and we're going to talk about one thing specifically that you had heard recently, but I want to say this, I've often said about student ministry because I've been involved with student ministry over 20 years now, is that my biggest success in student ministry is not what happens when I'm there with high school students. It's the kids that are now adults and have families of their own that I am still in relationship with and still in contact with that I'm marrying when they're, when they're getting married, they're inviting me to, when they're drunk and wasted and down on their luck, they're calling me. I view that as success wise because I've been that positive living example to them that they know that they're missing Christ in their life. And so that's why they need that. And so I feel like discipleship isn't just on a Sunday and it's not just when you have them in your church or your program.
Tom Pounder: 21:06 It's a lifelong mission. It's the loving them one day at a time and seeing how God works in their life. And I think there's lots of different ways that we can be innovative in empowering people. And now you've talked about this on your podcast before. I've talked about this on my podcast before. You know, we've had Rey talk about it as well. You know, there's lots of different ways to do it, and you had just heard something or you were just on a call with someone from Seattle about ways that they're trying to empower people. What is a cool, innovative thing that you've been hearing about recently?
Jeff Reed: 21:39 There's an organization, it's called Church home. It was created by, it was a church, it was out in Seattle and I think San Francisco. California and Seattle. It's a five campus multisite church spread out across two states. And I was talking with their staff and I'm going to have them on the podcast. It was just a prerequisite call. But here's the deal of what this church did. They're literally doing a burn the ships mentality here where they're moving away from more campus growth. And instead what they did is we want to create a discipleship strategy digitally that can help people who are engaging us online, but also help them help people who are engaging at the physical campus. And so more than a church online strategy, it's a mobile church strategy where utilizing this mobile app.
Jeff Reed: 22:34 Not only do they have access to sermons, which are vital, but not holistic approach to church, but there is discipleship resources to help challenge them with the different levels of what somebody needs to be a disciple, even to the point of training them to share their faith with other people. And so the goal of church home out there is to challenge someone to create, become a disciple to the context of creating other disciples and utilizing the home as the centerpiece, people's houses, to create micro locations to start to gather them together. So instead of, in church homes context and they've not been the only one, Mech church is another one who is on this road, instead of trying to build more campuses and grow that way, they've gone to a digital approach utilizing homes to reach people, to disciple people and to grow people and to, for the point of multiplication to create a disciple who's capable of creating more disciples.
Jeff Reed: 23:38 Now what was interesting is, and this, this hit the news maybe six, nine months ago and we were actually talking about it on the call today, like when this came out Fox news was pushing articles, CNN, like here's a pastor who's like pastoring online, Judah Smith and I got to tell you from the church the response wasn't good. Instead of like honoring this guy for trying to experiment with something and doing something new. One tweet, and this is just one that stuck in my head. I don't know what the f bomb you think this is, but don't call it church. That's literally the tweet. And so, but this has been the attitude from the church in response to a guy who's trying to experiment. And what's funny, when you actually talk with the church, they'll even tell you, hey, what we're doing today, we may not do in three months.
Jeff Reed: 24:27 We're experimenting as we're going with this, instead of trying to figure out what the finish line is, we're just going to go, learn as we go in and adjust. And that's the thing that the church gets stuck with. The church needs to know for whatever reason. And I mean, I need to wrestle with this. The church needs to know the finish line before they go. Whereas any given corporation in America, Hey, let's go down this road. Let's see, and let's evolve. There's more freedom to kind of adjust. But we're too afraid of, and it just makes me wonder, like Acts 1, when Jesus left went away and the people prayed and they prayed continually, what if they were afraid? What if they didn't pray, would the Pentecost of Acts two have come? Would it have stopped right there because they didn't know what to do? Hey, the work is done. Jesus is done. That go make disciples. I don't know what that means. So we're just gonna stop. Right? Like, could you imagine if this church died right there before it even got started? Because they were too afraid to figure out what the next steps were.
Tom Pounder: 25:38 Yeah. Well, I listen, I agree with you 100%, it's so funny because as you're talking about when companies innovate and they try new experiments or try new things, they get applauded by people. Like, look what they're trying to do. Look at this great idea. But when the church tries to innovate, there's so many people, it's almost like the major league baseball, when Major League baseball tries to change a little bit, all the traditionalist, "No, you can't do this. That's not how it was supposed to be." And it's the same way with church. No, no. You can't go online. No, you can't do videos. No. And then it's like, oh, okay. It's not so bad after all. I mean, you know, it's this weird thing. And I think we've got to continue to push the envelope and who knows? Maybe it won't work, but if we never try, we're always gonna be wondering what if.
Jeff Reed: 26:30 Church, we've got to experiment. Yeah. I mean, just bottom line. What if Paul, hey, you know what, all these other people out there, I don't care. It's not my church. What if you didn't the missionary journeys? What if he didn't write the letters to travel along the Roman road? The most technological advanced thing in the time, by the way, the Roman road, when it was first built, what if he's like, you know what? Screw it. I really don't care. What if Martin Luther was like, hey, you know what? I'm not going to put this up on the, on the thesis. And by the way, those 95 thesis that he posted the a hundred thesis posted on the wall, he sent him to area towns as well. So the revival didn't just come out of his one church.
Jeff Reed: 27:14 It was surrounded areas because he cared enough about it to make sure, by the way, it was actually one of the first things printed on the printing press . Sent it around to others. Talk about another one. The printing press itself. Talk about an innovation. What if he's like, hey, you know what? I don't care about you all and what you need in the Bible, I'm just going to print for like my family and just walks away. No, he did a printing press so that everyone could have it. Billy Graham preached to a billion people at one moment, one message bounced around a bunch of satellites. Billy Graham hits a billion. What if Billy Graham's like, Hey, you know what? I don't care about the people in Africa, in Asia, in Europe. I don't even care about the people in Seattle or on the other side of the country.
Jeff Reed: 27:56 I'm just going to preach to my small little church here in North Carolina. Where would that leave us? Yeah. The fact is that we need people, we need churches to push, to be innovative, to ask questions, to challenge standard quo. We don't need incremental updates on platforms that already exist. If we want to reach new people, we need new methods. We need churches to step up and start to experiment in these areas, beyond something that some traditionalist is going to say, Hey, are we sure we want to do that? Yeah. It's, while traditionalists are challenging that, guess what, churches are out there and are being highly effective in reaching new people by doing something different.
Tom Pounder: 28:36 Right. No, that's exactly right. And I think as we kind of wrap up, I think you're exactly right. If, if we don't try, we're always going to fail. We're always going to be wondering what if in the, the best way we can reach more people and beyond Sunday morning is to try to innovate, be creative, invest in people. Those are all, that's always a great formula for success because again, it's kind of like back when you look, even at Rick Warren's, Purpose Driven Church, not Purpose Driven Life, but Purpose Driven Church. He talked about how the transition was you were sitting in pews at one point and now you're sitting in chairs. I mean, can you imagine if most of us were sitting in pews still, I mean that was just so uncomfortable, but we've got to change we got to innovate and if we want to reach more people in this day and age, we have to do that. All Right Jeff, well, it is always great to have you, well actually this is a combined podcast, so I'm on yours. Yours on mine. And so this is, it's always great talking to you, man.
Jeff Reed: 29:36 Yeah, we'll have to, we'll have to do this again. Next time though, you get irate about something on social media and I'll be like, hey, let's get together and blow off some steam and talk about it on a podcast. Okay, well, you know, I actually get irate all the time on social media so I can totally see myself doing this again about something. Honestly, next time, like something stupid happens in the cinematic universe or marvel and Spiderman actually goes back, then we can go back and talk about how smart a thing that was. But that day, sadly we'll probably never, ever, ever come.
Tom Pounder: 30:09 We can always hope, man. We can always hope.
Jeff Reed: 30:11 Always, always hope. Hey Tom, man, thanks for this. This was a great idea and I'm for it. By the way, my audience, if you've not hit up Tom Pounder, hit up to see the show notes and there's all sorts of links in there for that.
Jeff Reed: 30:24 And I'm sure Tom will probably have the same. On my side, but, this has been a great time. Appreciate the convo. So, hey audience, this is Jeff and we're gonna wrap the podcast right here. Episode 26 talking about Apple, Innovation and Discipleship. I hope it was worthwhile. Hope it was fun. Pray for me. I am still a struggling, recovering Apple fanboy who now needs another place to locate his fanboyism and so we'll have to just figure that out. I'll go out to ask my kids what the cool thing is right now just to kind of adopt that I guess, but hey, church in a serious note, it's time to find something new. The methods that we've been using have been reaching the same amount of people, the same number of people, the same type of people.
Jeff Reed: 31:13 And there are people who will not be reached with these methods. If we want to reach new people, we need new methods. It's time to expand our product line away from just Sunday morning and start to figure out how to be more effective, how to reach out and engage people in a different way where we are. The message, Christ, stays the same. The messaging, the method needs to change. So that's the challenge. Church, get out there, experiment and figure out what's next. Follow the ideas of the church homes or the Saddlebacks or the Elevations. There's so much of what we talk about on this podcast. And there's lots of excellent ideas that are out there, but the best idea is yet to been discovered. And right now it's out there in somebody's head saying, what if? And if that's you. And if you're saying that, what if step up and figure out how to do it. Let's go. Hey, this has been a great podcast and I am looking forward to what's next. We'll see you next time here at The Church Digital Podcast. Y'All have a good day.