By Jeff Matas
The Apple Store is amazing. It is always buzzing with activity and packed with people. In the Fashion Mall (Indianapolis), the Apple Store’s sales volume per square foot is greater than Tiffany’s and Apple’s total sales per month is greater than Macy’s. By any metric, Apple far outpaces every other retailer. Even with a pandemic, the Apple Store adjusts, innovates and keeps its momentum. Last weekend, Carla and I returned to our local mall for the first time since March. Masks were mandatory. Stores were limiting the number of people that could enter. There were only two stores that had people waiting in line to get inside—Lululemon and Apple—other stores didn’t have that problem. Apple had a marked queue in the hallway in front of the store. Apple team members were stationed outside the store—iPhones in hand—engaging with waiting customers. They were talking to each customer to determine what they needed so when they did enter the store, they could would be taken care of effectively and efficiently. Even though the line to enter the store was long, the wait to enter wasn’t long at all.
Apple has created a devoted customer base. Some would even say that Apple customers are more like disciples. They are devoted to Apple and will evangelize others to join them. In full disclosure, I made the jump to Apple about 15 years ago. When I got to Indiana Ministries, I was only one of two on staff that used an Apple computer. I did the work of an evangelist, now everyone on staff is using Apple.
The devotion and loyalty of Apple users is nothing new, it’s well known. But what is not well known is how Apple trains and develops their retail associates. If you have ever been inside an Apple Store, you have experienced the high level of service their associates provide. Their associates are knowledgeable, engaging, and efficient. How do they get such great associates?
Today, I read a post from Craig Etheredge that shed some light on Apple’s process. Here’s is part of the post:
Not long ago I was in the Apple store working on my iPhone. A young lady was helping me—she probably looked to be in her early twenties. While she was working on my phone, I start talking to her about her job.
I asked, “Have you been working here long?”
“No, not really. Just a few months,” she said.
“Do you like working here?”
Her face lit up, ‘Oh yes!’
Seeing her enthusiasm, I decided to inquire further. “Well, I bet it’s hard, learning all this stuff. You must have had to sit through hours and hours of training, right?”
She smiled. “Not really.”
I asked, “So how did you learn to do what you do?”
She said, “Well, I went online and saw there were job openings, so I registered for a two-day seminar hosted at a local hotel ballroom. After two days, they placed me in a store and assigned me to a mentor. For the first few weeks, I just wore regular clothes and the mentor wore the bright Apple shirt and lanyard. I just watched everything he did and took it all in. After dealing with a customer, he would ask me if I had questions or we would discuss that particular situation.” By this time, she had stopped working on my phone and was completely into this story, so I kept listening.
“Then,” she said, “after a while, I put on the Apple shirt and lanyard and my mentor dressed in regular clothes and he followed me around as I took care of customers. If I had a problem, he was ready to jump in and help. When he thought I was ready, he just set me free to go on my own. Now I’m prepared to do the same things with another trainee!”
That sounds a lot like Jesus-style discipleship to me! Jesus took a group of men, and for a period of time let them shadow him—to watch him, to follow him—as he did ministry. They were with Jesus when he preached. They listened as he taught. They saw him walk on water. They witnessed his compassion. They were with him in the garden when he prayed and sweat drops of blood. He sent them out two-by-two to cities, towns and villages. After he ascended to heaven, he commissioned them to go make disciples.
The modern church has forgotten the disciple-making strategy of Jesus. As Etheredge says, “We have traded making disciples for making decisions. We stopped moving people through stages of maturity and started shuffling people between services. Somehow along the way we thought that if we got people to worship and in a group that they would figure it all out and become strong, when in fact, the church has become weak. We’ve forgotten that the church exists to train up men and women who will take the gospel to their offices and neighborhoods and the world, and we started just trying to fill seats.”
As pastors, our hearts break when we hear Etheredge and others’ assessment of the modern church. Yet we know it’s true. And our hearts not only break for what is, but they long for what could be…a church whose members have a heart that breaks for the lost. A church whose members are taking the gospel to their homes, their neighborhoods, and places of work. That heart’s cry is not only biblical, it’s possible. It’s the way that Jesus designed the church to function, if we would only get back to his methods of making disciples. If Apple can get it, why can’t the church?
Indiana Ministries is partnering with Ohio Ministries and Michigan Ministries to equip 120 pastors and churches in our three states to become disciple-making churches for the purpose of engaging their communities with the gospel of Christ. The joint effort is called “Mission 120.” In the first half of 2020, Indiana Ministries has taken 12 pastors through a pilot (first wave) of Mission 120. Each pastor worked with a cohort to develop a simple, clear discipleship pathway for their local church. Each pathway is tailored to the needs of the church and its context. We are looking for the next group of pastors that want to lean into Jesus and push forward to develop discipleship pathways for their churches. Would you be interested? We have openings for 30 pastors beginning in the fall of 2020.
Mission 120 cohort dates (all cohorts meet from 2pm to 3:30pm Eastern Time):
- Sep 22, 2020
- Oct 27, 2020
- Nov 17, 2020
- Dec 15, 2020
- Jan 26, 2021
- Feb 23, 2021
See the Mission 120 link on Indiana Ministries website
The focus of the Lima Regional gathering will be discipleship with more information on Mission 120
- August 18th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Lima Leadership Event. Due to Covid-19, this year we’ll meet at County Line Church in Auburn, Indiana to allow for social distancing. Register for this free event HERE.
For further details contact either:
Working together, we can rediscover Jesus’ way of making disciples in a way that is tailored to fit your context. I am so excited to think what God will do through 120 churches in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan that are rediscovering making disciples; so those disciples make disciples by bringing the gospel into their homes, neighborhoods, workplaces and communities!