If you missed it, Apple recently bought out the company called Beats for about 3.2 billion dollars. Can we say, “woa”? Yes, when looking from a stoic business perspective, this move for Apple seems almost suicidal. Why pay so much for a technology that you could build in-house, on your own for cheaper? While that question represents the mentality of the average business man (or woman), the question Apple was most likely mulling over before buying Beats is “Will this purchase be our way to stay a major influencer at the forefront of youth culture and culture to come?”
With mp3 downloads phasing out and our culture turning toward a music-streaming society, Beats has set itself up as an industry leader. They also have a major stronghold on our youth in the tangible product market with their headphones. Let me be honest: our youth ultimately have a hand in how their parents spend money, and once they turn into young adults, they are the parent who can influence their kids’ decisions. Reach these youth now, continue market domination. Miss the opportunity, become irrelevant in 10 years or less.
One thing that is apparent to me in this transaction (I’ve been trying to persuade my friends about this for many years), is that Apple is great at what I like to call “product evangelism”. In reality, they’re one voice among many, like the Christian Church, trying to convince a people that their product is king. Now, while Apple products will never deserve to be compared to the glory of Jesus Christ, they continue to dominate in a market due to three truths that are worth noting and perhaps applying to our current church media efforts.
1-Culture Evolution = Change Invitation
When culture evolves, it is a huge temptation to see the evolution as one’s enemy. When it comes to being in the Church, this is often the case. Apple could have certainly seen the shift in audio culture evolving from MP3’s to streaming as a threat and started planning how they could demolish the company Beats. I mean, who wouldn’t? Just feels like the best thing to do right? In fact, it makes things easier: they wouldn’t have to change a thing that they do and somehow culture would just have to get with their program. Right? Wrong.
Instead of sitting around and discussing how culture is bad, like many of us in ministry have done before (mostly because we do not wish to change the way we do things), Apple decided to jump in a pool where it was seen as valuable to their vision and aligned their look with the future needs of the culture to come. This leaves people like me inspired by Apple to run a little faster in the areas where ministry has become complacent and constantly be looking to see where I can change the way I do things in order to consistently be a key-influencer where I am influencing. Why wait till change forces us out of our circle of influence?
2-Focus on self is self-destructing
While a good majority of us can say that we know focusing on us is probably not the best thing for others in the long run, we do it anyway. It’s evident when WE have to have the song WE LIKE for the worship set list on Sunday, or when WE pick the video that ministers to the US for the three-minute transition.
I raise my hand in guilt as I say this: that was totally me and still can be at times! But who are we trying to reach? Ourselves every Sunday? Or the generation that is running right behind us? Just like Apple decided to look beyond its current taste and buy Beats, a bulky looking brand highly esteemed by youth that seems to only function well when the music has unending amounts of bass, we as a church body can see first-handedly that leaving a legacy is going to take looking beyond what simply works for us. In fact, it’s going to take a bit of stretching to get out of many of our comfort patterns that have no rooting in our core-value system.
3-Investing does not equal compromise
As a ministry grows older and longs to leave a legacy for the next generation to walk in, the question that will constantly tag along with investing in our youth will never cease to be “Are we selling out to new culture and ditching tradition?” It’s a valid question and honestly, if we ever stop asking it, we’re not being an honest people.
What we can learn from Apple’s recent transaction is that our decisions to leave a legacy might not always equate “legacy” in others’ eyes. People may not always have the capacity to understand the decisions that stem from core values. Does this mean we sit back and forsake our God-given place in culture-to-come? Absolutely not. For a person who really understands Apple’s core values, they know that this company has the vision to reach forward and be a key influencer in the technology world for years to come.
This vision drove them to buy Beats and has caused much banter regarding how they are compromising their sleek, minimalistic characteristics they have become known for. Yes, they are known for their sleek, minimalistic (and who knows if this will ever change) look, but the value behind these characteristics is what initially drove them to look they way they do. Looks change because of culture does, core values remain consistent. Let’s not get the two twisted.
In 10 years we will hopefully see Apple as a key contributor in our culture. Not only to young technology-oriented people but to causes and ministries that have the desire to be a part of the next generation’s life.