Small but mighty

What is the idea that is going to revolutionize our church?  What is the idea that is going to allow us to share the beauty of our faith in a way that stands out and catches everyone’s attention?

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m only brand loyal to a handful of brands.  Those brands are: Levi’s Jeans, Coke and Apple Computer.  Out of those brands, there is only one that I think about often, and that’s Apple.  Specifically, I think quite a bit about Apple Macintosh computers and the Episcopal Church.  Here’s why.  Just think about the Macintosh computer for a while, not the iPod, iPhone or the iPad.

The Macintosh computer arguably has better brand recognition than any other computer in this country.  Think about it – it’s always PC versus Mac.  But PC isn’t a brand, PC is the sum total of all of the other computer brands.  It’s always all the other brands vs. Mac.

But even though Apple has this crazy high recognition, it claims a very small percentage of the computer market.  Over the course of its 38-year history, Macintosh computers have claimed  3 – 5% of the computer market for most years.  You could say that the Macintosh computer is small, but mighty.

Now while Apple had built this powerful brand, some felt that by the year 2000 the brand was in trouble.  They felt Apple had lost its edge.  That there was only room for the bigger players and Apple would just slowly fade away.  In 2001, right before the launch of the iPod, Forbes Magazine wrote, “Apple, RIP.”  Well, you know the rest of the story.  The iPod was released in 2001, the iPhone was released in 2007 and the iPad in 2010.  Each product uniquely changed the way we live.  Forbes no longer says, “Apple, RIP”.  Now, Forbes lists Apple as the most valuable brand in the world.

Small but mighty.  Sound familiar?  In many ways, I’ve always felt that the Episcopal Church falls into the small but mighty category.  You know our history and you know what we’ve accomplished; yet, the Episcopal Church has always been small in numbers and mighty in our accomplishments.

So, I think about Apple computers and I think about the Church in this era when many are quoted as saying, “Church, RIP.”  As an Episcopalian, I think, “What is our iPod?”  What is the idea that is going to revolutionize our church?  What is the idea that is going to allow us to share the beauty of our faith in a way that stands out and catches everyone’s attention?

I wish I could tell you right now what our iPod is, but I can’t.  What I can tell you is that we are only going to find it after a lot of trial and error. By dreaming up bold, fearless, and groundbreaking new ideas.  We need to be willing to try many new things and give ourselves permission to fail before we will discover what works.

In 1987, Apple released its first revolutionary PDA-like device called the Newton.  It was supposed to revolutionize the way we carry our data.  Never heard of the Newton?  That’s because it was a dismal failure.  Yet, in many ways, it was the predecessor to the iPhone, which took Apple another 20 years to release after the failure of the Newton.

The question is, are we willing to try new things even if they might fail as dismally as the Newton in hopes of using those failures to stumble upon our next huge idea?

david dreisbachDavid Dreisbach serves as director of communications for the Diocese of Southern Ohio. Contact him at ddreisbach@diosohio.org.