I entered the huge expanse of the Apple emporium on New Street, Birmingham. This airy environment with its wonderful architecture has an array of tables set out with various models of computer equipment available to see, touch, feel and experience. I was greeted at the door, welcomed even. Myriads of assistants wearing clothing adorned with the Apple trademark symbol floated at every table, waiting to answer questions, supporting the customers learning, inviting them to consider the next level of knowledge of the brand.
Initially we have the entry level model in view, the iPhone, then watch and tablets compete for our view. Then we have the MacBook Air and Pro, before we meet the large and shiny iMacs – in the far left, not sited in a boldly central location.
Accessories are found down a pair of echoing winding staircases. Again we are greeted and invited to get help. There’s no pushiness – the commodity speaks for itself it would seem.
There was no large central focus, no particular model in the Apple array which demanded immediate attention, no glaring signs. There were bright colourful panels highlighting particular features of the brand but these were discretely shown on one wall.
It all felt serene, calming….spiritual.
Where are the comparisons with Church?
We too have people who greet those who arrive at our doors. Once into our hallowed vestiges I wonder whether we have people available to continue the dialogue as new arrivals mingle, pause and perhaps wonder. Can they be permitted to wander even?
Do we expect them to engage in the worship we have agreed to undertake? Have we asked what is their wish, their desire as they enter the Church? It may be all to easy an assumption to make that they are there on our terms.
We may have background music playing: from a CD, the organ or perhaps from a ‘worship band’; however, perhaps the calming silence, bar for the hushed tones of chatter, adds to the spirituality that our post-modern society maybe craves.
The Church is not ‘selling’ a product but can we set out our ‘catechism’ for all to see in an easy illuminating manner so people can mull over, enquire and explore when they are ready?
Churches generally have a visual central feature – the cross. In today’s society, like Apple, perhaps the ‘brand’ is understood by the nature of the people in the church rather than symbols. Does our commodity speaks for itself?
I would invite you to explore shops, railway stations, airports and see how others inspire, inform and direct our society. Are there lessons for the Church to be evaluated?