Apple, Samsung, and the Church

As you have probably already read, Apple won their court battle against Samsung Electronics. Samsung was ordered to pay Apple over 1 billion dollars. After all the media reports and tech articles, I don’t blame anyone if they got lost in the shuffle. The jury even had over 20 pages to work through because the case was so complicated.

So, what did Apple win? They won the fight against copying. Apple claimed that instead of innovating after the iPhone was introduced in 2007, Samsung intentionally chose to copy their formula and design. The jury said it was an easy case and that Samsung got what they deserved–a bill for 1 billion dollars.

After the ruling, I had a conversation with one of my best friends and we got to thinking about this in a youth ministry context. What if a church sued another church for copying their ministry model, mission statement, and staffing structure? While I don’t think that would ever happen, it is a interesting idea. Stay with me here…

What if God is ordering us to pay the bill? What if God is holding back blessing because we choose to copy instead of engage in Holy Spirit driven innovation?

Here’s the issue I see: 

As Spirit-filled Christians, we should be the most creative people in the world. We have God living in us. Not figuratively speaking, but God the Holy Spirit really takes up residence in our body. He empowers, gives creativity, and shows us that innovation is limitless. But, here’s the problem: We don’t live like it. We don’t even lead our churches like we believe that essential truth. We copy. We steal. We immitate. We’re Samsung

Personally, I’m glad that Apple won their biggest lawsuit to date. You might think that is because I’m an Apple fan nerd, but it’s not. The reason I’m happy is because Apple’s victory will FORCE innovation. Armed with this victory, other cell phone companies will not be able to copy interface elements, cell phone designs, and the other things that make an iPhone an iPhone without facing the wrath of Apple’s lawyers.

What would happen if we were forced to innovate? What if we couldn’t read the latest book, check another churches website, or go to the latest and greatest conference? What would we look like? What would your youth group look like?

16 Comments

  1. While i agree with you for the most part, there is a level of wisdom to "stealing." For example, no one has rethought the premise of a cell phone entirely. As with everything, we have to hang between two extremes. One one end, we need to avoid ever being a carbon copy. On the other, we need not reinvent the wheel. As far as your point on creativity, I couldn't agree more. It is frustration to me to see "Praise Dance Revolution" and "Worship Hero" come out knowing that they are at best poor substitutes for the real thing. I would much rather have a Chronicles of Narnia type thing where people love the story and are amazed to find out that it is Christian. Great post. Really should get people like me thinking
    • Addison, I totally get what you're saying about not reinventing the wheel. I'm all for that because it not only saves money, but time. However, I can't help but think that shouldn't apply to our mission statements, visions, programs, etc. My reason is this: Every church is different. Every church has their own personality. No two churches are alike. So, why would those foundational statements for the churches be the same? I get having the same concepts, but we shouldn't have the same way of saying those things. What works for one church might not work for the next. About creativity, I once told a church that I refused to design a logo with cross (or three) on it. They asked why and I simply stated that if we are supposed to be the most creative people in the world (because of the Holy Spirit), then we can communicate the work of Jesus without the traditional clipart cross(es). We ended up using a Christian fish swimming deeper. I incorporated a cross where the fish's tale meets. They got their cross, but it didn't look anything like a normal church logo. That's what I'm talking about. (btw, I worked for this church and could say stuff like that. I had a great relationship with the communication director.)
  2. While i agree with you for the most part, there is a level of wisdom to "stealing." For example, no one has rethought the premise of a cell phone entirely. As with everything, we have to hang between two extremes. One one end, we need to avoid ever being a carbon copy. On the other, we need not reinvent the wheel. As far as your point on creativity, I couldn't agree more. It is frustration to me to see "Praise Dance Revolution" and "Worship Hero" come out knowing that they are at best poor substitutes for the real thing. I would much rather have a Chronicles of Narnia type thing where people love the story and are amazed to find out that it is Christian. Great post. Really should get people like me thinking
    • Addison, I totally get what you're saying about not reinventing the wheel. I'm all for that because it not only saves money, but time. However, I can't help but think that shouldn't apply to our mission statements, visions, programs, etc. My reason is this: Every church is different. Every church has their own personality. No two churches are alike. So, why would those foundational statements for the churches be the same? I get having the same concepts, but we shouldn't have the same way of saying those things. What works for one church might not work for the next. About creativity, I once told a church that I refused to design a logo with cross (or three) on it. They asked why and I simply stated that if we are supposed to be the most creative people in the world (because of the Holy Spirit), then we can communicate the work of Jesus without the traditional clipart cross(es). We ended up using a Christian fish swimming deeper. I incorporated a cross where the fish's tale meets. They got their cross, but it didn't look anything like a normal church logo. That's what I'm talking about. (btw, I worked for this church and could say stuff like that. I had a great relationship with the communication director.)
  3. but then again... we are all moving parts of the body of christ. we are all a part of the church. we all have different rolls and different talents. god has us placed in ministry it different locations for different purposes. there are some churches our there with crazy budgets, have crazy amounts of talented people on staff, doing some crazy amazing things... and they remember that we are all in this together... they share. it might have cost them $1000 or more to just put a bumper together for sunday morning. doesn't matter, you can download it from their web site. maybe the mindset of "they stole that from us" should be "i'm glad we could help them with that" ...
    • I'm fine with that as long as church ask for permission or buy them. When we result to going to websites and hit "copy all" of their mission statement/core values/structure, etc without innovating or describing our unique churches--we have a problem. I'll all about sharing resources (we give away a lot here.) However, we also expect that people will customize those slightly to fit their context. Get what I'm saying?
  4. but then again... we are all moving parts of the body of christ. we are all a part of the church. we all have different rolls and different talents. god has us placed in ministry it different locations for different purposes. there are some churches our there with crazy budgets, have crazy amounts of talented people on staff, doing some crazy amazing things... and they remember that we are all in this together... they share. it might have cost them $1000 or more to just put a bumper together for sunday morning. doesn't matter, you can download it from their web site. maybe the mindset of "they stole that from us" should be "i'm glad we could help them with that" ...
    • I'm fine with that as long as church ask for permission or buy them. When we result to going to websites and hit "copy all" of their mission statement/core values/structure, etc without innovating or describing our unique churches--we have a problem. I'll all about sharing resources (we give away a lot here.) However, we also expect that people will customize those slightly to fit their context. Get what I'm saying?
  5. Nick, do not listen to these people who have become addicted to the habit of "stealing". You are 100% correct. The second we start looking to our left and right to see how others "do church" we take our eyes off christ. Stay creative, stay true. Haters gonna hate, keep loving God.
  6. Nick, do not listen to these people who have become addicted to the habit of "stealing". You are 100% correct. The second we start looking to our left and right to see how others "do church" we take our eyes off christ. Stay creative, stay true. Haters gonna hate, keep loving God.
  7. A patent monopoly grants that a company is protected from competition. If a company lacks competition, it can rely on past successes instead of being forced to innovate for future success. Samsung was eating up Apple's marketshare, and Apple wasn't innovating quickly enough to keep Samsung at bay. So instead of proving themselves more worthy of customer's money by innovation, they attack the competition to lazily rely on former work. Anyway, I thought the church was supposed to rely on the tradition given in Scripture, and should be skeptical of innovation?
  8. A patent monopoly grants that a company is protected from competition. If a company lacks competition, it can rely on past successes instead of being forced to innovate for future success. Samsung was eating up Apple's marketshare, and Apple wasn't innovating quickly enough to keep Samsung at bay. So instead of proving themselves more worthy of customer's money by innovation, they attack the competition to lazily rely on former work. Anyway, I thought the church was supposed to rely on the tradition given in Scripture, and should be skeptical of innovation?

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