I am a macintosh user. I only own and only use macintosh computers in fact. This is just how it is with me – I will save the “why” for another post. Yesterday I happened to be in my local CompUSA looking for a computer cable and I couldn’t find the designated macintosh area.
For years it has been a CompUSA ritual, regardless of what I am there to buy, to locate the large macintosh advertisements hanging from the ceiling and speedily make my way there. “There” is usually a spectacular experience for mac fans. All of the macintosh products out for customers to dabble with, macintosh software and accessories you didn’t even know existed (but soon become sure you need), all wrapped in the creative, clean, and intriguing design and marketing of Apple Computer Company. This area was always found in a corner of the store and a good deal of space was given to all things macintosh. It was very clear if you were a mac fan that CompUSA catered to your needs – just look for the special section.
Yesterday, I found CompUSA’s stock of macintosh equipment not in it’s usual, separate haven, but mixed in with all the other windows-based computers.
I quickly asked the nearest CompUSA to explain the change, assuming that CompUSA had given up on the Macintosh product line for some reason. His response was surprising and enlightening at the same time: The store had mixed the macintosh computers in with the windows computers in an attempt to increase macintosh sales! As I listened intently to his explanation I learned that CompUSA believed more than ever than the Macintosh platform was a quality platform and that customers will realize this more if they can compare the different computers side-by-side. It seems as though non-mac users never found the “mac section”. They weren’t mac users and so they would go to the non-mac section to look for new computers and accessories, never visiting the mac section therefore never being able to consider the macintosh as a platform that might best suit their needs.
My initial thought was that this is a risky move for CompUSA, afterall, I am a mac-fan and I was at first frustrated to find my beloved mac section no-more. But it makes so much sense to me now. Apple isn’t as interested in making it’s already happy customers happier as it is to reach a new customer base with what they seriously believe (I have to agree with them on this one) is a superior platform. And if Apple wants to reach non-mac users, it has to put its product where non-macs users exist. In CompUSA that is apparently everywhere BUT the mac section.
I can’t help but see some amazing parallels with where the church finds itself in this country. The church too believes it offers something that the entire world needs and it too desires to reach new peoples that aren’t currently being reached. The problem is that the church finds itself trying to reach these people more from a designated “church section” than anywhere else in our culture. The church building/campus in America functions the same as the “mac section” at CompUSA – the church aims to draw people with better facilities, better programs, bigger membership, more relevant service styles, but are those outside of the faith drawn to Jesus by these things? I know that some are, but I also know many that are not. People I am conversing with about faith aren’t much interested in the marketing antics of the local church, but they are interested in Jesus.
And although they are very interested in the person of Jesus, most would not seriously consider stepping foot in His church. Why would they? They aren’t church people. So instead of creating spaces where we “set-up-the-spiritual-shop” and expect people who need Jesus to flock, we need to bring the reality of Jesus where they live. And where they live is within the confines of everyday, normal American living. It’s at the local coffeeshop you and I frequent. It’s while working out at the club we belong to. It’s next door to our homes and in the surrounding neighborhood. It’s in the nearby bars. It’s at the playground where your kids play. It is wherever you exist. That’s where the church needs to be.
Only there will the world around us truly be able to compare the offerings of Jesus with the reality of their Jesus-less existence and see what we know to be true – that the kingdom of God is at hand and that they are invited to be a part of it.
Thanks CompUSA for giving us an illustration and a challenge of where and how we should exist. And thankyou God for showing us a new way through a obscure and unusaly form.