I intend to continue my series on building a student-led youth ministry in the near future, but today’s breaking news sparked some interesting thoughts in my mind, and I’m hoping it does the same for you.

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the death of former Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Unlike most faceless heads of major corporations, Jobs was undoubtedly the heart and soul of the Apple company. He was visionary. He was innovative. He challenged the status quo. He completely reinvented the way we approach media. For all of these things, he will, and should, be remembered as one of the greatest minds who ever pursued the American Dream.

I started thinking, though…what will he mean to my kids? When they learn about him in school, what will they learn? How will he be remembered. Obviously, as creative and innovative, as bold and courageous, but what else? Let me ask you…do you remember who invented the cassette tape? I doubt it, but it was certainly innovative for it’s time. The real question is years from now when the iPhone is in a museum next to the rotary phone, will people even remember him?

Innovation is valuable. Keeping things fresh and creative is essential. As a matter of fact, some people have made it the central focus of the Student Ministry. I think some people would actually consider Steve to be the perfect Student Pastor candidate. I mean…can you imagine the possibilities? The stage would be cutting-edge. The lighting would be sleek and modern. He would have a jaw-dropping youth logo. The video and promo work for his lesson series would be stunning. His events would be world class. Other Student Pastors worldwide would constantly be dialed in to his blog, his podcast, or whatever else he produced.

Tell me though…do all of these things equal success? Now, certainly as Student Pastors we should strive to be relevant. Relevant is not a bad word (don’t forget…the opposite of relevant is irrelevant!). I’m not against videos, graphics, great stage decorations, etc. As a matter of fact, any Student Pastor who has the creative ability to do those things and do them well but doesn’t is doing his students a disservice. The kingdom of God is not built by being lazy and taking shortcuts.

But is innovation and creativity the key to a successful student ministry? Is that really what our students are looking for? Sure, it may attract them initially, and that alone makes the endeavor worth it, but does it keep them? At our Florida District youth camps, I sometimes get into conversations with young people who will bring up their Student Pastors. When I ask what those students like most about their Student Pastor, the answer is almost always the same. Not one teen has said “He’s so creative,” or “He comes up with the best videos,” or “He came up with this innovative event that just rocked my world.” Nope, every time the response is “He’s always there when I need him; I can talk to him about anything.”

At the end of the day, your students don’t need Steve Jobs; they need Jesus Christ. Jesus was innovative. He was the definition of counter-culture. But at the end of the day, He was more focused on relationships than anything else. It’s a good thing Steve Jobs stuck to the whole iThing, because he probably wouldn’t have made a good Student Pastor. You, on the other hand…you’ve got exactly what it takes.

3 thoughts on “

  1. Steve Jobs, the student pastor.

    Now I build websites for a living so, naturally I’m going to take a lil more “Pro Steve Jobs’s Legacy” approach.

    Its about Purpose and Connection…

    We all know that Mr. Jobs was a creator. He made things, and he was good at what he did. But what made people flock in literal droves to Apple products? Yes, they were shiny and yes they were new. But above that, people don’t buy products entirely for the product. Only a small percent of the population actually buys Apple stuff because they absolutely love the technology. People love Apple products because they were personal. The iPhone was all that is great about technology…in your pocket. People by and large don’t like tech because it’s mostly irrelevant to them. There are always techies that follow everything that shines, but people connect to… other people. So If I make a technology that better connects you to other people via some means or another, a few hundred techies may make it apart of their “oo-shiny-engulfing” subcultures. But If I make it relevant to your life by incorporating it into what you already do, THEN I’ve done something.

    Bringing it back to student pastoring….I’m not a student pastor so I won’t propose to know about Student Pastoring…sooo..uh…Bringing back to Christianity. Jesus took the law, as regimented and disconnected as it was, extracted its true purpose and put it in the hearts of man. Now there were always Pharisees that made it apart of their elitist subculture but by and large the working man of early Jerusalem wasn’t apart of that. He strived to be but elitism is what it is…exclusive. Jesus took the law, extracted the God out of it and connected the people to what they always wanted…a relationship with God. That’s why people followed Jesus by the multitude. Jesus WAS their connection to God…just as Steve Jobs was our connection to technology. Without the iPhone…who would be tweeting (remember that the touch-screen-phone/app-store movement followed after the iPhone and the App Store…no iPhone, later movement but no app store, no twitter app)?

    …Its about Power

    Before Steve Jobs, computers were as cars. They were high and lofty creations that one needed to be a computer sci…wait no computers, no CS majors….a scientist to understand. We used them, but only for its purpose. Steve Jobs created the first PERSONAL computer, the Apple II. Fast forward like 100 years and then he further personalized it with the iMac. He supported his products through Mac Geniuses and Apple Stores, something other companies (The evil Microsoft) refused to do. Fast forward like 20 more years and he further personalized it with the iPhone/iPod. He followed everyone of his products by allowing people to call for support and repairing broken ones with AppleCare. Technology isn’t about lights and computer chips. Its about unlocking its power through personalization.

    Before Jesus came to Earth, religion was a culture of the prophets and rabbis. The people strived to be good but, besides the patriarchs of the Bible, the closest they could come to God was what good they could muster through will-power and elbow-grease. There were exceptions like Elijah and Enoch but as I said before…prophets and rabbis. There is however, a definite undeniable power in living for God, but how do you attain it? You could strive to be good your entire life but how far will that get you and how long can you sustain it.

    ENTER JESUS. Stage Left.

    Jesus is born, leads a peaceful revolution and is falsely convicted and executed for treason. He teaches a couple hundred followers but for what…he’s dead now.

    ENTER HOLY GHOST. Stage Upper.

    Jesus spent his entire life teaching and leading for a reason. He knew that his time on Earth would be limited, even more so than most. But His purpose on Earth was not to shake the foundations of religion or even to abolish it altogether and create jeans-and-tight-black-shirt wearing pastors whom you call by first name cuz they’re cool and they call their big screen keynote presentations, “Sermons.” And yes while these “sermons” do teach great lessons, what happens when the sermons stop and that tight-jeans-and-black-shirt wearing pastor (along with his screens and lights) is gone….

    Jesus’s true purpose on Earth was not to show us Christianity, the followers created Christianity after he died. Jesus’s true purpose on Earth was to unlock the power of a true relationship with God and put it in every person who would follow Him. We don’t have the option of returning post-mortem but if we connect everyone we see with the power that Jesus set before us through the Holy Ghost. We have unlocked the power of relationship with Jesus through personalization in everyone we impact. We have connected others to Jesus’s legacy. We actually made a difference that will last past our own lives.

    Remembering Steve.

    We’re not going to remember Steve Jobs for the iPhone, the iPad, the iMac, or whatever iThing Apple comes out with. We will remember Steve Jobs because he unlocked the power of technology from its lofty programmer/techie/hacker hallows and gave it to the people. We will remember Steve Jobs not for his keynotes, anybody can do that. We will remember him because he stood by every one of his products like no other CEO…personally. We’re not going to remember Steve Jobs for the Apple Store or Geniuses, any company can do that. We’ll remember Steve Jobs because when our smart-whatever breaks, there’s a friendly face that can just replace it without hassle, not a computer-parts auto-mechanic that wants to re-engineer the innards for like a million dollars.

    Remembering You.

    No one will remember you for your amazing innovations, someone else will wow the people even more than you did. You will be remembered for what you taught. No one will remember you for your awe-inspiring presentations, anybody can be a pop/rock star, it just takes enough lights and distance. You will be remembered for how you stood for what you believe in. No one will remember you even for the church you started, because another bigger one will pop up right across the street. You will be remembered, above all, for the love you gave.

    • Great points, and well said. Let me point out, just for the sake of stating it, I’m not ant-Steve Jobs at all. Just wanted to share a perspective. Posted Chan’s response because I thought it was an additional, interesting angle. Don’t 100% agree with all of it, but you can’t have dialogue with one person talking 🙂 Loved Chan’s last line. It’s a line that ought to be etched in the heart of every Student Pastor.

      • Very touching post. It’s sad because like you mentioned in your sermon a while back, he would trade all the fortune just for good health. It’s a twinge reminder of the next life and everything that is truly important. I guess sometimes people hear all this stuff but become immune to it until it stares at you in the face. Then people have to choose. Thank you for posting.

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