Steve Jobs, church, the ‘random encounter’ and the ‘ministry of presence’

When is a ‘meeting’ a ‘meeting’?

In an age of unprecedented digital connectivity, is it still important for Christians to meet together in the flesh? How should Hebrews 10:25 (“Do not neglect meeting together, but encourage one another…” be applied today? Is a Facebook meeting still a meeting?

Teaching, encouragement, planning and pastoral care can all happen online, and our ‘connectedness’ can be greatly enhanced by digital means. But of all the things that would be missing if Christians never met in the flesh, one of the ones we might not instantly think of is the power of….random encounters.

Steve Jobs and Pixar

Steve Jobs apparently demanded that the Pixar Animation headquarters should not be a series of small studios but ’one big building with a central atrium.’ Why? Jobs wanted, through architecture, ‘to maximise the number of random encounters’ between employees.

Daniel Finkelstein, in The Times, quotes Jobs who says ‘there’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by e-mail and iChat. That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow,’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.’

The world of learning

On a blog post entitled “Why Steve Jobs wanted you to go to Bible College“, Neil Powell applies the same principle to the value that comes from ‘random encounters’ in the world of learning.

I reckon it also has a lot to say about ‘the ministry of presence’ at church week by week. Just by being there, we’re putting ourselves in a place where God can use us in ways we’d never imagine.

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