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The Importance Of Taking Risks In Youth Ministry

The Importance Of Taking Risks In Youth Ministry

Chances are you’ve heard of the legendary "1984" Apple commercial that ran during the Super Bowl. If not, it’s an amazing lesson in taking chances.

Here's the backstory. Apple was about to launch it’s first Macintosh computer. Only weeks before, Business Weekly had run an issue with the front-cover proclaiming IBM the winner of the race to put personal computers in every home. Apple was an upstart, and needed to make a splash. Thus the motivation for running a commercial that was COMPLETELY outside of anything ever really done before.

Apple worked with an ad agency to make the now legendary “1984” commercial. Playing off the plot of the famous George Orwell novel, Apple was attempting to set itself up as the revolutionary, free-thinking alternative to IBM’s “big brother,” corporate identity. But the commercial almost didn’t happen. Here’s why:

  • First, it cost 5 to 10 times what the average commercial cost at that time.

  • Apple’s board of directors HATED the commercial. Rumor has it that when it was played in the board meeting before it was to run at the Super Bowl, there was silence.

  • One influential Board Member tried to get the commercial dropped completely.

  • Apple paid $1,000,000 to have it run during the third quarter of the Super Bowl, a huge amount of money at the time and a significant portion of Apple’s advertising budget.

  • The ad didn’t show the apple computer the company was marketing. It was so abstract that most people thought it would be a failure.

But the ad ran, in spite of the pushback from Apple insiders


What were the results? Pretty good. :) The commercial was so revolutionary at the time that Apple received an estimated $45 Million of “free” advertising; it was such a cultural phenomenon that networks all around the country re-played the commercial in the weeks after the Super Bowl. Additionally, Apple reported that $3.6 Million of Apple computers were purchased in the wake of the commercial. Furthermore, people credit the commercial with launching the “cult” of Apple, setting the company apart as leader in design and brand identity.

So, what does this have to do with youth ministry? A lot actually.

First, we have to remember that sometimes to create change you have to take chances.
If you aren’t satisfied with the culture of your youth ministry, you have to be open to making bold, innovative adjustments. Prayerfully, of course. But the failure to seek a bigger, God-fueled vision keeps a lot of ministries from reaching their full potential.

Next, you have to anticipate pushback, and be willing to fight for your vision.
If you’re confident that the bold direction you want to take is God-initiated, you have to be willing to fight for it. Obviously, there are boundaries you shouldn’t cross. But it’s essential that you are willing to go right up to the line (and slightly over it if necessary) to passionately make the case for your vision.

Last, you have to be positioned to keep the momentum going.
Change is awesome. But many times we’re not positioned to capitalize on the change moving forward. Apple was ready in the case that the commercial was a success. As you plan to take a chance and create change in your ministry, think about how you will build on it moving forward.

Taking a chance to create change isn’t an easy process. But if the Lord has given you a vision for what could be, your challenge is to work to make the change happen. Even if it means taking risks.

About The Author

Andy Blanks

Andy Blanks

Andy Blanks is the Publisher and Co-Founder of YM360 and Iron Hill Press. A former Marine, Andy has spent the last 17 years working in youth ministry, mostly in the field of publishing. During that time, Andy has led the development of some of the most-used Bible study curriculum and discipleship resources in the country. He has authored numerous books, Bible studies, and articles, and regularly speaks at events and conferences, both for adults and teenagers. Andy and his wife, Brendt, were married in 2000. They have four children: three girls and one boy.