Getting Ready for Apple TV

We’re about a week away from what could be a big Apple announcement in regards to Apple TV.  We never know what is going to be announced and too many people disregard these announcements and the potential that they could have on the ministry impact of our church. 

About 10 years ago Steve Jobs made an announcement about a new device called the iPhone.  Little did we know the impact that was about to be made through that crazy little device.  Smart phones already existed, but Apple took it to another level and the rest is history.  My guess is that if you ask people to hold up their Bibles in church this Sunday that the majority of those Bibles will be iPhones.  Many churches now have iPhone apps and it’s likely that at least half of your church website views are from a mobile device.  That game changed significantly when apple released the iPhone and opened up development for it.

When it comes to Apple TV you might say that it already exists or that it’s not needed as most people already have a Roku or an Amazon TV device.  But the reality is that the current structure of these connected TV devices are very inflexible and Apple TV has yet to open up it’s platform for developers.  At the end of the day it’s not the iPhone that changed the game, but the developers who created great apps for the iPhone (like YouVersion, the Bible App).  As a raving Apple fan I believe that Apple’s device will be far superior, that they will offer a TV subscription that undercuts cable companies and helps create mass adoption, as well as providing a developer kit that maximizes the full functionality of a computer connected to your TV and a customize television viewing and engagement experience.

So you’re probably now thinking that it sounds cool for mega churches, but you’re not a developer and you don’t have big bucks to develop a mobile app, much less a TV app.  Don’t worry, you won’t have to.  Someone else will, I guarantee it.  What I believe you as a church leader needs to do is to start thinking about the great content you can create to engage people in their living rooms.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Upgrade to HD– you can get by with lesser quality on a mobile device or computer, but on a TV lower resolution video is obvious
  • Prioritize Audio– because many people have high quality speakers connected to their TVs audio quality becomes much more important for this experience
  • Supplemental Content – as you now have a unique new engagement platform consider creating supplemental video content from small group video curriculum to children’s ministry family experiences

The truth is it’s hard to dream about a platform that we have barely tapped the surface of.  I can’t wait to see what happens and even more excited to see how church leaders creatively maximize this platform! 

Just because I’m so fired up and excited about this, I’ll share some of my dreams and ideas for this:

  • Video Conferencing Living Room to Living Room – I think small groups from all over the world can be virtually connected living room to living room
  • Second Screen experiences where you might watch a video on your TV while live chatting on your phone
  • Remote engagement opportunities where you will simply click one button on your TV remote and be able to respond to a call to action or even make a donation through your TV (I think TV product sales like QVC are going to go through the roof with this connectivity possibility!)
  • Customized experience where you pick your camera/view or display multiple things on screen from video, lyrics, chat wall, viewer list/map, etc.

I’m pumped and have been for some time!  The truth is no announcement could be made next week, but that doesn’t mean we don’t keep preparing.  This technology development is coming and the ministry possibilities are limitless.