encouraging a unified worship experience

What I Learned from Disney

Disney - Dream a Dream (Explored) Joe Penniston via Compfight

As I wrote in my last post, we visited "the Mouse" both on land and on sea during my sabbatical. While I love Disney and love watching my kids at Disney, I also love analyzing things! Thus, I analyzed Disney.

I am always looking for ways to enhance our services and draw people into our church. While I know the message can never change, there are definitely things the church can learn from corporate America about people and structure.  I thought if Disney World has roughly 46,000 people in the park each day (not including those in other parks and on ships), they must know a thing or two about attracting people!

As I watched both in the park and on the ship, 5 things became very clear. I believe these five things have helped Disney grow into a theme park giant and can also help churches as they interact with a lost world.

1. Do what you do with excellence.

Everything Disney does is done with excellence. I remember standing one evening watching the video display on Cinderella's castle and being amazed at the quality, timing and synchronism between the video, fireworks and audio. It is obvious that great planning and care go into everything Disney attempts. While most churches don't have the resources of Disney, what we do have could always be improved upon.

For example, how could the service flow be improved? Could the sound or lighting techs benefit from training? What about our music? Could we rehearse more with our band or vocalists to make things tighter? These are just a few of the questions that came to mind as I began to examine the excellence of Disney.

2. Be hospitable to guests.

We stayed at one of the on-site resorts on land and the first thing I noticed over the entrance were the words "Welcome Home". Now, I know that Disney is not my "home", but the message did seem very inviting. Each of the onsite transports we rode while on the property proclaimed "welcome home" as we entered our resort. The people working at the resorts and parks were very accommodating and friendly. Aboard the ship, we were greeted daily with little trinkets by our stateroom attendant. All of the crew were warm and inviting. Now, I know that Disney has a vested interest in making me feel at home. The more I feel a part of their "family", the longer I will stay. Couldn't this same thought process apply to the church as well?

How friendly are our greeters? Do we as the church go out of our way to make guests welcome? Do we tell them where a room is or do we take them to that room? I have found that most churches think they are a friendly people. However, in reality they are simply friendly with each other. Try being an outsider at a church and you quickly find out how friendly the folks are.  Are visitors greeted by those around them? How many times are visitors asked to lunch with the "church crowd"? These are just a few of the questions the church should address to become more hospitable.

3. Start on time.

Having gone to Disney since I was in middle school, I know how prompt they are. If a parade starts at 11:00, it starts at 11:00. Not 11:00 and 9 seconds! I remember as a student marching in the parade. Even as a middle schooler, I was impressed to see behind the scenes. There were people with headsets counting down the seconds until the parade began. Then on cue each float and band was directed out. All perfectly spaced and timed to the second.

How many times do we flippantly begin our services late? I remember sitting in a church once looking at my watch wondering when they were going to start! Finally about 6 minutes after the published start time, someone wanders up to the stage and makes a few opening remarks. This is not a good way to impress visitors! As a personal disclosure, as hard as I try, there are some Sundays that we are a minute or so late beginning. However, we do make a conscious effort to begin each service on time. This is just a simple courtesy to those present that we value their time with us.

4. Clean your area!

Disney World and the Disney Cruise were spotless! I saw numerous people walking around the park with brooms and dustpans sweeping up any trash that could be found. One evening, I had to go off the Disney grounds into town. When I returned a little after midnight, I passed a Disney painters van headed to work. This is the reason the parks and ships are so clean and well maintained.

How often do we look at our facilities from the perspective of an outsider? Things such as restrooms in disrepair, unsightly boxes used as donation bins or paint flaking from the walls make for a "not so good" impression to our guests. While I do not believe that expensive, ornate items are necessary, I do believe what we have should be clean and presentable.

5.  Have Fun!

Disney is known for fun. They are a company that has made billions on making people happy. You smile, they hear the "cha-ching"of cash registers! How many times do we as the church miss the "fun" aspect of being the Body of Christ? Do we meet at times just to have fun? It is in times like these that we are able to come together to enjoy each other. Sadly, the larger the church, the less we tend to fellowship together. Spending time as the body is crucial to the well being of the church and her longevity.

These are my thoughts, what are yours?