Lessons from Disney

My grad work was done in the area of “church growth” so I can’t help thinking about it…even when at Disney. Here’s some things I noticed last week that could easily translate to a church setting.

1) They are heavily invested in children. The entire experience, from the bus ride from the airport to the hotel lobby to the rides at Magic Kingdom, are entirely focused on children. And what’s the result? They draw millions of families each year. Why? Because we love seeing the smiles on our children’s faces. There’s something here for the church. Most parents, regardless of whether or not they are Christians, want good things for their kids. They want them to grow up with a strong character and good virtues. They want them to value things like honesty, fairness, service, etc. Who is best suited to provide that training? The church. And if we can do it while providing a few smiles then we’ll have the opportunity to minister to the parents and grandparents as well.

2) They do everything with excellence. It’s hard to find a mediocre show at Disney. Every performance is done with professionalism. You don’t find many ho-hum rides there either. They just don’t do things half-way. From the moment you enter the park and walk down Main Street you are overwhelmed with excellence. It even speaks from the streets where you can’t find a single piece of trash amidst the thousands of people. But how often do churches get bogged down with mediocre programs and ho-hum services? What does that communicate to our guests? When you enter Disney for the first time you think “I’ve come to a special place.” What do people think when they enter a church for the first time?

3) They infuse their values to every level of the organization. This amazes me more than anything else. Disney strives to create a “magical experience” for its customers and they charge every “cast member” with doing so. But they have 60,000 members! Is it really possible to get 60,000 people to be kind, smile, and offer friendly answers to questions? Apparently so. Over the course of our week we came in contact with hundreds of employees and every one of them treated us well. They each provided outstanding customer service. Even the people emptying the trash were quick to help you read a map or find a restroom. Are the values of the church infused through each of our members? Do people feel welcomed when they visit? Do they find every member kind, smiling, and willing to help?

Those are just a few of my observations. I realize that the church is not Disneyworld, nor should it be, but maybe we can learn a little from them.

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