The Church vs. Disney World

In his book “Killing Cockroaches,” pastor Tony Morgan shares some random thoughts about leading congregations into this new era of being the church in post-modern America. I found Morgan’s writing to be insightful, witty and often times painfully honest.

One of the chapters I enjoyed the most was called “Ten Things I’ll Remember after Visiting Disney,” and I believe it has a lot of application to how we do church together. Now I know what you’re thinking: Is Kory goofy? What kind of Mickey Mouse operation are we running here? But hear me out as I share Morgan’s thoughts and add my own commentary.

1. “The experience begins in the parking lot” – At Disney, the excitement builds well before you enter the park. Do guests feel that same excitement as they approach the church for the first time? Or are they worried about taking someone else’s spot?

2. “We will invest a lot of money to make dreams come true” – People don’t give money to Disney to help pay the park’s electric bills. Churches should have Disney-big dreams about being God’s hands and feet in this world and then invite people to participate in helping make those dreams come true.

3. “It helps to have someone who’s been there before” – Next time you see a guest sitting by themselves, please sit with them. Visiting a church can be a lonely experienceand it helps to have someone who knows when to stand up, sit down, drink the cup, etc.

4. “The value of excellence transcends socioeconomic and cultural barriers” – Anyone who’s been to Disney knows that excellence is in their DNA. Similarly, we should strive to do everything we do with excellence. That’s different than perfection. We’re not called to be perfect, just faithful, and God deserves our very best in worship, in service and in our day-to-day lives.

5. “It’s hard to communicate with people who wear masks” – There’s a reason you never see the costumed Disney characters without their masks. It would spoil the illusion. When we wear our masks to church, we create the illusion we are someone different than we really are. God is not calling us to be anyone other than our honest selves.

6. “The journey is more fun when you’re on it with friends” – We are called to be the body of Christ, not the individuals of Christ. We were created to be in community with each other, to share deeply in the experience of life with those who love us. The laughs, the screams and the tears mean so much more when someone else is there to share them.

7. “The world is small” – When EPCOT was first created, it was revolutionary because it brought the experience of several countries together in one place. Now, we have the internet, which does the same thing in our living rooms. Our shrinking world calls us to build bridges, not walls. After all, it’s only getting smaller.

8. “Lots of people fulfilling the same mission can achieve great results” – When I’ve been to Disney, I felt like everyone there was employed exclusively to make my trip enjoyable. I felt valued. If we can point our energies and resources toward the same goal of serving God here in Lexington, who can make feel important in God’s eyes?

9. “It’s possible to leave a lasting legacy for future generations” – Disney is a family destination. Memories are created that will last multiple lifetimes as the stories are told over and over again. The church also has a pretty cool story to tell; we call it the Good News. How are we leaving a legacy?

10. “We remember the fireworks at the end” – Bottle rockets in worship? That may be a bit much. But often times the last thing people will remember is what happens when they leave Crestwood. Will they remember your smile, your handshake, your encouragement to come back?

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