Sunday, June 12, 2011
Disney is a world in itself. Their use of imagination ("imagineering"), their creativity, and their attention to detail draw you in to every experience. Everything you do becomes part of a larger story. We didn't just go to dinner; we were invited to a feast at the Royal Palace, along with our little "prince" and "princess". There is an entire Disney culture with its own language and customs. Conversations are ended with the phrase "Have a magical day" and you are not only given directions but are pointed in the right way by friendly "cast members" wearing large Mickey gloves. The cast members are trained to make "magical moments" happen for each guest. After all, their mission statement is "We create happiness." Yes, it's a little trite (or presumptuous...or just plain nonsensical), but when you experience it, you become a believer.
Since our return, I've studied some of the Disney model through the Disney Institute site, the Disney Parks Blog, and the book The Church Mouse: Leadership Lessons from the Magic Kingdom (by pastor Christopher W. Perry). I have more Disney-themed books on my wish list and hopes to attend a Disney Conference someday. I think their ideals and the way they carry them out have a lot to teach both the business world and the church. While I know they are not without problems or controversy, the way they treat and engage their guests is a beautiful example of hospitality. Their use of creativity seems truly magical when you're surrounded in all the elements thoughtfully put together to bring you into the story. While I knew on one level all of this was carefully designed to get me to spend money and buy into their "product", their "brand", it worked. I left, not feeling like I had been had, or that I was simply a consumer, but felt that I had actually experienced something...well, I'm going to stop myself from saying "magical" yet again, but it's hard to find a better word to describe it.
In his book, Christopher Perry suggests using the Disney model as a way leading in the church. In talking about church culture, he suggests "discovering your church's mission and connect people to that story bigger than themselves" (much as Disney designs a larger story for each experience to create their own unique culture). This inspires me to think about my own mission and calling and how to better connect those to whom I minister with a larger story, God's story. I hope to become a better and more creative storyteller and to continue to redefine my mission and place in the story...