Let Disney Teach Your Church to Innovate

Disney is a big organization attempting to stay on the cutting edge of impacting culture.

4. Increased Re-Rideability

Disney changes some of its rides so they are different every time you ride them. The Star Tours ride at Hollywood Studios has 54 potential variations in the story line. The Toy Story Mania ride is essentially a 3D video game that you travel through … begging guests to ride it again to increase their scores. The new Test Track ride at Epcot allows guests to design their own futuristic car and then see how it performs … again implicitly inviting guests to come back and tweak their designs. These changes are a far cry from the “It’s a Small World” generation of rides where guests experienced the same thing for decades.

Are you offering variety in your experiences so that people have a sense of anticipation when they come to your church? What is the balance between offering a repeatable experience that you can do with excellence and fresh experiences that keep people engaged? How are you adding elements of surprise and delight into what your church does to keep people interested and coming back?

5. The Experience Before the Experience

Let’s be honest … a big part of a Disney World vacation is standing in line and waiting for something to happen. It’s a pretty ingenious business model really! I’ve noticed that throughout the park Disney attempts to make these “waiting” experiences as elegant and entertaining as possible. At the classicHaunted Mansion, there are a bunch of new interactive elements designed to entertain and delight guests before they enter the ride. The queue for the brand new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride includes games and all kinds of fun stuff to do while you wait for your turn on the train. Even the Pinocchio Village Haus restaurant has menus with really cool animations to look like they are built by a cuckoo clock maker! All of these small sub-experiences help you enjoy the experience before the experience … whether that’s a $100 million roller coaster or a $10 chicken burger!

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Where do people “wait” at your church? How can you add to those experiences to make them great? Can you get a volunteer to stand with folks as they check in their kids … maybe handing the kids treats or stickers? What happens before your service as people arrive? Could you do something in the foyer to welcome people and build anticipation?

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Rich Birch
Rich serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. He blogs at UnSeminary.com and is a sought after speaker and consultant on multisite, pastoral productivity and communications.