Growing an Irresistible Welcome

Have you been to Disney World?

Did you leave with a “can’t wait to come back” attitude?

You’re not alone. In 2015, more than 20 million attended the Magic Kingdom theme park alone (there are three others).

One of the first leadership books I devoured was In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman. Among their profiles for best business practices was the Walt Disney World (WDW) Resort, specifically for quality service that generated customer loyalty.

In the book Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service, the folks at the Disney Institute spell out their approach to customer service. It’s not complicated: “Quality service means exceeding your guests’ expectations by paying attention to every detail of the delivery of your products and services.”

You might think that the heart of making this happen is money, or technology, or the “wow” factor of a ride.

Nope.

What is one of the most frequently stated reasons why guests return for another visit?

The cast.

Disney calls all of their employees “cast members.” They have roles and responsibilities, the most important of which is “courtesy.”

As Jeff James, Vice President of the Disney Institute, puts it, “A $200 million attraction won’t be fun if the cast member at the front is less than pleasant.”

Beyond this is the attention to detail, particularly in matters of quality. In Disney theme parks they have the saying, “Everything speaks.” This means, “Every detail – from the doorknobs to the dining rooms – sends a message to guests. That message must be consistent with the common purpose and quality standards, and it must support and further the show being created.”

If only the church could be more like Disney World.

Not in terms of existing for mere entertainment, and not in terms of a vision of providing “happiness.”

No, the church is much more than that.

But the church is meant to be Disney World in terms of its effort to reach out to others in a way that makes them want to return. Its volunteers should be marked by friendliness and courtesy. If “everything speaks,” then nothing about the church should speak against the message it is trying to convey, or the honor due God.

When it comes to serving guests, opening the front door to guests, and having our guest relations mirror our message and purpose, then yes, we should not only be like Disney, but put Disney to shame.

Disney wants to say, “Be Our Guest.”

Unless I’m missing something, so does the church.

It’s just that we’re not saying it as well as Disney.

But we should be.

Sources

The Disney Institute, with Theodore Kinni. Be Our Guest: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service (Revised and Updated Edition).

Read more from James.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Emery White

James Emery White

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. He is the founder of Serious Times and this blog was originally posted at his website www.churchandculture.org.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
 
— Jonathan Schultheis
 

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