Engaging Culture

What Church Volunteers Could Learn from Disneyland Characters

The Travel and Leisure website recently revealed that there is one phrase characters at Disneyland aren’t allowed to say to any guest. The phrase? “I don’t Know.” Apparently, Disney employees are instructed to go to whatever lengths necessary to help the guest find the answers they’re looking for, including asking other employees, making calls, checking things personally – whatever it takes. The goal is to keep guests from wandering around the park wasting time looking for what they need.

As I read that I thought of all the church visitors who end up wandering around the church simply because volunteer ushers (and sometimes paid employees) don’t take the time to find the answers visitors seek. It doesn’t matter if it’s the location of children’s classrooms, adult classes, the sanctuary, where to get a cup of coffee, restrooms, a request for prayer, or anything else, church volunteers should do whatever it takes to help a new visitor get acclimated and find answers.

Remember that in today’s distracted culture, people start making decisions within 4-8 seconds, so every encounter with a new visitor matters. A simple, short conversation with a church visitor could make the difference on their decision to keep coming or visit somewhere else.

Teach your team to value every moment.

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  1. Yep. Totally agree.
    One sad difference is that Disneyland is decidedly for-profit, and they understand their “cast member’s” behaviors affects their bottom line.

    Churches should have similar mindsets, understanding their bottom line is making disciples for Jesus, and their “cast members” also greatly affect that.

    Too many volunteers have not been properly trained (like Disneyland does) as to the strategic nature of their service. Being a greeter, an usher, or serving coffee and donuts may appear mundane and borderline non-critical, but those volunteers may be the ONLY personal contact a guest or regular attendee will have on a Sunday morning.

    At a church I currently attend, most of the greeters stand there talking to each other, completely ignoring those walking right past them. I make it a point to stop right there in the doorway and wait for them to pause their conversation and make eye contact with me (I will wait as long as necessary), at which time I smile and say, “Good morning!” They are usually a bit embarrassed (as they should be.) I sometimes play the game of, “Once again, I made it all the way to my seat, and not one single person said anything to me or handed me a bulletin.”

    This is simply poor leadership. And very fixable.
    Lives are at stake. That’s a far more serious bottom-line than Disney profits.
    One would think pastors would get that.
    One would often be wrong.

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