Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Mouse and the Church

Yesterday's post took me back to our Synod Assembly.  Often, in the Faith and Family year (offered every other year, in the years when we're not doing legislative duties), we have a variety of workshops.

This year, we had a several-hours long presentation by someone from the Disney corporation.  She was there to tell us about what churches can learn from the way Disney does things.  She gave us a matrix to fill out so that we could determine our church's priorities and where we're meeting them and where we're falling short.  She seemed to be veering very close to a customer-service kind of message.

Well, those of us who have done much thinking will see the fallacy in this approach.  We're not here to please customers, as a church.  We're here to build disciples.  The Disney universe and the Church are quite different in many ways.

Sure, there are interesting similarities:  that sense of wonder, that idea that different worlds are possible, the re-enchantment of every day life.

For the most part, I felt frustrated; it reminded me of all the pop-MBA kind of workshops that I've had to take part in at work.  Some of it's useful, but most of it isn't.

My spouse pointed out that many of the pastors probably hadn't heard much of this before, and so, perhaps it was more useful  to them.

To be fair, I was also in a frustrated mood because, ironically, I'd been dealing with the hotel's front desk people, where you'd expect to find good customer service, but I wasn't.  From the time we got there to the time we left, the hotel was confused about our check-out date.  I went round and round with the staff.

Fascinating as it was to glimpse behind the Disney facade to see how they manufactured the magic, I'd have preferred the old-fashioned workshops where we heard success stories from other churches and did brainstorming about how to solve our own problems.  I'd have rather experimented with spiritual activities that could enrich my day-to-day life.  I'd have rather had additional Bible study time with the seminary professor who was fabulous.

After the session, we had lots of free time, but it was late afternoon, and we were tired.  Some Synod folks headed off to Disney, while others headed home, while others went to restaurants.  We decided to take some down time in the pool and since we had a room with a "fireworks view," to make sure we didn't miss the show. 

Instead of eating yet another overpriced meal, we bought some snacks and some beer.  We sat on our tiny balcony and watched the distant fireworks.  We ate honey-roasted cashews and kettle chips and washed it all down with very cold beer.  It was a Eucharist of sorts.  It was a moment to acknowledge that Disney does some things right (festivity!  fireworks!), but the Church prepares us for life in a way that Disney never can.

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