MeTalk: What the church can learn from Disneyland, Part II

So now the other side of the story. If you missed the first side, it’s here.

Disneyland_MapOne of the most striking things you notice, or actually don’t notice, is how immersive the Disneyland experience is. They’ve done some amazingly creative things so that when you first walk on the property you do not see or hear anything that isn’t Disneyland. What I mean is, everything you see from the gates on is part of the experience and nothing from the outside world intrudes.

When you reach an edge of the property it’s hard to know it’s an edge. Even from the top of Splash Mountain all you see is the park. No buildings peeking over, no car horns, nothing.

Even more amazingly, they’ve accomplished this without making you feel trapped or caged in. It feels, almost, natural. As if Disneyland is the real world.

So the lesson here is probably obvious. The church can do the same thing with great ease. We have Christian radio, Christian book stores, in my town we even have Faithful carpet cleaners where the “t” is a cross incase you missed the subtlety of the name. Real estate agents have fish on their yellow page ad. It’s everywhere.

Especially with the retired set, who lack work as a place of contact with the outside world, the church can become just as immersive as Disneyland. All your friends are there. All your activities are there. And it feels, almost, natural.

Cheers Sign

On the surface that may not seem like a bad thing. After all, we all what a place where everyone knows our name. But while Disneyland is a great place for vacation, you can’t live there. Similarly, while we all take comfort in our faith and our church, it’s not a healthy place to live all the time.

Jesus spends nearly all of his mission on earth convincing 12 people to get outside the religious bubbles they grew up inside. He picks fights with religious leaders of his day, and demonstrates over and over again a willingness to sit down and eat/talk with those who are so outside the community that they are living at Universal Studios while all the good people are at Disneyland Jerusalem.

It is difficult to give up what is comfortable. My kids didn’t want to leave the park. But we all must eventually find the exit if we are going to do the real, hard, work God calls us too.

So, how about your church? Are you setting up Methodist-Land next door to Lutheran-Land? Are you giving your folks any reason to venture outside the safety of the magic kingdom, or are you equipping them only to stay safely nested inside?