Mark's minute 

Mar 9 2017

What can a trip to Disneyland teach you about the church? More than you might think. And the lesson came from none other than my five-year-old daughter. Click through to find out more.

As anyone who’s been to Disneyland can tell you, they don’t call it the Magic Kingdom for nothing. Something truly amazing happens when you walk through those gates. The entire world transforms, and you’re transported to a different place entirely. It’s a small world, no doubt (sorry—couldn’t resist that one), but a magical one.

What makes it so magical? Is it the rides? They’re great, but Playland has rides, too, and it’s anything but magic. Is it the characters? Maybe. But you can go to a costume store and walk around dressed like a princess any day and it wouldn’t be magic. (Note: I wouldn’t recommend this approach, especially if you, like me, wouldn’t look all that attractive in a princess costume.)

What makes Disneyland truly magical is its culture. Everyone there, no matter what their job is, buys into the idea. They’re committed to it. They own it. They know that they have a role to play in making Disneyland what it is. In fact, the organizational culture is so profound that they’ve developed an entire branch of the company dedicated to training other organizations how to deliver an amazing customer experience (It’s called The Disney Institute, if you want to look into it).

One of the ways you can see this is something my daughter experienced: every employee calls little girls “princess.” I didn’t think my daughter even noticed, until one day when we were walking to the shuttle to get back to the hotel. As we passed through the security gates, one of the guards said, “Bye, princess,” and my daughter (who was riding on my shoulders at the time) gave an exasperated sigh and said, “Why does everyone keep calling me princess?!”

What’s so amazing about this is that you can tell they don’t even have to think about it. In fact, I wonder if these employees call the grocery store cashier “princess” too because they’re so used to it.

That’s what a strong culture can do. It can reprogram your thought processes so profoundly that you don’t even realize you’ve changed.

That experience got me thinking about the church in general, and about Parkland specifically. As followers of Jesus, we’re part of his kingdom. Ours isn’t a magic kingdom, but it is a redemptive kingdom. The gospel of Jesus has the power to transform us so profoundly that we don’t even realize how much we’ve changed.

But that kind of culture doesn’t happen by accident. It’s built through the Holy Spirit, yes, but it’s also built through people. Jesus lets us build it. Each of us contributes to it. And when that happens, the result is more than magic.

One of the ways we build culture is through the process of membership. As members of the church, we agree to work together to build the kind of culture that has an impact on our world. That’s why membership is so important.

This weekend, we’re offering the first of two membership orientations after the service from 12-2. We’ll do the same thing next week (and you only need to come to one). And while the focus here is to help people who aren’t members become members, there’s an opportunity for those of you who are already members to come and be re-infused with Parkland’s culture.

I’d encourage you to participate in one of these seminars, whether you’ve been at Parkland for two months or two decades. The more time we spend together the easier it will be to learn and live the culture of Jesus’ kingdom. And if nothing else, it’s a way to get a free lunch.

If you’re interested in participating, pre-registration would be helpful so that we can order enough food, but we won’t turn you away if your name isn’t on the list. I hope to see you there.

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