Just to disarm you, I am not referring to wimpy people. I am not suggesting that you have hot dog carts in the lobby (although it would be a neat twist on your pre and post service experience). What we are talking about are icons. Let me explain.
When Walt Disney was designing his world class theme parks, he used the analogy of how you can lead a dog to illustrate his concept of using attractional elements. He said that you can get a dog to do what you want in one of 2 ways; you can take a stick and beat the dog…or you can take that same stick, place a weenie on the end of it and lead the dog. One requires brute force and is not pleasant for the recipient (or the enforcer) while the other creates a sense of anticipation of a treat…a reward…something special at the end of the journey. Which would you prefer?
How many of you have been to a Disney theme park? If you have, then you will be able to take this mental journey with me. Close your eyes and image you have just arrived at the park. You have paid the admission and walked through the turnstiles to be greeted by the train station which is encompassed by the most incredible array of landscaping and the image of Mickey Mouse…but you cannot see anything else except the entrances to either side of the depot. They draw you in with a giddiness childlike sense of anticipation. “What could be on the other side?” is a common thought that rushes through the minds of even the eldest of guests.
The vine covered train trestle creates a gateway that identifies the start of a truly magical journey. With its magnetism you are sucked into the park and thrust into Town Square. At first glance of your new surroundings, you are faced with so many choices. The fire station with musicians…or maybe Goofy and Minnie to give hugs…or possible see Mickey Mouse himself at the theater. Regardless of which venue, personality, or feature you gravitate to first…or second…or 10th, all roads in Town Square lead to one place…MAIN STREET USA.
As you round the corner from either side of Town Square, you are transformed into Marceline, Missouri, the home town of Walt Disney. You have stepped back in time to the early 1900’s…a time of simplicity and a era almost forgotten by many. MAIN STREET is where turn-of-the-century architecture and transportation bring the small-town Middle America of the early 1900’s to life. There are shops, a dentist office (listen for the drilling in the open window), Walt’s apartment and so much more. But if you stand anywhere on MAIN STREET and look in the direction of the park, what is the thing that will always catch your eye?
It is a “weenie”. It leads all of the park guests in that direction. You do not need a tour guide (although they are available) to tell you where you are heading. You do not need a big flashing neon say that says, “Go to the castle.” It is iconic and it sucks you in. It is almost like a force field that gets stronger and stronger the closer you get. It is magical. It is intentional. It communicates a story. It WORKS!
So…go ahead and open your eyes and let’s apply this to our churches. Our campuses and facilities need weenies. We need these elements that draw people in and shout a message…a story. What if the entrance to your kids environments was designed in such a way that it would be so obvious to a guest that they would immediately venture to that area…without a sign or someone telling them where to go, the entrance would shout KIDS COME HERE. Now, I am not suggesting you do not have signs or greeters. What I am suggesting is that the experience for the guests will be enhanced by providing other visual clues to communicate the story. It is not an either/or…but a both/and.
Make it attractional (what ever that means in your DNA and culture…don’t get hung up on the above example of Disney. If you do, you will have missed the point).
Provide the environment for life change to occur for your guests. Disney is selling the “Happiest Place on Earth”…we are selling the greatest gift this world will ever know.
Check out our book, Why Church Buildings Matter. Church facilities will not save a person from a life of sin and frustration. But the lack of attention to the church campus can indeed be the road block to reaching those people that need to hear the gospel message the most. Don’t minimize their impact. This book will reveal how to maximize your church facility to share the greatest story ever told, the gospel.