General CBF

Learn by Going – More than Accidental Magic


By Jay Lynn

learnbygoing1There’s an inherent chaos to theme parks. Spending a day at Disney World, you can expect to see long lines, families rushing from one attraction to the next in an effort to “do it all,” unruly kids, frustrated parents, and something vying for your attention and wallet at every turn.

However, take a minute to look beyond the controlled chaos and you might find something more. Without a doubt, Disney is in the business of making money, but it is worthwhile to notice how they go about seeking your hard-earned dollars. You are more than a customer serviced by employees. Disney refers to its workers as “cast members,” who are trained to refer to attendees as “guests.” The phrase “Be our guest” means more in the Disney landscape than a song from an animated movie.

When you visit Disney World, you should see cast members making an effort to move the guest experience from a transaction, taking your money in return for goods and experiences, to an interaction, which is an act of relationship. An interaction meets people where they are. Good Disney cast members go above and beyond what is required, offering extra time, assistance, or service to meet a guest’s specific need. The interaction forms the basis for a relationship which, no matter how brief, makes the recipient feel better about their entire experience at the park. Without recognizing it, that one small event may influence the way guests feel about their entire day and perhaps even the entire Disney experience. They may indeed walk away feeling as if they’ve encountered something special, or as Disney would put it, something magical.

magic_kingdom_smallWhen I organized my last Learn By Going event to Disney World, I had to make FastPass arrangements for our group of twenty-two. (FastPass is Disney’s “skip the line” feature for crowd control.) I was able to accomplish some of what I needed through the ticketing website, but I called customer service with a question. The Disney cast person answered my question and then said “let me help you make those arrangements.” He then spent the next hour working with me to provide two days’ worth of FastPasses to my entire group. Months later, I don’t remember some of the other logistical challenges that I faced, but I clearly remember that cast member spending so much time to help me get exactly what I wanted for my group. He took my question from a simple transaction to a meaningful interaction.

How often do the encounters with our churches end at something transactional? Do we show up, sing, listen, pray, receive whatever goods or services we were seeking, and go home? Or, do we instead offer people an interaction, a basis for a relationship that can be so much more? Relationships don’t happen by accident. They need to be cultivated and nurtured. Only then can people say that they encountered something truly special.

Jay Lynn is a pastor on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and a 2015 Thompson Scholar participant. He directs immersive learning experiences for ministry leaders through Learn By Going. Join him on his next event, Hospitality and Creativity at Walt Disney World in January 2017. This experience for both church staff and lay leaders includes: 

  • An in-depth exploration of Disney Hospitality & Customer Service
  • Two partial days in Walt Disney World experiencing hospitality and creativity first-hand
  • A private, behind-the-scenes tour led by Walt Disney World staff
  • Free time to spend in the park on your own
  • Practical discussions and learning about Christian hospitality. How can we better engage and minister to those in our communities?
  • What Does This Mean For Us? Prayerful Discernment & Action Planning

Learn more about the upcoming experience and register today at

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