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Todd Bishop

Leadership Lessons From Disney Cruise Lines

In 2018, our family had the privilege, or should I say MASSIVE EXPENSE, of going on a Disney Cruise. Yep. It's true, we pulled the trigger, saved up and did it. Truly a very cool experience. But as a leader, everything I do or go through, I tend to see to see through the lens of "What can I learn?" So as we were on the cruise, I jotted down some lessons the church can learn from Disney Cruise Lines.

LESSON #1: The Experience Matters

As we walked this massive ship, we realized that every detail was planned out so that your entire group could have an incredible experience.

The church must create an experience every time they open the doors of their facility. Take people on a journey in every service. Give people something to remember. People still talk about the service where I came out as a Jedi Master with a light saber in hand and that was 2 1/2 years ago. Make every church experience memorable.

LESSON #2: Improve Constantly

Disney didn't waste time at port. They ran drills, painted the exterior and were constantly cleaning.

Don't wait until a staff meeting to improve. Improve all the time. Improve before the second service begins. Improve before anyone else notices. Life is about improving. Keep improving. Keep growing. Take your church to a new level each and every service.

LESSON #3: Provide Something Incredible for All Ages & Stages

I'm not sure how Disney does it, but they reach EVERYONE. Every single person ever created was represented on that cruise.

The Church should be more unifying that Disney. We have Jesus. Our churches should be filled with people from every age and stage, every race, every culture, every financial, every political or social background. If Disney can do it, the church should be able to do it so much better!

LESSON #4: Consistency is as Important as Creativity

The DNA of Disney is seen on every detail of their cruise line through loads of consistency. Schedules repeated. Shows repeated. The right people visible at the right times.

This should be the same for the church. There are things you can change constantly, and you should, however there are a ton of things that should remain consistent. DNA, vision, mission, integrity, etc. Never sacrifice your church's character for creativity.

LESSON #5: Customer Care is a Priority

No matter where we were on the ship, we were told the same thing: "We are here to make you happy." So every night for dinner, no matter what I ordered, I asked for a side of steak. And every night, they brought me a side of steak.

The church should make our people and their care and wellbeing our priority, all the time, no matter what. If they need help, prayer, an ear to listen, etc., no matter what, their care should be our priority.

LESSON #6: The Captain Has Minimal Contact but is in Charge of the Entire Ship

The person with the most power is hardly visible. He is behind the scenes making sure everything runs smoothly. Sadly, the Captain was the least friendly person on staff. I would rather have an unfriendly captain who knows what he is doing rather than a friendly captain who is clueless.

Just because the pastor isn't always visible or accessible does not mean he is not doing his job well.

LESSON #7: Sometimes You Go Around The Storms- Sometimes You Go Through Them

Not everything is automatic. On Day 6, we were running towards a storm. When you looked left and right, there was no way around it, so the Captain chose to go through it. It was rainy and windy, but the Captain was in charge and he knew the ship could handle it.

The pastor knows what the church can handle more than anyone else. Sometimes he has to take the church through the storm.

LESSON #8: Only Communicate What You Have To

I noticed a difference between the captain of that ship and the pilot on our plane ride home. When we were going through the storm on the ship, no one said anything, we just sailed right through it. Yes, it was bumpy and yes, the ship moved more than normal. But on the flight home, our plane hit some major turbulence. The pilot came on the loudspeaker and asked everyone to return to their seats, "We are in for a bumpy ride." As we went up and down, the people behind us kept saying, "I am so scared."

Sometimes leaders shouldn't share everything they know. Communicate only what you have to that is to the benefit of the church to know.

That's just some of my leadership thoughts and takeaways from an incredible cruise with my family!

Have any tips or lessons you've learned from an experience or vacation? Share them in the comments below.


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