Part 9 in a 10 part series on Mickey’s Commandments as presented by Michael Lingerfelt, former Disney “imagineer”, in a recent conference.
9. An ounce of treatment and a pound of treat
If you must ask people to go out of their way, or to do something unpleasant, make sure it’s worth their while. Make sure the payoff is worth the hassle. if you have to fix something, make sure the guest gets the benefit of the fix. I think the key to this commandment is that I can’t think of an example where Disney asked me to do something I didn’t want to do, mainly because any hassle I ever went through was overshadowed by what happened at the end. All I can think of are things I have experienced at other parks, which I don’t think Disney would ever do.
For churches and ministries, I think this applies in this way: When you have to say no, or have to take something away, make sure that the reasons for that are known. How will this change benefit? How does this further the calling God has placed on the church? How is the kingdom of God being advanced because we no longer do whatever it is we are no longer going to do? Is it a better use of resources, money or time?
We should never operate in darkness, but walk in the light. People will understand why we are taking things away if they hear the benefits of it.
This past year we stopped printing our bi-monthly magazine. The reasons were two-fold: money and effectiveness. We had just launched a new website that could do more than the magazine could ever dream, and was getting more traffic in a week than our mailing list. Plus, we could save tens of thousands of dollars every year, and get back hours and hours of production time to use on other projects.
We went out of our way to talk about what we were doing and why before we did it; platform time, bulletin content, even the entire last issue of the magazine was devoted to explaining how stopping the magazine was a good thing. From a mailing list of about 8000 we got six real complaints. Most of the people we heard from said that they were sad the magazine would stop, but they understood why we were doing it.
When making changes that might be seen as taking something away, or seen negatively, make sure you are communicating the reasons why and the ways it will help.