I came across this list awhile ago from Michael Lukazewski from Oak Leaf Church. He’s right on the money, so I reprinted his article here. The list is his, the thoughts in brackets are mine.
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The other day, I had the wonderful opportunity to spend six hours in the Atlanta airport. In between reading magazines and complaining about the wi-fi not being free, I jotted down a few thoughts about the similarities between churches and airports.
#1 – It’s takes a lot of people to run. Ticket takers, baggage handlers, pilots, flight attendants, food service people, and more. It takes a bunch of different people to run an airport, and it takes a bunch of different people to make a church. I’m amazed at the diversity of Oak Leaf Church, yet how everybody works together to accomplish God’s purpose. [At Journey, we it takes nearly 40 people to pull off a worship service each week – and that’s just on Sunday, not mentioning all the people working and planning throughout the week!]
#2 – Each area depends on the other. If the guys don’t get the bags to the plane on time, then the plane doesn’t leave on time. Each area of service depends on another to function properly. A church is a body, and all the parts are important. If your stomach gets sick, it’ pretty much affects your whole system. When the kids ministry is healthy, it feeds into student ministry. We depend on each other for health.
#3 – Customer service isn’t always what it should be. In my case, the ticket agent couldn’t help me, and I had to go on the internet to book for a lower fare. Not good. I wonder how many guests have bad first time experiences at churches…checking in their kids, finding the restrooms, knowing where to go for help, etc. I want our church to keep pressing ahead to become the most guest-friendly church people could attend. [This is something we strive very hard to achieve and I think we’re doing an amazing job. Our volunteers are really grasping what it means to be focused on our guests!]
#4 – We’ve both got insider language. Next time you fly, notice how many airline-only terms are used in the flight attendants safety speech. Why don’t they use regular terms? But churches have their own vocabulary too, and we just expect people to understand what we mean. I have no idea why they call the inside of the airplane a cabin, and I’m pretty sure people in the world are freaked out when we say washed in the blood. [Again, something we are extremely intentional about at Journey. I’ve got a list of the words and phrases that are big no-no’s at Journey (like the term “Visitor”). Maybe that will work into a blog sometime…]
#5 – Not very kid friendly. So many people travel with kids (and they usually sit right behind me), but so few airports are kid friendly. Where are the play areas? Where are parent-friendly waiting areas? Churches can be the same way…we spend so much money on adults and programs for adults, and often forget about kids. The church should spend more money on kids and teenagers than ANY other ministry.
#6 – All the smokers gather in one place. You just have to walk by the smoking lounge to get cancer because all the smokers are gathered together. In churches, they usually gather out back. And they are usually deacons.
#7 – People are always coming and going. In the airport, people are always going somwhere…same is true for churches. Sadly, there are so many church-shoppers and church-hoppers. People don’t settle down and sit still. In recent days, some people have checked out from Oak Leaf Church because we’ve been teaching on Biblical finances. I imagine liars will leave when we address that.
#8 – Many systems make it easier for employees and not the customers. I saw a ton of things that were designed with airport employees in mind, forgetting about the travelers. In the same way, churches often do what is easier for the staff or key volunteers, and forget about the guests. As a leader, one question I always ask myself is “does this just make it easier for our staff or for the PEOPLE of Oak Leaf Church.”
#9 – People aren’t always happy to be here. You don’t see a lot of joyful people in the airport…they are stressed and hurried. And sadly, there are a lot of people that aren’t smiling at church. We’ve made it boring, informational, and something you have to endure. You know what…it’s okay to have a good time a church! [One thing I never want Journey to be labeled is boring! We try to do what we can to spice things up and just have a good time while we do what we do.]
#10 – The best ones have free wi-fi. One thing I’m excited about in the House of Rock is opening up the coffee shop and just providing a place for people to sit, drink a cup of coffee, and surf the web. And it’s high time that the Atlanta airport provided free wifi. [New at Journey is wifi. We added it for our kids check-in, but it’s got benefits that go beyond keeping our kids secure. We’ll be exploring ways to use it as a tool to enhance what happens at Journey in the future – should be a lot of fun!]