I’m sitting here in the lobby of the Amway Grand Hotel here in Grand Rapids where we’re attending the Professional Church Workers Conference. For those who have never been here, it’s a beautiful place… I’m sitting beneath a few palm trees and across the lobby is a big winding staircase and a trickeling fountain. The whole thing speaks of elegance and sophistication. Very much an escape from the ordinary. In the parlor room, across the hall from the Gerald R Ford Presidential ball room, there are three enormous chandelires, these fance winback chairs, and a grandfather clock that must be 120 years old. There’s even a shoeshine room just off of the main desk. Everything about the hotel is designed with a specific end in mind.
It makes me think about the experiences we want to create when people are in our facilities. At the Amway Grand, they want people to feel like they’re not in just any ordinary hotel. Here, they get to experience the luxury and everything about the place, from the room names, to the carpet colors, from the plants they decorate with – everything is about one purpose.
At Journey, everything we do is about one thing. (I know, I just talked about this here, so I won’t go back over it again) From where we place our things in the theater’s lobby to the songs we have playing before the service, to the look and feel of the announcements – everything has influence on the experience that our guests will have, and we are intentional about how we use them to control that experience.
Now, before I’m condemned as a heretic, take a minute and put down your pitchfork and torches and listen. When I say we’re controlling the experience, one of the biggest things we look at is what could possibly get in the way of someone experiencing God here today. Our world is full of distractions. We want to remove the things that can distract people so they are free to experience God. One of the biggest things for me, and the area that I stress over the most, is in the area of technology. If there are glitches in the technology, it can throw a whole service out of whack. Because our world is so full of technology and it’s so seamlessly integrated into our world, it HAS TO BE GOOD. We spend a lot of time and effort to make sure that technology won’t get in the way. Are we where I want to be? Not yet. But we’re getting there…
Take a look around you and think about what experience the person who put the room you’re in together wanted you to have. Did they want you to feel cozy, feel luxurious, feel sterile, or have fun? Are there things that get in the way of everything else accomplishing that goal?
I’ll share more about the actual conference later (we get to see Ken Davis, the comedian, later… should be fun!)