When Adventureland Stinks

Have you ever considered just how powerful the Walt Disney corporation is?  On a truly global scale, they play a major role in shaping cultural attitudes and values at a level that not even public education can compete with.  For instance:

They have their own pronunciation of the word “Caribbean” and they’ve convinced you to use it.

When you look at a world map, or talk about taking a luxury cruise, you pronounce Caribbean the way the British Empire intended when they ruled the earth; you say it with the emphasis on the RIBB portion on the word.  You say “Ca-RIBB-ian”.

But the minute you set foot in a Disney Theme Park or movie theater you immediately begin pronouncing it like the name of the Disney ride; with an emphasis on the BE-IN part of the word.  You say “Care-A-BE-IN.”

While there is no official pronunciation of the word in a real world context (it can vary from Island to Island) there absolutely IS a correct pronunciation of the word in the Disney context.

If you don’t believe me, try announcing to your friends that you’re headed over to ride the “Pirates of the Ca-RIBB-ian” and watch what happens; people snap their heads around to identify the “idiot foreigner” who, quite probably, also has no idea that $9 is a reasonable price for a churro.

The ability to create an artificial environment of agreement where agreement does not naturally exist is a true demonstration of power.

Despite their considerable power I will tell you what Disney can’t do.

On a hot day they can’t keep Adventureland from reeking like a racquet ball court that’s been wall-papered with sulfuric diapers.

You know exactly what I’m talking about don’t you?  You’ve been there on a day when the temperature shot into the triple-digits and the entire population of New Jersey, Snooki included, decided to cram into the park for a visit.  On days like these, Adventureland’s combined demand of 6 rivers, 13 waterfalls, 223 toilets, and 42 animatronic pirates create a sewage problem that half a decade of “Imagineering” has been unable to rectify.

The stench epicenter appears to be the small hallway between Tarzan’s Treehouse and The French Quarter building that houses the Pirate Ride.  This is the area that they extend the queue into when they want to keep the line from extending into the main pathway, and if you’ve ever had to wait in line in this area you already know that it smells exactly like Tarzan’s latrine, had he been a Frenchman.

In that small hallway everyone agrees that Adventureland is fun in principle, but they’re all holding their breath to make it through the experience.

Disneyland is an amazing place, a marvelous combination of the humanities and science, yet in the heart of it all lives a grim reminder that the physical by-product of human life is putrid waste.  Our bodies produce the aroma of death and decay.

The point I’m illustrating here is that the ability to create an artificial environment of agreement where agreement doesn’t naturally exist doesn’t mean that you can also keep humanity from stinking.

Which brings me to Church leadership… obviously.

You’ve probably been to a church service where everybody was in “agreement” about God being good and Jesus being the Savior, but everyone’s face looked like they had just sniffed rotting cabbage.

In Churches like this…

…the worship leader seems alone in his duties.
…some people sing but very few people engage in worship.
…the ushers exist to have private conversations at the back of the auditorium.
…the greeters exist to pass out bulletins.
…the bulletins exist as reading material during the sermon.
…the sermon exists to chastise the “culture”, “the world”, and the “disagreeable”.

This kind of church exists as a place for people to gather in “agreement” while holding their breath for the duration of the experience, because while they intellectually agree about God, their actual behavior produces a noxious by-product.

This is what a failure of Godly leadership looks like.

Church, like Disneyland, can naturally bring people of like interests together.  When those like interests are social causes, political movements, musical tastes, parenting styles, or even the charisma of an attractive leader, the actions of the group will stink because they are the by-product of human designed and human fed endeavors.

While two or more people can agree to a principle, the implementation of that principle is quite often a matter of preference.  Humanity readily demonstrates how quickly and easily we will divide ourselves for the sake of preference… even though we call it principle.

Godly leaders understand that the Gospel of Jesus Christ not only brings agreement to people who wouldn’t naturally find themselves in community together, it also creates a different by-product than mere intellectual agreement does.

This is because true Christianity isn’t centered around agreement to “christian principles” and conservative worldviews, it is rooted in the individual repentance of our human desires for control and the submission of our will to the person of Jesus Christ.

When this Gospel is humbly and courageously lived out by the leadership AND THEN preached to the congregation, the by-product of the church is not agreement in principle, but in unity of purpose.

In Churches churches with unity of purpose:

The congregants join the worship leader in setting the tone for the service.
…People are eager to express joy and gratefulness as they worship God.
…The ushers leave their place in the back to make space for newcomers.
…The greeters exist to offer welcome and encouragement.
…Scripture is the inspiration for sermon.
…The sermon exists to inspire unity of purpose and movement in the complacency of individual hearts.

Unity comes to a church body as leaders find their union and allegiance to Christ as opposed to a movement.  When they follow Christ, they lead by example in word and deed.  As leaders lead in Godliness, followers follow suit.  The by-product is an aroma that demonstrates obedience over agreement.

“In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.  This is a terrific responsibility. Is anyone competent to take it on? No— but at least we don’t take God’s Word, water it down, and then take it to the streets to sell it cheap. We stand in Christ’s presence when we speak; God looks us in the face. We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we can.”  II Corinthians 2:14-17

2 Responses to “When Adventureland Stinks”

  1. Sharon O September 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    I can honestly say our ‘church’ seems to be a church with unity and purpose even though it has seen many changes it always seems to produce a challenge and a growth producing environment.

    • Jon September 28, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

      That’s awesome! A sign of Godly leadership!

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