9 Lessons from Amusement Parks for Church Leaders

“If people are standing in line to give you money … you must be doing something right.” – My Dad

Every year 300,000,000 Americans [ref] will visit amusement parks … that’s a staggering number of people waiting in line! As church leaders we can’t ignore this massive cultural phenomena and the lessons we can draw for our churches. Here are some lessons that jump out to me when I think about amusement parks and the local church:

  • themeparkfunGuests Need Good Signage // Most of the people that come to amusement parks come once in a while and so they require great signage to point them in the right direction. We have the same issue in churches … think about the level of signage that you’d be comfortable with and double it. It disappears to your people after 2-3 weeks but your first time guests appreciate it.
  • Helping Families Win is a Winning Strategy // Amusement parks obsess about creating experiences that appeal to various members of the family … toddlers and moms looking for safe stuff … “intro roller-coasters” to ease the tweens into thrills … and the epic rides to push the limits for teens (& dads who think they are teens). How is our church providing the entire family a chance to engage?
  • Always Something New // Let’s be honest … amusement parks stay mostly the same from year after year because they invest huge capital in rides that take a long time to pay off. However, every year they advertise the “latest and greatest” to get people to come back and give it a try again. How are we communicating what is “new” at our church to encourage people to come back and try us again?
  • People are Looking for an Escape // Hundreds of millions of people want a break from their “normal lives” and want to be transported to somewhere magical. How does that reality impact us when we minister them in their “normal lives”?
  • Parking is Important // Watch how amusement parks deal with parking and do likewise. It’s awe inspiring how smooth they make that process.
  • There Needs to Be Stuff People Haven’t Done // It’s fascinating to watch the internal dynamics with people as they take on the “next ride challenge” … it gives them motivation to keep coming back and try more. More important than having things people can do … is having stuff people haven’t done. How can we provide leadership experiences for our people who have served in every role? Do we need to provide more challenging and varied spiritual development experiences to help people grow?
  • Teens are Important // One way to look at amusement parks is as massive youth drop-in centers. A perfect environment designed to provide teens “freedom” to do what they want but enough “control and structure” to keep them focused on spending money. It’s a cornerstone market for amusement parks. When was the last time your senior leadership team talked about what’s happening in your student ministry? It’s a critically important part of the life of your church. Talk about them and structure ministry for them.
  • People Have Financial Resources // $9 soda … sure! $12 burger … give me two! The church needs to be best funded organization on the planet … the resources are out there. [If you are looking for some free help to raise the resources need to fuel your mission check out Giving Rocket … they rock!]
  • You Need More Leaders // Amusement parks are crawling with people serving the public … everywhere you look there are team members working to make it a great experience for their guests. We need more volunteers to serve our guests and to provide a high level of experience for them. It takes more people than we think.


  1. My family and I went to an amusement park a few weeks ago. One of the main points that I noticed was the lack of enthusiasm with the staff towards customer service. The staff that were efficient, intentionally engaging with the customers and just plain having fun, made the whole ride experience better. We wanted to go on those rides again and again! On the other hand, the staff that looked bored and treated us (the customer) like we were an inconvenience, made the ride unpleasant and uncomfortable. Not to mention made us second guess their safety standards when they look like they really didn’t want to be there.

    Creating a welcoming, fun and engaging environment is key to amusement parks, and life in general.

    Great post, Rich!

    1. So true! Thanks for dropping by Linda!

      I know you serve on a Guest Services team … how do you ensure you keep yourself friendly every Sunday you serve?


      1. I think having a team captain in place to specifically encourage, pray for and meet the needs of the volunteers, helps keep them happy. And if the volunteers are happy and feel valued, they create the warm, welcoming environment for guests. How does the team captain keep happy? Smile! Even when you don’t feel like it, a smile creates a warm, friendly environment. And smiling is definitely contagious. 🙂

        Every single person that walks through the doors has a story, and knowing that my smile might make a difference in the beginning of a new journey for them, keeps me motivated.

  2. #10 Amusement Parks are Always more enjoyable when enjoyed with a group, family or friends. Same is true for the church. People need to be connected to others so they have someone to share the experience with… excitement, fun and fears.

    1. I totally agree Gregg. I think if we project nerves and weirdness when we talk about money stuff our people will pick up on that.

      Thanks again for commenting! Have a great week!


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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.