6 Leadership Lessons I Learned from Wearing a Chicken Suit at Church
To finish up the summer, our church hosted a series called Home Run Faith. We drew on the language and imagery of professional baseball to help people better understand New Testament characters and apply core life lessons. “Is your faith stuck in the minors or are you ready for the big leagues?” It was a fun and faith-filled series.
Every Sunday during the series our campuses created “foyer chaos” to greet people as they arrived. Some weeks they were welcomed by “hockers” giving away Big League Gum. Another week they arrived to a pitching contest to win lunch with one of our campus pastors. On one of the weeks they were met by our version of the San Diego Chicken. We had volunteers who would jump into the suit and inject some fun into our guest services experience as people arrived.
At one point during the series I was visiting one of our campuses and they were having trouble finding a volunteer to wear the chicken suit. Our campus pastor asked me if I would be up for jumping in. I agreed and it was a great morning. Here are a few things I learned from being behind the chicken mask!
- Be willing to do what you ask others to do. // When we were brainstorming the Home Run Faith series we got joking about this whole chicken suit thing. In the end I green-lighted us doing it. If I was unwilling to put on the chicken suit, why would I ask other people to do it? How far and wide do I apply that principle? If I’m unwilling to do what I’m asking people to do…should I be asking them to do it? In what areas do I need to re-calibrate what I’m asking of my people?
- Church should be a place of surprise and delight. // Churches need to build a sense of familiarity for people. If they don’t know what to expect, it’s hard for them to engage and even more difficult for them to invite their friends. However, every once and a while you need something unpredictable to happen to keep things fresh. I loved watching from inside the chicken suit as people were surprised and happy to see me! How can you add some positive surprise to your experiences this weekend?
- People are used to patterns. Interrupt them. // Similar to the last point: People are creatures of habit and when we interrupt them in those habits it gets their attention. I stood in a place where people could just be wandering into our services without really thinking about it. By getting in their way…interrupting their patterns…I was making them think about what was coming up. In this case the interruption got them thinking about the theme and message of the morning.
- Adding extra effort to secondary teaching pays dividends. // We did all this extra work during a series when our “main teaching guy” wasn’t scheduled. It can be tempting to not invest in series that could be seen as “downtimes,” but the people teaching see the different effort and your community picks up on the subtle cues. I loved that our team invested extra effort to make this series a win for our community, even though the guy who normally teaches wasn’t speaking.
- Making a difference is sweaty. // That chicken suit was really sweaty to wear…it’s basically a large rubber chicken with fur on it. I must have lost 10 pounds in sweat that morning! I felt like I had a shower after wearing it I was so wet. Often doing the right thing costs us more than just letting things slide. We could have easily just said that we couldn’t get a volunteer and not have anyone in the chicken suit, but that would have robbed our guests of the experience. Sometimes working in the church is just hard work…somebody has to wear the chicken suit!
- Church is fun. // We’ve talked about this in the past on unSeminary…I believe fun is a strategic priority for churches. The gospel should generate joy in people. It is the “good news” after all! Taking time out to plan a “church is fun” moment helps us express the gospel to our community. In a world where the common picture of people of faith is negative and judgmental, fun pushes back. How can you plan some fun in the next month or so?