15 Leadership Lessons Churches Can Learn From David Holmes , The Rapping Flight Attendant Of Southwest Airlines

Normal is killing churches.  An aversion to risk is causing them to stall.  The status quo is imprisoning passion and creativity.  “This is our process” or “That’s the way we’ve always done it” are the most frustrating things a Christian leader who wants to advance mission and vision can hear.

That is why I love David Holmes, the rapping flight attendant of Southwest Airlines, shown in the video above.  David’s unique twist of the traditional pre-flight announcements has brought unexpected joy to thousands of passengers.

As a church leader, this video made me wonder how someone like David would be viewed by a standard American local church.  Would his creativity be celebrated or seen as reckless?  I also wondered if Southwest Airlines is doing a better job providing platforms for creatives like David than our churches are?

Personally, I would count it a true privilege to serve alongside David.  The Christian community needs leaders like him.

With that as my basis of thought, the following are 15 leadership lessons churches can learn from David and Southwest Airlines:

  1. There are things that need changing at every church.  Therefore, I love people who simply have the courage to say, “There is just a better way to do this” and then do it.
  2. David did not ask or wait for permission.  Don’t expect me too, either.
  3. If your church lacks momentum, try incorporating something new and different into your normal ministry routine.
  4. Being a great artist is often someone who sees the same things everyone else sees, like pre-flight announcements, but just through a different lens.
  5. What a great organization Southwest Airlines must be to encourage this type of creative behavior!  I hope our churches are the same way.
  6. Southwest Airlines celebrates the uniqueness of their employees and the gifts that they bring to the organization.
  7. A leader is the often the one who simply goes first.  See David and Goliath.  The pre-flight announcements have been done the same way for decades.  David was just the one who stepped forward and initiated positive change.
  8. Southwest Airlines makes decisions based upon what is best for their customers, not what was best for their rules, processes, and procedures.
  9. Management celebrated David’s creativity rather than being frightened by it.
  10. David views his job as a platform for his art and delivers it with excellence.
  11. Those around you will either help you soar to new heights or stifle you.  David obviously had a very supportive team of pilots and flight attendants around him.
  12. Young people bring energy to organizations and churches.
  13. Fun has value in that it is attractive and disarming.  People respond favorably to it.
  14. The defenders of the status quo, processes, and rules are easily forgotten.  Those that break new ground, try new things, and discover creative out-of-the-box solutions to everyday problems are the ones people will remember.
  15. After watching the video, if you had a choice between Southwest Airlines or another carrier, who would you choose?  Rest assured, those attending our churches are asking the same question about our church each and every week?

Pastors and church leaders, one very straightforward question, if someone with David’s approach to life were on your leadership team, would he be celebrated or stifled?

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About briand@injoystewardship.com

6 Responses to “15 Leadership Lessons Churches Can Learn From David Holmes , The Rapping Flight Attendant Of Southwest Airlines”

  1. Doug Scaddan on 29/03/2013 #

    Love it! Truths that can be learned by anyone, leader or not. Thank you for your heart!

  2. Lincoln Parks on 29/03/2013 #

    So different, so refreshing and you are right we should be break away from the Norm of Churches. I have a friend that told me our church was Cookie cutter. A Church plant that was cookie cutter and that made me think.

    I was truly upset when he said that, however I had to ask What separates us from all the other churches?

    Let me ask you Brian, if a church is apart of a Church plant Organization does the organization make the suggestion for the Church or is it the other way around?

    • Douglas Scaddan on 29/03/2013 #

      If I may put in my own two cents. I believe Paul planted alot of churches, and though he kept a tight rein on them as far as teaching them when they were wrong, the new church plants were pretty much left alone.
      I believe that a church should be left to grow and develop on it’s own. Every community is different, and needs a different church. Cookie cutter churches lead to cookie cutter Christians, and God wants individuals.
      I believe a founding church plant organization should provide guidance, but not oversight. That should be left to the church and the needs and flavour of the community

    • briandodd on 29/03/2013 #


      I agree with Douglas. The best to think of church plants is they are part of networks rather than organizations. This implies that they are provided support, care, resources, and encouragement as an individual church discovers its unique calling in the community it is planted.

      Since you live in the Atlanta area, Velocity/ChurchPlanters.com based out of Mountain Lake Church in Cumming is a great example. ARC is another wonderful network of church planters.

      i hope this helps. Thanks my friend. Have a wonderful Easter weekend.


      • Lincoln Parks on 31/03/2013 #

        Thank you for the explanation. So great to see that and I do believe in just radical living for Jesus. Your explanation helps allot and I appreciate your knowledge. Hope you are enjoying your Easter holiday as well.

  3. Eric Echols on 29/03/2013 #

    Great post! Thanks for continuing to challenge church leaders to see and do ministry differently. “Normal” is definitely killing the church.

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