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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