Walt Disney World through the eyes of a Children's Pastor
Walt Disney World! My favorite place in the world, outside of my home with family! If you've been, hopefully, you feel like I do, but it's ok if you don't! I just love it here, and I'll share a few reasons why and how it relates to my children's ministry and yours. Let's get to it, shall we?
First, Disney spares no expense to make guests feel welcomed and at home. For those of you who've been, you would agree, the company as a whole does so much to accommodate their guests. It starts with the option for a shuttle from the airport to your resort if you are staying on Disney property. They take care of your luggage so that you can enjoy a trip to the parks or perhaps just some downtime in your room upon arrival. Your luggage makes it to your room later on after you've arrived.
Now, how does this apply to children's ministry? We need to have the same mindset of making our guests and members feel welcomed every time they step foot into our children's ministry environments. Some of the biggest frustrations about getting to church is what happens in preparing for getting to church. Getting out of bed on time, getting kids dressed, eat breakfast, etc. You know the drill. Sunday mornings before leaving for church service can be some of the most stressful of the week. Let's not add to the stress by extending that chaos into our environments. Have welcome teams in place, make sure your security measures are the best they can be, greet families new and old with a smile, and share the love of Jesus with them as much as you can by what you say and what you do in the few brief moments you have with them in your environments. First impressions are everything!
Speaking of first impressions, it doesn’t take a Disney budget to make a great first impression on kids and families. The second thing to access is are your kidmin environments warm and welcoming or is there room for improvement there? The Walt Disney Company has an incredible team of visionaries, set designers, performers, and the list could go on. Disney hasn't spared any money in the stories they desire to tell in their parks. From themed lands to the music and details, they've sold you in their work ethic. They cut no corners and neither should we! Disney gives it's guests the very best they have to offer and we should be doing that for God and every family that comes into our environment. Give those families your very best, and they'll keep coming and tell a lot of people about why they are attending your church and sending their kids to your children's ministry environment. Create a theme for your environment. Take it as far as God allows. He won't bring you to it if He ain't gonna see you through it.
Lastly, the presentation is as much about the experience as anything. As I was walking through Disney's Animal Kingdom, I would simply look around me and see how much detail there is in the work. From the plants and greenery to the concrete work to the costumes and presentation of the different rides or shows, every bit of these things matter. How we present ourselves to guests or regular attendees matters. How we present the lessons matter. The language and terminology matter. Find unique and innovative ways to present your lesson. Don't rely on the same old thing all the time. Switch it up some. Bring in new faces. Create large group sets. Theme your small group rooms to go along with the lesson. Get your small group leaders pumped up about being there on a cold, dreary morning. Have something for first-time guests to take home with them that represents your children's ministry. Maybe it's a t-shirt or fun goody bag, find ways to connect with those kids. They'll want to come back and bring their friends with them. I keep wanting to come back to Disney World. It's because of the presentation.
Give God and your families the very best and watch what happens.