Summary: What the church can learn from Walt Disney-- the value of children.

The Wonderful World of Children

--What the church of Jesus Christ can learn from Disney

“Dad can I have a glass of water please?” the little boy called...

“No, go to sleep.”

“Dad, I’m thirsty, can I have a glass of water please?”

“NO, go to sleep.”

“Daaaad, I’m really thirsty. Can you get me a glass of water please?”

“No, and if you ask once more I’ll spank you”


“Dad, when you come into spank me can you bring a glass of water please?”

Ps 127:3 “Children are a gift from the Lord”---even though, at times, they can be exasperating, annoying, even irritating. They are a still a gift.

My family and I recently visited Disney World-- our first experience. Now, we know that Disney World is not the epitome of Christian values, but I couldn’t help but find lessons during our time there...lessons that can help challenge the church in its mission to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ...

Today, I want to focus only on one major principal...a principal that was part of the earliest core mission of Walt Disney himself...

Walt’s dream was to create an unforgettable experience for children…a place where kids could be with their parents/grandparents and be totally amazed. Not just amused, but amazed. Where Children mattered. They were valued.

1. Children Matter…They are central to the mission…

Walt Disney wrote "Both my study of Scripture and my career in entertaining children have taught me to cherish them."

2. Disney built its empire around how to entertain children. Kids Love Disney World. They talk about it for weeks afterwards. It seems to be a safe place to have fun. It brings the families together, even for a short while.

--on the other hand, I’ve heard it for years, especially from pre-teen or middle school aged kids…Church is boring. There’s not much there for me. Yawn.

--Today we have incredible Sunday school and VBS materials…songs, skits, crafts, lessons. It is much harder today for kids to say that, but if you grew up in church you might identify somewhat with the “church is boring’ sentiment.

--it was for me when I was a youth…get dressed up on church day in an uncomfortable polyester suit…and go to Bible class and maybe color a page, and hear a mission story, and listen to reading from a King James bible, which I didn’t quite understand. Then we’d go into big people church and were supposed to sit still and quiet for an hour with no talking or fidgeting. That was tough…for some kids, that’s a weekly arm wrestle, maybe a full nelson. I’ve seen parents take their children out of the sanctuary kicking and screaming...but this is all part of teaching children to be quiet, respectful, and devoted...

ILLUS: People from a popular Children’s Ministry group gathered dozens of children for a focus group. They gave them a big sheet of white paper, magic markers of every color, and snacks…"If you could create your dream church the best church ever what would that be like?"

1. “Kids would have their very own church building, with many different playrooms. And cakes would be baking! There would be big trees outside to play in and on." Brittney G., age 7

2. "Learning Bible stories would involve playing sports. We would have lots of show and share times."

David S., age 8

3. "Kids get to be outside and explore and play lots of games. Kids get to do more crafts and listen to fast music. And we’d get to bring our pets to class." Cassidy W., age 9

4. "Church would be held outdoors with the birds and clouds.., and a ladder to climb on whenever we wanted." Dean W., age 6

5. "Church would be inside a tree, carved out of the trunk not inside a boring building."

Bret C., age 11

6. "There would be lots of outdoor activities, like scavenger hunts. We’d play lots of games and sports. We’d do lots of skits and sing only upbeat songs. We’d also do lots of crafts and watch some movies. And we’d only say short prayers!"

Karina S., age 10

Wait a minute, we say, the church isn’t supposed to entertain. Entertain literally means to “hold one’s attention.” Amusement is different…from muse-think, and a-not…not thinking. No…church should not simply amuse, but it should hold our attention.

--Jesus was anything but boring. Crowds flocked around Jesus to hear his compelling stories, to watch his amazing miracles, to have him bless them and teach them. Parents and Kids loved to be around Jesus.

Turn in your bibles to Mark 10:13-16

13 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." 16 And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

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