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Disney & Kids Ministry

Disney & Kids Ministry

Lessons learned from behind the scenes of Frozen

December 1, 2014

The Story of Frozen- Making a Disney Animated ClassicToday I watched a behind the scenes look at the popular movie “Frozen”.  As I watched the show, I couldn’t help but learn from their experiences.  Here are a few things that I noticed, and how they relate to kids ministry.

Research – Some of the Frozen staff went to Norway to look at the scenery & architecture there.  They opened their eyes, ears & minds to what they experienced there and incorporated a lot of what they learned into the movie.  Also, some of the animators, (who are from southern California) went to Wyoming to play & interact with snow.  They even took turns wearing Anna’s costume so they could see how it moved in the snow and they could incorporate the smallest detail into their animation.
I am a huge fan of going on field trips to learn so that ideas can be added into the kids ministry that I lead.  When was the last time you went on a field trip to do research?

Willingness to change – Did you know that the song, “Do You Want To Build a Snowman?” almost didn’t make it in the final movie?  They had taken it out & then decided to put it back in at the last minute.  Also, once the song, “Let it Go” was composed, they decided to change the rest of the movie from what was originally written.  They were willing to make changes as needed, even if it meant going back to the drawing board and starting from scratch.  Sometimes we need to evaluate what’s happening in our kids ministry.  If something is not working, or is no longer accomplishing the goal we want it to, are we willing to change?

Some things take time – Did you know that Frozen was in the making for over 70 years?  They began working on ideas in 1937 but started and stopped the process several times because they couldn’t quite get things going in the right direction.  Despite the challenges they faced, they did not give up on the project, even though it really did take a long time to see the final product.  When it comes to kids ministry, sometimes the timing just isn’t right & ideas don’t take off.  It doesn’t mean that you should give up on them altogether.  Perhaps in a different season the idea will work, when God’s timing is just right.

Teamwork – 600 people worked for 2 and a half years to make the movie.  Each department & individual worked according to their gifts and talents to put the movie together.  When working with your team of volunteers in kids ministry, work hard to put people in positions where they are gifted so they can excel in areas they are good at, and kids ministry can be better because of it.  Then work hard to get each department & individual to work together to see kids come to know Jesus and grow in a relationship with Him.

Attention to detail – Like most things Disney does, they pay attention to detail.  The scene in the movie where Elsa creates her castle, took 90 days to make.  The detail in the castle theme is stunning, even though the total length for that part of the movie is only a few minutes.  Do you pay attention to detail in your kids ministry?  Do you make the environments neat, clean & exciting for kids to be in?  Do you go out of your way to tell volunteers how much you appreciate them & the difference they are making?  Do you acknowledge special moments like birthdays & special events for kids & volunteers?

If you are interested in watching the behind the scenes show, you can still watch it.  The Story of Frozen: Making a Disney Animated Classic airs SUNDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2014 (4:00-5:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.


Disney & Kids Ministry That's a cool idea!

Kids in your church will love this low cost promotional item

October 21, 2014

DisneyButton buttonmaker

Have you been to Disney World in the last few years?  If you are celebrating a special occasion you can get a button that displays what you are celebrating for FREE!  Then as you walk around the parks and hotel all the staff congratulate you on your special occasion.

I’m sure any child in your church would love it if all the volunteers said, “Happy Birthday” to them on their birthday, or “welcome” on their first Sunday.  A button maker allows you to make buttons for any occasion or event.  You could even promote upcoming events by making buttons for volunteers or kids to wear.  Put your logo on them and give them out as prizes.  If kids can say their Bible verse, then they can get a special Bible Verse Button.

I found this button maker on Ebay.  You can buy them new or used and are available from many different companies.  Buttons come in a variety of sizes & you can order the button sets in different quantities.  We are going to get lots of use out of our button maker!

What items do you use to help promote your kids ministry?

Disney & Kids Ministry Leadership

Disney’s Picture of Vision

August 5, 2014


This is one of my favorite Disney pictures.  I have it framed and it’s part of my office decor.

Before Walt Disney World in Orlando came to be, it was a bunch of swampland.  Walt Disney had a vision of what could be, and he had a big job ahead of him to communicate that vision to his team.

Sometimes in Kids Ministry, I can see the vision of where we are headed, but I need to communicate that vision to my team.  I can see the potential in volunteers, in the building & in the kids.  Here are some ways to paint the picture of your Kids Ministry, and the vision that you have for the future:

1.  Stay Positive – There will be challenges along the way, but don’t let discouragement settle in to get you off track for what God has planned.

2.  Stay Focused – Many things could distract you or demand your time.  As the leader, you need to stay focused on what lies ahead.

3.  Communicate – Do whatever it takes to help people see where you are going.  Draw pictures, create vision statements, tell success stories, share the dream, have meetings, and connect with key leaders one-on-one.

4.  Be Passionate – Make sure you are fired up & excited about where you are going!  If you are not excited about it, how can you expect anyone else to be?

I love looking at this poster on my wall.  What reminders help you keep the vision in front of your volunteers?

Disney & Kids Ministry Leadership

Leading a Team – Disney Style

July 17, 2014


This is one of my favourite books.  Creating Magic.  It’s a book about leadership.  It’s all about people.  Here’s a quote from the inside cover,

“It’s not the magic that makes it work, it’s the way we work that makes the magic.”

Lee Cockerell is the former Executive Vice President at Walt Disney World.  He has many years of leadership experience and working with people.  In one of his chapters, he outlines some strategies that will help employees (in our case, volunteers) feel engaged, motivated and fully committed to the goals of the organization.  Here are 13 things he talks about:

1.  Make sure everyone matters, and that everyone knows it – If any job was unimportant why would you get them to do it?  Make sure every person on the team knows that they are equally important.

2. Know your team – Each person has different motivations, priorities and preferences.  Get to know your team and what motivates them and what they are passionate about.

3. Let your team get to know you – The more authentic you are, the more your team will respect you and trust your judgement.

4. Greet people sincerely – Don’t walk past people and ignore them.  Take time to say hello.

5. Reach out to everyone on your team – Make it clear that you want to hear from everyone.  Ask for people’s opinions and ideas even if they don’t volunteer them.

6. Make yourself available – Do everything in your power to be there for people when they need you.

7.  Listen to understand – Give people your full attention and genuinely listen to what they have to say.

8. Communicate clearly, directly, and honestly – Good communication is clear communication.  Use ordinary language and say what you mean.

9. Stand up for the excluded – Be on the lookout for anyone who feels left out.

10. Forget about the chain of command – Good leaders are willing to listen to anyone in their organization.

11. Don’t micromanage – If you want to be a great leader, put great people on your team, be perfectly clear about their responsibility, authority and accountability and let them do their thing.  Don’t look over their shoulder all the time & don’t make decisions for them.

12. Design your culture – Successful cultures are established by design, not by chance, and they’re clear, well defined and purposeful.

13. Treat your people as you would want your customers to be treated – Disney’s list of how they treat their employees is the same as the list for their guests.

What can you learn from these principles?  Can they help you as you lead your team of Kids Ministry Volunteers?

Disney & Kids Ministry Leadership That's a cool idea!

One thing I wasn’t expecting at Disney World

July 16, 2014

DisneyGoodByeEvery time I go to Walt Disney World I notice how welcome they make you feel.  Everything from greeting you when you arrive at Magical Express at the airport, to the coach bus, to arriving at the resort, to arriving at the parks.  They do a great job of making you feel welcome.  But one thing I didn’t expect was for them to be just as intentional to say Thank you when we left.

I first noticed it when we were leaving the Magic Kingdom.  Not only did they have cast members everywhere waving goodbye with their Mickey Gloves, they held up signs just to make sure we got the message.

I also noticed that they thanked us for coming & wished us safe travels as we left the hotel, & got off the coach bus back at the airport.  It might just have been coincidence, but perhaps they are very intentional to train their cast members to say thank you & be present when it’s time to say goodbye.

What about your kids ministry?  Are you available to welcome families as they arrive?  What about dismissal time?  When families are on their way out the door after the service, are you standing there to say goodbye to everyone?  A simple thing to do and it could make a huge difference.


Books Disney & Kids Ministry Leadership Training Volunteers

Training Volunteers – Disney Style

July 15, 2014


I have started reading this book.  Disney U.  It’s loaded with great information.

Disney believes that if they treat their employees (aka Cast Members) well, then they will in turn treat their customers (aka guests) well.

One of the things that Disney does with their new cast members is send them to Disney University for orientation.  During this process, they teach them about the history of Disney and what it takes to help cast members have a great experience.  They take the time to invest in their cast members and paint the picture of what they want them to do.  They believe if the cast members are having a great experience working at Disney, then that will transfer into how well they do their job & the guests will have a great experience.

Light bulb moment.  Invest in your volunteers.  Work hard to help them have a great experience & enjoy what they do.  It will have a ripple effect & ministry to children & families will be better because of your investment in volunteers.

How well do you train your new kids ministry volunteers?  Do you welcome them with a smile & then put them right to work?  At Creekside, we start with an online program that takes about 7 minutes to complete.  Volunteers can do this initial orientation training on their own time when it is most convenient for them.  We also use a buddy system to partner new volunteers with experienced ones.  In the fall we have a big volunteer training event that we pull all the stops out for.  We want them to enjoy the training & enjoy what they do when they are volunteering on our Kids Ministry team.

How do you train your new volunteers?

If you haven’t read this book, you should get it.  Lots to learn from it.

Books Disney & Kids Ministry

Customer Service – Lessons from “Be Our Guest”

June 9, 2014


In North America, Customer Service is what determines if a business is excellent or not.  It determines if a customer would return to that business or not.

As families consider attending a church, the ‘customer service’ at that church could be the deciding factor if they return or not.

Disney Institute wrote a book called “Be Our Guest – perfecting the art of customer service”. I have read it several times & have highlighted many sections.  It covers topics such as ‘knowing and understanding your guests’ and ‘creating a first impression’.  There is so much to glean from this book, but to give you a taste of the treasures found inside, here is a list of
Walt Disney World Guidelines for Guest Service.”

1.  Make Eye Contact & Smile – Start and end every contact or communication with direct eye contact & a sincere smile.

2.  Greet & Welcome Each and Every Guest – Extent the appropriate greeting to every Guest with whom you come in contact.

3.  Seek Out Guest Contact – Listen to Guest’s needs, Answer questions, Offer assistance

4. Provide Immediate Service Recovery – To the best of your ability, immediately resolve a Guest service failure before it becomes a Guest service problem.

5. Display Appropriate Body Language at All Times – Attentive appearance, Good posture, Appropriate facial expression

6. Preserve the Magical Guest Experience – Always focus on the positive.

7. Thank Each and Every Guest – Extend a sincere thank-you at the end of every transaction.

How do you think these principles are transferable in Children’s Ministry?

Disney & Kids Ministry

Playhouse Disney Live on Stage

May 8, 2014


disney_junior_live_on_stage_fun_facts3_largeIf you have ever been to Walt Disney World, then you know how amazing their shows can be.  Playhouse Disney Live on Stage is a show in Hollywood Studios.  YouTube has several versions of the show if you want to check it out.

Even though most churches do not have the budget that Disney has to work with, there are several ideas that we can use in Kids Ministry to teach preschoolers.  Here are a few that I noticed the last time I watched the show:

Colors – The set, the costumes, the puppets & the props are all very colorful.

Music – They use short songs throughout the show that the kids can sing along with.

Interactive – The puppets or the show host invite the audience to shout out a word or do the actions right along with them.

Short Segments – The set changes several times as well as the characters throughout the show.  Each segment is only about 5 minutes long.

Familiarity – Most kids know who the characters are because they have watched them on the Disney shows on TV.  They even play the shows on TV screens outside the theatre as you wait in line for the show to start.

Surprises – several times throughout the show something unexpected shows up like the bubbles that fall from the sky or the gold coins (tissue paper) that fall to the ground.

Media – They use a video screen to showcase the “Oh Toodles” portion of the show.

What other things can we learn from Playhouse Disney Live on Stage that we can use in Kids Ministry?