Thoughts from Children's Pastor's Conference Day 2

If you have been in attendance this week, say Amen to everything God has poured into you thus far. If you haven't been here, don't be discouraged. Hopefully, you are getting inspired enough to want to be present next year. Let's get into the day, shall we?

McNair Wilson was the morning speaker for the general session. He has done work with lots of corporations, both big and small, but the two that sticks out to me is his work with Chick Fil A and The Walt Disney Company as an Imagineer. I love them both for many of the same reasons, the way they treat their guests. I could go on, but you want to read more about the conference so let's proceed. 

Here are just a few key statements from McNair in the general session. 

What do you do best? Do you do it every day? 

Years ago is the place you can’t get to from here. Don’t beat yourself up for what you didn’t do yesterday.

All actively creative people:

  • Take risks
  • Challenge assumptions
  • Stay curious
  • See differently

Failure is evidence that you’ve tried something.

Ask the question: what has never been done before? 

Ok. There's just a bit from McNair. More from him in a bit as I also sat in on his breakout. That last statement though is worth us really spending some time trying to answer in how it relates to where we're doing ministry and our methods as children's ministry leaders.

Breakout #1- Effective Neighborhood Outreach led by Kevin Reynolds. The synopsis to this is being willing to meet kids and families where they are at. Build that relationship, get them wanting to come back for more, give them Jesus, and then watch them enter the doors of your church. So many churches are investing big time money from their budgets on getting people inside their churches for an event other than a weekend church service.

I think back to our own efforts as a church. This past Halloween, we saw 1,300-1,500 folks come through our doors. I measured that as a huge win except for the fact, a few days later, when our church doors were opened again, they didn't show up. 

If we are going to be effective, we must be willing to meet folks where they are. Have your church members offer up their front yard for some neighborhood engagement. Don't stop with the one time. Build it up. Build a team to lead that neighborhood group and then you, as the children's m ministry leader, find another neighborhood and another front yard. Before long, you've got a handful of cell groups throughout your community who you've built relationships with and hopefully they are stepping foot on the weekends at one of your church services. Jesus went to where the people were, and then they began to follow Him. Stop expecting unchurched folks to walk into your doors without you having invested something in them. Let them see that you care and then they'll show you how much they care!

Breakout #2- HATCH: Brainstorming secrets of a Disney Imagineer

Let me just start off saying, buy this book. You can find it on his website: mcnairwilson.com

I'm not paid to say that either. This book has the ability to change you, your ministry and your church staff. Order 20, and he'll throw in a free 30 minute Skype session with your staff. Let me just tell you, BARGAIN!

Here are a few notes from his breakout:

When coming together for a brainstorming session, consider following these steps: 


  1. Start a Fire- let people know what the meeting is about and hold it to about 3-7 folks
  2. Creative/Critical thinking (never do these together)
  3. Yes, and- always follow up with this statement
  4. No blocking/no wimping- must be a team player, nothing negative to be brought to these
  5. More ideas- don't limit the number of ideas you bring to the table
  6. Wild ideas- don't limit the craziness of an idea (McNair has helped create some great attractions at Disney parks all around the world) 
  7. Critical thinking- hash out the details here, storyboards, napkins, etc.

McNair went on to share a conversation he had with Dan Cathey, of Chick Fil A. Dan raved about the book Good to Great and asked McNair his thoughts on it. McNair responded with such a great question that we absolutely must consider when thinking about our ministries "What's after great?" We simply can't stop at great. 

My final thought of his to share is this: design spaces/events with the whole senses in mind (Sound, look, smell, feel, taste).

Incredible stuff I tell ya. 

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.