The following is submitted by Steve Karges, founder and president of Children’s Ministries International, Inc. and the host of the Children’s Ministry Seminar Podcast:
In Evangelicalism, there is a movement in children’s ministry that promotes the wisdom and business practices of entertainment mogul Walt Disney (1901-1966). These influencers encourage children’s pastors and children’s ministry leaders to use Disney’s ideas to build the children’s ministry in their congregations. This methodology is known as the “Disney Way.”
As with every innovative approach to ministry, this one must also be examined in the light of Scripture.
First, the Disney Way of children’s ministry robs God of His glory. The Bible says all glory belongs to God (I Peter 4:11), and He doesn’t share His glory with anyone (Isaiah 42:8, 48:11; Psalm 115:1).
If a local church successfully implements the Disney Way, and these methods effectively attract more kids to the children’s ministry, who gets the credit? Not Christ. The praise goes to Disney and his genius. The Disney Way glorifies man by putting human will, human ability, and human achievement above God. Giving a man credit for church growth steals glory from God.
Some may say, “the end justifies the means,” but that is pragmatism and a classic example of how Biblical theology has taken a back seat to methodology in the church today.
Second, the Disney Way of children’s ministry does not harmonize with Scripture. The Bible tells believers not to love the world or the things of the world (I John 2:15). With its “Happiest Place on Earth” motto, what is worldlier than Disney? Christ is the One who builds His church (Matthew 16:18; I Corinthians 3:6-7). To think we can do this, with some help from Disney, undermines the Authority of Scripture.
Why should Christians exchange the “God-breathed” infallible Scripture for human wisdom? They should not! I Corinthians 3:19 (NKJV) says “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (Also I Corinthians 2:5).
Third, the Disney Way of children’s ministry dishonors Christ and His church by trivializing the sacred and holy. The church is not supposed to be a Disney production. Disney is an entertainment company that is based on fantasy. The Church, which is sacred and holy, is “a pillar and buttress of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15, ESV). In the Old Testament, the brothers, Nadab and Abihu, faced God’s wrath when they trivialized the sacred and holy (Leviticus 10:1-3).
When children enter the church building to worship God, they cross the threshold from the secular to the sacred, from the common to the uncommon, and from the profane to the holy.
The Disney Way prioritizes the “customer.” The church’s priority is to worship Christ in spirit and truth (John 4:24). How does God want to be worshiped? What pleases and honors Him?
Christ alone is the One who draws sinners to Himself (John 12:32).
I want to encourage you to construct your children’s ministry on the Word of God, not on the Disney Way. Psalm 127:1a (ESV) says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”
Is God building your children’s ministry, or are you laboring in vain?
Steve Karges is the founder and president of Children’s Ministries International, Inc. and the host of the Children’s Ministry Seminar Podcast. Steve has served in children’s ministry for 47 years.
(SOURCE: Children’s Ministries International, Inc.)