5 Lessons the Church Can (Should?) Learn from Disney World

Well, the first and only Pearson Five Disney trip has come and gone.

We laughed.

We oooed.

We ahhhed.

We spent all of our money.

We made memories.

As you can imagine, my mind was consumed with thinking about how what they do applies to what I do – or, what “we” do as church people. I believe there are things we church people can learn from the beast that is Disney. I also believe there are some things Disney can learn from the church.

Today, I want to address the former. Tomorrow, the latter. We can, and perhaps even should, learn from each other.


First – what can the church learn from Disney World?

#1. It IS a Small World After All.

Internationals were EVERYWHERE. I mean – EVERYWHERE. Honestly, there were times I found it rare when I heard someone speaking English. People from all over the world had come to experience this thing we call Disney. It was, quite literally, a picture of heaven.

The lesson for the church? All of these people were gathered together – paying TONS of money . . . because of a mouse. A mouse! Look around your church this Sunday. Probably everyone will look like you. . . in the “name of Jesus.” Is there something wrong with that?

#2. Details Matter.

I don’t know if the people at Disney believe this or not, but they sure did model the philosophy that “cleanliness is next to godliness.” I don’t think I saw a Disney “cast member” (employee) without a device to pick up trash in their hands. Trash cans were everywhere AND the employees were on constant lookout for trash. It was one of the cleanest places I have ever seen . . . and let me remind you that the primary customers are under 10 years of age! I even saw, on several occasions, employees actually wiping down the trash cans! Yep. Cleaning the outside of garbage containers.

Why? So people like me could enjoy a mouse. Know what I thought? They really do care about that mouse.

What are people’s impressions of your church and how you must think about this Jesus guy you claim to worship?

#3. Put Your Money Where Your Vision Is.

I don’t have a category for how much money Disney takes in per day OR spends on “stuff.” It truly is unbelievable. I don’t want to take this point too far, but I did observe something in particular. So often, church people will spend so much time and energy and effort to try to “be good stewards of God’s money” that they actually forget to “be good stewards of God’s money.” As I walked and sat and sat and walked this week, I didn’t get the idea that Disney spent months and months and months trying to evaluate whether they should buy the $256 speakers or the $302 ones. I got the feeling that they knew exactly what they were going for, and went with it. They dumped tons and tons and tons of money in effort to fulfill their vision. They are focused on what they sought  to accomplish and spent to that end.

Oh, and by the way – the investment has paid off.

Perhaps we church people should stop worrying constantly (only?) about “being good stewards of God’s money” and start adding this question, “how can we best spend to fulfill the vision God has given our church?”

#4. The WOW Factor and Grace.

I cannot begin to tell you how many times Disney “went the extra mile.” Their “Mouse”keepers (house keeping) made designs with the clean towels in our rooms. The swimming pool had music playing under water. The icons of Disney characters at the resorts were “larger than life.” The light and firework shows at night were beyond amazing. Every “cast member” knew information to point me in the right direction. Buses were constantly available to transfer me to my destination with hardly any wait time. . . ever. I could go on and on. What amazed me about all of these things is that they weren’t expected. And Disney probably could have “gotten away” with not doing them. I mean, I would not have complained if I couldn’t hear any music the 3 seconds I was underwater while swimming. They were constantly doing things that were unexpected . . . or deserved.

In other words, they would have still gotten my money and I would have still had a great time had they not done the “extras.”

But they did.

It was a picture of grace (getting what I don’t deserve) and it convicted me of how little I do it for others, personally or for those I serve, pastorally.

Should not we, recipients of the greatest grace imaginable, not be constantly “wowing” others with undeserved “acts of kindness”?

#5. “Mickey Ears” are Everywhere . . . On Purpose.

I bought a coffee mug containing this Walt Disney quote: “Let us never forget, that it all started with a mouse.”

I can assure you – Mr. Disney – they haven’t forgotten. Mickey Mouse ears are everywhere. I read where there are close to 1,000 “hidden Mickey’s” at Disney World. Everywhere you look, Mickey. Everywhere you don’t look, Mickey. It all started with a mouse and, to this day, it continues to revolve around the friendly rodent.

Should the church not do the same? Didn’t Jesus command it? No. . . not to put Mickey ears everywhere. Not even to put crosses everywhere. But to “do this” in remembrance of Him? Did He not command us to always be remembering Him in the Lord’s Supper? Did He not command us to baptize in His name? Are we, His followers, not to always remember that it all started with the death, burial, and resurrection of our great God – the Lord Jesus?

It would serve the church well if we would be much more intentional about remembering what we are all about.


What else would you add? What do you believe the church can learn from Disney?


2 thoughts on “5 Lessons the Church Can (Should?) Learn from Disney World

  1. elizabethp1968 says:

    Great examples and I’ll be honest that I couldn’t wait to read your blog to see how you tied your trip into our Christian walk! I am not disappointed and feel convicted about a few things!

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