Okay, for those of you out there who remember the attempted church boycott of Disney back 15 or so years ago you might think I’m crazy for combining the words “Disney” and “Discipleship” and might think this is a post of oxy morons. Others might mistakenly take this post to describe a new way of doing entertainment driven, programmed out, high budget Youth Ministry. Again, not the case.
I actually see a model for ministry that Disney is exhibiting in how it raises up young potential entertainers into the superstars of pop-culture.
I’m not even going to pretend with you, I watch Disney channel regularly and realized how much I have gotten addicted to some of the shows as I began watching several of those shows when my 6-year-old wasn’t even in the room. Scary, I know. As I watched re-runs, new shows, movies, and music videos featured on the Disney Channel I began to pick up on something I consider absolutely profound and this is what I observed…
I noticed a particular actor, Kyle Massey, in a rerun of an older show (That’s So Raven) playing a supporting actor role as the pesty younger brother). In some episodes his involvement was more than others, but for the most part it was minimal. That same day I saw the him in the recent Disney hit, “Corey in the House.” (about 5 years removed from his debut as a supporting role) playing the starring role. In addition to his acting he is also being developed into a music entertainer as he lays down a rap track for the recently released “Underdog.” Who knows what potential this young man has, but I’m sure Disney would loved to see him groomed into another Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake who both got their entertainment careers launched through Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club.
I know, Disney Discipleship seems like a stretch, but can you imagine what would happen in the lives of students as well as in the life of the church if we began giving kids a taste of involvement and ownership in the church and ministry at a young age…even as early as 1st or 2nd grade? As they get older, push them from supporting roles to more significant and primary roles in ministry. Then, as they continue to grow more mature in their faith in high school, actually completely turn over the responsibility of a ministry to them or allow them to craft and create a new ministry within the church that they can call their own and allow them to recruit younger kids to play supporting roles in those ministries. By the time we sent young disciples off to college we wouldn’t have to worry about a “graduation evacuation” because these kids would have experienced what it means to be a ministry superstar. They would have complete ownership of their faith, ministry, and the church. Can you imagine the strength of the church and the spiritual health and maturity of young adults in the church if they had experienced all this by their early-mid twenties?
Disney’s not perfect, and for that matter none of us is. But I think Disney has figured something out about raising up little kids to become mega star entertainers over the course of their lives. Sounds like Disney is able to do with their child actors what the church should be doing in order to train up and disciple spiritual giants.