“It’s Kind of a Cute Story” – Takeaways from the Book



It’s no secret I enjoy nearly all things Disney.  I enjoy the parks, the movies, and the commitment to excellence woven throughout all of their projects. So, when I come across a book that reveals a bit more about some of the people that helped establish the company in it’s early years, I like to put it on my reading list.

Most recently, I read It’s Kind of a Cute Story, written by Roland Crump and Jeff Heimbuch.  Roland, known as Rolly, was one of the early Imagineers who worked first at the animation studios, and then at WED.

While it’s filled with tons of interesting stories, there are some takeaways as well.  As always, whenever you set out to read a book, you should also make a point to learn something from it.  Don’t waste the investment, right?

Here’s a few ideas/quotes:

 “If it’s a ton of fun and an ounce of information you’ll reach the teachable moment.”  – Dr. Charles Lewis, on working on EPCOT

Without going into the great history of EPCOT (what it was going to be and what it now is), this singular idea was the driving force for the project.    It’s a similar idea to what we see in kids educational television today.  A simple idea, or a basic truth, wrapped in a creative, engaging method or form can have an amazing impact.  This applies to kids, students, and adults.  By no means does this mean you can present a “watered down truth” in your kids ministry.  It actually means the opposite.  It means you have to find the one, singular, most important idea, and present it in a memorable way.  This is one of the reasons I like Orange curriculum, among others, for kids at Journey.  Blowing up soda  or sliming your small group leader can, in fact, have eternal value.

 “Every student is different.  You have to talk to them differently because everyone has different styles…Don’t make them do a project that would be hard for them to grasp.  You have to get their confidence up first and then nudge them along into these new areas.”

There are many ways to apply this idea.  I think it applies to a new believer growing in his/her faith, helping him to see the successful simple steps.  Trusting God in the small things leads to trusting Him in bigger things.  He leads in steps so we should shepherd the same way.  We can also see the value in applying this to the teams we lead.  When someone begins serving on our ministry team, we have to celebrate the success along the way, and where they excel in areas.

We have help people walk out in their gifts.  Then, we can confidently go into anything that God is calling us to.  I’ve seen this first hand.  We recently had a kids’ team leader from Journey make the step to move to Uganda to help deaf children.  When I talked with her, I asked, “Six years ago, would you imagine that you would be doing this?”  “Never, “ she said.  But saying yes to the steps along the way prepared her for this amazing new adventure.

  “He had a vision, he knew exactly what it was going to be and how he was going to get there.  It was almost like he’d slice through it and he knew every ingredient that was there because he lived it himself to create it.” – speaking of Walt Disney

We have to believe God for a bigger vision.  I’m always amazed at what people can do when they have a clear vision. So, we should pray for this in our own lives.  It doesn’t mean you’ll end up building a theme park.  But having God’s vision for your life certainly means you’ll live the abundant life He promises.

 “No matter the project, Walt clearly saw its common denominator.  He recognized the essential skills and talents of people he assigned to work on his projects.  He always picked the right people.  He never talked down to you.  He always spoke your language and he always kept your interests in mind.  It amazed me how he could talk to anyone about anything, without skipping a beat, and with perfect sincerity.”

In everything, no matter who you are, it’s always about people.



*I should note that while the book is a fun read, it has some objectionable language and  material.  Please use discretion for that reason.

I Skipped Church on Sunday

Okay – I didn’t really “skip church”.  I went to church, just not my church.

Yesterday, I went to visit another church in the RDU area – Summit Church.  I had the great privilege of hanging out with Jeremy Pollard, the children’s pastor there. After spending a few days in Tennessee learning from other children’s pastors all over the country (through a coaching network called Infuse), I thought it would be good to make a few more connections right here at home.

It’s always good to visit other places and get ideas.  It helps you evaluate what you already have.  I can see positives, and ways we can improve. I learned about their organization, policies, and more.  I love getting together with other children’s pastors and talking about ministry.  Sometimes we can get wrapped up in our own “church world” that we forget God is at work across the street too.

In any organization, it’s good to see what others are doing in the same field.  Now, in the world of business, this is usually done to scope out the competition and see what’s coming.  For us, it couldn’t be further from that.

A few years ago, I saw an interview with John Lasseter, head of Pixar.  He was asked about Dreamworks’ animation projects and some other studios that were revamping their animation studios to compete.  Was he worried?  Was he fearful someone else might do it better?

He actually said he welcomed the interest in animation.  If they were producing good stories, and good animation, then it would actually advance the entire field, because each studio would be challenging another to  be better.  As audiences saw more animated movies that were done with high quality, it would actually benefit everyone.  So, why not?

He didn’t see it as a competition.  He saw it as a way to better himself and his own studio.

I love visiting other churches because it makes us better.  I have a notebook full of notes – things to start thinking about, things we should stop doing, things we should start doing, and more.

In anything you do, be a life-long learner.  I never want to get to a place where I can say “I’ve figured it out!”  That’s a few steps away from tripping over a pride rock.

(Yes…that was a subtle “Lion King” reference…)




I had every intention of writing every day this week while at CPC, exploring some new component of the conference or highlighting some great sparks of “wow!”

Those moments came, but not in the way I have usually received them from conferences.  I lost my conference book at the end of Thursday, and with many of my notes so I can’t recap anything from sessions here.  In fact, I’ll likely be filling out an order form in the next hour for some audio files.

I came to CPC to work in the booths for JimWideman.com and the Kidmin Genius Bar. You see I grew up telling my parents I was a genius.  Now I have a t-shirt that confirms it.  It’s common knowledge, of course, that to make anything “official” you simply need acquire a logo and a t-shirt.

The Kidmin Genius Bar was simply set up to field questions related to anything in children’s ministry, or life, or just a place to come and talk with someone else in children’s ministry.  It’s a great forum to start some of that discussion talked about in the networking general session.

I had conversations that I will remember for a long time and that I hope were just the beginnings of a much bigger discussion.  It reiterated to me the importance of having partners in ministry to share victories and hardships, prayers and blessings.

This week, I’ve made some new friends and have fortified some other friendships.  I’m going home encouraged, strengthened and renewed.  This week, I’ve learned from people who have been open, honest, and who simply said “yes” to Jesus when He called them to do step out in faith.  This week, I’ve also heard incredible stories and met incredible servants that have challenged me to be a better leader, follower, and disciple of Jesus.

 This week I met:

  • A woman who has been teaching kids for about 40 years.  Her heart was passionate about kids loving God’s Word and knowing Jesus.
  • A man who tried saying no to children’s ministry but God wouldn’t let him and instead has used him to see church’s families through some transitions ahead.
  • A family that serves together and is determined to impart truth to kids and to parents despite meeting some big obstacles along the way

This week, I sat with fellow children’s ministers to talk about:

  •  Reaching parents of kids when the kids walk themselves to church
  • A man who is 80 years old, teaches 4th/5th grade boys and cared so much about reaching those boys that he sought out new and more relevant lessons…and it worked.  That man is a hero and a grandpa to those boys and he is teaching them to live the Bible.
  • A community in America’s southwest where the graduation rate is extremely low and what local church’s are doing to help (and sometimes hinder)

God is using so many people to make Himself famous in the hearts of children all over the world.  What an amazing privilege we have to see His hand move in our lives.  Let’s never, never, take for granted that His grace allows us to be a part of His Story in the lives of kids and families.


Connections: #CPC12

One of the things that is absolutely essential to success in any business, ministry, hobby, anything of importance to you, is networking.  Someone, somewhere, just scoffed when they read that, but it’s true.

Isn’t every Sunday at church a networking of believers to celebrate what Jesus has done in their lives?  Isn’t every small group a network of people living out their faith together, sharing stories of what works, what struggles there have been?  Visit a playground sometime and you will see it happen before your eyes – moms sharing stories of discipline, bath time tricks, and where in town has the best deals on kids’ shoes.  So, now that we understand a bit more about how networking is already a part of our every day life, let’s just accept it.

This week, I’m at a conference in Orlando, Florida (well, let’s just be honest about it) at Walt Disney World.   This is a gathering called CPC (Children’s Pastors’ Conference) and it’s hosted by INCM (the International Network of Children’s Ministry).  It is not entirely random that I’m here, but at the same time, it wasn’t originally on my 2012 agenda until November. But after being here and speaking with INCM’s director, Michael Chanley, I’m even more excited about the week ahead.

There are some great speakers lined up, but I think I’m more excited about the speakers who aren’t lined up.  I’m more intrigued about the conversations that are going to take place around tables, conversations that will happen out of the collision of interests, and discussions that arise out of the calling God has placed on people’s lives.  It’s very apparent in the rooted philosophy of this organization that no one person or group, or curriculum holds the key to making “it” work.  God has gifted every person and equipped each for his/her calling and as such everyone has something to contribute to another person and to learn from another person.

Shouldn’t we be excited about that when we go to small group?  When we teach students and kids about what it means to follow Jesus?  When we sit in a room with families and talk about the discipleship of kids?  We always have something to learn from and give to another believer.  As we say a lot, “Growth happens best in the context of community.”

I’m excited about what I’ll be taking home at the end of this week’s CPC.


…and I don’t just mean the Vinylmations