3 Lessons Your Church Can Learn from Disney – Part 3

One of the most compelling stories that I recently heard on a behind-the-scenes tour of one of the world’s most creative destinations — Walt Disney World — centers around a problem that every Worship Leader and Pastor faces each week.

Here’s the story told to us by the Disney Leadership Team:

The main attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a roller coaster called Expedition Everest that, when it opened in 2006, featured a giant sized animatronic “Yeti” that jumped out and swatted at guest as they passed on the roller coaster.

But unfortunately, the engineers who built the attraction didn’t plan accordingly for the weight and motion of the Yeti, and after a while the foundation of the Yeti cracked!  As a result, if you ride the coaster today, the Yeti doesn’t move at all. Oh… and it can’t be fixed because they would have to take the entire mountain and roller coaster apart to fix it.  Ugh!

So you’re thinking… “How exactly does this connect to me as a Worship Leader?”

Good question… Here’s the third BIG leadership lesson from my behind-the-scenes Disney tour:


If you’ve been around Worship Leader Insights for awhile you’ve heard me teach the principle that every minute spent in planning saves you 10 minutes in implementation.  That is… if you take the time to properly plan (your services, your auditions, etc.), you will reap the benefit of time saved and a better result.

The Leadership Team at Disney believes the same thing.  In fact, they are quick to point out their own mistakes… and learn from them.  However, the problem with the Expedition Everest ride isn’t lack of creativity, but a lack of proper planning which now hinders the creative intent of the ride.

Has that ever happened in your service?  You or your Pastor has a great idea about how to create a transformational moment. The idea was sound, but because your planning system didn’t allow you to begin thinking about the idea until the week of the service, the implementation of the idea didn’t go as well as it could.

As I’ve said many times before… transformational moments are in every Worship Order just waiting to be discovered. But it takes time for them to come together.

For instance, this past Sunday at The Journey included an extremely powerful moment in the service.

We’re in a message series on Grace and we’ve known for months that this past Sunday we were going to do a message on how to offer grace and forgiveness to others.  In our series planning meeting back in February we talked about the idea of building wooden crosses that would stand down front and at the end of the service giving people an opportunity to come forward and place the name of a person that they were forgiving on the cross as a sign of surrender and thanks for how much God had forgiven them.  

A powerful moment that took time to prepare for – building free-standing wooden crosses, selecting just the right song for the moment, collecting the supplies. It couldn’t have happened if the idea had come on Tuesday the week of the service. But because we had spent time planning it months ago, and then talked about it in the weeks leading up to the service we were able to use it in the service.

And as I watched people streaming forward to the crosses to forgive someone who had hurt them… some of them with 10 names written on their piece of paper… I was reminded just how powerful a small idea can be when God is in it.

How is your worship planning system working for you?  Are you taking time to plan in advance so God can move in big ways in your service?

Have you implemented a preaching calendar to help you start thinking about services months (even a year) from now?

Do you have creative planning meetings in place to help you nail down specific ideas for those Sundays weeks (even months) in advance?

Do you have a weekly worship planning meeting to help you stay on track with your creative ideas each week?

Remember what Proverbs 21:5 tells us:

“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.”

I don’t know about you, but I want “prosperity” to describe our services, not “poverty”. The difference between the two?  Good planning (and hard work).

Let’s go to work on our Worship Planning and watch as God blesses our worship services!

Your partner in ministry,


PS: Do Want to maximize YOUR worship planning system? Do you want to lower your week-to-week worship planning stress and plan powerful worship services each Sunday? Discover how in the Planning Worship Services for Life Transformation Workshop.

In this powerful, six-hour workshop, my Lead Pastor Nelson Searcy and I will teach you the proven principles and practices that have made The Journey Church one of the most innovative and effective churches in America.

In this resource you will learn:

  • How to maximize the worship time you have each weekend
  • How the pastor and worship leader can effectively work together
  • How to plan dynamic and effective worship orders
  • How to use media, creative arts and testimony that captures the heart of your people
  • How to create a healthy and focused team environment
  • How to use feedback that ”builds up” and makes every service better
  • How to plan ahead so you can break the Sunday to Sunday tyranny
  • How to build all the elements of the service around the message
  • And much more!

This six-hour workshop will teach you proven principles and practices to increase your worship planning effectiveness.

Recorded LIVE, Planning Worship Services for Life Transformation Workshop also includes more than 15 additional resource files, including:

  • Fill in the blank workshop notes
  • Sample worship orders
  • Sample band notes
  • Sample message transcript
  • Sample planning notes, calendars and assignments
  • Sample ideas and resources
  • And much more!

This is a nuts and bolts resource that will teach you to make the most of your weekly worship times through effective, God-honoring planning.

And if you aren’t absolutely satisfied with this resource (or any of my resources for that matter) simply return your product within 365 days for a prompt and courteous refund.

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PPS – Did you miss any of the 3-part Disney Leadership Lessons series… You can read Part 1 and Part 2 here. Or check out ALL of the Worship Leader Insights archives here.