Walt Disney and the Church

I have been reading an interesting book titled How to Be Like Walt by Pat Williams. It’s the story of how Walt Disney impacted the culture and world.

Today, we take a place like Disneyland for granted, but Disney made the place a reality against all odds.

He started in animation and constantly adapted the latest technology to reach a broader audience and always proved the critics wrong. He brought sound and color to animation and redefined the genre, introducing the first full-length animated motion picture, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Disney moved on to live action films and had success after success. He then began to envision a place where families could come into a clean, safe environment, and visit the world of yesterday and tomorrow. The result was Disneyland and later Disney World.

It was said that Walt Disney had “One foot in the past and the other in the future.” He loved nostalgia, patriotism, hard work, values, and the idea of living a life of integrity and honor. He also loved to dream of what could be, and, unlike many, most of his dreams became reality.

Walt was constantly told it could not be done, and that only spurred him on. He had, according to this book, a “stick-to-it-ivity.”

There is a lot the church can learn from Disney

The odds are against us. We have our marching orders from Jesus to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.” And we live in such a dark world today that we wonder if we can really make a difference.

Consider this: the Church of the first century had it really hard too. Their world in that day, as with our world today, was messed up, big time!

We think conditions are bad in the twenty-first century (and indeed they are) but the world of the first century wasn’t a walk in the park, either. In fact, it was a most difficult time and place to bring the gospel.

Believers in those days lived under the iron fist of the godless and powerful Roman Empire. Immorality was rampant, divorce widespread, slavery the order of the day, and infanticide a regular practice. In city after city, prostitutes walked the streets and plied their trade openly.

The religious establishment of the day was corrupt to the core. Thousands of people openly practiced idolatry, spiritism, and outright demon worship. Temples erected to false gods stood on seemingly every corner.

What’s more, everywhere the believers went bringing the gospel message, they were harassed, ridiculed, physically assaulted, imprisoned, or—in some cases—put to death.

Yet within three decades, those original 120 disciples had multiplied and changed the world. They had a call to fullfill, a task to complete, and they “stuck to it.”

So what can we learn from them? More on this tomorrow.

8 thoughts on “Walt Disney and the Church”

  1. Tim says:

    I just had to say, “Thanks for the encouragement!” Really. We need things like this every day, because each day is a new day. Like we need fresh, new bread each day, fresh inspiration and insight is needed too. Thank you again!


  2. Cindi says:

    Hi Greg, I attend Calvary of Auburn, CA. I wanted to thank you for writing your latest book, Hope for Hurting Hearts. I haven’t experienced the death of a child, praise God, but I have experienced a tremendous amount of heartache most recently. Your book has helped me heal some and has lots of words of wisdom. I will continue to pray for you and your family. I was reading in Revelation last week after I had set your book down and I was encouraged by this Scripture. Maybe you will be, too. Revelation 20:6.

    Much Love In Christ,
    Cindi Miller

  3. Lisa says:

    Greg, thanks for the great analogy. I can’t wait to read the rest of it. I always told my children every time we walked through the Magic Kingdom, what a great earthly comparison that Walt Disney’s ideas were to the real kingdom. My son was a huge fan of Walt himself. Although it was not the point you were trying to make, your blog today was my personal message from my Father that even though my son left for heaven last summer, it was not because I was doing a bad job as his momma. I was teaching the right things. Thank you, Greg. I really needed that today. So, against all odds, I’ll keep telling people how God has never failed and He loves me so much that he sacrificed His Son so that my son lives forever.

  4. Marta says:

    Thank you so much for the encouragement today! We all need a reminder that there is nothing new under the sun. I am thanking God for His Holy Spirit and asking Him to make me more effective in my sphere of influence. Thank you, Pastor Greg, for reminding me of the need for “stick-to-it-ive-ness” in all of our endeavors.

  5. Becky says:

    I woke up to my radio alarm this morning and the broadcaster said “Keep sharing Christ, and leave the results up to God.”

    Then I read your post!

    May we all pray for boldness in sharing Christ. 🙂

  6. Brent says:

    Walt Disney also was once quoted as saying that he felt his main talent was in recognizing the talents and abilities in others and nurturing those people to do their best. That would also apply to the church today (Ephesians 5, Romans 12). I want to thank you, Greg, for you and Harvest seeking to encourage and nurture the gifts and talents of every believer for use in the body of Christ.

    Brent Ayotte

  7. Ruthibelle says:

    Oh, for the next revival to sweep our cities and cause us all to go out and evangelize the world with a passion like never seen before!!

    It’s coming . . . it’s so coming!

  8. Mariana says:

    Hi Pastor Greg!

    Thanks for the post, I’m looking forward for the second part. And great way of making an illustration.

    Hugs to you and your family. You remain in my prayers.

    God Bless and have a great day!!

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