By Jay Lynn and Ric Stewart
Learn by Going Disney 2016
This learning event is the brainchild of Jay Lynn, Pastor/Executive Director of St. Martin Baptist Fellowship (SMBF) on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. SMBF is a moderate Baptist community of faith along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi aligned with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship international organization. SMBF gathers on Sunday night at 5:30 pm for dinner and worship. The Learn by Going "immersive learning lab" for Church Lay Leaders and Professional Staff was held February 1-4, 2016, in Orlando, FL, at the Buena Vista Suites. Significant learning time was also spent in the natural "immersive learning lab" behind the scenes at Walt Disney World park led by Jeff Kober, primary Keynote Presenter (more below). Jay was joined by David Woody in hosting this learning event. David is the Minister of Faith Development at Providence Baptist Church in Charleston, SC. In his church role, Woody seeks to find ways to connect the Gospel and the Kingdom of God with folks across all age groups living everyday life.
J. Jeff Kober brought life and energy to this event from a Disney perspective. Jeff is a former leader with the Disney Institute, experienced consultant, and author of The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney. Lessons From Epcot: In Leadership, Business & Life; and Disney’s Hollywood Studios: From Show Biz to Your Biz.
Learning how to do modern ministry doesn’t mean compromising your values in order to attract people, but it does require some creative thinking and a deeper understanding of what people need from church. The Walt Disney Company is known worldwide as the gold standard for fostering creativity and extending hospitality to its guests. Many of these hospitality techniques are transferable to how Christian churches extend love and graciousness to seekers and people already members of the body of Christ.
This event was well attended by twenty (20) attendees with a full 2.5 days of immersive learning activities. These attendees came mostly from large churches across the USA, including a Senior Associate Pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church, Dallas, TX, with several of his professional staff team. Another church team came from South Main Baptist Church in Houston, TX. Both of these churches are large CBF churches. FBC of Richmond, VA, also sent a few leaders and staff members. Joining the Baptists, were leaders and staffs from a Presbyterian church in Bellevue, WA, and a Methodist Church in Macon, GA. Quite an ecumenical Christian group.
The ultimate evidence of the success of this event comes directly from evaluation comments from those in attendance::
"Innovative, creative. I usually regret Baptist conference. This was thought provoking and insightful."
"So much to think about! And so many things I would like to apply and share. Will definitely have things/ideas I am bringing back to my church."
"Great experience -- would highly recommend."
"So glad I stumbled upon this and our pastors were behind our attendance. Loved having all my senses filled and ideas to bring back and chew on."
"...and many more."