The No Sad Kids Rule

Did you know Disney has an unspoken rule called the "No Sad Kids" rule?  The rule allows cast members to go above and beyond to make sure kids who are upset get their smile back.

It can be anything from replacing a dropped ice cream to providing new clothes after an accident to refilling a spilled drink.

I have a friend who experienced the "no sad kids" rule.  He was at the park with his preschooler.  His child got sick and threw up all over her shirt.  They had forgotten to bring an extra shirt, so here they are, in the middle of Disneyland with a crying child who has vomit all over her shirt.  A cast member saw what had happened and invited them to come into the nearest store where she proceeded to help them find a new shirt for their of charge.  Needless to say, the child was smiling again and mom and dad were overwhelmed with appreciation.

I think in children's ministry we sometimes look at a sad child with the wrong perspective.  We see the child who is crying at drop-off because of separation anxiety as an extra burden.  We see the child who is crying in the corner and not wanting to join in with everyone else as a problem.  We see the child who is frowning when they enter the elementary environment as a potential behavioral challenge.  We see the child who is angry because they didn't win a review game as disgruntled.

But what if we started seeing kids who are sad as an opportunity to make a difference?  What if we saw sad kids as a way to connect with parents on a deeper level?  What if we saw sad kids as Jesus saw them?  What if we looked behind the tears and found out why they were sad?  BTW...there's always a deeper reason why a child is sad, if we'll take the time to look.

And what if we empowered our volunteers with a "no sad kids" rule?  What if we provided them with resources to use for this?  What if found ways to endear the hearts of parents by turning their child's frown into a smile?

Now that I think about it...isn't that what Jesus did?  Seems everywhere He went, He turned tears into triumph.  He turns frowns into smiles.  He turned sorrow into joy.  He turned grief into gladness.

Kids live in a harsh world.  There's lots to be sad about, isn't there?  Terrorism.  Natural disasters.  Death.  Divorce.  Disease.  Bullying.  War.  Abuse.  When they walk into our children's ministries, it should be a place that brings a smile to their face.  Especially when things are not going well.

I want to challenge you this week to look for sad faces in your children's ministry.  And then look for a way to turn the sad face into a glad face.  May the kids who attend our ministries be able to say what David said in Psalm 122.

"I was GLAD when they said to me, let's go to the house of the Lord."

p.s. You can get more great ministry ideas from Disney in my book "If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry."  It's available at this link