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This highly scientific rating scale visually represents the shared experience potential of any given activity.  The name is derived from two pop-culture icons: Walt Disney and Barney (the effeminate dinosaur.)

Barney (the purple dinosaur): Your child may love Barney type experiences (maybe even obsessively, like singing the clean up song over and over in the back of the car as a form of Chinese torture while on a family road trip.) However, far from encouraging great times together as a family, Barney type experiences often leave a parent with an uncontrollable urge to stick an ice-pick in their eye.  In this category are things like Miss Patty Cake (no offense, she’s got great things to say to kids, but a parent can only handle so much), most children’s music sung by adults in high pitched voices,  Teletubbies and their 1980’s counterpart the Care Bears and . . .  church puppets.  These all receive a zero on the Walt-Barney Shared-Experience Scale.  All these things may be great—behind closed doors in a sound proof room in the house.

On the other end of the scale:

Walt Disney: Disneyland.  It’s more than the happiest place on earth it’s a place kids and parents can enjoy together without driving either one crazy.

“There should be something bigger, some kind of amusement enterprise deal where the parents and the children could have fun together.”  Walt Disney describing how he came upon the idea of Disneyland.  Check out the 50 Magical Years of Disneyland video.

This category is  tragically small—largely because there are very few things that can capture the attention of such a wide age range.   Alongside Disneyland are things like Wii bowling, geocaching, Pixar movies most Cranium games and the Muppets.   These things are 10’s on the Walt-Barney Shared Experience meter.

Unfortunately most children’s ministries fall well within the Barney range.   They may engage the kids, but they lose the parents.  And they miss an opportunity to leverage what happens in the home to build faith into a child.   A church that can figure out how to create environments in the Walt range will change the face of the next generation.

For some ideas check out Discovery Kidz at Discovery Church in Simi Valley, California.

What is your church doing in the Walt range?