Well, we just wrapped up the "Conspire" children's ministry conference at Willow Creek church in Barrington, IL. I ended up speaking three different times, which was a lot of fun. Even more fun was introducing 3000+ ministry workers to a couple of brand-new JellyTelly characters, via Willow's dual "Jumbotrons" in their 7000 seat auditorium. (That's one big room, man.)
The conference was great, and the feedback I'm already getting through the site here is really positive. The JellyTelly characters (which you'll get to meet soon enough… patience, friends) were really well received, which was a huge relief since I was nervous how they would "play" in pre-recorded segments in such a big room.
John Trent and Kurt Bruner gave a moving presentation on the need for "family" ministry – enabling parents to better lead the spiritual development of their own kids. They had some frightening statistics – only 10% of parents who bring their kids to church EVER have spiritual conversations at home, and, according to several recent studies, 50% of kids raised in the church today are leaving the church as soon as they leave home. Scary stuff. It got me thinking about how JellyTelly could play a role in this – helping inspire spiritual conversations outside of church and sort of "bridging the gap" between Sundays. As major churches like Willow Creek and North Point develop their own family ministry curriculum, we may be able to tag-along and provide some of that curriculum over the internet, intermixed with entertaining shows that can engage the whole family. How would it work, exactly? I don't know yet. I'm making this up as I go…
The other highlight for me was spending about 15 minutes talking with Disney animator Glen Keane, who also spoke at the conference. If you don't know who Glen is, he's the guy who animated Ariel in The Little Mermaid, the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, and Tarzan in Tarzan. He's the guy many animation buffs (including this one) consider the best animator in the world. He's also a strong Christian with a great testimony, and, if all that wasn't enough, the son of Bil Keane, legendary creator of the Family Circus cartoon strip. (When Bil did a strip mentioning VeggieTales back in the late 90s, my friend and former Disney animator Tom Bancroft worked through Glen to get the original sketch for the strip, which is framed in our house today.)
So anyway… it was awesome to actually meet Glen and spend a few minutes talking. He's an amazingly gifted, amazingly humble, amazingly amazing guy. That was a real highlight.
Now I really need to raise the rest of this money and get going with JellyTelly. Really. Stay tuned… more to come.