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.
Well I’m very pleased to hear that the JT characters were received well. I’m eager to meet them myself. I’m wondering what type of media you will produce… animation? Live action? Seeing Buck Denver at his Friday night bowling club would be fun!
Willow’s worship space is phenomenal, not just from a design standpoint, but from a technical one as well. If you get a chance to get a theatrical tour of the backstage and catwalks, jump on it.
Looking forward to meeting the characters!
I was at the Conspire conference~ WOW!~ Your talk in the main session was awesome and was inspiring to many of the staff in our group! Even this morning as things didn’t go as planned we were reminded of your lesson and God showed up in an amazing way! I also have some creative ideas and wondering if you are interested in hearing about them! Also your new characters were hilariius and so much fun! Thanks for listening to God!
Well, I was pleased to meet the girls this week, and hope they were able to get the van keys out of Pastor Hybels office. Can’t wait for me!!
Phil, it was a real treat to see and hear you speak a couple of times at the Willow conference. I was greatly moved by your story. I admittedly have not read your book yet so it was good to know the truth as told by you. I also loved the new JT characters you introduced at the general sessions. Good stuff!
In regards to your admiration of Glen, I am with you! I plan to watch Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast with my wife and kids sometime this week just so I can relive what he said about his connection with characters.
I’ll pray for your continued success in your current and future endeavors. They sound like a whole bunch of fun!!!
I was there at Willow Creek and to say the characters were well received was an understatement. Everyone in that room knew they needed something new and easy to use to meet families where they are before they even touched down in Chicago. Those characters hit me like a breath of fresh air.
As a full-time Children’s Minister I’m also desperately looking for ways to steer our families to intentional spiritual conversations at home. It is awesome to know that someone like Phil shares this burden of comig alongside families and “pointing them into the arms of a loving God” – Phil’s best quote from the conference.
I can’t wait to see what is to come:)
Conspire was assume and I was privileged to be present at each of Phil’s speaking opportunities. All great! Really – great job Phil always sharing your heart and story so well and vulnerably. I heard many people mention how touched they were by your story.
The JellyTelly characters are great and hilarious. It was clear everyone enjoyed them and the writing.
Glen was a big plus in going to Conspire. I’m a big fan and there’s a great interview w/ him at animationpodcast.com and some more good stuff on the “Frank and Ollie” DVD extras.
There were many other highlights from the conference for me that I need to sit down and write/blog about. Thank you, Phil, for being such a big part of it all around and for me personally.
Phil- I just finished reading your book not too long ago, and thought it was incredible. I recommended it to my blog readers and said something along the lines of, ” It’s a short, simple read, yet full of interesting facts, biblical wisdom, and life lessons we all need to take to heart, whether we’re running a household, a marriage, a multi-million dollar company, or a popsicle stand.”
It was a great book- I’m so glad I had a chance to read it. I was one of those avid college students in the christian bookstores, and then several years later I was one of those mothers of a preschooler going, “what?!” when I heard about Big Idea’s bankruptcy situation on our local christian radio station. Thanks for sharing your story with us!
Before coming to the conference my Pastor lent me “Me, myself and Bob” I couldn’t put it down as I was inspired convicted and challenged. The standing joke around here is along with my bible I carry around “my other testament”….your book!
after hearing you speak at the last session I was more and more convinced of what my new vision must be. As you know as a creative person there are tons of ideas rolling around and around in my head- but are they God ideas. Today I decided to lay down my burden and pick up His.
Thanks for spelling it out so simply yet so profoundly- I’m forever changed.
Sounds like lots of positive things happened at Willow Creek. That is fantastic. We will just keep waiting to hear more about when JT will actually hit the internet!
We will keep praying. I think that families really need this. Projects like this make the lessons that are to be learned from the bible so relevant to kids. They realize that they are called on to be witnesses for Christ as well. When I teach my Sunday school students, I really try to drive this home. They can respond to the gospel as well. Christian Children’s programing is just another way to help them realize that being a Christian is fun and it can make them feel so good and proud of themselves. Thanks, Phil!
Conspire was fantastic, your new characters and breakout session talk were some of the highlights for me. Thanks for talking with me at the end of your “Book Review”?? breakout. What impacted me the most is when you shared that
“God loved you so much, that he allowed this all to happen and save you from yourself” WOW!!! That hit so close to home for me and all that I am going through. Thanks again for being so open and honest with your failure. I look forward to reading your book and going through the Blackaby study.
Friends in “failing forward”!!
Thank you for opening yourself up at Conspire. It was a blessing to hear from you and see how God is working in your life! I look forward to JT and seeing how it can and will be used to point kids and families to God.
Really looking forward to those Jelly Telly characters….
Glen Keane! Oh I’m so jealous. He is one of my favorite animators of all time and my second favorite among Disney’s Nine New Men (second to Brad Bird). I think he is one of the most talented animators ever, and I’m looking forward to his movie Rapunzel. I can’t believe you got to meet him. I am jealous Phil!
Glen Keane! Of course I know who Glen Keane is! Wow, that is just very wow. Thought I didnt know he was a christian so that makes it even more great, right? I’d havta read over your blog again, but did he see your JellyTelly stuff? Did he like it? Oh gosh I am soo jealous, you get to meet some of the coolest people.
Thats really awesome! I am ssooo looking forward to “meeting” the characters!
Great New Characters! As a children’s administrator I have to admit I was a little burnt out on puppets but seeing your new characters at willow and the fresh and inovative way they were used is sure to capture the attention and hearts of the children I serve! Thank you for making puppets cool again!!!
Phil, your new puppet characters are fabulous. I found myself hurrying to get to each session early in case they showed a new clip of Agnes and Winnifred. I nearly busted a gut. Thanks.
I have “glitch” to report on Jellyfish Land .com. I don’t know where else to put this. Whenever I go to Jellyfish.com, on the place where it shows the name of the video, at first it says something like “XML Generation,” and then it switches to the end of the writers strike.
“50% of kids raised in the church today are leaving the church as soon as they leave home.”
It’s no wonder. As children, they are taught the Bible stories in an “exciting New Way.” But what happens when they get older? When they actually read the Bible for themselves, they think it is boring.
Another reason I think this has happened is this, just two words: “Public Schools!”
Hi Phil, I was priviledged to hear your session at the Conspire conference (via DVD) in Johannesburg South Africa. You were so “real” in your talk and I was truly inspired. I am even going to buy your book so both my husband and myself can read it. Keep up the good work.