Q and A with Robert Beeson and Brad Mathias
Robert Beeson: Founder, chief creative officer. Former president of essential records/senior vice president of Provident Music Group. Single father raising 3 tween girls.
Brad Mathias: President of Bema Media/iShine Live. Father of 3 teenagers. Pastor- Four Winds Mission, Author -Tyndale Publishing, Blogger- Road Trip Parenting.
Question: When and why did you start iShine?
(robert) i started iShine in 2008 because i wanted uplifting media experiences for my tween daughters and realized there was nothing in the Christian media world for them. it surprised me enough to create iShine.
Question: Describe the work of iShine.
iShine is a comprehensive media group that produces moral, life-changing content by Christian teens for children between the ages of 7-13, who are collectively identified as ‘tweens.’ We are the producer of KNeCT – the #1 highest rated Christian tween television program in the world. We stage live events that tour the country designed specifically to reach the tween audience. We develop top music artists for tweens, such as The rubyz, Mission Six, and rachel Chan. We produce the 24/7 online streaming iShine radio network. We publish iShine Bibles, multimedia curriculum, and music videos and CDs. And we host a variety of interactive material on our website and blog (iShineLive.com).
Question: how does the media influence tweens?
Through repeated exposure, media content has the ability to form values and beliefs in the minds and hearts of those who consume it, in either a positive/ constructive manner, or in a negative/ destructive manner, depending on the content and emphasis of truth contained in it. here’s an example: Tweens are being aggressively marketed to by major brands and consumer groups who recognize the buying potential tweens have in their lifetime and the influence tweens have on their parents to direct spending and brand loyalty. As a result, businesses from cosmetics companies to record labels to digital games to car brands are aggressively pushing their marketing messages directly to pre-teen audiences in an effort to influence their beliefs for a lifetime.
Question: What are some of the issues facing tweens today?
Properly framing a person’s identity is the number one issue tweens are confronted with. Tweens form their basis for life, their sense of value, and their underlying purpose directly from their social status, popularity, physical appearance, and personal success. Too often they shape their identity using their media experience as their guiding model. The content of modern sitcoms, TV dramas, movies, and music lyrics are constantly chiseling away Christian parents’ influ- ence in protecting their tweens’ development of consistently strong values and sexual morality. Today’s tween is actively engaged in consuming 65-70 hours of media each week. The vast majority of that content openly suggests that the values of the church and conservative beliefs are irrelevant and/or inaccurate to live by.
Question: how has the church failed tweens?
The church invests most of its time and resources to reach out to teens and elementary school age kids, not pre-teens; the lost ones in the middle. The challenges of having kids with a widely variable state of physical, emotional, and spiritual development all compressed into a few years of each other is a demanding scenario for smaller churches or ministries to adequately address. For families of 4th, 5th and 6thgraders who are struggling with a variety of educational, emotional, and spiritual transitions, finding a resource or study guide that’s relevant and helpful is very difficult and, as a result, churches have little in the way of tween-specific assets to utilize;, very few churches have a tween-dedicated staff or pastoral team.
Question: Why do you say if tweens don’t develop a relationship with Christ before they’re 13, they probably never will?
Most recent studies on the subject suggest that our kids are aging faster and making life choices much earlier than ever before. As a result of the higher level of media ingestion at younger and younger ages, kids are choosing and forming their moral, spiritual, and ethical beliefs before the age of the 13. over 85% of high school graduates surveyed by both Barna research Group and Lifeway revealed that those kids had left the church after going to college and had decided to do so before their 13th birthday.