Monday, April 02, 2012


The Nickolodean Kid's Choice Awards have come and gone and I'm the better for it!

No, I'm not a big fan of the non-stop screaming from the audience. Nor am I always thrilled with the nominees and winners, many of whom I wouldn't allow my own kids to watch if they were still in the targeted age-group. And after a decade and a half of clearing and cleaning our own set in our children's program, all I think as I watch is, "somebody's gonna have to stay late and mop up all that slime! (and I'm pretty sure host Will Smith isn't going to do it)." So why do I watch?

1. Feeling the pulse. What are kids watching? What are they listening to? What's "hot" in the world of children? For a couple of hours at the KCA, I get a mini-seminar on trends, tastes, and likes of the elementary, pre-teen crowd. By "taking the pulse", I'm better able to apply the truth of the Word to the world of the kid.

2. Staying up to date. Several years ago, a mom walked in with her daughter. "Hey, cool lunchbox! It's got Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup," I said, pointing out each of the PowerPuff Girls. The daughter's eyes grew wide and she looked up at her mom and exclaimed, "He knows who they are!" The thing is, referencing the PowerPuff Girls will not work today (ummm, yeah, I tried). The Kid's Choice Awards helps me find out what's IN today and helps me gain a hearing (or at least the proverbial "foot in the door") when I teach spiritual things. If the only thing you have to share is, "Did you know Selena Gomez was named favorite tv actress at the Kid's Choice Awards?", you've made inroads into the child's world.

3. Transferable concepts. Kid's Choice Awards know how to put on a show. Yes, it's loud. It's active. Like it or not, it is a venue where kids can act like kids. Scores of books and articles have been written about Disneyland and how they are masters at creating kid-friendly, engaging environments. The point is not to emulate everything that secular parks and events have. For one thing, it's not always suitable for church, and for another thing, most churches don't have the budget or staff to pull it off. But creativity can go a long way. This year's KCA involved kids at the outset by having them wave glowsticks in the air. Right away, we have a low cost, low tech thing we can do! The show announced the winners with sword swallowers (not recommended), flying blimps, robots, and other creative ways. Imagine bringing out this week's memory verse on a flying hovercraft toy or an endlessly deep bag.

4. Encouraging service. Believe it or not, the Kid's Choice Awards isn't all lights, slime, and sound. They have a service award called "The Big Help," which is given to a celebrity who has given back by way of service to others. It is all part of a year long effort to encourage kids to get involved in their communities. We can do that too. We can make thank you cards for all the church leadership, or pack care baskets for the missionaries. Some churches even do short term missions trips to other countries or lead in clean up efforts around town. If a secular organization can model serving others, how much more should the church lead the way!

5. Keeping it real. "Model this." "Emulate that." "Apply the other." Before you think I am advocating "doing it like they do at the Kid's Choice Awards," let's wrap it up with a very important distinction: I don't know if Will Smith, or Katy Perry, or Justin Beiber stayed after the show to talk to a kid about the loss of a pet, or pray with a child whose parents are fighting, or comfort a child who is afraid of bullies at his or her school. And having established such a strong connection, did any of the producers take advantage of the high honor and privilege of sharing the gospel with a child, or even helping the kids' parents share the gospel? It's been said before by more knowledgeable people than me, but we can build relationships better than Disney, better than Chuck E Cheese, and better than the Kid's Choice Awards. And that reality trumps slime, flash, and effects every time.