iShine: An Inside Look

Recently, I came across and organization called iShine that is doing some amazing things to reach preteens. I had the opportunity to ask Brad Mathias, president of Berna Media (iShine’s parent company), some questions about what iShine is doing to impact the lives of preteens.

Me: Tell us some of the ways iShine reaches out to preteens.

Brad: iShine works hard to reach preteens across six media platforms…

a) Concerts – Our national tour is called iShine LIVE and has visited over 70 cities in three years.

b) Television through our very own preteen series named iShine KNECT which is now in its third season and averaging over a million viewers weekly on TBN, Daystar, NRB, Cornerstone TV and Legacy TV as well as JCTV, Smile of a Child and dozens of international affiliates. Season 3 launches Sat Nov 19th, noon cst on TBN and Smile of a child networks.

c) Music and Media – iShine Records releases three to five new projects annually to retail via it’s Sony/Provident partnership to Christian retail. Our Webstore has over 30 titles of music, dvd’s and apparel for preteens and parents of preteens including a pastor resource libraryto quick start a new preteen ministry overnight.

d) Websites – our website is a very fun and helpful place for preteens to hang out and interact. From the “you’ve got talent” fan video’s to the interactive chat and prayer, games and sneak peek clips from our concerts, music video’s and television episodes… it’s a great place for kids to come and just be themselves. site is set up for parents and pastors looking for information about us, kids or helpful blogs designed for single parents and traditional family support. We are always looking to review new books, resources and products specific for preteens and their families. Submissions and guest blogs are welcome. Send to attention Brad.

e) Radio – iShine Radio is just ramping up. We have a dedicated programmed stream from our website and available for mobile/smart phone streaming etc. It’s relevant music for preteens with weekly song selections and iShine artist interaction. For 2012 that service will be expanded to a weekly syndication for radio and internet.

f) Publishing – iShine has just completed it’s first devotional with Tyndale publishers, “Around the word in 60 seconds” is due in Summer of 2012, and our preteen bible with Tyndale is amazing. Club iShine curriculum will be released this January at CPC and our first parenting book will be out next August also with Tyndale.

Me: When there are so many age groups an organization can reach, why focus on preteens?

Brad: Couple of solid reasons. First, when Bema Media started in 2008, we felt God leading us to focus on the “widows and orphans” of our world. When we processed that further strategically, we began to see the gap with single parents and their kids and the church. When we looked a little deeper we saw that even with traditional families, most kids were being raised without much if any spiritual leadership or modeling in the home. When the stats all came in, over 50% of the homes in America would qualify as being those of “Widows and Orphans” to God.

Second, when we began to prayerfully look at ways we could make a difference, we met with and became friends with George Barna of the Barna Research Group in California and learned that a huge new trend was emerging in the church. 88-90% of eighteen year olds were leaving the church when they went to college never to return. Of those, 90% made that determination to reject their family’s traditional beliefs/faith by the age of 13.

It became clear, our future as a Christian influence in our culture is dependent on the successful transfer of faith to the next generation. That transfer statistically must occur before our kids complete junior high school, not after. The presence of resources and relevant Christian music and media for preteens was almost absent.

Third, we felt that with the emerging generation of preteens, we needed to be aware of the common, almost universal language of music, video and media. Technology/Media to them was a natural as riding a bike was to my generation; whatever we did it would have to use a media platform to effectively speak “the language” of the audience we felt called to reach.

Me: What kind of impact has iShine had on the lives of preteens? Have any specific examples you would like to share?

Brad: We directly interact with fans on our websites and live shows. The results are immediate. conversions to Christ after concerts, emails of faith revived, faith received and prayers needed. Kids are responding to the message of their “identity being in Christ” we always speak about the VIP plan for their lives… that each of them have a unique “Value  – Identity – Purpose” that can only be found in Christ. We rarely use adult speakers or performers, preferring instead to reach out to teens to talk with preteens. In doing so, we further improve our ability to effectively share the gospel and testimony of our faith.

We get amazing testimonies from pastors and parents who attend our live shows and the kids seem to be all over the projects and television shows.

Me: You have some new resources available, tell us about them.

Brad: The iShine Bible is amazing. Partnering with Tyndale Publishers we were able to create an iShine bible for preteen girls and boys (two separate bibles) in the NLT version, that include a web/interactive/smartphone component called a QR Code. Readers can check out key biblical truths with video interviews and teaching segments hosted by iShine artists specific to their age and stage of life.

We also have a fun & simple Family Media Diet form for parents to fill in and check out how much their families spend with media vs. family.

Our Club iShine preteen curriculum and video based study series will be available in January 2012 at the CPC conference in Orlando. Utilizing segments of video content from our iShine KNECT TV series and our iShine Bible, this curriculum has been developed with the help of real life preteen pastors to be as practical and flexible as possible for youth workers, volunteers and pastors to use in large or small group settings. It represents a brand new focus for iShine to help create and or enhance resources for parents and pastors to use with preteens.

Wow, so exciting to hear all the things iShine is doing to reach preteens. Thanks Brad, for taking the time to share about iShine with us all.

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Over twelve years ago Nick Diliberto lauched a preteen ministry with a handful of volunteers and about 25 kids. Over the years it grew to over 100 kids and has impacted hundreds of young people's lives. Nick is the driving force behind, Children's Director at La Jolla Presbyterian Church, workshop speaker and author of an ongoing preteen column in Children's Ministry Magazine.