Wonderborn Studios Series Producer, Joe Watson, shares her journey of helping to create The Little Worship Company, an ambitious new faith-based Christian media projects aimed at helping families discover God together.
As a mum of three, I join with most parents in feeling guilty about the amount of time my children are watching TV or are on their devices. Last year, Ofcom found that children were spending two hours online each day. When you add it up, that's one month every year.
Life has changed since I grew up with the four terrestrial TV channels. Media is now available at your fingertips 24-7. We need to equip our children to know how to live digitally as well as spiritually. Technology is here to stay and as Christians, I believe we need to know how to utilise it rather than remove it.
I've worked in television for the last twenty years and the industry has changed, as well as the technology. New channels means more content, lower budgets, more choice but also more opportunities. Large stream broadcasters like Netflix are now actively looking for faith content to attract new audiences to their platforms, and have recently commissioned a new Veggie Tales series to engage with this group. Broadcasters are finding - like churches - that unless they invest in their younger viewers, they aren't going to manage to keep them.
Wonderborn Studios was set up to work in this gap, to create high-quality media for children to engage with. In April 2019 we launched our first product, the Little Worship Company, which helps children - and their grown-up carers - discover more about the amazing God who made them and loves them.
Children learn through repetition and we wanted to utilise the successful 'universe' model already used in the media market to reinforce Biblical truths. Well known children's programmes like Octonauts or Peppa Pig have a whole world a child can engage with outside of the TV programmes; this creates a little universe the child is invited to enter. We wanted to do the same with the Little Worship Company, so that children can learn about God and engage with the Bible through multiple channels.
Series One has four DVDs, full of songs, Bible verses and crafts and is hosted by our entertaining puppet family, Hal and Mr and Mrs Looyah, but alongside that, we have launched a digital app with additional games, stories and devotional content, updated monthly and helping families worship together at home or on the go. There is also a series of devotional guides where families can explore the themes of the DVDs in the home.
Working on the Little Worship Company has been the most exciting project of my career. During this project we've been inspired by the quote "Whatever you do, do it with all your heart, as working for the Lord" (Colossians, 3:23). We're aware of the importance of what we're doing: equipping grown-ups with incredible content to help inspire children in their faith journey. Our content has been underpinned by a team of theologians and we have a real heart for diversity and collaboration, with over 150 children representing all corners of the globe featured in our films, who are all part of God's great big family.
In May 2019, we launched our Little Worship Company Bible Curriculum for Churches, which again, is all about reinforced learning. With 32 lesson plans designed to be used flexibly in toddler groups, Sunday School and in outreach sessions like Messy Church Extra, we want to help churches as they help families grow in their faith, providing them with easy to use church resources, but also the opportunity to support families to carry on that faith journey at home.
It's an exciting project. Our company goal is to reach over 10 million children worldwide by 2024. With subscribers from Fiji to Japan and Sweden, partnership and technology makes that possible.
Many years ago, Billy Graham said "God has given us new tools to do his work – electronic and visual tools, such as radio, films television and telephones."
He's right. Technology is racing on, but my prayer is that we will use everything we have now, at our fingertips, to make disciples in all nations.
Find out more about The Little Worship Company at https://littleworshipcompany.com/