Kids tune in to these lessons
By GAIL HOLLENBECK
Published February 10, 2007
CRYSTAL RIVER - Audience participation is the emphasis with Gulf to Lake Church's newest children's program, Son Studio.
"Our main goal is to have the children up and involved. We don't want them sitting looking at us," said Michelle Muse, children's assistant at the church.
The program, which began in August, is one of several that the church has used on Sundays over the past four years to teach biblical lessons to children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Previous programs included Fort Alpha and Gospel Gulch.
The idea of Son Studio is to have children participate in the lessons as a studio audience for various "television programs." Some of the programs are spoofs of actual TV fare like American Idol.
"American Idol turned out perfectly because it was the week that the actual television program came out for the new season," Muse said. "It was the perfect venue to emphasize that even we, as their teachers, or a sports star or whatever, shouldn't be idolized. Ultimately, God needs to be the only idol."
Other programs performed in Son Studio featured "live" news reports from places like the Walls of Jericho and weather reports from heaven and "the other place."
There was "Jill Jive" from the Discovery Channel, and "Julia Wilde" of the Food Network prepared a dish of locust and honey.
"We are really excited and are praying that many children will come to know the Lord through Son Studio," Muse said.
Love is the theme this month.
"Son Studio will be 'on air' with a variety of popular game shows, all of which teach about true love - a love like no other - pure and true enough to die for us, even we who don't yet love him," Muse said.
Last week's program was called Love, Love, Love and began with the "director" using a megaphone to call for "quiet on the set." Staff members honored both the theme and Super Bowl Sunday by dressing in Colts and Bears uniforms and talking about their "love" of things like pizza, tailgate parties and Miami.
Then some of the children did a commercial. "The children come up with ideas and practice for them," Muse said. "We gave them some ideas to help them out, like Salvation Soap: we can clean the outside, but only God can clean the inside."
Next, the children got to take part in a spoof of the TV show Deal or No Deal.
Children who knew their Bible memory verses were selected to be contestants for the program.
All of the children are able to participate in many of the programs, Muse said, but when just a few must be chosen, it is based on their memory work.
"We have an auditions room where they say their memory verse to faith partners," Muse said. "If they say their verse, they get to put their name on a little ticket and we draw some out from a spinner. Those who bring their Bibles get a ticket, too."
In other parts of the program, all the children are able to participate, like standing and doing hand motions to accompany a song. Adult and youth volunteers sit among the audience to encourage the children to join in the fun.
"We're moving the whole time," Muse said. "It's fast paced. We try to get them up as much as possible. We want them involved."
As the program goes on, a "cameraman" wheels a large fake camera on a tripod around the set, zooming in for closeups. Show themes are played from the "sound room," and program logos are displayed on a screen. Workers wear badges that identify them as part of the studio staff or security. A marquee outside the studio proclaims the current theme.
"We want to make it as much like a TV studio as possible," Muse said.
Next week will be a spoof of Love Connection, emphasizing that the truest love comes from Jesus Christ. Children will play a game to match up broken hearts, and a skit called Critical Condition is about a man with a heart condition - a lack of love.
Muse said the program has been going well.
"The kids are excited when they come in," she said. "It's something different. They never know what to expect."
Children may enroll for the Son Studio program at 9:30 or 11 a.m. Sundays. Parents should bring children a few minutes early to fill out registration information. All children kindergarten through fifth grade are welcome.
The church is at 1454 N Gulf Ave. Call 795-8077.