What Parents and the Church Can Learn from Jersey Shore & Mickey Mouse

Eric Baumann  —  December 8, 2011 — 3 Comments

I believe leadership is influence and here’s a twist – time is influence. Time spent is money in the bank. As a parent, I am learning this lesson with my kids. The longer you are with someone, the more impact you have in shaping who they are…especially if you start when they are young.

Now, the type of impact you have will vary based on your on-going interactions with that individual and the motives you have for creating influence in their lives. It can breed loyalty, followers, fans or even disciples. The outcome is based on strategy. So what can we learn from Jersey Shore (MTV) and Mickey Mouse (Disney)? They have a strategy for impacting those around them…and knowing that time is influence…they are more successful at getting the outcomes they desire if they begin influencing those individuals when they are young.

So who is “they”? What are “their” motives? How can we learn from “them”?…

Setting the Stage

The word strategy is a war-term…the origin of the word means “leader or commander of an army”. So lets apply this to our discussion. There is a “war” or “conflict” going on over who has the most impact or influence over our kids. There are two sides to this conflict and both are fighting for the attention of the next generation. Why? Because they hold the keys to influencing culture in years to come.

These opponents both have a strategy but with different motives and outcomes. One to profit for years to come, the other to build character and virtues in the lives of their kids. The success of their strategies are based on whether or not they even have a plan and how their different engagements are linked through the various stages of life.

The Generals of Two Armies

Who are the leaders of these competing forces? We mentioned a popular reality show and a famous mouse along with parents and the church. How exactly do they all play a role in this?

Now before you get the wrong idea, for the record I am not advocating that any of the mentioned entities are bad or somehow evil. I am just trying to unveil the strategies these major influencers use and how we as parents and the local church can learn from them. My family and I actually engage with all these influences. Understanding how they try to impact culture has made me a better parent and leader.

So, let me explain…

  • #1 – Viacom & The Walt Disney Corporation: Did you know that there are only 6 major companies that control 90% of the media (what we read, watch or listen to) in the America. Compare that to 50 companies in 1983, and you can see that in recent years there have been some major influencers that have “killed-off” their competitors. To learn more about these media giants, you can read about it at Frugal Dad or an older post from Who Owns What On Television, but lets look at the two that seem to have a monopoly on most of our kids.
    • THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY – their notable properties are ABC, DISNEY JR, ESPN, PIXAR, MIRAMAX, MARVEL STUDIOS, LIFETIME and 75% of the DVD’s I have in my bookshelf.
    • VIACOM – their notable properties are MTV, VH1, NICK JR, BET, NICKELODEON, CMT, PARAMOUNT PICTURES, SPIKE and probably the other 25% of  the DVD’s I have in my bookshelf.

These two companies are geniuses at grabbing kids time and attention when they are still young (like Nick Jr, Disney Jr, Pixar), hooking them as they grow (with Marvel Studios, Nickelodeon, Paramount, Miramax, MTV, Disney), and reeling them in as adults and parents (ABC, ESPN, BET, CMT, VH1, Spike, Lifetime). So why do these companies structure their companies this way? For increased time of influence over the life of a consumer, or…I mean individual…because time spent is money in the bank.

Their motives are simply to bring in a great return for the people who have invested, or paid the price, for owning these corporations. In reality, the investors are the real Generals “behind the curtain”. So, what about the second army? Who is their General and how do they strategize for this epic battle over the hearts and minds of our kids?

  • #2 – God: Yep, that’s right…and He doesn’t hide behind a curtain. In fact, He tore the curtain in half, by paying the price that no investor or corporation ever could, and for a far greater return. His strategy is to use the two most important entities in a child’s life in order to invest time and influence over them. And if they can learn to join forces with each other, rather than compete for time, influence and profit…like the opposing armies…they could have a far greater impact than working alone. Who are these two great influencers that God chooses to use?
    • PARENTS – their notable properties are…well their kids. If time is influence…then no one has greater influence than a parent. But, how they choose to use that time will greatly determine the type of influence they have. God has chosen to use parents to reveal who He is and His heart to the next generation. True, some fail miserably at this, but like any investment in a chosen strategy…there is alway risk.
    • THE LOCAL CHURCH – their notable properties are people, a community of faith and of course parents. Now when it comes to actual time with kids, the local church really only has about 40-50 hours a year. Not good odds. So how do they maximize their influence with kids? By simply combining their operations, resources and tactics with parents to create an integrated strategy.

But an integrated strategy is not enough…there must be a plan of action that is relevant to kids at every age. They need to be intentional to create a lasting impact, from birth to graduation, so as teens they are hooked and understand what really matters in life. They need to build a bridge that connects the hearts of young adults and college students to a healthy & vibrant community that they can be loyal to until God calls a return on His investment.

Okay, how do they do that? Good question…better ask the General…but seriously if you are interested as a parent or follower of Christ on how to integrate your strategies like “the other armies do”…I want to encourage to do a few things:

  1. Learn what it means to “think orange” by visiting Orange Parents or Orange Leaders
  2. Read the book, Parenting Beyond Your Capacity
  3. Talk to your local church or parents in your church to see how can integrate your strategies in influencing the next generation
  4. Spend some planned and intentional time with your kids…you’ll never know how much it will impact them

So, what about you? What plan do you have in place to grow in influence with your kids? Do you even have one?



Eric Baumann

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3 responses to What Parents and the Church Can Learn from Jersey Shore & Mickey Mouse

  1. Helpful information. Lucky me I found your web site by chance, and I am shocked why this twist of fate did not came about in advance! I bookmarked it.

  2. Kudos! What a neat way of thniikng about it.

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