Nurturing Faith in a Digital Age

“We want kids to be emboldened to have courage and confidence, knowing that God is with them.” by David Reardon
Erik Goss

Erick Goss is CEO and Co-Founder of Minno, a Nashville-based kids media and technology company focused on serving Christian families through an ad-free subscription-video-on-demand platform, a parent resource blog and a children’s publishing program, anchored by the best-selling Laugh and Grow Bible for Kids. Goss earned a reputation as an innovator in digital marketing at Amazon, where he was instrumental in the launch of Amazon’s first ebook and print-on-demand businesses, as well as Amazon’s Visa Card and now-famous Super Saver Shipping program. He later became Chief Marketing Officer at magazines.com. This expertise, coupled with his passion for ministry, led Goss to co-found Create Trust Ventures—where he ran JellyTelly and launched the best-selling video series “Buck Denver Asks … What’s in the Bible?”— a success that led him to create Minno. Beginning his career in the U.S. Navy, Goss is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and has graduate degrees from the University of Michigan (MBA) and Troy University (MA). He is an adjunct professor for digital marketing at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management. 

Throughout his adult life, Erick’s faith has been central. He credits his experience with the Navigators as a midshipman at the Naval Academy as key to his spiritual development. Erick and his wife Lisa helped plant two churches, one in Seattle and one in Nashville. As his faith deepened, he felt a calling to do more to help people experience the gospel, while leveraging his business, technology and media experience. Erick, his wife and three daughters live in Nashville, where they are active in their local church. Goss is also involved with the Nashville Institute for Faith and Work.

How did a kid from Kentucky with no church background become the guy who created a platform to help parents teach their kids about Jesus?

I grew up in the Bible Belt, but when I went to the Naval Academy, I got exposed to a discipleship ministry called the Navigators. I had a sense that God was important but not central, and the idea of following Jesus was something I had never contemplated. With the Navigators I realized I was a sinner who really needed Jesus, and that meant I needed to orient my life around Him. 

My walk with the Lord set the trajectory of my time in the Navy. I flew helicopters, worked as a Pentagon spokesperson, and then left the Navy, went to business school in Michigan, and then ended up moving to Seattle where I was working for Amazon in the early days. That was the first time I’d really been involved in the local church.

It was there that I recognized one of the most important things that we could do was to help new believers understand what it means to raise a Christian family. So many of the folks that were joining our church at that time were unchurched, and really had no context for what it meant to be a Christian or how to raise their children to know Jesus. Later, I moved to Nashville, where I had the opportunity to work with Phil Vischer, creator of “VeggieTales,” on a project called “Buck Denver Asks … What’s in the Bible?”

As I worked with Phil  I recognized that one of the single best ways to disciple adults is to disciple their kids, and that next to having meals together, families spend the most time together watching media. Strategically, if I wanted to deploy myself for the Kingdom and really make a difference, one of the best things I could do was invest in kids and help young kids understand God loved them. At the same time I could have an opportunity to impact their parents as well. 

Out of that experience, Minno was formed. The name “Minno” is based on the Greek word for “abide” from John 15, because we really want to create a platform where kids could learn to abide with Jesus, experience Jesus every day through media and technology.

How do you think your platform helps others abide in Christ? 

A lot of parents tell us Minno is amazing in what it does in the life of their kids, because they’re having more devotional time together, or kids are communicating spiritual truths to them and they don’t know where that’s coming from. They’re seeing shows on Minno, so they’re saying Bible verses or talking about behaving differently or reacting differently in certain circumstances because that’s what God wants. We’re getting God’s Word into the kids’ lives, and that’s impacting how they’re processing the world. 

We know from research that kids actually engage in what’s called “biblical play.” When they’re playing by themselves, they actually envision either themselves in the biblical narrative or that God is present with them as they are playing. Those are some distinct ways that we know our platform is impacting kids and giving them a greater sense of God’s presence in their lives, so that they can abide in Jesus and Jesus can abide in them. 

What is the breadth of content that’s on Minno, and what plans do you have for the platform’s future? 

Minno started out as a platform where we were licensing other people’s content. Over the last couple years, we started releasing our own content, and probably the two most significant shows are “Laugh and Grow Bible for Kids,” and a series of five-minute episodes on the life of David called “Young David,” which we’re releasing in partnership with Angel Studios. Angel is doing an animated feature film on David. It’s really difficult for people to find funding to create children’s content and distribute it, so what we are trying to do is work with world-class creators to create and fund content for kids.

Those are our first two major projects, but we’ve got 10 other shows that are in our pipeline, getting ready to be released. The goal for us is to release a couple of shows every year in the future as we’re scaling the platform. 

What aspect of Minno or content on the platform are you most proud of? 

I’m so proud of “Laugh and Grow Bible for Kids.” When we started the company, one of the things I felt would be so important was to have a children’s Bible that we could take to a video series. When I came from Amazon, I was shocked that with as many bestselling children’s Bibles as we have in the marketplace, there were no video series supporting them. So to be able to pull that off and see the success of it—almost 40 million views over the last 12 months on YouTube—I’m just really proud of the team and of what we’ve accomplished in God’s favor on that project. 

The second is “Young David.” We decided to produce it to show what could happen when you bring the right people together with the right funding to create a great show. One of the things that was so important to me when starting the company wasn’t that we would be a good Christian children’s media company, but that we would be a great children’s media company led by Christians serving Christians. 

Whatever we do at Minno, we want it to be excellent, and I think both of those projects really communicate that. As we say, Jesus deserves better. We want to raise the bar, and honor the excellence of our Lord in the quality of work that we’re doing. 

What do you hope that children learn from the retelling of David’s story? 

We want kids to recognize that David held nothing back from the Lord in the same way that the Lord held nothing back from him. We want kids to be emboldened to have courage and confidence, knowing that God is with them everywhere they go. 

Do you have any tips for how parents should monitor screen time and the content that their kids are watching? 

Each family has to figure out what’s appropriate for them. A lot of parents watch shows with their kids, and we think that’s actually where the best results come from. Ideally, it’s great for you to spend time watching Minno with your child for the purpose of them actually being able to talk about what they’re watching, and to learn those biblical lessons together. 

A lot of Christian parents experience guilt and shame over screen time. I think the key is figuring out what’s appropriate for your specific family. I’m fond of saying that every family has its own culture. I can’t tell you what the culture of your family should be, but the Holy Spirit can help you make decisions about what’s appropriate for your family.