Gospel Magic

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Over the years I have certainly heard the argument that Gospel Magic is of the devil…

that it’s associated with witchcraft or sorcery… that we are in league with Harry Potter etc. And for those situations, I have always had with me either a document by Randy Christensen: “The Magical Method”

…Or Bob Hill’s: “Should a Christian Do Magic?

Just copy and paste the text into your favorite word processor and create a document or brochure you can hand out – be sure to include the author’s name and copyright information.

But to be perfectly honest with you, the biggest complaint I’ve heard over the years from people about Gospel Magic is that people end up remembering the magic and NOT the message. The performer or presenter was a great magician… but had a tough time “Marrying” the Method and the Message together.

The second complaint I’ve heard over the years is that the magic was just a gimmick to get the audience interested in what the presenter had to say… the presenter, then, turned out to be a very boring and/or long winded speaker. In which case, they don’t remember the message and didn’t care about the magic because the audience felt duped into listening.

The reasons I hear this complaint are as follows:

  • Wrong Motivation
  • Poor Prep
  • Poor Presentations
  • Un-Assessed Presentations
  • Performers/Ministers Unwilling to Make the Changes

Come on people! WE can do better than this!

We are talking about presenting the Word of God. And the last time I looked into my Bible, it says that if we aspire to teach others the Word, we will be held to a higher standard:

“Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
–James 3:1

I don’t care if you are a Pastor, Evangelist or a Performer who presents the Word… YOU have be entrusted with the greatest message in the world! Take that as a challenge to your motivation, preparation, presentation, assessment and the willingness to make the change.

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Memorize It

Knowing what you’re doing is different than planning what you’re doing. Again, you can start collecting your ideas and putting together all the stuff to make the service a success. But, if you don’t know WHAT you’re doing in the moment… it can create a moment of confusion, embarrassment or the sense from the audience that you aren’t prepared for them.  Even though, some of these items may be similar to the earlier section on Preparation… this list really is really all about “knowing” your service.  Memorization in a kids service has very little to do with knowing each service word-for-word or action-for-action – it has more to do with knowing the details enough to keep things moving along for so the audience will stay focused for maximum ministry results.

  • Know and be able to quote the main scripture – you’ll want to reference back to it during your teaching times.
  • Know and be able to quote the main idea or key point you want the kids to walk away with… you can’t get something into a kids world until it’s in you’re first.
  • Make and use a schedule of the service – As I mentioned in the last post, I prefer Planning Center Online. It gives you ways to schedule each item in your service and assign it a time. You can also use it to schedule team members for each item.
  • Outline your stories, object lessons, gospel magic routines, illustrative sermons and even skits. It’s not necessary to have it all memorized word-for-word. But if you know the main points and can elaborate on them, you’ll be more confident as you teach.
  • When doing an illustrative sermon or when many props and visuals are being used in one service, put them in order of their use on your table, in your box or from left to right on the stage or presentation area.
  • Make your team aware of what props and visuals you are using so those items don’t get touched, moved or end up getting put away before the service starts (I’ve had it happen).
  • Put a bookmark in your Bible where the main Bible story is found. Mark the passage with a highlighter or red pen… You ARE opening your Bible with the kids and having THEM read Bible stories with you – aren’t you?
  • Make sure everyone understands their cues for their parts. Music cues, key words, graphics on the screen or knowing that “…immediately after such-and-such happens…”, is when the next person needs to be walking on stage will help keep transitions smooth.
  • It helps to have a rehearsal with others involved, even if it’s just a walk-thru of each thing happening in your service.
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Fine Tune Your Ability to Create the Experiences

Whether you choose to use Gospel Magic or not, there are some things you should be doing in any creative presentation method that will help you to create an experience with your class or audience:

Self Evaluation

As you tweak your routines or put the finishing touches on a prop; ask yourself:

  • How am I creating an experience for my audience?
  • What else can I do to add that little extra ‘whoa’ in the moments that I’m with them?
  • What will these kids talk about when they leave?
  • What am I doing to advance my skills as a performer/presenter and ‘experience creator’ so my program stands out?  And not just from others… but, from the last ‘experience’?

Be Willing To Face Evaluation From Others

These are vital questions – and they need to be answered if you plan on succeeding as a performer/presenter.  No question about it, you’re going to have to subject yourself to criticism and evaluation.  Find a coach or several coaches whom you will allow to freely comment on your presentation.  Record yourself on video and invite those who are already successful in the realm of children’s ministry presentation to view your presentation(s)… they can help you.  Invite also, those who are trained and seasoned in drama and theater to view your presentations and get their insight.

You Have The Potential To Be Amazing

If you love what you do… kids will love you, you will feel very fulfilled at what you’re doing.  Put that all together and you’ll be at your best as a presenter.  And when you’re at your best – it will show up in your presentations- therefore, it will help you to create a stronger experience.

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