Creating an FX: Find Your Team

Previously, I debunked the myths about why you can’t start an FX.  I believe in what an FX does for your church’s family culture so I’m going to give you the top-secret inside track to building one of your very own.

Okay, it’s not really that top-secret.  And I’m no expert.

And it’s not the only way to go about it.  But it’s the process I follow for pretty much every major ministry initiative so I’m praying that you’ll find this at least a good place to start for whatever great and amazing thing God has for your ministry next (I hope it’s an FX!)

The next couple of weeks will be focused all on the nitty-gritty, down-n-dirty, nuts-and-bolts of FX-making.  Our church uses 252 Basics and they make me look awesome because they write our FX scripts for us, check them out here.  While we deviate from the scripts (and cut stuff out, add stuff in) we mostly stick to the bones of the scripts and then edit them to fit our church’s time constraint, budget, and personal needs.  SMC Kids uses First Look (preschool) and 252 Basics (elementary) for our small groups so our FX scripts are always in line with what we’re teaching on Sundays.  If you are not using 252 Basics at your church, that’s okay!  You can still do an FX that fits the needs of your families, it just might look a little bit different.  Hopefully, this series will help get you thinking about what works for you and finding the right people to lead it with you.

Find Your Team:
Your FX team is the heartbeat that’s going to keep this thing going for the long haul.  There’s really no way around it, you will never be able to do this on your own.  You’ll be able to do it for a while, but then what?

You’re going to explode, that’s what.  And you’re no good to anyone when you’re an exploded mess.  

In the same way small group leaders have a certain set of skills and personalities that you’re looking for when interviewing them for small group leader positions, your FX team has to possess a certain set of skills (or be willing to learn them) as well.  Who do you know in your church who:

  • Can tell a great story to both kids and adults?  They are usually the ones who can make standing in line at the DMV sound like the most amazing time they’ve ever had.  Think of school teachers, community leaders, used car salesmen.
  • Doesn’t worry about looking silly?  Who do you know from your last kid or student ministry event that volunteered to become the ‘human sundae’ just to win a free ice cream cone?  Protip: it wasn’t about the ice cream.  Think of embarrassing dads (according to their kids), practical jokers, and professional mascots.
  • Can keep a straight face even when it’s really, really funny?  Remember all those times Jimmy Fallon cracked up during an SNL Skit?  You want the opposite of that guy.   Think of lawyers, DMV workers, and moms of toddlers.
  • Can get a crowd excited?  Does anyone in your church make the announcements entertaining?  What about on the soccer field, who ‘s the one always starting the cheers and getting the kids wound up?  You need that person.  Coaches, Cheer Moms, and teachers are excellent for this.
  • Can lead worship?  You’re not looking for the professional choir director, you’re looking for those who have great stage presence AND a solid voice to boot.  Music teachers, worship leaders from Big Church, and air guitarists welcome.
  • Is super crafty, or handy with tools?  Pinterest makes us all look like Martha Stewart, but chances are you’ll need some props, staging, or costumes so you’ll want to call on those “professional Pinterest” folks and the “I can build anything” guys.  Think of guys in construction, craft show junkies, and garage sale pickers.

Get a big piece of paper, poster board, or something and start writing these names down.  Pray for guidance, let the Holy Spirit bring you names, and start asking around on Twitter, Facebook, your church bulletin, and on Sunday morning in the lobby.  It’s amazing the people that will come out of the woodwork for this!  You’ll want to have several names in each of these categories because the next thing you have to do is ask them.  And I’ve found there’s a trick to that, too.

That’s coming up next.

3 Myths Why You Can’t Start an FX

myths FX

Your ministry needs a family experience (FX) – a shared experience between parents and kids where they can hang out together and hear/see the same thing at the same time.  Do you have one?

Are you panicking at the thought of another event on your maxed out budget?  And what about all those volunteers?

Nope. No way.  Not possible.

Let me challenge you:  it IS possible.  Here are the top three reasons I hear from other leaders who struggle with starting an FX.  Let’s look at the myths and then work our way into the truths:

Myth #1 – It takes a huge team, elaborate props, unlimited budget, and a ton of time.

Truth – Sure, it’s awesome to have a huge budget that you can use to make flying rubber chicken contraptions and raffle off fabulous prizes to get them through the door; but in reality, a couple of the right kinds of stage personalities and a little bit of creative storytelling can go a long way.  Keep in mind that the games you play, the language you use, and the things you give away need to somehow bring it back to the kids AND the parents doing this together.

Myth #2 – You have to have one every month.

Truth – Start with one and then if you felt like it accomplished it’s purpose (see above), do another one.  Try to add another element each time you do it.  Look around your church, you have people just itchin’ to be asked to showcase their gifts.  One shared family experience a year is better than no shared experiences at all.  Capitalize on things that are already happening at your church.  Does your church blow the doors off the place at Easter?  Invite parents to stay for 30 minutes after your biggest Easter service and have them do something together.  This gives you a platform to cast vision to your parents and even begin to equip them to lead at home (so don’t blow it when it comes to handouts, be strategic about it!)

Myth #3 – FX is just another kid’s program.

Truth – This is the biggest myth of them all.  We plan our family experiences according to what an average dad will find humorous.  We put dads on our stage as often as we can, we have dad’s act out of the story, and we have dad’s on our creative team.  If we can convince the dad that he will have a good time then we’ve won the whole family.  In the same respect, single moms love us because we put fun, outrageous, male leadership in front of their kids.  Blended families love us because we give them a way to connect with their step-children on the way home.  Wives love us because we get their husbands to do just about anything to be “famous” for their kid(s).  I even catch our church leadership in the back each month checking things out.  A lot of times, they don’t even have their kids or grandkids with them.

Whatever your FX looks like, remember that it always has to come back to getting parents and kids in the same room for a shared experience.  And don’t forget to cast some vision while you’ve got the captive audience!

How often do you get your kids and parents in the same room for a shared experience?  How can you capitalize or edit your already-existing rhythm or programming and tailor it towards a family experience? 

Ministry Life Hack: Pinterest

I love Pinterest.  I love it so much I lurve it.  On our team, the running joke is, “I was on Pinterest all day, working!”

Now you can for real, leaders.  Pinners rejoice!

Have you checked out Pinterest for Business?  It’s awesome.  It functions just like your standard Pinterest, but allows you to streamline your pins.  Here’s how I use it for SMC Kids, though, I am still learning some of the nuances so all your genius business pinners out there, leave your best tips and tricks in the comments!

Shared Boards:
I have boards created for each of our ministry environments (preschool, elementary, FX) as well as boards for parents with things to read, ministry/parenting blog posts I love, faith @home initiatives, and even boards designated for our 936 Mile Marker events that we can share with parents in order to keep the conversation going at home.  Added bonus: I can keep my personal Pinterest account separate allowing me to keep posting all those photos to “Pug Life” without worrying about a new parent who may not know me and wonder about my obsession with those cuddly, squishy, flat-nosed mouth-breathers.  Know what I mean?

Secret Boards:
Secret boards are pretty much the best invention ever (not just for baby showers and weddings) and here’s why:

  • It allows for me to collect data and inspiration ideas specific to my ministry or upcoming events that don’t ruin the surprise or impact for parent’s who may be following our boards.
  • I can make secret group boards and invite my team to them so we can plan for events and share ideas (you can also do that for your regular boards, too!) without having to dig through massive emails with links and things that ultimately get lost in our inboxes.

Secret Boards also allow for me to pin things relevant to children’s ministry (leadership blogs, volunteer appreciation, creative environment ideas) that aren’t necessarily useful for our parents but I want handy for when I need them.  Plus, it would be a bummer for a volunteer to see the super cute volunteer appreciation gift on my boards before they got them!

As a leader, I feel really good about promoting a Pinterest account to our families when I know that it’s only going to be filled with things that are relevant to talking about character and faith at home.  Added bonus: a business account also allows you to transition out of your ministry (in the event that it happens) without taking all those great pins with you!  You simply hand over the log in and password and you’re able to give the next leader a way to continue to conversation without your families feeling the impact.

Total. Game. Changer.

How are you using Pinterest for Business in your ministry?

My One Word

one word

There seems to be a general buzz happening on social media sites, everyone talking about their “one word” — and I have some really awesome friends who have come up with even more awesome words.  Some are directly from scripture, some are from books they’ve read, and some (I think) just opened up the dictionary and threw a dart.  Either way, it has been such a cool alternative to those dreaded resolutions.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not good at resolutions.

But I did pick word.  And I’m scared to admit it because then I have to do it.  And it’s hard for me to do this because well, it’s not the first word people think of when they see me.

Oh, out with it already!  My one word for 2014 is GIVE.

This is an open-ended word, really.  And surprisingly as I’ve surrendered to this word the Lord has just blown. my. mind. with all the things He’s asked of me.  And I’m surprising myself with my willingness to actually do them.  GIVE manifests itself as time, as energy, as full attention, and has even been financial [gulp].  This is a growing season, no doubt about it.  This is one of those seasons where I think I’m going to be doing a lot of learning and a lot of listening to what God has asked of me.  This also feels like a season that is going to have some real honest-to-goodness wrestling.  Not just that normal inner-conversational wrestling but that wrestle-with-God-get-busted kind of wrestling.

What about you?  Do you have your one word for 2014 picked out?