Creating an FX: Ask Big

If you’re just joining me, I’m in the middle of a series about one of my favorite parts of children’s ministry: The Family Experience (FX).  Catch up here, and here.

How you ask them matters.

Especially when you’re asking them to do something they haven’t ever done before.

You know, like prance around in a Shakespearean costume.  Or take a pie to the face.  Or tell a story using a live duck.  [2 of those were real life examples, 1 wasn’t.  I’ll let you decide which one was false.]

The point is, you’ve got to be strategic about it.

You’re not asking them to help, you’re asking them to lead.
Chances are you have no shortage of helpers in your ministry.  These are the folks who are more than willing to show up on Sunday morning and pour the coffee, or run the errands, or hold the babies.  And you’ll need a team of those folks to be your door greeters, tech team, prop masters, and random-task-runners.  For your stage and production team (which, is likely to also be your creative team — at least in the beginning), you have to make the clear distinction between helping and leading.  Helpers want to be told what to do, leaders dream about it with you.  Helpers jump in when needed, leaders anticipate what’s next.  Building your FX team on the foundation of a couple of key leaders [and not just you] is going to sustain it and breathe life into it season after season.  They provide fresh ideas and eyes on the ministry that you just can’t see sometimes.  Trust me, my creative team saved me on numerous occasions!

They need to see they belong to a bigger story.
If vision casting isn’t a part of your ‘ask’ it needs to be.  Think about this: you’re asking someone to get on stage in front of kids and parents [their peers] and potentially [probably] do something insane.  When you approach them, lay out the heart behind your FX and specifically where you see them.  As you build them up by calling out their gifts, tie them back to the bigger story that God uses imperfect people in unlikely ways to build his Kingdom.  The best FX realizes that it’s not a “kids program” but a strategic investment in families to launch them into conversations at home that center around character and faith.  And yes, that’s a really great sentence to stick in your back pocket and bring it out when you’re sharing this dream with your staff, pastors, elders, and board.  Assuming, that is, you have some of those folks shooting you sideways glances when you add a rubber chicken catapult into your budget for next year.  Real talk.

Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer [the first time].
The knee-jerk ‘no’ is always the easiest for potential leaders.  Do you blame them?  There’s scripts to learn, rehearsals to attend, a crazy-eyed children’s leader with a big hairy dream, and the awesome responsibility of getting kids and parents together to talk about the [messy] stuff of character and faith.  And if they’re as good as you know they are, chances are they won’t just jump immediately on board but will need some time to process what you’re asking them.  If you hear ‘no’ from the same person a couple of times, it’s legit; give them the space they need to process and maybe even see a couple of your FX’s in action before coming around to them again with a final “I can see you really adding your creative energy to __________, love to have you on our team if you’re ready to impact our families in a huge way!”

Bottom line: if you reek of L’eau d’Desperate nobody is going to come within 100 feet of you.  Imagine if you got on an airplane and the captain said to you, “I sure hope this thing flies today.  Oh, and by the way, can you sit in the cockpit and push some buttons for me?  Don’t worry what they do, just push the buttons I tell you to push when I tell you to push them.”

Yeah, I’d run too.  Instead, let your enthusiasm and passion for your FX and families gush out of you so leaders come running towards you rather than as far as they can away from you.  You can do it, leader!  I’m cheering you the whole way!

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