A week ago, our church had their back to school FX. FX, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, is a “family eXperience” that we use strategically throughout the year to talk with parents about what their kids are learning and cast vision of the parent being the spiritual leader in a home.
It’s an awesome event and I think every church should in some way utilize an event/environment to partner with parents. I’ve overseen and produced these events for the past 6 years (in fact until this last event when I was on paternity leave, I’ve never missed one). I’ve learned a lot from these events which now include our elementary baptism service. If your church or ministry is thinking about doing an event like this, learn from these 7 simple mistakes I made.
1. Top your last one.
Don’t compete with yourself. I got into a cycle of thinking each production had to be bigger or flashier than the last. That’s not true. The goal is engaging the family. Creating moments where kids and parents can create memories together and those memories are grounded in their faith.
2. Change a script just so it’s your own
If you are paying for a curriculum use it. At times I felt like I had to make something original to feel like I was really succeeding. There’s nothing wrong with originality. For some reason church presenters feel like they can do better on their own than a team of 12 writers does professionally.
3. Use a script exactly the way it is.
It may seem like I’m talking out both sides of my mouth here, but it’s true. By all means, use great scripts. Reduce, reuse, recycle is not a bad strategy when applied to creative ideas. However, also realize that your church and congregation are unique. Originally baptism wasn’t a part of the FX program that we had at our church. I even had leaders from other churches that didn’t think combining baptism and FX would work. We found though, for our church baptism was a tangible expression of what God can do when a parent spiritually leads a home. Celebrating together was a great way for our church to be part.
4. Cater to kids
Remember this is a FAMILY experience. You should make the adults laugh. If you leave the parents humor at the door you miss 50%-70% of your audience. I never want our parents to feel like they are at a “kiddie” performance. They should be engaged by your message just as well. When they are engaged your kids will be better engaged as well.
5. No physical humor
On the other hand- if all your jokes are 80’s band references you miss the mark. Make the kids laugh- parents want to see their kids have fun. What makes kids laugh? After ten years of kids ministry I’ve found that clean physical humor is a crowd pleaser. Go back and watch some Tim Conway or Abbott and Costello to see this done well.
6. Present content-not vision
When I first started producing these events I would focus on making FX a 45 minute commercial of our curriculum that month. I wanted the parents to leave knowing exactly what content we were giving their kids. Which is great. Truth is I was missing the chance to get them excited for the vision of our ministry. Tell the parents what you are learning that month; but excite them about leading their home spiritually.
7. Never talk about the weekend
If your event was fun you should let every first time guest know that that same fun lives in your environment on the weekend. Cast vision to parents, cover the content, celebrate faith milestones, but don’t forget you probably have a first time guest that doesn’t even consider the church as a place to be this weekend.