Let’s just get this out there, if you are in a small church like me, you are not alone. Most churches in America are under the 300 mark and many of those run less than 100. Yet, when I look out at the resources presented to churches day after day, they are nearly always marketed to larger churches. So much so, I feel that small churches start to feel overwhelmed and just give up. Don’t do that! Don’t give up!

This was made even more apparent to me recently. I love Orange and have used their curriculum for years. I’m getting close to having used them for a decade. I have not been doing family experiences for that entire time, but have been for a better part of it. I love doing these services. We hold them once a month. But I need to let you in on my dirty little secret. They stink. I mean, our people love them and we do the absolute best we can. I’ve built a pretty good team around them and I’m thankful for what they give each month. They have become a part of our church culture and I’m extremely proud of them. Yet, compared to all of the promotional materials and even head-to-head against other churches, we just can’t measure up. Nowhere is this more evident than our set.
First, let’s take a look at some recent pictures posted on 252 Basics Facebook page. These are sets from around the country.
daystart church greensboro fbc kids fx set 2 fbc kids fx set manchester christian fx set mechanicsburg brethren fx set
Now, here’s mine. And this took us four years to get here. It used to be much worse. Seriously, when we first started, we didn’t have a set at all.
IMG_0003 IMG_0008
OK, now that you’ve seen it. You need to understand. If my church can do a successful family experience, ANY CHURCH CAN DO A SUCCESSFUL FAMILY EXPERIENCE. Yes, your set will not be as high quality as the above churches. Yes, your props will probably not be either. Yes, your actors may not be Broadway quality. Yes, your music may be lacking. Yes, your transitions may be poor. Yes, your lighting may not be ideal. But none of those things have to limit your impact.
Our FX services have had a huge impact on the families in our church. They have allowed us to reach out and also helped parents and kids grow in their faith. Yours can too.
Thinking about starting an FX, but not sure where to start? Let’s talk. Shoot me an email or leave a comment below. Or check out this series about how we do our FX. It probably needs to be updated, but is still a great starting point.
A few years ago, my family experienced a miracle surrounding the pregnancy of my second child. I have shared about our “Christmas Miracle” before online, but I’ve also shared it multiple times with just about anybody who will listen. We love sharing the story of God stepping into our lives and we celebrate it annually, much like the Jewish people celebrate the Passover as a memory of what God had done.
As we share our stories, though, it is important that we do so appropriately. This is especially true with children. In church culture, I’ve witnessed everything from the extreme (sterilizing the supernatural to the point that it is more natural than super) to the opposite (teachings on the supernatural that looked more like pagan mysticism than a Scripture-based understanding of the heavens). Since children are so heavily impressionable, it’s important that they learn healthy teachings, as what they learn now often shapes their theology for life.
Teach Them to Desire Him
Our end result in sharing supernatural things with kids shouldn’t be for them to seek supernatural things. We should teach them to seek the Holy Spirit. As the day of Pentecost clearly shows, when we pursue God, we naturally step into the supernatural. But just because something is supernatural does not make it of God. This is an important distinction that kids need to understand.
Monitor and Correct
As with any source of power, movements of the Holy Spirit have been abused in the past. As church leadership, we have a responsibility to help form healthy theology. While moves of the Holy Spirit can vary, and I am always slow to judge one’s experiences, it is sometimes very apparent that what is happening is happening in the flesh. Those times, it is appropriate to step in. Additionally, it’s okay to softly correct a child’s theology about supernatural things. For example, if a child talks about a family member becoming an angel, it is perfectly okay to explain to them that their family member is not an angel, but is a Spirit in God’s kingdom.
Celebrate Miracles of All Sizes
We have a tendency to focus so much on the huge, raising-people-from-the-dead moments that we ignore the miracles that happen around us every single day. When we do that, we do a great disservice to the kids we are teaching. In doing so, we force them to believe that God is in the earthquake or fire, when He’s really speaking from the still, small voice. We need to celebrate the healed knees and the upset stomachs. God is at work in all things.
Live in the Supernatural
All teaching about the supernatural should be grounded in Scripture, but that Scripture should come out in the way we live our lives. We should be experiencing and realizing those miracles in our world. We should perceive the war at play between the angelic and demonic forces. We should live lives through the Holy Spirit and by His power. It’s been said that more is caught than taught. This is ever true in this area. Kids learn more from us by how we live than by what we teach them.

The Dress Matters (sort of)

Jared M —  February
2 Notes

I’m glad #thedress was such a big deal, though it will only get it’s few seconds of fame before we move onto something equally trivial. I’m certainly not a fashion guy and I realize the whole thing was a giant time killer, but it did something, something that few people caught. Sure, there are major issues in this world like ISIS, child hunger, and racial tensions. But this dress gave the world a chance to enjoy something together, even in the midst of our disagreement. Most importantly, it was fun to see people discover the science behind why we see the dress differently. Seeing people excited about scientific discovery always excites me. Despite our differences, let’s all chase real answers and enjoy the process. Life (and science and even religion) is not about us verse them, it’s about us.

[But, the dress is white and gold.]


I first heard about the dress on Facebook with a link to Smosh

And the best scientific explanation I’ve seen is from Wired

I’m not what you would call a big fan of hockey, but I lived in Minnesota for 4 years and developed an appreciation of the sport during that time. Someone shared this video with me on Facebook the other day and I thought it was neat. What I didn’t expect is what I would find next. The first video features Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks (boo!) showing off his impressive stick and puck handling. The second video shows his teammate, Brandon Bollig, demonstrating his less impressive stick and puck handling skills.

Even though he doesn’t quite have the same skill set as his teammate, he obviously used one of the skills he does have, comedy. Enjoy and be reminded that you may not have the same skills as someone down the street, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t talented. Find what you are good at and do that. The message of Christ is too large to be contained by one teaching style or ministry gift. It takes a team working together.


A couple of months ago, my friend Wayne Stocks and I started a podcast. Wayne and I originally met through some Twitter interactions and blog commenting and such but have since become good friends. Inspired by the Phil Vischer podcast, we decided to start one of our own.

You can find it at livingoutsidetheboat.com. It’s been a fun little project and we’re 10 episodes in now. I’ve really enjoyed getting to talk about some of the issues facing the church today, but I really think we’re just getting started. The first 10 episodes have been good, but we’ve been trying to figure out a format for the show as well as working out the kinks involved in the audio recording and hosting and just general prep work. Now that we have some systems that work, I think we can really focus on providing a great show.

I’d love it if you would listen and comment and like us on facebook.com/livingoutsidetheboat. Thanks!

The other day, I got the opportunity to do one of my least favorite things in the world, strip paint. I absolutely despise the process. However, as I was scraping paint from the outside of our church building, I had a thought that I recently shared on a podcast that I am a part of. Based on a recommendation from my cohost of that show, I’m writing it here.

The thing about paint is that as I was scraping the paint from the building and it was flaking off, the wood underneath had barely been affected by the paint itself. Sure, from the outside looking in, the wood looked white, but with a little bit of effort, the truth about the wood quickly began to show through. I think for many who teach children, we just teach kids the Bible and about Jesus and it sticks to them. It might stick for a long time or it might stick for a short while, but in the end, it doesn’t actually change them. It just appears as if they have been changed.

A better goal to strive for is stain. When you stain wood, that stain soaks deep into the wood itself. In fact, while the original integrity of the wood often shows through in this method, it is forever changed by the stain. It soaks into the wood and you can’t just scrap it away. This is more of what we should strive for. Rather than just covering things up with facts about Jesus, we need to allow the Gospel to soak our kids and saturate their very being. The beauty of a good stain is that, while the original texture of the wood is still visible, it is made more beautiful by the stain. This is the Gospel in our lives. It beautifies without hiding. It saturates and changes us without covering who we were meant to be. This is accomplished when those facts we learn are allowed to form a relationship with Jesus. It happens when instead of memorizing a verse for a project or to earn points, we allow that verse to shape how we live our lives.

Obviously, the second is much more difficult. It requires being intentional and strategic. It requires much more thought and preparation. You can’t just show up and throw on a video, because it’s a day-to-day thing, not an hour a week thing. But, in the end, it’s the only system that works. It’s what I believe Jesus meant when he said make disciples. It’s creating something in the life of a child that will last.

There are always drawbacks to using free services in church. You get what you pay for. And, generally speaking, ad supported software is not recommended for use in a live environment. One of the things about using the free version of Spotify is that is that the audio ads play randomly and cannot be muted. I bet you already see where this is going.


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Why Limited Budgets Can Be Good for Your Family Experience

Christine Kreisher
Orange Conference 2013

“A family experience is a shared experience for families designed to engage parents as partners, with a strategy to shape the faith and character of their kids that serves as a catalyst for what happens at home.” Reggie Joiner

Internal Collaboration

It all starts with vision…why FX?
Communicate to leadership and staff how your FX will help to flesh out the vision of your church
Who are the 5 most influential families in your church?
Who are your potential core leaders?
Leverage influence…identify kids and students who will serve on your team

Strategic Community Partners

Create partnerships with local businesses whose values are in line with yours…family, community, etc.
Develop a promotion/marketing strategy. Social media is a must
Make a list of business owners within your congregation and create a win-win
Ask for donations “You do not have because you do not ask.” James 4:2

  • Had a local restaurant donate an iPad and they got to make the presentation of it to the winner.
  • Creative story about giving away a widget for “Wisdom.” Called a local dentist, the dentist provided stress ball wisdom teeth with their logo on them at no cost to the church.

Top Ten Budget Saving Ideas

  • Free marketing techniques: press releases, tickets, invitation cards, paint car windows, Facebook, website
  • Free widgets and give-aways
  • Free and low cost set design options
  • Free costumes and props (get donations from church community)
  • Generate income through snack bars and novelty sales
  • Scripts, Feature presentation, and Get Reel videos from 252 Basics
  • Technical equipment
  • Collections for local non-profits create community presence (charge an “admission” of an item for the food pantry or something similar)
  • Music: amberskyrecords.com
  • Recruit to a bold vision

About the Speaker:Christine Kreisher

Christine Kreisher

Christine serves as the Family and Connections Pastor at Glad Tidings Church in Reading, Pennsylvania. She’s a published author of a children’s curriculum called “Follow 4:Kidz” and a CD/DVD resource, “Launching an FX: Tools to start a Family eXperience.” Christine has been the featured speaker for numerous local, regional, and statewide conferences. Her diverse life and business experiences have allowed her to connect with clients and audiences ranging from church leaders and volunteer teams to corporate executives. Christine is married to her best friend and business partner, Jim. They have three incredible sons and never a dull moment!


I discovered this site quite a while back, but hesitated to share it because of the quantity of stuff that was available. Seeds is a ministry provided by Church on the Move out of Tulsa, OK. They do a fantastic job with their ministries and have decided to make all of their resources available for free. This is great especially for small church with no curriculum budget. You can get high quality material for free and you don’t have to design everything yourself.

seeds resources

They have a variety of resources available including, children’s curriculum, youth curriculum, adult sermons, audio files, graphic stuff, and motion worship songs and loops. Everything is free to download and use and it is well worth your time to browse the site.

I’ll be honest, what I’m most excited about is the kids worship music I found. These are excellent videos that we will be incorporating immediately. I downloaded all of them to use. I also downloaded a few of the worship loop backgrounds and have already started using them.

The resource site is located at seeds.churchonthemove.com or just click the image above.

What’s Up?

Jared M —  April
4 Notes

Not sure if you were wondering or not, but just in case, here’s a little update. I just finished up a major migration of all of my sites, including this one, to a new host. If you do a lot with websites, you know how much of a pain that is. If not, well, just be glad you’ve never had that experience. Now that everything is moved and seems to be working properly, I’m ready to get back into the swing of posting regular content and resources for you. YAY!

businesscard_template_usBut at a personal level, there has been a lot of stuff that has gotten in the way of blogging but has been a major blessing to me. At the beginning of the year, I left my second job working as a wire clerk at a bank. This job had served as my home 40 hours a week and enabled me to continue to do ministry in my small church while still providing for my family. For a while now, I’ve felt that the job was no longer where I needed to be for a variety of reasons. After much prayer and searching, an opportunity came for me to join the team of ROAR.pro. At the time, I was not fully aware of what my job description would look like, but I knew it was the right place for me to be.

I’ve been working with ROAR for the past three months and I’m loving every minute of it. I’m working with a variety of churches helping them build and maximize their apps. It’s a customer service position which is something I am wildly passionate about, so it fits me well.

Because of the arrangement with ROAR, which is not full-time work, I have been able to spend much more time working with my church. This was the biggest win of the whole deal. Over the last few months, our church has been through a lot of stuff and up until January we had never had a pastor that kept office hours (both myself and our senior pastor worked full-time day jobs). Over the last few months, I’ve been more available to our church and have been able to be there for hospital visits, funerals, and just those moments when they need to talk.

I thought once my new job arrangements started, I’d have tons of time to write. That has not been the case, but consider this post the shot in my arm to get me back into writing. I have discovered a ton of new resources that I just cannot wait to share on here. Also, next week I will be posting live from the Orange Conference, which is always a treat.