Gospel Magic

Friday, May 17, 2024

The KidzMatter Blog/Gospel Magic

Time for a Change

If you haven’t tried using magic in a church setting yet, you may well be wondering where to start. For a beginner, self-working utility props can give you a solid base to develop your own messages and routines. A Change Bag for example allows you to easily produce, vanish or change small objects such as handkerchiefs, toys or even loose links of chain that become connected. Turning dirty handkerchiefs clean, you can talk about how we are washed clean from sin. The chain can represent the links in a church - how we all connect in fellowship to worship one true God.

The original Change Bag was actually based on the old church-style collection bags, a red velvet pouch with gold trim. Nowadays, some change bags are flat, some rip apart with Velcro, others are round with a handle, and there is even one disguised as a baseball cap. Ask any magic shop and they’ll be able to point you in the right direction! For a few dollars there is a booklet of 150 ideas available too, to help get the ideas flowing. It really is limited only by your imagination.

As with anything though, practice makes perfect. Operating a Change Bag is a simple as turning a small lever or opening one pocket instead of another, but it’s worth putting the time in front of a mirror to make sure that a) you can do the ‘moves’ smoothly and b) you aren’t flashing the method for how it’s done. Children in particular are quick to point out when we magicians slip up!

Take the Plunge into Sponge

I highly recommend sponge magic too; props made of a soft compressible sponge that can easily be manipulated. Sponge balls can change colour as you talk about God transforming our lives, they can multiply like his endless blessings, or turn into one giant ball to explain how he is bigger than all of our problems. This is another form of magic that is relatively cheap and easy - learn a few sleights and you can deliver countless presentations. A lot can be done with a set of sponge balls and a good book or DVD on sponge magic. I recommend Essentials in Sponge Ball Magic or Steve Dacri’s Sponge Magic Toolkit and a set of four supersoft Goshman 2” balls in your favourite colour!

With magic for a young audience, I firmly believe that the key is the journey and not the destination. All the bits of business, gags, jokes, fun and silliness are often far more interesting than the actual outcome of a trick to a child. Some magicians starting out will perform trick after trick and wonder why the response falls flat. Any simple trick can be enhanced by developing a full routine, rather than a ‘hey watch this…ta-da!’ approach.

The Gospel Truth

In Gospel magic, it is the message applied to the magic that should take the front seat. Magic is a powerful tool for storytelling, for exploring a verse or theme in a memorable and engaging way. Gospel magic is the fusion of both magic and message, and it can be difficult to strike a balance between entertainment and evangelism. One way to achieve this is to choose the message first, rather than finding a prop and then trying to cram a message into it as a reason to use it! Focus on the message and then find a way to bring it to life. And it doesn’t have to be magic; there are many object lessons and science experiments that can work wonders in a church group!

​Fun is key too. If you’re enjoying yourself then your audience or congregation will be at ease and more receptive to the meaning. Contact your local magic shop, invest in a few simple and versatile props and create your own magical messages. You might be surprised at how it can open eyes, hearts and minds to God. As Garrison Keillor once said, “Nothing you do for children is ever wasted” so why not give it a shot? I’d love to hear how you get on!

Dynamic Dan is based in York in the UK, is a full-time family entertainer, magician, hospital Giggle Doctor, and children’s church leader along with his wife Bev. He also works at Mission Magic, filming demos and helping create routines for churches worldwide. Dan loves using magic to explain and explore God’s word!

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Membership with KidzMatter PRO strengthens your skills and links you with a thriving community committed to empowering kidmin leaders like you.