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Profile of wwhokie1
On Mar 16, 2015, jamiedoyle wrote:
I'm not a moderator here - I don't want to be... but I want this thread to get back on track with it's initial purpose of discussing Examples of Really Bad Gospel Magic.

I feel that I've presented really bad Gospel magic when I've either been unprepared or when I am trying to cram a message or point into a prop or routine simply because I happen to like the trick, prop or routine.

So I have to be purposeful in preparing. That of course means to be read up on the topic, prayed up in regard to how to minister on that topic, practiced-up so I can adequately present the message and the magic in a balanced fashion... and of course, making sure the entire routine is set-up properly.

For some of the readers of this thread, some of this stuff will be a no-brainer... but it's what causes me to present really good or really bad Gospel magic

So, does every routine need to have a message, or does trying to force every routine to have a message make for bad gospel magic?
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Harris Deutsch
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When I am full if me
I present a bad message
If I'm all wrapped up I me I make a small package

Some might say, I'm over dressed.

The older I get the more I use The Word without props.
But as you know I do still use vent and Gospel Music/hymns.
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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Sam Sandler
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So, does every routine need to have a message, or does trying to force every routine to have a message make for bad gospel magic? [/quote]

as I have stated before my feeling is that regardless of whether I am performing for a "church" audience or a mixed audience that we need to have some magic and routines that are just fun that allow us to share the joy we have of entertaining and let them be part of that joy.

while at a church event I can see having more effects and routines with a message and points on topic I don't think you should over do it.

the real key is to find what works for you and for your audience however I do speak with experience that having a mix will indeed keep the audience more in tune and receptive to your message points.

even when I am preaching sunday morning I will have a few tricks just for fun as well as one to drive home a point.

i know many many preachers that will have funny stories or antidotes that have nothing to do with the service at hand other then to lighten the mood or share a little fun and joy with the congregation.

the biggest key here though and this is the most important is that we need to be seeking the Holy Spirit and find out what we are SUPPOSED to be sharing at each event. only He knows what the people in the audience need hear and see.

sam sandler- America's only full-time DEAF Illusionist
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Profile of jamiedoyle
No - not every routine needs to have a message. I often have a routine that is for pure fun and to get the kids attention - it helps establish that this presentation will be fun and interesting. I will say that the majority of the programs I do has a central theme and each method that we use will in some way point to that theme. Not everything will be a full-on message but I want to point to the theme. (or topic, or main point, or central message).

I present a lot of high energy children's programs for children's churches, kids camps, Multi-day/night outreach events (aka, Kids Crusades) school assemblies (yes, in other countries I can make it a gospel presentation) and other evangelistic presentations. So often times, we've established with the leadership their goals for the event and our show/presentation. Sometimes our presentation is simply intended to be a fun program with a simple message - but not it's not meant to be a full-on altar call situation. Other times, we are there to present the gospel or a message so there is a response like an altar call or a commitment to serve in the church, etc.

So, sometimes it depends on the venue.

To answer the 2nd part of your question: "...does trying to force every routine to have a message make for bad gospel magic?"
I believe that if I am trying to cram a message into a routine or trick for the sake of calling it Gospel Magic, in my mind, it has the greatest potential to be bad Gospel Magic.

In my opinion (and my opinion may not mean much if you don't know me) there has been much in the way of Bad Gospel Magic sold to the Gospel Magic Fraternity over the years because, people feel that they need to come up with new material each year for the conference they speak at. Thus, they attempt to cram a message that sort of... kind of fits the newest product that D. Robbins is advertising.

If there's a message in your heart, wait until you find the prop or routine that best fits it.
Jamie Doyle
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Harris Deutsch
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And props don't have to come from magic dealers

Learning principles one can create wonderful things.

Love and prayers

Still too old to know it all
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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Profile of MagicDan3333
Very interesting ideas being shared. I get frustrated when I see a Gospel show that continues to use the words: the blood of Christ. I am fine with that illustration being used once, but too often I hear that theme over and over again.
John Long
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Besides specifying the venue, Laflin put forth 4 types of Gospel Magicians, which is also important to keep in mind. The category that you fall within determines what is appropriate for your performances. Paraphrases from Greater Gospel Magic

1) Professional magician and committed Christian
Can perform magic at a professional level, but is not gifted or trained as a preacher and teacher. (Andre Cole is an example)
He is a magician that who creates the opportunity(by the rest of his show) to share his faith.

2) evangelist & gospel magician
He has gifts and training for evangelism; knows scripture very well, and is a capable performer. He is basically a preacher who has found gospel magic to be a great tool for attracting a crowd and putting together special outreach events.

3) amateur magician and christian layman
He is not a professional performer, but can entertain with magic, and share spiritual truths as part of that

4) Christian layman who uses a few gospel magic tricks.
This person has found that magic tricks can be tools for instruction in class situations, and the magic is used to enhance biblical concepts.

Somewhere in this book, Laflin mentioned to not make every trick in a show a gospel trick, unless you are a skilled performer and a skilled preacher.
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Profile of MediocreMagician
I think there's a variety of things that can make for bad gospel magic. First is probably not enough practice/research. Whether it be not spending enough time rehearsing the trick/illusion or studying the message you're trying to share, it wont come off as nicely as you'd hope. Once you have a reputation as someone that can do magic or object lessons it becomes expected every time you share a word and that can lead to shoe-horned messages/effects with weak links. I know I've certainly been guilty of it in the past but I try to be mindful of it because it's a privilege to share the word of God and I don't want to be a bad representation of that. The biggest consideration would have to be is what the focus is on. The message should be at the centre of it all and if you make the magic the focus, the message can be lost.

As said above, there's a time and place for it all. Not every magic trick needs a gospel link. If you're putting on a show you should have fun and show the joy of Christ in you. If you have an effect that works well with a gospel message, go for it! When you try and force it by making weak comparisons I think it takes the fun out of the magic and lessens the impact of the story.

Thanks for sharing that John, definitely something to keep in mind!
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I just wanted to say this topic is great, and I enjoyed reading the thread.

I remember the first time I ever wanted to dedicate my life to Christ (even though I didn't know what it meant) was a magic show I went to in middle school. I found a ticket on the floor, and went on a lark. The magician was decent, and his presentation was corny, then afterwards there was a sort of altar call situation. I don't remember the specifics. I just remember that I (already a magician myself) wasn't all too impressed with his routine, but was still moved by his own testimony at the end. Still, looking back, I don't think that I want to do a show like that, and would rather either do a more solid routine that centers around a theme, ending in a gospel message, but I'm terrible at story-patter, and get writer's block every time I try to develop any...
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Well quite often our testimony is the greatest witnessing tool we have. While we may not be great at recounting stories from the bible, no one knows our lives and struggles better than us. If I was looking to put together a routine with the aim of leading others to Christ, I'd probably build it around my own journey. The magic would be a little more organic and the story more relateable. There's so many amazing stories of people finding the Lord or turning around from their previous ways in the bible, but from a worldly view it's very easy to look at them as just that, stories. What you have in your testimony is indisputable and people can see the change in you directly.

Honestly I haven't witnessed much gospel magic myself beyond a few staple tricks like flaming bibles, turning ink soaked handkerchiefs clean or using the coloured silks to share a gospel message. There was however a fun bit on the last episode of Wizard Wars season two. Justin Flom and Gregory Wilson put together a short routine with some fun illusions around walking on water, feeding the thousands and parting the sea. While not a solid, flowing routine due to the nature of the show, I think some of the effects and patter could be worked into a pretty fun routine for all ages.
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Profile of magidave
The gospel magic I enjoy the most is where the trick is NOT the focus but merely happens in the hands of the magician while s/he is making their point. The magic trick simply becomes like a living picture from a book - illustrating the point that the speaker/magician is seeking to make. In that style, the magician barely notices that the magic is even happening.
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Something I learned about illustrations when preaching (unrelated to magic) is that illustrations should completely remove the listener from the message and then suddenly thrust them back into the message. It's this brief break along with an effective link to the message that creates a lasting impression.

For instance, when preaching on the Prodigal Son and the idea that the older son is a representation of the Pharisees and those of us who have long been believers can easily fall into the same trap, you could perform the professor's nightmare. One could then begin to transition back into the message:
"You know as believers, it is all too easy to focus on who's supposed to be getting the longer rope of God's blessing. God, I've been serving you all this time, and look, this one squandered his inheritance and yet you treat him not only as an equal but you give him a special place at the table? But what about me God? And rather than being overjoyed at our brother's repentance, we find ourselves tied in a knot, unwilling to rejoice with the Father. And soon, if we are not careful, we find that the celebration is going on without us. We're actually on the outside looking in."

That's just a rough example which could certainly be improved. The object is to tie in language from the message with language from the illustration. You don't need things to line up perfectly, you just need a good link.
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The magic effect is the lever to prop open the door, allowing you to build relationship, and walk in and tell the most important message. Jesus saves sinners.
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I am a magician and a full-time senior Pastor. I have done gospel magic in the past. still may occasionally use an effect to make a point. However, most gospel magicians I have seen don't want to spend the time to make the effect memorable. I worked at a magic shop years ago and the "guy" would come in on a friday wanting to buy an effect to show on Sunday... not cool. Don't be that gospel magician
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