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Rickfcm
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If there was only one direction the FCM can do or take what would you want it to be?
I will give mine later after others have chimed in.
Rick Lenski
Rickfcm
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Here goes, it is my desire to see members be passionate about what they do and that would transfer into excellence in performance, excellence in ministry and excellence in service to God. I get extremely frustrated when little effort is put into the finished product in all areas of the arts.
Rick
paulmagic
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I am not sure what the FCM is like around the world, but here where I am, it seems that most (large majority) of the FCM members are not active. They sign up, learn the secrets, buy some stuff but never really use it.

So I would like to see FCM people promoting, encouraging, helping other Gospel Magicians (mentoring?) develop.

1. Encourage moving from self-working tricks to magic that requires more and more skill.
2. Promote creativity in developing routines and using commercial props etc. for Gospel application.
3. Sharing with one another - from lending of some props, selling of old props that one no longer wants to use (cheap) so another can build his personal, magic resource for gospel presentations (I thank my FCM buddy Allan for helping me with this. He has been willing to lend me stuff that I have had no money to purchase until I saved up enough to purchase my own, and sold me some props 2nd hand and cheap. I am talking old simple stuff like chick pan, lota bowl etc.).
4. Developing routines that incorporate good theology, are well thought out and practiced so that Gospel magicians don't look like second rate / third rate magician wannabes...so that the magic trick enhances the message, not take away the thunder from the message.

Stuff
(Just a few)

P.S. Thanks Rickfcm for sharing so many ideas with me. Many I just can't use as I either do not know the principle behind the trick (since some are commercial props that I do not have) or that I need to practice. But despite this, it has been a double belssing:
1. Great encouragement
2. Catalyst that makes creative juices flow. (Am working on seeing if I can use my D'lites for a fun presntation with a message - light (light of the World - God's Word as a light - what light does, how we listen to the Word...taste the word...stuff that can relate to a natural D'lite routine)
Many Blessings!!

Paul
Kerry Kistler
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Rick and Paul have listed some excellent ideas, although I thought the original question was directed more toward the FCM as an organization rather than its membership. I was thinking of topics such as:

(I am NOT necessarily promoting these ideas only giving examples of what I thought this thread intended)

1. Should the International Conference be moved to a different venue or even country?

2. Should only proven magicians be permitted to attend magic workshops at the conference in order to protect secrets?

3. Should the FCM return to its roots as a magic club or continue to be all inclusive?

4. Should the nearly unused cyberfcm chat forum be retired for this one?

5. Should past Conjurer articles be posted for access on the FCM website OR should the printed magazine be retired completely in favor of an e-magazine?

etc.

(Feel free to comment on any of the above if you have a passionate opinion)

Cheerio,
Kerry
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paulmagic
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[quote]On 2006-05-30 22:47, Kerry Kistler wrote:
Rick and Paul have listed some excellent ideas, although I thought the original question was directed more toward the FCM as an organization rather than its membership. I was thinking of topics such as: [quote]
I guess I was thinking more of FCM helping to motivate, encourage, guide, emphasize etc. to do the stuff I mentioned. The new FCM president seems to have advanced theological training.
I would like to see FCM promote both good magic and good theology.
Many Blessings!!

Paul
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I am commenting from a former FCM opinion. The International conference happens to be in my home town so it makes it very easy for me to make the conference and to see my mom when I am in town.

Anyway, the reason that I am a former member is that I got very frustrated with the amount of bad magic out there. I have been performing for over 10 years and have even had the opportunity to travel with Andre' Kole, so I know what magic and presentation of the gospel should look like. I, too, must agree with the statement about people just wanting to know secrets. I beleive that there should be a standard for entering into the workshops.

A good friend of mine, Michael Christian once gave a lecture at one of the conventions entitled, "Showmanship". He had quite a good number in attendance, yet when he commented that there would not be any magic to learn, just the topic of showmanship, at least 75% of the people got up and left. This is not right.

I would love to return to the FCM, but would like to see some changes in standards before that will happen.

dmatheus out.
paulmagic
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Quote:
On 2006-05-31 10:05, dmatheus wrote:
I beleive that there should be a standard for entering into the workshops. A good friend of mine, Michael Christian once gave a lecture at one of the conventions entitled, "Showmanship". He had quite a good number in attendance, yet when he commented that there would not be any magic to learn, just the topic of showmanship, at least 75% of the people got up and left. This is not right. I would love to return to the FCM, but would like to see some changes in standards change before that will happen.

dmatheus out.


Two comments on your post.

1. It's hard to set a standard "standard". If there ever was just a minimum standard before I was allowed into a magic club, I would not have been able to start.
But I like that idea in the sense that a beginner (total newbie) should only be allowed access to certain basic workshops. Beyond that he would have to someohow prove he/she was serious (how to prove that need not be too stringent as we all learn at differnt paces etc. - I am thinking more of senior matured, respected magicians "interviewing" a person).

It burns me up that some went to an FCM conference I helped organize, learned a lot of stuff, bought loads of magic (money was no object) and then later I found out they indiscriminatey showed "every Tom Dick and Harry" the secrets behind the effects. The misguided rationale is "we all are Christians - so we need to share".

You can bet that you will have lots of people saying stuff even in the middle of a gospel performance like "I know how that is done etc."

2. And yes, I concur from experience that workshops on basic stuff like showmanship were not popular. Yet I think that is so important as good magic effects just bomb without proper showmanship (I take this seriously and yet because I am still pretty raw in the area of magic, I still make basic mistakes - despite the fact that I am a seasoned preacher).

I had to make it a compusory workshop for a subsequent conference, along with a workshop on the justification and use of magic in the context of the Christian message so that that what is learned had a better chance of being used responsibly.
Many Blessings!!

Paul
Joey Evans
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Quote:
On 2006-05-31 10:05, dmatheus wrote:
I am commenting from a former FCM opinion. The International conference happens to be in my home town so it makes it very easy for me to make the conference and to see my mom when I am in town.

Anyway, the reason that I am a former member is that I got very frustrated with the amount of bad magic out there. I have been performing for over 10 years and have even had the opportunity to travel with Andre' Kole, so I know what magic and presentation of the gospel should look like. I, too, must agree with the statement about people just wanting to know secrets. I beleive that there should be a standard for entering into the workshops.

A good friend of mine, Michael Christian once gave a lecture at one of the conventions entitled, "Showmanship". He had quite a good number in attendance, yet when he commented that there would not be any magic to learn, just the topic of showmanship, at least 75% of the people got up and left. This is not right.

I would love to return to the FCM, but would like to see some changes in standards before that will happen.

dmatheus out.


David,
I see your point. The FCM conference has been lacking in magic for quite some time, the reason for lacking, I'm not sure. Perhaps it doesn't have the budget for it. I've often viewed, as far as magic goes, the FCM as a great convention to go to to get your start in magic, but to further your art go to other conferences as well.

As far as a class on showmanship, it's a great idea, but I can tell you with certainty, the 75 percent thing would happen at any convention unless the lecture was given by a big name in magic. I've seen it at many conventions, including Magi-fest, which I believe is one of the top ones.

I still go to the FCM, because although the other conferences have better magic, the FCM conference has a feel that none of the other ones do have. I go and consider it a vacation, to see people, and to learn things. No, I, usually don't learn things from the lectures, it's usually in the late late get togethers. But it's there, it's just usally not on the program.

That being said, I concede the FCM convention is in a bit of a rut. It's fallen into the Jack of all Trades, Master of none, category. Ask the other arts as well, it's not just magic, the balloonatics feel the same way. I don't know how they could fix it. Sure, they could limit it to strictly magic, but it would make the convention a lot smaller. And with a smaller attendance, a smaller budget. The leadership has a tough job, and I think they would be open to constructive criticism. How can it get better? What can they do? I know they are aware of the problem, but what is the solution? I wish I knew.

P.S. One of my suggestions would be to bring in more new lecturers and dealers. I would like to get suprised looking at the schedule and think, whoa, I've never seen him before.
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Rodney Palmer
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I really do not know where to start, but here I go.

I have only been involved with the FCM for 4-years now. And what most disturbs me is that the same people, every year, come to the conferences and the same lecturers come every year. What I believe is lacking in the FCM is the commitment from its members to bring their magic to a whole new level and present Gospel Magic as it should be presented.

We just had our local convention here in Michigan and Duane Laflin spoke on Showmanship for 3 hours and it was the best lecture I have ever attended. What is sad, though, is that only a small handful of people showed up for the lecture. But there were tons of people in the dealers room looking for that new prop that will make them a star.

I say the FCM should start focusing more on Showmanship and risk losing members. Yes, I know we need members to have conventions but the level of gospel magic that is being performed today is really sad. If we all sat down as a group and focused more on our presentations, memorizing scripture, showmanship, etc., then gospel magic would not be deemed BAD.

As for what the FCM can do, I believe they are limited because you cannot force someone to bring their level of magic, balloons, vent, etc. up to a professional level. I think we should all evaluate our performances and we should all strive to do our very best at every show. We must remember God is the focus of what we do, not how many people clap and cheer for us. We need to be more humble and support our local FCM and our International Convention. The price of the convention is really inexpensive and I think the price should be raised to bring higher level performers and lectures in. However, I know people will disagree and that is OK.

But my personal opinion would be that even if Andre' Kole came in to speak on Showmanship he would not have a good turn out. Today's Christian performers just do not want to move to the next level. I encourage everyone to go to the next level - our FCM cannot do that for us.

Rodney Palmer
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Kerry Kistler
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Hi Guys,
Man, this is great stuff. Thanks for putting your thoughts down so clearly.

Here are a few responses:

David, please come back and contribute. Things are less likely to improve until pros like you help us raise the bar. The most polished talent must stick around and be examples of excellence to the rest. I agree that what happened to Michael Christian was a crime.

Paul, please come back too. You and David are correct about the whole showmanship thing. It is a passionate topic of mine that I harp on all the time. I just had an article published in the May/June Conjurer on the importance of showmanship (pg. 16-17). I'll send a copy of the article in an email to any serious performer who wants to read it. It's an analysis of Chris Bliss and his internet juggling clip phenomenon.

Joey, your remarks are right on. How do we fix this? Your (and Rodney's) thought about new lecturers and dealers is valid but here is the problem as I see it. Last summer, at the end of the FCM conference I was asked (and agreed) to take the Chalk Art department chairmanship. A couple of months later we were given a very heavy duty assignment by the Salvation Army and I could see that I wasn't going to be able to attend the convention in 2006. So I immediately contacted the lecture chairman and withdrew my name. I hated to do it but my obligation to the Army has to come before my love for the FCM.

Anyway, in those couple of months before I had to back out of the chairmanship, I began to contact chalk artists I know (outside the FCM) that have advanced skills who could bring a new level of excellence to that area of the conference. No one was interested. Not one. They were friendly but, in general, the question was, "So you are asking me travel and lead workshops and pay out of my own pocket to do it?" I told them that registration would be free but c'mon! They are right! What about their other expenses like travel, room, board, supplies, etc.? Not to mention the loss of potential PAYING bookings. And if they are not dealers they have no way to recoup their losses.

Our organization is only so big and if we have no resources to reach outside of the FCM to bring in other quality workshop leaders, well, what can a department chairman do? When you have that one figured out, let me know.

And, Rodney, you are right. The FCM can't force anyone to aspire to a new and better level as a performer. But, what can they do BETTER to foster a climate of excellence while encouraging its memebers to a higher level? Oh, and with a very small budget?

Cheerio,
Kerry
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Joey Evans
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Kerry,
I agree completely. It just doesn't make sense for a pro magician/juggler/balloonist, etc.. to pay to come to a convention and teach. And the truth is many can't afford to. I didn't know this until last year and it shocked me. I figured at least their room and board should be covered. It's the least that can be done, I think. I can't think of any conferences where this isn't done.
Budget wise, I'm not sure. If it's not possible, could it be possible. If registration was brought up 5 bucks a person? If someone had the option to pay extra and have a "Master Level" class, maybe?

Joey
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davejesc
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I haven't been to any conventions because, event though there is stuff for my whole family, not everyone in my family wants to be an illusionist. Sure, my 4 kids make great spectators and audience participants, but 3 of the 4 have no desire to sit through lectures day after day. My wife is supportive and will sit through anything that interests me. (Whatta gal!) I can't justify the trip to the only place the convention is ever held without plenty of other diversions and attractions for the rest of the family - and the opportunity for all of us to play together as this is vacation time for us. Also, it's just darn expensive. Travel from the east coast, paying for every family member to attend - I simply can't justify the costs.

Unless one is in one of the geographic pockets where there are a bunch of FCMers, there is no support/comraderie or connection either. I tried to see if an FCM branch was local to me - none is. So, I contacted FCM to see about starting a chapter. I was told that I needed to find 6 people who were FCM members who would agree to come together to make a chapter. No one offered me any list of those in my area who were already in the FCM to facilitate this. I'm zealous, but I don't have the time to sell folks on FCM and then begin a local chapter (although, I do promote FCM as much as I can). So, still, there is no FCM chapter in my area - (No. Va. in the shadow of Washington, D.C.) - no connection for me with other FCMers.

My #1 desire would be for the FCM to branch out.

How? A national blitz of churches and other Christian groups. BTI, We Teach, Childrens Ministry Today, Youth Pastors, etc. There are lot of groups who, if embraced and courted by FCM would probably join in fellowship and mission. How cool it would be if all these disparate groups were able to unite together with FCM as the facilitating agent.

Also, an FCM traveling lecture series would be good.

The Sammy Smith, Steve Taylor, David Ginn thing is an excellent example. Also, there are a number of puppet ministries (who sell/promote illusions too) who regularily go around the country with 1 or 2 day puppeteering and showmanship seminars. FCM could piggy back and join with (and support) these folks. This would allow local ministers a chance to learn some new presentation skills, find out more about the FCM and would undoubtedly encourage more diversely located and local FCM chapters. It would also extend the affiliations of FCM broadly to make it more well known among the populus who could use it most.

Just my pennies worth of thought. I've rambled enough.

-Dave
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Hi gang,

In response to some of David's thoughts:

Some very good observations and ideas. I know how difficult it can be to get a new chapter going. I live in one of the Chicago suburbs and thought "there must be a large enough group of FCMers in the Chicago area to get a chapter off the ground".

So, here's what I did:

1. I got a map of the area and assembled a list of zip codes within a 50 mile radius of my home. That pretty much covered all of Chicago and its suburbs.

2. I emailed the list of zip codes to Mike Stenberg (mail center and editor of the Conjurer) and asked him to do a sort of the FCM member data base of those codes and email me the list. Mike did this happily.

3. I contacted every person on the list by email or snail mail or phone with information about starting a new chapter to gauge interest.

4. After a great, positive response to this idea, I sent out a second communique asking for feedback on some proposed dates for an "exploratory first meeting". Going with the majority vote on a meeting date, I set it up and contacted everybody again with the information.

5. Around 15 committed to attending this first meeting. It was at my home, with refreshments and gifts to be given out. We were to discuss locations for future meetings, dates, times and the procedure for making it all "official" (officers, etc.). Plus, a sharing "show and tell" time.

6. The big night came and...two people showed up. Few who gave a positive rsvp to attend even bothered to contact me with a curious interest in how it went.

7. I sent out one final communique to all of the FCM members in the area asking if anyone would like to pick up the ball and run with it. Only one person showed any interest but soon moved to another state. Our touring kept me from doing much more and no one seemed really bothered that the effort had an early abortion.

David, like you, I am zealous for the FCM but am also a very busy guy. We are on the road for 8+ months out of the year. I learned one thing about trying to form an FCM chapter after investing significant time, effort and expense: without a passionate interest from a core group who are willing to put their bodies where their mouths are, a chapter will simply die an early death. I thought there was a genuine interest but miscalculated.

However, I think you should try it anyway. Follow the general steps that I outlined above and you may meet with amazing success and help birth a fantastic new FCM chapter in your area.

Your ideas for expanding the FCM and branching out are creative and good. However, it begs the question of just what our fellowship really is. Who are we and who should we be courting? Are we an umbrella group that encompasses all of the allied performing arts? Are we the Fellowship of Christian Entertainers or Magicians? We have obviously expanded well beyond our name already.

And here we enter into a familiar debate: Other organizations already exist which represent nearly every other craft - puppets, ventriloquism, jugglers, chalk artists, etc. If we can't do it any better than the other existing organizations, what would attract these people to the FCMagicians if they have no interest in magic?

In short, most christian entertainers specialize in one or two areas of performing and seek out organizations that help sharpen those particular skill sets. Someone else posted that the FCM has become a "jack of all trades". So, again, who are we? Are we really equipped to be the "facilitating agent" that you envision?

Here is a blunt analysis that I derive from observation. Dennis Blacksmith, past Vice President of the FCM, believed that we could expand our constituent base by courting student mission team organizations. He saw a huge potential in that demographic because he has used gospel magic with great effectiveness in mission settings himself.

I witnessed limited support of his efforts to lead this charge. Why? I think part of the answer was reflected by this prevailing attitude: You cannot and should not "recruit" people to be magicians. People who are serious about magic will find us and thus the fraternal rules of magicians are kept intact (secrecy, commitment to practice, excluding the merely curious, etc.).

I don't think anyone had a problem with teaching mission teams balloon animals or puppets or whatever. The beef was with magicians who were reluctant to open the flood gates and invite every curiosity seeker into the "inner sanctum" of magic. And being a magician, I can fully understand this line of thought.

The FCM has a pretty tight ethical statement and yet, in the name of evangelism, some would "give away the store." So, who is right? Who are we? Who should we really court and why?

That's my take on the situation. If you think I am nuts in my analysis, I am open to correction.

Cherrio,
Kerry
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Kerry Kistler
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Update:

This topic has been pretty well covered in a thread called FCM Name Change. It was originally part of The Good News forum but was moved over here recently so even though you will find it if you keep looking on this forum, here's the link if you want to continue reading interesting opinions on this topic.

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......8&37

Cheerio,
Kerry
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Darkwing
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I'd like to share some thoughts along the same line and I hope I don't offend anyone with my opinions and I have been very hesitant to say anything, but here goes. I have seen several gospel magicians, clowns, balloon artist, etc. perform at regional conventions and their performances have been less than adequate. Honestly, I was sometime embarrassed for the performer, because it was so bad. I was at a FCM convention with my members of my puppet team and parents and was watching a pretty well known gospel magician / clown. Parents of one of my puppet kids came to me after the show and started to make very well founded statements about the performer (both are theater majors and former members of Second City Comedy Group). They talked about lack of character development, blocking, and no central theme, basically the performer was a guy in clown makeup doing magic tricks. I had to agree.

I have noticed at FCM conventions are the same folks year end and out, taking the same lectures on more and more magic tricks, buying the latest and greatest magic effects, without any thought on how it would work into what they are doing.

I am of the opinion that what ever we do for the secular audience we should be doing it at least twice as well for our gospel shows. The message should be strong, very well presented, scripture based, and above all, professional. We as gospel performers should be taking classes, reading books, and taking lectures in theater arts, presentation skills, storytelling skills, inprov, scripting, etc. We should be well practiced and rehearsed before we set foot in a gospel venue. And above all, seek guidance and influence of the Holy Sprit.

We should use and follow the examples of people like Steve Varro, Toby Travis, Duane Laflin, Brock Gill, BJ Harris, and Andre Kole, just to name a few. Read and study everything about our art form you can get your hands on and please don't just buy several effects and "just let God do the rest". I believe God expects our best and He does deserve it.

Please, your thoughts.

David Williams
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More thoughts.

Maybe the FCM should certify gospel performers? I say this only because of all the posts concerning the lack of quality of performers seen at conventions.

I know there would have to be a lot of thought and debate on this but we cannot continue on the path we are on. I have been hearing about this problem ever since I have been in FCM and all we seem to do is pay lip service to the problem.

I realize we all have to start from somewhere as performers and this is not a slam on people who are just starting out but we need a structure of insuring quality of Christian performers. Ultimately, our Father in Heaven and our audience decides.

Would love to hear others thoughts.

David Williams
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Hey David,
Woo Hoo! I love your boldness. Certify gospel performers? Hmmmm. Kind of like requiring 50 legitimate posts on the Café before gaining access to the secret session areas - "prove your worth then we will grant you special priveledges."

Should we do something like this? Sure. But will we? Good luck with that. Not that it's a bad idea but we have a few built-in hurdles that will dampen any such proposal:

1. We are a sub-culture within a sub-culture. In the larger world of magicians we are a tiny sliver. Kind of like those who specialize in escapes or mentalism. We fill a very narrow niche in the magic performing world. The secular magic world has a much larger pool of top-notch pros from which to draw for convention stages. Our pool is much smaller.

2. Most of our tiny sliver has no ambition or aspiration to reach a professional level in their skills. Which is fine. Nothing wrong with being a hobbyist. Using beginner or intermediate skills for small parties, children's church or Sunday school is valid and valuable. In fact, we all pretty much started there. Nonetheless, this keeps our pool small. This directly affects who performs at our regional and international conventions.

3. Because our pool of available, "certifiable" performers is small (and will probably always be small), how do we respond? We end up complaining that "it's the same faces over and over performing at our conventions." Yet when organizers are forced to reach into our intermediate pool for performers we complain that the acts aren't good enough or are an embarrassment.

4. Some performers think they are better than they really are. I was lining up talent for an FCM event once and a member claimed he had a marvelous silk routine "unlike anything I had ever seen." He took offense when I asked him to describe the routine so I backed off and booked him. Turns out his marvelous silk routine was a pretty basic ***** tip routine.

Because we are a Christian organization, we are reluctant to hurt people by saying "Sorry, you're not good enough to be on the bill." In trying to be Christ-like it's easier for us to extend grace and be encouraging. Picture that happening in a secular convention where egos and money are at stake.

5. This one will probably get me into trouble but it's my opinion. To a certain extent, the "good-old-boy" club is still at work in our fellowship. Sometimes it's all about who you know. There are old timers in our fellowship who are well past their prime and yet they still, somehow, end up on stage or giving lectures. The glory days for them are over (performing-wise) but they haven't the sense to lay down their wand. And since there is stage time to fill, and they are willing, they end up on the bill. Sometimes friendship and nostalgia overrule the greater good. But, perhaps in God's economy, that's an OK thing?

David, your statement "we cannot continue on the path we are on" is something I would like to believe - but, honestly, I think changing that path will cost us more than we are willing to pay. What would you do to affect such a change?

Cheerio,
Kerry
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Darkwing
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Kerry,

Give me a couple of days to think over and digest what you have said and I will give you my thoughts. I think you have some well founded statements. I just need some time to think things through.

David Williams
Rickfcm
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Great ideas going in this thread. Unfortunately quality will never improve until people decide they have to do their BEST for God. Too many feel because it is for God he will overcome my lack of practice, lack of talent or lack of striving for excellence. Unfortunately too many act like that in all areas of their christian walk. You read your Bible to learn more about God; you have to practice to be a good entertainer/teacher/evangelist.
Rick
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Quote:
2. Should only proven magicians be permitted to attend magic workshops at the conference in order to protect secrets?

3. Should the FCM return to its roots as a magic club or continue to be all inclusive?


Kerry... These two points would, in my view, be the cure! PLEASE, please, find a way to push these ideas further. It may take a couple of years or so, but eventually, I think you'd find that membership would increase dramatically.

In fact, these are key reasons for my fading out of the FCM many years ago. It was unnerving to me to be in the audience for a magic lecture, and find myself sitting next to a muppeteer and a chalk artist. This happened ALL the time. I have nothing against these other arts. However, I considered this to be exposure of the worst kind. These people had no intention of ever performing any of this material. They were just curious. And those that tried to perform it were miserable at it. It wasn't their thing, and they could never do justice to it.

The art that most of the serious magicians loved was being cheapened. Why would a magician with any measure of respect for his craft want to be a party to that? Yes, Gospel magic is about a mission. However, that doesn't mean that professionalism has to be checked at the sign-up table.

If the related arts are to be included, that's fine by me. However, I think that there should be a (big) separation between the magic side and the "other side". Let's focus on the one that has the most potential and the most adherents - magic.

I KNOW that there are a lot of young magicians out there that would love to be connected with a revamped magic-centered Fellowship of Christian MAGICIANS. To top it off, these kids have real drive, real talent, and a pool of friends and contemporaries that they want to reach for Christ. They would love to use their hobby of magic to do it. Let's give them the outlet and the tools for that.
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