Slugs and Bugs 2011
Last weekend, nearly 60 children joined Randall Goodgame in presenting a Slugs and Bugs Christmas to an audience of 467 at Bethany Lutheran Church in Elkhorn, Nebraska. Afterward, children, parents and grandparents shared cookies, made crafts and rejoiced in celebrating the birth of Jesus with one another. It was one sweet festival. If you have ever (or never) considered hosting such an event, I would encourage you to seriously entertain the notion. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Step 1. Talk to the leadership at your church. If you are reading this, you are probably already a fan of Slugs and Bugs. Tell your pastors and children’s ministry staff why. Share some music with them, and direct them to the Slugs & Bugs website. Help them catch the vision of partnering with Randall to minister to kids and their families.
Step 2. Book Randall Goodgame. It’s easy – send an email to randallgoodgame (at) mac (dot) com and let him know the date you are thinking about. It is helpful to have some alternative dates in mind in case your first choice is not available. Trust me when I say he will earn every penny of his very reasonable fee. Ways to cover expenses include: collecting an offering at the event, charging admission, asking your church if they have a budget for a children’s Christmas program that can be allocated, asking key supporters to contribute, and selling advertising.
Step 3. Schedule a dress rehearsal. Coordinate with the children’s music director, sound and light technicians, facilities manager, and adult music director. (And of course, with Randall. It’s kind of important for him to be there.) The contract and rider that you sign when you book will spell out technical requirements, so you will know exactly what you need to provide. You can always talk to Randall’s management about those things if you have questions.
Step 4. Rehearse the drama and music. Randall provides the script, a stage plot and list of props to gather, a songbook with written sheet music, and recorded tracks with and without vocals. We began weekly rehearsals 6 weeks in advance. We asked a family with a mom, dad, and 3 kids to do the drama. You don’t have to do it that way, but it gave that family an opportunity to spend time together focused on the reason for the season, and they could squeeze in extra practice at home when it fit into their schedule.
Step 5. Identify Team Leaders. Try to match people’s skills and passions to the team you are asking them to lead. Teams to form might include: Marketing, Crafts, Cookies, Merchandise, Artist Hospitality, and Welcome Team/Offering/Ticket Takers. Love your team leaders well. Help them find volunteers, and plan to spend time discussing details with them, especially if they are new to their role. Clearly spell out your expectations, but empower your leaders to make decisions about their area of responsibility. Your job is to be their champion, not their micro manager. Make sure they have everything they need to succeed and let them know how appreciated they are.
We had a cookies and Slugs and Bugs themed crafts celebration after the presentation. (More about that in my next post.)
Step 6. Invite people. Put up posters at church, on community bulletin boards, at local Christian bookstores and places where children are found – daycares, dance classes, libraries. Create a Facebook event and invite your friends. Ask your pastors to make announcements after worship. Include details in church publications and on the church web site. Word of mouth is very powerful, so talk about the event whenever you can. If the event is free and open to the public, you may even be able to get local radio and television to air Public Service Announcements (PSAs).
Step 7. Take care of your artist. Provide a quiet, private space where he can prepare mentally and spiritually before the program begins. Keep him steadily supplied with healthy food, plenty of water and a few snacks. Make sure there is water for him on stage. Serve as an intermediary between him and all staff, volunteers, and guests. Make introductions to key people. Show him where he can meet with the kids prior to the presentation. Make sure he has what he needs to give his best to your audience. Randall is no demanding diva, so take it upon yourself to notice subtle clues that he may need a soy gingerbread latte (no whip), stat. It is harder for an artist to get enough rest and eat properly while on the road than you can imagine. Your kindness in helping him with those things will be much appreciated. And though it may seem counter-intuitive, provide a hotel room for your artist’s lodging if you possibly can. You are going to like each other, and it is very hard not to succumb to the mutual desire to connect by staying up too late and talking too long if the artist is staying at your house. This translates into vocal and physical fatigue, and makes it much harder for him to do his job well.
Step 8. Pray. Actually, this should be Step 1. And part of every step thereafter. Plan and prepare to the very best of your ability, then leave it to God to use your efforts as He will. Lay down all stress and worries about whatever is going to go wrong. Relax, and help everyone else relax too. Extend grace to the small child who throws down his bells and sticks his bottom lip right out. Recognize the inevitable flubs as part of the charm of a live presentation with children.
Step 9. Clean up and load out. Never leave a mess behind. Be sure your teams know it is part of their job to clean up and put away after the party. Know that your artist will be spent in having given all to your audience. So help him get packed up and loaded out as soon after your event as possible.
Step 10. Say thank you. To everyone. Many times. Say it by email, in writing and in person. Do it right away, while you are all still basking in the joy of having worked together for the common goal of sharing the truth and beauty of God’s great love with your audience and with each other.
Make sure everyone has such a great time they can’t wait to do it again.(Photo credits: Martha Kennebeck)