By Mark Schoepp, Father Fitz
The Fitz Family is a family troupe of jugglers that has been performing since 1992 and has been traveling full time since 1994. The Fitz Family travels approximately 10 months out of the year throughout the United States and Canada, giving more than 200 performances at churches, schools, festivals and more.
Fitz Family performances are a fun mix of juggling, balancing, unicycling, and ministry. Fitz Family members weave the Gospel message of Christ throughout the show. It is the Fitz Family’s goal to share this message of hope with as many families as possible; it’s faith that has kept them on the road for the last 10 years.
The Fitz Family are Area Representatives for Wheat Ridge Ministries.
A Day in the Life of the Fitz Family: Sunday
We’re up at 5 a.m. to arrive at the church so we can set up before first service starts. We are often used for a short children’s sermon and then an intergenerational Sunday school hour but this particular church wants more people to experience our ministry. So we are the sermon as an extended children’s message in two of the three services and the Sunday school opening. We’re not in the traditional service so the churchgoers have an option.
Our Message is from 2 Corinthians 4:5-6, Matthew 5:14-16 and Colossians 1:28,29 and centers around a theme: Shine! God shines the light of Christ into a dark world making repentant sinners into new people; God shines through us when we use our gifts and talents for the service of others; and when we use those gifts there will come opportunities to point people back to the cross of Christ. All the performance and juggling we do is to be able to share that message.
It’s always encouraging to hear that there are visitors at church that day that came because the Spirit moved them to respond to a family of jugglers – a little out of the ordinary but not too threatening.
And we’re always glad to be used in an intergenerational setting so that families can experience something together that everyone really enjoys. Then the common experience sparks faith conversations in the people’s homes long after we are gone.
When the services are over, we visit with the people and then pack up. Then it’s lunchtime! Sometimes we are invited out; sometimes we catch it on the way to the next place. Today, we dine alone as our afternoon is spent driving to the next performance place.
We arrive for our evening performance at 4 p.m. and set up.
Evening performances are usually about 75 to 90 minutes long, sometimes with a meal before or dessert afterwards to encourage fellowship. We always spend some time visiting with people after the performance at our selling table.
Then, when all is done, we are off to the hotel. Another day done in the Fitz Family routine!
What It Means to Be a Family on the Road:
To last for 10 years in full time on-the-road ministry, it takes a clear mission/purpose to keep you focused. Our mission is to encourage people to discover, celebrate, and use their unique gifts in the Lord’s service. It is also critical to be flexible and to have plenty of optimism. We need to be willing to deal with new situations every day and sometimes all day. The response of the people is a large part of the fuel that keeps us going; we are changing people’s lives with our performances.
Our ministry is made possible only through the grace of God. (That is how we got into it in the first place – a totally separate and long story). Of course, we need stamina for lots of performances and lots of driving (the performances carry about 75% of our ministry costs). And we definitely need lots of Fitz friendly people around the country who support our ministry with prayer and dollars (the other 25%)- especially in the out-of-the-ordinary times like the present, when our truck is broken down and in need of a new $16,000 engine. (See “flexibility” and “optimism” above!)
Our two boys, Sam (16) and Gideon (14), will tell you there is not much time left over after “Fitz” and school; theirs is a big investment, like going to high school with a full-time job. Sam’s favorite part of the ministry is doing the set up/take down (but definitely not the performances) while Gideon’s favorite part of the ministry is doing the performances (but definitely not the set up/take down). There would literally be no Fitz Family without their willingness to live this crazy lifestyle. Our children have always been a huge part of the ministry. Some of our children have liked it more than others, but all of them have always worked hard and helped make a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the country. Their favorite events are Youth Gatherings of all sizes – a chance to spend more than a short evening with youth their own age.
When we are not performing (about 150 performances each year now and over 400 in the early days when we were just starting out) we are all doing different things: Becky focuses on office work, ordering for inventory at the sales table, home making on the road including laundry and meals. Mark works on calling and e-mail about bookings, checking with our office staff about mailings, etc., contacting upcoming performance places for details, and of course DRIVING (currently about 50,000 miles per year). The two boys still at home do their schoolwork (perhaps their toughest job) or concentrate on being teenagers, with computer games, music, and other “stuff.”
We love making a difference in people’s lives. And we started by following a dream. This is part of our message to people. God has gifted everyone with lots of talents and abilities. If you or someone you know is interested in doing a ministry like the Fitz’s, identify what gives you joy and give it back to God. He definitely has a way to use it. We’d love to share more in detail for those who have specific questions. firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Fitz Family ministry and to find booking information, please visitwww.fitzfamily.org.