So this weekend I met one of our new staff pastors at the church. I was introduced very nicely, but at the end it was added, “He’s kind of a different Children’s Pastor. He doesn’t like puppets!”
I know this post will probably be misinterpreted by many, but I’m going to answer for the blogging world why I don’t use puppets in our children’s ministry. Let me preface it by saying that I grew up watching the Gospel Bill Show, and even went to Mexico for 2 weeks as a teenager with the specific responsibility of doing puppet shows. I know how to work a puppet with best of them, and can easily manipulate the two-sticks as arms manuever on any sized puppet. My thoughts don’t come from ignorance, but from experience.
I’ve made jokes that I don’t like puppets because I’m uncomfortable sticking my hand up it’s butt, or because I could never trust someone with blue skin; but the reality is that I think puppets are really great. In fact, when used correctly and professionally they’re a great way to get a child’s attention. I think of them like real-life living cartoons; and they can no doubt grab the attention of a little one.
However, there is another side of puppet ministry that many seem to ignore. Most church puppet shows really, really, really stink. There I said it. They just stink. Many think that if you give a few teenagers the puppet chest, and a puppet skit cassette tape that the world will be a better place. Wake up people. There is a saying in Kids’ Ministry that if 5th grade boys don’t like it, then nobody will like it. Do you see many 5th grade boys begging for an appearance of Sid, the Blue faced teenage puppet and his sister Sally the blond pony-tailed know it all puppet?
So what’s replaced the puppets in my areas of ministry responsibility?
Video. Video is cheaper, easier, and it’s fairly easy to reach excellence in a very short period of time. With DVD ripping tools, and plethora of video editing tools; I can now quickly make videos segments that are far more effective than puppets (in their stinky state.) In fact, I’ve found teenagers much more willing to run my light board and cue up video segments, than to operate puppets. And by doing video, I don’t have to train a dozen people how to learn a skill that they will never use outside of my Children’s Ministry. I know that hurts doesn’t it? Puppet ministry isn’t real useful outside of jobs at Chucky Cheese’s or daycare.
However, before you paint me as a puppet-hater you need to know that many of the video’s I make for our kid areas have puppets in them. Very well done, professional puppets. Get that? No teenagers and puppet mouths talking to the ceiling. No Friday Night puppet skit practice to prepare for. No combing of yarn hair to make sure the Devil Puppet has straight black hair, and it’s not too fuzzy. Leave the puppet’s to the professionals. Use their skills when you need them.
I love puppets. Seriously, I do.
So are you still using puppets with your Elementary-age kids? Have you moved away from them? Are you a puppet-lover, and everything you’ve just read made you mad? Do share!