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I Love Puppets, Really… I Do.

puppetface

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!

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.

8 Comments

  1. Kenny · July 2, 2009

    Ha! You don’t love puppets. I’ll let you borrow a yarn comb if you’d like.

    So, if I had blue skin you wouldn’t trust me? Huh?

    Well, puppets hate you too.

  2. Sam · July 2, 2009

    What no creepy Elmer Love? Ha. Funny you should post this. You must have gotten some death threats from the people over at OnewayPuppets. I can think of few things more creepy than a death threat from a puppet.

    Be honest. You hate puppets. We all know it.
    .-= Sam ´s last blog ..Great Quote: Peter F. Drucker =-.

  3. Kenny · July 2, 2009

    Sam told me today that he uses puppets sometimes. It’s a dirty old chicken puppet. Ha!
    .-= Kenny ´s last blog ..Gateway story =-.

  4. Jordan · July 3, 2009

    Grace Place Kids may change your mind. Check it out!

  5. Clay · July 5, 2009

    I’ve got to say, as our church’s preteen ministry coordinator, I HATE seeing people try to seat preteens (4-5 grade) in front of puppets. It’s like trying to teach a college course using flannelgraph. We’ve not abandoned using puppets, just made it more age-appropriate: for our 5 y/o and below.

    The only way to get 4/5 graders to enjoy puppetry is if it’s done insanely irreverently, totally making fun of itself. As for 1-3 graders, you MIGHT be able to get away with it, but we’ve adopted KidMo! for the longest time, an entirely DVD-based curriculum. As for our preteens, we use Group’s Grapple. adjusted for our church.

  6. Jennifer · July 14, 2009

    we don’t use puppets for elementary ages either. the kids think it’s too baby. we have a quality puppet team for our preschoolers, though and they love it!

    by the way, i hate puppets AND i hate crafts. There I said it! I feel so much better.

  7. Daja · July 22, 2009

    There’s nothing like a round of Ticklish Rueben with old-funky looking puppets to draw a crowd of curious children in the middle of a third world country!

    Other than that……I guess I don’t see a need for puppets.

    :-)
    .-= Daja ´s last blog ..How To: Meals For The New Family =-.

  8. donald · September 1, 2010

    Ditto. ‘bad’ puppet ministry is dead…as should be. But we keep a closet full of them to be used, only, @ the right time, by the right people, & 4 the right audience.
    Flip video is a willing and able friend.