Can Puppets Preach?

The effectiveness of puppetry is obvious. Just a click of the remote to a kid’s TV channel shows numerous big companies investing in puppetry to get their messages across to kids. With so many puppet-centered programs on television, quality puppetry in the church is even more important. Remember the verse that says that whatever you do, you should do it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not men (Col. 3:23)? We only want to give God our very best. That includes whatever we do in puppetry. Kids love puppets, in moderation. A certain church once had a terrible time with keeping the attention of their children, and had methodically removed the 4th and 5thgraders to other classes during the Children’s Church hour. It wasn’t the children’s fault. Upon investigation, the Children’s Church time was about 90% puppets! To make things worse, the puppets were old and ragged. Lip sync was nearly non-existent with puppet arms dangling by their sides for the entire service. …as unto the Lord? Hardly. After several changes in equipment, service structure, professionalism, etc., 4th and 5th graders were able to rejoin the kids’ worship service and behavior problems were almost non-existent. So, how can puppets be effective in Children’s Ministry?

Preparing Your Lesson

First, don’t build your service around methods you want to use, such as puppetry; hear from God on the topic to be taught and then begin adding visual teaching segments that illustrate that topic. Next, find or make some quality puppets. Then, use quality skits, songs, etc. that will enhance as well as reinforce your lesson topic. Spend some time watching programs that feature puppets and notice their body movements, lip sync, and other gestures. (Also take note of the use of props and sets, but movement first.) Practice lip sync in front of a mirror. Practice some more. And then add to your practice time good body movements (the puppets, of course!). Once your basic movements are secure you can begin adding props and sound effects to the skits.

Ways to Incorporate Puppetry

Here’s a short list of ways to incorporate puppetry into you service.

  • Have a puppet skit (live from script, pre-recorded as w/ Sam Saint skits)
  • Have a puppet song (solo w/backups, solo w/o, solo w/props, quartet, blacklight, etc.)
  • Have live interaction between the puppet and a front person
  • Have the puppet tell the story (as character in Bible story or life application story from curriculum)
  • Have the puppet review the scripture verse (humorous repetitions, flashcard or balloons w/live hand puppet)
  • Have the puppet present the object lesson
  • Have the puppet welcome visitors
  • Have a puppet read the review questions for the game (The front person picks the children.)
  • Have the puppet ask discussion questions.
  • Have the puppet sing a silly birthday greeting.

For a complete guide on puppet team directing, see the Puppet Director’s Notebook or Puppet Ministry Made Easy in the Outlet Mall.     

 
Originally Posted in the Children’s Ministry Inspiration Vault Children’s Ministry Inspiration Vault.
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Steve Newman
Stephen M. Newman is the author of Experiencing Worship, A Study of Biblical Worship, and Founder & Editor of ExperiencingWorship.com. Steve currently serves as Pastor of Worship, McKinney Memorial Bible Church, Fort Worth, Texas. Steve has extensive experience in both traditional and contemporary worship styles and has been serving in music and worship capacities since 1982. Steve earned a Bachelor of Music degree with emphasis in Church Music from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1986. He has also earned Master's of Worship Ministry and Doctorate of Worship Ministry from Christian Leadership Seminary, Elma, New York. Used by permission of ExperiencingWorship.