I have been in children’s ministry for a lot of years. I have had a love/hate relationship with puppets. No, I was not teased by puppets when I was a child. No bully puppets cornered me in the back of a puppet stage and gave me wedgies. There were also no charlie horses, noogies or ugly nicknames bandied about. The puppets I have known have been quite polite, if rather hard to figure out at times.
I started using puppets late in life. When I was ready to try, I discovered it was very hard for me to manipulate them in the way that the professionals do it. Put simply, I had too much pain in my back and arms which prevented prolonged upright positioning. So, I was reluctant to do full-blown puppet ministry despite the pressure from some who felt it was a needed addition to the children’s ministry. Add to that an overall lack of adult help in the children’s ministry. For a long while I shelved the idea.
In recent months I have come full circle, introducing puppets once again. But now I am a little older and wiser. Rather than appeal to adults or older teens to help. I am having the children themselves manipulate the puppets. Why didn’t I think of this before? They love to be in on the behind-the-scenes aspect of the ministry. They enjoy making other children laugh. They are enthusiastic, albeit a bit overly much at times. And, they save me from the physical labor of doing it all myself. I provide voicing and narration; they work the puppets, often with surprising creative flair.
We do not use puppets every week, but when we do I try to give all who desire to participate a chance to do so. Puppets still have a place in children’s ministry. My next venture is to conquer the mystery of ventriloquism…..