PHILOSOPHY OF PUPPETRY
I feel really sad for those who look at puppetry as "someone playing with dolls." I have even heard this comment in Christian circles. Christians who have this idea, have no idea of the impact that puppets have on teaching the Word of God. I define the Christian puppeteer as, "A Christian theatrical performer who uses puppets to teach the Word of God."
Videos have a good impact, but they lack one good important ingredient, and that is, that they are not done as a live performance. Videos can be of a high quality performance and really catch the attention of the audience, but people prefer a more "personal" and live performance. People can feel more involved with a more personal performance, especially when there is some interaction between the puppets and the audience.
Being more involved with the audience means more attentiveness. Most children seem to love to have attention, so it is good to have the puppets talk to them and even to call the children by their names. At the same time, it also good to know where the child is sitting, so that you can also have better eye contact between your puppet and the child.
Humor is a good tool to use to help hold the child's attention, but it should not be the main focus of the play. You don't want the child to be laughing when you are trying to bring out the main point(s) of the play [the Bible verse(s),] so humor should only be used to enhance the play. Every play that you use, should have at least one Bible verse in it, so that the Holy Spirit can work in the lives of the children.
Today, I keep hearing that puppetry is a dying art. I believe that the real problem is the lack of people who want to serve the Lord. Puppets are still popular with children, but it is harder these days to find people who wan to serve the Lord. Many of the people who are involved in a ministry, don't seem to have their heart in it like it used to be. I believe that the problem isn't the art, but the "artist."
I see too many puppeteers who don't really put any effort into it. At one big church I went to, I announced that I wanted to
start a ministry in the church and not one teen volunteered. At another church, I talked to a pastor's wife and she said that there was no room for such a ministry. So, as I see it, it's not the children's lack of interest, but the unwillingness of a lot Christians to serve the Lord.
What saddens me so much, is to see a good puppet play being poorly done. Children enjoy a good puppet play when people spend time in preparing for it. I believe that it can bring harm to a ministry that is given only half an effort and it sets a bad example to the children. (This may be one reason why puppetry isn't as popular these days.)
It seems that Christians who don't want to grow in the Lord, go to churches that don't encourage it and Christians who really want to serve the Lord end up in churches that have several ministries. I hate to say this, but, if you are having problems getting good help, maybe, you should look for another church that welcomes a puppet ministry. (There are some out there.) Whatever you decide, make sure it's the Lord's Will and that you have peace in your heart to serve in another church.
Today, we see a lot of discouragement going on and people giving up the ministry. Always talk positive to the puppeteers, talk about how well the children enjoyed your last play you did, and let them know how important they are to the ministry. (Believe me, they need this!) If they made some mistakes let them know that it's not a problem and most of the time the audience think that it was done on purpose to be funny.
I believe that puppetry will be around for many more years in one form or another, but we need to be careful not to "give it a bad name." We need to encourage one another to do what is right. In most cases, it's not a good idea to do puppets week after week or your puppeteers could face spiritual burn-out that could have a long lasting effect. If you have teens, make sure you give them time to be involved in other activities in the church where they can interact with other teens in the church.
May the Lord be with you in all of your Godly endeavors! Terry Price