I have found over the years that using puppets has been an effective way of engaging both young and old alike with the truths of the Gospel.
Puppets can draw people into a story that is going on between the puppet characters, and will often touch people’s hearts deeply. They can also say things that either can’t be said by a service leader or might be boring if simply spoken as a talk.
Puppets used in the context of a worship service are not an “entertainment slot” for the children; if used intentionally they can be a powerful teaching tool for children and adults alike.
The puppet scripts provided here are essentially dialogues between two characters. They enable teaching on a biblical point in a humorous and accessible way. The scripts give explanations of the things you can say before and after the puppets to drive the point home.
James & Grandad: Dialogues between a young boy called James who wants to follow Jesus but keeps getting things wrong and his wise old Christian Grandad who helps to sort him out.
Cameron and Camilla: Dialogues between a husband and wife camel! Used mostly around the Christmas and Easter seasons. Cameron and Camilla can also lead whole Crib Services – see the Seasonal Services section.
Other Scripts: Dialogues between a young boy called James and his friend Lucy. Lucy is a follower of Jesus and helps James especially with situations he gets into at school. Dialogues between James and an off-stage voice; sometimes his father, sometimes God.
What do you need?
- A pair of puppets. The pictures above give a guide to the types that work well. Choose ones with the right skin tone to work well in your setting. They can be obtained from many sources including http://www.onewayuk.com. For the odd script where another character is required (eg. James’ cousin Leroy), simply putting a wig, sunglasses and a jumper on granddad can make a quick and cost effective transformation.
- A Screen. Lots of options here.
- A simple office divider panel can work well.
- Some church pulpits can be used if the puppeteers kneel down.
- You can make your own using a black curtain (theatre backdrops are cheap on eBay or self-made) plus a couple of tripods and a cross bar. Photographer’s backdrop stands can be cost effective. Many churches have portable speaker tripods which just need a DIY crossbar added.
- Full puppet theatres can be purchased from places like http://www.onewayuk.com.
- These are dialogue based scripts and it is essential that the words can be heard. As the puppeteers are behind a screen, good microphones will be needed in all but the smallest venues.
- Two puppeteers. It is best to use the same person to voice each puppet every time that they are used as they rapidly develop characters that the congregation know. The scripts can be pinned to the back of the screen so there is no need to learn the lines; you just need to practice “syncing” the mouth and head movements.
Beware that most people find the natural hand movement is to close the fingers when speaking – but to open the puppet’s mouth you need to do the opposite. Simply moving a puppet head downwards or sideways can add much emotion to the “performance”. Trying in front of a mirror at home is probably the best way to practice.
I can provide further advice by email or lead seminars for your All-Age Worship Team.