Puppets… aren’t they just for kids? That’s a question that we’ve heard so many times! But we’re convinced that although they may often be aimed at children, the big kids (a.k.a. the adults) love and learn from them too!
Many different ideas will come into your head when you hear of puppets, whether that’s Punch and Judy, Sooty and Sweep or perhaps the more popular Muppets. This can sometimes be a barrier to using them in church (virtually or for real!). But if you go through these assumptions, we’ve found that puppets that are done well can really help teach the gospel to every age in a way that is fun and exciting. Sometimes with a “normal” talk, the barriers are already up against what is being said and so people do not listen. But with puppets, even those who have never been to church often remove those barriers because they are enjoying being entertained. Then, when the barriers are down, they are open to hear the gospel.
Although normally we’d be doing the puppets live during our church service, during this time of being online we’ve changed to creating videos of puppet sketches and songs. They work surprisingly well on video! The videos are uploaded to our brand new Reach Puppets YouTube channel so that they can be shared and watched by our church community during the week on social media. The main way they are being used, though, is through our Messy Church. The videos help to explain the story or point being made in a way that really engages the kids. We (or maybe the puppets!) even had some fan mail this week from a child who is excited to watch Messy Church because their favourite puppet characters (Jack and Polly) are going to be there!
We’re not keeping the videos for ourselves and would love others to use them (either via the YouTube channel or drop us an email for the raw video). It does take time to make the videos so it’d be great to see them used in as many contexts as is helpful. As well as online events like Messy Church and the main Sunday service, we think they will also work posted on social media to encourage and evangelise during the week. Also, if you would like a video on a particular topic then just get in touch and we can do our best to come up with something!
So what is our motivation in all of this? To reach up to God in praise whilst reaching out to people with the gospel – and online who knows how far the gospel will go!
Josh and Heather Kirby
Josh and Heather Kirby. We’ve lived in the North East of England now for about 10 years and our home church is Christ Church Newcastle. We started doing puppets in church 3 and a half years ago and now they are taking over our house!