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Joined: 2005/1/9
Posts: 1134
Germany NRW

 Puppet Ministry

Recenctly we had a team of puppeteers is our church. They used some pop songs and gave them a Christian makeover. I put up with this for a while but when God was depicted as a cartoon figure, and puppet nuns sung a funny song, I had enough and left the assembly. Outside waiting were some of the unbelieving relatives and spouses of some church members. I wondered if it was actually better for them to keep of of this anyway.
The sad thing is that this was a presentation for children. This is not just harmless banter but will affect the view of God of our future generation. I wonder how much we should put up with in a church were the teaching otherwise is rather solid :-(

 2008/8/25 11:13Profile

Joined: 2006/6/28
Posts: 3405
Dallas, Texas

 Re: Puppet Ministry

The sad thing is that this was a presentation for children. This is not just harmless banter but will affect the view of God of our future generation.

I can commiserate with you. This is just one of the many facets of how we've come to cope in Christian ministry without the Holy Spirit. I just got through watching a video of an Assembly God church where their "step team" evidentally won first prize of $500.00 at some competition. This "step team" was comprised of 6 girls dressed in army fatigues, wearing black t-shirts and BDU (battle dress uniform for all you non-vets) caps and they danced around the sanctuary slapping their knees like Bavarian folkdancers and hopped about in a cheesy cheerleading skit, stomping their feet and clapping in unision and chanting pep-rally like: "Jesus Christ means s-a-c-r-i-f-i-c-e". I had to turn if off at 30 seconds. It was just too embarassing, too painful to watch. Brethren, this is what happens when the Holy Spirit is gone, and Jesus is outside the church.

Who is responsible for these monstrosities? Can the blame be put on any one man or pastor or organization for the cause of Christ and the call of the cross to deteriorate to this level? Two hundred years ago, in the eras of Wesley and Whitefield and later with D.L. Moody did we need this? Talking vegetables, cucumbers and tomatoes to tell the story of Jonah? The colossal dumbing-down of the toothless gospel begins early. We just can't serve it for what it is, as Whitefield and the Puritans did; we must wrap it now with the clever artistic merits of man. It has to be cartoonized and satired and danced and filmed by actors and laughed at through puppets.

Zac Poonen asked the question of why Jesus just didn't give His gosepl to an advertizing agency; surely He could have saved Himself alot of footwork and trouble and maximized the usage of His and the disciples' time.

You know, I've read some Purtian children's prayers, and I've seen the curriculum that ministers and teachers of the gospel from those times exposed the children to at an early age. How Susanna Wesley raised her two boys John and Charles, how Matthew Henry and Issac Watts taught on prayer for little boys and girls without puppets and talking vegetables. I've read accounts of youngsters praying with wisdom and power and tears and establishing early on a disciplined regiment of prayer set aside each day and quiet time with God. It's not not possible with children, but how can they be influenced when it's the adults that must fall in line first?

When the adults grow, the puppets will go.

Paul Frederick West

 2008/8/25 11:36Profile


Well, my wife and I and our kids have alwats enjoyed Veggie Tales. By the time they were 8 years old the kids were usually over it. I dont see anything wrong with presenting the gospel in that manner for little kids.

However, I think we also, as a church, under estimate what kids are able to understand.

The problem comes in when the church thinks they need to "entertain" adults in order to keep them. In order to reach them. Everyone wants large numbers of people in their churches, yet I cant find anywhere in the NT where large numbers was a goal to go after. In fact... Jesus said "few are those who find it".

I refrain from saying this at times because I know it's not 100% true all the time... but if you're in a church with a large crowd there is probably something wrong with that church.

The first red-flag for me concerning a preacher/teacher is if he is immensely popular. Like Osteen.

I heard an excellent sermon yesterday by a local Baptist preacher. I wish I could get a recording of it, but dont think I can. Anyway... the basic premise of his message was we should always make the gospel applicable to the non-believer, but we should [b]never[/b] make it acceptable to the non-believer. Amen.

... but lets get back to reaching children:

I can tell you this, if you take a room full of 4 and 5 yr olds and start teaching as Spurgeon taught... you're going to have total and complete chaos on your hands in about 3 minutes. We're raising 4 boys in our house, I know what I am talking about. So presenting the gospel on their level is completely acceptable in my opinion... so long as it is presented truthfully and plainly.

I'm reminded of when the little children came unto Jesus, and the disciples tried to shoo them away. Jesus rebuked the disciples. Be sure that in our "great wisdom" as mature adults and mature believers in the Word that we dont become so mature that we forget what it's like to be a little 5 yr old boy. I have a 3 yr old and 5 yr old boys... if you've never been a parent please dont presume to offer opinions on how to reach children with the gospel. (thats not directed at anyone who posted on this thread since I dont know if they've had kids or not)

Anyway... I think we should all lighten up a bit without compromising the gospel. Entertain adult non-believers? No. Present the gospel to children on their level? Absolutely!


 2008/8/25 12:37

Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2732


Talking vegetables, cucumbers and tomatoes to tell the story of Jonah?

Oh my, this subject of relying on cute humor to engage children and teenagers, (and even adults) is an overlooked topic. How many spend years recovering from unbelief in scripture due to their Noah's ark bath toys?

I just had an important conversation with a young man this weekend, which was also a good reminder for myself. This youngster has a clever quick wit, and people like him for that. Yet I warned him, "Humor can seem to help make friends, but be careful not to become the comic. Don't build relationships with your jokes. Jesters can't be leaders. (Thankfully, he understands that.)

(edit: While a little silliness isn't worth caring about, I think always relating to children with cartoonish antics is a misguided policy. Perhaps this issue belongs in the same category as the "What Fire..." thread currently being discussed. )


Mike Compton

 2008/8/25 12:45Profile

Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4537



Like Brother Paul, I also understand your dilemma. It isn’t that I see anything wrong with puppets – but the rationale behind them. In the past, I have helped out with puppet ministries that were meant to illustrate Biblical truths in a way in which children might learn via such “visual” help. I suppose that puppets can be used to extrapolate or illustrate a message. I suppose that they can be used like parables to express truths. However, they are often used simply as a form of entertainment.

We have a real problem in the Body of Christ. The church has taken certain forms of entertainment and attempted to use it as a primary method of evangelism. In fact, in many larger churches, the ONLY form of church-sanctioned evangelism come from various “shows” that are meant to draw people into the “fold” – such as plays, dramas, music or comedy. Many churches take out large advertisements in order to explain just how “different” their churches are – that they aren’t “boring” since they have so many of these sort of activities integrated into the church’s weekly objectives (unaware that they have equivocated other forms of Christian living – such as agonizing prayer, Bible study and simple worship – as “boring”). In fact, I think that entertainment is the first and most important precept in Mega-Church Growth 101. Church growth experts often “guarantee” that your church will grow if you provide such things to your congregation on a regular basis. It is effectively pouring chocolate on the plates of children and youth hoping that they will somehow learn to eat their vegetables. It is as if the church is admitting that the Gospel itself is boring and unable to reach the people of this earth WITHOUT resorting to such gimmicks.

Now, it isn’t that “entertainment” is evil in and of itself. I am “entertained” when I read the Word of God – in the sense that I find myself consumed and gladdened by it. I enjoy reading, walking, running, spending time with my wife and involvement with some sports. But the Word was so clear that even physical activities as such “profiteth little” (I Timothy 4:8). In other words, they do have some value. Similarly, activities that are meant to educate, strengthen knowledge, and even impress upon our hearts and minds the things of God have value too. But whether the focus is on the things of God or mere entertainment is a sharply different matter. I don’t believe that we can simply “entertain” people into the Kingdom – because entertainment doesn’t convict the heart.

I once read about a large Mega-Church that actually has a “comedy club” during the late nights and weekends at its official “coffee house.” Again, it isn’t that humor is in and of itself a bad thing. There are some things that are just naturally funny! But many “church comedians” do their best to laugh people into the Kingdom. However, I don’t believe that a person can truly find Christ except through tears. They must weep over the realization of their own sinful conditions! We must approach the throne of God with reverence – and not with futile levity. Our eternal King doesn’t need any “court jesters.”

I certainly don’t know the ultimate conclusion of such a matter. I suppose that it comes down to deciding just what the puppet masters are trying to accomplish with their shows. Are they trying to help children by illustrating the Gospel so as they can unlock the “secrets of the Kingdom” (ala parables)? Or are they meant to simply entertain a generation of “church kids” who simply have a short attention span when it comes to the things of God? Like much of the contemporary Christian music industry, I fear that many of our efforts just cannot pass the test of Christ’s example for ministry.

I fear that, far too often, the Church and Christian parents are exchanging pacifiers for bottles of pure milk. They might help a child stop crying for a little while, but the child just isn't gaining any nourishment from a piece of plastic.



 2008/8/25 13:52Profile


I agree w/ what Chris just wrote.

Let me add something else to what I said. As a Christian parent the training of my children in the Word of God is [b]not[/b] the responsibility of the church.

It is [b]MY[/b] responsibility. I'm the one the Lord will hold responsible on that day.

Children of Christians should be learning at home about the Word of God. Now, sometimes that may take the form of Veggie Tales (especially if I need a nap on the couch! Ever take a nap with kids sitting on you as you lay on the couch?).

Most of the time it is in the form of homeschooling, or family devotional time just before bed. For my older boys it is in all those forms, plus their own personal "closet" time.

I'm actually not in favor of age segregated churches anyway. The family comes to church and the church immediately splits them all up the second they walk thru the door. A wedge is driven between kids and their parents in the name of "youth ministry"... and the main perpetrator is the so-called "youth ministry", generally some recent Bible college grad who has never raised any kids of his own.

No, my kids will generally learn at home, just as scripture prescribes. Thank you very much.

But in the course of their learning we use many different avenues. Veggie Tales, puppets, etc... it's very effective. And they out grow that stuff eventually.


 2008/8/25 14:08

Joined: 2006/9/13
Posts: 3170


"And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:2-3

I was working with some children in the AWANA program - from what I observed most of these children were simply hungry for love. The problem with the program was that it interfered with the teaching of the children as they were called away to play.

After a prayer meeting at the church, where we prayed for the children, the Lord showed me the fatal flaw of the AWANA program. It is based upon rewards. The children get badges and points for memorizing bible verses. These points are then used to buy things at the "AWANA store." This program is actually teaching children to be materialistic - to value things above God - for that which is the reward is necessarily more valuable than that which is done to receive it.

How can it be that we are teaching such things to children? How can it be that we are doing it in the name of God?

"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Galatians 6:7

 2008/8/25 14:53Profile


Yea... thats a real problem. The intent behind AWANA is a noble one, but the greatest flaw of all is that it relieves the parents of the responsibility before the Lord to train up THEIR children in the nurture and admonision of the Lord.

Sunday School wasnt started in the 1800's for the Christian families... it was started to reach the street kids. The unchurched kids. But now it's a mortal sin to not have your kids in Sunday School. It was never meant for Christian kids!

Christian parents need to wake up.


 2008/8/25 15:02

Joined: 2005/1/9
Posts: 1134
Germany NRW


I do not mind puppets per se to entertain children in an edifying way but when it comes to preaching Christ we should not take out the offense that the message causes to the natural man, even in children.

When we dum down, defuse, dillute, excuse, distort, ommit, trivialize or popularize the gospel we should not wonder why or kids can't wait to leave church once they can no longer forced by us parents. Or they stay in the church whith the false assurance that they are saved.

I am still looking for material to teach our children that presents the whole counsel God. Any suggestions? I will start another post about it soon.


 2008/8/25 15:41Profile

Joined: 2007/9/13
Posts: 1752


I agree with not dumbing down the gospel, but we need to teach our children the proper way of the Lord. There is a reason that Paul states to the believers:

[u][b]Hebrews 5:12-14 (NKJV)[/b][/u]

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. [b]But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.[/b]

Our children need to be taught discernment through our guideance. Until my children can comprehend the Word in its fullest, I will refrain from preaching the "Turn or burn" messages. At the same time, we teach our children the truth of unbelief, which includes "the burning pit".

Kid gloves for kids. :-)


 2008/8/25 15:54Profile

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