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Christian Puppetry

Discussion in 'Puppet News' started by Buck-Beaver, Oct 10, 2006.

  1. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    I'm curious to get people's thoughts on Christian puppetry. I recently posted my own thoughts about it on my PuppetVision Blog and was surprised at the response (there are links within the posts to a couple other blogs talking about Christian puppetry in the last few days).

    I really don't think it's appropriate to start a religious discussion here, but I would be interested to hear what everyone thinks about the subject from an artistic/puppetry point of view. Have you seen any Christian puppetry? Do you do it at your church (if you belong to one)? What do you like about it? What do you not?

  2. wes

    wes Well-Known Member

    Amen, Lets get it on!!

    If we keep it to this thread, it shouldn't be a problem.:)

    Buck you just got on my Favorite Topic Here I go::crazy:

    The deal with Christian Puppetry is the the most of it is horrible. That is why i am trying to change that. Most of the time really good meaning teaches and pastor use the medium of puppetry to convey a message with a emphasis on the message and they forget about the skills of puppetry, they thinks "I got a puppet on my hand the kids will listen to me." or " I need to fill some time lets do a puppet song".See what some ministers, pastors of lay people don't understand(and what i stress when i do a puppetry seminar) is that message can be lost by bad Puppetry, it doesn't matter if you have the most expessive puppet in the worl if you have bad skills everyone will tell. Kids as well as adults as not stupid they know when its not done right, because it doesn't look right.

    There should be a emphasis on both skills and ministry, when I start a puppet team i take usally a weekend and do a bootcamp stressing on the basic skills.
    I drill the team! and i work in the fact that we are doing this for a ministry, that if we don't do it right that our message will be lost. I also believe that what ever we do we should do it to the best of our ability,(does anyone know where this is found in the Bible) not half way! I stress this to my puppet team that consit of usally teen. This is mostly the first step that teens take into ministry. This also can be use to teach the teens/ students about dedication, responsiblity and our job to minister to the world(ea:The Great Commission)

    I know that May come accross a littile hard core, but this is my ministry that I believe God has given to me to teach other to use. It may not be other people thing thats ok I understand that everyone has their own way to minister even as silly as Cooking frozen cow parts a BK. I also believe that My skill and preforrmance is a form of worship to God that I can offer up Just like Ben The Puppetminister said that i love Jesus and I want to preform the best way I can to Convey the message of his Love to the world.

    Buck I bet you didn't expect a sermond this is just what I Believe, I truely hope I don't effend anyone, that is not my purpose in any way.

    I truely want to change the world of Christain Puppetry and the World in a Whole for Jesus Christ!!:)
    Our Hands, His plans!!
  3. Vic Romano

    Vic Romano Well-Known Member

    I think like a lot of puppet productions, Christian puppetry tends to be poor because the performers and writers just aren't that good at it. Puppetry is an art form, and a difficult one too, not every Tom, Dick or Jane can just pick up a puppet and make it come alive. With Christian puppetry, you'll have more of that because puppetry is viewed as a very effective tool for witnessing to kids and in high demand, therefore, the church will often recruit Tom, Dick and Jane to perform the puppets and write the scripts and the rest is disasterous.
    I did puppetry for my church for years. I found the Kingdom Karacter puppets to be fairly well made and was able to have my church purchase all our puppets from there. That's where it stopped though. I had an extremely difficult time finding any quality scripts, and found it easier to write my own. I'm not saying I'm a good writer, but at least what I wrote was tolerable and contemporary. The other problem I had was getting good help. No one at my church had any puppetry skill, and teaching them even the most basic techniques was very difficult. Their bad performance would affect mine sometimes as I became so focused on how poorly they would perform, my performance would become stiff and zombie-like just from interacting with them. Soon I just wrote scripts for one puppet with occaisonal human interaction (as acting isn't a simple task either) and eventually stopped altogether by the complete lack of artistic talent in general that exists. Let me rephrase that, I eventually stopped altogether by the complete lack of good artistic talent.
    Wes hit the head of the nail when he said "that message can be lost by bad Puppetry" as it is with all talents. No one is going to put a band with poor musicians out there to get someone interested in something, but what I've noticed (with most people, not just churches) is that the general conception is that anyone can manipulate a puppet, it's easy! Then they actually use a puppet and it looks like they're interpreting the disciplining of their dog, rather then making a puppet talk. It is in fact a skill, a talent and not necessarily one you can just learn. The problem isn't just in Christian puppetry, churches just have a higher demand for puppetry and hence why Christian puppetry stands out so badly.
    Zappetman likes this.
  4. Phantom

    Phantom Well-Known Member

    I posted this at puppetsandstuff, but I thought since I am already heavily involved in this discussion I would provide some more insight from my point of view.

    *Universal Truth Warning: A portion of what I am about to post is true. Yes, it is found in the Bible and whether that is your cup-or-tea or not, it's still true.*

    Here's the post:

    One reason some groups have success whereas others are not so successful may have to be labelled as "calling". Look at Steve Axtell, Dave Privett, Dave Pannabecker and the VonSeggens (OWS). Puppetry is their calling...their purpose. They share this purpose with Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Kevin Clash et. al. Their talent and skill set (and mind set) was very adaptable to puppetry and they've excelled at it. (Phil "Veggie Tales" Vischer seems to have the "calling.") All of these individuals have dedicated their efforts into their priority set, be it Christian or Secular, but this is okay since we are all different and we are not to judge.

    I hope puppetry is part of my purpose and that someday I will be viewed as part of that group. I really feel that it is the calling of many on this forum and the passion that they share is evident. Some, although it may not be their calling, can still serve wonderfully as long as they become passionate about improving and growing as puppeteers. The willingness of so many to undertake puppet ministry is wonderful and my hope is for all of them to pursue it will vigor.

    The bottom line comes down to this: Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might (Ecclesiates 9:10a NIV) or better yet: Work hard at whatever you do. (CEV) This doesn't apply to just puppetry. This applies to being ourselves, whoever we are, whatever we do.

    This is a universal truth.

    I have other thoughts, but this is enough for now. :)
  5. bezalel

    bezalel Well-Known Member

    I'm in favor of universal truth.
  6. Phantom

    Phantom Well-Known Member

    After Thought:

    You are absolutely right in puppetry is an art form no different from the medium of painting, writing, sculpture, singing or...creating in general, but as I write this I am reminded that I don't sing very well, yet I sing (not often in public though). I'm no Michelagelo, but I like to draw. Should I quit because I suck? or should I try to get better? We don't all have the same talents, but we should all be able to enjoy the activity.

    Hmmmmmmmmmm. The more I think about it maybe the criticism I offer should be more constructive and instructive.

    There are few on some of the puppetry forums that don't think I should be building puppets. Upon learning this, I was discouraged. I almost stopped all together, but I was greatly encouraged to keep going by a member of this forum and I'm glad I did. Puppetry is my creative outlet and I will do my best to use it to the best of my ability while growing and learning.

    The challenge that Christian puppetry faces is the same that we all must face everyday in every aspect of our lives and that is to do the best we can with what we have and always keep striving to do better.

    So much for my ramblings...
  7. Vic Romano

    Vic Romano Well-Known Member

    Agreed with you thoroughly Phantom. I believe that it is important that people take part in, learn and respect any art form that intrigues them. There can be and are venues for that in workshops, after school activities and the like. The truth though is that quality defines attendance and interest. If the general consensus is that Christian puppetry is poor, then clearly the original message about Christ and all other religious aspects are lost. Therefore, it's very important that these puppet shows (and any public performance) are good and entertaining, so that the message is heard, learned, understood and not overshadowed by poor performance.
  8. GabeFirestone

    GabeFirestone Well-Known Member


    I am Jewish, and this thread is slightly offputting to me.

    I can understand discussing the puppetry factor, but quoting the bible and Jesus refferences... I think those should be PMed or discussed elswhere.

    I have compleet and total respect for all of you (which I hope I get back in return!), bu in my opinion, this is not the place...

    sorry if this offends anybody. :concern:
  9. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    I don't know, I understand why quality is important of course. But the most important thing should be the message and the fact that you bother at all. :)
  10. pjspuppets

    pjspuppets Well-Known Member

    My two cents....

    Puppetry is an art form just like music, painting, etc. And those performing or displaying their art form should practice, study, and present their art to the best of their abilities. That being said, I also believe that performers who are not gifted with talent that measures up to others' standards still should be able to share their art in a public forum.

    Many puppet ministry teams are made up of kids and teens. And I would no more label their efforts as "horrible" as I would a middle-school orchestra. Sure, it's not a major city's Symphony, but it's still music and the expression of it is valid.

    God can use any sincere effort to send His message. He cares more about the motivation of those in ministry than the skill level or talent. And gracious audiences feel the same way.

    And, puppet ministry teams not only seek to reach their audiences, but also to minister to those on the team, nurturing their desire to serve God and be an instrument of His.

  11. pjspuppets

    pjspuppets Well-Known Member


    If you are going to be offended by a discussion of Christian ministry, maybe you should just avoid a thread that is clearly labeled "Christian Puppetry" -- do you have a better place for this discussion?

  12. bezalel

    bezalel Well-Known Member

    Hey Gabe...

    If it makes you feel any better, the only scripture quoted or referred to is from Ecclesiastes, penned by King Solomon (now there's a nice Jewish name) "the congregator". :)
  13. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    I'm sure no one was trying to be offensive in their discussion. :)
  14. wes

    wes Well-Known Member

    Sorry this thread offends you or is off putting we don't mean to be. We are not putting any ones Faith down we are just stating how we feel on this certain subject.

    yes this is true but lets say you have a friend who is to preach or give a speach on Jesus Christ or Mose and the burning bush or what ever, he gets up and mumbles trips over his words um's about a thousand times, how is any one going to get anything from his speach, But if he study and practiced his material and what he was going to say he can get up and give a mind blowing speach that is clear and everyone can understand.

    CHeck here: 2 Timothy 2:15

    I believe and this is just what i think, not Gospel, But you should want to have a great message and great puppetry to go along with it, if you chose to do sloppy puppetry with a great message the only people that you are hurting are the people watching and listening.
  15. sleepylagoon

    sleepylagoon Member

    I believe a message can be hindered by a bad perforfance be it puppetry, dance, acting, etc., however the strength of any ministry is the passion for it. Remembering that Jesus often taught and delivered His message of hope through stories in the streets withoutout any fanfare but the people who came to see Him. The priests an scholars of that day were often frustrated and angered at His lack of "professionalism" yet people responded to His passion for truth. He was truly a teacher to teachers.
    I would say we seem to have a commission to challenge the idea that Christian Puppetry is at its best, second rate. Those of us who can, need to seek out and get the available information to others who are laboring together in this ministry. It is surprising to find out how many church groups are unaware of the valuable information available to them.(and here I thought everyone was on the net). I truly appreciate Phantom and his calling to reach out to the ministers who are puppeteers. It has been in my heart for sometime now to minister to ministers and help those that wish to elevate their craft. I have yet to formulate a plan that can most effectively do so but I am confirmed in knowing others are concerned as well. As I have seen we are in a position to impress others with skill and bring a message of hope and love.:halo:
  16. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    That's a good point. If something is important to you, you should do a good job. I guess what I meant was that it doesn't have to be completely polished and "professional" to still be good. Like someone said before, a school choir isn't always on "professional" level, but their effort is still appreciated.
  17. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    I always agonize over discussing this subject, because on the one hand I don't want to attack someone's grandmother or a group of teenagers doing puppetry in a church basement for Sunday school, but on the other hand I would really like to see the artistic standards of the medium raised.

    Some people suggest that Christian puppetry can't be good because of the subject matter, but I think that's ridiculous. Some of the greatest works of art in the western world (think the Sistine Chapel, or The Last Supper) are religiously themed. I've written this before, but I think the real culprit is a focus on ministry over artistry (which is to be expected) and the limited number of puppeteers/builders who do Christian puppetry professionally.
  18. bezalel

    bezalel Well-Known Member

    Here's some universal truths -

    Bad puppetry is bad puppetry.
    A lousy script is a lousy script.
    A generic character is a generic character.
    Good puppetry is good puppetry.
    A great script is a great script.
    A well-designed character is a well-designed character.

    If you want to teach others Bible truths, teach them Bible truths. If you want to put on a great puppet show, then put on a great puppet show. Each desire has its requirements to be truly great. Meet the requirements and do it!
  19. dkmontgomery

    dkmontgomery Well-Known Member

    My Thoughts

    I believe that anything we do for God should be done with excellence and to the best of our ability. When it comes to puppetry, it should be done with this in mind. My wife and I have been involved in ministry for 17+years and have probably seen some of the worst and the best puppetry utilized in churches. We currently utilize a diverse range of puppetry in our ministry to families and kids all over the country. There are plenty of great resources out there to assist churches in organizing and implementing an effective puppet ministry and it does take some time. And yes, I agree with those that say it is a calling. Not just anybody can throw on a puppet and think that they are going to be effective. I really dislike it when we see a kid's church service where there was no practice and they just threw on puppets and played some music as they attempted to lip synch with the puppets. This gives Christian puppetry a bad name. Christian puppetry should be the best puppetry out there if you ask me and individuals should strive to make it the best if they are involved in it. Many thanks to places like One Way Street, ect.. that strive to teach good puppetry skills. :)
  20. dkmontgomery

    dkmontgomery Well-Known Member


    Well put!:attitude:

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