I love the element of drama in children’s ministry. Though many of us would love to have a great drama team show up each week, and present the lesson live to our classes, often a volunteer children’s leader simply doesn’t have volunteer staff who can devote that much time to learning scripts each week. On a smaller scale, we have had great success bringing different “characters” into our services to help reinforce the lesson of the day. Adding a character is easy because:
Any character can participate in any lesson.
It doesn’t matter what kind of character it is, or what the lesson is for the day. Last week we had “Miss Kitty” in Momentum Kids. She appears unannounced, just as I’m finishing a Bible lesson, and insists on “helping” me teach the lesson, which she promptly gets wrong. The kids all jump in to help tell her how it really goes, and it is a great time of laughing and reviewing. Miss Kitty is quite a character and gets very confused. Last week, Jonah was on a cruise ship on his way to Joppa! Any character can be a walk in story teller like that.
You don’t have to learn a script.
If you can find an animal costume, you can “interpret” what the animal is saying, so the volunteer helping you doesn’t have to learn a script. In the past we have used a dog and a chicken who have come into the room and barked or clucked, respectively, and I, as the lead teacher, simply interpreted for the kids what the character said. And even though the kids all know that it’s a person is a costume, it is still different enough, and funny enough, that they just go with it. The key seems to be that the characters are very excited, overly animated, and funny. No matter how old you are, if a 6ft chicken comes flapping and clucking into the room, you have to pay attention to it. It’s hilarious. And, it’s not difficult to find volunteers to be the character, since they don’t have to memorize a lot of lines of script. They just have to be willing to play up the part. If the chicken just walks to the front of the room and stands still, it’s not going to work. But it that same chicken comes flapping in, squawking at the kids, and acting hysterical, then you will have everyone’s attention as the chicken “squawks” about what their chicks just did which, coincidentally, always ties into what you just taught about!
Characters can be added very reasonably.
Costumes can be very expensive and if you have the budget to buy one, go for it. It’s a great investment for a character that can reinforce what you are teaching, and could also be used as a mascot for your ministry at events away from your church. But if your budget doesn’t allow a full bodied costume with a fan-cooled head, you can still find great deals. Post Halloween costume sales are a good place to start. Also Craigslist and ebay offer good deals from time to time. A local costume shop may be a source of good ideas, as well. If budget is an issue, find your character first, then find the angle to bring them into the lesson. I found cat mask. We added a cheap wig and a thrift store oriental-print robe. And Miss Kitty was born.
This is what sold me on using characters. I had kids in my elementary ministry that could still tell me about a story that the dog had “barked” 2 years ago. If it helps kids remember how God’s word applies to their life, it’s worth my time to add that character into my service.