Using costume characters is a cheap and excellent way to help kids (or adults) grasp a lesson. They provide a number of benefits and can be utilized in a variety of types of services and any church size. We’ve used costume characters in outreaches, regular services, our family experiences, and even in our Easter and Christmas services, which is a great way to make visitors feel more comfortable. I’ve identified a few of the things that make costume characters a great tool that should be in every kidmin’s arsenal.
They are cost-effective: Costume characters can easily be created out of miscellaneous stuff you have lying around or by purchasing random items from yard sales and thrift stores. I also usually spend a little bit of money when Halloween stuff goes on clearance for wigs and props up to 90% off. When it is that cheap, I often buy things I don’t need but could possibly need someday. I’ll even help you get some cheap eyeglasses for your characters.
It only takes two people: Small churches in particular find it difficult to have a large pool of people willing to jump on stage. When utilizing a costume character, only one other person is needed to act as a straight man. If the person doing the costume character is fairly seasoned, they can often help even the most uncomfortable storyteller along. Usually this involves prompts from the character. However, it rarely works the other way. This is one of the best straight man/funny man routines ever.
They teach difficult lessons: How do you keep from making your audience feel stupid while still addressing their questions about a particular topic? Bring in someone who has the same questions to ask on their behalf. This has been done for ages. In Medieval days, a clown would interrupt the sermon and ask the “dumb” questions that needed be answered. We’ve been using clowns in church ever since.
They bring variety: Variety is the spice of life. I can personally play the part of an infinite number of characters just by changing costumes and slightly altering my voice. For an added benefit, try to get other people to be a character. You’ll be amazed who will fill this role well.
They don’t require an acting degree: It’s funny just who can pull off a great costume character. When I first asked my dad/senior pastor to play a character, I was hoping to get lucky. Five years later, we still use that character on a regular basis because he has done an excellent job. All he needed was a willingness to have fun and a little inspiration. As a side note, can you imagine the bond the kids in my church have with a pastor who is willing to do something like this? I highly recommend every senior pastor develop a character to use in kids’ services. Seriously.
They’re fun: Whoever said church was boring didn’t go to a church that effectively used costume characters. When done right, they bring energy to a service that cannot be matched.
Have you used costume characters? What other benefits are there to using them? Leave me a comment and let me know!
Bonus: My friend Ron Brooks has a video of his character, Teddy, in a recent service. This is an excellent use of a costume character. My favorite part of the video is towards the end when Teddy tries to use an old Jedi mind trick. Enjoy.