If you have met me or if perhaps you have seen me give a presentation, you know that I can get pretty excited about the work we do. Remember when Kermit would get really excited in The Muppets? Kind of like that.
But even though this work excites me, there are times when one of the experiments super-excites me. Today, I’d like to share one of those with you.
As you’ll recall, our framework at TryTank is that we gain insights and then develop ideas to address them. Sometimes that happens by design, and sometimes, inspiration hits. In 2019, I learned that the new “norm” for people going to church is once every four to six weeks. This also means that if they have children, they attend Sunday school every four to six weeks. It is hard to develop Christian formation of children when they are only getting bits and pieces. At about the same time, the movie came out where Tom Hanks played Mr. Rogers. And so, up came the question, what if there was a Mr. Roger’s type show that taught Christian formation to kids at home? The idea went into development and expanded and changed (they always do!). In the end, we developed something that to me is super exciting.
I’d like to introduce you to the Prayer Puppets. Think of them as a Christian Sesame Street that will regularly put out new episodes through the web to teach Christian formation to kids. Using the learnings of children’s television, the Prayer Puppets use lots of color and repetition to teach three things: 1) there is a God, 2) you are beloved by God, and 3) you can pray to God who listens. There will be many themes, but the goal is to always teach those three points. The show is aimed at two to five-year-old children. Each episode will also have a song to go with the theme (and they are catchy!).
But wait, there’s more!
As we developed the Prayer Puppets, we wanted ALL of God’s children to be able to see themselves in there so we developed varied characters. Our main one is Pax, a gender non-binary puppet (meaning they are neither male nor female). The other characters are all different colors and have different personalities and yet they all very much belong. Their differences are, well, normal.
This is Pax, our main character.
Three episodes of the Prayer Puppets are currently in production and will be ready to go right after Thanksgiving. The scripts are funny and warm. The theology is one we all recognize since it’s a theology rooted deeply in love. We are hoping that they are popular enough that it could become a self-sustaining ministry.
I am often asked if our experiments “move the needle.” Sometimes, however, we may not know for a long time. Sometimes, all we can do is plant a seed and let the Spirit do the work. But, I can’t help but wonder what would happen in our world if many, many more kids knew the truth that they are God’s beloved.
That really excites me.
The Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija is the founding director of the TryTank Experimental Lab.