So, I’ve been asked by quite a few people, and staff, about the look for Straight From Jesus. (Straight From Jesus is the current sermon series at Christ Community Church.) More pointedly, they want to know why there is a puppet in it. What does the puppet have to do with anything? Well, allow me to explain.

Back in May, I was tasked to come up with something creative to lead-in to the Straight From Jesus messages. We didn’t have a look or a big idea, there was no concept except the messages would be based on the words of Jesus. It was on us to come up with something. I had come up with a few ideas, but nothing really stuck. Partly because people still weren’t sure about the series and how my ideas would support it. Understandable.

Well, Christine Gerhart and I were talking one day about ideas and somehow Nick Kelly came into our impromptu meeting. He brought up a sock puppet. Why? Because he had wanted to use one for awhile in a series, but didn’t know what series we could use it for appropriately. This seemed like a good chance.

Christine designed the look, which she always does well, and it was on me to come up with a creative piece that would employ the puppet. I came up with the idea of a series of bumper videos loosely based on Sesame Street sketches, which have humans and puppets interact. We’d have two individuals arguing over some issue, and then our puppet would interject and solve the argument by quoting Jesus. (Something good comes from watching Elmo with Liam.)

I wanted our two individuals to be people that would be known by those watching. I wanted them to be people that wouldn’t normally argue. And, I wanted the manner in which they bickered over issues to be somewhat comical. (However, with a wink at the fact these are things that have been argued over in the past.) It had to be light-hearted, obviously, since we were going to use a puppet. These videos would be short, 30-45 seconds in length.

I wrote up a script and gave it to Nick. He liked it, but had to get the idea approved before we could proceed. What happened? Well, Kingdom Color happened and I was tasked to produce the special Kingdom Color podcast that covered Omaha’s civil rights history. The Straight From Jesus bumper videos were put on hold indefinitely. And then, I went to China which meant the videos wouldn’t happen.

That’s why we have a puppet. And now, here is the script I turned in for a potential video. Just so you can know there actually was a concept based around a puppet. This is the initial draft, no edits have been made.

ANDRE and DUSTY are in an empty room that is painted a solid, light color. The room is similar to what you would see in Sesame Street when people interact with puppets. ANDRE and DUSTY are facing one another, immersed in the conversation they are having. The scene cuts in on the middle of the conversation as its intensity heightens. You can only see them from the waist up in the shot.
DUSTY – You need to relax your fashion.
ANDRE – You need to step your game up with your wardrobe.
DUSTY – Dude, the Lord accepts me for who I am no matter how I dress!
ANDRE – Brother, I show respect to the Lord when I come to worship him!
All of a sudden SIMPSON, a sock puppet, pops up in between them and separates DUSTY and ANDRE as they appear to get ready to fight one another.
SIMPSON – Hey! Guys, guys, guys! Haven’t you heard? Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God?
DUSTY – You’re right Simpson.
ANDRE – Yeah. Where did you hear that?
SIMPSON – Straight from Jesus!
SIMPSON holds his mouth open at the camera. At this point, ANDRE and DUSTY face the camera and give an over-the-top smile. The also give a thumbs-up to the camera. They hold this pose as the shot transitions to the sermon series brand.

So, there you go. The idea was tabled, and rightly so since there were other projects that were priority. (Or, it was tabled because the videos would’ve been a disaster. I can accept that.) I never talked to any of the staff about acting. The other two scripts I had written dialog for were centered around David Potter/Steve Yost and Tim Perry/Wendell Nelson.

Naming the puppet Simpson? That is after A.B. Simpson, not Bart Simpson.

Perhaps another day we’ll be able to use the sock puppet idea.

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