Recently I was part of a team of people that used a store mascot to do some local marketing. OK, I was the guy dressed up as a giant A&W Root Beer Bear. My team visited an elementary school in the community that was having a family carnival night. From the nasal perspective of my costume (I see out of the nose), the evening was a massive success for the school, the families and our store. In fact, I even overheard a few kids talking about when the Bear mascot had refereed their hockey game a few months ago.
It reinforced an idea I have been thinking about for awhile. Why don’t children’s ministries in church utilize some kind of mascot or character to connect with kids? I have seen how much my own kids love going to Chuck E. Cheese and singing and dancing with the mouse mascot there. And my experiences in the Root Beer Bear suit have given me first hand, experiential knowledge of the fact that most kids really enjoy interacting with an over-sized animal. I think churches need to get on board with this and use it as a way to get kids excited about visiting church each week.
Now obviously I am not proposing that we eliminate Jesus as the hero, or even that we replace him with some critter costume. But couldn’t we at least use a mascot to engage the kids in hearing about Jesus? Why not use something larger than life to teach kids about the one who truly is larger than life? My instinct and experience tells me that our kids would go nuts over this kind of thing. It is sort of like how on children’s Sunday the pastor always uses puppets. There is something about the fantasy that hooks the attention of kids.
I do have one fear though: My fear is that churches would start creating really cheesy Bible mascots. There is always a temptation to over spiritualize everything we do in church. I don’t think this is the right route. Let’s meet kids where they are at and connect a non-Bible character with the characters in the Bible. Let’s use something exciting for the kids to teach truths that are eternally significant.
So can a church mascot work? The thought of a Churchy the Church Mouse mascot is a little unnerving, but if you pulled it off just right it could work and be a fun way to connect kids to your church.