Lifeway began testing the Coddle Cootie program during the 2006 Southern Baptist Convention in Greensboro, N.C. “The Coddle Cootie got off to a slow start,” said creator Jack Floyd Dennis. “Most people were not instantly drawn to it.” It took Sandy Blackstone, a tester from West Grenadere, Alabama, a while to warm up to the idea of even touching the bug. “Although I was hesitant, the first time I held it, I immediately felt more loved,” said Blackstone. “If it was not so…so… gremlin-looking, I probably would have grabbed it sooner. I have no problem picking it up now. My spirit is always soothed by the calming effects of Coddle Cootie.”
How does it work? The Coddle Cootie comes in an attractive Coddle Cootie Cocoon that can be placed in a corner of the church foyer so it is available to anyone entering through the front doors. Participants in the program, referred to in the brochures as Coddle Cootie Cuddlers, simply remove it from the Coddle Cootie Cocoon, hold it in their arms where it is visible for all to see, and carry it with them wherever they go on the church property. By carrying the Coddle Cootie, Coddle Cootie Cuddlers signal their imminent need for coddling. All members (and even visitors) are encouraged to coddle and comfort anyone cuddling the Coddle Cootie.
There have been some problems. For example, the Coddle Cootie at the First Baptist Church of Cold Barn, Tennessee remained in its cocoon the entire Sunday last week. One of the deacons discovered on Monday morning (through a helpful, informative conversation with his wife, who had found out from a friend in the women’s Bible study, who had found out from her husband, who had found out from his best friend, who had found out from a discussion in a men’s Bible study) that one of the members who had just arrived home from the hospital and was back at church for the first time in 3 weeks, was upset at the pastor for not recommending that she take the Coddle Cootie. "She apparently desired for someone to recognize that she needed coddling and invite her to use the Coddle Cootie rather than get it on her own. The process does have a flaw. Those needing coddling have to actually pick up the Coddle Cootie. If you don’t pick it up, we can’t help you,” said FBC Cold Barn’s pastor.
There are also plans to insert a cell phone within the new version. "We want pastors, deacons, and other ministers and members to have a way to immediately reach the person in need of coddling," said Dennis "even when they are not on the church property." Equipped with a phone, the Coddle Cootie Constant Companion Cuddler should be reachable 24/7. The church leaders and members will be able to call the Coddle Cootie Cell and know their ministry efforts are getting straight through.
Preliminary help guides for the Coddle Cootie Constant Companion include a list of important things that Cootie Callers should remember when calling the Cuddler:
(1) Put no pressure on the Cuddler to do ministry. This could lead to negative consequences.
(2) Assure them that everything will be okay and you totally support them 100% no matter what they do.
(3) Try to schedule a time to meet them at work or home. Or, have a reaffirming meeting in a neutral coffee house, a movie theater, or their favorite restaurant.
(4) If you determine that there is any hint that anyone has hurt their feelings in the slightest way, try to arrange for the perpetrator to call the victim cuddler. Encourage the perpetrator to give the cuddler time. They may not be emotionally ready to talk to the perpetrator about it, but they still need to know that he or she is thinking about their pain and concerned. Encourage the perpetrator to call each day and not stop until the victim cuddler feels 97% better.
(5) Church leaders should place a followup call each day to the Cootie Cuddler. If possible, send at least two quick emails of reassurance.
So, the next time you visit a church, check to see if there is a Coddle Cootie Cocoon in the foyer. It’s a good sign that this church is not only ready to minister to you, your spouse, and the needs of your family, but they are signaling something much deeper. A Coddle Cootie in the foyer signals that this church is also prepared to coddle your every bad feeling, every bad feeling of your spouse, as well as every bad feeling of everyone in your family.