Incorporating Drama Into Your Church Ministry Program
You can vault it, chip away at it, or keep running into it. But that brick wall isn’t going away on its own.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been producing church dramas for years or if you’re just getting started. Sometimes you find yourself hitting the proverbial brick wall when it comes to introducing dramas into your church ministry mix—or keeping them there.
The brick wall can take different forms. It could be your pastor. (Yikes, did somebody really admit that?) Frankly, some people — clergy included —see drama as a waste of important time. After all, there are only sixty minutes in that ONE IMPORTANT HOUR on Sunday morning, so every minute spent on drama is taking away from important sermon time, isn’t it? Your pastor simply may not share the same desire you do to include various art forms of worship, such as drama, into the program.
So, what do you do? Let’s revisit the end of the previous paragraph. Drama is ART and it can be a FORM OF WORSHIP. If we worship through music and liturgy, why can’t we worship through drama? If we enjoy the artwork of stained glass windows, why can’t we enjoy the art of drama? Jesus used the art of storytelling to illustrate his messages. Should we strive to do no less?
Show the pastor how drama can actually add to the worship experience. It can be a comedy “icebreaker” to introduce the sermon, such as One Woman Coming Up, or a poignant illustration that can enhance the pastor’s message as a part of the sermon such as a visit by an “unanswered prayer” in Forgotten Friend (see both these scripts on dramaministry.com). Perhaps you can incorporate drama into another part of the service, such as lighting the Advent wreath.
The brick wall might simply be a communication issue. You don’t know what the sermon topics or scriptures will be, and your pastor doesn’t know what dramas may be available to help him/her illustrate those topics. The solution is, of course, to ask your pastor for this information as far in advance as possible. Many churches follow a common liturgical cycle; if your church is one of them, you can get a list of scriptures and lessons in virtually perpetuity. Or target special occasions that are planned well in advance, such as Christmas, Easter, Confirmation, New Member Sunday, etc., and look for dramas that tie into those subjects (go to dramaministry.com and click on “search by topic”). Select a nice, SHORT, middle-of-the-road drama that’s easy to produce and fits in well with an upcoming topic / scripture / occasion. Make sure the date is at least four to six weeks in the future (probably farther out for Christmas) so when you approach the pastor with a script, there’s plenty of time for him/her to contemplate how to incorporate it into the service. You might want to offer some ideas as well. Show the pastor the script you have in mind, and leave a copy with him/her. Share your thoughts on casting and how non-invasive the production will be to the flow of the service (and really make it that way!). Paint a reassuring picture with your proposal.
Sometimes the brick wall is the congregation. How can you convince them that drama has a place in your church? Some congregations have very set “traditional” ways, and don’t necessarily see change as a “good” thing, so the idea of incorporating drama ministry could be scary to them.
Perhaps a way to chip away at this particular brick wall would be to choose this Easter season to introduce drama to your congregation. Many churchgoers, even the most “traditional of traditional,” are familiar with Passion plays. This kind of drama is considered “safe” by most. They are deeply rooted in scripture and depict familiar biblical stories. In DramaMinistry.com’s Easter section, take a look at Captive Audience. Although dramas that depict Bible stories are important, you can also look for dramas that beautifully illustrate biblical messages (without being preachy), similar to Jesus' parables. In any case, it’s probably best to start with a short drama that is pretty straightforward (not too outrageous or intense).
Once you’ve produced several successful dramas, most everyone should see what you see — how important drama ministry can and should be in your programming.