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Drama–yes, you can do it!

By June Creel

Christian drama is limited only by the imagination. A few of the possibilities include full-length presentations that make up an entire service or for special occasions and shorter dramas for retreats, school assemblies, Sunday school classes, and entertainment for church parties or newcomers’ gatherings.

A short sketch (1 or 2 minutes) is a unique way to make a special announcement your congregation will never forget. Depending upon the nature of the announcement, the sketch may be humorous or one that will tug at the heartstrings.

Sermon dramatizations can be used before, during, or after a pastor’s message to illustrate and enhance it.

Dramatizing a choir’s message in song can add to a musical worship experience.

Christian drama is a powerful way to share the message of Jesus on the street. A few short sketches may be used to draw a crowd and present the message of salvation. Afterward actors can work with the audience one-on-one to lead them to personal commitments to the Lord.

Christian drama is not beyond the grasp of smaller churches with limited budgets. Costumes, sets, and props do not have to be expensive. For example, the feel of ancient Palestine may be created by using cushions, rugs, straw mats, fishnet, and clay pottery. Large pieces of fabric may be draped over platform musical instruments that cannot be removed from the stage. For example, an organ covered with cloth becomes an effective kitchen center. A throne may be made by draping metallic material over a platform or foyer chair. Keep a supply of mats, rugs, and coarse fabric to use over and over in a variety of ways from props to backdrops.

Outdoor scenes may be created by using greenery and rocks. Add a simple park bench to give the scene a modern look. Props, such as clay urns, turn thoughts to biblical times. It is not always necessary to have backdrops, particularly in shorter sketches, but when necessary, sheets of Styrofoam are marvelous for both indoor and outdoor walls. It is inexpensive, lightweight, and easily textured to look like stonework, wood, or masonry.

"One person’s trash is another person’s treasure" comes into play when looking for props or costumes. Old lamps, dishes, or small tables may be purchased for almost nothing at garage sales or thrift shops. Costumes, including old hats and accessories, can also be found in such places. Discarded wigs from the 1960s and 1970s make excellent biblical wigs. They may be cut and styled for male characters, such as Jesus, as well as for women. Items your own congregational members are about to discard are often the very props needed for your next production. Let them know the kinds of items you need.

Only one person–a pastor, youth pastor, or layperson–is needed to begin an effective drama ministry in a church. His or her interest and enthusiasm in using drama as an evangelism tool will quickly spark others’ interest.

A short dramatic monologue, done in costume, is an excellent way to introduce a congregation to Christian drama. As others become interested, brief and amusing sketches with a powerful message are the next step. Be alert to identify those within the congregation who have potential as actors or technical workers. Drama does not require experienced actors. What a delight it is to watch people discover hidden talents and add new dimensions of ministry to their lives.

For any sketch or play utilizing more than one person, someone must be in charge. Rehearsals always run smoother and end sooner when the actors and stage crew understand the importance of respecting the director’s authority. While the ideal in larger productions is to have an acting director, a producer, and a stage manager, one person can carry the load in a smaller church by delegating specific tasks to dependable volunteers. Many who do not feel capable of acting would welcome the opportunity to be a part of a dramatic project. Remember, a key to success is getting as many people as possible involved.

New actors may be frightened at the thought of memorizing a script. Encourage them to familiarize themselves with it. Allow them to memorize important cues and say the remainder of their lines in their own words. Being relieved of such pressure will give them confidence, and they will be more comfortable moving about the stage.

A successful drama ministry brings people to a saving knowledge of Jesus and challenges Christians to be wholehearted in their walk with Christ. Prayer is a must. Pray over the selection of a script, rehearsals, and performances. Through prayer the cast and crew members’ hearts as well as the audience will be prepared. Don’t be surprised if some of the greatest heart changes take place wj thin your cast and crew. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal of Christian drama is not entertainment but evangelism. No matter how elaborate the set, how beautiful the costumes, or how excellent the performance, the final word on the success of a Christian drama can only be measured in its eternal consequences.

Drama materials ranging from monologues to full-length dramas are available from Drama for the Harvest, and the writers also custom-write plays for specific occasions or situations upon request. Themes range from biblical to modern-day situations. As the name implies, all Drama for the Harvest materials are based on Scripture and are evangelistic in nature.