Think about the last film you saw at a theater or on TV. Have you seen a play recently? What drew you in to invest 1-2 hours to sit down and watch? So often there is something memorable and moving about watching a story unfold that is being dramatized before us. We tend to put ourselves into good stories that are acted well, “trying on” for ourselves what characters are thinking and feeling, often seeing ourselves and the world in a new way. Drama helps us to engage both our minds and emotions. Sometimes truth becomes clearer and takes on more meaning when it is fleshed out through a dramatic presentation. You can read more about the power of reading the Bible as a story under the “Storying the Word” section of this website. Here, we want to encourage you to consider taking one more step beyond seeing the Bible as a Story and actually consider acting out parts of Scripture.
What if in a church or small group setting we could harness those powers that connect us so intimately with drama and use them to draw both believers and nonbelievers deeper into Scripture? With a bit of creativity, Scripture stories can come alive before people’s eyes—they are so much more significant than this week’s episode of the latest crime-solving drama.
The church has a long history of dramatizing Scripture. It is interesting to speculate whether Jesus, when he told his parables, might have even acted out some of them. The most well know dramatization of Scripture is the “Passion Play,” the dramatic presentation of Christ’s trial, suffering and death. Scripture drama has been used with sermons, in Children’s and Youth ministry; all through various-sized productions of different passages.
What does Scripture Engagement as drama look like? It is not cute, reworded retellings of Bible stories in the form of clever skits, though such performances have a time and place. To really use drama as a form of Scripture engagement we want to suggest it is important to remain as true to the exact words of the Bible as possible. For small groups, this is easily implemented as a sort of “reader’s theater,” where various group members volunteer to read certain voices in the text. Impromptu skits may be used as well, using the Scriptures as a script. On a larger scale, Bible stories may be rehearsed, costumes and props added, and an actual performance prepared that might be presented before a congregation on a Sunday morning or another gathering. With the right assembly of participants, a small group leader might even consider forming a group with the purpose of studying the Scriptures together in order to create such performances to be presented to a larger audience—a small group Bible study that also operates as a drama ministry.
The possibilities are many. The growth in faith and understanding of God and his Scriptures that may result could be incredible. Those who actually participate in the drama will be the most engaged and the impact will be the strongest on them. The dramatization of Scripture may seem unconventional or foreign to some at first. But with a little creativity and a lot of prayer, you may just discover a unique way to experience God’s Word in an impressionable and memorable way.