Drama is a powerful tool that can cause people to think and feel at a very deep level. Putting yourself into a story and “trying on” what characters in that story were thinking and feeling often causes you to see yourself in a new way. Drama can help you engage both your mind and emotions. Truth can become clearer and take 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 Scripture” section of this website. Here, the goal is to encourage you to consider taking one more step beyond seeing the Bible as a Story and actually consider acting out parts of Scripture.
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-known dramatization of Scripture is the “Passion Play,” a presentation of Christ’s trial, suffering, and death put on every ten years in Oberammergau, Germany. Scripture drama continues to be used in churches around the globe with sermons and in children’s and youth ministries by way of various-sized productions on a wide variety of Bible passages.
What does Scripture engagement as drama look like? It’s not cute, 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, 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 Scripture as the 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 or another gathering. With the right assembly of participants, a small group leader might even consider forming a group with the purpose of studying Scripture 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, and the resulting growth in faith and understanding of God and Scripture will be rewarding for everyone. Those who participate in the drama will be the most engaged and impacted by the experience, but those who watch will be affected as well. Dramatizing Scripture may seem unconventional or foreign to some at first, but with a little creativity and a lot of prayer, you may discover a unique way to experience God’s Word in an impressionable and memorable way.