Drama Ministry: Practical Help for Making Drama a Vital Part of Your Church by Steve Pederson
Author Steve Peterson played a large role in the formation of Willow Creek Community Church’s thriving drama ministry. In this book, he compiles all the practical advice he has saved up since the ministry’s birth in the 1980s and passes it on to others who hope to develop such a program within their own churches. While the writing is tailored to a megachurch audience, with advice on how to run large auditions and how to work with many people on an almost professional level, pastors and small group leaders from modestly sized church communities can easily adapt the information to aid them in their ministry. This book does not contain material directly pertaining to Scripture engagement but is an excellent resource for those hoping to better prepare for a dramatic presentation of Scripture.
Eternal Significance of Drama
Many teachers have no qualms about putting on a funny Bible-times tunic and head covering to tell a children’s Sunday School class about David and Goliath from David’s perspective. But ask a teacher if he or she would be willing to do the same before the adult congregation on a Sunday morning, and the same person might tell you this simply is not an option. This article makes a solid case for using drama as we seek to teach Scripture to adults as well as children.
Parables for the Stage
For a great read on dramatizing Scripture, read the article by Pete Fernbaugh (you will need to scroll down a bit on the website to find the article). This actor and freelance writer has a unique view on Jesus’ parables. Using Aristotle’s six attributes of a play, he is able to describe how the parables contain five of the six and all we need to add is “spectacle” to use these timeless stories as “ready-made theatrical scripts.” With a focus on capturing these dramatic elements to effectively communicate truth, the author also gives practical advice on how to keep your rendition of a Bible story free of cheap tricks that take away from the deep meaning and eternal appeal already contained in the parables of Christ. This article puts up with no half-hearted attempts at theatrics and desperate grasps for a congregation’s attention. Instead it celebrates the theatrical potential contained in Scripture and the value of artistically using drama to bring these accounts to life.
For anyone who believes that the only way drama can be used in the church is through cutesy, clever skits that mask a biblical message, Nina Thiel is prepared to prove otherwise. The church is as ready today as it ever was to experience the accounts in Scripture as well-told and performed stories. Thiel believes that Scripture’s deep truth is often best engaged by both audience and performer when presented dramatically. Her thoughts in this article serve well as both encouragement and inspiration to anyone considering what it might mean practically and spiritually to dramatize Scripture.
SCRIPTS AND EXAMPLES OF DRAMATIZING SCRIPTURE
The Sourceview Bible
For anyone who would like to instantly incorporate drama (the good kind) into their small group, leaders need look no further than the Sourceview Bible. The color-coded passages of the familiar New Living Translation help us keep track of who is speaking and serve as a ready-to-go script for four volunteer readers. When Sourceview developer David Hamilton began to design this new way of formatting Scripture, he wanted to highlight the natural dramatic potential of the Bible that he believes was lost when chapter numbers and verses were inserted arbitrarily 500 years ago. The traditional chapter and verse numbers are still present but minimized so as not to interrupt the flow of passages that the original writers would never have expected to be divided in the first place.
A Human Slide Show of Scripture
A member of established Christian drama troupe “Friends of the Groom” describes a practical way any group with an audience can integrate drama along with a Scripture reading. With just a little rehearsal and a few chairs or benches, this activity easily invites audience members to experience Scripture visually while the performers experience it kinesthetically.
The Mark Drama
For those serious about engaging Scripture through drama in a big way, the team from the Mark Drama is here to help. In a matter of weeks, a Mark Drama representative will prepare your team of 15 actors and actresses to learn the book of Mark and present the Gospel story through drama using minimal costumes and set pieces. Please note that this organization is based in Europe and the Mark Drama has yet to be produced in the United States. Geographic location and funding may make this opportunity impractical for most. However, the apparent success of the Mark Drama speaks for its potential, should a group have the drive and resources to implement this work in their ministry.
Reader’s Theater for Three Voices
This script is a compilation of verses from Matthew, Luke, John, and Revelation, all pertaining to the birth of Christ. An excellent example of going beyond simply acting out or dramatically reading a certain passage, this performance for three voices gives the audience a birds-eye view of the significance of Jesus’ birth. The concept used here could easily be translated to other parts of Scripture by creating similar reader’s theater style scripts that incorporate passages throughout the Bible focusing on a specific topic, person, or event.
Sermon on the Mount: Proclaiming Scripture Through Drama
What if we let Jesus preach the sermon some Sunday morning in our congregation? Sure, he won’t be able to do the actual speaking, but he did leave us with a complete, 30 minute discourse ready to be presented in your worship service. Found in Matthew chapters 5-7, this great address is better known as the Sermon on the Mount. This drama team took things a step further by interpreting the passage dramatically in a way that is truly profound. Watch the video and be inspired by the theatrical potential contained even in expository biblical writing.