Write a play, a short but fun one that fits your sermon

In the church I was pastoring in the 1990s, we began inserting the occasional drama into the morning worship service, something we had created to fit the sermon.

Now, let me say up front that if you do brief dramas like this, you don’t have to purchase them.  And neither do you have to buy videos.  You have a few people in the congregation who would love to do something creative and helpful like this.  However, don’t do it more often than monthly, lest it grow old or get out of hand.

Here’s one from Sunday, July 11, 1993.  We called it the “Low Self-Esteem Anonymous Group.”

Margaret called the meeting to order.

Julie stood and said, “My name is Dummy–and I have low self-esteem.  I’d planned to look for a job this week.  But I didn’t.  Probably wouldn’t have done any good anyway.”

David stood to his feet. “My name is Invisible and I have low self-esteem.  I thought about asking a girl for a date this week. But I didn’t.  Who would want to go out with me?”

Jennifer said, “My name is Zero–and I have low self-esteem.  I thought about going to church.  But I probably wouldn’t fit in, so I stayed at home.”

Throughout this, Neil sits aloof, off to one side, making derogatory comments (which brought laughter).  Finally, he has enough.  He stands up, points to the sign and says, “Look at that–‘Low Self-Esteem!’ I love the initials–L.O.S.E.  That’s what you all are. A bunch of losers! I’m out of here.”

As he turns to leave, Jesse calls to him, “Hey Buddy–Egomaniac Anonymous meets down the hall, third door on the left.”

A voice comes over the speaker, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

The skit might have taken four minutes in all.  People loved it.  The little group enjoyed making it up and ad-libbing their parts.  Best of all, it dramatized the point of the sermon, that a person with little faith in God and low self-esteem will never attempt anything from fear.

The sermon that day came from the incident in Numbers 13 where the Israeli spies were intimidated by the walled cities, standing armies, and giants of Canaan.  We titled it: “How to conquer the grasshopper complex.”

In the sermon, I stressed that “the New Testament exhausts human language establishing who we are in Christ: sons of the inheritance, children of God, friends of Jesus, disciples of the Lord, saints of God, ambassadors of God, living letters, treasures in earthen vessels, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, God’s own possession.   And we emphasized the proper attitude of a believer: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13).”

In many cases, the most self-centered person in the room is the one who is feeling inferior.  Their thoughts are all of themselves.  “I can’t.”  “I might be rejected.”  Me, my, I, etc.  But the good news of the gospel is that Jesus Christ gets us out of ourselves.  “Whoever would come after me, let him deny himself.”

That was the thrust of the sermon that day, based on those old notes.  The message is still needed, isn’t it?

Anyway, that’s what we did.  What can you do?

If you decide to do something like this, we suggest that–

–you the pastor work with the small team you assemble in creating the skit and arranging for its performance.  If you turn this over to someone else and walk away, you run the risk of it becoming someone else’s vision and even a problem for your sermon, instead of an illustration of the sermon.

–do not delegate this to someone else–even your spouse!–until the group has done it enough times that they know what you want and you are confident they can be trusted.

–and even then, you should meet with the group at least quarterly and give them the subjects of three sermons you want skits for over the next few months.  (I’m assuming one per month.)  Talk it out with them, to make sure everyone is on the same page.

–the skit should come very early in the service. At the beginning before the first hymn may be best.

–limit it to no more than 5 minutes.  Three is perfect, but never more than five.

–get constant feedback from people whose judgment you value, as to its effectiveness.

–keep tweaking it.  Sometimes you might have a monologue with a single actor portraying a biblical character.  If you do this, as pastor you will want to either write the monologue or work out the thrust of the message with the actor.  And once again, limit it to a few short minutes.  The actor should rehearse it enough times that he/she will always stay within the time frame.

Have fun doing this.  But don’t try to build your whole church around drama.  It’s a nice add-on, but never should be the entrée (to mix metaphors!).

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