How to...Prepare Drama Productions for Your Church

The previous issue of Reformed Worship (57) included an article describing our church’s dramatic production on the life of Jesus based on Michael Card’s The Life. In this article I’d like to make suggestions for others who want to take the journey from the page to the stage.

1. Start with excellent material.

Explore the scripts of Tom Long, Gillette Elvgren and other playwrights who build good stories with meaningful messages. Adapt scripts using songs that can create visual pictures. Stories from devotionals or children’s stories can also be great sources for drama. Don’t forget to seek permission from the author.

2. Have a strong personal commitment to the production.

If you initiate the project, you need to follow it through to the very end. You must be the one who gets the key people involved. Many of the details will fall to you. Don’t underestimate your personal vision, and your enthusiasm will become contagious.

3. Explore drama in worship.

Don’t make a full production your first step into drama. First explore dramatic readings of Scripture, vignettes, mimes, and movement pieces. Encourage and lead a core group of actors in your church.

4. Get key people involved.

Enlist your pastor’s support. His or her enthusiasm will make it easier to enlist the support of those who need to approve the project. Get them on board early and keep the lines of communication open.

Go after a strong creative team. Look for people who have the skills to serve as music director, visual artists, sound/lights technicians, and creative directors. Other vital people include stage manager, costumers and set builders. The creative team will mold ideas and create new ones. They will help find the actors, dancers, musicians, and necessary support people.

6. Prepare a rehearsal schedule.

Before people sign on, they need to know how much time they are committing. Do long-range planning so that everyone is prepared for what lies ahead. Be flexible and patient with your volunteers and remember that they are being just as flexible and patient with you.

7. Let go and let God lead.

Recruiting all the folks you need for your cast, musicians, and technical people takes work. People will doubt you. They may even quit on you. You may have a few sleepless nights, but pray that the glory of the Lord shines through. During the rehearsal process, we were astounded over and over by the support of the congregation, the last-minute “miracles,” and the talents of each participant. Their participation became a personal expression of faith in action.

8. Pray.

Get your church’s prayer team involved. Pray all along the way. Gather participants in a prayer circle and pray for the audience and all involved. Pray with the audience before and after the production. There may be people in your cast, in your support teams, or in your audience who make or renew a commitment to the Lord. Don’t underestimate God’s work!

9. Reflect and look ahead.

Your church has just created some important memories. Don’t forget to take pictures. Afterward spend some time talking with all those involved to share what happened during the production. Encourage your band or choir to stay together. Explore what recently discovered talents can do for the church. Continue to use drama and dance in worship. Add to your costume lists for future productions. Get support for an increase in your technical budget for lights and sound equipment. Keep the momentum going!

Plan ahead for next Christmas by reviewing the newest drama in the Noel Series. Return to the Stable features an imaginary gathering of people and animals who revisit the stable in Bethlehem twenty years after Jesus was born. This musical drama (includes all music) will delight children of all ages! To order call CRC Publications at 1-800-333-8300 or order online at www.crcpublications.org. (#416104N, $14.95US/21.70CDN).

Ron Vanden Burg (rachron@vaxxine.com) is a school teacher and a member of the worship planning team at Jubilee Christian Reformed Church in St. Catharines, Ontario.