Once in a great while we’ll do a drama that neither teaches nor paves the way for a subject. These “special occasion” dramas are written just for fun, with no message whatsoever! Why in the world would we do such a thing in church? Just to get people to relax.
Many seekers come into church feeling stressed, guilty, expecting to be judged, or uncomfortable for any number of reasons – including watching for that lightning bolt to hit because they stepped into a church! It’s a kind thing to help them lighten up and see that “church people” like a good laugh just like everyone else, and don’t always have an agenda hidden in every moment.
Special occasions are… well, special. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Super Bowl Sunday, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Easter, Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day are all holidays that are sometimes celebrated with stand-alone services, as opposed to being integrated into any on-going series. For Mother’s Day I wrote a ridiculous comedy called Advanced Lamaz where new mothers learn the breathing techniques they will need after their children are born. These were a variety of comedic reactions to basic parenting situations such as holding your breath while changing the diaper, a sharp gasp when baby does something cute, sad moans for the first day of school, screaming during driving lessons, trying to hold back tears at your child’s wedding, and thing like that. The script was written strictly for laughs and had no other purpose than to pay tribute to the moms in the crowd.
For the men we did The Big Game, an homage to the Super Bowl. In this over-the-top comedy a frenetic football fan plans his entire day around the Super Bowl then, just as the first kickoff flies down the field, there is a massive electric blackout and the television blinks out. Again, there was no tie-in with the pastor’s message, it was simply a tip-of-our-hat to the football fans who sacrificed their pre-game time to come to church that morning. It said to our congregation: we appreciate you, we understand what’s valuable in your lives, and we, too, are of this world.
AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR…
All churches need to make announcements. Some do them at the beginning of the service, some at the end, but either way they can be difficult to integrate smoothly into a service. We all probably strive to have our services build to a climax that leaves people walking away thinking about the lessons they learned that day. Unfortunately, announcements sometimes disrupt the mood we have worked so hard to create. After your dynamic pastor has passionately presented his life-changing sermon, the last thing you want is somebody stepping on stage reading announcements about the upcoming church activities from a crumpled piece of paper. Even if this takes place after the band plays a worship set and before the beginning of the message, it can completely kill the momentum. One way to minimize this is to use dynamic drama as a way to inform your congregation about happenings around the church or in the community. These commercials and infomercials can be produced live on stage or on video.
In our church we often talk about having a “Gumby attitude.” Gumby of course was the little man from the children’s Claymation cartoons. He and his horse, Pokey, were made of rubber, so they were very flexible. Also, Gumby almost always smiled. So, having a “Gumby attitude” is being “flexible with a smile.” When we were refurbishing our sound system, two huge temporary speakers had to be hung in a location that unfortunately blocked the view of our video screens from hundreds of people. So we created a very funny and cute video of Gumby going all over the auditorium trying to find a seat where he could see. He tried all sorts of places, but finally ended up with a big smile, and as the camera pulled back we discovered that he was happily perched on the pastor’s podium. It was a fun way to let the congregation know that we were well aware of the problem, working on fixing it, and that we’d appreciate it if they had a Gumby attitude for a few weeks. (Of course there was a certain bit of irony in making a video to help people deal with not being able to see our video, but that didn’t occur to us until afterwards! D’OH!)
For a men’s retreat that focused on the workaholic in all of us, I wrote this short commercial.
Two men meet center stage. One looks frazzled and distracted.
FRIEND – What’s the matter, man? You look a little upset.
MAN – I am! I was eating breakfast this morning, and I found this on the milk carton. (He hands a milk carton over.)
FRIEND – (Reading the carton) “Missing. Loving, considerate husband. Doting father. Have you seen this man?” (He does a double-take.) This is a picture of you!
MAN – No kidding! Then this newspaper was by my plate. Look at the headline.
He hands it over.
FRIEND (Reading) – “Man Turns Invisible! Family Stunned and Horrified.”
MAN – Read on! They quote the wife and kids.
FRIEND – “The spectral phantom appears sometimes, but sort of transparent-like. You can’t talk to him, he’s not really there. Then he’ll become solid and substantial for a short time – but then he fades away again! It’s creepy, like living with a ghost.” Wow, man.
MAN – Yeah. Then, driving to work, I noticed these tacked up to all the telephone poles!
He hands some flyers over.
FRIEND – “Lost Dad. Children heartbroken. Have you seen our daddy? Great rewards for his return. Call Danny and Sue.” Hey, man, aren’t Danny and Sue–?
MAN – Yes! My kids! Then, at work, this came in the mail!
He hands over an envelope.
FRIEND – It’s a sympathy card. (Reading) “So sorry for your loss. He was a special one. Nothing hurts a parent more… than losing their only son.” Oh, man! Did something happen to Danny?
MAN – No. It’s from my parents!
FRIEND – I see. Uhhh, think maybe someone is trying to tell you something?
MAN – What?
FRIEND – Here, let me add one more paper to your little collection there. (He takes a paper from his back pocket.)
MAN – (Without taking it) What is it?
FRIEND – It’s a flyer. For the Men’s Retreat. Taking place on (DATE AND PLACE). It’s all about getting reconnected. To your family and to God.
MAN – I don’t think I can afford–
FRIEND – There are scholarships available, if you’re a little short of cash.
MAN – I was going to say I didn’t think I could afford to take the time.
FRIEND – Hey man, from where I’m standing, it looks like you can’t afford not to.
KIND, ECHOING VOICE FROM ABOVE – He’s right, you know. I miss you, too.
MAN – (Looking heavenward, amazed) Did you hear that?
FRIEND – (Totally oblivious) Hear what?
The man’s eyes grow wide and he quickly snatches the flyer from his friend. As the exit, the GOD VOICE adds:
KIND, ECHOING VOICE FROM ABOVE – All men should attend!
As you can see, drama has many uses in church: a teaching tool, an introduction to a subject, a commercial for church activities, or even just for fun. Dramas come in all shapes, sizes, and styles.
(By the way, feel free to use that script for your church. My gift to you.)