Thursday, January 05, 2006
Drama Ministry and Storytelling
drama presentation at my church
My work at church as the creative arts coordinator involves drama ministry and storytelling. I believe that drama and storytelling communicate messages. Drama is an under-used yet essential means of communicating the Gospel truths, both to Christians and non-Christian friends. Often times, we can only understand and remember abstract truth when it has ‘visible clothes’. Good use of language in communication always ‘paints a picture’. Most cultures spend a considerable proportion of their leisure time living in this world of story. This is true of the rich West, watching TV and cinema, reading, or playing computer games; and in traditional cultures with story-telling, puppets or dance.
We live in a visual and tactile age. Fleming-Drane quotes Albert Mehrabian's Silent Messages (1971), in which he cites that only 7% of the total impact of any message derives from its words: 38% is from vocal messages (tone of voice) and a huge 55% is non-verbal (body language). I believe the church is yearning to return to its heritage. It has had a grand tradition of the performing arts (storytelling, music, mime, dance, drama) and the visual arts (stained glass windows, painting, sculpture). Non-white Westerners seem to have been able to avoid the effects of the Enlightenment project and have expressed faith in more non-literate ways like dance, movement and singing.
The clinching argument is the example of Jesus. His method of communication to the ordinary people was so revolutionary, we still often do not understand it or use it. Although he did indeed expound Old Testament scripture when in the synagogue, or to his disciples, his method of communication to the mass of what we would now call ‘unchurched’ people was dramatic story using parables (Matthew 13:34). And story culturally relevant to their situation. Israel had no culture of performing drama, but in common with many cultures today, they loved story-telling.
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