Thursday, January 05, 2006

Drama Ministry and Storytelling

drama presentation at my church Posted by Picasa

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.


Amanda said...

Yep, I agree, not enough drama used as a tool for the gospel. New Tribes Mission uses it as a tool in the tribal locations where the people are able to see visually what happened in the gospel story (alongside other resources).

bluecollar said...

You seem to be one fine communicater with your writing as well. You are very articulate and a pleasure to read.

Brother Mark

Corry said...

What a great post.

I learned there are two groups of people: "picture" people and "word" people. I think the first group relies more on feelings and the last one on considerations. But both the visual and the communication are essential. In all:-)

Have a great day dear sister!
Luv ya.

God's Grace.

audrey` said...

Hi Kitty

How is Candice?

Yeah! You're right. Narnia is a very great movie :) King Kong is a very touching movie. There were sobbings around. Hahas!

Take care.

An Ordinary Christian said...

You are right in that the gospel message and other spiritual points presented in dramatic fashion does really bring the point home. Also, when someone is a boring, monotone speaker, who can remember what he says, unless you write it down, and then you only remember because you wrote it down and read it.

forgiven said...

Hi Kitty,

Our church took a team over to Scotland and they used drama. This was so effective that when the drama was going on, they were also witnessed in the crowd .

Amen Sis Great Post

May the Lord be your drive
and his Love be your Peace

Jayne said...

There is one older gentleman who is a lector at my church. He reads the readings very very slow and pronouces each word in great detail. I love it!! I learn so much when he is the lector. If only more people would take their time.

Kel said...

has anyone else ever seen the Covenant Players? Are they even still around?

I remember seeing them perform at school and thinking that one day I was going to run away and join the Covenant Players.

Recently I've been enjoying Cirque du Soleil videos and they do a similar thing - create worlds full of imagination that we can relate to at different levels and gain deeper understanding of the truths which surround us

Kitty Cheng said...

What New Tribes Mission does is very important, cos words / lanaguage might not be used that easily in that situation right?

Thanks for your kind words. I enjoy writing, but at times I wonder if people read every word I write haha, it's after all a visual word. Really appreciate you reading my blog.

Yes you are so right. Both"picture" people and "word" people need the visual and the communication.

Please continue to pray for Candice.
I haven't seen King Kong yet. I should go and watch it too.

I always write notes on the sermons that I hear, and read it again later.

Brother Doug,
Having drama and witnessing in the crowd at the same time sounds like a great idea! Thanks for sharing that.

I should learn to do what this older gentleman does, read the readings very very slow and pronouce each word in great detail. You are right. We do need to take our time.

Yes I have seen the Covenant Players. They are still around - some of my friends are working with CP.

Wow I would love to see Cirque du Soleil too. Another friend of mine (who is a director of a creative ministry) is putting together a creative venture based on Chronicles of Narnia in shopping centres, and I'll be involved in that too :) Really looking forward to it.

audrey` said...

Sure, Kitty. We'll keep Candice in prayers.

Watching King Kong? Please bring some tissues, okay?

Sniff, sniff! sob, sob! wink, wink!