This will be the first in a series of posts under the category “Worship and Creative Arts.” As more get posted, click the category on the right sidebar to see more.
You’re sitting in a worship service on a Sunday morning. The musicians and singers are incredibly talented. The sound equipment rivals a rock concert. The giant video screens display eye-popping graphics, video clips are professionally produced and the set design could be a picture from a magazine. (If you’re lucky, you also get a light show and a fog machine. The fog machine is key).
After the music, announcements and video are over, you have a seat. And before the pastor comes out to preach a sermon, you are treated to a dramatic or funny skit. So far, the service has been polished and it’s clear your church strives for excellence.
But then you sit through a skit that was clearly thrown together the night before. The sound and video teams aren’t prepared for cues, the actors forget their lines or don’t know where to stand. They forget to perform toward the audience and at times have their backs to the crowd. The delivery of a poignant line or a funny joke doesn’t connect with the audience because it lacks passion or timing. And the worst part is, when the pastor walks on stage to preach, he or she has to explain the meaning of the skit because the actors did a poor job of making the point clear.
It’s long been a joke in Christian circles about how bad church drama can be. We roll our eyes at the hokey performances that lack talent and passion. We’ve seen performances that are irrelevant and outdated. Canned acting, cheesy dialogue, and obvious or over-the-top writing has killed creativity in the performing arts we see on stage in our churches.
It’s not always the fault of the drama team. Too often, the pastor calls someone up on Saturday afternoon with an idea, and they have to throw something together at the last minute. The pastor will usually rest on the excuse of last minute inspiration from the Holy Spirit (a common excuse, which begs the question: can’t the Holy Spirit plan in advance?). If the pastor were praying, studying and preparing a sermon in advance like he or she should, they might find that inspiration sooner. Thus, the drama team might be better prepared and the skit could have a greater impact.
I don’t understand why we demand excellence in other areas of ministry, but are ok with a poorly conceived skit. We have auditions and rehearsal for our worship teams and musicians. There are training classes for those who serve in technical areas or work with children. But some churches let just about anyone on stage for a drama. We don’t put the same emphasis on solid dramatic performances and it shows.
Church: let’s look in the mirror at the performances we are throwing on stage, and let’s put some more thought and passion into it. There are plenty of talented people, scripts and ideas out there. There are churches who get it right. If we believe in giving God our best in music, preaching and other areas, then we should do the same for the arts.