Using Drama in Sunday School

Saturday 29th September, 2007

Kenneth Gangel has written an article entitled Drama in the Classroom. Gangel said, "Drama can make stories and ideas come alive, and because of its vital and creative nature, it is often a significant educational technique." In the article, he reminds us about some of the values of the use of drama:

  • can be very effective in pinpointing solutions to problems which people face in real life.
  • can stimulate thought on significant issues.
  • can help reveal insights into the character and personality of persons portrayed in the play.
  • can be for some persons a more effective technique in the communication of the Gospel than more traditional approaches.

For some, the time that drama takes to prepare and present is the biggest problem. They would rather lecture about God's Word rather than "waste the time." In response, I have seen participants in drama experience deeper understanding of scripture passages and Christian principles through the preparation of and presentation of drama than would likely have occured through lecture alone.

Others object on the basis of drama cutting corners, not dealing with all of the details of a story from scripture. I have compared scripture at times to a drama presentation, asking observers and participants to look for differences. Some object to theater since there is much bad television, movies, and theater--and yet there is much good, even movies by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and others.

While it is important to acknowledge the objections, the values make drama a teaching method worth considering. In many cases, it may be helpful to introduce drama in steps. Gangel shared  "a pattern for introducing drama as a teaching technique" that had been shared with him from one of his students. Here are his eight steps:

    1. Lecture—the present status of many classes
    2. Discussion—a first step into involvement procedures
    3. Discussion of how a character thinks, or how a person should react to what was discussed
    4. Discussion of religious plays and how they may help explain situations in the Christian life
    5. Role playing—the dimension at which participants take on a certain characteristic and act it out with others
    6. Improvisations—short original sketches portraying some idea or mimicking some personage
    7. Short scenes—introduce scripts and maybe begin to think in terms of costuming
    8. One-act plays—fully scripted and with rehearsals before the drama is played to an audience

I have seen individuals in classes get together at another time than the class normally meets to rehearse. And I have seen the production videotaped for presentation in the classroom (sometimes more than one at the same time). I have seen plays done for groups before they break into individual classes. Drama often involves some learners in a deeper way than other methods can.

Jesus was a multi-faceted teacher. He was very visual in His teaching. Frequently, He used the drama of life as teaching illustrations. Don't fear the use of drama. If needed, get help. Introduce it slowly. Debrief the drama. Teach to change lives. Be revolutionary!

Comments [0]