Using drama can be a great way to make the Bible come alive for students. It can help them understand parables and stories with unfamiliar cultural aspects in them. It can even make the lesson more memorable.
Not all dramas are created equal, though. Often the drama is not as effective a reaching students as it could be, because the plan missed a few key points. So what should you keep in mind as you prepare your next Bible class drama?
Here are a few of my favorite tips:
- Don’t overuse drama. As interesting as your skit may be, if you have a drama every class period for weeks or months, the drama loses its impact. Like anything else, drama when overused becomes boring – no matter how wonderful or exciting you thought it would be.
- Make students cast members. Students who participate in the drama will get more from it than those who just watch it. They don’t have to have lines to say. In fact, it’s often best if the entire group can participate in some way. They can be the Israelites following Moses and grumbling or guests at the wedding in a wedding parable. Be creative, but include them as much as you can in the action.
- Costumes and props are important -sorta. If at all possible, have “Bible times” costumes for students to wear as they participate in the drama. We often get people to donate fabric in 1-3 yard lengths. You can make a hole for the head in the middle of whatever length of fabric you have, or angle it a bit and it will look a bit more like a poncho (giving you a larger costume with less fabric.) Have them zigzagged around the edges to help them last longer. If the Israelites are eating quail or drinking bitter water, having some for students to try will make your drama even more memorable. (tonic water makes a great “bitter” water)
- Sets are not as important as you would think. Yes, they can add atmosphere, but not enough to justifying spending your entire budget. In fact, I have had students make their own sets in the past using found materials and they were much more excited than if the sets were Broadway quality. Often, we just use our church property and don’t build sets at all. Kids have great imaginations, so it doesn’t really bother them.
- Acting talent matters to a point. Once again, actors can flub lines or forget them. Kids are very forgiving. Make sure they understand the gist of the story though, so they can ad-lib if necessary. If you are doing a Bible story, try to stick to the text as much as possible. It makes it easier for adult actors, because most of them know the basic plot and can improvise if someone freezes.
If you’ve been afraid to use drama, don’t be. It can add a lot to your lesson. If you have been using drama, make sure you aren’t overusing it and you incorporate the students as participants in the action as much as possible. Drama is definitely a teaching tool you want in your toolbox!