(If you haven’t read Part 1 already, read the last post here first.)
Part Two: Why Christian Drama is viewed with distrust by the Church.
It is a historical irony that although the Church has been instrumental is promoting art as a whole to glorify God, no institution has been more resistant to new expressions of art for that purpose. Whenever an artist introduces a form of art unfamiliar to the church, it is initially viewed with distrust, as if the church suspects that the message has been made subject to the medium (in a reverse of the fears of the world). Aware that the theme of glorifying God is tantamount, the sacred critic often feels that art which expresses much of the creativity and talent of the artist is in some way detracting from the message, and indeed, may be introducing undesirable elements of the world into the church.
It is the desire to separate the worldy from the sacred, without recognising that all of humanity has certain things in common, that has created this friction; a friction which has put the heat on the Christian artist striving to reach all men by all means, as did Paul (who was also criticised for it).
God Himself has used this method to communicate. Consider the events of Pentecost! The disciples had gathered at Jesus’ command to await the coming of the Holy Spirit to endue them with power from on high. What was the evidence, beyond the initial visible flames of fire that descended on each of them? The ability to speak in languages other than their own native tongue. To what purpose? To edify the hearer, who would not have understood them had they been speaking the Gospel message in any other language. So God reached out to the many people from other countries, using the gift that He had given the disciples.
God has given us various gifts, and we are to use them as good stewards to reach as many as we can with the message of the Gospel. We may be using, in a manner of speaking, another language than is understood by the other believers around to do this. But that in no way invalidates the message being communicated, as long as it is understood by the hearers for which it is intended. It is understood by those who need it most; by those who are spiritually receptive and open to it. Hence Jesus words; “He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.”
Christian drama, when rightly used as a tool, is as powerful a medium as any other to communicate what the Spirit is saying to the church. Further, it is a means not only of reaching the lost with the message in a way that is palatable to them, but also of uplifting the heart of the believers already in the church. As in preaching, the message is balanced between enlightening the lost and exhorting the saved.
Drama is as legitimate a method of ministering as playing a musical instrument, singing a song, teaching a class, preaching a message, and so on. Emphasis on legitimate; it is not as common. It is also not as necessary, either. A church can do without a dramatist; it cannot do without a good preacher or other ministries. However, it can benefit by a Christian dramatist in the same way it can benefit by a special speaker, a talented and dedicated singer or musician, or any number of other forms of the ministering arts.
Consider the message of “the whole body is not the eye; if it were, where would be the hearing?” Just so, although there are parts of the body of Christ that may not be as evident or important as some others, they are still needed and beneficial. Imagine a church that promoted preaching to the total exclusion of music, singing, congregational worship or participation. Or a church that was devoted to only music and singing? Neither would be a well-rounded, effective (or well-even attended) house of worship. Look upon the Christian dramatist using humor as the funny-bone of the church! It has its place in the body when used wisely.
Some feel that having any humor in the church amounts to a lack of seriousness over sin and salvation. Here is an excerpt from an article from a site that is a good example of this viewpoint, written by a dear person who feels, apparently, that Christian dramatists and comedians are the devil’s tool, designed with the idea of dragging poor lost souls to hell, laughing insensitively all the way. A quote says this: “Maybe the reason that “Christian Comedians” and many other “trifles” have slipped in on the Church, is because we have SIMPLY FORGOTTEN the utter magnitude of the very real and present tragedy of SIN — killing people right before our very eyes…
…or maybe we just don’t care…”
As an aforementioned “trifle” (thank you, sir), that page seems to me to reflect the attitude some have: “Please don’t smile or laugh, it might give people the wrong impression that Christianity is anything other than a frowning, scowling, kill-joy religion. And for Heaven’s sake, toss out anyone that exhibits a sense of humor. People are going to hell in here! And we want to help them.”
Oops, a little pointed humor slipped through in there. Sorry, sir. I deserve to be tackled and yelled at to “Shut up! Just shut up!” according to your article. Have you ever considered anger management counseling?
But he’s not alone. A fellow Christian humorist speaker sent some emails to several churches letting them know he was available. Here is a response he got back (note the ‘Dear friend’ opening before the knife is applied and twisted with malice):
I am quite certain that you do not intend to offend anyone by this unsolicited e-mail. However, I absolutely cannot think of anything more revolting to me personally than your request to stand in our pulpit where the solemn Word of God is preached and use comedy to give the gospel. It is unscriptural, illogical, and will never, as long as I breathe and have any say in our ministry be a part of what goes on here at (edited church name).
While you might be thinking, that’s over the top, consider what the Scriptures teach about the sober duty of the pastor to teach the “unsearchable riches of Christ.” Your presentation is the complete opposite. No, I won’t even consider having you in.
It’s that kind of attitude that the average Christian comedian or skit performer is up against; that of the worthlessness of this type of ministry to impart any kind of useful message. It is worth mentioning here that skits are viewed with some distrust by those who simply doubt their usefulness. They question (rightfully so) whether skits are imparting enough of the Word to be effective, and feel that they may distract from serious preaching. This may certainly be the case if the skits are only done for fun, and contain no clear message. Skits, interpretive dance, videos, etc., when used in a church service, that are interjected only to “lighten things up” and make the church more “user-friendly” are worse than ineffective, they can be downright deadly to a worshipful atmosphere and serious consideration of eternal truths and destinies.
A skit that is presented as part of a Sunday service or revival must be meaningful. This does not exclude funny skits, as long as they are both funny and meaningful. Only when written and performed with the mind to minister, (as are all of the skits on this site) and when intended to add to, affirm and confirm the preaching of a full-gospel, called-of-God minister, will they be used of God. If they are used in a setting beside Sunday church services, like special events where there is no preaching, the level of Word content is even more important, as it may be the only exposure to the Gospel that some there will have. There is NO EXCUSE for “just for fun” skits by Christians. Everything should be done to the glory of God.
Christian comedy and drama, when expressed by a called and gifted Christian, can be a blessing to the saved and a means of reaching the lost. This is not to say that there are no “bad apples” in the area, any more than that of other ministries. This is to debate the legitimacy of the art, not the spirituality of individual artists. There are people living holy, and being used of God in Christian Comedy and Drama, just like there are such people in Southern Gospel singing groups. And there are a good amount of misguided, and just plain hypocritical performers in Christian Comedy and Drama, just like there are such people in Southern Gospel singing groups.
I know first-hand the truth of that statement, having been heavily involved in both areas for years. I know, I’m in danger of stepping on some tender, sensitive tootsies with that statement, but that’s never stopped me before. The term “sacred cow” applies to any area of ministry that is thought to be more holy than others simply due to a person’s love for it. News flash, folks: people are alike all over. And God uses them in spite of it. Your type of music or ministry, whatever your preference, is no more “righteous” than any other simply because you prefer it. And neither are the performers.
So, this writer hopes that if you have in the past downgraded or criticized practitioners of the Christian dramatic art simply because you distrusted it, that you will –if nothing else–allow each person to answer God’s call in the way he feels led without hindrance or judgment.