To Play or Not To Play

Consider using a drama or role-play to add reality to your group's discussion of a text.

Several years ago, those in our small group noticed what looked like a homeless man sitting on the front lawn of our host home. At first, we were shocked because we were in a nice neighborhood and had never seen a homeless person in this area. We took turns questioning what we should do. Should we call the police? Should we offer him some food? What will we do if he has a weapon? However, our conjectures stopped the moment we saw the man stand up and approach the door. Now, we would have to interact with him. This situation was no longer hypothetical; it was real. Our host home provider answered the man's persistent knocks as we all assumed a nonchalant position in the living room. To our surprise, the man boldly walked in the house once the door was opened. He turned to face us, and it was then that we realized we knew who he was - he was our leader's husband, dressed up like a homeless man. Our small group leader had said her husband had to work late that night so he was the last person we expected to see walk through the door. Suddenly, we were ashamed of our verbal treatment of this man whom we now knew.

Once our friend joined the group, our leader asked, "What just happened?" The scripture we were studying that night was Luke 10:30-37, the story Jesus told about a man who had fallen into the hands of robbers who left him for dead on the side of the road. In the story, both a priest and a Levite passed by the man, but neither stopped to help him. The beaten man would have died, but eventually a Samaritan noticed him and took pity on him, getting him the help he needed. Having just personally experienced a similar situation with the homeless man, we easily entered into discussion that was emotional, intense, and life changing. Today, when I see a homeless person I cannot help but remember the role-playing, coupled with scripture, that permanently shifted my paradigm. I am now encouraged to decide daily to be or not to be what I believe.

During the Bible study portion of your small group, think about using drama or role-play to bring a principle or scripture to life. Drama is usually planned and rehearsed ahead of time, and role-playing is more spur-of-the-moment script reading. Consider these ideas:

  • A surprise dramatic presentation (a staged, shocking confession from one of your group members; a problematic guest; or a pre-planned phone call during the meeting)
  • A rehearsed skit by some of the group members
  • Long portions of scripture separated into dialogue, typed and highlighted, and given to selected group members to read dramatically
  • Acting out portions of scripture in small groups/charades

Bringing scripture to life with drama will help to deepen each person's awareness of God's truth by creatively encouraging them to apply the dramatized principle to his/her life.

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