This is an article from the March-April 1997 issue: The Dramatic Arts

Capturing Hearts & Minds for Frontier Missions

Yes, You Can Do it in Your Church, Too, by using Drama

Capturing Hearts & Minds for Frontier Missions

The woman in the third pew sat stunned. "I can't believe that Pastor Keith would invite a Muslim to speak in our church!" The Kazakh Muslim with his round red hat and distinctive clothes continued sharing about his family, their faith and his understanding of Christianity. Silence and tension filled the sanctuary.

Another man in the audience was shocked as well--shocked to hear the incredible misconceptions that Muslims have about Christianity. As he sat on the edge of his seat, the thought went through his mind, "I've got to talk with this man and explain to him that Christians don't believe in three Gods and that Jesus wasn't conceived by God and Mary having sex. Unfortunately, Muslims really believe these lies that they have been taught about Christianity!"

Ten more uncomfortable minutes went by before the Muslim finally concluded his talk. After a long pause, he took off his hat, smiled and remarked, "Actually, my name is Tom Baskins and I'm not a Kazakh Muslim; I am a Christian." The audience groaned and then laughed and applauded in appreciation for the new perspective they had been given about the need for Muslims to hear the Gospel.

After the service the church was buzzing with talk about the presentation and about the Muslim world. Many commented that this was the first time they'd ever realized that Muslims were real people much like themselves and not just terrorists to be condemned. It proved to be a pivotal moment in the life of the church and three months later the church decided to adopt the Kazakhs, praying, researching and sending workers there until a multiplying church is established.

All across the globe, drama is proving to be an extremely effective tool in getting churches and Christians interested in missions. But why? I believe it's because drama follows Jesus' model for effective communication. If we had to describe Jesus'method in one word we'd probably say that it was to make his communication memorable or impacting. Jesus constantly used parables, stories from daily life, and word pictures that grabbed His listeners' minds and hearts in a way that would enable them to think about His message for weeks and years to come. Jesus's teachings were memorable. In the same way, drama is memorable, deeply impacting the listeners' hearts with a message they won't quickly forget.

In the church today there are many people who for years have been bored by dull missionary slide shows, with the consequence that now they tune out whenever the word "missions" is mentioned. The good news is that drama inherently compels people to tune in, even those who previously tuned out. Drama puts people at ease, makes them laugh and cry. But it also can communicate information and challenge people in a compelling way. Many churches that present missions creatively using drama have even found that people wait in anticipation for the next mission presentation. For some it's even replaced the Children's Moment as their favorite part of church!

Today, an increasing number of top-notch drama resources are becoming available to enable churches to easily incorporate drama into their missions presentations.

One excellent starting place is the video "Missions Mobilization Skits" put out by Caleb Resources (voice - (303)730-4170; Email: [email protected]; Web:

This video features 4 skits, a powerful mime, and an audience participation presentation that explains the need to focus on unreached peoples in a clear and unforgettable way. The skits deal with important topics like the power of prayer in reaching the unreached, life priorities, and mission distractions. The video is especially helpful because it clearly shows how to get ordinary people in your church to successfully perform each skit.

In the August 1992 issue of Mission Frontiers, Ralph Winter published a four-part skit that any church can use to present some of the interesting facts about unreached peoples. It's called, "The Unfinished Task--In Persons! A Do-It-Yourself Skit." If you would like a copy of this skit, contact Dr. Winter's office at 818-398-2137 or fill out the response form on the inside front cover and send it in.

In recent years Christian performers have been effectively mobilizing people for mission through dramatic monologues on the lives of Hudson Taylor, Saint Patrick, Mary Slessor, Amy Carmichael, the apostle Paul and many others. This year Wycliffe Bible Translators has had tremendous response to its use of the drama "Dayuma" to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the five missionaries who were martyred while taking the Gospel to the Auca Indians of Ecuador. Because of the effectiveness of drama, more people are switching from the traditional missionary slide shows to dramatic monologues in reporting back to their home churches about the people they ministered among on their short- and long-term mission trips. These types of creative presentations captivate audiences and help them to see that missions involves real people with real needs--the greatest one being the need for a Savior.

Drama uses Jesus' method of communication. It has great impact and it's memorable. As one listener responded after seeing a creative mission presentation, "Before tonight I didn't really understand what mission was all about. Now I understand, not just in my mind, but in my heart as well."


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