Sunday, December 12, 2010

O Holy Night explored

Well, I’m back here on the Think Creative Ministries blog. This time, we’ll leave the theater thoughts and Drama Ministry tips alone. As we begin to think about and prepare for the Holiday season this year, let’s take a look at how the Christmas Carols and Hymns we know by heart and sing almost without thinking truly do have deep theological meaning. Christmas is more than simply celebrating the birth of a baby. It’s about recognizing why He came and what He would do while He was here on this earth. Jesus left the Manger and headed straight for the Cross. Along the way he taught us what love was and how to follow God and please the Father. Then, He laid his life down so that we too could know the life giving power of his gift of love and salvation and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit.
The Lord has laid this Christmas Carol on my heart this year and I want to share with you some of the deeper meanings of this great hymn.

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining, (God makes it obviously clear)

It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth. (The long awaited Messiah has come)

Long lay the world in sin and error pining. (We are helplessly stuck in sin)

Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth. (But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.)

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, (Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,)

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. (The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.)

Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices! (How often do fall on our knees in the light of the glory of the Lord?)

O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming, (And we know that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of we do not see)

With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand. (I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.)

O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming, (The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!)

Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land. (Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

The King of kings lay thus lowly manger; (rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.)

In all our trials born to be our friends. (I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.)

He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger, (For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are- yet without sin)

Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend! (The fear of the Lord is the beginning f wisdom)

Truly He taught us to love one another, (A new command I give you. Love one another as I have Loved you)

His law is love and His gospel is peace. (For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh,)

Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother. (Christ came to destroy the workings of the devil)

And in his name all oppression shall cease. (There is power in calling on the name of Jesus. All things in heaven and earth and below the earth bow and submit to the name of Jesus)

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we, (Sing to the Lord for He is Good, His love endures forever.)

His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim! (Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, Rejoice.)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What does a Director do?

The job of the director is to effectively communicate the imaginative and creative vision of the script. Many people have the idea that a director is a dissatisfied obsessive-compulsive person who constantly calls “cut” and yells at the actors for missing a mark or line. This is just not the case, especially with Drama Ministry. The director serves, in many ways, as a creative manager who can both motivate the actors as well as create an atmosphere of controlled chaos. The director must tell the actors what to do, but at the same time allow for the actors to offer creative input to the scene. This is why the director must not be married to any one specific idea. The director should place himself as a sort of team leader to the group. The idea is that the scene being created is a group effort with many equally important members. The director is one of the members who drive the creative bandwagon to its desired destination. If the wagon goes off track, it is the job of the director to get everyone back on the same page, sometimes literally. The director is also a sort of cheerleader to the group. If an actor is experiencing difficulty with a scene or line, the director must encourage them to keep at it and give constructive criticism. Many times the director will offer differing ways of playing the scene. The director can also be a source of information for the cast. For example, an actor may have a question regarding some of the material in the script. The director must be able to explain what is intended and how to best achieve the goal.

The first thing the director must do is read the script. If the director is also the writer of the script, they must look at it with a fresh pair of eyes. While writing is the process of creating a scene in ones head, the director must turn what is written on paper and transform it into a reality. The number one question that should be on the mind of every director is, “How can I make this work?” While the director is reading, he must begin to visualize what he wants it to look like on the stage or on camera depending on what sort of media the director is working with. Many times it is helpful to close the eyes and imagine what the scene will look like. What kind of mental pictures pop into your head as you ponder the scene. Do not let limitations such as cost or availability of resources come into play during the brainstorming session. Thinking is free and the resources are limitless in a brainstorming session. Really let your brain go to town while you imagine what the scene will look like. You may want to ask yourself several questions as you brainstorm. The following are only several questions that can be constructive during this time. You may come up with more as you think about turning the written words into a performance that will be seen by an audience. Do I understand the overall themes and message of the script? What is it saying to me? What sort of emotion is the script conveying? How do I translate the feelings and emotion of the script to the stage? What do I want the set to look like? What do I want the actors to wear? Where do I want them to stand? Where do I want them to enter and exit? What kind of characters are these people? How should these people sound? Do they speak with any specific vocal pattern? How do I envision the scene playing out?

The second thing the director does is cast the show. As we have mentioned in earlier articles, Think Creative Ministries does not hold formalized auditions. This can be a blessing and a curse all rolled into one. While it is true that as a ministry we want as many people as possible to try their hand at acting and being involved in ministry, this also allows all levels of experience to be brought into one show. This kind if situation puts much more work on the director than if a traditional audition had taken place. The director must spend time with the less experienced actors to ensure that they grasp what they are to do. This is why the director must be patient at all times.

For many, participating in Drama Ministry will be their first time doing any kind of theater performance. As the director and team leader, you want this to be a positive and encouraging encounter. You want to model the idea that although performing a drama takes work, it is a fun activity and is all for the glory of God.

The fact that Drama Ministry exists for the soul purpose of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ and giving Him praise must be emphasized at all times. As a director, you should pray with your cast before they go on stage. This will curb any last minute jitters and assure them that no matter what happens on the stage, God is the one who gets the credit.

Now that you have your actors, you must assign roles for them. If you know your actors well and know their level of experience, this can be relatively painless. You simply plug them into roles in the script that best suit their level of skill. For those whose skill level is unknown, you may want to play around with the roles for a bit to see which one best suits them. As a director, you should make this process into a game. Say things like, “Ok. Who would like to read this part? Hmmm, that is very good. Would anyone else like to try reading this part?” What you, as a director, are doing is discovering the skill level of your actors.

Notice that I did not say talent. One of the biggest misconceptions in any creative field is that it is reserved for the so called talented. Skill and talent are two very different animals altogether. Creative arts are skills. Anyone can learn a skill. Talent, on the other hand is the natural ability to do something. Even a very talented actor needs to learn the skills required to become better.

The motif that should be used in Drama Ministry is that skill and talent are arbitrary. If the actor has a genuine desire to learn, they can be taught. In many cases it is up to the director to reach and teach them. Unless the drama team at your church has classes on acting, the only education your actors will receive is on the job training. As the old saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” As the members of the group mature in their craft you will see how they will become better actors. This is why sometimes it can be beneficial to include younger kids into the group. In a few years, these kids will be well-seasoned actors. It is best to have a wide variety of ages in any drama team. This works for several reasons. First, you want to have as many people as possible in the creative environment of praising God through Drama Ministry. Second, a variety of ages and genders can assure that almost any production can be performed. Third, by having a variety of ages in the group, you always have actors coming up as the older ones leave for college, or move away, etc. The idea is to have an ongoing workshop of people.

The next thing you should do is to conduct a read-thru of the script. A read-thru is when the director and cast sit at a table and read the script with each actor reading their own part. Sometimes this is called a table-read. This is a time when many of the questions regarding the script should be asked. The director should make sure that everyone knows what is going on in the script and understand its themes, jokes and message. Some vocal directing can take place here. The director can help the actors find their motivation and character development. Although this is a good time to do such things, the main idea for the read-thru is to get the cast familiar with the

Now that you have read thru the script, you need to block the scene. Blocking is a theater term for the scripted movement on stage. A basic knowledge of stage directions is required. The director must know how to position the actors so that they can be seen and aid the overall storytelling of the scene. It is the director’s decision where to place the actors along with how and where they should move. The director must decide when and actor is to enter or exit the stage and when this is going to take place. This is also where much of the fun of the creative process takes place. The director must be open to slight detours in the rehearsal time. Many times the actors need some time to goof off, improv, and play around in order to tap into their inner actor. Let them play for a bit, but at some point bring them back in to the scene. This is also the tome where many actors will experiment with the scene. They will want to try things to see if they work. You as the director may even want to try things in the scene. You need to be open to all that might occur in this process.

The next step is the rehearsal. Much the rehearsal will go on like this. The actors will want to play and you will want to try out what works. As the rehearsals move on these decisions need to be made and then the group needs to begin getting ready or the performance date. All props and costumes must be arranged for. In Drama Ministry, there is rarely a costume or prop manager, so all props and costumes must be gathered by the cast and director. Another job of the director is to over see who is going to bring what to ensure that all props and costumes will be ready be the time of the performance. At some point, the director will need to let the actors know when it is time to be off book. This means that all lines must be memorized. The blocking is in order, the lines down and the cast is ready for their first performance. Note to all first time directors: Your scene will never seem as though it is ready to be seen by an audience. This is the wonderful blessing in this work. Even though you may think the scene is not quite ready, God has a way of pulling everything together. At the end of the day, we need to know that it is all in his hands anyway.

You are now at your dress rehearsal. The first time many people hear the term dress rehearsal is in relation to a wedding. In my estimation, this is stretching the term to its utter most limit. Wedding dress rehearsals are very scripted and are quite difficult to mess up. A theater dress rehearsal on the other hand is a time when the scene is run from beginning to end with all props and costumes without stopping and is a good look at how the show will appear on stage. Dress rehearsals usually take place a night or two before the show. Some theater companies have multiple dress rehearsals, while others give the night before the show off to the actors. This is your decision as the director. At the end of the run-thru, the director should give notes. (notes should be a part of most rehearsals but mostly when full unstopped run-thus are going on) The director will make notes on a sheet of paper and indicate what he thought was good, bad, needing changing, needs work, etc. Only make notes on the big important things. If an actor is doing fine with their role and needs no note about what they are doing wrong, don’t make a note. The idea is that no note is a good note. Just note the things that need to be changed.

Well, the nigh has arrived. In most theaters, this is the time for the director to sit back and enjoy the show. But sometimes in Drama Ministry, the director may have to act as a stage manager and stage crew. In this case, the director will have to remain back stage and make sure that everyone gets their prop and knows their cue. (the time they go on) If the drama team is large enough, a stage manager can be a part of the team. Many times, just as with professional theater, other actors will help out back stage. Try to build this comradely among those in your team. This will help with the godly principle of bearing others burdens.

Well that’s pretty much it for directing. I have tried to walk you through he process as best I can. But to be quite honest, this has done very little to describe the joys of directing. Much of directing, as well as acting, is an on the job experience. Happy Directing and Goodnight. ☺

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Writing... Now Go!!!

Writing and the creative process can be extremely fun and extremely challenging. Nothing makes the ideas come out faster than having a deadline. The deadline provides the writer with a certain amount of urgency. Otherwise, the writer could brainstorm all day and not produce a thing. The writer brainstorms all the time. Each new experience is fodder for a story or sketch. You will notice I said sketch, this is from my last post on the difference of a skit and a sketch. The deadline is that little voice that tells the writer that they had better use one of these ideas and turn it into something.

The second thing a writer must do is try to think of what it is they want to convey. In Drama Ministry, the point is to convey a scriptural or spiritual truth. There me be something on the writer's heart that they want to illustrate in the form of a sketch. Perhaps the writer has recently read something and they want to write a sketch about it. This should always be simmering on the back burner of any writer. How can a Biblical moral or lesson fit into what I'm doing.

Third, is the kind of story that is to be told. This is the hardest part. Many writers take from genres and apply the point to this specific genre. For example, A writer may do a sketch about the importance of Bible reading and place the story in the Western genre. Or perhaps a writer wants to do a sketch about honesty and place it in the Space Sci-Fi genre. These are all ways of coming up with ideas for a sketch.

Fourth, The writer may have seen a movie or read a book that has elements that has struck a chord with the writer. This may be an inspiration for the writer. The writer will place their point into this idea.

Fifth, and this one is a golden gem, is when the writer already has an idea of what it is they want to write and they develop the idea. This kind of thing happens in a very complex way and is hard to explain,

Sixth, is the brainstorm session. There are two different kinds of brainstorming sessions, the self session and the group session. The first is where the writer uses their imagination and takes all that they have in their tool box, such as movies, books anything they have seen or heard and puts into use to come up with an idea. The second is when 2 or more people come together and bounce ideas off one another. These sessions can work quite well if the the word NO is taken off the table. There are no bad ideas, just ones that may not work in this context. The minute the "N" word is said, a large amount of momentum is gone. When one person has an idea and the other puts their spin in it, it takes on a life and the idea begins to move. This sort of thing can go back and forth, each time putting more flesh on the story.

Once the idea has been decided, ie. (I know what it's going to be about) The writer can begin to put it all together. The writer must decide what kind of and how many characters the sketch will contain. For example, if the writer has decided to do a sketch about a Western with the lesson Bible reading. The writer must decide what kind of characters they want.

Every story must have a protagonist, and antagonist, a conflict, and a moral. The protagonist is the main character and the antagonist is the character that is in direct opposition to the main character. In the little story we're making here, the protagonist could be (and I'm coming up with this as I type) Sticky Fingers Steven, the fastest stealer in the West. The antagonist might be Sheriff Dunlap, the mild mannered Lawman in the town of Shady Falls. The conflict might be that Steven is trying to steal a great treasure. The moral of the story could come when he is caught and learns what a treasure the Bible really is.

Ok, Lets put some meat on these bones. We need a beginning, middle, and an end. The beginning could be that The towns folk have heard that Sticky Fingers Steven is coming to town and they are all afraid of getting robbed. So they hide. The Mayor decides to put the town's greatest treasure in a safety deposit box at the Bank. Sticky Fingers shows up and has heard about the treasure and promptly begins by robbing the Bank in attempts of getting the great treasure. Just at that moment, Sheriff Dunlap bursts in the door and tells Sticky to freeze. The town's people begin to come out from hiding. Sticky tells Dunlap that he plans on stealing the treasure and opens the safety deposit door to discover a Bible. Sticky is very confused that the town's greatest treasure is a Bible and asks why a Bible would be a great treasure. Sheriff Dunlap then goes on to explain why the Bible is such a great treasure. Sticky begins to see the point and asks Sheriff Dunlap to explain the Bible to him. And the last line Would have Dunlap saying that he'll tell him all about it in jail.

Ok, we've put some meat on the bones. The next step is to write dialogue. By taking this skeleton, The writer can construct dialogue as to what the characters might say as this whole story is unfolding. They may ask themselves things like: How would Sticky Fingers Steven Talk? What kinds of things might he say? What does his character look like? How would he respond to Sheriff Dunlap? The idea when writing dialogue is to write the lines as a person would actually sound. You want it to be as conversational and as natural as possible. The writer then follows the basic story plot and constructs the dialogue to fit and help to drive the story.

The next thing to think about, while writing the dialogue, is what kind of jokes, gags, puns, references, and over all silliness will be in the sketch. This part is the most fun because the writer gets to be silly and use all their back knowledge of funny things and put it in the sketch.

Last of all the moral must be stated very clearly. This can be done in the script, or as an explanation after the Sketch, of both. Personally, for children's ministry, I like doing both. The script says the moral and then some one talks to them about it after the sketch is done.

As you have seen, we have taken an idea and fleshed out a sketch with a moral and hope that it works. :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Skit vs. Sketch

What's the difference between a "skit" and "sketch"? Many people, even those who are involved in Drama Ministry can be hard pressed to make a distinction between the two terms. For many, the terms are synonymous and are used interchangeably. Let's take a closer look at these terms to help clear up any confusion.

First off, the skit.
A skit is generally non scripted and largely improvisational. Skits usually seek to convey a single point and can be taught fairly quickly and require no rehearsal time at all. Most of the time, skits do not have props involved. They generally possess a vague outline indicating what is to happen during the skit. Often times skits are thought up on the spot and then presented to a small group such as with youth and bible studies. While most skits try to be humorous and are often outlets for goofing off. There is very little characterization in skits. Players are more concerned with getting the intended point across to the viewer than portraying a specific character. Some skits attempt to convey some sort of lesson or spiritual truth. Skits often do not have a thematic thru-line and lack a specific beginning, middle, and end.

One great example of a typical youth group skit is one that I call, "The Gift". In this particular skit a person comes into the space and is expressing happiness due to a special "gift" (cupped hands) they have just received. The person's words and actions are largely unimportant as long as the viewer get the idea that this person has been given a gift and they are happy with it. Next, a second person comes into the space and appears to be sad. Person #1 gives person #2 some of the "gift" and both are now happy. The level of happiness can be played however big or small the people involved desire. This is where goofing off and improv comes into play. After 1 has given the gift to 2, 1 leaves the space. Person #3 comes into the space and is expressing some sort of negative emotion (IE. sad, angry, depressed etc.) 2 decides to give 3 some of the "gift". 3 is now happy too. The last person comes into the space and is not given the "gift". 3 simply talks to 4 and 4 soon walks away. After 4 leaves, 3 soon discovers that the "gift" is gone and is wondering where it went. 1 comes back on stage and tells the viewers the point. God's love is a gift that needs to be spread around, if we don't, it loses its power.

As you can see this skit, although very effective and powerful, does not require line memorization, can be taught quickly, has no rehearsal, props, script, and can be as outrageous or serious as the players want it to be.

A sketch on the other hand is a whole different animal altogether.
A sketch follows all the basic elements of a regular stage performance and has a specific beginning, middle, and end. they are, in many aspects, small plays.

First of all, a sketch has a script. Although many of the lines in a sketch can be ad-libbed as the actors see fit, the lines are crucially important to get the story from point A to point B. Also, the lines help to set up thematic elements such as characterization, jokes, and plot direction. Line memorization is always required for the performance of sketches.

Sketches possess a cast of characters who carry out the action. An actor must adopt the persona of their character. The focus of the action is not on the person onstage, rather, it is on the character and what they are doing. Sketches often require props and costumes. This helps to give the sketch more integrity and allows the audience to fully buy what is being presented in front of them.

Sketches need to be rehearsed and require blocking. Blocking, is a theatrical term for the scripted movement onstage and lets the actor know when they are to enter, exit, cross the stage, pick up or use a prop, where to stand, what kind of posture is to be used for a given character, and much more. All these aspects are handled by a director who is in charge of the sketch.

The director schedules rehearsals and gives the actors "notes" on their performance. During a typical rehearsal, the director will help the actors to find motivation for characters, assist with line delivery and vocal tone, help the actors understand both the text of the script and subtext of the jokes and humorous bits to be conveyed.
A sketch must have a point. In Drama Ministry, it should have something to do with the Bible or spiritual principles about how we are to live our lives as Christians. Each sketch must make this moral obvious for the audience.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sun, Moon, and Stars of Drama Ministry.

The goal of Drama Ministry is to not only present the life changing message of the Gospel, but also to train men and woman for a lifetime of service and ministry to God and give them the necessary tools to do so. The perspective of Drama Ministry should always be on God and the message to be conveyed. Many well meaning actors and drama leaders can come to the conclusion that it's all about putting on a great show and the performance. While this is a crucial part of any Drama Ministry, it is never to be the central focus of the ministry. Since our work is for the LORD, we need present it as an offering to Him.

Sometimes, when actors appear in countless sketches and drama productions, there is the danger of having it go to there head. They receive compliments and praise for each performance, all telling them how talented they are. If this praise is not reflected to the one who gave the talent, the actor can find themselves on a very slippery slope. The emphasis of their acting changes from an expression of love for God and desire to reach people with the message of Jesus Christ, to a strictly performance oriented job that has little room for mistakes and is constantly in need of affirmation and praise. If these needs are not met, the actor can become depressed, disillusioned and even develop a distaste for their talent. This is why it is essential for any Drama Ministry to have a firm grasp on the idea that it is a ministry above all else.

The job of Drama Ministry is not to create stars. Instead, Drama Ministry should help to develop moons. While a star radiates its own light and is at the center of attention, a moon is a reflective surface and radiates light from another source. This is how each of us should respond to the particular ministry God has given us. In a song by the Paul Colman Trio there is a line that says, "I want to be the moon, cause it reflects the Son. Don't want to be the Star that shines on everyone." We need to be two-way mirrors for God's love. We need to reflect his love out to the world, and then reflect any praise we might receive on this earth back to Him.

We as humans are not designed to handle praise. We can become addicted to it and need it in order to feel self worth. This is not the way God intended us to be. He wants us to give Him all the praise we receive, after all, who is more worthy of praise then God?

We need to be able to put these things into perspective. God is the sun/Son. He radiates the Light/message of love and salvation. We are moons who reflect the Light to a dark world. Drama Ministry can be a complicated place sometimes. Since the messenger is on the stage and the center of attention, it can become easy to start believing one's own press. We can gain the mentality that if the performance was good, then we are good; but if the performance did not go the way we intended, then we must not measure up and are of lesser worth. This is extremely unhealthy and is not of God. We know from the Bible that we are priceless workmanships of a loving father and nothing can depreciate our value. It must be understood that even though we are in the lime light, it is souly for the purpose of giving God glory and preaching His message. Humility in acting is essential. In Drama Ministry, each participant needs to have a firm handle on this.

This is not to say that one should not find satisfaction in their work for God. Nothing is more satisfying than knowing that one is using their talents and gifts for the LORD and His purposes. The job of Drama Ministry is to equip people who share this passion for acting and ministry. More than producing a show, Drama Ministry should give others the tools to go out and start ministries of their own. If an actor in a drama team likes acting, it is the responsibility of the leaders to encourage them in their pursuit to explore their ambitions in acting by giving them opportunities to act in the drama team and also inform them of upcoming opportunities in local theater productions.

Just as Jesus invested into his disciples, we should invest in others.

Sunday, March 21, 2010



Think Creative Ministrys does not hold formalized auditions. Instead we use a selection prosecc called Casting Calls. The differences between an audition and a casting call can be confusing. In an audition, the actor prepares a piece of work (usually a one-minute monologue and possibly anywhere between 16-32 measures of a song from a musical). The director then makes his or her final decision about who is in and who is out. If a decision is especially difficult, sometime a director will have callbacks. In the stage on the auditioning process, the actors in question are seen a second time in order to help decide which one best fits the particular role.
A casting call, on the other hand, is a time where new talent is brought in to see what part would best suit their current acting ability. They may bring something if they would like, or simply spend some time with the director. He or she may simply talk about past acting experiences, or have the actor play a few parts in some acting exercises. This is all to determine what sort of part is to be given, not if a part is to be given at all. No one is left out.
We believe that if someone had a desire to be a part of drama ministry, the opportunity should be extended to them. They will know very quickly if the world of acting, memorizing, and rehearsals is something they are willing to be committed to.
Since Think Creative Ministries is a Christian repertoire-acting troop, we want to model scriptural principles at all times. In probably the most famous verse in the Bible
(John 3:16) Jesus says, “…that whosoever believeth in Me shall not parish, but have everlasting life.” This word “whosoever” implies that no one is left out. All are welcome into the kingdom of God. We at Think Creative Ministries want to have an atmosphere that encourages everyone to explore their God given talents. The kingdom of God is not an exclusive club. This is our reasoning for not conducting formalized auditions. This does not mean we are unconcerned with putting on the highest quality shows possible. In fact, this means quite the opposite. Colossians 3:23,24 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” We want to put on high quality shows as an offering to the Lord, as well as making the audience has a pleasurable time.
Actors will be cast according to their current level of ability. In Jesus’ parable about the talents he says that the men were given the talents “according to their ability.” This does not mean however, that if you or someone you know has a smaller part in a sketch or show, they are incapable of playing a larger role. Sometimes this happens simply due to who decides to be a part of the sketch, in which case all the roles must be filled.
As Christians, our aim is to serve God and give Him glory, not gain praise for our selves. Mark 9:35, says, “…If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." We are trying to make servants of God, not stars. This goes along with the classic Shakespeare quote, “There are no small parts, only small actors.” Each of us has a role to play in the kingdom of God. Let us serve Him together.

Don't just recite it, Deliver it.

One of the biggest things in acting is line delivery. As the old saying goes, "It's not what you say, it's how you say it." This is especially true with acting and Drama Ministry. As actors, we want to present our material as authentically and as realistically as possible. The idea in doing this is to not just simply memorize our lines and recite them on stage. We should read the line. Then, we need to think about what the line means, what is the character really saying? What are they trying to convey by saying this line? What motives, beliefs, and feelings are being expressed in this line? We need to ask our selves how we would respond if these things are really happening to us. How would I feel? How Would I respond? What type of vocal tone would I be using if this were really happening to me?
Then, we need to try out the line. Does it sound good? Am I conveying what I want? We should try out many different ways of saying the line before settling on any specific way of saying it. We need to think about where the emphasis of the words is going. What is the most important words of the sentence? Play with different types of emphasis; see how the line changes in connotation by changing the emphasis. The thing to watch for in this exercise is not making the line singsongy. The line should sound as though it is the natural response from what has just been said. This is why memorizing not only your lines, but also the line surrounding your line is a good thing. This way, you can get the feeling your line is to have. If this character just said that, then I will respond like this. This creates an amount of flow with the characters. The late and great Russian actor and teacher Stanislavski had this to say on the subject, "The proper inward feeling creates the proper outward action."
The lines should flow from us, not bounce off us. It's almost like playing a game of catch. You don't want the ball to bounce off of you. You want to catch the ball and then throw it. The same is true with acting. You want to take your lines, understand them, feel them, and then send them out into the air. Throw them out into the audience. The lines should come from you, the actor, not the script. The script is just paper and has no life of its own. It is the job of the actor to put on the meat, bones and flesh of a character and the things he or she says.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ways to Present the Gospel in Drama Ministry

The goal of Drama Ministry is to effectively present the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a creative and innovative way. This can take on many different forms. The first form I would like to discuss is that of the "Sit-Com Sketch."

In this genre, a short play is constructed and conveys a scene with a scriptural theme or lesson. Fictitious characters are created and acted out in the scene and illustrate the moral or scriptural principle. The comedy of the scene should originate with the character's personality, inability to grasp the point, physical humor. Sometimes the comedy is the result of parody or cultural references, puns, and jokes. The key in all of this is that the comedy is the result of the situational circumstances of the characters and their surroundings. The comedy should never come from the moral or scriptural message to be conveyed. This being said, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or anything relating to Jesus such as the his earthly life and ministry are never to be the source of comedy.
These Sit-Com sketches should be anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes in length and contain a distinct beginning, middle, and end. Many would argue that sketch comedy does not need to have a final resolution and should leave the audience thinking. While I agree that Christian Drama should be thought provoking, I do not feel that lacking a strong conclusion is the most effective way to accomplish this goal. What should compel the audience, is the power of the message. The idea behind using the Sit-Com Sketch is to be able to see, in living color, how people respond to a living God and his word.

Another effective way to present the Gospel in Drama Ministry is to let the Bible itself be the source material for the sketch. This is more than simply telling a Bible story. When presenting Biblical material, the goal is to make the Bible come to life for the audience so that they can see for themselves what it must have been like. This does not mean that all Biblical presentations should be serious in genre. There is much room for comedy in Biblical presentations. In general, there are three min ways to present Biblical material in Drama Ministry. The first is "Dramatic Bible Presentation." In this genre, a bible story is selected and played out in a serious, non-comedic way. The idea is to present the story as it might have really happened. Writing these types of sketches are relatively not difficult. One must familiarize one's self with the story and write lines that seem to flow conversationally with the story. Sometimes scripture itself can even become lines in the sketch. The outline of the sketch already exists and all that is needed at this point is a little meat on the skeleton and some color for the story.

The second form of Biblical presentation is called "Biblical Parody." This does not mean that the biblical account in question is to be made fun of, but that the story is to be told through a comedic lens. The Bible is full of funny stories and funny people. As we read the scriptures we can see just how funny it can get. With a little imagination, classic Bible stories can be told in a way that will leave your audience rolling on the floor with laughter. Remember as I stated earlier, Jesus is never to be the source of comedy. This must be a foundational principle in all Drama Ministry. If God's Holiness and our reverence to Him is not upheld as a standard, the Drama Ministry will be no different than the many television shows and stand-up comedians who make fun of God and make light of His holiness. The purpose of Drama Ministry is to, above all else, bring glory to our Father in Heaven. Characters from the Old Testament are great sources of comedy for Biblical Parody. This portion of the Bible allows us to see how real people responded to a real God and what happened as a result of their faithfulness or disobedience. New Testament characters are also subject to this sort of comedic representation as long as it is not reflecting the attitudes of Jesus. For example, a sketch on Paul preaching on Mars Hill might be a good subject for Biblical Parody. The focus might be on how the people there serve other gods and even have one engraved to the "Unknown god." The conversation between Paul and these people could result in some very funny material. On the other hand, A sketch on the stoning of Stephen might not be a good choice for Biblical parody. Even Saul's conversion experience might be an effective comedic story as long as the comedy comes from Saul. It might even be effective to have the lines of Jesus come directly from the Bible.

The last type of Biblical presentation is called "Biblical Fiction." In this genre, a Biblical story is selected but the focus of the sketch is not on the classic characters. For instance, a sketch about the animals on the Ark would be included in this genre. Another example might be a sketch on the soldiers from the Philistines side as they watch David and Goliath face off, or the Romans who guard Jesus' tomb. The idea behind this genre is to give the audience a different perspective on a well known story. Sometimes we as Christians can become so accustomed to a particular story, that we become numb to its powerful message. The thing to remember in this type of sketch is to keep to the source material as much as possible.

These are the three basic ways in which Drama Teams go about presenting Bible stories. The job of Drama Ministries is to present the Truth of God's word in a way that will not only entertain audiences, but also deliver the life changing message that will stick with them.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Th rest of the old posts

Our lives reflect our attitude toward God Psalm 97 The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side. His lightning lights up the world; the sees and trembles. Do our lives reflect this or is He simply a nice guy who want us to be nice
Things that happen to us in life can either be no fault of our own, or no fault but our own. In either case, the result is that we must deal with it, and it is in the dealing that character is made. We can either respond with patience or frustration. Our actions directly effect the way people respond to us. Kind words ...invite a kind response, angry words invite an angry response and can only have devastating outcomes.
Who we are effects how we see things. How we see things effects what we do. If we are in Christ, we will see the world around us as God does and will act in accordance with the love we have been given. If we are bitter and angry people, we will perceive the actions of others in the same way and respond with cutting words and harsh remarks. We can measure the state of our heart by the way we respond to people.
God should not just be an addition to our lives to help make it more complete. The power of God and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit should transform our lives into something radically new. The Bible says, "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." The best way to serve God is to live out who he created you to be in Him and to use our talents and desires for his glory.
I think we as Christians underestimate the power of prayer. If God really is who we claim Him to be, then our communication with him should have much more power. Do we know what it means when we pray in the Jesus' name? Do we realize that we are speaking intimately with the one who put the earth in motion? How does this effect what we pray, how we pray, who we pray for, how often we pray? Pray with great expectation.
17 "He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. 18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. 19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. 2 Samuel 22: 17-19

I'm discovering the key to patience is to cultivate tough skin. We can receive criticism, insults, personal attacks without needing to avenge ourselves. We can calmly let the Lord deal with them as He chooses. By not needing to correct every slanderous word, we are free to focus on God's work. We can even love the people who hurl such words. Forgiveness becomes much easier since we weren't offended in the first place.
Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried. Gilbert K. Chesterton
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 3:3) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10: 23)
So if I stand, let me stand on the promise that You will see me through. And if I can't let me fall on the Grace that first brought me to You! And if I sing let me sing be for the joy that has born in me these songs. And if i weep let it be as a man who is longing for his home... -Rich Mullens (1955-1997)
(John 3:16) لأَنَّهُ هكَذَا أَحَبَّ اللهُ الْعَالَمَ حَتَّى بَذَلَ ابْنَهُ الْوَحِيدَ، لِكَيْ لاَ يَهْلِكَ كُلُّ مَنْ يُؤْمِنُ بِهِ، بَلْ تَكُونُ لَهُ الْحَيَاةُ الأَبَدِيَّةُ.
Give thanks with a grateful heart because of what He has done for us. Let the weak say I am strong. Let the poor say I am rich, because of what the Lord has done. I know all to well that without the Lord, I am nothing. I can do nothing on my own strength. It is only by fully depending on Him along with the grace and love of God that I can do what He has called me to do. Without Him I am so dead.
In the words of my good friend Pastor Nate, "God gave us a brain for a reason." it is true that we depend on God for everything, Including our every breath. But God also expects us to do something with time and abilities He has given us. Just because we know the battle is already won in Christ, does not mean that fighting it becomes unnecessary. Even though David knew he would defeat Goliath, he still had to fight.

What is that makes God's grace so amazing? It is the the balance between Holiness and Mercy. In view of God's Holiness, we are "undone" as Isaiah says. Gods standards are set so high, no Human can possibly reach them. God, in his ...mercy, makes us his children. The fact that is God is Holy makes his grace amazing. Wha...t if God was all grace and no truth, or all truth
I see the man I am. I see who He is, and I can see the man I want to be because of Him. Lord help me to: die daily, submit my will to yours, let you remove everything that is not of you in my life no matter how painful, work out my salvation, walk humbly before you. Help me to grow in sature and favor with God and man. When people look at me, I want them to see you.and no grace?
What is that makes God's grace so amazing? It’s the balance between Holiness and Mercy. In view of God's Holiness, we are "undone" as Isaiah says. Gods standards are set so high, no Human can possibly reach them by their own efforts. This is the fundamental reason we need a savior. God, in his mercy, makes us his children. The fact that is God is Holy and does not tolerate sin makes his grace amazing. He lowered himself taking the likeness of man so that we could be made right with Him. Why would the Ruler of the universe humble himself to the point of becoming like one of his creation? This baffles the imagination and can only be described as AMAZING. What if God was all grace and no truth, or all truth and no grace?
What does it really mean to bare one another's burdens? I was watching the Passion of the Christ, and I came to the part where Simon of Cyrene takes Jesus cross. Even Jesus needed help baring his burden. How much more do we need a friend to simply sit with us, cry with us, and carry us to the feet of Jesus in prayer when we can't pick ourselves up one more time. This is the kind of Love Jesus is talking about.

What would happen if our theology and our reality clashed? Most of us could, in great detail, explain our beliefs about God; what we believe, why we believe it. It's almost like be spiritually drunk. When we're sober, pleasing God is at the forefront of our attention. When we're caught up in the world, God is the last thing on our minds. What can we do to make God a priority all the time?
I've come to the conclusion that the phrase, "practice what you preach is backwards." We as followers of God need to preach what we are already practicing. To live what I believe, pray for those in need, always give more that enough. To gently walk in grace, boldly stand in faith. Most of all to share the Father's love. Let me know that you think?
I love how the apostle Paul puts this. "If it possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." I love the part (as far as it depends on you) I'm not responsible for anything else other than my relationship with God and my own actions. How I love God and how I love others. Here's another one from proverbs. "When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to live at peace with him."
It is impossible to forgive without humbling ourselves. It's humbling to confront the person who hurt you and say I release you. We don't have to wait for the offender to apologize before we forgive. Sometimes this will never happen. We forgive because God told us to, not because it feels good at the time. It does later. "Forgiveness is releasing a prisoner, and realizing the prisoner was yourself.”
Today's thought comes from Pastor and teacher Chuck Swindoll. "The conversion of a soul is the miracle of a moment. The making of a saint is the task of a life time." The Bible says, "Choose this day whom you will serve." This is the process we are all in. Am I daily surrendering my life and will to God? Do I love and care for others as He would? Am I quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry?
Hi, so today's thought also comes from Wild at Heart. Here's the quick paraphrase. When God looks at you deep in your soul, what do you think he sees? How we answer this question, largely indicates how we relate to God. If we see our selves as sinners, we will hide from Him in shame. If we recognize the FACT we are made HOLY by His grace, we will run to Him.
Today's thought comes from a book called The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. "Creation discloses a power that baffles our minds and beggars our speech. We are enamored by God's power. We stutter and stammer about God's holiness. We tremble before God's majesty and yet we grow squeamish and skittish before God's love." We say how great God is, but yet doubt His capacity to love us in the face of our troubles.

What would happen if our theology and our reality clashed? Most of us could, in great detail, explain our beliefs about God; what we believe, why we believe it. It is an entirely different thing to take those principles and implement them in our daily life. Instead of just talking about loving others and putting God first, what would happen if these ideas became a lifestyle?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Atheists use YouTube to proselyze.

As I was surfing YouTube the other day, I came across this delightful looking cartoon about Noah and the Ark. I clicked on it expecting to see a cute and even humorous take on the classic Biblical account of Noah and the Ark. What I saw was nothing of the sort. The first thing to come on screen were big letters and a booming voice over that said, "The Thinking Atheist Presents:" I was slightly amused. "Oh boy, here we go again. Another Atheist wanting to refute the truth of the Bible." As the video went on, it became quite clear that attempting to disprove the story was only part of this group's agenda. No, they a much bigger plan in mind, and that was to completely attack not only the Bible and the Christian faith, but ultimately God himself. After the video was finished spouting all sorts of false statements and blasphemies, I soon discovered that this little group was not so little after all. These people had produced several videos all with the same message that God is non existent, and even if He does exist He's a violent and cruel psychopath.
The video begins with telling the viewer that the Flood "...left absolutely no geological evidence." Hmm, this is interesting because countless scientist have concluded that in order to form the vast array of land masses and geological formations on the earth, a large flood must have had to take place. But no matter, we won't listen to science. After all, neither does the Atheist.
Ok, talk science all you want. Most of it is over my head anyway. But the next thing the video spouts is pure unadulterated hatred for God. They rename the story of the flood: "Drowning Your Children When they Don't Behave" and begin putting their spin on the account found in Genesis 6. They claim that God was somehow responsible for the sin of mankind. And here's my personal favorite. The video claims that God encouraged incest as a way to repopulate the Earth. I obviously don't have time to mention everything in the video, but I hope you get the picture that Atheists do not just merely believe in no God, but are avid haters of God and those who follow Him.
The blasphemies continue with videos about the Ten Commandments and other subjects. They even had a video about Haiti showing the mass devastation and carnage. All this is accompanied by verses about how much God loves mankind. In truth, the video made me sick. It ends with saying that as the nation of Haiti crumbled, people's prayers were met with silence due to the non existence of God. Of all their videos, this one has got to be the worst. Say what you want about religion, God will deal with you later. But to use the death and pain of thousand's of people to prove a point is just plain wrong.
As my anger grew for these people who so vehemently hate God, I watched yet another video. This one is the most blasphemous of all. It's called, "The story of Suzie." It tells the sacrilegious story about a girl named Suzie who prays to a God that either doesn't hear her or is just plain absent. The videos contends that Christians give God glory for things people are responsible for and says that prayers about wars and the sick and dying are met with no response because these things are all a part of God's perfect plan for humanity.
If this doesn't make you angry that these people talk about our God this way, it should. When David saw Goliath, the thing that bothered him most was that Goliath cursed and mocked the LORD God of Israel. We should have the same sentiment and not stand for people mocking God.
Not that I want you to look at the web videos and thus make them more popular, but I do want you to see the obvious loathing the Atheists have toward God.
So what is it that makes Atheists hate God so much? Could it possibly be that they know within their hearts that God is there and they feel threatened by Him and His holiness? Maybe they know that if they concede that God is there and is Holy, they are responsible for their sin.

Romans 8:5-8
5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man[a] is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind[b] is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Old posts

Here is a collection of some older "Thought for the Day." They range on a wide variety of subjects. This is by no means a comprehensive collection.

How many of our friends and peers know that we are followers of God? I say I love God, but how does that effect the way I live? Am I in the world but not of it? Do I pursue the presence of God? What do I do when tempted? Francis of Assisi wrote, "Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary use words. One of the biggest insults we can receive is when someone says, "I didn't know you were a Christian?"

It has been said that maturity is moving from having soft skin and a hard heart, to having hard skin and a soft heart. Most of us get hard skin and keep our hard heart. God wants us to have a heart that is teachable and sensitive to His leading. At the same time God wants us to be wise, to know when to speak up and when to shut up. To not let the destructive words of others keep us from doing God's work.

One of the least sung heroes of the Bible has to be Jonathan. Here you have the crown prince of Israel, defending and even loving the very man who will take his place as king. Jonathan has every reason to hate David. But instead, Jonathan loves David like a brother, and rejoices in his success and helps him escape from Saul. He never deserted David. I want friends like that. No wait, I want to be a friend like that.

How many of us have a tendency to put our reputation above the things God would have us do? we see someone we should say hello to or be of assistance and fail to do so because we're concerned with the opinion of others. Jesus loved the outcasts and down and out. In fact, he preferred them to the people who thought they had it altogether. God's opinion of us is what matters. Who can you love today like Jesus would?

What is it that made David a man after God's own heart? First thing was that he was faithful. Before he's crowned king, to get him to do anything, they had to get him from his father's sheep. I don't think it was that David just loved the sheep so much as it was his job and he was going to it until God put him someplace else. How bout us? Are we faithful with what God told us to do today, or do we want it all now?

Today's thought comes from pastor and teacher Chuck Swindoll. "God says go, and we say, "Right OK." And before we're off our knees, we're saying, "now wait LORD, how am I supposed to pull that off?" This where our faith becomes a reality. It's one thing to hear the voice of God, but another thing altogether to get up and move along in faith, trusting that what He said will come to pass. We get distracted with details.

Jesus loves us just as we are, not as we should be. We will never be good enough for Him in our own strength. That is why He makes us good enough by his grace. That is good news. He knows everything about us and still says, "I LOVE YOU MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE IN THIS WORLD. I MADE YOU!"

Ok, today's thought comes from John Eldridge's book Wild at Heart. "We love God. We even desire to be close to him. But how many of us (epically men) are ever so vulnerable enough to simply let ourselves be loved by God?" To let Him be the perfect father and to let him see the dark recesses of our broken heart and to invite Him into that place? Let me know what you all think.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Victory over sin

The beauty of living under grace through Christ's redemptive work on the cross means that we can now, for the first time in our lives, say no to sin. Think about that. Before we came to Christ, there's no way we could have said no to sin. Paul tells us in Ephesians that we were dead in our transgressions (sin). We could do nothing about our sinful condition. We were slaves to its desires. But the good news is the God has brought us from death unto life. We have been made new. We now have the ability to do what James calls resisting the devil. This is something we could not have done before Jesus came into our lives. We have been set free from the bondage of sin and its desires.
Does this mean we no longer have a desire to sin? Of course not. We all have a sinful nature that is just waiting for opportunities to creep its ugly head. What this does mean is that we now have the power in Jesus' name to say no. Sin has lost it's power over us. We don't have to sin. We sin because we choose to.
The Bible says that even when we are tempted He will provide a way of escape. The only response to sin and temptation that has ever worked in scripture is running away as fast as you can from the thing that is tempting you. Joseph was tempted and he ran out of the house so fast that he left his coat behind. His purity meant more to him than any earthly thing. He says that he could not do such a wicked thing against his God. Instead of weighing the options and letting the temptation eat at him, he flees. David, on the other hand, does not flee. He entertains the thought and lets it consume him. Once David opened the door to sin, its consequences came to stay like a house guest that won't leave. Samson flirted with his fleshly desires and it ultimately cost him his life.
The only response to sin is flight. Get out while you still can. God has provided a brief window of opportunity to say no and be victorious over sin's desires. We don't have to sin any longer.


On Jan 7th of this year, My very dear friend and adopted Grandmother Spin FitzRandolph passed from this word and went to be with her Lord. The following was posted on the discussion board for the Facebook Group called Memories of Spin and were my thought about the whole thing.

As our dear friend Spin was laid to rest yesterday, we are now faced with a crucial decision. What are we going to do with legacy she has left? So many of us were touched by Spin's loving personality. We were encouraged by her loving words and comforting hugs. If we needed a laugh, we knew where to come find it. But to leave these qualities unused in our own lives, would be a tragedy. Spin taught us how to love by example. By the way she loved us and by the way we saw her loving others. We should now follow in her footsteps and do the same because she followed Jesus' footsteps. We must now ask ourselves this. Who can I be a Spin to? To whom can I show God's love and acceptance? Whose day can I brighten by a smile and a laugh? How can I make others feel the immeasurable worth they have in Christ? How can I serve God by serving others around me? How can I love without restrictions or prerequisites? How can I be a friend to those who need one, whether I feel like being one or not. How can I take life's heartaches and learn how to have joy in the midst of it all because I know my Father in heaven has it under control? Spin taught us how to do all these things not because she told us, but because she showed us by the way she lived. So my challenge to all of us, even though it is hard because we loved Spin dearly and will miss her, is to pick up her torch and continue to live out her legacy to others. In the word's of her favorite singer Mark Lowery, "To live what I believe/pray for those in need/ always give more than enough/ to gently walk in grace/ boldly stand in faith/ most of all to share the Father's love."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Think Creative Ministries

Hi this is Josh Matthews, creator of Think Creative Ministries. This is the first posting on this new blog. So in light of that. WELCOME. I hope you will find this to be an inspirational resource.

Think Creative Ministries is a way to creatively present the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have many avenues in which we do this. The first of which is in the area of Christian Drama. Through the Think Creative Ministries Team, We produce a Christian Comedy Variety and Improv Show called, "Sabbath Evening Live."
We also produce a improvisational Podcast called "All This Stuff In One Podcast." Our actors explore their imaginations and create quality lunacy for kids and their parents everywhere.
We also offer Christian Drama education. Everything from acting classes to starting your own Church Drama Team.
You can find our group's profile on Facebook at: Think Creative Ministries.
There you will find the latest news as to what we are doing, when our next show is, and pictures from the latest event.

In addition to providing you with clean, God honoring comedy, Think Creative Ministries wants to encourage a closer walk with our Savior, Jesus Christ. Much of the material found on this site will be inspirational thoughts to help us in our daily walk with God. Each day you will find a new "Thought for the Day." This is mostly the result of insights I have gathered from the Bible, sermons, books on spiritual enrichment, friends, and life itself. I used to post my "Thought for the Day" as my Facebook status update. This worked well for a while, until the 420 character limit became to restricting. This blog provides a better format for sharing the, "Thought for the Day." Coupled with the current "Thought for the Day, I will also post some of the older ones from Facebook. Please feel free to comment on anything you see.