Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

December 10, 2006


Drama is a good vehicle for sharing truth in entertainment


          My good friend Mike Morehouse worked overtime this week. He played the role of Atticus Finch in the stirring dramatic production of “To Kill a Mocking Bird.”

          Finch is the heavyweight in Harper Lee’s popular book. He provides the wisdom and consistent goodness that make this such a good book. It is so inspiring that any reader will wish with me that Harper Lee had written more than one book.

          Morehouse was a good choice to play Atticus. Like Finch Mike is steady, consistently Christian, and unswervingly committed to the idea that a godly man can make a difference in our world.

Mike has long been convinced also that drama is a good vehicle for communicating truth wrapped in entertainment. His church (Trinity UMC in Opelika) has been blessed many times by Mike’s gifted use of drama to drive home the truth.

Many churches now use short dramas effectively in worship. A drama is a poor substitute for a sermon but it can compliment a sermon and help make worship exciting.

The use of drama in church is not, of course, a new idea. Wise (and sometimes reckless) preachers have been using drama for centuries. Fifty years ago two good preacher friends of mine used drama occasionally.

Bob Dickerson surprised his congregation one morning by having the Devil show up while he was preaching about the great Deceiver. Interrupting the sermon by knocking loudly at a side door of the sanctuary, a man dressed like the Devil burst into the room shouting. He yelled angrily at Bob, then at the people, and quickly departed, screaming as he fled out the door.

Bob said simply, “You never know when that lying rascal will show up!” Without even a smile Bob continued with his sermon as planned, warning people to take the Devil seriously. For over 50 years Bob never stopped telling that story and laughing about the day he woke up the sleeping beauties in his church.

My friend Lester Spencer, father of the Senior Pastor at Saint James where I am now serving, used a rather startling bit of drama in his church many years ago. He borrowed a casket from a local funeral home and placed it down front in the usual place it occupied during a funeral.

That night Lester preached about the sin of gossip. During the service he never explained why the closed casket was sitting there. Concluding his sermon he walked down to the casket, opened it, and invited the people to come by and view the body.

As people walked by and looked inside, what they saw was their own face in a mirror, and a sign beneath it with these words on it: “The Biggest Gossip in Town.” Nobody ever forgot that sermon. Lester said he was never quite that bold again but he made his point – with the use of drama.

Much of the drama used in worship these days involves brief skits that drive home one point. Humor in these skits allows people to see themselves and to laugh at themselves. When the drama is well done, it can liven up worship.

One Halloween night my wife slipped out the back door and came to the front door where neighborhood kids had been coming for tricks or treats. When our boys went to the door, they were speechless. Wearing a disguise and wrapped in a black kimono, their mother fooled them for a few minutes before letting them see her face. That was the one Halloween our boys have never forgotten.

Good drama is good not only for a few laughs; it is a first-rate medium for telling the truth in a fresh, new way. Way to go, Mike. Last week you made a difference, a dramatic difference! + + + +