Drama ministry is one of my absolute favorite things! It can be crazy stressful, fun, silly, eye-rolling, frustrating and a huge blessing all at the same time. It is my happy place. At least one of my happy places! But, if you’ve never done drama ministry or you’re looking to start a drama ministry or do a children’s Christmas play, this is the place!
First things first! Pray about it. Pray about the direction you should go, pray about talking to your pastor, parents, the children, etc. Then go talk to your pastor about your desire to start a children’s drama ministry or that you’d like to do a children’s Christmas play. You may want to have the following information:
- Have an idea of how many kids you think will participate
- what play you are thinking about
- how much will cost the church
- the play itself and everything that goes with
- set design
- notebooks for the scripts & music
- after party
- any incidentals you can think of
- What ages you are going to include
- Practice dates, performance date
- Your team
Once you get the go-ahead, it’s time to decide on the play. I start looking as early as July. That’s when the new musicals are released. My favorite places to order from are Brentwood Benson (Unfortunately as of 12/17/21 they have closed their site and I’ll update as soon as they hopefully reopen) and Skit Guys. I typically use Brentwood Benson for Christmas musicals. I love the quality of what they offer (and I’m not getting paid to say that). But don’t worry if it’s October and you’re just getting started. For your first time, I suggest something simple.
I’ve been involved in drama ministry my whole life, but when I did my first children’s Christmas play by myself (there hadn’t been one in a few years) I chose one that was simple but beautiful. It was narration and Christmas songs that most of the kids already knew. The kids took turns with the narration and we didn’t even design a set. But it was great! The kids loved it, the parents loved it, and the pastor loved it, too!
Pick a good team that you can work with. Hopefully, you won’t do it by yourself. You need a helper no matter how small or simple your drama or musical will be. You never know when you might get sick. It’s also great to have someone that can help at practices even if they just help you with starting and stopping the cd or helping watch the kids. It’s a good practice when working with children to have someone else with you.
Once you have a helper and you’ve gotten to go-ahead from the pastor, it’s time to get the word out that you’re doing a Christmas play. Here’s how I get the word out:
- Bulletin Inserts a week or two before practice starts
- Handouts for the parents the Sunday practice starts as a reminder
- Social Media before practices start and the day of as a reminder
- Pulpit announcements and/or pre-service announcement slides each Sunday
- Talking it up to kids and their parents in person before practices start
- Weekly church newsletter – Practice announcement before practices start and then every week as a reminder
- Personal text/message reminders if a parent asks me to.
I use all of those methods, every year and for every drama throughout the year. But you don’t have to, I just go for overkill so no one can say they had no idea when practices are starting. If you’re not tech-savvy or good at designing graphics, ask the church secretary or a friend to help you. I typically use Canva to design a lot of my announcements.
The next thing will be holding practices. Have a plan of action for every practice so that you don’t waste time. Practices will go so much smoother if you have a plan. I personally prefer closed practices with no parents in attendance unless they are a helper. Parents although well-intentioned can be a big distraction for you and for the kids you’re working with. Plus you want this to be a surprise to them! Also, make time for them to have fun and be silly. If your practices aren’t a little fun, they will get bored. Remember they are kids and this should be fun, even though it’s hard work.
I hope this will help you get started. You can do this! Just remember, this is a ministry, not a performance. The most important thing I tell my actors and their parents is that this is about ministry. The actors should get as much out of this as the audience. So be sure to explain why you’re doing this as you go. I’ll get more into this in future posts. It’s ok if someone forgets a line, sings off-key, or trips on stage; they are children, so let them be children. Let them have fun!
I’m in the process of writing a book with tons of helpful printouts and just about everything I’ve learned over the years all about children’s drama ministry. I want you to have a successful drama ministry! You can do this! God’s got ya!