Summary: (With help from a popular ‘Personality Type Sorter’), this is a useful light, insightful drama for churches to have conversations around group power dynamics, diversity of gifts, decision-making processes and creating respectful environments. It could be considered for early in the church’s year, as part of a ‘visioning exercise’, on a retreat, as committees are beginning their work, at an annual meeting or with youth.
Style: Dramatic. Duration: 10min
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12
Actors: 1N, 4M/F
CharactersNarrator (a fly on the wall)
Chair of the Worship Committee (trying her best)
Nancy (easily distracted, a free thinker)
Jerome (prone to needing to control things)
Bruce (afraid to do anything in case it might be wrong)
Setting: Four persons sitting in chairs at the front of the chancel. One is the chair of the Worship Committee, the others are members of the Committee.
Narrator: Have you ever wished you could be a fly on the wall? That’s what I am. I’m so small you can’t see me. But I love my job. No, I don’t mean the things you usually think of when you think of a fly. I’m not going to let you follow me around the food table and sample the wares. I’m talking about my other job. The one where I get to sit on the wall and listen in on people’s conversations.
One of the best places to listen in is in the church. You wouldn’t believe the conversations people have in meetings! Sometimes the things people talk about are very deep, profound and meaningful. Like questions about God, and the meaning of their lives. Sometimes they spend a long time on things that absolutely bore other people to death. Like what kind of pickles to put on the table for the tea. They have even been known to fight - and what they fight about is ridiculous to some, but the most important thing in the world to someone else.
But you know, after hanging around church gatherings and meetings for a long time, I have come to realize something. Everybody is different. Not everybody thinks the same way.
But let me stop talking, and listen in with me on this meeting that’s going on right now. I think, if I read the calendar correctly, that this is the worship committee.
Chair: Alright, friends. I think we should start the meeting with prayer. Why don’t we just take a moment in silence for each of us to focus our own thoughts and hearts on what is important for us to be about here.
Nancy: God, I am going to try very hard at this meeting to concentrate on one thing at a time. I know my mind tends to wander, especially when we get all caught up in details and numbers and things like that. It’s just that I am a dreamer. I know that drives some people crazy. But that is how you made me. Help me to keep my mind on one th - look, a bird! - ing at a time.
Jerome: God, I know I made a fool of myself at our last meeting. It’s just that we spend so much time talking and never get anything done. I know I could do a better job than the person who is leading the group. But, God, as you very well know, there are all these things we have to do - and we never seem to get them done! I know feelings are important, and that I should be sensitive, and all that. But I need to trust you to be in control, and not me. I promise you, God. I am REALLY GOING TO TRY NOT TO TAKE OVER. But, if you need some help, just ask.
Bruce: God, I am feeling a bit uptight here. I know I need to relax more. I need to trust more. But I am so afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing. In this meeting I want you to help me to be more laid back. And help me do it exactly right!
Narrator: Did you notice something in the prayers people offered? Everyone was trying hard to be open to letting God speak to them. And that is good. It means they are open. And that is how we grow in our faith.
But there was another side to their prayers as well. Each of them, in different ways, shared something about their own personality.
One felt that she got easily distracted. People like her have a hard time getting focused on things like budgets and details. That probably makes some other people crazy. But maybe she is one of those people who can help others see the forest and not just the trees. She is a feeling person. She experiences her faith in very sensory ways. In their own way, she probably encourages other people to get a different perspective on what the faith is about. Just don’t put her in charge of the budget.
Another person thought he needed to run things. He was willing to let God be in charge, but just in case God got too busy, that person was very willing to jump in and rescue the situation. You can just hear him tapping his foot, waiting to take the lead. Yes, that person needs to be more sensitive to what others are saying. On the other hand, if it weren’t for people like that, how would anything ever get done. What do you think is the biggest faith-challenge for a person like that? Can he learn to step back and let others take leadership? Can he do so without being critical of how someone else does things?
The last person is very tentative. He isn’t sure about doing or saying anything unless he is certain it is OK. He doesn’t want to be thought of as a fool. He doesn’t want to stand out in the crowd. How can the group encourage the gifts and wisdom this person brings? How does the leader of the group enable everyone to know that what they bring to the group is truly a gift?
Chair: OK, I suppose we have taken enough time in prayer. Let’s get on with the meeting now. The first thing we need to deal with is the color we are going to use to paint the wall behind the pulpit. We brought this up at our last meeting and now we need to discuss it some more. Nancy, have you got any feelings about this?
Nancy: Yes, I do, and I’m glad you asked about feelings. To me it isn’t so much about color as it is about feeling. It’s like our faith is a feeling, really. You can’t just find one color to describe it. We are really, I guess, a whole rainbow of colors. Different emotions. Different seasons in our lives. You know. Sometimes you feel blue or grey. Other times you feel kind of orange or yellow, colorful. Say, I wonder what color God feels today? If we had to choose a color, it would be the color of God. That’s what I think. That’s what I feel about the color idea.
Chair: (pause) Thank you, Nancy. That was very helpful. In a way. You certainly described your feelings very well. Any other suggestions about the color we should choose?
Jerome: Keep it the way it is. It won’t cost us any money. We can’t afford it. The church is broke. I’ve been looking at the budget. If we weren’t spending all this money on Sunday School curriculum and crayons and music and stuff like that, you know, wishy-washy, head in the clouds kinds of things, we could afford to buy a bucket of paint, or fix the furnace. Now those are the things that make a church. A real church. with a real good furnace.
Chair: But Jerome, this is the Worship committee. We’re supposed to put our heads in the clouds now and again.
Nancy: Yes. In the clouds. That’s where God speaks to us. Or at least where God last spoke to me. I think. Or was it on the bus? No, I guess it was while we sang that last hymn on Sunday. Anyway, I think we should talk about the feelings we have about the wall some more. What does it say about our faith? Do you feel anything when you look at it now? And if it were a different color, what emotions about your faith do you think it should convey?
Jerome: O, you people! Clouds and buses! You can’t have church on a bus. Let’s look at the building where we have this church. It needs work. Lots of it. And I agree, it could use a coat of paint up there. But lets get practical. Who’s going to do it? Where are we going to get the money from?
Bruce: (quietly) Could I say something?
Chair: Yes, Bruce, what is it?
Bruce: I’ve been thinking a lot about this. Just like we said we would do at our last meeting. I hope I don’t offend anyone here. (pauses, looks around.) I, um, I - think we should paint it.
Chair: Yes… anything more, Bruce?
Bruce: Is everybody OK with what I just said? Alright, if I could say more? OK. (clears throat) OK. Like I said, I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
Jerome: (impatiently) Yes, Bruce, and what have you been thinking? Please, we all want to know.
Chair: Please, Jerome, don’t intimidate Bruce. It sounds as though he has something important to say. Some people just take a little longer to say it.
Jerome: They sure do. OK. Go ahead.
Bruce: We shouldn’t decide tonight. We should let the whole congregation decide.
Jerome: But, Bruce, we are the Worship committee! We are supposed to decide. It’s just a bucket of paint after all. You are going to make this decision take a year to make. Nobody will agree on anything. We’ll end up with Nancy’s wacky rainbow up there and even God won’t be happy.
Nancy: A rainbow. Wouldn’t that be nice! It would say everything there is to say about God. All the colors. All the feelings. We could even add texture and special lighting and - oo - Jerome you have inspired us!
Chair: Bruce, do you have anything else to add? You didn’t get to say very much (glaring at Jerome).
Bruce: Well, I thought we could find a couple of times - some evenings, maybe, when we could get people together to talk about it. Maybe we could get one of our ministers, or someone from the Banner Group, or someone from another church, to share with us some of the ways in which color is associated with an expression of faith, like music, or like dance, or that kind of thing. We could invite children and younger families to talk about it in Sunday School or over the supper table.
We could maybe even think about the whole building. Its architecture, how to work with the design that we have to enhance our worship space. What about murals on the walls downstairs? In the hallways? Banners or flags outside in the courtyard? Maybe the purple wall in the narthex could have a mural depicting the history of the church, or a mosaic of the people who are here?
And then, once we had a whole bunch of people, with a whole bunch of ideas, sharing, and talking about the building as a place of worship and study and fun and color and activity, then maybe all of those people could have some feeling that they had a say in decorating the whole building. They would care about it more. They would know each other better. They would be more involved and supportive of the things we try to do around here. They wouldn’t just think that a handful of people make all the decisions for the church, and that they don’t know who those people are. They wouldn’t just show up one Sunday morning and the color would be different. They would be painting it themselves. They would know that the color that was chosen would be one that lots of people had agreed on. And maybe it wasn’t the one they chose, but that would be alright. And they would support it anyway.
(Looking around at everyone with their mouths open) I think that’s what - I - was - sort of thinking. I guess… Oops. Maybe I said too much. I think I need a glass of water. I’m really not very good at this kind of thing.
Jerome: And I’m not very good at this kind of thing. Being humble. Bruce. I gotta hand it to you, buddy. That was great. It is the thing we should do. No, let me put it another way. As you were talking, I kept thinking, Brucie and I are so different. We aren’t on the same page half the time. I tend to bowl people over with my ideas and my personality. And people like you, Brucie, you must feel - well - silenced by people like me. But when I am quiet I am actually listening. And I gotta say, Bruce, you were worth listening to. Thanks.
Nancy: Yes, Bruce. It was the right thing to say. I feel it must have taken a lot for you to say all that, but it was such a gift to the group. As for your idea, I feel that even Jerome and I could work on something like that together. It’s very – O, what’s the word? Inclusive. Kids, grown ups, committees, walls, colors, ideas, paint, buildings, God, Jesus, music, mosaics, (trailing off) … it’s all there.
Narrator: And there you have it. A fly on the wall’s ears listening in on a bit of church chat. Everybody is different. They don’t look or talk or even feel the same. But I think that is great. God made us all different and unique. And I think this group is doing a good job of learning to respect each other and listen. And isn’t that what Jesus calls us all to do?
Chair: I want to end with a reading from the letter of Paul to the Corinthians. I think it is fitting. “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ…” So be it with us. amen.
(C) Jim Hatherly.
This play is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-Alike license. Some rights are reserved. For the full license visit visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/ca/. A donation of equivalent to $10.00 Cdn. to the United Church of Canada Mission and Service Fund for use of this work is suggested. Please visit www.united-church.ca/msfund