Michael Merker’s personal experience with a touring production of the popular musical Godspell, a dramatization of God’s Word, led him to experiment with the adaptation of Bible literature into performance material. Through directing and performing these works, he not only grew in his own understanding of the Word but shared the gospel with his audiences and fellow performers.
With the desire to spark a movement of committed practitioners who aim to reach the entire world for Jesus Christ, Michael has created a practical guide for others who share his love for theater and discipleship. Depth by Drama is for missionaries, group leaders, pastors, and anyone who wants to create and present Bible-based shows for the evangelism of the lost and the discipleship of performers and others involved in the productions. With the help of this thorough guidebook, readers can discover the great blessings gained from rehearsing and performing the Word of God and biblical literature, both for the actor and the audience.
Whether it’s for your personal Bible study, an exercise for a group, or a full-scale performance for an audience, this book—along with the Bible—will be all you need to learn how to put together a production based on Scripture. Now, break-a-leg for Jesus!
Michael Merker has both a bachelor’s and a master’s of fine arts (BFA/MFA) in acting and directing, from the Goodman School of Drama of the Art Institute of Chicago (now the Theatre School at DePaul University). After working for years as a professional actor, director, stage manager, and musician, he went on to write, direct, and perform Bible-based plays in church and parachurch settings. He enjoys playing guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums on worship teams. He’s been married over forty-four years to his wife, Linda. Together they homeschooled their six children, and they now have ten grandchildren. He currently resides in the Puget Sound area.
We live in a time when Bible knowledge, where it exists at all, is too often a surface knowledge, sometimes wide but usually not very deep. My hope is that the ideas and techniques presented here will help you and many others to increase many potential dimensions of Bible knowledge while serving others in love. Now I ask you, what could be more fulfilling than that?
I was already on fire about exposing people to God’s Word through the performing arts; now it was if someone had dumped gasoline on my flames.
With no tangible faith to speak of, I prayed and asked for the forgiveness of my sins, for the salvation of Jesus Christ, and to enter into a relationship with Him forever. I can’t say that I was aware of anything happening at that moment, but I do think I felt a bit of peace. It seemed a little like someone had turned off a jangling bell that had annoyed me so long I had ceased to hear it but noticed it when it was gone.
Having discovered the true truth of the Gospel, I no longer had a stomach for being involved in any production that disavowed that truth. There are a few plays that are exceptions, but as a theater worker I knew that I would be expected to compromise in many ways I was now uncomfortable with and promote messages that were antithetical to my newfound perspective and worldview.
My own personal walk with Christ has certainly been deepened by the productions I have been involved in. Preparing for and playing the Apostle John reading a scroll of the book of John for my church was the first such experience I had, and it forever cemented my love for that very lovely book.
As one searches the Scriptures for potential passages and books to dramatize, the personal knowledge of what is in this most valuable and beautiful collection of inspired writings should greatly increase. Even getting a group of people to read a Scripture-based script out loud will very likely uncover truths from the Bible that they had not previously been exposed to. And once you and your fellow potential performers dig into the text for understanding and clarity, the investigation will unlock new insights that can be applied to your personal lives.
My greatest hope is that the use of drama could help engender a new awakening, assisting even home churches and underground churches throughout the world to spread the teachings of the Bible authors. It will be hard to take away the Bibles that are written on the hearts of those that memorized entire books of Scriptures.