Original Research

Invited by God onto the worship stage: Developing missional communities through participation in Theo-drama

Ian A. Nell, Neil Meyer
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 34, No 1 | a840 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v34i1.840 | © 2013 Ian A. Nell, Neil Meyer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 April 2013 | Published: 01 October 2013

About the author(s)

Ian A. Nell, Department of Practical Theology and Missiology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Neil Meyer, Uniting Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa, South Africa


When the front of the church begins to resemble a stage and the preacher, musicians and other leaders act like performers whilst the congregation takes on the role of an audience, then something is wrong with worship. But not only with worship: something is wrong with the church. A church longing to be missional – that is, a church in which all Christians are participants in the mission of God – needs to express that participation in its worship. Theological dramatic theory shows us how the Trinity acts out a grand narrative in creation, redemption and glorification, and invites us to participate in the Story being performed. This same narrative can be present in worship and can invite our immediate participation. But this cannot happen if either God or the congregation is relegated to the role of mere audience. However, when the Story is told and performed in worship and when the worshipping community is able to participate alongside the Trinity in the Theo-drama of worship, then worship takes on the ability to form that community missionally. Worship is a habit repeated week after week; therefore, its power to transform a community into a missonal congregation is immense.


Liturgy; worship; Theo-drama; stage; plot; characters


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