© 2011 Carlton W. Hughes
Spies looking for a missing baby. Shepherds rocking out to TobyMac. Angels lip-syncing a Christmas carol . . . in Japanese.
What do these scenarios have in common? They’re all scenes from plays I’ve written for my children’s ministry. And guess what? You can get even crazier!
I never dreamed my Great Adventure would include writing for children. I would have run the other way if God had revealed this to me earlier. Looking back, I realize God used my work with children to stir my writing gift.
Write what you know. It may seem like a cliché, but it does help. Collect gems of dialogue and experiences and incorporate them into your work. Years ago a girl in one of my classes told me she knew the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus swept.” That priceless mispronunciation made it into a play, and she was excited when she heard her line. One year my young sons were into spy gear, inspiring me to write a play in which the baby Jesus is missing from a theater set with children dressed as spies looking for him. These authentic touches connect with the children in your ministry.
Don’t be afraid to tap into pop culture. Tweak what your kids are into right now and use it in your plays, skits, or lessons. One year my Christmas play was a spoof of American Idol, with the judges trying to find The Next Christmas Star (and yes, one group lip-synced in Japanese). When High School Musical was at its peak, I wrote a play entitled Church Christmas Musical that utilized cool Christian songs from TobyMac and others. I often use examples from popular children’s television shows and movies to emphasize Biblical principles. Kids love imitating their favorite characters, and adults get a kick out of it, too.
Be professional. Even if no one but your kids see your work, learn proper plotting and formatting techniques and use them. You never know when you’ll have a call to use that script again. I’ve incorporated my experiences as a teacher in writing my own curriculum for programs at church. Seek God’s guidance, and He will equip you with the right tools and knowledge to do the work with a spirit of excellence.
Writing for children is truly a Great Adventure. So what are you waiting for? Hop on board!
Carlton W. Hughes is a communications professor at Southeast Kentucky Community College and serves as children’s pastor at Lynch Church of God. He is also a freelance writer and speaker. Hughes has published an essay in Simple Little Words and articles in publications such as Youth and Christian Education Leadership and Kentucky Living. He has written numerous plays and skits, one of which won first place for Church Dramas in the 2011 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Contest.