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"the Growing Church" One Act Play


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"I wrote this in an attempt to capture some of the really awkward and even horrible situations that one can find themselves in at church."


Growing Church


By Jonathan Smith


The Deacon - An early thirties business man, very conventional, a little slick but charming.

Guy - A skeptical teenager. The type who questions everything but he is clearly interested in Christianity.

Jeremy - A sincere but cautious teenager. Reflective but not pretentiously so.

Matt - Eager.

Pastor Gregg - Modern, sincere younger than deacon but not by much.


Set: The set is a single prop: one pew, center stage, facing the audience. Lighting is meager and focused on center stage.


Scene one:


[both characters are sitting on the pew toward the middle. Facing one another slightly. Deacon is house left and Guy is house right.]


Deacon: So have you thought anymore about what we talked about last week?

Guy: Yeah, I still have some questions though.

Deacon: like what? Whatever it is, I don’t have all the answers but Jesus does.

Guy: Well that’s one of the things I have questions about. If Jesus has all the answers and you know Jesus how come he doesn’t give you the answers you need.

Deacon: You see that’s just it, Jesus does have all the answers but he gives us the ones we really need. Sometimes we ask questions that God doesn’t answer right away for a reason.

Guy: well, what’s the point of Jesus having all the answers if he doesn’t help you out by letting you know what they are.

Deacon: The point is to help you grow, to learn.

Guy: [sits quietly for a moment half pretending that his question has been answered.] So, what do you think Jesus wants me to learn from the situation with my parents?

Deacon: I don’t know. Maybe he’s trying to teach you how to come through trials.

Guy: sink or swim.

Deacon: yeah, like that.




Guy: Or I could be being punished.

Deacon: Why do you think that?

Guy: well, we’re all sinners right?

Deacon: [masking his eagerness to hear] Yes, but what sin do you think you’re being punished for?

Guy: I don’t know, all of them…

Deacon: I don’t think you’re being punished.

Guy: Why not, God punished all those people in the bible.

Deacon: That was different. That was before Jesus came to take their place.

Guy: Jesus hasn’t taken my place yet.

Deacon: Maybe he has but you just have to accept it.

Guy: [with a muffled but effectual smirk] Funny way to convince someone…


[A long pause. Deacon looks at his watch and then behind through the window to see if there is anyone still hanging out in the parking lot. Guy looks up at the altar and then at the hanging light fixtures.]


Deacon: So, have you thought anymore about the retreat?

Guy: [Maybe lying] I wanna go but I don’t know if I can get the time off work.

Deacon: Maybe I could talk to Mrs. Sanders for you. We grew up together ya know.

Guy: Well, then there’s my parents.

Deacon: Have you mentioned it to them yet?

Guy: I brought it up to my mom and we got into an argument. She says I’m spending too much time at church and not enough at home. I think she’s kind of right but I don’t do anything when I’m at home.

Deacon: Do you think you could convince her?

Guy: I think I could get her to say yes but I’ll have to live with it for a while.

Deacon: I bet if your mother knew Jesus she would want you to come.

Guy: I think if my mother knew Jesus she’d explode.

Deacon: I don’t know, Jesus can really change people.

Guy: I don’t know if I want to change.

Deacon: None of us like change but looking back we know it’s good for us.

Guy: How did Jesus change you?

Deacon: He gave me peace and purpose and hope. I was much like you as at your age. Pretty confused and things were pretty shaky with my folks too. They got divorced when I was fourteen. But when I accepted Jesus into my heart he helped me deal with all that baggage and also let me know that my sins were forgiven. The peace was really amazing those first few years. (correcting himself) not that it isn’t now.

Guy: Seems like the only thing I don’t have peace about is God. Kinda like Jesus is solving the problem he’s giving me. I mean, I know my parents splitting up is a big deal but it’s not really affecting me like I thought it would.

Deacon: God is probably giving you strength to deal with it.

Guy: [while deacon is talking he has a sence of revelation sweep over him and immediately is itching to leave] I gotta go!

Deacon: you coming out with us to that new Mexican place?

Guy: no, I need to get home.

Deacon: See you next week?

Guy: [Leaves already close enough to the door to ignore the question.]





Scene two:


[Characters are positioned same as before except that Jeremy has replaced guy.]


Deacon: So have you thought anymore about what we talked about last week?

Jeremy: A little. I’ve been pretty busy though.

Deacon: Yeah, life can be busy. But what’s more important than thinking about how you will spend eternity?

Jeremy: Good point…

Deacon: I have some books for you if you want them. I picked them up this week. They’re in my car. I didn’t bring them in because I didn’t know if I’d see you today. One is about Jesus and this guy who tries to find out if he really is who he says he is. The other is about the Bible and whether or not its true. I’ve read them both and they’re pretty good.

Jeremy: Thanks, I’ll take a look at them tonight.

Deacon: So where are you with all this, if you don’t mind me asking?

Jeremy: Funny you ask that.

Deacon: Why?

Jeremy: Last week, after service, when I was riding home with Tim and Jessica, I was telling them how next week I wanted them to drag me right down to that altar and get saved!

Deacon: [excited but curious as to why Jeremy didn’t follow through] And?

Jeremy: Well, Tonight I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t feel the way I did after last week.

Deacon: Do you know why?

Jeremy: Not really, I just know that last week I was really certain but now I’m back at square one.

Deacon: [Changing tone] Well, Jeremy, you know, you’ve been coming here quite a while now.

Jeremy: [Flatly] Yeah.

Deacon: And well, maybe have you thought about letting your heart get hardened.

Jeremy: Huh?

Deacon: To the gospel. I’ve experienced that if you wait around on God’s offer long enough sometimes we can start to get too comfortable, like it’s always going to be there.

Jeremy: Its not?

Deacon: [surprised by this doctrinal error] NO! We never know when our life is going to be required of us Jeremy but God has each one of our days numbered. That’s why Pastor Gregg focuses on getting saved so heavily each week.

Jeremy: [deflated and picking up from Deacon that he is a little more clueless than he thought.] Oh… Well, why won’t God let us change our mind after we die?

Deacon: That’s what this life is for. After death it’s too late.

Jeremy: [frustrated] But Why?!

Deacon: I don’t know that’s just the way God has planned it.

Jeremy: So, wait now, If I died right now God wouldn’t let me change my mind.

Deacon: [exasperated] No. That’s why Pastor Gregg has everyone ask that question all the time “if you were to die tonight do you know for sure that you’d go to heaven.â€

Jeremy: I know but I just thought that was for assurance sake. That didn’t tell me God wouldn’t let me change my mind.

Deacon: [Genuinely puzzled that he hadn’t seen this gap before but patronizing Jeremy] I don’t know what else you could have thought it meant.

Jeremy: NO. That changes everything. I mean that is so unfair isn’t it.

Deacon: God’s God, fair is not the issue. Your soul is.

Jeremy: My soul?

Deacon: Yes, your soul. Look Jeremy I’m sorry you didn’t understand the need to be urgent but a lot is at stake here.

Jeremy: [sharply] Sure is…

Deacon: So what would you say about accepting Jesus into your heart right now?

Jeremy: [interrupting him in mid-sentience] So, what about my dad?

Deacon: What do you mean?

Jeremy: My dad got hit by a drunk driver when I was twelve. He never accepted Jesus. So, you’re telling me he is in hell.

Deacon: I’m so sorry.

Jeremy: Clearly God’s not.

Deacon: No. God’s heart breaks over all our sorrows.

Jeremy: [Now, fully angry] What? Then why won’t he let us change our mind? My dad never went to church. He never heard about all this. He never even had a chance. And you didn’t know my dad. He was a good person. The best! He’d do anything for anybody in need just like Jesus. But here you are saying that because he didn’t have Jesus in his heart he’s in hell.

Deacon: You never know Jeremy, your dad could have gotten saved before he died.

Jeremy: I’m supposed to go on that? This is ridiculous, all of this. You guys talk about being a Christian like it’s some sort of adventure.

Deacon: it is.

Jeremy: Now I see it’s just about getting on God’s side before its too late and you’re screwed. What about that song we sing “Ever Loving, Ever faithfulâ€. So that’s a lie? [determined now] No! It is a lie. All of this is a bad joke.

Deacon: Wait a minute! Jeremy, slow down. Let’s talk about this calmly.

Jeremy [heading for the door] There’s nothing to say.

Deacon: What about the books I got you.

Jeremy: keep ‘em. [Door slams off stage]




Scene Three:


[This scene starts in mid-conversation. Both characters are sitting closely leaning in and half facing one another. The single pew is facing the audience as before.]


Deacon: I have to say Matt that I’m so glad I have the opportunity to lead you in the sinners prayer.

Matt: I’m just glad to have… I’m really happy.

Deacon: [Putting his arm around Matt and grasping one of Matt’s hands, Matt repeats each sentence separately following Deacon] Close your eyes and just repeat after me. Dear Jesus. I come to you a sinner. I know that you love me and have a plan for my life. I want to accept you into my heart. I want you to forgive me of my sins. I know that you died on the cross for me. (Matt starts crying) I want you to wash me clean. Take away the guilt. The shame. I know that I will be in heaven with you forever. I will do my best to serve and follow you. And share you with my loved ones. In your precious name. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Deacon: [looks up at Matt] Matt, I’m so proud of you.




Scene Four


[Pastor Gregg and Deacon are standing down stage and left of the pew. Guy is sitting on the pew looking sheepish.]


PG: Deacon, there is something we need to talk about. Can I speak with you for a moment.

Deacon: [hiding any uncertainty] Sure.

PG: I’m sorry young man but could you wait outside for a moment I need to speak with Deacon.

[Guy Steps outside]

Deacon: [watches guy go outside disappointed that they were interrupted]

PG: [Gestures for deacon to sit. PG is house left and Deacon is house right] Deacon, I’ll cut right to the chase.

Deacon: Yeah?

PG: There are some people in the church who have brought certain concerns to me about you.

Deacon: [Disturbed but keeping it controlled] Ok?

PG: Well, last night we had a meeting and I’m sorry but we’ve decided that it would be best if you laid low for a while around the youth.

Deacon: What? What kind of concerns?

PG: Many people feel that you spend an inappropriate amount of time with the youth after service and I agree with them. Look, I’m not accusing you of anything but you can’t be too careful these days. I’m asking you to take a break I’m sorry.

Deacon: [Near tears, stammering] But Pastor, I love these kids I would never hurt a one of them.

PG: I’m sorry.

Deacon: Can’t we talk about this…

PG: The decision has been made.

Deacon: But I’ve fought so hard for these kids.

PG: I know, and I believe you but we have to do what is best for the youth.

Deacon: I can’t believe this.

PG: It’s not like were throwing you out the door. Look, I’m willing to meet with you outside of church to talk.

Deacon: Talk about what?

PG: [trying not to patronize] Well, I thought you might need some counseling after all this.

Deacon: [felling patronized] Oh.


[A short pause is followed by pastor gesturing as if he needs to leave.]


PG: Well, I need to go and I have to lock up the church. Once again, I’m really sorry.

Deacon: Could you give me a moment alone, in the sanctuary?

PG: Sure. Close the door behind you.


[Pastor Gregg walks off and Deacon gets up from the pew, stands there for a moment, and looks around the church tearfully for a long time.]


Deacon: [directed half at God half at himself] I fought so hard…


Lights out

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