A small church is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new and as yet unseen pastor. But he’s arrived too early and instead of meeting the welcoming committee, Rev. Goode encounters a seemingly homeless man. The pastor immediately offers to help him, surprising the stranger who says he never before received that kind of consideration from the church members. Since the pastor is more interested in finding out what type of church he inherited than in making a good first impression, he switches place with the other man so he can observe firsthand how the church treats strangers, especially by the wealthy widow, Estelle Pitchford. She’s known for bossing everyone around; constantly judging others and making everyone miserable. What follows is a hilarious mix of mistaken (and secret!) identities and former lives revealed as one church learns not to judge a book by its cover! An easy-to-stage yet meaningful comedy which can be performed in a dinner or dessert format. Performance time: 35 minutes or full evening as dinner theatre.
Playwright Richard Van Den Akker
A SHEEP IN WOLF’S CLOTHING
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS PLAY?
I wanted to write a play for the church that humorously exposed some of the issues all churches have about how they do things, and anyone who does something different is suspect. Jesus was often considered a radical by his peers, but the important thing in a church is the message, not the method of delivering it.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PART OR LINE IN THE PLAY?
I like the part where they are discussing letting the homeless man stay in the church because it highlights one of the main reasons we have all these church buildings in the first place: to do the Lord’s work. It is not a refuge from the world, but a refuge for the world. And if we don’t’ bring in sinners, where are they going to go for salvation?
WHERE DID THE CHARACTERS COME FROM?
The characters are based on typical church types we have all known. They really mean well, and the goal of having great big comfortable church in which to serve the Lord sometimes evolves into just having a great big comfortable church. The main purpose for the place is lost. Many people spend years, and considerable effort and money, building a church, so It’s easy to see why they feel threatened when the only result they see for their trouble is a lot of riff-raff turning the church into a “community center” rather than the Lord’s house. We can all compromise and do both; making the church a community center where the Gospel is preached and sinners are saved.
WHAT DID YOU TRY TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS PLAY?
At my church we’ve been pretty good implementing our open-doors policy about letting the community use our buildings. During Hurricane Katrina our pastor said that if we ran out of room in the gym, evacuees could sleep in the sanctuary, adding that “People always sleep up there Sunday morning anyway.” We had a good laugh, but his point was that that’s what these buildings are here for -- sheltering the homeless, feeding the hungry, etc. I wanted everyone to learn a little bit about compromising and getting God’s work done rather than arguing about who left a door unlocked, or who left the AC on and how are we gonna pay for that new building?