Photo Credit: Gabriel Ng

Breaking the fourth wall

Two years ago — so long ago now! — I spoke to my pastor about starting this ministry. I had a goal. A vision. A long term plan. We would start with the young adults, work our way up to be church-wide. We’d build a community of like-minded people who are passionate about drama — and mold them into people passionate about bringing the Word to the world through drama.

Rhema, I call it. Bringing life to the Word. Translating dry texts into lived-out moments. Speaking into your life, your situation, your world. But that’s just what I call it. Everyone else just calls it “the drama team” — if and when they remember we exist.

When you break the fourth wall, you break the barrier between spectator and actor. You invite the audience into the actor’s space, speaking to them directly, sometimes interacting with them directly.

You’re saying that your imaginary world and their real world are one and the same for now. You, the actor, acknowledge your audience. You allow yourself to be affected by them.

Or at the least you acknowledge your fictionality, that the lines you recite aren’t yours. You’re playing a role in this world you’ve created.

I don’t know how to describe what I feel right now except disillusionment. We’re not where we should be, though for the life of me I can’t describe where or what that looks like.

On one hand, we strive for the Kingdom. I know it’s not going to be easy — there are battles to fight, victories to claim. We’re starting from ground zero — breaking through inertia is always the difficult part.

On the other hand, it shouldn’t be this discouraging. It shouldn’t feel as if it’s not working. It shouldn’t be an immovable mountain. It’s turned into a battle I do not want to fight. I do not have the energy to.

The church is a bubble. It’s a stage on which life is played out in a microcosm: it isn’t always real. We create storms in teacups — I should know, I specialise in them — and make mountains out of molehills. Everything is dangerous; everything is an attack by the devil. We are besieged on all sides; the world is against us. We live embattled, broken lives, cowering from the attacks of the evil one.

We need to break that fourth wall. We need to acknowledge that the world exists out there — and it isn’t perfect, but that’s okay. We need to look out past the fourth wall we’ve built for ourselves into the audience that’s watching — and judging — to see if this God we serve is worth knowing.

Because when we don’t, we forget to live lives worthy of the Cross.

Would you blame the fallow ground or would you pray over it and work it?

But maybe the better question is this: which ground is worth working? The hard ground in the church or unknown, thirsty ground in the world?

I do not know.

Maybe this seed needs to fall to the ground and die.

And maybe that’s the call for now — to move out of the confines of these four walls. To remember the bigger picture:

That taking this mountain refers to the movers in the world, and not the bit players in the church; understanding again that the light should not remain in a cupboard, but be lifted up on the hill for all to see.

Because —

Why would you preach to the choir?