5 Lessons Your Church Staff Can Learn From Theatre


When you think of theatre, you probably don’t immediately associate it with church staffing or team building. However, after studying acting on a graduate level, I never cease to discover applications that theatre training has to many areas of life, including staff culture and team building.

Here are 5 takeaways that church staffs can learn from theatre.

1. Getting out of your comfort zone

In theatre, losing your inhibitions and making bold choices make for the most compelling acting. This lesson of getting out of your comfort zone is a great one for any organization. When we’re stuck in our comfort zones, we get less flexible. One of our core values here at Vanderbloemen Search Group isEver-Increasing Agility. In order to remain agile and solution-oriented as an employee and as a staff, it’s necessary to intentionally push yourself out of your comfort zone.

How can you push yourself or your team out of your comfort zone this week? Maybe it’s a think-outside-of-the-box brainstorm session, maybe it’s investing in some training in an area that stretches you, or maybe it’s some creative solution-seeking. Getting out of your comfort zone will improve the creativity, agility, and problem-solving of your team.

2. Observation and reaction

Actors are trained to be keen observers of others’ behavior and to react to that behavior accordingly. This extreme attention to others results in an emotional awareness and empathy that is not quite as common in the workplace.

Another one of our core values at Vanderbloemen is Broadband Love. We strive to show the best possible care and attention to our clients, to our candidates, and to each other. If your church staff members continually remind themselves to be dedicated observers of one another, you’ll have a team with a great, caring culture. You’ll be a team where people feel safe, know they’re cared about, and want to stay.

3. Regularly checking in

Similar to being keen observers, actors are taught to check in with one another regularly – whether off stage (“Hey, did that moment work for you?”) or with eye-contact onstage, particularly during scenes that contain choreography or stage combat. This communication is necessary to know that you are on the same page, that you are both ready to go on, and to make sure the other person is doing okay. Often, especially in stage combat, there are built in check-in points so that the actors can remain safe should anything go wrong.

Likewise, it is extremely wise for your church staff to regularly check in with each other, whether spontaneous checking in (“Hey, is this new system working for you? How can I equip you to use it even more effectively?”) or built in check ins, like regularly scheduled reviews or one-on-one lunches. These checks ins provide a chance for a temperature check, to make sure the other person is doing well, and to gauge any ways you can better equip them to do their job.

4. The power of “yes, and” collaboration

All actors know the number one rule of improvisation: “Yes, and...” This means that you never negate another actor’s idea; you validate it, no matter how outside the box it is, and then build on it. In the context of an improv scene, if one actor started a scene by saying, “I’m so glad we’re jumping rope all the way to your brother’s wedding,” the other actor would agree and add to it; for example: “Yes, and it will be a great warm up for the three-legged race they have planned for the reception.”

‘Yes, and” is a powerful tool for brainstorming and team collaboration. Does your team sometimes negate or qualify one another’s ideas (an attitude of “Yes, but” rather than “Yes, and”)? Reminding your staff to have a “Yes, and” attitude in their responses to one another can significantly increase your team’s creativity, problem-solving, and overall culture.

5. Trusting yourself – and each other

One of the most important lessons an actor can learn is to trust themselves – i.e. not criticize their performance in their head, not doubt their training or the rehearsal process, and to believe that they are equipped with what they need to tell the story they are telling. Actors are also taught to trust their scene-partners and to believe that what the other person is doing in the scene is exactly what you need them to do. There is no judgment of your own or the other person’s work.

Likewise, all church staff members can take this valuable lesson about trusting themselves. God has equipped you with what you need for how he wants you to minister to others. Don’t doubt your abilities or training. Trust that you’ve been given what you need to serve Him. Likewise, your fellow team members have been equipped, gifted, and trained with what what God wants them to do. Don’t criticize your work or theirs. Trust one another, and work together toward your church’s mission. He has equipped you to do what He wants you to do.

What are other key lessons from theatre that church staff’s can apply to team-building?

If you liked this, then you’ll also like 5 Questions To Inspire Creative Team Collaboration.