The Improvising Pastor


I’ve been thinking for some time about the rules of improvisational theater as they relate to life, church work, and our ideas about God. Improv has intrigued me since my high school theater days, but it’s taken on a particular resonance in recent years as I manage a dual vocation, a household, and three kids.

I recently decided to put some of my ideas into practice by attending an introductory improv class sponsored by the Washington Improv Theater. I went in with trepidation and fear; I left feeling fizzy and alive. Here are a few things I learned that have connections for congregations and the life of faith…

Read the whole post at the Collegeville Institute blog.

photo credit: daintytime via photopin cc

3 thoughts on “The Improvising Pastor

  1. Kristin Heiden

    I would recommend “Improvisation” by Samuel Wells as it speaks to the use of theatrical improv as it pertains to the church and Christian ethics in particular. Although I have not read it in its entirety, what I have read is wonderful. I love most things by Wells, though 🙂

    1. MaryAnn McKibben Dana Post author

      Thank you Kristin! I have heard it’s heady, but enough people have recommended it that I better put it on my list!

      I’ve also used and enjoyed Improv Wisdom. Not church-specific. Very accessible.

  2. Stephanie Anthony

    This isn’t where you were going, but as I saw this post title go around a few days ago (and finally read it today) it made me think of a lovely Bible study conversation I had with some ladies in the late fall. We were working our way through “The Story” materials – – not my favorite – – and also had been working with the Narrative Lectionary in worship. We started talking about how God is an improvising God – trying something out, bouncing off an idea for relationship with creation, seeing it run it’s course, then trying something new. It seems like Scripture is as much about God trying to figure out how to be God as it is about people figuring out how to be children’ of God. God could be harsh, unforgiving, and so stuck with the original plan that we would all be broken on it, but instead God improvises when something new is thrown into the picture, and the improvisation is called grace. Again, not where you were going, but ultimately that thing about grace=improvisation has been helpful to me in ministry since we “discovered” it last fall. When I feel my heels digging in over an issue or position that I hold, I think about how I could be more grace-filled and it usually means improvising, letting go of my “plan,” playing off the people around me, and seeing what new place we can go together.


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