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How chat rooms changed the face of improvisation

Have you ever put your foot in your mouth?

No, I don't mean literally placed your foot into your open mouth. You probably haven't done that since you were 6 months old and learned that you were capable of controlling those things at the end of your body. I mean, have you ever said something and then immediately regretted having said it?
I have.
Numerous times.

The most recent was while I was teaching an after school choir class to some inner-city kids. They were acting out and being intentionally hurtful to each other with their words and acting disrespectful and I had reached a boiling point. I was talking to one of the 5th grade boys trying to show him that he was in the wrong and get him to chill out and after one too many backlashes I firmly told him to "shut up." No sooner were the words out of my mouth then I was regretting having said it. Naturally the kids who heard me say it all piped in that I wasn't allowed to say that and said they were going to "tell on me." I wasn't so much concerned about that as the fact that I had not shown this young kid love through my words.

Such is life though. Life is full of conversations that happen in real time without the aid of preparation or anticipation. You simply must respond and react. In fact, if you think about it, every conversation that you have every single day is a form of improvisation. You are thinking on your feet and reacting to what happens around you. This is why a vein of philosophers hold that improvisation is the purest art form .

And yet, in spite of the necessity for each of us to learn how to become a good improviser and in spite of the fact that creativity is all around us and infects our daily decisions, we have been eliminating creativity from our culture for years now.
Art classes and music classes are some of the first courses to get cut from school curriculum.
Rehearsing until we get something exactly right as opposed to playing it with our own personal touch.
Designing a winning formula and sticking with it, instead of learning from mistakes and improving as we go.
Typing out a strand of words and recrafting the sentence until it appears exactly as we want it.

This last point has changed how many conversations (and resultantly relationships) go today. You might meet a very well-spoken person in a chat room who is a total flop when it comes to real-life conversations. You can think twice about what you want to say to someone because you are typing it into your phone before sending it to them.

I would almost submit that our culture expects a level of excellence that we cannot achieve in daily conversations because we are so used to reading emails and texts that have been proof-read before being sent along (for the sake of this blog's point, I am not editing here). We need to have actual conversations with people so that we can learn how to improve our communication skills.

Wait a minute: improve...improv.
Do you know what the difference between "improve" and "improv" is? There is none. Improvisation always allows us for room to improve but until we step out and improv, there will never be anything to improve upon.

I think many Christians fall into a trap with their public prayer life that they feel like they need to use big churchy words and make everything sound nice and neat before they offer it up to God. The trouble is, if you never practice--if you never improvise your prayers to God in front of others--how will you ever improve?

Yes, I am aware that Jesus tells us to pray in secret (Matthew 6) but there are plenty of occurrences in Scripture where we are encouraged to pray together (for instance, Acts 2:42).

We need to be in the practice of improvising in order to improve. We need to cultivate a culture that encourages the failures of improvisation so that we can achieve better end results. Let's take risks in front of each other and collaborate in our conversations in order to build a better community.

Much more to be mulled over, but that's it for now.

Now I leave you with this....


  1. Not sure what the cutie little fox have to do with it all, but ... Also wanted to say, since we are told to pray continuously... all the time, anytime, anywhere, by ourselves & with anyone. We are truly blessed that HE would listen, care & consider at all...yet HE does and SO much more! <3


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