Stuck in a Rut? Improvise!

There's an old joke in the church that is particularly fitting for Holy Week. It's called the "7 Last Words of the Church" and they are, "We've never done it that way before."  Riffing off of the seven last words of Christ from the cross, the joke refers to the church's last words as it dies.

Is the "Church" dying? Well, reports show that with the current downward trend in membership in The Episcopal Church will cease to exist by 2050. That's just twenty seven years from now. This is, of course, if things don't change. Like Ebeneezer Scrooge asked the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, "Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of the things that May be only?" How can we change our future? By changing the way we look at things. 

Episcopalians describe their beliefs via the three-legged stool of Scripture, Tradition and Reason. We often use the metaphor of a three-legged stool, with each leg of the stool contributing equally to our balanced approach. Each of the three sources of authority must be perceived and interpreted in light of the other two. Often, however, tradition overpowers reason, and sometimes, even Scripture. We get stuck in doing things as we've always done them. Church people don't like change. There's actually a German phrase that describes our inability to break out of our rut, it's called the Einstellung effect. The Einstellung effect is where a person becomes so accustomed to a certain way of doing things that they do not consider or acknowledge new ideas or approaches. We seem to try the same old solutions over and over while expecting a different outcome. This has been called the definition of insanity.

The skills of improvisation actually help our brains come up with new solutions to problems. Improv sharpens our focus, helps us to tune into one another, thrives on teamwork, releases us from the fear of failure, and helps us see beyond what we've experienced previously. 

I'll continue with this discussion in my next post, "What does the Buddha have to do with Improv?"

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