Controlling Improvisation

“Leaders must master the art of improvisation-navigating concrete contexts with the right measure of knowing and not knowing.” Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice.

It’s no secret that one of my greatest joys in life is the art of the open mic night with various musicians who have never played together before.  Something about laying down simplistic rhythm patterns and seeing how other people contribute to the formation of sick riffs just brings out a picture of heaven.  It’s usually out of control, gets a little ridiculous, but always creates something bigger than anyone could do on their own.

My time with NieuCommunities has taught me some pretty interesting lessons about improvisation that I knew applied in music but didn’t think was acceptable ministry or business practice.  In apprenticing missional leaders and journeying with them in their various ministries, you have a choice to tell people what to do or coach them towards discovery of all the options available.  You have a choice to control a destiny or improvisationally create a hopeful future for people you will never meet.

There are way more times I’ve erred on the side of telling vs. joining a discovery process.  My theory is that telling is faster, so it has to be more effective.  Problem with that though, every time I’ve joined a discovery process, new expressions of mission happen that I never even thought was possible.  Students I have never met are meeting Jesus.  Families I’ve never visited have been given new sources of energy for their homes.    And so on and so forth…

Something about improv jazz & mission that is just more fun and fruitful than the controlled polka flavored mission.

Gotta stop trying to control discovery and creation.  So much gets lost when we start doing that.


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