The Gospel According to Improv

A Radical Way of Creative and Spontaneous Living

Les Carpenter

Mar/2022, 208 Pages, Paperback, 5.5 x 8.5

ISBN-13: 9781640653634



Life and faith are improvisational theater, and finding meaning is a work in progress.

From first breath to the first day of school, from first dates to last rites, most of us struggle with the overwhelming desire to find meaning. How do we love well, stay authentic, build community, enjoy life, and live justly all at the same time? No one knows. God may have a plan, but God never gave us the script.

This book will teach strategies to escape the oppressive voice of self-doubt, foster compassionate creativity, transform Christian faith into a meaningful life practice, and organize communities of faith based on the the principles of improvisational theater. Each chapter will focus on a skill or practice of improv, made relevant through autobiographical stories of and grounded in the Christian tradition. The end of each chapter will include brain exercises the average reader can do to strengthen the creative neural pathways required to master the improv skill for living.

THE REV. LES CARPENTER is a long-time parish priest who is also an improviser. He is a noted speaker on the connection between ministry, leadership, and pastoral care and how those intersect with the practice of improv. Les is the Rector of St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church in a Northwest suburb of Houston. He lives in Houston, Texas.

“Les Carpenter writes with vigor and infectious enthusiasm. What starts as a series of new techniques becomes a whole attitude to life. Improvisation is a way to live as a community, as a person, and as a church that opens up limitless possibilities for adventure and faithfulness.”—The Rev. Samuel Wells, Vicar, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, UK, and author of Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics

“Scripture, Tradition, Reason . . . and Improvisation? Our churches need new skills, right now, and Les Carpenter is here to teach them with fresh clarity and copious joy!”—Shyla Ray Hungerford, Improviser and Instructor, and Originator of the Station Theater and the Trill Comedy Festival

“This book will help everyone who longs to find the mystery of God’s presence in everyday experience—both church insiders and those who care about the life of the Spirit set loose in the world.”—The Rev. Paul Fromberg, Rector of St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, San Francisco,and author of The Art of Disruption: Improvisation and the Book of Common Prayer

“Faithful mission is always improvisational. When done right, we take God’s good news out into our communities and share in response to what our communities have first said to us. Les’s work on this subject is timely and critical.”—Jason Evans, Canon for Mission, Episcopal Diocese of San Diego

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