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God, Improv, and the Art of Living
PAPERBACK; Published: 7/21/2020
ISBN: 978-0-8028-7834-2
Price: $ 18.99
240 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 5.5 x 8.5
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The famous improvisational principle of “yes, and . . .” has produced a lot of great comedy. But it also offers an invigorating approach to life in general, and the spiritual life in particular. From Moses to Ruth to Jesus, Scripture is full of people boldly saying “yes, and . . .” as they accept what life throws their way and build upon it. 

In this book, pastor, speaker, and improv aficionado MaryAnn McKibben Dana blends Scripture, psychology, theology, and pop culture in a wise, funny, down-to-earth guide to God, improv, and the art of living. Offering concrete spiritual wisdom in the form of seven improvisational principles, this book will help readers become more awake, creative, resilient, and ready to play—even (and perhaps especially) when life doesn’t go according to plan. 

“We are all improvisers,” says McKibben Dana, “often without realizing it. We improvise in order to get through the day. We improvise when life surprises us. We do it without even thinking about it. This book will help you do it better.”

Table of Contents


Principle 1. Say Yes
Chapter 1. Live Yes-ly
Chapter 2. Accept What We Can’t Change
Chapter 3. Listen for God’s Yes
Chapter 4. Say No to Say Yes
Chapter 5. Risk Yes

Principle 2. Say And
Chapter 6. Live toward And
Chapter 7. Listen for God’s And
Chapter 8. Use And to Create Possibilities
Chapter 9. Embrace the Vulnerability of And

Principle 3. Hone Your Vision
Chapter 10. Cultivate Vision
Chapter 11. Pay Attention
Chapter 12. See Defeats Differently

Principle 4. Find Your Troupe
Chapter 13. Play Well with Others
Chapter 14. Be a Pirate, Robot, or Ninja
Chapter 15. Serve One Another

Principle 5. Find the Right Structure
Chapter 16. Get Lean
Chapter 17. Take One Small Step
Chapter 18. Plan Right
Chapter 19. Make Peace with “Not Enough”

Principle 6. Don’t Be Clever
Chapter 20. Wrestle with the Voice
Chapter 21. Refuse to Hoard
Chapter 22. Reframe Loss and Failure
Chapter 23. Embrace Ambiguity

Principle 7. Go Off-Plan
Chapter 24. Meet the Mystery
Chapter 25. Crack the Code
Chapter 26. Fight Back with Beauty

Improv Exercises

Ken Evers-Hood
— author of The Irrational Jesus: Leading the Fully Human Church
“Life happens. Living well means improvising, which is a craft that can be practiced and honed. In MaryAnn McKibben Dana we have the gift of an honest, playful, and deeply wise guide. In this book you will find practical insight drawn from the world of improv, tested in the crucible of pastoral ministry, and engagingly told in story after story.”

Sarah Little
—filmmaker, comedian with The Second City
“This spiritual guide explores a world of universe-expanding possibility through the simple act of uttering the word yes.”
Bruce Reyes-Chow
— coauthor of Rule #2: Don’t Be an Asshat: An Official Handbook for Raising Parents and Children
“McKibben Dana artfully, tenderly, and prophetically challenges us all to embrace the idea that it is precisely by experiencing and sharing vulnerability and a lack of control with others that we meet God. Her God, Improv, and the Art of Living is a gift for those who dare to step into this holy improv space and risk the possibilities.”

Allison Gilmore
— CEO of DuMore Improv
“Like me, MaryAnn has discovered the intersection of improvisation and the divine—and she shares it beautifully in her writing!”
Jessica Tate
— director of NEXT Church
“Insightful and truthful. . . . Offers a fresh perspective on the profound freedom and gift of saying YES to life and God.”
Elizabeth Hagan
— author of Birthed: Finding Grace through Infertility
“Are you at a place in life where you feel stuck? If so, this wise and humorous book by MaryAnn McKibben Dana is exactly what you’ve been searching for! I’ll be recommending God, Improv, and the Art of Living to every person in my life who finds themself in an unexpected transition—and isn’t that all of us at some point?”