Southwest UMC

Jesus and the Art of Improv, Week 3: Statements are Better Than Questions

This Week’s Text: Matthew 14:13-21, 15:32-38

This week, we turn to the third rule of improv, which is to make statements. Another way of putting it is that statements are better than questions. In the world of improv, the cue to make statements plays off of the idea of “yes and.” What follows the “and” or what you contribute, most of the time, should be a statement as opposed to a question. In an improv scene, if you ask a question, more than likely you are not adding anything of value. Instead you are placing the burden on your partners. If all you have is questions, you become like this dead weight that everyone has to drag along in the scene.

When Tina Fey discusses how she sees this rule applying to life, the first thing she says that the rule of making statements teaches us to focus on more than simply the obstacles. If you stop and think about it, a question points to an obstacle. In today’s two passages of Scripture, we can see the disciples falling prey to this. We have two stories of Jesus teaching and healing and hanging out with a huge crowd who has followed him out into the middle of nowhere and the crowd starts to get hungry. Jesus says, “You feed them.” Instead of entering a time of brainstorming and trying to come up with a solution, the disciples focus on the obstacles. We are in the middle of nowhere—where are we supposed to get the food?

The second thing that the rule of making statements teaches us is to be part of the solution. If you commit yourself to making statements, you are committing yourself to contributing to finding a way forward. When we turn back to the disciples, at first, they had no interest in being part of the solution. Then, when they finally started to work through what had to be done, they made the assumption that they had to figure it out all on their own. So, Jesus steps in and asks a different kind of question—what do you have to work with? They have some loaves of bread and a few fishes, yet Jesus says, “That’s fine. I can work with that.”

Third, statements convey confidence. Statements are declarations. Last week, our Scripture showed someone who had unshakeable faith in Jesus upon first meeting him. This week, we have the people who follow him around everywhere not even considering him as an option. Ultimately, the confidence we have comes from the One whose Spirit is inside of us. In one of Paul’s letters, he says he has many things the world counts as valuable, but he sees them as nothing compared to Christ. He boasts not in himself, but in Christ. We are called to do the same thing. In our families, our church, our community, our nation, our world—in all of these contexts, we will eventually face challenges if we haven’t already. Part of our role as Christians is to contribute and be a part of the solution. May we have the confidence to make statements. But ultimately, may we show the world that the source of our confidence resides in the one who desires to come alongside of us and work on it all together.