Jon Tyson casts a vision for our creative calling.
The Praxis Course kicks off with the most wide-ranging and foundational of all the talks. Jon Tyson is a highly entrepreneurial pastor in NYC who also serves as the Praxis Spiritual Director. He shows us how our calling as leaders and creators fits deeply into the story of God's work in the world. Then he shows how this general calling applies specifically to the practice of entrepreneurship.
This talk is at once richly theological and deeply practical, and it sets the trajectory for everything we'll encounter in the Praxis Course. Some participants will be familiar with most of these ideas, but they will rarely have heard such a comprehensive treatment of them in such a small space of time. Others will be less familiar with these concepts and will need extra time to absorb and discuss them. One thing to stress to participants across this spectrum is how Jon roots his entire talk in Scripture.
Jon delivered this talk to the mentors for one of Praxis's annual accelerator programs for 12 business entrepreneurs.
This talk is split into two parts, each with its own set of questions.
1. Jon defines "creation" as an action that fills the earth in ways that honor God and help people to thrive. How might your venture fill the earth with good things? How might it help people to thrive?
Throughout the Course, some questions will ask participants to apply the ideas to their own venture. You are likely to have some participants -- possibly even the majority -- who are not currently entrepreneurs leading their own venture. In those cases, please encourage people to apply the ideas to the current organization where they work, to a future venture they are imagining, or to a venture they admire.
2. Where have you seen Christians approach culture with the four "reactionary" responses: condemn, critique, copy, consume? What is your reaction when you see these responses lived out?
Try to help people avoid being unnecessarily judgmental of others in their responses this question. Remind them that each of us has approached culture in all of these ways at one time or another, and that these approaches are often the appropriate ones. Also encourage people to focus on others and not on themselves (we will discuss our own responses in the next session).
3. In what ways does (or would) your venture "bet on the redemptive edge" of the Kingdom of God? In other words: how does it participate in God's ultimate redemption and renewal of all things?
If people find this question too abstract, narrow down the scope with some prompts. How does the venture's core business help customers to flourish? How are its economics sustainable for all parties? How does it humanize the interaction between the venture and the customer? How does it enable dignity for people who are marginalized?
4. How might the task of leading your (current or future) venture with a heart of stewardship require you to order your priorities differently from others in your space? What practices could you build into your organization from the very beginning that help you order your priorities rightly?
Suggestions: Sabbath/rest boundaries; employee and customer participation in decision-making and benefit sharing; celebrations and milestones that honor people, etc.
5. What would it look like to invest all of yourself—your financial, intellectual, physical, relational, and spiritual capital—creatively and faithfully? Are there kinds of capital you didn't realize you had? If so, how will you put that capital to good use as you work within your organization?
Encourage people to think about all five categories of capital given here.
Andy Crouch, Culture Making, Ch 6: "The Garden and the City"
Timothy Keller and Katherine Alsdorf, Every Good Endeavor, Ch 9: "A New Story for Work"
Amy Sherman, Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good, Appendix A: Key Theological Themes Undergirding Vocational Stewardship (p 235-241)