Andy Crouch—Partner for Theology & Culture at Praxis
Andy Crouch shows us that redemptive work involves sacrifice.
Last session, Andy suggested that in order to change the world, we must first focus on how we become changed.
In this talk called "What is Redemption?," Andy proposes one of the ways that we become changed is by offering ourselves (and the work of our ventures) as living sacrifices, as Paul puts it in Romans 12. By giving up some of what we might claim so that others can flourish, we can more fully live out our calling as redemptive workers, leaders, creators, or entrepreneurs.
Through the biblical story of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz, we learn how sacrifice creates space for us to join God in his work of restoration in the world, which is not about returning to a nostalgic vision of the past; nor is it about the pursuit of unlimited technological progress. Instead, God's mission of restoration is to free people from systems of bondage and vulnerability.
Jesus sacrificed himself so that we can be restored to him, and we continue this pattern of personal and organizational "sacrifice" on a much smaller level, so that our corner of the world can likewise be restored to him. This is what we mean when we say that "restoration through sacrifice" is the mark of redemptive work.
Andy delivered this talk at the Redemptive Imagination Summit, a gathering of the Praxis community to collaborate on creative responses to cultural, social, and market opportunities.
OPEN IN PRAYER
Re-CONNECT (10-15 min)
Last time, we were prompted to ask ourselves this question between sessions: "What is god doing (in me and in the world)?" What intrigued, surprised, or inspired you as you reflected on this question?
WATCH (26 min)
REFLECT (3-5 min)
Spend a couple minutes in silence, praying and reflecting on the videos. Ask participants to jot down questions that were raised, significant points, where they felt encouraged or challenged by the Lord, etc.
DISCUSS (45 min)
1. Andy suggests that entrepreneurial christians should see sacrifice as a critical element in their redemptive work. Is this a new concept for you? How so?
How is this different from the way we normally talk about sacrifice in a work context?
2. Though we normally think of sacrifice in extreme terms, Andy says that sacrifice can be routine as well as radical. For example, Boaz made sure Ruth and other women would be protected, respected and could glean the edges of his fields. As a routine matter, Boaz decided to live a life within limits that doesn't exploit or grab and makes room for others to flourish. Some leaders make the routine sacrifice of tithing the profits from their business to nonprofits and churches, which also brings restoration through the work of those organizations.
Can you think of another example of routine sacrifice made in a work context by a leader you admire?
3. Andy said "The basic pattern of Sacrifice is consecration followed by loss” or to voluntarily hold up, make sacred and offer up something to God and be willing to lose it. This requires trust that God will restore what could have been claimed for yourself and use it to restore others by unlocking the kind of creativity that we could never muster on our own.
Do you have examples of this pattern of sacrifice in your life, or in the lives of others you've seen?
4. Andy says that we as humans hold onto two things: control and safety. "When we give up control and safety and instead, consecrate and allow God to take, we break the power of those two things that are the root of all idolatry and injustice and we make ourselves available for God to do something bigger than we imagine."
Where in your life are you holding tight to the idol of control and/or safety? what one thing could you sacrifice or surrender?
5. What are our "Bethlehems" today? What places, companies, or industries do you wish would embody a new narrative of restoration? Consider what a small sacrifice might look like in one of those arenas.
PROTOTYPE (3 min)
Experiment with some form of routine sacrifice—ideally relating to work—in the time before the next session.
END IN PRAYER
FINISHED THIS SESSION?
PRAXIS FELLOWS CASE STUDIES:
Our community of practice contains a global portfolio of redemptive business & nonprofit ventures. Each week together as a group or separately at home, watch one or both of the following five-minute pitch videos. Discuss where you saw aspects of the week’s topic lived out in and/or through the venture.
Non-Profit Venture: CrossPurpose - CrossPurpose equips unemployed or underemployed adults to become self-sufficient through job training and personal development.
Business Venture: Samaritan - Samaritan is an app that exists to reveal the stories of unsheltered people. Consumers can help cashlessly and effectively, meeting critical needs and creating lifelines of hope for the unsheltered people around them.
Read The 2017 Praxis Community Letter to learn more about what we mean by Redemptive Entrepreneurship.