Thanks for leading the Praxis Course! We think you’ll get just as much out of the Course as the group you’re leading. Here are a few resources to help you:
First, a welcome from Praxis Venture Partner, Jessica Kim.
HOW TO GATHER A GROUP
Groups can be organized in several settings.
We've seen the Course work well in each of the following ways:
- In churches. The Course works beautifully as a curriculum for small groups, Sunday or midweek classes, or as part of a marketplace or faith-work ministry. While most churches won't have a lot of startup founders, almost every church has a number of people who want to grow as leaders in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity. The Course helps to kickstart a vocational imagination for aspiring entrepreneurs, and gives more seasoned leaders a framework to bring the gospel more deeply into the organizations they lead.
- Inside ventures. Organizational leaders find the Course useful for building alignment among their teams around the purpose and values of the business or nonprofit. It's a way of convening a team -- including those who don't share the Christian faith—to share the "deep why" behind the venture.
- In schools. The Course is a great starter kit or component of a high school or college curriculum oriented to entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, and vocation. It helps drive significant reflection on vocation and helps deepen a sound theology of work. [To find out more about how Praxis supports Christian colleges, visit Praxis Academy.]
- Lead Virtually. The Course can easily accommodate busy schedules and bridge distant friendships through various online video platforms. We'll leave it up to you to decide if you want to stream the video as a group or send out the video dropbox link prior to each session.
Look for those who want to explore deeper questions on faith and innovation.
As you begin determining whom to invite, consider:
Do you know entrepreneurially minded leaders who are seeking to more deeply embody the gospel within their sphere of leadership?
Are your friends, or people you mentor, wrestling with questions around their vocational discernment and direction?
Do you know people asking questions like, “How does my faith inform what I create or how I work?” or “How do I embody the gospel in my work?”
What about founders who don't feel their churches or friends can help them navigate the world of entrepreneurship through the lens of faith and culture making?
Are you aware of seasoned professionals who want to mentor the next generation in their spiritual and vocational formation?
Who do you want to get to know more? (WARNING: Wrestling with the questions from the Course may result in deep friendships and bonds!)
DESIGNING YOUR COURSE
Every session has the same structure.
Every session is designed to be completed within 1.5 hours. We recommend allotting two hours in total to allow for informal conversations at the beginning and end. Each session is structured similarly each week:
- RECONNECT: A short prompt to reconnect the group to last week's conversation.
- WATCH: An opening video introduction and the first part of the talk.
- DISCUSS: A set of initial questions to talk through as a group.
- REFLECT: A short time of reflection on this session's topic.
- PROTOTYPE: A challenge to live out the session's message in your daily life.
All sessions, with the exception of session #4, alternate between "Watch" and "Discuss" twice in order to break up longer videos and make the session more dynamic.
There are a few key decisions to make before you start.
We've done the bulk of the course design for you, but there are a few key questions you'll want to answer.
- WHO AND HOW MANY? Most groups have between eight and twelve people. We have seen groups with participants that have known each other for years, others are meeting for the first time, and groups that have had over 40 participants (we recommend breaking up large groups of 12 or more into smaller groups for discussion).
- HOW OFTEN? You can choose to meet weekly, monthly, or semi-monthly, or whichever cadence works best for your group. Try to make it regular and plan all meeting dates and times in advance.
- WHERE? Some groups choose to alternate homes or locations each session, or you may choose to host all of them yourself in a home, office conference room, or third space. Look for a comfortable environment where you’ll easily be able to project the videos and speak freely. If your location doesn't have Internet, you'll need to remember to download the session videos beforehand.
- HOW LONG? Schedule a time block of two hours per session. This longer time block allows for enough time to gather, catch-up, watch the content, discuss in depth and pray. We highly recommend pairing the session with fellowship over a meal.
When you're ready, invite your group members by email.
After determining who, when, and where, send out the details! Here's some email copy to help establish the group’s vision and communicate all the important details. Feel free to modify it to add a more personal touch!
I'm hosting a discussion series to explore the idea of "redemptive work" and understand further what the gospel has to say about why we create, how we create, and what we create. The course will teach us how to demonstrate the deepest truths of the gospel through our individual and institutional creative capacities, using video content from world-renowned theologians, entrepreneurs, and thought-leaders (Andy Crouch, Dave Evans, and Jena Lee Nardella, to name a few). I'd love for you to be a part of it!
It's a free six-session course created by an entrepreneurial community and venture group called Praxis. We plan to meet once a [week/month] at [location] on [day/time].
You can learn more about the course here: praxiscourse.com
Are you interested?
Remember, you have the entire Praxis Community eager to help you.
WHAT TO DO BEFORE A SESSION
The course is designed for minimal prep—just come ready to play the videos and lead the discussion.
Make sure you know how the group will watch the videos. A TV, a projector, an Apple TV or device for mirroring your computer display, or just a large computer monitor can work, depending on the size of the group.
If you can trust the Internet in your meeting location, the easiest approach is to stream the videos directly from each session page. If not, you'll want to download the videos for all six sessions beforehand (you can do that from the Session One page) and play them from a hard drive.
Each session page walks you step-by-step through the flow, so if you spend a bit of time before each session to get familiar with the questions and develop some of your own variations and answers, that will help you lead the discussion effectively. If you have 30 minutes or more to prepare, we highly recommend watching the videos in advance as well. You'll understand the discussion points much better that way.
Take time before the session to think about and pray for each individual in your group.
Investing in each person by understanding and praying for their needs will give you unique insight into how best to guide the conversation. Take a few minutes before each session to pray for each person by name and thank God that you have the opportunity to listen to and learn from them.
Feel free to come up with additional questions or activities as well.
If you review the videos and questions and think of additional things your group might do to engage with the topic, go for it. Let us know how it goes so we can share your new ideas with other groups.
Tips for Facilitating
Each session is built around a recommended template of 1 hour, 15 minutes. Adjust as necessary for the needs of your group. Most groups want to spend more time than that!
Here are some tips for leading a group well.
Hospitality is essential to making the group feel welcome. There is no obligation to provide food for your members but we like to operate with the mindset that no one should leave spiritually OR physically thirsty. We suggest offering food and drinks at the first meeting and asking the members if they are willing to alternate bringing snacks or dessert for the group.
Create small sub-groups. If you have a group larger than about 10 people, you should plan to split up into smaller discussion groups for the discussion sections.
Open in prayer.
Lead by example. If the question requires being vulnerable, try to go first to exemplify the kind of answer and posture you want to see from your group members.
If the group isn’t very talkative or responsive to the questions, follow up with “What key topics, questions, or helpful ideas did you take away from the video?”
Close in prayer.
what to do after a sessioN
Take the short feedback survey.
Would you please take 3 minutes or so after each session to fill out the survey that's embedded in each session page? Your feedback is essential to improving the quality of the experience for other redemptive entrepreneurs. [Note: the survey is only for you to fill out as the Leader. We'll ask you to help us survey the participants in your group at the end of the Course.]
Send a follow-up email to your group.
Follow-up emails are a chance to thank the group for coming, remind them of the conversation, and offer additional resources in case they want to explore the topic further. Each session includes a link to a template that you can paste into an email, customize, and send to your group.
frequently asked questions
I’m a bit nervous to lead right away. Can I participate or attend a session first?
We understand that it may be intimidating to sign up to lead something you’ve never experienced before. However, almost all Praxis Course Leaders will be in the same situation.
Since we're asking leaders to create groups of people from their own personal and church circles, there's no public listing of groups at this point, so there's no way to "try out" a group where you live.
But the Praxis Course is designed to be really easy to lead. You don't have to have started a company or followed the work of Praxis. You don't even have to have led a discussion group before.
What it really takes to lead is just three things: a strong interest around the subjects of entrepreneurship and redemptive work, the willingness to gather people and lead a discussion, and a place to meet.
Plus, there are optional monthly onboarding webinars to help you prepare for the experience.
How do I share the content on this website with my group?
We've designed the Course so that you as the leader can manage everything from this website (download/stream videos, lead the session through a recommended flow)—and all your participants need to do is show up to the session (no homework!). So only the leader should register on this site to get access to everything.
Some groups, however, choose to commit to having everyone watch the videos on their own before the session, so that the session time can be devoted to discussion. If that's your group's preferred mode, then you can email out a link to the videos for each session beforehand. On each session page, click the "Download Videos" button to go to a Dropbox folder with the videos for that session (as well as the Session PDF). Just paste that Dropbox link into an email and share.
Separately, we also provide a template for a follow-up email to your group after each session, which you can customize and send. That's a key way of reinforcing the learning from the session.
After Session Six, we'll send you a final email to forward to your participants, asking them to share their email with us to get access to a bonus video, complete a survey, and connect further with Praxis.
How is this Praxis Course free?
Praxis is a New York City-based, globally-facing 501c nonprofit. Our mission is to advance redemptive entrepreneurship, and we do this through programs, community, content, and ventures. The Praxis Course is one of the key ways we share and carry out that mission. We appreciate you taking the time and effort to lead the Praxis Course as part of our call as Christ-followers to be redemptive leaders and culture creators in our age.
Do all the people in my group need to share my Christian faith?
Great question—the answer is, it depends. We've had groups that included participants exploring or unfamiliar with Christianity, and it has worked really well for those groups if they can create a space for everyone to process and reflect on the content at their own pace.
Your goals for the group as a leader should determine how you handle this question. If you're gathering team members to get aligned on what you're trying to accomplish as a company, it can be a great way of clarifying and communicating your motives as an organizational leader. Likewise, if you're looking to build community among social entrepreneurs in your city, it could be a great venue for discussion about the deep meaning and purpose behind what we create.
Bottom line: make sure your non-Christian friends know what the content is about, and be prepared to lead discussions that honor different perspectives. If you're prepared to do that, go for it. And tell us how it goes!
What if I need help or support? Who do I contact?
We commit to be responsive to our Leaders! There is a Facebook Group for Praxis Course Leaders where you can post questions, interact with other Leaders, and get updates/announcements/tips. And you can always reach us as email@example.com.