If there is anything clear about the emerging movement, it is this: the gospel is proclaimed by performance. So, it should not surprise that these articulations, which are themselves laced together with “action” type statements, are now tied together with a global commitment to action.
This sets the stage for us to reflect on how churches today, whether they are part of Emergent Village or not, could benefit from thinking about an “orthopraxy” statement. First, the fourth article of Emergent Village:
We live out the four values of our rule through four lines of action:
*We explore and develop ideas, theology, practices, and connections â€¦ through conversations, conferences, think-tanks, gatherings, retreats, publications, learning cohorts, online resources, and other means.
*We resource individuals, leaders, and organizations â€“ funding their imagination, stimulating their thinking, providing examples, events, literature and other resources to assist them in their lives and mission.
*We communicate our calling, vision, learning, and activities to the growing emergent community, and to other interested people around the world.
* We provide ways for people to belong, identify with, and participate in this community, conversation, and mission at varying levels. We encourage the development of generative friendships, collaborations, and partnerships.
Action is seen in four ways:
1. Exploration through conversation.
2. Provision of resources for others.
3. Communication of vision.
4. Participation with others in the Emergent way.
Developing an Orthopraxy Statement
This statement is tailored to the Emergent Village’s purpose. I see no reason why local churches should not begin to think in terms of a praxis statement that is both related to their doctrinal/confessional/creedal statements, but that also influences those statements of faith.
First, the minute one begins to do this one will begin to see the interrelatedness of orthodoxy and orthopraxy.
Second, I suggest that one keep a praxis statement to a maximum of five areas. If you start adding things to “do” you’ll have a list rather than an integrated vision.
Third, I suggest that each praxis statement acknowledge individual spiritual formation as well as group spiritual formation, but that they not be separated from one another. That is, nothing like “Here’s how individual are to practice” and then over here are the things for “How the group is to practice.”
Fourth, I suggest focusing on the big categories of the Bible on “praxis” — terms like love God/love others, life in the Spirit, Kingdom living, compassion, justice, etc..
Fifth, I suggest working hard at articulating a praxis statement that is anchored deeply in the soil of your local community. Avoid copying the statements of others.
Sixth, I suggest that your praxis statement express your “ecumenical” intentions — state how you will work with other churches in your local community.
Seventh, whether you state this up front or not, I suggest you think carefully about how to assess such a praxis statement. How will you know if people are “doing” these things? How can you assess without being legalistic? How can you improve your praxis statement with feedback over time as folk try to live it out?
Well, these are some ideas. I’d welcome any comments.