Thomas Groome's masterpiece, Christian Religious Education: Sharing Our Story and Vision, since its publication in 1980, has shaped the educational ministry of Catholic and Protestant churches alike. *
Originally designed for educational groups, shared praxis can be a method informing spiritual direction and making personal faith decisions. It can also can provide an outline for sermon planning and preparation. A hallmark of shared praxis is that it engages me in a process of self-critical reflection.** If I am never asked to think critically, then there is little hope of seeing or choosing a third way.
Shared praxis invites me to reflect on the whole of my life, here and now. What is my unexamined bias? My blind spot? My racial, socio-economic, educational, and religious assumption? What is my sense of wisdom and how does it function to reinforce or correct what I've always thought? Fully engaging Scripture and Christian tradition is basic to Shared Praxis. The assumption is that honest reflection on The Christian Story creates dissonance that leads to faithful action.
Springing out of reflection on my life and exploration of the Christian Story, what's next? Is there a decision to be made, an action to take? Is there a new way forward? Is it time to wait and for how long?
Shared praxis requires honesty, openness to reason, patience, and gentleness. Seeking the wisdom of the third way moves me beyond either- or thinking. Its gifts are clarity and faithfulness to what I know to be true of myself- and the shared Christian faith.
*Thomas Groome, Christian Religious Education: Sharing Our Story and Vision, 1980. More information is available from his Boston College webpage.
** See Christian Religious Education, Chapter Nine: Shared Christian Praxis. The five steps in Shared Praxis are:
- Naming Present Action
- Reflection on Present Action: Sharing Stories and Vision
- Presentation of the Christian Story and Vision
- Reflection on and interacting with the Christian Story and Vision
- Making Decisions and Choosing Personal/Communal Faith Response.