Community & Creative Response: The Praxis Redemptive Imagination Summit

An ideas festival, a program finale, and an invitation to a shared Rule of Life.

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The Summit

In May, 300 leaders gathered in the quiet of Tarrytown, just north of New York City. They settled into a shared rhythm for a few short days, a rhythm that allowed them to learn from one another’s experiences and connections, convictions and doubts. Together, they got to dive into the possibilities and celebrate the expressions of redemption taking place throughout the Praxis community.

The Praxis Redemptive Imagination Summit, now in its second year, brings together founders, mentors, philanthropists, and investors for vibrant conversation at the intersection of theology, culture, and entrepreneurship. At its core, the Summit is a living demonstration of praxis — the beauty of this gathering is that the cultural and theological ideas offered up are actually tested, proven, and refined in the work of hundreds of ventures represented in the room.

So many attendees expressed gratitude that the Summit created space to recalibrate and reorient their imaginations, in dialogue with others interested in pursuing redemptive entrepreneurship as an expression of their faith.

Monon Capital Chairman, Doug Wilson, put words to the sense of “at last” that we hear so often as new friends find long-sought shared purpose in this community:

I long believed there were others out there who had an alternative imagination but they were not easily found. We shared no common language or framework, and that reinforced a rugged individualism (as if entrepreneurs need more of that). In contrast, the Summit created for me a sense of community through friendship and shared language.

 

The Redemptive Frame

Much of that shared language is summarized in what we call the Redemptive Frame. We believe organizations led by Christians can be potent agents of redemption as they act as the hands and feet of Christ in the world, knowing that He is “making all things new.”

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The Redemptive Frame depicts a redemptive enterprise as demonstrating the biblical pattern of restoration through sacrifice in three dimensions: leadership, strategy, and operations.

A redemptive Leader’s Script fuses ambition, discipline, high capacity, and market insight with spiritual formation, surrendered stewardship, and imaginative cultural wisdom. 
A redemptive Strategic Intent aims for cultural renewal through beautiful and humanizing products, services, and spaces, backed by truthful and God-honoring brands and narratives. 
A redemptive Operating Model is the means by which a venture blesses people through excellence, grace, generosity, and justice in organizational functions & practices, workforce culture, partnerships, and capital.

The central idea of the frame is that redemptive opportunities abound in both strategy and operations for the leader who marries high entrepreneurial capacities to a script of selflessness.

At the Summit, this frame was exemplified through main stage talks from community members such as David Weekley (Founder & Chairman, David Weekley Homes) on Redemptive Operations, Shiao-Yin Kuik (Co-Founder & Creative Director, The Thought Collective) on Redemptive Strategy, and Terry Looper (Founder & CEO, Texon LP) on Redemptive Leadership. Each of these founders shared stories on how they embody the redemptive frame within their own ventures and communities.

That shared language also came alive in the Creative Response breakouts that formed the middle of the Summit. This is where participants explored the “redemptive edges” of such topics as Aging, Illness, & the End of Life; Pursuing the Redemptive Edge of Fashion; Navigating Alternative Realities: Virtual, Augmented, & Mixed; and Criminal and Legal Justice Reform.

What made the breakouts special wasn’t the quality of the analysis surrounding the status quo in each subject area; rather, it was the creativity and viability of the possible entrepreneurial responses explored by each group.

Here, participants challenged one another as they wrestled to put practical muscle behind ideas. We heard from one attendee who was so moved during a session that she wanted to leave in the middle of the talk to immediately start coding for her venture.

That’s the kind of response we hope to stir in those who gather with us: not just that we would consume content together, but that we would cultivate an imagination that leads to purposeful, sustainable action.

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2018 Business Accelerator Finale

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The Summit also houses the last leg of our Business Accelerator Program. We accept just 12 startups each cycle, and at the close of the six months, our Fellows attend the Summit to showcase their redemptive ventures in industries as disparate as car washes, disease eradication, and marriage health.

Fellows demonstrate how they’ve learned to engage more fully with the demands of the gospel in every part of their venture—from product design to compensation, from supply chain to sales culture to brand message.

During this year’s presentations, the energy in the room noticeably lifted. Here were real people, real ventures, not classroom case studies, staking personal commitment and investor capital on the question, “How can we pursue redemptive entrepreneurship from the early stages of a growing and profitable venture?”

Thirty-six seasoned mentors worked with the business class of 2018 over the course of their program, thoughtfully coaching the ventures and personally speaking into each of their lives. Many of them were in the room to cheer on the Fellows.

Watch the Fellows’ presentations and read their Redemptive Edge essays here.

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An Invitation: A Rule of Life

On the last morning of the Summit, we invited members of the community to commit to a shared set of practices that root our work in the truth that our most significant identity is not as entrepreneurs or leaders, but as children of God.

We want to surrender our most powerful entrepreneurial capacities to Him, in six specific areas: our time, money, imagination, decision-making, power, and community.

We call these shared practices A Rule of Life for Redemptive Entrepreneurs.

If you’d like to join the community in practicing A Rule of Life, please find more information here.