Thomas H. Groome’s Shared Praxis Approach To Ministry: Questioning Its Application In The Protestant Evangelical Church -- By: Miriam Charter

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 15:1 (Spring 1994)
Article: Thomas H. Groome’s Shared Praxis Approach To Ministry: Questioning Its Application In The Protestant Evangelical Church
Author: Miriam Charter


Thomas H. Groome’s
Shared Praxis Approach To Ministry:
Questioning Its Application In
The Protestant Evangelical Church

Miriam Charter *

The name of Thomas H. Groome is recognized by many involved in church ministry and religious education today. He is acknowledged as one of the most outstanding Roman Catholic theoreticians of this century. D. Campbell Wyckoff calls Groome’s Christian Religious Education: Sharing our Story and Vision the “only comparable book in the field” to George Albert Coe’s A Social Theory of Religious Education.1 Groome’s praxis methodology has been adopted by Roman Catholic and Protestant church leaders alike, and it has met with enthusiastic response in many articles in reputable journals. Those in ministry are applying the shared praxis approach of Thomas Groome to almost every ministry of the church—whether it be planning worship, pastoral counseling, ministry to homosexuals, or preparing home Bible studies.

Among evangelicals there has been a sort of unconscious massaging of Groome’s methodology to fit the needs of today. This may happen because the very needs which Groome addresses in the Catholic Church are also major concerns of pastors and leaders in Protestant evangelical churches today. These concerns are the gap between people’s professed beliefs and actions and the lack of personal decision-making as a way of interpreting one’s faith commitment in everyday life.2 Groome advocates a praxis approach to education as a means of overcoming these two problems. His steps to a praxis catechesis, as a formal education program in the church, are presented in five “movements” (which are set forth in the first section of this work). In many cases evangelicals have rather naively extracted and used these five movements in an attempt to address their own concerns. Many do so

* Miriam Charter is an Ed.D. candidate at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

without understanding the philosophical and theological presuppositions that undergird Groome’s work. Recognizing these presuppositions would force them to conclude that, while Groome’s method may well serve the twentieth-century Roman Catholic Church, it must be accepted with some apprehension and careful application in Protestant evangelical churches today.

Groome’s contribution to the church is his thorough-going rationale for and presentation of a praxis method for ministry. His works emerge from a context of reflection in the Roman Catholic setting. He views himself as priest3<...

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