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Introducing the Lifestyle of “Theopraxy”

Photo of Curtis SergeantCurtis Sergeant | Bio

Curtis Sergeant

Dr. Curtis Sergeant served with the International Mission Board (IMB) as a pioneer church-planting missionary among an unreached people group in China. When the work began to produce rapidly multiplying churches and he was no longer needed there, Curtis transitioned to a ministry of training others to do the same sort of ministry. In that role, he intensively trained hundreds of people from a wide range of nations, denominations, and agencies, who have collectively catalyzed movements that have planted millions of house churches. He has served as the IMB’s vice president for global strategy and Saddleback Church’s director of church planting. Curtis currently operates MetaCamp, a disciple-making and missions training center located in Dadeville, Alabama. He also works in leadership with Zúme and 24:14. Curtis and his wife, Debie, have two grown and married children, Nathan and Megan.

Do you struggle to balance all the commitments and responsibilities of your life? Are you constantly trying to juggle and multitask to meet life’s demands? What if there was only one thing you had to do well?

Would that simplicity be desirable?

Jesus apparently thought so, because He told us to live that way. He invited us to give up our focus on all other things and concentrate only on Him—on knowing Him and following Him.

Theopraxy (literally, “God-practice”) is a lifestyle that seeks to know Christ, to imitate Him, to seek God’s Kingdom, and to view everything in life from God’s perspective. It requires a desire to live in total concord with and submission to His will, ways, purposes, character, nature, desires, and thoughts. It is doing God’s work, in God’s way, in God’s timing, by God’s enablement.

The Theopraxic life is not easy. But it is simple.

It requires learning to recognize God’s voice, then doing what He says. He will ask of you only what He will enable you to do. Our biggest challenge is not that we can’t do what God asks of us, but that we fail to weed out of our lives things He is not asking us to do.

That is why we feel so busy and frazzled—we are doing too many things that we shouldn’t do. Not that these things are bad. Often they are good—or, at worst, neutral. But they are not what God is calling us to do right now.

Theopraxy is not a common word. On the other hand, many are familiar with the term orthopraxy , or right practice. Orthopraxy is often contrasted with orthodoxy, or right belief. The point is that correct beliefs about God (orthodoxy) are useless if they are not paired with the actual life application of those beliefs (orthopraxy).

Theopraxy goes a step further. It addresses the motive behind the practice and the source of the ability to live out that practice.

The motive is to follow God, and He is the source of the power to do so.

Jesus says,

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23)

In this passage, those being sent into eternal punishment had seemed to be doing good things and were doing them in Jesus’ name. They did not do the Father’s will, however. They did not listen for, and respond to, what He was asking them to do. Instead, they did what they thought He would want to be done.

They did not hear because they did not listen. They did not recognize His voice because they did not know Him.

In short, even if they were doing good things, they were not doing the things God asked of them.

Thus, they had the wrong motive or reason for their actions. Also, they were evidently not acting through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, but in their own strength. Thus, this passage suggests that even orthopraxy can fall short.

Our biggest challenge is not that we can’t do what God asks of us, but that we fail to weed out of our lives things He is not asking us to do.

Theopraxy is not the heretical pseudo-religion that believes good works are God. It does not ask us to work for and earn our own salvation. It does not deny that our entrance into God’s Kingdom is based solely on undeserved grace.

Rather, it recognizes that repentance involves turning from devotion to or reliance on anything other than God to worshiping and depending on Him alone.

When we are devoted to and relying on God alone, our love, gratitude, and devotion is expressed in our commitment to following, serving, and pleasing Him. Our desire is to know Him more deeply and accompany Him more closely. These things can be done only through the equipping and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. This journey is Theopraxy.

(Excerpted from Curtis Sergeant, The Only One: Living Fully In, By, and For God. For more from Curtis, check out