Art of Leadership
Azusa Pacific University
Dr. Paul Shrier
January 13, 2004
"Introduction to Practical Theology"

I.   What is practical theology?
A.   Practical theology is a theology of action
1.   Action is required when current Christian practices, that used to work,  now put the church into higher and higher tension with the society
a.   Practice vs. praxis
i.   Practice
a.   The ends justifies the means
b.   The end result is the most important)
ii.   Praxis
a.   The means justifies the ends (sort of)
b.   How we get to the end is just as important as the end itself
2.   The Holy Spirit may be viewed as the instigator of this tensions (Mark 1:12), or the Spirit may use it (Acts 8:1-5)
3.   A sense of urgency, which is the first prerequisite for change, is created as this tension develops
4.   Systematic and historical theology, Biblical studies, and the social sciences are input in the practical theology process. This process is used to develop Christian practices in all areas of our lives, both as individual Christians and as a community of believers
B.   Definition of practical theology: Practical theology describes and analyzes life events and trends to determine how they relate to Christian beliefs, and then develops new guidelines and skills for Christians action in the church and in society (Adapted from Poling and Miller, 62)
C.   The key to understand the practical theology method is to understand that it moves from practice to theory to practice
1.   Systematic theology, Biblical theology, and historical theology develop responses to new church developments by first considering what the Bible and Christian tradition teach about subject, and then applying this to the situation
2.   If we try to follow a biblical or systematic theology approach to consider practical Christian questions, we will move from the Bible or theology to human experience, from theory to practice from revealed knowledge to application
3.   In order to address the question, the current event or situation must first be carefully described. Moving directly to the Bible often results in an improper understanding of the situation
a.   We have a tendency to ask the wrong questions
b.   We do not critically evaluate the role of current biblical interpretation and Christian tradition
4.   Current Christian and non-Christian practices have been developed by a mixture of previous theories, older traditions, and cultural accommodations to experience. It is these elements, and not simple Biblical interpretation, that are embedded in the current circumstances that are causing the tension in a specific area in Christian beliefs and practices
D.   The DARED practical theology method is one of many ways to move from practice to theory to practice. It can be described as taking the following steps
1.   Step One  Describe present situation (historical and sociological)
2.   Step Two  Analyze present situation (research)
3.   Step Three  Recognize Christian views
4.   Step Four  Evaluate relationship between Christian views and present action
5.   Step Five  Design new actions
E.   Steps as Questions
1.   Step One  What s happening?
2.   Step Two  What s really happening?
3.   Step Three  What happened in the Bible that relates to what s really happening?
4.   Step Four  What should be happening?
5.   Step Five  What can we do about it?
F.   Practical theology therefore moves from a study of present theory-filled practice to consider the theory-filled practices of Scripture, Christian history, and theology, as well as secular disciplines, and develops new Biblical and culturally appropriate theory-filled practices

II.   The church is one of the most entrepreneurial places you can work at; where else can you go in this world where as long as you are growing (spiritually) it is ok  that brings incredible freedom
III.   The church that we go to (and our society goes to) is the one that meets our needs