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
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
ends justifies the means
end result is the most important)
means justifies the ends (sort of)
we get to the end is just as important as the end itself
Holy Spirit may be viewed as the instigator of this tensions (Mark
1:12), or the Spirit may use it (Acts 8:1-5)
sense of urgency, which is the first prerequisite for change, is created
as this tension develops
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
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
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
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
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
One Describe present situation (historical and sociological)
Two Analyze present situation (research)
Three Recognize Christian views
Four Evaluate relationship between Christian views and present action
Five Design new actions
E. Steps as Questions
One What s happening?
Two What s really happening?
Three What happened in the Bible that relates to what s really happening?
Four What should be happening?
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
church that we go to (and our society goes to) is the one that meets our needs