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Introducing Practical Theology

Mission, Ministry, and the Life of the Church

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This introduction to the field of practical theology reclaims a theological vision for the life and work of the church. Pete Ward dispels the myth that practical theology is a distraction from the "real" tasks of ministry or from serious academic theological work. He argues that practical theology is part of the everyday life of the church and that its location in congregational life provides an orientation and a methodology based on how practitioners pray, witness, act, and live out their faith. Ward challenges the distinction between applied theology and practical theology, thereby reintegrating a doctrinal orientation to the discipline. He argues that there are a variety of possible approaches to practical theology, helping readers evaluate the approach that is most appropriate to their ministerial context and theological tradition. This reliable, accessible resource will work well for those in training or in ministry.

1. Practical Theology as the Ordinary Life of the Church
2. Practical Theology as Faith Seeking Understanding
3. The Gospel and Practical Theology
4. Practical Theology and Lived Theology
5. Practical Theology as a Conversation about Practice and Theology
6. Theological Reflection
7. Practical Theology and Theological Disciplines
8. Practical Theology as a Conversation about Culture
9. Beginning Small-Scale Empirical Research
10. Producing Practical Theology


"An excellent introduction to practical theology that brings the church and academy together. Most importantly, it is rooted in the gospel and mission of congregations."

Richard Osmer, Ralph B. and Helen S. Ashenfelter Professor of Mission and Evangelism, Princeton Theological Seminary

"Introducing Practical Theology is a rich and intellectually significant account of the fundamentally practical character of theological knowledge. Author Pete Ward displays this practicality through a groundbreaking exploration of theology's biblical and tradition-shaped wisdom, its shaping by secular disciplines, and its redemptive function, as well as its grounding in God. Ward's constructive proposal emerges from a critically respectful review of the field of practical theology, offering an account that transcends its boundaries in deeply profound ways."

Mary McClintock Fulkerson, professor of theology, Duke Divinity School

"Introducing Practical Theology does much more than you might think from the title. It no doubt introduces practical theology, but it goes much further, introducing a whole way of thinking about the field. Pete Ward is a unique thinker that uncompromisingly demands that practical theology attend to real people's experiences by respecting their tacit and meaningful lived theology. Ward champions the belief that ordinary people in our churches are indeed attending to God's action. In this volume you'll find a beautiful way for attending to theology in the everyday."

Andrew Root, Luther Seminary; author of Faith Formation in a Secular Age

"Grounded nicely in Pete Ward's expertise in ecclesial ethnography and reflecting his evangelical background, this book will especially appeal to those looking for an overtly church- and gospel-centered approach to practical theology. Written in a down-to-earth style for a wide audience, the book provides a useful guide to the field, offering novices an understanding of what has happened in practical theology, with particularly helpful advice on small-scale empirical research and theological reflection."

Bonnie Miller-McLemore, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Religion, Psychology, and Culture, Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion, Vanderbilt University

The Author

  1. Pete Ward

    Pete Ward

    Pete Ward (PhD, King's College, London) is a professorial fellow in ecclesiology and ethnography at St. John's College, Durham University, in Durham, England. He also teaches at MF The Norwegian School of Theology, Oslo. He is the author, coauthor, or editor...

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