Those engaged in so-called ‘practical theology’ typically struggle to articulate, let alone agree on, any definition of their discipline. David Lyall, who prior to his retirement taught Practical Theology at Edinburgh University and whose book The Integrity of Pastoral Care is one of the texts I have set for my students, offers an attempt at a definition in a recent editorial:
‘So what is practical theology? … It is concerned with practice and it is an academic discipline; it seeks to serve both the mission of the Church and the needs of the world; it touches that which is most personal and engages with that which is most public. Perhaps the truth of the matter is that practical theology cannot be defined too precisely – nor should we try to do so’. – David Lyall, ‘Editorial: So, What Is Practical Theology?’ Practical Theology 2, no. 2 (2009), 158–9.
What’s your working definition?