Practical theology, as its name implies, is the study of theology in a way that is intended to make it useful or applicable. Another way of saying it is that it is the study of theology so that it can be used and is relevant to everyday concerns. One seminary describes its Practical Theology Program as “being dedicated to the practical application of theological insights” and that it “generally includes the sub-disciplines of pastoral theology, homiletics, and Christian education, among others.” Another seminary sees the purpose of practical theology as helping to prepare students to translate the knowledge learned into effective ministry to people. Doing this involves both personal and family life as well as the administration and educational ministries in the church. They state that the goal of practical theology is to develop effective communicators of Scripture who have a vision for the spiritual growth of believers while being servant leaders.
Some consider practical theology to simply be a more technical name for the doctrine of the Christian life. Its emphasis is on how all the teaching of Scripture should affect the way we live today in this present world. The emphasis of practical theology is not simply to contemplate or comprehend theological doctrines but to move beyond that to applying those doctrines in everyday Christian life so that we “contribute to the world’s becoming what God intends it to be.”
The premise behind practical theology programs is that future Christian leaders need to be equipped not only with theological knowledge but also with the necessary professional skills to minister effectively in the modern world. Often these programs use preaching, Christian education, counseling and clinical programs to provide opportunities to equip and prepare future Christian leaders.