3. PRACTICAL THEOLOGY at Tokyo Christian University

Introduction to Practical Theology, TCU ACTS-ES, Fall 2008
(ACTS-ES: Asian Christian Theological Studies - English Students)

Well balanced Christian leaders not only practice their theology in daily ministry—they also think theologically about their ministry. This ongoing interaction between practical application and theology helps them keep their balance in the midst of the pressures of leadership. At the heart of a Christian liberal arts education program lies the concept of integration. Such integration has the goal of producing healthy Christians. Similarly, the integration of theology and practical application produces healthy church leaders and healthy churches. Students of this class, viewed here as Christian leaders in the local church or in other spheres, will be encouraged to think theologically about a range of topics related to practical ministry. This will be accomplished through readings, case studies, one response paper, class interaction, and one final paper. There will be no exam in this class.

Required Text
Van Gelder, Craig. The Essence of the Church: A Community Created by the Spirit. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker, 2000.

Recommended Reading
Stone, Howard W. and James O. Duke. How to Think Theologically. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Fortress, 1996.

Volf, Miroslav. After Our Likeness: The Church as the Image of the Trinity. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1998. [Chp.3 “The Ecclesiality of the Church” / Chp.6 “Structures of the Church”]

  • Week 1: Introduction
  • Week 2: What is practical theology? Van Gelder, chapters 1-4 (Form 1), 5%
  • Week 3: Significance of the local church. Van Gelder, chapters 5-7 (Form 2), 5%
  • Week 4: Decision making: church structure and ecclesiology. Three case studies, 10%
  • Week 5: Decision making: cultural contexts. Three hours own reading (Form 3), 5%
  • Week 6: Ordinances and the significance of ceremony in Asia. Three hours own reading (Form 4), 5%
  • Week 7: Clergy, laity, and ordination. Case study response paper, 10%
  • Week 8: Personal integrity of Christian leaders. Final paper topic
  • Week 9: Personal leadership theology, style, and choices.
  • Week 10: Practical theology in a postmodern context.
  • Exam Day: Final paper due, 50%
Reading assignments are due at weeks 2, 3, 5, and 6. Using a different form supplied by the instructor for each reading assignment. For reading assignments due at weeks 2 and 3, students must indicate on Form 1 and Form 2 how many hours were necessary for the required readings. For reading assignments due at weeks 5 and 6, students must keep track of their individually selected readings by filling out the columns of Form 3 and Form 4. Due dates are noted on each form. On the first day of class the instructor will hand out a short bibliography students may use for choosing their reading. Students may choose to read other material, but in that case they must receive advance permission from the instructor. Wise students will try to align their reading selections with their final paper topic.

Three case studies (150-250 words each) are due at week 4. They should be produced on a computer. Each case study should describe a problem in Christian leadership ministry. The problem may have been experienced by the students themselves or by others. The case studies should not describe solutions to the problems. The instructor will select some of these case studies submitted by students for discussion during classes in subsequent weeks.

One 700-900 word case study response paper is due at week 7. It must provide a practical solution to one of the case studies submitted at week 4 (the case study may be the student’s own case study or one submitted by another student), along with a brief theological rationale for that solution.

The final paper topic is to be approved by the instructor no later than week 8.

The final paper of 2500-3000 words is due the last day of exams. The paper should follow guidelines found in Turabian and be produced on a computer. (The instructor’s font preference is Times New Roman, 12 point.) The paper should be divided into two major parts. (1) The first part should be an attempt to develop a personalized theology of Christian leadership relevant to the problem addressed in the second part of the paper. In this first section of the paper the instructor is looking for a theologically and Biblically sound defense of one’s position. Mere assertions should be avoided. In addition to their own research and reading, students may use class lectures as building blocks for this first section of the paper. (2) In the second part of the paper students are to apply their theology of leadership to a practical problem encountered in local church leadership. The problem may be something they or others have experienced.

  • Attendance/Participation: 10%
  • Readings: 20%
  • Case studies: 10%
  • Case study response: 10%
  • Final paper: 50%
Selected Bibliography
Bloesch, Donald G. The Church: Sacraments, Worship, Ministry, Mission. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 2002. [Chp.2 “Continuing Issues in Ecclesiology” / Chp.11 “The Diversity of Ministries”]

Carson, D. A. Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and its Implications. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan. [Chp.1 “The Emerging Church Profile” / Chp.7 “Some Biblical Passages to Help Us in Our Evaluation”]

Dulles, Avery. Models of the Church. New York, NY: Doubleday, 2002. [Chp.5 “The Church as Herald” / Chp.10 “Ecclesiology and Ministry” / Chp.13 “The Church: Community of Disciples”]

Elmer, Duane. Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 2006.

Ferguson, Everett. The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1996. [Chp.5 “The Church and Her Bishop: The Continuing Ministry”]

Hull, Bill. The Disciple Making Church. Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell, 1990.

Hunsberger, George R. and Craig Van Gelder, eds. The Church Between Gospel and Culture: The Emerging Mission in North America. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1996.

Karkkainen, Veli-Matti. An Introduction to Ecclesiology: Ecumenical, Historical, and Global Perspectives. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity, 2002. [Part I “Ecclesiological Traditions” (Chps.1-7)]

Piper, John. Brothers, We are not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman, 2002. [Chp.1 “We are not Professionals” / Chp.2 “God Loves His Glory” / Chp.3 “God is Love” / Chp.10 “Fight for Your Life” / Chp.11 “Let Us Query the Text” / Chp.28 “Focus on the Essence of Worship, not the Form”]

Schwarz, Christian A. Natural Church Development: A Guide to Eight Essential Qualities of Healthy Churches. Emmelsbull, Germany: C & P Publishing, 1998.

Shenk, David W. and Ervin R. Stutzman. Creating Communities of the Kingdom: New Testament Models of Church Planting. Scottdale, Pennsylvania: Herald Press, 1988. [Chp.10 “Leadership and Accountability”]

Stackhouse, John G., ed. Evangelical Ecclesiology: Reality or Illusion? Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2003.

Stott, John R. W. Between Two Worlds: The Art of Preaching in the Twentieth Century. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1982. [Chp.3 “Theological Foundations for Preaching”]

Van Engen, Charles. God’s Missionary People: Rethinking the Purpose of the Local Church. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker, 1991.

Watson, David. I Believe in the Church. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1978. [Chp.15 “Ministry and Leadership I” / Chp.16 “Ministry and Leadership II”]

Yoder, John Howard. The Royal Priesthood: Essays Ecclesiological and Ecumenical. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1994. [“The Otherness of the Church,” pp. 53-64.]
© Dale Little