This year saw the first ever meeting of the Tyndale Fellowship Practical Theology study group, where we were exploring the question 'What is Evangelical Practical Theology?'
We welcomed a broad range of attendees, from across the UK, the USA and Europe, representing a range of institutional affiliations and roles. For many who came, it was their first time at a Tyndale Fellowship conference. We enjoyed a broad range of excellent papers, from the methodological significances of doxology and wonder, to the use of Ecclesiastes for understanding theological reflexivity. We heard about creative approaches to research, from the use of photography, to engaging with testimony, to drawing on prophetic practices in empirical work. There were papers drawing on key Christian thinkers, from Nigel G Wright to Albert Outler to Stanley Hauerwas. We heard about research projects on evangelical hermeneutics, Charismatic preaching, and women in New Frontiers churches. We were invited to think about topics as broad as how to assess spiritual formation, how Jesus's actions can inform church teaching on divorce, and how contemporary experiences of pregnancy and adoption might inform interpretation of Romans 8.
Within this rich diversity, each presenter sought to ask, and answer, whether there is anything distinctive about doing Practical Theology as an Evangelical scholar, and what might be the tools, methods, questions and issues when seeking to work in this intersection. I suspect we came away with more questions than answers, but there seemed to be a shared sense that we were labouring in this together. In addition to the interesting and creative papers, a highlight of our first gathering was the new friendships and warm connections which were formed, and the evident energy for ongoing conversations and mutual collaboration which grew during our time together. It was wonderful to welcome curious visitors from other study groups who came to sample some of the papers, and it was equally enjoyable to attend the Tyndale Fellowship Lectures hosted by the other study groups, which enabled a broader dialogue to develop. We look forward to meeting again next year, and hope to welcome new scholars into our future discussions.