Active Theology

By “active theology,” we mean theology in action in the context of the present opportunities and challenges of ministry and leadership: How do clergy read the contexts and situations in which they live and lead, through theological lenses? In what ways do clergy seek to understand the deeper meaning, values, and purposes that are shaping people’s actions and reactions, and how these relate to a vision of God at work in the world? How do clergy use theological thinking to shape decisions and plans in their communities of faith and surrounding neighborhoods?

Without strong and clear habits of theological thinking-in-action, pastors and priests—and their faith communities—can drift into automatic pilot. Decisions and plans can be made based on snap judgments or simplistic automatic reactions, as a “quick fix” or just to appease the most people.

But active theology also means theology that is grounded—and theological interpretation that communicates clearly. Sometimes, clergy immersed in theological study can get lost in abstractions, following too many intellectual tendrils into the ether, and, as a fellow researcher once put it, “commit metaphysical blastoff.” Active theology requires a return to the question “What then should we—or might we—do?”

In this section, we explore ways clergy theologically understand and interpret the lives, experiences, and actions of their communities of faith and surrounding neighborhoods, and how they use these theological interpretations to shape communication, decisions, and creative endeavors.

StoriesView All

Practicing a Theology of Love — A Baptist Church Votes on Whether to Become “Welcoming and Affirming”

Pastor Pat Taylor describes how she and her congregation have tried to live into a theology that affirms that "everyone is welcome here, whether we like it or not."


ResearchView All

God’s Action and Our Action – What Is the Orienting Theology Behind Your Ministry?

The Clergy Into Action Study found that most recently ordained pastors and priests held a somewhat Augustinian theology of God's work in or through their congregations.


Whose Theological Voice Is Most Important?

We asked recently ordained clergy how well trained they were to express both their personal theological voices and those of their congregations.