What is Lived Theology?

The Project on Lived Theology was established in the summer of 2000 with a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment. Our mission is to clarify the interconnection of theology and lived experience and by so doing, to offer academic resources to the pursuit of social justice and human flourishing. With more than 400 alumni of our workgroups and programs, the Project offers a variety of familiar and unconventional spaces where theologians, scholars and students of religion can collaborate with practitioners and non-academics. Check out our various initiatives here. We produce books, scholarly and popular essays, field reports, oral histories and other resources that plumb the theological depth and detail of lived experience. Browse through hundreds of Project resources here and meet our many contributors here.

It is our conviction that the patterns and practices of religious communities offer rich and generative material for theological inquiry. These patterns and practices are not just ways of “doing things” (as the historian Wayne Meeks has written in one of his essential studies of early Christian communities), but they are also ways of “saying things”: practices and patterns are “communicative.” As theologians and scholars of religion, we further believe that, when properly interpreted, the lived experiences of faith are communicative not only of a religious community’s collective self-understanding but of modes of divine presence as well.

The Project further endeavors to demonstrate the importance of theological ideas in the public conversation about civic responsibility and social progress. Theology matters, now more than ever. It is our hope to provide analytical attention to religion’s role in shaping human behavior and to retrieve valuable resources from the Christian faith and its particular conceptions of God and the good—and more broadly from the shared beliefs and values of the Abrahamic tradition—that assist students, scholars and practitioners in the work of building just and compassionate communities.

See our full 20 minute documentary here.