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Plenary 2
Practical Theology and Christian Education in the Thai Context

Dr. Chananporn Oan JAISAODEE

Assistant to the Dean, Academic Affairs,

McGilvary College of Divinity (MCD), Payap University

Faculty Member, McGilvary College of Divinity (MCD), Payap University

While Practical theology has been defined in various ways, the author argues that practical theology is not merely the study of theology for the purpose of being useful or applicable. Practical theology is a form of theological reflection and interpretation that is grounded in the life of the church in exploring and shaping theories and practices that aim for social transformation. Without a doubt, practical theology is inherently interdisciplinary, bringing theology into conversation with other fields. It is an area or discipline of theology whose subject matter is Christian practice and whose purpose is to bring which theological criteria to bear on contemporary situations and realms of individual and social action.

Practical theological approach takes place when people in the faith community are involved in social issues, reflect on the specific issues to discern what God wants them to do in their particular context, and then demonstrate concrete responses to the situations. As a Thai woman, a Christian, and an educator who grew up in Thai society, which is still deeply-rooted in patriarchal culture, the writer has a passion to advocate for Thai women and to strengthen Thai Christian women in their spiritual formation.

The term “spiritual formation,” used in this paper refers to Christian spiritual formation. The author claims that spiritual formation is always connected to the lives of people and the community they are a part. Therefore, the church must provide relevant teachings that make sense and connect with real life situations as well as provide the opportunity for learners to explore openly and freely their questions and discuss the teaching of the church and the meaning of Christian faith for their personal lives and their participation in the society.

Viewing Christian Education as a form of spiritual formation encourages the church to provide teaching or curriculum that helps people become sensitive to and cooperative with the Holy Spirit at work in their lives and to discern the good news they are called to share, as followers of Christ, in their own time and place. Transforming spiritual formation for Thai Christian women, therefore, involves not only empowering women in their struggles, enabling them to share their life stories, and assisting them to deepen their relationship with God, but also discovering some possible ways to help transform gender practices in Thai society and church community.


Dr. Chananporn or Oan Jaisaodee is the assistant to the Dean for Academic Affairs and  a full-time faculty member at McGilvary College of Divinity (MCD), Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She teaches courses in the area of Christian Education and its related subjects. She received her theological education from both Thailand and the U.S. In 1997, she got Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Bachelor of Theology (B.A. B.Th.) and in 2006, she got Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from the McGilvary College of Divinity from Payap University. She also received Master of Arts in Christian Education (M.A.C.E.) from Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education (Union-PSCE) in Richmond, Virginia in 2001 and Master of Arts in Theological Studies (M.A.T.S.) from Princeton Seminary in 2008. Oan earned her Ph.D. in Practical Theology with an emphasis on Christian Education from Princeton Theological Seminary (U.S.A.) in 2013.


Besides teaching at MCD, Oan is an ordained minister, serving at a local church in Chiang Mai, called Nongbuasam church. She also serves as a member of Christian Education Committee of the first district of the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT) and a member of Board of Trustees of the Association for Theological Education in Southeast Asia (ATESEA).

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