Abstract

This article attempts to answer the following question: how significant is theological normativity for church development practice. At a time when many leaders are busy developing local churches ac cording to secular organizational models and experiences, this question always arises: to what extent does the normative character of the Bible impact Christian faith, church life and ministry and how might normative theology affect development projects that are going on in the church. The overriding issue that both current practice and the article focuses on is how theological normativity and empirical data can be integrated in church development. After explaining the concepts of theological normativity and empirical data and the relationship between them, the article discusses how different national (Norwegian) and international researchers within practical theology attempt to resolve the issues relat ing to integration. The article’s authors believe that these attempts end up in either assimilation or integration that is not fruitful for church development practice. The authors therefore propose an alter native integration model that distinguishes between three levels / degrees of theological normativity corresponding to three different fields / areas for church development. From this perspective, one can see how the integration of empirical data in these three levels of normativity brings both challenges and opportunities. The authors’ conclusion and recommendation concerning the function and signifi cance of theological normativity in church development, is that theological normativity bestows iden tity as well as having a guiding and corrective function.