Thanks Julie, Ben and Andy for your comments. To reply in a comment would probably need way too many lines, so I'll try in a post!
Julie - I am sure you could do and pass a PhD if you so desired, and maybe one day you will. So long as you keep doing theology (as you do) then that's more important than a few letters (says she who could start a shop with all the letters she has!).
Andy - practical theologians of the world unite? Absolutely!
Ben - thanks for making me think. It may not have helped write my paper (yet) but it has helped nudge my neurons out of atrophy (I think!) :o)
On academic writing - absolutely it needs to be clear, and of the required quality. A couple of thoughts. Firstly, there are MASSIVE style differences between the arts and the sciences and my poor, long-suffering supervisors are still trying to teach me to use longer sentences and paragraphs. I think I'm getting "better" but it is sometimes disproportionately hard work. A friend of mine (a physicist) is trying to help his son to rewrite his undergrad dissertation in music (which has to be resubmitted). Said friend keeps complaining that son writes first person, long sentences and paragraphs which he then 'corrects' to third person, bullet points and snappy prose. More than once I've had to yell 'Nooooooooo' when he tells me this! Secondly, I certainly did not intend to equate academic with turgid. I have read some amazingly dynamic, exciting and even outright funny academic writing (not often in PhD theses, granted!) and some dire 'popular' stuff. I just wonder if there is sometimes a bit of academic snobbery over words which hinders accessibility. Sometimes it is necessary to use a specific word to capture a precise or nucanced meaning; sometimes I think it comes down to personal preference. The really, really clever people seem to know which to use when: I'm not one of them.
The really interesting point you raise - I think - is about theological communication. And this is probably the bit that has been the most helpful in cranking up my grey matter. As I understand it, central to the concept of practical theology is that theology is 'done' not 'received.' It is not that theologians 'do' the work and everyone else signs up to a kind of 'end user agreement,' rather it assumes that anyone can, and everyone should, do theology. That doesn't make academic theologians redundant (at least not yet!) because the work they do acts as a resource for other people to aid their own 'doing' of theology. Does that make sense? One of the big differences (in theory) about practical theology is that the theologian or minister is not the expert who teaches others the answers, rather he or she is a participant in the process who brings with them certain knowledge that can inform thinking/praying etc. This can be quite a challenge for local churches who have been accustomed to seeing the minister as the expert and doctrines as things to learn and appropriate rather than explore and wrestle with. I did once hear a minister say, in a sermon, that he'd gone to Bible college to wrestle with what scripture meant so that he could tell the people the answers. Had he taught the people to wrestle with scripture he might have done them more favours, but that's another story! I guess if I stick with the engineering analogy, then I would be saying anyone can do engineering and everyone should do engineering. Not everyone will be a professional engineer, but everyone can to some degree master some aspects of engineering and should be able to put it use.
Tomorrow I really will get something written (to add to the 3k or so words I already have) and it will hopefully form the basis of some helpful discussion when I present in 3 weeks time.