Action and Church: Pastoral Work as the Focal Point of a Liberating Ecclesiology

Johannes Först

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Pastoral work is the church in action. That is perhaps the most concise definition of pastoral work. Despite its briefness, however, it offers an ingenious point of departure for reflecting on key issues concerning the church and its task in the world. Based on this short definition, the current contribution would like to discuss five action-theoretical aspects in more detail and thereby sketch their essential ecclesiological dimensions.
Firstly, the church realises itself through action. Secondly, because of its social interconnectedness, the church is always performing actions, even when it does nothing. Thirdly, the church also constitutes itself structurally primarily through actions. Fourthly, the church becomes a reality in the history of action and as a history of action (Handlungsgeschichte). The fifth aspect receives special attention: the church formulates its faith through intellectual processes and equally so through actions, and it has to maintain in theologically constructive ways the tensions between these two challenges in concrete situations. This contribution ends with a perspective on the significance of these action-theoretical considerations for the discipline of Practical Theology and its position within the canon of theological disciplines in theological faculties.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCatholic Approaches in Practical Theology
Subtitle of host publicationInternational and Interdisciplinary Perspectives
EditorsAnnemie Dillen, Claire Wolfteich
Place of PublicationLeuven
Number of pages15
VolumeBibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium
ISBN (Print)978-90-429-3383-5
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2016

Publication series

NameBibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium


  • Practical theology
  • theory of action
  • action
  • ecclesiology
  • pastoral care
  • catholic theology
  • church
  • religion
  • action theory

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  • Research Output

    Zwischen Gottesfrage und „kosmologischem Fiasko“: Plädoyer für eine neue „kosmologische Solidarität“ und Kirchlichkeit

    Först, J., 2016, In : Bibel und Liturgie. 89, 1, p. 4-21 18 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientific

    „Die Wirklichkeit ist wichtiger als die Idee“ (Franziskus): Zu einem Not wendenden pastoralen Paradigmenwechsel am Beispiel von Evangelii gaudium und Gaudet mater ekklesia

    Först, J., 1 Feb 2016, Lebensdienlich und Überlieferungsgerecht: Jüdische und christliche Aktualisierungen der Gott-Mensch-Beziehung. Ergon-Verlag, Vol. 1. p. 263-280 (Beiträge zur Gegenwartsbedeutung jüdischer und christlicher Überlieferungen).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

    Cite this

    Först, J. (2016). Action and Church: Pastoral Work as the Focal Point of a Liberating Ecclesiology. In A. Dillen, & C. Wolfteich (Eds.), Catholic Approaches in Practical Theology: International and Interdisciplinary Perspectives (286 ed., Vol. Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium, pp. 71-85). (Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium). Peeters/Belgien.