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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