The impact of the ‘liquid church’ discourse in Dutch evangelical churches

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The impact of the ‘liquid church’ discourse in Dutch evangelical churches
A practical-theological analysis

Dr.René Erwich
Department of Practical Theology
ETF Leuven

 

Abstract
This paper considers the current state of the ‘liquid church’ discourse and seeks to relate this to the impact ‘liquid-church’ thinking has in Dutch evangelical churches and circles. The influence of Pete Ward’s book ‘Liquid Church’ (Ward, 2002) has been considerable. Initially it seemed to be a reaction against the more rational and rational-teleological concepts of churchdevelopment (e.g. Purpose Driven Church, Natural Church Development). Looking more carefully at these developments leads to a different direction in which evangelical churchstructures suffer from the same erosion as in other institutional churches. The quest for newer forms of church directs itself in a deeper consideration and theological reflection on ‘shapes of liquid’ and the related ecclesiogical themes. The paper looks at this development from a practical-theological point of view. I will argue that evangelical churches and movements are struggling with the transformation of their heritage into a postmodern climate. A lack of clear and explicit ecclesiological reflection may lure them into various manifestations of ‘liquid church’ and may lead to an increase of ecclesiological pragmatism. In my analysis I make use of Richard R.Osmer’s model of the four tasks of practical theology (Osmer, 2008 ).

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