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

Dr.René Erwich
Department of Practical Theology
ETF Leuven


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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