Collaborative Practical Theology

Engaging Practitioners in Research on Christian Practices


Author: Henk de Roest
Collaborative Practical Theology documents and analyses research on Christian practices conducted by academic practical theologians in collaboration with practitioners of different kinds in Christian practices all around the world. These practitioners include professional practitioners, everyday believers, volunteers and students in theological education. The book offers rationales for setting up joint investigation groups with different ‘communities of practice’, describes a wide range of collaborative research strategies and methods and also has a clear eye for their limitations. In Christian practices faith is mediated, enacted and nurtured. The aim of the book is to improve the utility of theological research on these practices. It communicates the vision that academic research is for the people of God in today’s world.
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Henk de Roest, Ph.D. Leiden University (1998), since 2001 Professor of Practical Theology, currently at the Protestant Theological University, Groningen. He is ordained minister, Dutch Reformed Church, 1987-1999. He has published monographs, and articles on the communal dimension of Christian practices.
This important work by a leading European practical theologian is a very welcome contribution to the discipline in the 21st century. For two long white men in North America and Europe have carried on as if they had no accountability to the feminist, post-colonial and other critiques of our disciplinary assumptions. Not here. Prof. de Roest has listened, and written an almost confessional work, seeking to portray the way forward for practical theology as only responsible via collaborative and participatory approaches that deeply respect the communities who are impacted by—and more importantly, who benefit from participation in—practical theological research.
— Rev. Dr. Christian Scharen, Vice President of Applied Research, Auburn Seminary.

At a time when practical theology in Europe and North America is experiencing itself as established as a discipline, this scholarly work comes as a timely reminder of the risks of such establishment. In order for practical theologians to avoid just becoming another kind of academic, we need, as Henk de Roest's argument makes clear, to persist in and develop participatory forms of research with those engaged in faith practices. Learning from a range of collaborative research practices, and with acute awareness of the pervasive questions of power and politics that such collaboration raises, this book offers an important way of renewal for practical theology's fundamental commitments.
— Dr. Clare Watkins, Reader in Ecclesiology and Practical Theology. University of Roehampton.

In writing Collaborative Practical Theology Henk de Roest has constructed a clever and compelling text that opens up the terrain of Practical theology in an imaginative and insightful manner. The central import of the discipline has been its attention to lived experience, collaborative working, interdisciplinary methodologies, the relationship between practice and theory and the necessity of reflecting on and indeed, even changing practice. In this comprehensive intellectual trajectory through the hinterland of Practical theology, de Roest has provided an important book that is a must read for scholars and religious practitioners alike.
— Professor Anthony G. Reddie, Extraordinary Professor at the University of South Africa.

This book changes empirical research in Practical Theology. Instead of examining people and groups as objects, they are included as subjects in the research process. What this means hermeneutically and methodically, and how this can be implemented in one's own research practice, is described fundamentally, in detail and in a practice-oriented manner. An essential work for those who want to research together with those who are concerned.
— Professor Uta Pohl-Patalong, Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel

Practical theology is a collaborative and interdisciplinary enterprise. Collaborating with those inside and outside of the discipline and inside and out of the academy is what gives it its richness and diversity. However, the theological nature of collaboration and precisely what models, approaches and ideas are best suited to operationalise its goals has to date, not been developed in detail. In this book Henk de Roest offers us a rich and full description of collaboration and provides tools and perspectives that can enable both academics and practitioners to engage in the journey of practical theology in new ways that will bring knowledge and blessing. This is one of those books that will definitely make a difference to the ways on which we do Practical theology.
— Professor John Swinton, Chair in Divinity and Religious Studies at the University of Aberdeen.


The Valorisation of Practical Theology

1 Valorising Practical Theology: Enhancing the Practical Relevance of Research
 1 We. . . All. . . Benefit!
 2 Knowledge Valorisation, Collaborative Research, Stakeholder Orientation and Lifelong Learning in a Global Context
 3 Collaborative Research in Practical Theology
 4 Empirical Theology
 5 The Structure of Practical Theological Research and the Problem of Implementation
 6 Knowledge Transfer Activities in Practical Theology
 7 Independent Academic Practical Theological Research?
 8 The Researcher and the Researched
 9 Two-Way Flows of Knowledge
 10 Conclusion
2 Knowledge Transfer in Practical Theological Education: Seven Instructive Curriculum Reforms
 1 Introduction
 2 University of Leiden: an Attempt to Establish a Chair in Practical Theology
 3 Franz Stephan Rautenstrauch, University of Vienna: Preventing Routines
 4 Friedrich Schleiermacher, Humboldt University: Shaping an Academic Spirit
 5 William Harper, University of Chicago: Shaping the Culture of the Nation
 6 Anton Boisen, Clinical Pastoral Education: Co-Operative Inquiry
 7 The Network for African Congregational Theology: Radical Contextualisation
 8 Protestant Theological University (PThU): Internship, Learning Empirical Research
 9 Conclusion
3 Continuing Education in Community: Lifelong Learning in Communities of Practice
 1 Introduction
 2 Continuing Ministerial Education in the Netherlands in the Nineteenth Century
 3 Continuing Education in Recent Decades
 4 The Continuing Need for Continuing Education
 5 Conclusion
4 The Scope of Practical Theology" Practices, Addressees, and Relation to Theology and the Social Sciences
 1 Introduction
 2 Practical Theology from the 1800s to the 1960s: Church-Oriented Practical Theology
 3 Practical Theology Since the 1960s: Broadening the Domain
 4 Practical Theology Since the 1980s: the Empirical Turn
 5 Practices of the Church and Practices of the World
 6 Practical Theology and Theology
 7 Systematic Theology in Need of Practical Theology
 8 Practical Theology and the Social Sciences
 9 Conclusion

Collaborative Research Approaches and Methods in Practical Theology

5 Know-Why, Know-How and Know-What The Crisis of Routines and the Practitioner’s Needs for Knowledge and Skills
 1 Introduction
 2 The Concept of Practice, Crises of Routines and Professional Communities of Practice
 3 Crises of Routines in Churchly Practices
 4 Consequences for Knowledge Transfer in Contemporary Practical Theology
 5 Practical Theology: a Science of Crisis?
 6 The Information Needs of Professional Practitioners
 7 Conclusion
6 Collaborative Research in Practical Theology: Rationales for Collaborative Approaches
 1 Introduction
 2 The Missio Dei Rationale
 3 The Emerging Community Rationale
 4 The Epistemological Rationale
 5 The Innovation and Professionalisation Rationale
 6 The Post-Colonial Rationale
 7 The Utility Rationale
 8 Conclusion
7 Doing Research in Community: A Multiplicity of Collaborative Research Practices
 1 Introduction
 2 Collaborative Research: an Example
 3 Relational Approaches: Some General Characteristics
 4 Action Research (AR)
 5 Participatory Action Research (PAR) and Participatory Research (PR)
 6 Theological Action Research (TAR)
 7 Collaborative Ethnography (CE)
 8 Change Laboratory (CL)
 9 Appreciative Inquiry (ai)
 10 Narrative Inquiry (NI) and Collaborative Narrative Inquiry (CNI)
 11 Professional Learning Community (PLC), Research Community (RC), Knowledge Workplace (KW) and Action Research Community (ARC)
 12 Citizen Science (CS)
 13 Some Collaborative Methods
 14 Conclusion
8 Collaborative Research in Practical Theology: Nuances and Limitations: Constraints to Participation
 1 Introduction
 2 Reliability or ‘Good Reasons for the Ivory Tower’
 3 Nuancing Collaboration
 4 Different Types and Roles of Stakeholders
 5 Asymmetry and Power
 6 Remedies against Power Mechanisms
 7 Limits and Constraints to Participation
 8 Mutual Beneficial Collaboration?
 9 The Dynamics in Research Groups
 10 Conclusion
9 Taking the Initiative: Practitioners Doing Collaborative Research Communities of Practice Becoming Research Communities
 1 Introduction
 2 Practitioners Becoming Research-Informed
 3 The Knowledge of the Community
 4 Teachers Doing Research in Community
 5 Chaplains Doing Research in Community
 6 Ministers Doing Research in Community
 7 Conclusion
Theological institutes worldwide, academic libraries, researchers in Practical Theology, practitioners, students, consultants, everyday believers, all interested in Christian practices.