Prof.dr. H.P. de Roest

Community / Care

Prof. dr. Henk de Roest

This is the personal webpage of Henk de Roest, Professor of Practical Theology at the Protestant Theological University (Groningen campus).

My most recent publication

Cover Collaborative Practical Theology

Henk de Roest, Collaborative Practical Theology. Engaging Practitioners in Research on Christian Practices. (Leiden: Brill), 371 pp. 

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 on Christian practices is beneficial for the world.

The endorsements state: 

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

Personal introduction  

In my CV you will find more biographical info... 

From September 2012, I teach and do research at the Protestant Theological University, in the beautiful location Groningen (Oude Ebbingestraat 25). My Chair is Practical Theology.

From 2001-2012 I held the Chair of Practical Theology at Leiden University. At that time, I noticed how the experience of being a pastor for over twelve years influenced my (empirical) theological approach and my teaching. Also, being at home in practical-theological research/debates as a student since 1985 has given me a sound basis for both teaching and doing research.

My PhD-study was about the wiritings of a now quite famous German philosopher, Jürgen Habermas. In 1998 I defended my thesis at Leiden University (with distinction). A recent article about Habermas's view on religion:  

Henk de Roest, 'Von Religionen lernen. Jürgen Habermas und die Unverzichtbarkeit religiöser  Gemeinschaften', in: Elöd Hodossy-Takacs & Leo J. Koffeman (Hrsg.), Wichtige Wendepunkte. Verändernde und sich ändernde Traditionen in Zeiten des Umbruchs. Beihefte zur Ökumenischen Rundschau 2014/98, 145-158.

I believe that if a student becomes a good researcher, analyzing Christian practices in society, he/she will also become a good teacher and a good pastor... 

Research interests

My current research focuses on collaborative research approaches (see new book!), pioneer planting, ecclesial events like The Night of the Churches, Christian community formation, missional communication of the Christian faith, social capital and social cohesion, church closures, interreligious dialogue at grassroots level. Recently we started doing research about the response of local churches to earthquakes in the Dutch province of Groningen.

I also focus on methodological issues (collaborative approaches and methods, action research, citizen science, focus groups / visual ethnography). I further welcome students with an interest in issues that are related to congregational leadership.

Candidates for doctoral study will always be supervised by two supervisors, one of them may be working at another Dutch University. 

Editor-in-chief Ecclesial Practices. Journal of Ecclesiology and Ethnography (publ. by Brill)

As of January 1st, 2016, I serve as editor-in-chief of the one and only exciting academic journal on qualitative research in and with churches, congregations worldwide and new and emerging Christian communities: Ecclesial Practices. Journal of Ecclesiology and Ethnography. The journal (indexed in ATLA, ERIH and SCOPUS) publishes articles and book reviews at the intersection of ethnographic and other qualitative approaches with theological approaches to the study of a variety of ecclesial practices and contexts of practice. 

Also see:

Contact info

Henk de Roest:
Professor - Chair: Practical Theology
Telephone: + 31 (0)88 - 3371 807
E-mail: hpderoest@pthu

Oude Ebbingestraat 25
9712 HA Groningen
PO-BOX 11069
NL-9700 CB Groningen, The Netherlands