Netherlands: Countryreport

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter Academic


In March 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and, in particular, the first lockdown, church life in The Netherlands was heavily disrupted. Face-to-face contact was hardly possible anymore, meetings in smaller spaces with more than four people were not allowed, worship services were subjected to severe restrictions, such as a maximum number of 50 attendants and sitting at six feet distance, singing only being allowed, if at all, by a small choir. Vaccines were still far away. Online communication via livestreaming of worship services and via online platforms for meetings and conversations became a sudden necessity. How did Dutch pastors respond? In this chapter we present a selection of the results of the first CONTOC study regarding the experiences of pastors in The Netherlands. We offer a combined analysis of the quantitative and qualitative findings. The results show a remarkable adaptivity and creativity. By most of the pastors, online communication is viewed as an opportunity, albeit that the lack of face-to-face contact is experienced as a loss; the online cannot replace the offline. In particular, building a community has become more difficult. In this regard, the lockdown led pastors to rediscover the unique importance of worshiping together and face-to-face meetings. We also look at the consequences of the lockdown for one-to-one pastoral care and counselling, especially the role of technology during this period of physical distance. The pandemic raised the importance for theological reflection on the use of technology in ecclesial practices.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChurches Online in Times of Corona
Subtitle of host publicationDie CONTOC-Studie: Empirische Einsichten, Interpretationen und Perspektiven
EditorsThomas Schlag, Ilona Nord, Wolfgang Beck, Arnd Bünker, Georg Lämlin, Sabrina Müller, Johann Pock, Martin Rothgangel
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Church
  • Online
  • Pastors
  • covid-19 pandemic
  • Netherlands

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