Walking in the city: Christian spirituality in Amsterdam through the eyes of Michel de Certeau

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This contribution investigates the spiritual position of a Christian congregation in urban contexts of gentrification and de-churching. A project in Amsterdam will serve as a case to explore crucial issues for shrinking congregations in ‘up-and-coming’ neighbourhoods, who aim to transcend the insider/outsider dichotomy between the congregation and its (urban) context. The project at hand shows a shift from exclusively Christian congregations to communities of people with various outlooks of life and from professional structures to cooperation between professionals and volunteers. Using the work of the French theologian Michel de Certeau as a city guide, and his understanding of the empty tomb as a key theological concept, the paper reflects on epistemological and methodological questions brought about by these shifts. After that, issues closely connected to the observed shifts are discussed: the questions of language (how to deal with different ways to express and interpret experiences) and ownership (who is in control in situations of plurality). The article argues for an urban Christian spirituality based on an epistemology of not-knowing and otherness, informed by methodologies of receptivity and desire, leading to practices of multilingualism and open ownership-structures.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberOnline 968
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2023
Event(T)huis in de Staats: Kerk in de buurt - Nassaukerk, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 9 Oct 202126 Nov 2021


  • Urban Theology
  • Diaconia
  • Gentrification
  • Dechurching
  • Michel de Certeau
  • exposure
  • Community Developent
  • Empty Tomb

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