Who Cares? Exploring Pastoral Care in Dutch Protestant Parishes Using the Church Life Survey (CLS)

T.T.J. Pleizier, Karen Zwijze-Koning, M. van der Meulen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Pastoral care in parishes is a rather “silent” religious practice. As a result, data regarding the quantity and quality of regular pastoral care in local churches is scarce. To address this deficiency, we added several questions about pastoral care and support to the Church Life Survey and then carried out the survey with church attenders (N = 2,854) from 30 Dutch Protestant parishes. The results show that church attenders mostly receive pastoral care from their minister or professional pastoral worker. Church attenders also frequently advise others in their community to ask for pastoral support. They feel that their congregations should not only pay attention to particularly joyful or painful circumstances but should also direct more pastoral attention towards a general interest in people’s lives. By and large, respondents acknowledged that pastoral support is done in a competent and safe atmosphere. This study reveals a wide range of quantitative and qualitative insights into the frequency and quality of pastoral care as a religious practice, a practice that is not often discussed but which is of great importance to church attenders and is now a practice that is being given a voice through data.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPastoral Psychology
    Issue numberPublished online
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2021


    • Pastoral care
    • Church Life Survey
    • Quantitative research
    • Protestantism
    • Church
    • Congregational life

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