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Christian initiation practices with regard to unchurched youth

Many children and teenagers in our society grow up without coming much into contact with the Christian faith and the church. When they do become interested in the Christian faith and the church, many churches find it difficult to determine how to initiate these young people in the Christian faith. They feel that it is already difficult to initiate young people that have received a Christian upbringing – therefore, to initiate young people without that background seems an impossible task. This research focuses on Christian initiation practices with regard to these young people who have not received a Christian upbringing. The aim of this research is to make recommendations for churches concerning the development of initiation practices with regard to unchurched youth and to gain some insight in how the surveyed youth experiences the Christian faith today. The central research question is: How might Christian initiation practices with regard to unchurched youth in the Netherlands be shaped?

Taking into account that little research has been done with regard to the initiation of young people in the Christian faith, the research will first of all provide a theoretical framework concerning initiation. This theoretical framework will be formed on basis of literature from several theological sub-disciplines and will provide direction for the further research. After providing a theoretical framework concerning initiation the research will describe and analyze several Christian initiation practices with regard to unchurched youth.

The research is qualitative in shape and will consist of a literature study and ethnographic case study research. The ethnographic case study research will consist of interviews, document analysis and participant observation that will take place over a longer period of several months within every case study. The aim of this is to add more context to the story of the interviewed young people and therefore be able to better understand how initiation occurs.

The study is performed under supervision of prof. dr. Stefan Paas (Theologische Universiteit Kampen, promoter) and dr. Jos de Kock (PThU, copromoter) as an external student without a position on a faculty.

Debbie den Boer