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Results from catechism

Investing in youth catechism is characteristic of many protestant churches. A short orientation shows that the style of these catechisms varies. Some churches teach catechism in a more classical way: young people receive one hour of catechism a week, provided by a catechist, often a preacher. Other parishes experiment with different forms of catechism, such as 'mentor catechism'. Often, the mentor is a parish member, who plays an exemplary role, and contacts his or her protégées outside catechism hours as well. Some parishes choose to offer catechism in the form of short courses, or separate meetings organised around a certain theme, some aiming at a specific age group, and others are for both the young and the old.

Whatever the form may be, the question remains what the revenue of the catechisms is. To gain insight in this question, one needs to define the term 'revenue'. For this, one needs a theological framework to structure thoughts about this revenue. If one studies catechism, one may find that the core meaning of catechism can be expressed as 'religious learning'. In current literature, this word occurs more often than 'religious teaching' or 'religious education'. The difference between these terms is one of vision, which is key to what catechism may achieve. The terms 'religious teaching' and 'religious education' focus on what may be taught; the term 'religious learning' focusses on what has been learned by the ones receiving catechism.

To be able to research what has been learnt requires, in the first place, researching the people receiving catechism. They can report what they learned from catechism, and thus it can be analysed what the learning results are. It would be rather interesting to know if what they say to have learned reflects the intention of the catchist or, in the background, the church. This leads to the central question of this research: What are the intended and what are the actual learning results of the different methods of teaching youth catechism?

The answer to this question will improve insight into the effects of catechism and into how young people process the acquired information. Thus, this research will contribute to the quality of catechism. The results of this research may be useful in forming theories about catechism, and suggest improvements for working in catechism.

Hans Meerveld