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From Organized Faith to Lived Faith: The Need for De-Laboratoryzing and De-Conceptualizing Youth Ministry

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Many local churches in the Netherlands have delegated the faith socialization of adolescents to special youth ministry activities in their local church. As a result, youth ministry activities have the tendency to become a kind of isolated subculture, with its own organized small groups, between church activities and the daily life of adolescents. At the same time, this subculture is influenced both by church context and by the daily life of adolescents. These influences can result in an experienced mismatch in these groups between ‘organized’ faith versus ‘faith in action’ in these subcultures of youth ministry. This mismatch is often explained as the problem of adolescents who are supposedly no longer interested in faith. In this study, the mismatch in these youth ministry small groups is explored and analysed. The results show that the way of offering and organizing faith is often too abstract and not always in line with the way of thinking, feeling and behaving of adolescents in their daily life. Furthermore, the research shows that, to overcome the mismatch, adolescents need clear language and other means to express and experience their faith in their lives.


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