Original Research - Special Collection: Practical Theology

Educating young people through Christian youth worship: Reclaiming space for learning in liturgical contexts

Ronelle Sonnenberg, Marcel Barnard
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 68, No 2 | a1111 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v68i2.1111 | © 2012 Ronelle Sonnenberg, Marcel Barnard | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 June 2011 | Published: 13 March 2012

About the author(s)

Ronelle Sonnenberg, Protestant Theological University, Netherlands
Marcel Barnard, Protestant Theological University, Netherlands


This article dealt with the relationship between education and youth worship in Protestant contexts in the Netherlands. Consequently, it dealt with the relation between Liturgical and Educational Studies. Our interest in the research project on youth worship in Protestant contexts centred on the question: How do young people, in a late-modern context, participate in youth worship? In our qualitative research, it appeared that ‘learning’ is a key word with regard to youth worship. This article discussed the questions: How are youth worship and ‘learning faith’ related? And, what are the qualities of learning faith in youth worship? Empirical results of the research in local youth worship services and national youth worship events were presented. These results concentrated on the dialogical dimension in youth worship gatherings and gave indications about the contents of what adolescents learn in youth worship gatherings. This ‘what’ referred, amongst other aspects, to the important content of ‘rules and freedom’. Respondents often valued and appropriated youth worship along the line of ‘(do not) have to’, with regard to a Christian life style, their relation with God, ethics, and doctrines. Moreover, themes in youth worship gatherings often focused on a specific Christian lifestyle, on its boundaries and its spaces. Some reflections with regard to the question ‘Why is learning faith a dominant element in youth worship?’ were given. The conclusions that the cognitive element is important in youth worship and that the explicit aspect of learning is a main approach in youth worship were discussed in relation to J. Astley’s (1984) theoretical notion that the language of worship is ‘performing non-cognitive’.


Youth Worship; Christian Education; Liturgy


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