The Study

Nine European countries took part in the second European study on confirmation work: Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland. In these countries, approximately 500.000 young people are participating in confirmation work every year. Confirmation work is a major educational contribution of the Protestant Churches, for the individual adolescents as well as for civil society.

The study pursues a long-term approach, following young people and their experiences with confirmation work and as volunteers over several years. The study also includes the adult workers, employed and voluntary, again taking up their experiences and making use of their expertise.

The first purpose of this empirical study is to find out about the personal and social relevance of confirmation work and to provide insights that can support further improvements of this program. At the same time, the study will also focus on young people’s commitment to the Church.

While the First Study carried out in 2007/2008 aimed at providing a most comprehensive picture of as many aspects of confirmation work as possible, the Second Study entails a special focus on the question of the effects of confirmation work for the time after confirmation. By following the confirmands during the years after confirmation the study aims at identifying and understanding the factors that determine further commitment to the church, especially in terms of voluntary work in the context of the church but also in society in general.

The study makes use of different methodologies, quantitative as well as qualitative. A representative sample of more than 30.000 adolescents took part while qualitative approaches were used in order to contextualize the results. The international approach allows for comparisons at a systems level which is not possible within any country. Its empirical and social scientific orientation makes it attractive to a number of academic disciplines that are interested in questions of youth and society. With the size of its sample, the study can count among the largest studies on youth in Europe. In addition to this, it offers new opportunities for ecumenical cooperation and for learning from each other.

Compared to the First Study, the Second Study is more international and more ecumenical. It includes more countries, among others, from Central Eastern Europe, and additional Churches like the Methodist Church in Germany. With its interest in the time after confirmation and in volunteerism the new study is more focused. By repeating many of the questions from 2007/2008 it also provides for continuity of research in a field which has very few research traditions in this respect. This continuity also provides a basis for identifying possible changes and log-term tendencies in the praxis of confirmation work.

The study understands volunteerism as part and parcel of civil society. In this respect it combines two questions that are important for society as well as for the Churches: What does it mean to be a Christian in the modern world? And what does it mean for the modern world to have Christians in it?

Leader of the research team: Prof. Dr. Friedrich Schweitzer, Tuebingen for the International Network for Research and Development of Confirmation and Christian Youth Work